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Dining Review: ?Boardroom Kitchen and Bar

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600 Views

Bernard Whitmore

139 Water Street, Worcester
(508) 757-6259
Worcesterbarandgrill.com

In popular culture the boardroom is often portrayed as a staid roomful of corporate executives – rich men in suits – who sit at a long, heavy table and make weighty decisions with casual regard for workers. 

Walking into the Boardroom Kitchen and Bar, I was immediately put at ease by the staff; they’re about as friendly as it gets. The bartender nodded to any of the open tables along the front window and said, ‘Seat yourselves’. Kevin, our server, was relaxed and efficient as he presented menus and gave us time to make our own consequential decisions: drinks, appetizers and entrées.

Unless you’ve done some research, the first hint at Middle Eastern cuisine (their website calls it Mediterranean-American Food) is when you glance at the menu. Nothing in the décor would prepare you for this; the place has the feel of a lounge-meets-sports bar with a multi-genre soundtrack ranging from 70’s-era disco to current pop. 

But let’s rewind a few minutes to the issue on everyone’s mind when it comes to dining in the Canal District. It was not a WooSox game night, parking on Water Street was easy and fun and cheap using Worcester’s pay-by-plate system. This was the result of luck, not planning.

My friend chose one of the Boardroom’s Signature Cocktails, Redemption 75. The baseline of this drink is Redemption Bourbon, nice and smooth, splashed with the fizz of prosecco, sweet blackberry pulp, lemon, and mint. Served in a tall champagne flute, the Redemption 75 goes down deceptively easy.

I chose a glass of Exhibit A Brewing’s Hair Raiser, an IPA brewed in Framingham. Nice and cloudy, it refreshed with hoppy with bold bitter-citrus notes.

On your first visit to a new Middle Eastern place, why not go with the classics? In that spirit, we started with their Hummus. 

Guaranteed, I’ve had some of the best hummus in town, but I’m inclined to say that the Boardroom’s was right up there, bright and fresh; tahini, garlic and lemon working in perfect accord with organic chickpeas. It came garnished with olive oil and thin discs of tender cucumber. Around it were colorfully fresh and crunchy mini sweet peppers, soft pita bread for dipping and pita crisps fried to a deep crunchy brown.

Next came a cool refreshing tzatziki dip. Again, superbly flavor-balanced, it satisfied a tzatziki craving I’ve harbored for weeks while awaiting fresh garden cucumbers. Tzatziki this delicious has to start with the finest yogurt culture. 

The menu lists a few salads and flatbreads, but it’s real emphasis is on the Boardroom’s ‘Handhelds’. They became our entrée focus.

My friend’s entrée, Gyro Pocket, was strictly traditional; a blend of marinated ground lamb and beef speckled with herbs, cooked till well done, then sliced thin and layered deep in a loaf of warm pita bread that was spread with tzatziki, slices of red onion and cucumber. The marinade flavoring the meat was tasty with traditional Mid-East flavor. It was served on a paper-lined metal tray with a heap of golden French fries. 

When I’d ordered the Falafel Burger I feared I was being a bit unadventurous, but reasoned that it should be a fair test of the kitchen’s Middle Eastern prowess. My fear was ill-founded – in the best way possible.

Eli, the chef, presented my burger personally and proudly called it ‘His work of art.’ Such flair. Such flavor!

He’d opened a fresh bun, grilled the sliced sides and spread the bottom half with his tzatziki sauce and topped it with tangy pickled cucumber and thin slices of tomato. On top of that sat three falafel balls nestled together under the top half of the bun. 

The exterior of the falafel balls had been fried just enough to offer a bit of crunch; the falafel itself seemed almost fluffy in texture; mild flavored. It seemed to melt in my mouth. Chef Eli has taken falafel to its next level!

The Boardroom also offers shrimp burgers and shawarma tacos. And, for you diehards, genuine beef hamburgers.

At the Boardroom on Water Street, the CEO is the chef, who creates Middle Eastern cuisine that may be traditional in scope but done with imagination and skill. 

On one of the dining room walls is a mural paying tribute to the Canal District and WooSox. If you’re going to Polar Park, relax at the Boardroom for a delicious dinner before the game.

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