American social history: Locke-Ober… the grand French restaurant in Boston.
The Brahmin city is so lucky. Jack’s in San Francisco and Perino’s in Los Angeles are gone. So are most of the wonderful American traditional restaurants. These were dining establishments that would have never permitted some parvenu wearing a baseball cap or backpack to dine amongst the swells. Even if the dining dude had founded Face-book. He would still be just branded a déclassé nouveau geek creep.
YouTube video of Locke-Ober: “Locke’s” is the traditional Boston restaurant, a power-broker favorite since 1875. Famed Boston restaurateur Lydia Shire bought it in 2001, but if the ghosts mind a woman boss, you’d never know it. In an alley off a pedestrian mall, the wood-paneled restaurant entertainingly evokes a waspy men’s club. The long, mirrored downstairs bar dates from 1880, and the service is 19th-century-style courtly. The food deftly combines old-fashioned and contemporary. Traditional fish cakes sit alongside jasmine rice, red-pepper aioli comes with Maine crab cakes, and delectable scalloped potatoes accompany the signature roast beef hash. Other traditions, including excellent steaks and chops, Wiener schnitzel a la Holstein, and broiled scrod with brown bread, endure. So does Locke-Ober, an “only in Boston” experience with no equal.
Lydia Shire has a long history in Boston beginning with Season at Bostonian Hotel in 1982, BIBA (Back in Boston Again – after opening the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills) in 1989 and Pignoli in1994, now all in her past. In 2001, she rescued the beauty and grandeur of the historic Locke-Ober Restaurant, where she is still currently serving as Head Chef. She is also the creative mind behind Scampo at The Liberty Hotel and Blue Sky at the Atlantic House Hotel on York Beach in Maine.