HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


Thoughts on LockeOber?

I know there have been some recent posts and I'll do a search and see what I can find...but i'm wondering if some could share their recent experiences.
I have never been...am very intrigued by that lobster stew. Thinking about heading there for a celebratory dinner..wondering how stuffy/formal/old-boy-network this place is. Should I just hit the bar one night for a bowl of the stew and a glass of wine, or is it worth having the full-on dining experience? And if so, what else is good there?

I've got 2 dinners to choose --the list is Pigalle, Prezza, and LockeOber. Of the three, I've been to Prezza and had a great meal, and I think this one is a definite. So it's between Pigalle or LockeOber (both very different I know, which is why I'm posing this question.) TIA.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I like Locke Ober a lot..but most of my "like" comes from the room and service. I think the food is generally good but not spectacular. Pigalle doesn't have the atmosphere/history of Locks but has better food.

    How about lunch at Locks 1 day? Get the same experience without the big price tag.

    1. I had dinner at Locke Ober a couple of years back now, right after Lydia Shire took over. It was quite good, but not memorable. I'd go for Pigalle (never been myself, tho') and save Locke Ober for lobster stew and martinis at the bar (which I just finally got to a couple of weeks ago). They also have clams casino on the menu - I'm wondering how they are. I think this place is more like the Oak Room / Oak Bar - half the fun is the setting, more than the food.

      1. Thanks, sounds like lunch and drinks at the bar may be the way to go. A question (esp for MB fka MB): were you casually dressed at lunchtime? I realize probably just about anything goes but just wondering what would be ok at the bar...

        1 Reply
        1. re: twentyoystahs

          Jeans and an Urban-Outfitters-esque tee with my messenger bag. Didn't get all dolled up that day and it was fine (though surely I would have had more fun had I stepped up my game!) The State House Gang was there in their khaki mafia uniform: blue shirt and - what else - khakis. So I wouldn't sweat it.

        2. Locke-Ober is more about the experience than the food, which is very good but not memorable. But eating at the bar does not do the place justice. You need to be in the main room on the first floor. There is nothing else like it.

          Also, this is a dress-up place. No casual attire.

          1. I think Locke-Ober's food is totally underrated and that it's a mistake to claim that the only reason to go there is because of the ambiance. Both times I've been - about 6 months ago to the main dining room and two weeks ago to the bar - I was impressed (and somewhat surprised) by the extremely high quality of the ingredients and the attention to detail of both front and back of house. While the food isn't cutting edge creative, it *is* more creative than it gets credit for being. Compare it, for example, to the Oak Bar, which I think is the closest comparison in Boston (in respect of ambiance, price and style of cooking). I've eaten at the OB dozens of times and love the place, but from what I've seen so far, L-O has a distinctly more creative and skilled kitchen. (We have plans to go going back this week to sample more of the menu). Unlike the OB, L-O's food isn't just high-quality steakhouse. The choices are more wide ranging, the flavors more subtle, they have a finer hand with seafood and there's a willingness to branch out from the steakhouse formula of huge-piece-of-meat with potatoes/spinach/mushrooms.

            1 Reply
            1. I would choose Locks. It's a great experience of how we used to dine. Their menu is not what most "Hounds" look for today, but the quality is excellent and the service is somewhat of a throwback. Get out those dress shoes and buff up. It's fun and you will enjoy!

              1. clams casino at the bar with a nice glass of bubbles-what a way to start your day good luck and report back to us

                1. I couldn't agree more.

                  We love Locke-Ober and have been celebrating my St. Patrick's day birthday at the restaurant for many, many years.

                  Additionally, after getting married in our living room many years ago, my wife and I, and twelve of our best friends hopped into cabs, plowed through a beautiful January snow storm, and had a great time celebrating the occasion. (Even the waiters joined our party). Although we have always eaten in the downstairs room, that night we had a private room on the third floor where we ate and drank deep into the night.

                  I feel that the downstairs room at Locke-Ober has always been the lovliest place to eat in the city, and especially so after Lydia Shire and her partners restored the room to its past glories. As to the food, I would argue that even in its worse days, if one knew what to order, Locke-Ober's food was always quite good. But with the arrival of Lydia Shire, in my opinion, the entire menu has reached new heights.

                  Starting with a dozen Wellfleet oysters, then following with Dover Sole(Locke-Ober's is as good as any you can get in London) and a side of creamed spinach, and finishing off the meal with Indian pudding... That's my idea of a great meal.

