Thanks in part to the HBO show "Boardwalk Empire," people have been gaining some knowledge of--and some interest in--the Prohibition Era, a period of time in the 1920s and early 1930s when the consumption of alcohol was made illegal. During that time, speakeasies, or well-hidden bars that served alcohol, flourished in many areas, including in major cities such as New York and Chicago. Today, of course, there is no longer any need for speakeasies, but some relics from the past have survived, though one of the most famous--Chumley's in New York--closed a few years back after a wall collapsed during construction and has yet to reopen. And Boston? Well, don't expect much in the way of bars that were former speakeasies, but there are some places in town that have a similar feel, including Prohibited, which is in the basement of Symphony 8 near Symphony Hall, Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale in downtown Boston, and JJ Foley's in the South End, which actually may have been a speakeasy back in the day. There is also another restaurant and bar that has the feel of a speakeasy (and which happens to be the focus of this review), and while Lucky's Lounge in the Fort Point District of the city may not be an authentic Prohibition Era watering hole, it certainly does have the feel of such a spot.
Located in the heart of the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston (just across the channel from South Station and the Financial District of the city), Lucky's Lounge resides in one of the area's many charming old brick buildings. The entrance to the place is extremely easy to miss, as there is no prominent sign out front and the space itself is slightly below ground level. Walking down a few steps, patrons find themselves in a surprisingly spacious spot, with a room to the left featuring high-back chairs and bar tables, while another room to the right has large vinyl booths. A bar dominates the middle of Lucky's, more or less keeping the two rooms separate from each other, though one side of the bar has seats in the left-hand room, while the other side has more seats in the right-hand room. There are also some sofas in the back of the restaurant as well as a small fireplace. Dim and sultry overhead lights and a mosaic tile floor add additional character to the place.
While the atmosphere at Lucky's Lounge has a distinct dive-bar feel, the menu actually nudges into the upscale comfort food category, much like what you might find at gastropubs such as The Biltmore in Newton or The Publick House in Brookline. Appetizers include deliciously lumpy house-made hummus with toasted pine nuts and grilled pita bread (and the option of broccoli, squash, celery, and carrots on the side); a beet salad that has that uniquely earthy flavor that only beets seem to have; fish tacos that are stuffed with yellowfin tuna and topped with jicama slaw; a cheese and charcuterie plate which, if you're lucky, might have a hot (but not too hot) ghost chili salumi and a wonderfully zingy blue cheese; the well-known and highly-regarded Island Creek oysters served on crushed ice; and fried zucchini sticks that have a light breading and are served with tomato sauce. Meals at Lucky's are similarly varied, with such dishes as perfectly marinated steak tips served with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables; a creamy shell-style macaroni and cheese served in a cast iron dish and made with four cheeses (and topped with Ritz cracker crumbs); beef stew that is made with slow-cooked short rib meat and has sweet-tasting parsnips and mild pearl onions mixed in; tasty Duxbury mussels in a savory garlic white wine sauce and topped with crunchy shoestring fries; fish and chips that rival some of the best that you will have at the coastal seafood shacks (and the handcut fries that come with the battered fish are marvelous); and two burger options, include a high-quality Kobe beef burger and an extra juicy diner-style burger that costs a few dollars less. Sides include a real standout, namely the Brussels sprouts sauteed in bacon, which has a truly unforgettable combination of bitter, smokey, and salty tastes coming from it. The drink menu at Lucky's is what you might expect here, with all kinds of old-fashioned cocktails offered, as well as a decent selection of beer and wine. Entertainment at the restaurant includes live bands, acoustic music, and "Sinatra Sundays."
Lucky's Lounge seems to be able to pull off the "speakeasy" vibe pretty well, perhaps because of its nearly invisible basement location in an anonymous brick building, plus the fact that it is in a section of the city that doesn't see much foot traffic. So if you've been watching "Boardwalk Empire" and are itching to get a sense of what a 1920s-era illegal bar is like, Lucky's comes pretty darn close to that feel.
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