HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >
What are you cooking today? Tell us about it

Architecturally interesting bars/lounges?

Hungry GR Mar 9, 2008 03:37 PM

Does anyone have any recs on a somewhat newish T-accessible bar that would be interesting to architects/designer typess? Something along the lines of the Alibi bar (at the-former-Charles-Street-Jail-turned-Liberty-Hotel)?

  1. n
    nasilemak Mar 9, 2008 04:29 PM

    Mantra comes to mind though it isn't new.

    1. d
      drewames03 Mar 9, 2008 04:33 PM

      Teatro (on Tremont, Downtown) is more of a restaurant with a small bar, but it is in a former synagogue. It is loud with a lot of energy, so it feels like a lounge in many ways. It is definitely a cool spot. I haven't been to Banq in the Sound End, but people have remarked that the room looks spectacular.

      1. k
        kweesee Mar 10, 2008 01:22 PM

        im sure you know of RISD, rhode island school of design.. my brother went to school there and their professors took them into boston and showed them MANTRA as well as NINE ZERO hotel, both are walking dist to each other, as well as t-accessible.

        teatro's ceiling is nice, and thats about it, it has a small bar, but its mostly a restaurant.

        1. yumyum Mar 10, 2008 01:25 PM

          Not super T- accessible but the interior design of Banq on Washington Street (South End) was written up in Gourmet magazine months before it opened for the intersection of good food and swank design. Some posters here have commented on it and I think it would hit your spot.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yumyum
            finlero Mar 10, 2008 01:46 PM

            I realize it's stretching the OP's request, but along similar lines, Bloc 11 is a coffeehouse in Union Square built in a renovated bank. Coolest looking coffeehouse I've seen in town.

            I've never been that impressed with Diva Lounge in Davis Square, but it has been written up in a few architectural journals for its interesting use of materials. Personally, I think it's a bit silly, feeling a little like the set of a 1950's scifi B movie.

          2. j
            jajjguy Mar 10, 2008 02:56 PM

            Enormous Room is pretty cool, though not new. Adaptive reuse of loft-type space.
            I think Les Zygomates is interesting looking.

            1. g
              Guinness02122 Mar 10, 2008 03:06 PM

              Jacob Wirth's is pretty interesting. Pretty bright too, if you're shooting photos.

              1. k
                katielp Mar 10, 2008 04:18 PM

                Definitely Banq. I dropped in last week and didn't stay for dinner (too crowded), but was delighted by the curved, rippled, pale wood ceiling.
                I'm not sure that Middlesex in Cambridge (between Kendall and Central) is architecturally interesting, but it's a very sleek, minimalist well-designed bar, with furniture that can be moved around and rearranged. Lots of MIT students.

                1. a
                  alansm Mar 10, 2008 04:38 PM

                  I always found Elephant Walk quite interesting, although that's certainly not new.

                  1. steinpilz Mar 10, 2008 05:26 PM

                    I think Neptune has a winning design job, along with the food, B&G is also good. I'm partial to Miracle of Science (a few blocks from the T), the Grafton Street bar is very comfortable because of how they use the window (rare in Boston), Wagamama is a bit sterile but interesting, Cambridge 1 is very comfortable 'though the food is terrible, I also think that the Other Side is interesting. Your question has me thinking that there are some very uninteresting bars our there (as a counterpoint?).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: steinpilz
                      jajjguy Mar 15, 2008 02:53 PM

                      Yes, B&G is very cool architecturally. You'll probably end up waiting to get in and then spending some real money though.

                    2. p
                      pierce Mar 10, 2008 06:29 PM

                      officeDA (in my opinion the most exciting design firm in Boston at the moment) designed the interiors the Upper Crust on Charles Street in Beacon Hill, Bin 26 Enoteca, and Mantra

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: pierce
                        jajjguy Mar 15, 2008 02:53 PM

                        They also did Banq.

                        1. re: jajjguy
                          designnewhaven Mar 18, 2009 08:30 PM

                          I found that Banq was quite a bit overrated both in terms of food and (especially) decor. It is also very crowded. It was listed as the best new restaurant in several prominent magazines, primarily due to the decor, so I suppose that I had gone in with high expectations. Anyhow, I would give it a B+ for food quality, C+ for food value, A- for decor, A- for service, and B- for overall ambiance.

                          The wood tunnel effect is cool, but it looks better in the photographs - when you get up close you can see the seams.

