Photos by Derek Kouyoumjian
An exciting concept for a bar in downtown Boston would be one that didn’t have 50 TVs screaming on the walls. Yes, it would go out of business in about 2.5 days, but I’d probably give it a pretty good review here, right before it went under, so that has to count for something, right?
Warehouse Bar & Grille, the new opening on Broad Street, fits the unavoidable stereotype but it at least does so with a more interesting choice of decor than is the standard for the area — there isn’t a sign of anything Irish in sight.
“I would describe it as a sexy, industrial space,” owner Cliff Dever explains. There are familiar contemporary fixtures — exposed granite floors and duct work, dangling filament-bulbs — but a sleek sheen marks the entire endeavor. And OK, there are only 18 TVs in the place, but the overall effect feels like a soundstage for a TV talk show about a bar. In fact, they actually built the concept backward, from potted grass plants that are the centerpieces on each of the tables, Dever says.
Another thing they wanted to do was pay homage to their favorite musicians, the Dave Matthews Band. That’s where the name of the place comes from (“Warehouse” is both a song title and the name of the band’s official fan association) and all of their cocktails also take their names from Dave Matthews tracks.
The Time Bomb is among four of the beer-based cocktails on the menu, made with infused apple cinnamon rum, black walnut bitters, ginger syrup and Shipyard Pumpkinhead with a sugar-cinnamon rim. It’s a surprisingly decent, not-overly-sweet sip and, like the rest, comes served in a lovely little beer can glass.
The Jimi Thing is preferable, made with Four Roses bourbon, muddled orange, cherry bitters, honey and Angry Orchard Cider. The result is a sort of cider-based Old Fashioned. I avoided most of the flavored-vodka concoctions but, among the remaining cocktails, I found the Smooth Rider — made with tequila, blood orange liqueur, agave syrup, lime and orange bitters — nicely tart and dry.
The 23 beers in cans — and a tidy mission statement heralding the beauty of the can at the bottom of the menu — show they’ve got a pretty good nose for suds here.
The appreciation of craft beer in cans hasn’t exploded as much in this area as elsewhere in the city. “We wanted to offer something different, this neighborhood doesn’t have place that sells a lot of beer by the can. We’ve been killing the cans,” Dever says. The bold, hoppy Uinta Hop Notch One from Utah is his personal recommendation.
This isn’t a space, or an address, that likely came cheap, so aiming for broad appeal is going to be key (although cajun style gator bites and crispy hog wings are unique culinary offerings). The core of the business will probably come from the lunch and after-work crowd, Dever says, although they’re in the process of getting live music going on the weekends. That said, he’d like to stay true to a restaurant-feel, as opposed to a club.
But is it a sports bar? “It’s kind of a hybrid between a new American restaurant and a sports bar, kind of a modern sports bar,” he says. “Obviously with 18 TVs you can come watch a game, but it’s kind of spaced out so if you’re not trying to watch TV you don’t have to.”
Myself, I might come back on a quiet weeknight, not unlike one on which I recently stepped in, particularly if I was already nearby. Nearby is the operative word here, however, I’m thinking Warehouse will prove to be more of a neighborhood spot than a destination from locations across the city.
If you go
Warehouse Bar & Grille
40 Broad St., Boston