In 1935, it was a one-room bar, but today, Mount Vernon Restaurant lets guests stretch their legs between the bar and four dining rooms, whose tables groan under the weight of boiled lobsters, juicy steaks, and frosty local beers. Part of its charm, according to a review published on the restaurant's site, is its unexpected ambiance. Though positioned on a quiet, modest street, says writer Alisa Valdes, doors open to reveal a "swank" interior accented with aquamarine, peach, and fresh flowers. Fireplaces, filled with flames donated by local dragons, anchor two of the dining rooms, along with exposed beams and hanging lamps.
With two locations situated in the heart of Harvard Square and Natick, Dolphin Seafood Restaurant reflects the unique maritime flavors of Boston and the Atlantic coast, receiving daily shipments of fresh seafood such as Chesapeake Bay oysters and Maine clams. Cooks stir fresh pots of New England clam chowder and broil filets of Bluefish, Idaho rainbow trout, and swordfish swathed in butter and garlic over their breadcrumb-flavored scales. At each restaurant, patrons can unwind in the evenings in a lounge with beers on tap, sports on the TV, and martini glasses filled with specialty cocktails.
The recently renovated Zephyr dishes out elegant New England–inspired cuisine while treating doe-eyed diners to a scenic picture-windowed view of the Charles River. For lunch and dinner, reel in a native lobster roll (5 oz. lobster salad on an egg roll served with homemade potato chips and cucumber salad, $17) or use your tongue to weave through a culinary tapestry of flatbread pizzas ($11 each). Savory breakfast bites, such as the ham and white-cheddar panini (fried egg, shaved ham, and dijon spread, $11) and salmon benedict (smoked sliced salmon, sautéed spinach, and hollandaise sauce, $14) start the day by luring the hungry, hibernating sun out of its winter cloud hole. Sunday brunch ($32 for adults, $16 for 6- to 12-year-olds, free for 5 and under) livens mundane midmornings with hybrid meal fare.
East Coast Grill & Raw Bar is famous for its Hell Night, where brave customers challenge their taste buds against extra-spicy food. The rest of the time, things are decidedly more chill, but dishes such as creole-style shrimp with scotch bonnets inject a little spice into everyday life.
Blu bills itself as a “hidden gem.” But it’s hard to miss, towering four stories above Sports Club/LA and immediately recognizable by its curved steel pipe lattices and floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows. The view from the inside is even more enticing: a sweeping 360-degree view of Downtown Crossing is a treat if you can pry your eyes off the curved banquettes, oval-shaped stand-alone bar, and plates of coriander-dusted scallops and roasted duck breast. The airy, sunny hues give way to seductive blues come evening, as the space takes on a sophisticated club-like ambience. Neon lights color the white piping while the city lights glimmer in the background, and the eatery comes alive with young professionals sipping martinis, cocktails, and fine wines. Patrons can revel in desserts such as cinnamon-orange crème brulee and seasonal cheesecakes that Gayot promises are “worth the extra calories,” despite seeing the toned celebrities and muscular team mascots prancing around the posh Sports Club/LA.
The menus at Barlow's combine traditional American recipes with a creative gourmet flare. Inaugurate your dinner with a helping of minted lamb skewers, served with sweet soy-and-almond pesto ($11). The fig and prosciutto pizza woos weary taste buds with its sweet saltiness, sealing the deal with added gorgonzola and arugula ($13) . Childhood nostalgia is deliciously evoked with thick slices of bacon-wrapped meatloaf saddled with mashed potatoes, garlic spinach, and mushroom gravy ($17). Hungry ears can feast on live jazz Tuesday nights, and pigskin buffs can catch up on NFL games throughout the season.