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Redbones: Harviestoun Old Engine Oil; fried oysters; portobello burger

My wife and I had just finished two grueling days of house renovation work, and last night we were in a mood for a little celebration. I had my heart set on the burger at Gargoyle's, but alas I discovered that they are closed on Monday nights. So we wound up over at Redbones for a late night meal.

I hadn't seen the fried oyster thread before I went last night. Good thing I hadn't -- I wound up trying the oyster po'boy and was utterly delighted. It might not be an authentic Nawlins po'boy, served as it is on two hot dog buns rather than with the aforementioned French bread, but stuffed with a little cole slaw and the jalapeno tartar sauce, it made for a very satisfying sandwich, one way or the other. I guestimate there were about 10 or 12 oysters in the batch, all GBD, crusty and succulent, sweet and tender on the inside. I asked them to sub garlic mashed for the french fries, and wound up with a huge heapin' helpin' to go alongside the cole slaw. This was more than I could actually eat in one sitting (which is a truly frightening thought for those who have ever seen me eat).

My wife wound up with the portobello burger (based on another thread, sounds like it's a good thing neither of us tried the regular burger). This was also really nice, with an onion merlot spread on top that brings a vegetarian burger dangerously close to the brink of concentrated evil.

Beer selection was also admirable. My wife had come across the beer "Old Engine Oil" made by a Scottish brewery called Harviestoun on a trip to Monk's in Philadelphia. She generally likes rich creamy stouts to begin with and adored this beer. It isn't thick or creamy like a Murphy's or a Beamish, but it has the color of the aforementioned old engine oil and a complex caramel and malt flavor. She got it in a bottle at Monk's and was astonished to see the stuff on draft at Redbones. More of the same, which leads me to ask: does anybody know if any other places serve this stuff on draft in town?

I tried two of the Belgian beers. The Piraat struck me as a blonde-ish type beer, like many Belgian blondes very hoppy, but it manages to maintain a lovely balanced and complex flavor, rather than striking you in the back of the head with a hops-covered two-by-four the way many IPA beers do. Also had the Kasteel Rouge which was something of a letdown after the Piraat. I had misunderstood that the beer was cranberry colored; cranberry flavored was more like it. Sort of like lambics that I've had, but there was a weird sour edge that gave it the taste of cough syrup (Nyquil?) on some sips. Their current draft list: http://www.redbones.com/brews.html

May have to go back more than once for those fried oysters and more Engine Oil while it lasts. The fact that they serve later than just about anybody else in the Davis area, and the fact that they're a four block walk away from our house is quite the bonus.

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Redbones
55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

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  1. Excellent writeup. Redbones' draft beer list is utterly fantastic. The local beers they're featuring this summer are diverse and interesting. Las night I had a glass of the Clipper City Weizenbock: great balance between bitter and wheat. I can't seem to pull myself away from the fried catfish or buffalo shrimp, but my table mates enjoyed pulled pork & chicken sandwiches, a heaping plate of ribs (baby backs - not as good as their texas ribs, but drowning in sauce that the diners enjoyed), and brisket. We also had some pretty forgettable nachos to start. I still think Blue Ribbon has better BBQ, but Redbones' beer selection and appetizers are enough to keep me coming back. This was an especially raucous birthday celebration and Redbones' was the perfect locale.

    9 Replies
    1. re: gini

      I'm glad you mentioned the forgettable Nachos; I was going to try them on my next visit. Has anyone had any good apps or sides at Redbones? I'm a vegetarian, and am looking for an alternative to the Portabella Burger when I go with my meat-eating pals. I'd go just for the delicious sweet tea, but a girl's gotta eat. Their mac & cheese and the fried okra didn't go down too easy for me.

      1. re: pollystyrene

        To pollystyrene: the garlic mashed are quite lovely, with almost enough garlic (grin, possibly the garlickiest mashed potatoes I've had in Boston apart from my own). The steamed broccoli has come in handy as a side, but I think both work better as accompaniments to a meat dish, not as a main event in and of themselves. The corn pudding and succotash look interesting, but I haven't ever had them.

