Grill 23 has been recognized over the years as one of the best Steak restaurants in Boston. I can’t say I agree nor disagree as I don’t eat red meat. Seems like an odd thing to say from a positive blogger as you would think I was going to go down a rarely taken negative path. Not the case at all. What I can say about Grill 23 and the almost 18 years of frequenting this place on and off during that time is that I have always been a fan of their bar area and the alternative menu to steak and beef, which they have always had on offer and that did not change after a recent visit to their bar this past week.
Since moving offices over to the Seaport District, I have been dedicating a lot of my dining time to the constantly expanding new Boston right on my doorstep. I have sadly neglected my old neighborhood and favorite restaurants for the imaginable glamor and novelty of what could be on offer.
I was having dinner with my friend Karen last Monday evening. We were reeling off a list of restaurants when I stopped at the mention of Grill 23. We had not checked out their newly updated bar, which reopened a year ago and we had always enjoyed it in the past so we thought, why not. As a side note, it did bring back an hysterical memory for us of a lunch time holiday party during the terrible downturn of the dot.com crash. Yes I am that old! While our holiday parties are normally highly sophisticated and generally black tie, this was absolutely not even close, but with the classic New England ambiance, great service, good food, lunch time wine and the afternoon off it led to one of the most memorable parties we have ever had and that always makes me think of Grill 23 with great fondness.
We walked into their new, bright and light bar with a little bit of disorientation. The bar is now facing the window with seating more open and spread out towards the staircase than it was previously. It doesn’t feel as dark and hidden as it once was. I immediately liked it. The warmth of the New England feel with rich wood is still there, however there is now a modern flair added to the bar, which works really well. Although we didn’t sit in the restaurant, it looks similar to what it has always been with its two levels and diner clientele of business folks and affluent locals.
The bar was quiet with just a few customers seated around. Karen was already sat at the bar enjoying a glass of Gruner when I arrived. I joined her and ordered the Chablis, which was delightful. The bartender was friendly, charming and very funny, engaging when appropriate with making light hearted banter.
After a while we checked out the menu. The menu is the a-typical steak restaurant with offerings of shellfish samplers, iceberg wedge, clam chowder and calamari to start. Options of every type of steak and beef you can think of plus pork and chicken. What I do like is that they seem to offer more alternative options for seafood. Not just haddock or salmon but also swordfish, scallops and halibut. It being a Monday and of course every week starts with a plan to be healthy, we started with a half dozen Cotuit oysters to share.
For our main we decided to share the bartender’s highly recommended swordfish with a side of heirloom tomatoes. Oh and we failed and also ordered an additional side of Grill 23 Tots.
They split the swordfish steak for us, which was a superb cut of meaty fish, grilled to just the right tenderness and even split more than enough for both of us.
The heirloom tomatoes were just sweet enough, married with grilled peach and a super tang of icewine vinegar.
Now to the Tots. Damn the great tots with their sea salt and truffle. So fluffy and crispy and the start of my week’s downfall.
Plates finished and cleared, rather than having a dessert because let’s be honest truffle tots are really dessert, we ordered an additional glass of wine each.
Attentive service, great food, a fun new feel and I have to say not bad looking clientele for a woman of my age.