Reinventing your restaurant doesn't necessarily mean you have to reinvent the wheel; sometimes it just means a scaling back and return to basics. For Brendan and Laurence Hopkins, owners of the recently launched Boathouse -- in the former Trata space -- as well as the nearby Daedalus, the idea for their nautically-themed Irish pub takes its inspiration from the waters of the Charles. The space, now much larger and open, with the removal of a large pizza oven that formerly dominated the room, is decked stem to stern with rowing paraphernalia, including old ship wheels and sculling boats. Whereas before it was minimal and modern, now it's much brighter and homey, with gleaming woods and bright yellow walls -- the type of place you could take a lengthy voyage in.

The watery aesthetic carries over to the drinks as well, with most of the cocktails taking a rum base -- Mai Tai, Planter's Punch, spiced rum and warm apple cider, for example. A Rum Runner made with Sailor Jerry's, black berry liqueur, Crème de Banana and orange juice, like most of the recipes here, is sweeter, and less carefully constructed than you might find at other bars doing tiki-style drinks now. A decent selection of rums, from the Ron Zaccapa 23 year to the Zaya 12 year, provides a better base to start from.

Fortunately, the cocktails, like everything on the menu here, are approachably priced at $8, while all wines are between $6-$8. The quality selection of beers, many of which also play on the seaside concept -- like the Full Sail IPA (the perfect eating beer in my estimation, lightly hopped and bitter without overwhelming the palate), and locals Cape Ann Brewing's Fisherman's Brew and Ipswich IPA -- are less than $6, save for a few 22-ounce options. Likewise, the menu of pub standards is directed toward the area's throng of students just getting their sea legs when it comes to bar-going. There's nothing new here, and it's definitely a destination you've been to before, but sometimes any decent port in a storm will do, especially if you're running low on booty.

Turning tides


“Obviously with
the Charles down the street we wanted to bring that into the identity,”
explains Brendan Hopkins. “Myself and Laurence, we grew up in Galway and
we used to row as well – we wanted to bring a little of our identity
with it as well.” That’s something that might appeal to the huge crowds
descending upon the Square next weekend for the Head of the Charles.

If you go

The Boathouse

49 Mt Auburn St., Cambridge