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Jun 5, 2010 08:21 PM

I love the Gallows

The Gallows - the new gastropub in the old Sage space on Washington St (South End) - opened this weekend. I saw the crowd there last night, thought the menu looked great, so we tried it out tonight. I loved it.

We weren't hungry enough to sample a huge selection of the menu, but everything we had was very good, and the best was simply brilliant.

-They have a selection of different poutines - one traditional, one veggie, one with foie, one rotating special. This is awesome. We ordered the traditional. They make their own curds, which were soft and delicious. They use a fabulous dark chicken gravy and cut their own fries. I went to Montreal this winter and sampled several poutines, and only Au Pied du Cochon's was superior. Highlight of the meal, immediately on my list of best foods in Boston. The presentation is the height of simplicity, just a pile of fries covered in curds, gravy, and a little scallion for color.

-They have a nice cheese list - all local, New England - and a selection of appetizers mostly of the cured meat / cured fish / cured other things variety. For sampling purposes, they have platters - one of meats and cheeses, one of vegetables, fruits, and cheeses, one of fish and cheeses. We had the "longshoreman's platter", including a bluefish terrine, a tuna pate, smoked scallops, horseradish cured beets, a potato salad, and a hard boiled egg. The bluefish terrine was a brilliant dish, showcasing the bluefish while mellowing it with butter and dill. It tasted of everything I love about New England. The tuna pate and smoked scallop were fine, but nothing special, the horseradish beets were perfectly balanced, still tasted of beet with a nice horseradish kick, and the potato salad was simple and well-seasoned. I don't understand hard-boiled eggs - I guess this one was fine, but eggs are better when they aren't hard-boiled.

-They have a bunch of different salads, we got the arugula salad with balsamic, fresh strawberries and blue cheese. It was very good.

-A couple things on the menu I mean to try later: the California-style flat patty burger, and the "New England Boiled Dinner" of corned beef, brisket, and short rib with seasonal vegetables.

-The beer list is good. I thought it was a bit short for an apparent gastropub, but it hit its marks with good American and Belgian offerings.

-I watched them make the cocktails, and they bartenders are measuring properly, no free pouring. My "corpse reviver" was a take on the Corpse Reviver #2, but I think they used simple syrup as the sweetening agent rather than Cointreau, and the absinthe didn't show up at all - it was more like a summery gin sling than a perfectly balanced corpse reviver. Nice enough, but I don't think messing with the classic got them anywhere.

-The service was amazing for a second night. Our server was incredibly helpful and well-informed on the menu, and there were no hitches at all in the service. I would never have guessed it was the second night if I didn't already know it.

The Gallows is precisely what the South End has been missing for years. Great place, I highly recommend it to all.

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  1. Thanks for the fine, detailed early report!

    I managed to sneak a look at the space before it was finished, think it's very attractive, brighter and lighter than I imagined from its "reclaimed barn siding" description. It preserves practically nothing from the look of Sage and Caffe Umbra, though the bar is in the same spot. Rustic materials, but quite handsome.

    I agree that the concept has the potential to fill a big hole in the neighborhood. I remember this team *very* fondly from their days opening The Biltmore, which was never remotely the same after their idiot's-idiot owner pushed them out. Can't wait to try it myself.

    1. Great to hear that the South End has a new place worth checking out. Love the sound of the platters! yummmmmm
      Cant wait to try the poutine!

      1. Thanks for this post. I am so happy to hear about the Poutine!

        Was recently yammering to a friend about the lack of good gastropubs in Boston. I suppose Deep Ellum and Lord Hobo qualify, but I've never heard GREAT things about their food. There seems to be a deep Gastropub movement in Washington DC -- here's hoping it moves up North.

        Deep Ellum Bar
        477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

        Lord Hobo
        92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

        6 Replies
        1. re: yumyum

          I kind of hate the term "gastropub." "Gastro" is just not an appetizing prefix.

          1. re: robwat36

            I think the Brits were going for "gastronomy" when they coined it. Certainly the concept is appealing and not at all covered in the South End.


            1. re: robwat36

              I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels that way!

              I hate thinking about gastroenterology, gastric ulcers, or the gastrin hormone.

              1. re: Prav

                Here in Denver there's been a huge a) gastropub movement & b) uproar about the term "gastropub." The fact that I first heard it in London some 7/8 years ago makes me get less worked up about it. First one in town really was that place in Brookline whose name I can't remember, nor do I know if it's still there, gothic-church decor, decent eats some time back.

                Anyway, this place doesn't have a menu up anywhere, does it?

