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Donovan's (Savin Hill)

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there's construction happening at the space.....anyone have any info?

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  1. The folks behind McKenna's have taken it over. It'll be what appears to be a family-friendly spot. No name yet....

    1 Reply
    1. re: hiddenboston

      considering i have a 13 month old and live within walking distance, this is good news.

    2. Anyone have any more details on this? Will there be a bar? I would really like a relaxing place to watch games besides the Harp & Bard, which is always blasting karaoke or trivia or 80s music when there is a game on.

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      Harp & Bard Restaurant
      1099 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02125

      13 Replies
      1. re: astrid

        Don't have any info on the Donovans update, but I would suggest Sonny's in Adams Village, as a good alternate to the Harp & Bard for watching a game.

        1. re: Pegmeister

          Except that Sonny's jukebox is on and sometimes karaoke, too! :-(

          1. re: C. Hamster

            That's very true. I watched the last game at the Ledge and it was really quiet. Felt kind of strange but with a 1/2 off certificate who can complain.

        2. re: astrid

          I asked the McKenna's people if the place has a name yet (it doesn't). They changed their mind on the focus of the place--now it sounds like it's going to be a trendy, chic place. Nothing like Donovan's, I guess....

          1. re: hiddenboston

            Trendy and chic, eh? Hmm... not sure how that will go over. I think the best restaurants are those that reflect the character of the neigborhood. McKenna's, for example, does that perfectly.

            I just really hope they don't go the way of so-called trendy decor (i.e., bright, geometric chairs, funky light fixtures) and trendy food (pork belly, flatbread pizzas, bacon-garnished anything) or even worse, regular pub food (calamari, goat cheese quesadillas) dressed up on oblong or triangular or square plates with some "aioli" squirted out of a squeeze bottle. Those places are a dime a dozen and there is absolutely nothing remarkable about them. What's more, Savin Hill is a neighborhood of families, not hip young scenester (which is not to say some don't live here). I don't think families particularly desire cold metal barstools and mixology in their neighborhood. What's more, Savin Hill isn't exactly a destination that hip young scenesters would make a point of traveling to -- they won't ride the redline to eat the same "trendy" stuff they can eat in their own neighborhood.

            I'd love to see a thoughtful updating of the neighborhood restaurant -- reflecting the history of the community (and its version of comfort food), playing up the location, with dark wood, vintage 93 signs and photographs of the neighborhood... something that would make the environment feel like you are getting something that you can't get somewhere else.

            Because I'm pretty sure I can get flatbread pizzas and funny light fixtures pretty much anywhere in town.

            1. re: astrid

              Good luck with that!

              1. re: mtm7654

                I don't think what I described is all that complicated or out of the realm of possibility.

                1. re: astrid

                  I live 4 minutes from Donovan's and I share your wishes astrid. I would just add a request for one room without TV's. And an offering of a carafe of cheap, decent house wine. And to turn the burnt rubble/hole to the right of it into a patio. And Harpoon White on tap. That's it for now.

                  1. re: fishmanator

                    Share your vision, but don't see it as a reality unfortunately.

              2. re: astrid

                Someone from McKenna's calling the new place "trendy" might mean describing it similar to Ledge, which has been very successful. Would you consider Ashmont Grill trendy?

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                Ashmont Grill
                555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

              3. re: hiddenboston

                I've been thinking about writing them a letter, but instead I think I'll just post it here:

                Please, please, please do not give us another Irish-y pub, poorly executed. I can get bad meatloaf and mashed potatoes served with attitude from my Mom, for free. When I go out, I like a friendly & food-smart staff that doesn't treat me anything LIKE family. You do a great job at McKenna's in terms of executing -- but the service can be hostile and the quality of the ingredients is not what I'm after. I've given a TON of money to the Ashmont Grill for brunch because they have better coffee & decor & non-factory-farmed meats. I would LOVE to be able to walk to a place that does that for me. And I drop a LOT of money in restaurants and I am not alone in this neighborhood, at all. If I see one framed photo of historic Dorchester, I'll run screaming. The 'hood has changed. The best food reviews for Savin Hill are never for the beer and 'tater joints -- they're for Ba Le. Surely there's a way to find the next Joanne Chang and lure her to Savin Hill to run a combination of Flour & Myers & Chang??? That's exactly what I want in that space. Plus a patio, and Brooklyn's Coffeehouse Porter on tap ;-)

                -----
                Ba Le Cafe
                1449 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA

                Ashmont Grill
                555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

                Myers + Chang
                1145 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                1. re: SpicyTea

                  I have now heard that they are also opening an ice cream/coffee/smoothie joint in the old Stylus hair salon space.

                  I think Myers + Chang and Ba Le are apples and oranges. The former is media-savvy and trendy, marketed at an upscale clientele. The latter is operated for the population of the neighborhood. I am not sure I would want a Myers + Chang in the nabe because I don't think there are enough folks in Savin Hill who could support a high-priced Asian restaurant when there are so many lower-priced ones around. I am not saying I don't think Asian food should be high priced if it's quality; I just think it's worth mentioning that lower priced offerings already exist.

                  I do think a place like Ashmont Grill might do well because their offerings are more mainstream, which would cause those in the neighborhood who can afford their price points to frequent it more often than they might frequent an Asian restaurant.

                  I dunno, maybe I'm wrong... I've only lived in the neighborhood a year.

                  -----
                  Ba Le Cafe
                  1449 Dorchester Avenue, Boston, MA

                  Ashmont Grill
                  555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

                  1. re: astrid

                    As a former regular of Donovans, I would love to see something similar. The place was always packed so you know that type of restaurant could do well. IMO the only reason things went bad for them was poor management. Something similar to Ashmont Grill or the Ledge would be great.

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                    Ashmont Grill
                    555 Talbot Ave, Dorchester Center, MA 02124

            2. A little disappointed in the change in direction towards "trendy". My wife and I always thought that Donovan's was the perfect fit for Savin Hill, especially in that exact location. When we lived in the neighborhood, it really seemed to fit the bill for reasonably priced mid-week dinners when we didn't feel like cooking.

              Was hoping for something similar to Donovan's, though I suppose anything is better than it sitting empty at this point.

              1. I spoke to one of the guys running the show and it seems that they are aiming for an affordable, comfortable place with decent beer and wine and American cuisine. He had a huge stack of resumes from chefs to sift through, so hopefully they will find somebody great who has paid their dues elsewhere and is ready to create a delicious, affordable menu. Now if somebody would just buy that eyesore of a "convenience" store next door which curiously seems to have tons of space, yet nothing worthwhile to purchase...