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Woodward at the Ames

Stopped by Woodward at the Ames on Sat. Basic, plentiful but simple gastropub style food. Had a nice salad, flatbread and fish.
Downside is the tight proximitry of the Bar with the dining spaces (there are two levels with bar and dining at both). We were downstairs and found the room loud and slightly uncomfortable for dining.

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  1. was upstairs at the bar, painfully crowded and loud, but the drink was very good (Ames Addiction, w/ Ron Zacapa 23yr, Carpano Antica, Canton ginger), and the short rib pot roast and mushroom toast were decent. Might wait until it quiets down a bit to go back. Heard from a source there that Tom of Craigie is moving to W in Boston in January...

    14 Replies
    1. re: barleywino

      Does W mean the Woodward or the W hotel? Sorry to be dense, just want to have my gossip right : )

        1. re: barleywino

          Can anyone else confirm this?

          I had hoped for...something else for the gifted Schlesinger-Guidelli.

          He runs such a wonderful bar, and Cragie on Main is such an acclaimed restaurant, I assumed his next jump would be his own establishment, or at least another restaurant to start a new bar program.

          1. re: rlove

            perhaps the W has deeper pockets and can afford to pay more for talent?

            1. re: barleywino

              Yes, I am sure they do.

              I was just hoping he'd go somewhere I'd frequent. :)

              1. re: rlove

                at least he's not leaving town...hopefully

                maybe the W will install a phone booth in the lobby (a la PDT) which admits the cognoscenti into Tom's secret speakeasy...they can call it the "M" ("W" upside down)

            2. re: rlove

              W could use a good bartender - they did not know how to make a "Toronto" the other night. Their manhattan was fine, though.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                Just FYI: Noir in the Charles Hotel now has a Toronto on their drink list. And a pretty tasty one at that.

                1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                  Thanks for the tip. I also ordered one at Bond recently - figuring that all these fancy bar spots would be able to make one - and it was all about blood orange juice with no discernible Fernet....tasty, but huh

        2. re: barleywino

          I figured Tom S-G had to be moving someplace where he would have a bigger stage (I had speculated privately that he might be moving to the Woodward). If he could train up a whole cadre of bartenders to handle the crowds at the W with real craft cocktail-making skills, that would be a great thing. I suspect a lot of W patrons would still order stupid sweet flavored-vodka junk, but some would take a flyer on more interesting cocktails, and a few would get hooked, and drive demand for those kind of drinks at other bars. Talent trained at the W would eventually fan out to other bars, taking valuable lessons with it.

          Overall, it would have a more positive net effect on the drinking scene than if Schlesinger-Guidelli just stayed at Craigie's little bar. So that rumor is a welcome one, if true. Who knows? Maybe this is a crossing-the-chasm moment for craft cocktails, the point where it gets out of the evangelist/aficionado phase of its growth and into the wider mainstream.


          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Tommy as recently as of last week denied having any plans when we spoke. Either he's keeping things under wraps or taking a break while surveying his options.

            1. re: yarm

              It's almost certainly the former. I think he knows where he's going, just not saying.


              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Then let me put a vote in for the Coppa rumor.

                1. re: yarm

                  I can confirm that the Coppa rumor was a joke. I repeated it (via Twitter) with a "this sounds like a joke" disclaimer, but I'm not sure everyone got that, e.g., Boston Magazine just repeated it yesterday on its Chowder blog.


        3. the flat bread pizza with confit duck, cranberries and goat cheese was really excellent. The tortellini with shortribs, not so much, it was undercooked and undersalted.

          1. Haven't sampled the food yet, but was impressed with a first go-round at some classic craft cocktails: quality spirits, solid technique (no free pouring), good results.

            Scene is rather W Hotel-like: packed and frenzied in the upstairs bar, a bit calmer downstairs, with a lot of folks dressed as though they're hoping to hook up before closing time. Will be curious to try the food some night when I haven't spent the previous three hours eating somewhere else.


            1 Reply
            1. re: MC Slim JB

              same reaction to the scene... hopefully this will calm down a bit, since its a nice new option for me close to work. I also wasn't completely sold on the modern + rustic decor combo attempt- I like the concept in general, I just wasn't sold on it ( I think the big names involved could have done better). House red wine was a nice shiraz at an affordable $7 with a generous pour. Mushroom toasts were yummy.

