The Hymnal touched down in Boston last week for a snatched 24 hour, concert-incorporating break that, for some, would probably have represented a schlep. Not for me. Not when travelling with these privileges, and especially not after you’ve found out my travel companion/guru is the sort of sunny, seize-the-day type to plug a book-ended, four hour window of opportunity with a ninety minute each-way drive so that she might play fetch with her dog next to sea and sand rather than rivers and roads. I’d encourage you to spend more time in the company of people like her. Cool people that do stuff. It makes you inclined to do the same. Which is really fucking healthy.
I found the Corner Tavern last time I was in town. Sunk into the Bay Area side of the Charles River, it’s the kind of blue-collar, below-street level bar that, if you’re fresh off the plane with a pre-conceived idea of what pubs here are supposed to look like, you’d both expect and hope to find. It does what it does, you know? And it does it just fine. Come here looking for serious gourmet shit and you might leave disappointed. Come looking for suds and sustenance? Home run.I even loved the floor in there. The black and white tile against the exposed brick. The low-level, red-lamp lighting against the artwork. And the music. The music here sparked a fair frenzy of new acquisitions, any subsequent spin of which, as a result, will now forever put me at a very specific place and time. The combined effect of which is what I call creating an impression, and all before we’ve even touched on food, beer or service. I was even engaged in the right spirit by the numerous TV screens that were dotted around, playing sports on mute. Being a feature of practically every similar style joint on this side of the water, these are far less an unwelcome distraction (as they’d be in Blighty, say) as they are a part of the decor.
Food comprised of a couple of $5 sandwiches; one pulled-pork speciality with sweet yellow mustard, one mozzarella and basil pesto. Either with roast potatoes or chips (their chips not our chips), neither pretty or terribly good for you, both totally lovely. Beer was a moody looking, unfiltered amber from Rock Art brewery in Morrisville, Vermont. Often at a loss as to how best to characterise a drink, or else elucidate accurately why I like what I do, you should know simply that between the two visits we made to Corner Tavern that day, I had six. It was good, ok? Good enough that its precise name now evades me, anyway. (I want to say Red Rock but their website doesn’t….) Also good was the service. Approachable and informative, it was called Chris. He got an extra tip for directing us to Newbury Comics, as well as for being perfectly amenable, down to earth and, well, just a nice man.
Someone I know, and who knows the Corner Tavern, called it a ‘hole in the wall’. Having been reasonably sure I had her drift, but having had to confirm as much just in case, I’ve decided I’m having that. ‘An unexpected gem’, she said. Spot on. There are, as far as I’ve seen, a multitude of similarly modest, mid-market bars like this in the US and I’ve a loose theory that, unlike over here, you could walk into any of them and get pretty much the same deal. Not in terms of a specific product, of course, but of an experience, an honesty, and all round value for money. The C.T. fits into that category not by design, necessarily, but because it so obviously doesn’t pertain to being in any other. Among its contemporaries, for my money, it’s high-end and holy.
Photos Courtesy of Fuchs. Thankyou, sugar. For all of it. x