While the Boston area is home to countless dive bars, you won't find many roadhouses in the region--especially inside of Route 128--partly because dining and drinking establishments around here tend to be in urban areas, commercial strips, or town centers. But a tavern on a country road like the long-gone Willow Pond in Concord or perhaps a boisterous watering hole in a quiet residential area like...well, there is one, actually, and it happens to be a stone's throw from the Boston line. And if you've never heard of The Village Manor in Dedham, don't worry--you're definitely not alone.
The Village Manor is located at a curve in the road (Sprague Street, by the way) where a side street heads south only to dead-end at a number of train tracks, and beyond it, a sprawling section of the Neponset River Reservation. This, plus more train tracks to the north and a pond to the east, give the dining and drinking spot an out-of-the-way feel, especially if you approach the place from the east via Readville, a relatively isolated section of Hyde Park that is about as far from downtown Boston as you can get and still be in Boston. The place itself has a bit of a rural look to it, residing in a structure that looks much like the homes around it and having a large parking lot in the back where the only thing you'll hear is the music coming from the bar and perhaps some crickets during the warmer months. Inside The Village Manor is a spacious bar area at the entrance, with a number of high-top tables, a small area to the left where bands play, a stone fireplace behind the band area, and a large mahogany bar. A doorway next to the bar leads into a back dining room, which is much quieter and has rows of booths along the left and right walls and a row of tables in the middle that can be rearranged for large groups.
The menu at The Village Manor includes a mix of pub grub, comfort food, Irish dishes, and Italian items, with prices being reasonable and geared in part toward families who are looking for big portions without having to pay big prices. Some of the dishes you'll find here include a wonderfully meaty chili with a huge amount of tortilla chips; a plate of fries that has a heaping helping of chili on top; wings with an excellent (and not overly hot) Buffalo sauce; crispy, crunchy boneless Buffalo tenders; a nacho plate that is piled so high that it could conceivably be a meal in of itself; lean turkey tips and tender steak tips that can be ordered with a house marinade, BBQ sauce, or a rich teriyaki sauce; a rather saucy pizza that is somewhere between bar pie and thin-crust Italian; fried clams and fried scallops (the latter of which is the winner here), a delicious "colossal" burger with everything but the kitchen sink added to the half-pound slab of beef, including a few onion rings; a buttery macaroni and cheese that can be ordered with bacon; a rather substantial deep-fried chicken sandwich with cheese and BBQ sauce; a hearty shepherd's pie with ground sirloin corn, carrots, peas, mashed potatoes, and gravy; and a hot pastrami sandwich that has just the right amount of fat and grease. Drinks are pretty much what you would expect from a roadhouse-type spot, with the beer list focusing mainly on well-known American brews, though well-poured pints of Guinness are also offered. Prices for most entrees are well under $20, with some items being closer to $10.
If you're looking for a different kind of restaurant and bar in or very near Boston, The Village Manor might be worth checking out, especially if you're into roadside joints that are local favorites. And in these days of GPS devices as well as smartphones with location services, it shouldn't be all that difficult to find this spot, even though it is about as far off the beaten path as a Boston-area restaurant can be.
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