Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale
48 Temple Place, Boston
Tuesday & Wednesday: 4:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m.
Thursday – Saturday: 11:30 a.m. – 2:00 a.m.
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.
Gastropubs are on-trend right now, and Stoddard’s Fine Food and Ale near Downtown Crossing has certainly embraced the spirit of that movement. With a menu that features comfort food, an extensive cocktail list, and (unsurprisingly) ale, this quirky restaurant is a solid choice if you are near the Common. The first thing you notice is the building itself, which is narrow (as are so many restaurants downtown) but which features two floors of bar space. Stoddard’s proudly embraces its history as the former home of a corset factory, decorating the walls with some samples straight out of the 19th century. The bar itself is lively and welcoming. You definitely get the feeling as you walk in that this is a restaurant that wants you to stick around, but anyone looking for a somewhat subdued dinner may want to turn around and walk right back out the door.
The menu at Stoddard’s has enough options to keep most people happy, though vegetarians will find their options sorely lacking. The appetizers list, which takes up a full half of the overall offerings, has perhaps the most interesting options. After deliberating for quite some time, I decided that the fondue would have to wait for another visit and instead chose the poutine. This was possibly the best decision I’ve ever made. For a reasonable $10, our table got a giant plate of fries smothered in duck fat gravy (once again, apologies to vegetarians) and cheese curds. Now, I’m not Canadian, but if they have poutine this good readily available, I don’t understand how they aren’t all several tons overweight. After the strong start to the meal, I was ready to be impressed by the entrees.
The first main course that I sampled was the braised short rib, which unfortunately did not live up to the high expectations set by my cheesy appetizer. While the pommes anna that came on the side had a perfect crunch on the outside and tasted amazing (though it is pretty hard to mess up potatoes and butter), the short rib itself disappointed. Though cooked very well, the meat was too salty and couldn’t even be the star of its own dish. Fortunately, this was the only letdown of the night.
The final dish that I sampled was rabbit. But of course, such an interesting gastropub couldn’t simply serve rabbit as is. So they took rabbit meat, stuffed it with rabbit mousse and wrapped the whole sucker in bacon. This dish managed two feats that are extremely rare — it had a description that was impossible to pass over, while also living up to that description. The bacon had exactly the right amount of crunch and held together a combination of rabbit a mousse that was truly delectable. The various textures coupled extremely well with the different meat flavors to make a dish that truly ended the night on a high note.
Stoddard’s is a very solid bet if you are looking for a slightly upscale gastropub. The service was quite attentive, and the atmosphere made for a fun dinner. With their emphasis on interesting meat options, carnivores will want to return several times just to try the various choices, both novel preparations and old favorites. Unfortunately, not everything on the menu is of the same quality. In the end, I would definitely recommend renaming this restaurant Stoddard’s Very-Good-But-Not-Quite-Amazing Food and Ale, but I think the signage might be too expensive.