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Locke Ober - Never Again

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Just got back from my first and last trip to Locke Ober.

So you're going to restaurant that has a dress code (...well a minimal one anyway) and you are greeted by hostesses that don't even meet their own dress code. The two hostesses were not even fit to be greeting at TGI McFunsters let alone a "high end" place. I was not even sure that they were out of high school. Major let down 3 feet in the door.

Nice building... If you get to sit in the main dining room. We sat in the upstairs overflow room next to the kitchen, and that is all I could hear.

Service: Awful. Had to wait for menus and had to request the wine list. Three times they tried to bring us food for adjoining tables. We ordered oysters to start and I ordered a salad. They brought them both at the same time. The oysters were however the best part of meal.

Dinner: Meh. Nothing special but OK. I did however ask if the Schnitzel came with any sides and I was told that it did not, so I ordered potatoes. It showed up with buttered noodles, who wants two starches? Again, the server did not even know the menu.

Wine list while expensive seemed OK.

Dessert: Sloppy. Uninspired. I had a custard that was more like pudding. Don't EVER order coffee there. Weak. It was the kind of coffee that you would get at a bad wedding reception. Beyond bad.

Overall the entire experience was not worth the $200 that we paid.

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  1. I agree. I can't understand the hype. I've been twice and wasn't impressed either time. There are lots and lots of restaurants in Boston that I'd rate as being much better. There won't be a 3rd time that's for sure.

    1. "It was the kind of coffee that you would get at a bad wedding reception."

      Certain descriptions just sizzle and you immediately comprehend what the writer is saying. This is one of them. I can taste how bad the coffee is and that, along with the rest of your experience, is outrageous at those prices.

      1. I had a different experience this week. I have a an annual lunch at LO with a group of friends that goes back many years

        We always request the downstairs main dining room..no main dining room, I don't go; and while LO used to have a dress code, I didn't wear a tie or jacket..though most everyone else did.

        Oysters were fine. Lobster bisque good as ever, Bay scallops,always delicious, a friend had the wienerschnizel with buttered noodles and loved it...clearly your waiter should have answered your question correctly..and the sweetbreads were very good.

        Sorry you didn't enjoy it. I prefer it for a nice lunch than for dinner. I think of LO as a piece of Boston history; and while the food is good, I don't expect the quality of a Troquet, Clio, #9, etc.

        1. I'm sorry to hear of your disappointing experience. Locke-Ober has been one of my favourites in Boston for a long time --- both before and after Lydia Shire's restoration of the restaurant.

          My one criticism from my most recent trips has been the host station. I don't think it's particularly fair to comment on the age or appearance of the hostesses, but I have found the hosts and hostesses (who were definitely well out of high school) to be more than a little confused the past few times I've been there.

          I am genuinely surprised by your description of poor service. I don't know what to say because I've never experienced anything other than exceedingly professional service. Indeed, I'd say that's one of the hallmark's of Locke-Ober.

          As for the food, when I was last there, about a month ago, the Dover Sole was the best simply prepared fish I've had since being at Wedholms Fisk in Sweden. The Wiener Schnitzel a la Holstein was delicate, moist, flavorful, and yet still crisp. The creamed spinach is unparalleled. I'm not sure what dessert you had, but the Indian Pudding is something of an acquired and specific taste. The Locke-Ober macaroons are some of the very best macaroons around. I've always had excellent coffee there as well, and I like strong coffee.

          It certainly sounds like you had a poor experience --- all I can offer is that I've had many terrific experiences there. It sounds like you had an inexperienced server, a poor table, and a very busy night for the kitchen.

          Locke-Ober has been one of the most consistent restaurants I've been to around Boston, and while it's certainly not everyone's cup of tea, it sounds like you had an uncharacteristically poor experience. I know it's hard when there are so many interesting places to try, but whenever I have a poor experience at what sounded like an interesting place, I try to give it another chance.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lipoff

            I'm wondering if the service upstairs has slipped or become a "training ground"..and the OP was a victim of this. I always advise people to eat downstaits for the true LO experience..and many of the same waiters have been around a while.

            That dover sole is great; unfortunately N/A at lunch..

            A good friend of mine makes the macaroons at his small factory in E Boston and in the "feel good" dept, all profits go to help educate young people from disadvantage backgrounds. He sells them to the Harvard Club and NY Yacht Club, and other higher end establishments. It's a remarkable program. I'll pass along your kind words. I just shipped my father 4 tubs..:)

            1. re: lipoff

              Age, maybe not, but it is certainly "fair" to comment on the appearance of a hostess at a high end restaurant. It is your first impression of the place...

              1. re: StriperGuy

                On that point, I happen to agree with the OP. The hostesses lacked the "crispness/polish" that the long time Tony has. It wasn't just their experience (they looked nice enough..:))but lack of professionalism.

                It didn't ruin our meal; but if this were my first trip, I'd probably have been more turned off by them...clearly not in keeping with the LO tradition/experience.

                I don't mean to appear taking 2 sides here. I enjoyed my lunch; but I could see where the OP had valid complaints..and maybe I unfairly give LO the benefit because of a long history of good experiences; that maybe transcend the actual dining experience...that a 1 or 2 time visitor would not give the benefit to.