        To PaulB: thanks for the clarification re Kasteel Rouge. Still tasted somewhere between cranberry juice and cough syrup to me; I'll opt for a Lindeman's if I"m looking for a Kriek brew. Or better yet, a Lindeman's framboise lambic (but that's another thread).

        Looks like I'm heading back to Redbones for more Engine Oil. I suppose there are worse fates.

        1. re: pollystyrene

          Veggie apps:
          Corn fritters - fried sweet corn fritters dipped in maple syrup - hand down favorite thing on the menu
          Succotash - a fine rendition, though I don't love lima beans
          Corn pudding - not my thing, but it's good for what it is
          Fried okra - they're ddefinitely using frozen and tastes like the fryolator, not okra
          Candied yams - pretty good

          Second the garlic mashed & side of broccoli.

          Have you tried their veggie burger? It's really basic and not house-made, but fine in a pinch.

          1. re: gini

            I'd bet the majority of places in New England use frozen (read Sysco) okra. Heck, most of the places down here do.

            1. re: gini

              I wondered why that okra was so nasty! So corn fritters and mashed potatoes it is. I would never eat broccoli for pleasure. Corn and potatoes are veggies, right???

              1. re: pollystyrene

                Well, corn and potatoes aren't animal or mineral ...

            2. re: pollystyrene

              I love the succotash! I thought the BBQ was fine, but not amazing, but I would go back for the succotash.

              1. re: pollystyrene

                When I get a three plus one, the sides I pick are almost always greens
                beans (preferably black), and mac & cheese. I prefer the fried oysters as an appetizer.

                As for the beer list, sometimes I just can't choose; they're all good. And they usually have something on cask Monday nights.

                chicken chipotle sausage (though I haven't seen that lately)
                corn pudding

              2. re: gini

                Catfish and buffalo shrimp are my Achilles heal. The CC weizenbock is fantastic. On tap last night I had Ten Fidy from Oskar Blues and sampled the Kriek.. Both were very nice. Chris always has a nice selection of brews ont ap.

              3. >which leads me to ask: does anybody know if any other places serve this stuff (Old >Engine Oil) on draft in town?

                I've only seen it at Redbones. Sunset Grill in Allston is a possibility but freshness would concern me there given the 112 taps.

                Kasteel Rouge is a kriek (cherry) beer

                Thanks for the detailed review of 'Bones, one of my favorite places to enjoy a wide variety of fresh draft beer with some appetizers.

                1. Redbones has the best draft beer selection I know of in the Somerville/Cambridge area. I'm a little snobbish about beer in that I want *lots* flavor, and I've always found plenty to choose from at 'bones. Last time I was there I had an Ipswich Harvest Ale (Mercury Brewing's Ipswich beers are the best microbrews ever made in New England; their oatmeal stout makes all the Irish stouts taste like water), an Ommegang Hennepin, and a tasty, unfiltered, dry-hopped beer of Rogue's -- something outside their regular lineup.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Kenji

                    Actually, unless I'm terribly mistaken, Ommegang Hennipin is NOT a Rogue product; the Rogues are from Oregon, and the Ommegang beers are brewed in NY.
                    Also, I must admire your dice at claiming that the Ipswich beers are "the best microbews ever made in New England," AND that that "the Mercury/Ipswich oatmeal stout makes all the Irish stouts taste like water." I'm not gonna pick the fights, but you have thrown down some fightin' words, my brave brother. Protect your soft spots...

                    1. re: garlic breath

                      Ommegang Hennepin is certainly *not* a Rogue beer! I said nothing to imply otherwise. Hennepin is a arguably a saison, and tastes like nothing in the Rogue range.

                      My comments about Ipswich are based on long experience, and I stand by them. It is so much thicker, darker, and tastier than any of the Irish stouts -- and than most US micro stouts. For the longest time, I thought Rogue's Shakespeare Stout was the best stout in its ABV range (6%). But the Ipswich even beats SS.

                      Get a good sample of the Ipswich OS, try it side by side with any of the others. You'll see what I mean. It has more malt, more hops, more body, a creamy texture from the oats. Guinness, Beamish, and Murphy's are mere water compared to it.

                  2. Used to drink Old Engine Oil out of nitro cans at Sunset like 5 or 6 years ago. Doubtful you could find it anywhere else on tap in Boston.