One might leave Red Lulu Cocina & Tequila Bar, which was named this year's best new restaurant north of Boston by Boston Magazine, with some sense of the broad scope of Mexican cuisine, geography, and culture. That epiphany might come from the selection of 180 tequilas, which slip down in shots, release bell peals of clicking ice in glasses, or blend with lime in thick margaritas rimmed with salt. The tantalizing menu also parades traditional Mexican ingredients, though they are tangled into surprising configurations.
Red chandeliers glow, bringing to life the colors of chipotle peppers on plates at plush black booth seating, all beneath red wallpaper. In the tequila lounge, ample couches create a circle around red, candlelit tables for resting a glass of sangria or a mojito muddled with strawberries or cucumber. A row of inset shadowboxes displays the colorful lucha libre masks typically used in overblown battles and attempts to go out in public without being recognized as Kevin Bacon.
The Gloucestershire "Old Spot" pig is a fitting mascot and namesake for The Old Spot. The breed, once a staple of English farming, is docile, warm, and always in search of tasty grub. The pub and its inhabitants are similar--a crowd of neighborhood regulars who take their Guinness at the hardwood bar. The menu of meat pies and curried chicken evokes a cozy pub dining experience. Seated near the picture windows that run the front length of the pub, diners cut into crispy portions of fried haddock, the batter dashed with spritzes of lemon, malt vinegar, and tartar sauce. Though less neighborly figures necessitated the restaurant's end as a music venue, it continues to offer weekly trivia nights where the answer is always "John Major".
The kitchen at Brodie’s Pub elevates typical bar bites with quality ingredients, such as Angus steak tips and turkey tenderloins. Bowls of housemade chili and chowder whet taste buds for elaborate sandwiches, such as veggie-stuffed chicken-teriyaki pockets and the Famous Philips burger, whose housemade italian sausage has never signed an autograph. An array of beers and other drinks are available to complement any entree, from barbecued-turkey-tip salad to fried chicken wings served buffalo-style or with duck sauce.
Kitty O'Sheas Irish Pub maintains an animated atmosphere with nightly entertainment. Every Saturday through Wednesday, live music echoes against the cozy interior's dark hardwoods, spilling out onto the pub's deck on warm nights. Festivities begin at 9:30, a half hour after the kitchen closes for the night and several hours after the sun sinks back into the center of the earth. Before then, however, cooks sizzle up a lineup of traditional Irish pub grub. They fill bread bowls with their signature Guinness beef stew, top shepherd’s pie with hearty mashed potatoes, and assemble five sandwiches, including an Irish reuben. They also prepare a selection of American favorites, such as burgers and a pub platter filled with chicken tenders, potato skins, and buffalo wings.
Scosso Ristorante & Bar combines Italian delicacies with an extensive wine list and martini menu. The expansive martini menu offers a variety of flavors such as strawberry lemonade, Smores, and French berry. They delicately artfully plate center cut filet mignon, karabuta pork chops, and fresh Atlantic haddock with scallops and shrimp, dressed in white-wine sauce. They celebrate the classic Italian styles of preparation—romano, parmigiana, and marsala, to name a few—with dishes sporting chicken, veal, and shrimp, but make them their own with minimalistic platings.
The opulent post-modern interior plays with perceptions, taking the clean lines that one expects from modern décor and adding mind-bending curves and squiggles. This effect is found in everything from the chair backs to the support pillars and bannisters.
Cast in dim, incandescent light creeping out of the dining room’s decorative lanterns, Kasbah Restaurant's cushy seats surround tables filled with slow-simmered tagines, fluffy couscous, and tapas plates selected from a menu of Moroccan fare. The chicken tangiers’ apricot-kissed sherry sauce helps it maintain its status as the restaurant’s best seller, but the house specialty is the fried calamari, which arrives dotted with cherry peppers and doused in a secret sauce whose recipe is only known by the kitchen’s chef and the mayor of Casablanca. An expansive drink list showcases the eatery's carefully crafted martinis and homemade sangria, and weekly events invite belly dancers to shimmy to the sounds of a live Middle Eastern band.