People just want to feel like they belong. Paradoxically, the best way to achieve that emotional milestone is by excluding everyone else. That’s what was going through my mind on my visit to Bogie’s Place, the new restaurant within a restaurant at jm Curley’s, the downtown hot spot with one of the finest bar programs to open in the past year or two. Seated in a high-backed booth, with the bar humming just outside the curtain that separates this insular, intimate, candlelit space from the rest of the crowd, it’s easy to feel like you’re part of an exclusive club.
Not that Bogie’s, an “anti-steakhouse steakhouse” in bar manager Kevin Mabry’s words, isn’t welcoming — quite the opposite, in fact — but the small scale of the room and the removed-from-the-world feel engenders a private-club effect that makes you feel like a high roller, without the typically attendant cost outlay.
“We’ve always been against the grain with all we’ve done with jm Curley,” Mabry explains. “We’re creating a value-driven steakhouse-fare menu that is only 18 seats and reservation only, with the exception of the three bar stools. It’s unlike anything else out there.”
Among those unique points is the caviar service, one ounce of American Sturgeon caviar with all the accoutrements, and appropriately matched vodka. Speaking of vodka, the martini presentation stands out as well.
“What we’re trying to do with our martini service is give a guest a few options and don’t shy on the vermouth,” he says. “A 3-1 ratio isn’t what the Ame-rican palate has been accustomed to, which is criminal.”
Guests choose from an array of vodkas, vermouths and garnishes, like sachets of fresh herbs, lemon oil or a style of olives served with a chilled shaker and Hawthorne strainer on the side. A separate cocktail list from the main jm Curley bar provides options like the classic Remember the Maine, made here with Rittenhouse bonded rye, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering and absinthe. Sure, you could order one in the other room, but in here it feels a little more exclusive. Isn’t that the point of going out in the first place? How else will you know you’re better than everyone else?
Mabry, who is inventive on the jm Curley cocktail list, has been experimenting with an improved champagne cocktail. “I’ve been working on dehydrating spirits and seeing how they react to stove-top dehydration,” he says. “I settled on Aperol for the first one. Once I have the sugar, I press it into a ‘pill’ form, place it at the bottom of a champagne flute, add two dashes of Angostura and fill it with sparkling wine. The finished product is a red-tinged, sweet yet bitter, champagne drink that is easy drinking and pretty cool to witness.”
25 Temple Place, Boston