The Mt. Washington tavern re-opened in the November of 2012 after a disastrous fire about a year before. The main first floor bar and lounge has an old stone building charm – but it can also feel dark even on a sunny day and its tables feel crammed together. Participating in “Dining Out for Life” along with friends Ron & Tom, we were glad to be seated in the first floor large dining room which has a soaring two story center, lots of windows and a few dozen tables with sufficient “elbow room” between them. (In hindsight, a portent of our experience was when our friend Tom, a fan of “Stella” beer, found his glass of draft tasted “off” and had it replaced with a different beer.)
The menu is diverse offering a dozen appetizers ($10-$15), several soups ($5 cup), a half dozen entrée salads (Most $13-$16), 10 entrees ($17-$33) and a dozen “light fare” options (including a burger and some sandwiches for $10-$13)
We decided to start by sharing two appetizers: Crab Wontons & Buffalo Chicken Wings (Both $10). The 6 “Wontons” stuffed with cream cheese, scallions and crab with a Thai style dipping sauce were particularly outstanding and won our “Thumbs Up!”; the wings – though not particularly large – had a spicy buffalo style sauce and came with a really good blue cheese dressing.
For our entrees, Marty ordered the Steak Frites ($25), John opted for Orange Duck Breast ($23), Tom with the Chicken Piccata ($19) while Ron went with a Tavern Burger ($11) along with a Farmers Market salad ($9)
Even allowing that Marty ordered his steak cooked “Medium well”, the mushroom gravy couldn’t compensate for beef that was disappointingly tough and dried out. His steak fries proved a hit but a baked tomato stuffed with feta and spinach was surprisingly bland; Marty didn’t eat most of his steak and wouldn’t order it again. John’s slices of duck were lightly orange glazed and served with roasted Brussels Sprouts and squares of parmesan polenta; while not particularly memorable, he enjoyed it. Tom’s chicken came in an ample portion and served with squares of polenta and feta/spinach stuffed tomato (he wished that there was more than a light hint of lemon to his chicken and was as disappointed as Marty with the bland, not tasty stuffed tomato. Ron was delighted with his salad; with baby lettuces topped with raspberries, blueberries, slices of pear and strawberry and bits of blue cheese, Ron gave this an enthusiastic “Thumbs Up!”. His thick burger which came with shoe string fries which provided a mysterious contrast to Marty’s very different looking steak fries. Ron’s burger was disappointingly over cooked and very dry; he wouldn’t order it again. While the dining room was not overly crowded, service was haphazard and our waiter disappeared inexplicably for long stretches of time.
We decided to share two desserts – Mango Sorbet and a flourless chocolate cake (both $7). The sorbet was a huge serving (it could have easily been shared by four!) decorated with some fresh blueberries and raspberries; it had an intense flavor which was wonderful (and a clear notch above supermarket equivalents). The chocolate cake came with whipped cream piled high on top and fresh berries; the cake was intensely and satisfyingly chocolaty.
While our appetizers and desserts were a hit, our meal averaged a pricey $45+ a person (and that’s even with limited shared appetizers and desserts!). Between the price, three out of four entrees proving to be a disappointment and with a waiter who had a talent for disappearing when we wanted him (not to mention the stale Stella!), we may not be rushing back soon to dine again in the Mt. Washington Tavern’s attractive new dining room.
FACTS: The Mt. Washington Tavern; 5700 Newbury St; mtwashingtontavern.com; Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner 11:30 – 10 pm; brunch on Sunday; full bar; Limited vegetarian options; on-street parking