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Sep 10, 2007 01:46 PM

Liberty Hotel: Give 'em a few weeks but promising. . .

Stopped in to the new Liberty Hotel on Sunday. (This is the old Charles Street Jail.) Their official opening day was Thursday and we understood there might be a glitch or two in service or whatever. The place is a wonderful testament to a great-boned building made even better by good design. It's quite something, really. The gorgeous stonework walls, the windows, which make it very light and open. The concept, really, is quite fun.

Clink is the restaurant on the second floor, and I love the reference to both the jail and what our celebratory glasses could sound like. We opted to sit at the bar. Arrived around 2:30, with plans to have a glass of wine and a couple of appetizers. The menu is separated into snacks, small plates, a Japanese hot rock-cooked section, and then some larger entrees such as espresso-coated ribs.

For a relatively quiet period of the day, Sunday at 2:30, it took a long time for the bartender to come over. We orderd a bottle of wine; they were out; we ordered a second, out. I think we got the third one, but it might even have been our fourth choice. We thought this was odd since they had only been open four days. Or, they should have made sure the list was accurate. It took a long time for the wine to come, but we were enjoying ourselves and admiring the architecture and design. Ordered food: popcorn with truffles and caramel; fried mac and cheese from the snacks list; then a cheese selection; a duck confit on flat breat, and fried Ipswich clams. Ordered before 3:00. 15 minutes later the bartender came over and told us the kitchen closed at 3 and we could only get the 2 appetizers. RRRgggh. We wouldn't have ordered a bottle of wine if we knew we couldn't get substantial food. Then he came over and said we could order off the room service menu--but we really wanted what we ordered! And the cheese plate was on the room service menu to boot. At that point my DC went to the concierge to explain, since everyone seemed intent not on the customer experience but telling us what couldn't be done. To make a long story short, the banquet manager came over, apologized twice, got us our food, and didn't charge us, which was very nice and a very generous gesture.

The food: Mac and cheese was delicious, with a homemade dried tomato chutney. Truffled popcorn a nice combination of sweet and salty, but not enough truffle flavors, to our palates. Clams were a generous proportion, not greasy, and came with two delicious butters, one with fresh tarragon. Duck and accoutrements of dried cherries and frisee, were great but it was certainly not flatbreak but a grilled piece of pita. The bread should have been nice and crispy and flavored, but wasn't Cheeses were good but served with, honestly, what tasted like Welch's grape jully and 3 teeny pieces of break for 6 large pieces of cheese.

They are opening a bar on the first floor next week called Alibi and it will have a tv.

Initial assessment: design is sophisticated, service is amateruish so far, food has promise.

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  1. I stopped in for a glass of wine last Thurs night about 5. Nice renovation. Service was fine if a little amateurish..I can live with that for a brand new place; but wine by the glass prices were very high. We didn't eat but menu looked interesting and faitly priced..apps, "small plates," and full entrees.

    I feel no need to go back unless I hear/read some good reports.

    1. I was hoping to hear better things. My general rule is give a place 2 - 3 weeks to work out the kinks. The few times i've gone to restaurants the first week they're open, they have always had problems.

      1. Is this the Lydia Shire place, or another one? I remember someone saying there would be 2-3 different restaurants/bars in the hotel...

        5 Replies
        1. re: hsquare2southend

          Clink -- hotel bar/restaurant, currently open.
          Alibi -- hotel bar set in an old cellblock (the former drunk tank, I believe), run by Lyons Group, opening in the next week or two.
          Scampo -- Shire place, opening later this year or early next (aiming for late fall).

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Awesome. Thanks for the info- that was what I expected but wanted to be sure.

              1. re: limster

                Except the website makes it sound like Alibi is already open. And I'm always skeptical of restaurateurs' optimistic opening projections; early next year is probably a safer guess on Scampo.

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  I was at Lydia Shire's, Blue Sky on York Beach for dinner last night and learned that Susan Regis is cooking there until she comes back to Boston to open Scampo for Lydia.

                  I don't want to get moved to the New England since this is meant to be information about Scampo rather than Blue Sky but FYI, Blue Sky on York Beach is a beautiful restaurant but very loud and the food was quite ordinary especially considering the prices. I know there are many postings on the New England Board which state pretty much the same thing.