Dining Review: The Other Place Pub
Bob Shaughnessy’s The Other Place Pub ~ a true pub experience
By Bernie Whitmore
Let’s face it: We all enjoy the informality of dining pub-style. And when it comes to selecting the right pub to meet friends, we want reliably decent cuisine, good service and a friendly atmosphere. When it comes to these virtues, I keep hearing the Other Place Pub mentioned. It had been a while since I had made the trek to Boylston, so I decided the time had come.
And true to form, The Other Place was just as I remembered it; bar to the right and split-level dining room on the left. My friend and I were urged to sit “wherever you want,” so we chose a booth in back. When there’s a queue, the OPP minimizes the inconvenience with complementary crackers and, on this night, a jar of peanut butter for spreading. Other times it has provided blocks of cheddar.
On most nights, the dining room gets packed; it tends to get real “cozy” and conversations overlap tables. The walls are covered with framed photos, newspaper articles and various advertising pieces. The subject matter seems idiosyncratic; if there’s a theme, it wasn’t apparent from my vantage point. Our server, Rebecca, was on-the-spot quickly to provide menus and take our drink order.
“Draft beers?” I inquired. Rebecca recited an extensive list, seemingly at the speed of light. Somewhere in there, I caught an “IPA.” So I had her rewind to that section and stopped her when she got to Wormtown’s Be Hoppy, which, for its citrusy, bitter flavor, is always a smart choice.
OPP’s menu is broad in categories, compact in offerings and buttressed with a full page of daily specials. Specials included lobster ravioli, a roasted half chicken and plenty more, but we were able to stick to the basic menu and started with the Potato Skins appetizer.
These are skins the way they’re supposed to be ~ actual potatoes, thick-sliced, with soft-baked centers and topped with plenty of cheese and bacon crunch, all baked golden brown. They came with foil-sealed cups of Hood’s sour cream. The portion was generous to the point of appetite destruction. I especially enjoyed the contrast in flavors as I sipped my Be Hoppy.
My friend’s entrée came with a leafy, green garden salad studded with vegetables ~ cucumber slices, shredded red cabbage, chunks of radish and tomato wedges. He chose the blue cheese dressing, which arrived on the side in a plastic cup. He commended the quantity of creamy chunks of cheese.
This praise intensified as he moved to his Open Steak Sandwich entrée. This New York Strip, 14 ounces, was remarkably handsome, with professionally sharp cross-hatching from the grill. He asserted that its flavor would stand up to any – yes, any – area steakhouse. The OPP is famous for its prime rib specials; perhaps beef is a solid choice any night.
My entrée, Chicken Pot Pie, was a fanciful sight. A mini-crock was loaded with the chicken-gravy mixture and topped with flaky puff pastry that soared in height. To emulate an actual pot pie, I stabbed at the puff until it collapsed into shards that sat on the gravy like a traditional crust.
The pie was loaded with big cubes of chicken in thick, white gravy containing bright-colored peas and slices of carrot. Though I cannot vouch for the chef’s methods, I reckon the ingredients were prepped separately and mixed before baking to preserve the vivid colors of the vegetables. But this comes at a certain cost. At home, I’d bake all the ingredients together in the pastry for an hour. The result may not appear as delightful, but the chicken and vegetable flavors would better integrate into the gravy.
Desserts are gorgeously depicted in a laminated folder. However, with appetites completely vanquished, we ended without sweets.
The Other Place Pub is just what we want in informal pub-style dining: The food is honest and economical, and the atmosphere is communal. Good service is always assured; Rebecca was both efficient and an instant friend.
I intentionally titled this review with the owner’s name and consider it important to extend my condolences to the folks at The Other Place Pub. Just weeks ago, Bob Shaughnessy died tragically in an automobile accident. As I read his obituary, I realized this should end with his own words: “Live every day like it’s your last because someday you’ll be right.”
The Other Place Pub
71 Shrewsbury Street, Boylston