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Feb 15, 2009 12:35 PM

The Castle in Leicester, MA - Has anyone been?

I was watching the Phantom Gourmet (guilty pleasure, forgive me) and they mentioned a restaurant that I'd never heard of, but piqued my interest - The Castle in Leicester, MA. It's over an hour from Boston though, so I am not about to make a trip out there unless I am sure it is worth the drive. They promised an impressive atmosphere and dinner theater (table service, not acting like the medieval manor!) to go with great food and solid wine list. Phantom is known for pimping restaurants that pay though, so I don't want to drive an hour for a lot of flash and no substance .

Anyone ever been and can vouch for the place?

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  1. You should probably try the New England board - the Worcester area is better represented there. It's been many years, but my recollection of the Castle is less-than-average banquet food. Not worth the trip from Worcester, let alone Inman Square.

    1. I went to The Castle once for Valentine's Day dinner years ago based upon its reputation. I have never wanted to go back. Our party of four suffered through amateurish service and mediocre food. I was not surprised when a server casually informed us that students were in the kitchen as well as on the floor. I think they were running the place, as well.

      One of their special offerings was crispy duck. I have been disappointed too often with soggy duck, almost as often as Burgundy has broken my heart, so I questioned our waiter about it. He assured me that it was always served crisp, with the subcutaneous fat rendered out. My duck was gray, bland and soggy, with skin that was gummy, not even within quacking distance of crisp.

      I looked around for our waiter so that he could return it to the kitchen. That's right; he had promptly been transported into another dimension. By the time he finally reappeared to inquire about dessert, we were all ready to leave. I complained about the poor state of what was once a proud, happy duckling; his reply was that "They're all like that; they do them all together on a big tray."

      We drove quite a distance to get to The Castle in Leominster from our home in Rhode Island; I have never been tempted to return. We have a wealth of fine restaurants right here. Now when I want a crispy whole duck, I do it at home.

      It is a pity that restaurants rarely offer a half duckling anymore; if they do, it is one of those pre-cooked birdies. Every time I have ordered the half duck in any restaurant lately, I have been served either two confit legs or one confit leg with a sliced medium-rare breast. I don't think any kitchen buys a whole duck anymore; just the pre-cut breast portions and those huge tins of confit legs, ready to heat.

      Huzzah for the home oven!

      1. Sorry, I meant Leicester.

        1. The Castle in Leicester is a fabulous fine dining restaurant. I have eaten there several times over the last 40 years. The owner and head Chef, Stanley Nicas is a world reknowned chef. The maitre'd, James is always attentive to the needs and wants of his patrons. The staff is cared for very well and waiters remain for many years due to this. The food is amazing from appetizers through dessert and the wine list is expansive. I highly recommend another try for Eatin in Woostah...They also offer wine dinners and in nice weather jazz on the patio.
          They offer foods you will not be served anywhere else in the area...sauteed calves brains...sweetbreads...chateaubriand...bananas flambe...(the last two fired up at your table) Bon appetito

          1 Reply
          1. re: doclaw88

            It's it's heyday it was the place to go in the Central MA area. Last time I went there was 1991 for a banquet and it was mediocre at best.

          2. I drove by the restaurant last w/e driving on Route 9 from Belchertown to Worcester. It looked closed. It did NOT look nice. Not to be rude, but the town wasn't that nice, either. I suggest skipping it and going to The Salem Cross Inn, instead. It's also on Route 9 but further west. Much nicer and no "themes", and there are several orchards to p/u Fall treats.

            3 Replies
            1. re: stuck in Hartford County

              Salem Cross Inn as opposed to The Castle??? Not saying The Castle is anything great anymore but the best days of Salem Cross Inn are far back in the past.....

              1. re: RandyL

                The last time I went it was really nice, but it was a few years ago. I'm sorry to hear the place has declined. It was so pretty and the food was great, especially the fresh baked bread. Still, the Castle looked, well, yuck. We passed it twice on Saturday (11:30 and 3:30) and both times there were not cars there and it looked abandoned and "messy", leading me to conclude it was closed. I may have been wrong, though... How bad can the Cross have gotten?!

                1. re: stuck in Hartford County

                  I'm not sure how big of a lunch they do although they are open for it. I agree about how it may appear in daylight hours - haha! It looks much better at night! The Cross went downhill for a while there and I haven't been back. When I did go, it seemed their menu was all over the place and featured alot of Italian dishes (which I would never expect there). I do think I may venture out there agin though.

                  I was at The Castle this summer enjoying Jazz on the Patio. Food, service and atmosphere were great.