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Hamersley's Bistro

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Any thoughts one way or the other on Hamersley's Bistro? I've always wanted to go there and have heard much about it over the years, but want to make sure that it's not overrated or something. Planning on going there for my 30th birthday, and I don't want to be disappointed. Thanks in advance!

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  1. It depends who you ask. I think it's a little overrated but had a decent meal last summer and a long time ago. I've still never had the infamous chicken. You can be disappointed anywhere so if it's some place you've always wanted to go, might as well give it a shot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Joanie

      i find this place to be one of the most consistently excellent places in town. the chicken is to die for and sometimes it's the only thing that will sate me when i get a craving for roast chicken.

      1. re: ScubaSteve

        Have you tried the chicken at Eastern Standard - now that has spoiled me for chicken.

        1. re: Shefood

          nope, not yet. although i do love their meatloaf, liver and onions (medium please, just a little pink) and offal offerings. will try the chix next time.

          1. re: Shefood

            I have had both. ES is fine, but not really in the same league IMO.

      2. I really enjoy hammersley's. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I went especially since it is not a consistent board favorite. The room is nice and I remember some fantastic foie gras topped scallops and brandade.

        1. I'm not a huge fan of Hamersley's. It offers very competent, pretty straightforward bistro cooking with high-quality ingredients at rather high prices. They gouge on wine, and bartending is very inconsistent. Service is excellent, a little stiff and pretentious at times. The patio is lovely in warm weather.

          It's the sort of place I adored when it wasn't pretending to be more than a bistro, in its smaller venue across the street, with actual bistro prices. It's now got celebrity-chef status and the attendant groupies, which means it can get away with charging $40 for Dover sole and beef tenderloin.

          The chicken is justly famous, but there are now lots of places in town that can properly roast a chicken (thanks in part to Hamersley's). I always find the bill shocking considering the ordinariness of the food. If they reduced their prices by 20-30%, I'd go a lot more. As it is, I only go when out-of-town visitors drag me there, and I can't convince them to try some new kid who hasn't yet made his bones.

          I am considering a revisit for their cassoulet, once the weather turns nippy again. A recent board discussion on this dish rated the Hamersley's version highly. It seems like exactly the sort of hearty, humble dish they would do well (and probably charge $30 for).

          3 Replies
          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Agreed. Although I do disagree on the wine complaint. Recognizing many of the bottles, they seem to be at or below the standard 2.5 times mark-up (too many bottles from Trimbach though).

            The food (and service) doesn't disappoint, but the value may. My biggest complaint on the price is about the appetizers, which average around $15

            Luckily the chicken is the least expensive thing on the menu, unfortunately it's still $27.

            You can find the recipe on the internet, or buy Hamersley's book. It's an easy recipe, and the home cook can get close to matching the dish found at the restaurant.

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              I've had nothing but pleasurable experiences there, though yes, it is a bit pricy. And according to their Web site, the cassoulet is back on the menu!

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Had the cassoulet. Not notable in my book. But I'm not a big fan of the place in general.

              2. I am in the overrated contingency. Consistant, but nothing spectacular. It was the place to go 10 years ago when the food scene in town was much sparser, but now there are tons of other places to go that are much more exciting. I still love Clio, which has similar prices.

                2 Replies
                1. re: redwine

                  I agree. Everytime I have been there, I feel like the youngest person in the place and I am in my mid 30's. I also feel like it takes way too long! I would rather eat at Clio or Eastern Standard and I live around the corner from Hamersley's.

                  1. re: redwine

                    Only been once, and have no desire to go back. Larger group (8), sat right in front of the kitchen counter. One entree (monkfish) came out 20 minutes after the first seven. No explanation, no offer to take it off the bill, nothing. No thanks. There's easily 100 other places in town I'd rather go now.

                  2. t

                    I think it's worth it just to experience that roast chicken. There may be others in town who can roast a chicken well, but I haven't found anything that can compare to this one. I personally feel it's every bit worth that $27 price tag and I can't imagine going to Hamersley's and ordering anything else. That being said, if you're looking for a new place with inventive food at a good value, than no. If you're looking for the most delicious chicken you've ever tried, than yes.

                    Though it's not the most spectacular restaurant in Boston, there's a reason why it's consistently mentioned in Boston's top 10 classic restaurants.

                    1. I'm always surprised at how many people find Hamersley's to be overrated. I've had three meals there in the past 7 months; two of them were outstanding, in that they were both well-exectuted and imaginative. The third was a good solid meal, but very traditional. I suppose it depends on what you're expecting when you go there. I don't think it is really fair to compare Hamersley's with Clio, because they're aspiring to different styles of cooking. Hamersley is turning out bistro-style comfort food, while Oringer is doing what used to be called "haute cuisine" (I don't know what to call it these days) with an Asian influence, and a lot of creativity. When I want to be surprised, or am looking for a more formal meal, I go to Clio, but when I want a more casual, well-cooked meal, I might head for Hamersley's. Hamersley's does charge a lot for a "bistro," but when I'm in the mood for a cassoulet or something similar, I don't know anywhere else in this area that provides the same standard of cooking for any less.

                      1. Nothing seriously bad about the food or anything, just more expensive than it should be imho.

                        1. I ate there last night in a party of five. I found it to be a little pricey for the bistro that it is. However, I found the Halibut entree delicious, as well as the soft shell crab appetizer. My cocktail was acceptable, but nothing to get excited about. Service fair to good.

                          1. Um, that was me (OP)! Back when we first moved here. For the record, I loved my one experience at Hammersley's. It catches some flak on this board, but I had absolutely no complaints. And as for comparing it with Clio and the like, I agree that it's just a totally different thing. We went to Clio for our anniversary a few months later, and it was good too, but it's hard to compare the two. I had the unbeatable roast chicken, and my husband had the cassoulet which we really liked. We shared the mushroom sandwich (?) appetizer. Then we finished with some pear dessert thingy that was way better than I was expecting, like was still thinking about it weeks later. You know it was a good meal if I can still remember everything we had. Also it was a great place to go when pregnant because there were lots of things I could eat (not a lot of raw stuff or raw cheese or all of those "dangerous" things that I craved).

                            1. If they dropped the prices just a tad I'd rave on about Hamersley's. You get what you pay for, the food is superb.

                              1. I am definitely a fan. The chicken is as good as they say, and the service ALWAYS wonderful. They do a pan roasted lobster with a continental flair in the summer that is to die for.

                                I do also agree with the gripes about the prices. It feels like it should be about $5 less per plate, maybe more. On a good day, and for certain dishes Petit Robert is a much better value, but Hamersley's is way more consistent with considerably superior service and ambiance--even if the price to superiority ratio is not proportional. FWIW, I did have roast chicken at PRB once and it was a pale and sorry substitute for H.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: tamerlanenj

                                  We;ve been fans of Hamersley's since day one and his food is CONSISTENTly good.
                                  W took a friend there last week who was visiting from another state. We sat outside and he loved th food, the ambiance.
                                  P.S. Neptume: I think the oysters ar over-priced.

                                2. I had a wonderful meal at Hamersley's last night, and though the chicken was quite good (and enormous), it was not the highlight of the meal. The scallop appetizer was delicious, and the clear winner for entrees (among five diners) was the pork tenderloin stuffed with asparagus, morels and cheese (morbier i think) in a morel mustard sauce. The chicken eaters were using my sauce for dipping.