            2. tried the burger, it was unexceptional, nowhere near the level of say Toro, Craigie, Radius etc. Blood & Sand was punch-like and bland compared to the Ames Addiction

              1 Reply
              1. re: barleywino

                For those of you as clueless as I - Woodward at Ames is at 1 Court Street (at Washington Street) in Boston.

                And, there are no prices on the menu pdf...kinda annoying when I have no idea what to expect. But a generous pour of Shiraz at $7 is certainly encouraging!

              2. My wife sent me someting that she heard that Sam from Top Chef a few seasons back is working there as well.

                6 Replies
                1. re: kimfair1

                  Devra First confirmed the Sam from Top Chef at the Woodward rumor during her live chat yesterday.


                      1. re: jgg13

                        OMG -- love "let me google that for you". Thanks for that!

                          1. re: yumyum

                            It never fails to make me laugh, even when people do it to me. :)

                  1. How much are the cocktails going for?

                    2 Replies
                    1. I had a couple of cocktails there Monday night - it was basically empty (unsurprisingly). They were excellent, though, and I think the Sazerac was $12. Seemed to be properly made, and had sugar cube remnants in the bottom of the glass. I had some kind of vodka, passion fruit, and honey cocktail off their drink menu that was very nicely done - in retrospect, I should have gotten them to sub some decent tequila in for the vodka.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: nsenada

                        We stopped in last Sunday for a quick bite. We sampled two of the hash options on the brunch menu. I had the lobster hash and Ed had the truffle/mushroom with the option of shirred eggs.

                        We had great service, some really nice folks at the downstairs bar with us and thought it was a good wine selection.

                        We took a peek at the room upstairs. I think we'll enjoy it more at quiet times like Sunday or Monday night when nsenada went. I really don't like the loud room, place to be seen crowd. But, they usually move on in time.

                        I'm hoping the Woodward develops its own long term customer base. I think it could be a great addition to that area. Every time I'm at City Hall with a group of people we struggle to find a place to drop into after a meeting.

                        We did take some photos.


                      2. Just went there for lunch with coworkers. Was unimpressed. The only thing exceptional about my meal was pickle chips on corner of plate. Had veal pastrami sandwich. It was OK, came grilled (if I'd known I would have asked for it not to be), with lots of seed-filled mustard (attractive but just average flavor). Shoestring fries on side looked great but tasted old/hard. Got the 'english radish' appetizer which was a joke. Salty toast with 3 shavings of palate undetectable radish on top. Not a $7 appetizer, more a 63 cent affair. My $4 tea came in a bag. My coworker had the oysters which he said was great, my boss had the burger which she thought was similarly unremarkable and too big (2 patties = about 10 oz). The space is beautiful, service fine. I'd go back for drinks but never for food. Not bad, but for these prices not worth it at all. Might as well have gone to Silvertone for half the price.

                        69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108

                        1. Went for dinner last evening. The good, the cocktails. I had one with Absolute Boston, lemon and mint that was excellent, and they made a delicious Sazerac (unlike La Morra in Brookline who had no idea what they were doing with theirs - ice? lemon wedge? WTF?). The food was ok, I liked the short rib torteloni, but the pasta was just undercooked. The shrimp salad was nice if a bit busy. The flank steak with french fries was the best part of the meal, and the fries werwe hot and crisp (may have been because it was Xmas eve, and VERY slow), the chicken was unremarkable, and we also had two sides, the mac and cheese (my wife's is better), and roasted veggies, merely OK, and too many green beans. I'd give the food a B- or a C+, and the drinks an A-

                          1. We went Tuesday night for cocktails and apps. Cocktail wise I had the Boston Mule (Absolut Boston and Ginger Beer) and the Dedham Winter (Apple Cider and Chartreuse) both were excellent. My other companions were also very pleased with their selections as well.

                            For appetizers we had: Radish with Butter and Sea Salt, overpriced as mentioned above (small portion) but done very well; Short Rib Tortellini, Did not have as much short rib flavor as I expected, but the Tortellini itself was delicious and texturally very pleasing; and the Duck Confit Flatbread, huge portion, great flavor, very tasty.

                            Finished off with a desert cocktail called the Irish Flip (Baileys, Dark Rum and Egg) also very good.