                          1. re: designnewhaven
                            MC Slim JB Mar 18, 2009 09:56 PM

                            Purely a layman's perspective here, but the fact that you can see the bones behind the banyan-tree effect at Banq is clearly a deliberate choice, and one I think is kind of cool. I find the dining room stunning overall. I think they made some imperfect compromises in the bar: it doesn't take many people to make it uncomfortably cramped, and there are corners of it that are never inviting. But overall it's still an original and quite beautiful design.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                              designnewhaven Mar 20, 2009 11:20 AM

                              The dining room looks great (and yes, is very original), but it just did not live up to the overwhelming hype. I think that Wallpaper listed it as the best new restaurant in the world. The ceilings are lower than I thought they would be. What bothered me more was how crowded it was - the table next to mine was about two feet away and I had to listen to their conversation all night. It's usually empty in the photographs, so you don't realize that it isn't really that large. To add to that, the acoustics are poor. The guy next to me was shouting the whole time since he had a large table of guests.

                              Food and presentation was good, but nothing particularly memorable, when compared to Tabla, etc., and quite pricey. Excellent wine list, though.

                              Overall, I would recommend trying the place if it is within your budget, but it wouldn't be on my top 10 of places to go in Boston. Make reservations in advance.

                              1. re: designnewhaven
                                MC Slim JB Mar 20, 2009 01:32 PM

                                Agree it's no Tabla, and is punishingly loud when it's crowded.


                      2. CityPork Mar 11, 2008 05:52 AM

                        How about the R&D Pub at MIT's Stata Center? It's on the 4th floor and the fun part is trying to get to it. Maybe they have signs up now..I haven't been since they first opened. A very fun space.

                        1. a
                          aperitif Mar 11, 2008 06:41 AM

                          The current / 'Dining' issue of Stuff@Night has an entire spread devoted to restaurant design. page 30.

                          1. s
                            saltyair Mar 16, 2008 08:15 AM

                            Banq in the South End
                            District in the Leather District
                            Excelsior on the Park
                            OM in Harvard Square
                            Diva in Davis Sqaure
                            Cuchi Cuchi in Central Sq
                            Rumba in the Intercon. Hotel
                            O Ya on East St

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: saltyair
                              MC Slim JB Mar 16, 2008 08:44 AM

                              Rumba gets my vote for ugliest, worst hodgepodge of design themes in Boston. No wait: it's second. First prize in the fugly sweepstakes goes to Strega in the North End.

                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                Guinness02122 Mar 17, 2008 03:48 PM

                                You mean lottery, right? :)

                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  saltyair Mar 17, 2008 03:52 PM

                                  LOL. I agree

                                  1. re: saltyair
                                    kate used to be 50 Mar 18, 2008 08:25 AM

                                    I also agree - plus the $$ for drinks is actually criminal.

                              2. b
                                bostonbroad Mar 16, 2008 10:51 AM

                                I think the bar at Blue is interesting to look at and is right across the street from the Boylston stop on the Green line and around the corner from Chinatown and Downtown Crossing on Orange/Red.

                                1. teaTomE Mar 19, 2008 09:58 AM

                                  There is a lot of talk on Yelp about the newly opened Achilles - Persephone: The Achilles Project. I think this fits the bill of "newish T-accessible bar that would be interesting to architects/designer types" - it's a clothing boutique, video game lounge, bar and restaurant with an eye on design. The food is from Lumiere's Michael Leviton.

                                  It's just across Fort Point Channel from South Street Station

                                  1. g
                                    ghostcat Mar 18, 2009 10:52 PM

                                    From an architectural standpoint, I think the way they carved the BeeHive out of the basement under the Cyclorama was incredible. I know there are lots of views on the food, but I enjoy going there. The bar at Rocca is an incredible space added to an old building and great fun. Banq was fun to look at, but it always photographs better than it actually is. I don't think Mantra or Ocenaire did great jobs with the old spaces they exist in. I think the decor at OM now outshines the food, but is very well designed and worth a visit.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: ghostcat
                                      MC Slim JB Mar 19, 2009 09:16 AM

                                      Agree that The Beehive's space is a marvel, one of the cooler spaces in the city. Odd how the bar at Rocca is so attractive (and the patio so great), but the upstairs dining room so tacky and uninviting; I feel the converse about OM. I think Bond is nice-looking, but the timing of a banking theme for decor is a bit awkward. When discussing Boston restaurant design, I always have to mention Strega in the North End as, um, a cautionary tale.


                                    2. j
                                      jody Mar 19, 2009 05:36 AM

                                      Agree with previous suggestions for Banq. Also Bond Restaurant and Lounge at the Langham.

                                      Show Hidden Posts