On what might have been the coldest Memorial Day weekend in decades, Finch — the new bar and restaurant in the recently opened Boxer Hotel in the West End — provided a warm respite from the cold... and from the throngs of people flocking in either direction, to the Boston Calling music festival at City Hall Plaza and the Bruins game just a few blocks away.
The small space adjacent to the lobby of the boutique hotel is decked out with welcoming, mismatched couches, arm chairs and throw rugs. A few banquettes and a long communal table sit around the corners of the room. The small bar with six tall, wing-back chairs (“The most comfortable chairs I've ever sat in,” said my companion) offered us a good vantage from which to observe the operations up close.
Unfortunately, those operations are a little shaky at the moment. True, they only opened a few weeks ago, but the staff, while exceptionally friendly and hospitable, have some growing pains to work through in terms of recipes and general knowledge about the “handcrafted” cocktail menu. Strangely, there wasn't even a cocktail menu available at the bar for us to look at; the single menu that existed was already in use. Luckily, the bartender was kind enough to share her notes with us. We chose the Finch Garden, made, according to the online menu, with Bulldog Gin (ours contained vodka), rosemary simple syrup, dry vermouth and a candied carrot garnish. It provided a nice enough sip of lightly herby sweetness, but was otherwise unremarkable.
The West Ender was made with gin, Byrrh Grand Quinquina, soda and lime. The French aperitif wine was a nice addition and suggests that more interesting ingredients might start to appear on the menu as the staff find their footing. Elsewhere, though, the list is rife with unnecessary call-outs: three mojitos, two bloody marys, and two Cosmos. As for the Cosmos, the Real Men Drink Cosmos — made with Soju (a Korean, vodka-like rice spirit), Crop cucumber vodka and white grape juice with a cucumber garnish (that they didn't have on this day) — was just, well, fine, and only memorable for its towering pour. Real Men Drink Heavily, apparently.
So, should you go? If you're in the area already, and looking for a place to duck away from the standardly obnoxious sports bar scene nearby, then it's a fine option — especially if you're hungry. A cranberry and nuts-filled chicken salad sandwich on rye was big, fresh, and — like most of the other food here — very affordable. But if you don't happen to be dodging sports-fevered bros in the neighborhood, it's probably not a destination that you need to seek out. At least not for the time being. I suspect that a place with a solid hospitable foundation like theirs will eventually figure it all out.