          2. Went Saturday night and loved it also. The ambience is MUCH improved over Sage (I actually believe that Sage failed because it had no real ambience; my husband thought it looked like a generic suburban restaurant). Love the reclaimed barn siding and the great lighting (lighting is so important!). I started my meal with a white grasshopper cocktail, which is served in a little milk jug with a straw and is delicious. Followed cocktails up with the foie poutine which was heavenly. Just heavenly. The only small criticism I might have is that it could have used a few more fries to enjoy the delicious foie and gravy. I had the potato dumplings (aka gnocchi), which were served with peas and asparagus and were quite good. Others had the boiled dinner, the longshoreman's, and the burger. Everyone was pleased with these. The soundtrack was good, too, until we could no longer hear it over the crowd. It does get noisy, so keep this in mind if you plan to take your grandparents or others who are hard of hearing! Think we will love having this place in the neighborhood. It's got a great vibe. Definitely the right addition to Washington Street!

            1 Reply
            1. re: hsquare2southend

              Went to a pre-opening last Thursday night, have to agree that the Poutine and all the many pork dishes I sampled were fantastic. Can't wait to try that burger, can't think of many restaurants doing the West-Coast Style burger that isn't a fast-food atmosphere.

            2. Gather round kids -- I have good news! No, GREAT news! For all of us who have been pissing and moaning about the lack of poutine in Boston, our prayers have been answered. I tried the Gallows "out of control" poutine last night and it's totally legit.

              They have four types of poutine -- traditional, spring, foie, and "out of control" which is a daily special. Last night's special featured sweetbreads, lardons, english peas and spring onions in addition to the fries, curds and gravy. It was over the top, off the hook, out of control for sure. I have to give a special shout out to the gravy -- a rich chicken based elixir that was like the best of the pan juices thickened just a bit. Some places go too gloopy on this element but not the Gallows. Fries crispy, ample toppings, and a good size to share.

              Neighbors to the right got the scotch eggs, which appeared perfectly done -- still runny yolk, nice firm pack on the sausage meat. Neighbors to the left had the burger. The meat is ground in house and formed into thinnish patties (West Coast style) and I thought their eyes were going to roll back in their heads as they gobbled it up.

              The room, as others have mentioned, is a huge step up from the interior of Sage. It feels clean and modern and made me realize that Sage really was outdated, especially toward the end. Bartenders friendly, maybe a little schticky (introduced by name, he made a point of calling me by name for the rest of the night. A nice touch at first but a little over the top by the 25th time). I did appreciate that he suggested a chilled lambrusco for dessert and it was perfect. They have a good vibe going behind the bar -- the team gets along. Food came a little slowly but I'll wait for quality.

              Based on my first visit, I think the Gallows is going to be a smashing success.

              7 Replies
              1. re: yumyum

                That truly sounds over the top...I am going to have all my cardiologist friends put their business cards in the window.

                Heading to the Gallows, indeed!

                1. re: yumyum

                  I must eat every one of the those items immediately. And luckily, I enjoy being addressed by name as much as possible.

                  1. re: nsenada

                    I didn't mean to dismiss what they are trying to do there ... I like that they attempting to make it convivial, but picture "welcome nsenada!" "hows the poutine nsenada?".... "can I get you another glass of wine nsenada?" ..... "can I clear this for you nsenada?"....."here's the check nsenda!" ..... "come back soon nsenada" It felt a little bit forced. But I suffered through it for the sweetbreads. ;-)

                    1. re: yumyum

                      I would suffer through just about anything for good poutine. Reminds me of a sad restaurant I went to in Lewiston, ME in my college days, where the waiter called me "monsignor," and pronounced "Fetzer" with a French accent.

                      1. re: nsenada

                        I have great expectations of this place based on what the chef/bar/FoH management team did in the early days of The Biltmore. In retrospect, I'm glad (or I'll say it works out for me) that their a-hole of an owner got rid of them, because the South End is a lot easier for me than the hinterlands of Newton.

                        (You have to admit: fate-ZAIR does sound like a classier wine.)


                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Indeed, I felt very classy, and very exotic when he explained that baklava was the "national dessert of Greece."

                          I am determined to make it to The Gallows, especially in light of missing "the good Biltmore." I went after they opened with the "new team," and have kicked myself for not making it earlier. A friend got some kind of pork shank special that had apparently been on the "old menu," and I kid you not, it was frozen solid from two millimeters in to the bone. Given the location and lack of other options, that place is still a license to print money. They are always packed when I pass by.

                          The Biltmore
                          1205 Chestnut St, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464

                          1. re: nsenada

                            The temporary new Biltmore was just awful.

                            I must get back to wiping the droolz off my keyboard after reading about above poutine.

                            The Biltmore
                            1205 Chestnut St, Newton Upper Falls, MA 02464