                  1. You'll probably see my previous post, but I was there two weeks ago. Food was OK and very expensive, my dover sole was mushy as could be. If you want Dover Sole, go to Mistrale. Atmosphere was very nice and very dressy. We were the youngest people in the room (it was a Saturday nigt) by 20 years ( we were all in our late 40's). Unfortunately, the not very good service was the deal killer. For $250+ for 3 I expected quite a bit more. I won't be back any time soon. I was very disappointed. I would opt for someplace else. For the price, it could be anywhere.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ptrefler

                      Does Mistral actually have genuine Dover Sole? That is very rare in the US.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        I had a quick dinner at the bar last night and asked them for you, it is real, they fly it in every day. Comes in a styro box overnight air.

                    2. I am pretty sure Mistral's dover sole is the real thing. I had it a few years ago, it was excellent (though it should have been for the $45 price tag)

                      1. Just happened to stumble onto this post...We were in Boston over Labor Day weekend with my parents. They love Locke-Ober, evidently having had a memorable meal or two there many years ago. As such, we stopped in for a drink at the bar and to check out the dining room. I can't comment on the food, as we didn't eat there, but I found the place incredibly stuffy and old school. I wouldn't eat there in anything less than a coat and tie.

                        1. I'd PASS on Locke Ober. True, the ambiance is something out of the past to see, but that's it. Not enough to merit a trip. In the old days it was a place to go to... now why bother.

                          1. Not sure if you made your decision already, twentyoystahs, but wanted to report back on the highlight of my meal there this week.

                            One of the appetizers simply blew us away: seared foie gras on a savory almond croissant with cherries (and applesauce). Absolutely delicious and an inspired way to combine a trio (/quartet) of flavors that usually come in pairs: the crispiness of the croissant played off the smoothness of the foie gras, while the butteryness of the pastry amped the fatty foie gras up into the stratosphere. The fruit sauces served to cut through some of the richness but obviously it's not a dish for those who shy away from utter decadence.

                            The game bird consomme was also a winner - nicely salty potato dumplings and tender (and beautiful) guilded quail legs - a luxe twist on familiar chicken soup. And I enjoyed their baked alaska more than Oleanna's...the topping seemed lighter and creamier. I *really* like the style of cooking that they seem to be aiming for here - sumptuous ingredients, fairly traditional flavor combinations and fine kitchen skills yielding an extravagant, no-holds-barred culinary experience.

                            (Now if only I could have a word with them about some of their wait-staff...)

                            1. Locke-Ober was always our place for haute family occasions (our parents got engaged there) and I was glad to see Lydia Shire take over. I haven't managed to have a meal there in the past few years, but I've been thinking of going recently--intrigued, I admit, by the article about her obsession with Bailey's butterscotch sundaes, which I share! I think I need to go sometime soon and order the lobster stew (the finnan haddie was my favorite--wonder if it's still on the menu) and a sundae...

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: greengage

                                Yup, the finnan haddie is still on the menu - as is a Bailey's and butterscotch sundae. The dessert menu actually seems a little skewed towards items involving ice cream or sorbet. The rest is fairly standard-looking: a creme brulee, a chocolate cake, a panna cotta-type offering - except for a mention of Indian pudding and coconut macaroons, which would probably benefit from a more prolix description.

                              2. Just fyi--not sure if this was a typo--it's a Bailey's butterscotch sundae, not Bailey's as in the liqueur. Bailey's was a lovely old Boston ice-cream chain, similar to Brigham's, where they served among other things a fantastic butterscotch sundae in a lovely, icy-cold silver dish. I think the last Bailey's disappeared 10-15 years ago, but it's amazing how many people remember those sundaes (there's some debate about the hot fudge vs. the butterscotch). Apparently Lydia is obsessed!

                                1. I remember those silver dishes (with a paper doilie) what an experience it was for me as a little girl. Bailey's was a wonderful place, along with Schraffts, Dini's, the main dining room at the Parker House, and the perfume fountain in the lobby of the old Crawford Hollage department store on Boylston.
                                  Nice that Lydia is resurecting an old B-Town favorite dessert.

                                  1. For what it is worth, get dressed up and do the dining room. Lydia is behind the food, it is delicious, the room is classic Boston and you deserve it.