                            Service was attentive and very friendly but not overwhelming and the Space is very nice. Since I live Downtown it is also very convenient so it is a nice addition to the neighborhood and hope it does well.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Matt H

                              That drink I had was The Boston Mule as well. I don't know why I put lemon and mint down as ingredients, but the two Zombies I had at Eastern Standard before dinner may have had something to do with it! ;~)

                            2. I'm not sure what to make of this, but my mom went to Woodward and asked them to put "sugar around the rim" of a fruity cocktail she ordered, and they refused. I understand that chefs and bartenders prepare dishes and cocktails according to what they think is best... but what about what the customer wants? "Sugar around the rim" isn't the biggest deal, but I find it kind of ridiculous that the best cocktail bar in the city, Drink, is all about the customer and what the customer wants... while Woodward refused something so simple. She loved the food, service, and atmosphere, but won't go back because of their unwillingness to cater her drink order. Thoughts?

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: SaraASR

                                I wonder how they serve a Sidecar.

                              2. Went for lunch a couple weeks ago. Food wasn't that good and service was slow. Will give it another try after they get settled in...here is hoping they last that long.

                                1. we had dinner on christmas night in the downstairs bar/restaurant. Cocktails were good - we had a sazerac, boston mule (which led to a purchase of the Absolute Boston), gin martini and the 'second marriage' which was a yummy champagne cocktail. Oysters, rock shrimp and veal pastrami to start. The rock shrimp were good...but I wasn't convinced that they were 'real' they seemed too big? For mains we had steak fries, monkfish/lobster, veg gnocchi. The monkfish was over-salted and the steak was very charred for a medium-rare. We had mac&cheese and roasted veggies for sides - the mac and veggies were both very good. All the dishes appeared 'as they were prepared' the server warned us of this but seriously...can they just time the prep so they all appear together? Even the server was slightly cynical of this approach...
                                  The server was excellent - told us a lot about the building and the local stories behind the cocktail names - and introduced us to Absolute Boston...

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: scubajane

                                    Can you provide more detail on the Absolute Boston?

                                    1. re: rlh

                                      I was afraid it would be clam flavored; but it's black tea and elderberry??? Haven't tried it yet.

                                      1. re: 9lives

                                        yes - it's black tea and elderberry flavored... we picked some up from genetti's in bedford...

                                      2. re: rlh

                                        Now I understand a little more with some help from Google - it's an Absolut brand flavored vodka - did Woodward do something interesting with it in a cocktail? I am usually skittish about bars that rely on a series of upscale bottles of flavored spirits (e.g., Bond), but it doesn't sound like that kind of place - will have to check it out in person, I guess.

                                    2. Had dinner at Woodward last night.
                                      The good... we enjoyed our apps.... including short rib tortellini, duck confit flatbread, crabmeat salad and mediterranean salad. Steak frites entree was also very good.
                                      The bad... The cod, bouillabaisse, flounder and short ribs were so over -salted that no one could finish their entrees. Just awful.
                                      The upstairs room is attractive but very loud. The atmosphere is cool rather than warm and inviting.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: emmie31

                                        interesting as we too had an over-salted entree experience too...

                                        1. re: scubajane

                                          And when we mentioned the "salt problem" to one of the managers...his response was arrogant rather than apologetic. Not a great way to do business at a new restaurant.

                                      2. Went this past Monday for drinks and snacks at the downstairs bar. It was *packed,* which surprised me, I guess I thought the Monday between the holidays would be quiet. Lucked out with 3 seats at the downstairs bar, service was okay but not great - took at least two attempts with two bartenders to order food and no one really inquired about ordering subsequent rounds.

                                        I appreciated the carafe option on the wines and took advantage of the pinot grigio; one friend ordered a french 75 and it looked very citrus-y to me but she enjoyed it. Had read about the duck confit flatbread recs here and so went with that and also the rock shrimp with tomatoes and olives. Flatbread was nice and crispy, the duck-goat cheese-cranberry combo was nice, just a maybe a bit dry overall for me... maybe it could use a drizzle of olive oil or something, not sure if it did. It was also pretty large for the price. The shrimp were great -- tender with a nice shrimpy flavor, I feared the olives would overpower but nope. Only letdown was the breadsticks that accompanied it -- they were long and crispy and made soaking up the buttery shrimp sauce difficult. I'd prefer a softer roll or sliced baguette. (And yes, I dipped the crust of the flatbread in there!)

