Considering the pedigree of the Glynn Hospitality Group, the people behind such bridge-and-tunnel faves as the Purple Shamrock and the Black Rose, you might be forgiven for expecting another beer-sodden mess at their latest opening, Granary Tavern. You'd be wrong. The exceedingly handsome space is a big step forward. That's the idea, says Travis Talbot, spokesman for the group's bars, which also include Dillon's and Clerys.
"Glynn Hospitality Group is very successful at creating iconic bars, creating that pub, Irish bar atmosphere where the food has always been an amenity," he says. At this venue, they didn't want to be like "other nightlife bars in town, competing for the same audience."
Instead they wanted to appeal to a broader group of families and businessmen, as well as the nightlife and post-shift hospitality crowd from the neighborhood's bars and hotels, with "a food-forward concept that still maintains a high-energy atmosphere." For the most part, they've started on the right foot.
The design aids in establishing a more refined tone. It's split into two levels with bars on both. It's dark and perfectly lit, with huge old beams reclaimed from a barn in Vermont, and dangling filament bulbs where, if you squint your eyes just right you might be able to imagine the space as it looked when it was first built in 1816, give or take a few flatscreens. Downstairs, in what they've been calling the "man cave," the walls are made of huge granite blocks they found while excavating. It actually used to be the border of the pier, when the waterfront reached what is now the Greenway.
Instead of bothering with the cocktail menu (see sidebar) drink through beer options like the local offerings: Slumbrew Happy Sol, Angry Orchard Cider, Notch Session Ale and Grey Lady IPA. Canned options like Porkslap and Brooklyn Lager are a welcome surprise as well.
For the most part, when a bar or restaurant tries to be everything to everyone, they end up pleasing no one. While this isn't the type of crafty cocktail outpost I'd usually frequent myself, I'm happy to see them inching the touristy wasteland of greater Faneuil Hall in the right direction.
If you go
170 Milk St., Boston