                                        Perhaps slightly off topic, but was anyone else annoyed at the lack of signs for the hotel and restaurant? I guess it's their "thing" but it seems pretentious and unnecessary?

                                        1. Lack of signage is an old Morgan's Hotel Group trope: they think it adds to the exclusive feel, I guess. Celebs seem to love this, for one, perhaps thinking this will provide some cover. The properties tend to be nice boutique hotels in my experience, if carrying a hipness premium. (But a few, like The Hudson, are awful.)

                                          The Ames is definitely going for an exclusive nightclub kind of vibe, carefully controlling access with a kind of dickish attitude even when it doesn't seem necessary for capacity reasons. I have little patience for this hoohah, but there are always rubes who get starry-eyed when a velvet rope goes up.

                                          Fortunately, my experiences with the food have been fairly good, and the bartending mostly excellent, so far. But it is not cheap: $13 and $14 and $15 for cocktails that are not quite up to the level of those served at Drink and No. 9 and ESK. But it's still early yet.


                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            Might have experienced the exclusivity tactic the other day - went to the upstairs bar - all the tables were "reserved," pushing folks toward the (already crowded) bar area - we asked whether the tables were truly reserved, and they said they were usable until 6, after which we would have to move. So we got our drinks, plopped down in front of the fireplace in the corner - after about 15 minutes, the staff removed all the reserved cards and we were told we would not have to move after all. So who knows...

                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                              Bob -- if you weren't wearing your saffron-colored ascot, who can blame them for trying to move you along.

                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                  BD -- your name came up as my party had a pre-Big Night cocktail at Woodward. We laffed and laffed about your saffron ascot. Wait, not AT you, WITH you....

                                                  Anyway, I had the Boston Mule which is one of the best cocktails I've ever had. Perfectly balanced, not too sweet, not too boozy, just right. They make a mean Old Cuban too.

                                                  HATED the sceny scene though, and if they'd tried that velvet rope treatment with me I'd have walked right out.

                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                    ... or near me ...
                                                    (I totally have to get one for the next chowdown - and a monocle)

                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                Maybe a throwback to it's Club M-80 roots. Ah, Euro-skank night...

                                            2. What's the story on prices here (aside from drinks)? The web site doesn't have any. What other places are a good comparison?

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: crystallyn

                                                I'd put it in Mistral / Sorellina territory: many apps in the high teens, flatbreads nudging $20, many entrees in the mid-30s.


                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  Correction: flatbreads top out at $16. It's a shareable plates menu with nothing over $29. As Devra First notes in her Globe review today, some of them are small enough that the check can still add up, e.g., the wee buttered radish snack, which I really liked but forgot was $7, ouch!


                                              2. Finally tried Woodward last night with some apprehension about hotel bars, especially unlabeled places with high potential for pretense. It turned out to be an overall positive experience. The overall facility is nice and there were smiles without any attitudes at the door/hostess stand (and actually I get a kick out of the guys walking around the earpieces like the secret service - what town is this?)

                                                The set up of the two levels, each with a very crowded bar area and lots of tables in close proximity to one another and the loudest room I've been in around Boston was the only really drag - conversation would have been impossible had we not been seated in the "private dining room" upstairs - a glassed off area overlooking State Street - nice view but still noisy. The retro music choices were good and equally loud.

                                                The bartenders downstairs seemed serious and quite competent - except for the very minor infraction of subbing Overholt for the Rittenhouse rye on the menu for the Sazeracs - when noted, it was swapped out for an Elijah Craig version that was a different cocktail but tastier than Overholt IMHO. Old Monk rum on the bar was a good sign I noticed and the bartender made a custom flip with it, lots of bitters (orange, Angostura, and Peychauds), absinthe and some digestifs - unusual and tasty, not likely replicable. It's not Drink or Eastern Standard but it's several cuts above most hotel bar/llounges.

                                                We ate basically all seafood options on the menu - and they were all really good - cod, flounder, mussels, Island Creek oysters, rock shrimp, bouillabaisse - simple, light, perfectly cooked - the green salad was huge and tasty, and the shared dessert of apple cranberry crumble was basic and enjoyable with just a dab of super rich, eggy vanilla ice cream or gelato on the side. Waiter was well-informed, helpful, responsive, and funny.

                                                Aside from the extreme noise level, I'd be back really soon - maybe I need to try it on a weeknight next step.