The Glenville Stops in Allston has just about everything you’d want from a neighborhood gastropub: 20 craft beer taps with a local focus, 30 wines by the glass, and an eclectic menu of bar bites, small plates, and a few heartier entrees. This is the first restaurant for owners Mike Chapman, a retired British academic, and his son, Fred Chapman, a former server at Scampo and Trade. Chef Juan Pedrosa, a former sous chef at Trade, helms the kitchen, infusing more traditional pub food with flavors from all over the globe.
The space is clean and airy, but pleasantly weathered, the result of a yearlong rehab. The former cluster of row-house storefronts, built in 1922, which sustained damage from a 2012 fire, has been transformed into a modern tavern.
Yet despite the obvious draw, the dining room is nearly empty on multiple dinner visits.
On our first visit we are told by our friendly, auburn-haired server to sit where we like. She talks us through the beer taps and wine list. We decide on Jack’s Abby Jabby Brau ($6), and a crisp Domaine de Cagueloup Bandol Rose ($10). It’s a pleasant surprise when restaurants still bring out a complimentary basket of fresh bread, and here it comes with an addictively smoky eggplant puree. We begin with charred octopus ($15), and the meaty white flesh is tender on a fine bed of gigante beans in a whirred salsa of charred peppers, onions, garlic, and preserved lemon. “I wanted to take the charred concept right through the whole dish,” Pedrosa tells us later on the phone. The fish is topped with flakes of a paper-thin masa cracker, and crumbles of fresh Mexican cheese.
Ubiquitous roasted beet salad ($8) is really excellent here, with pretty plating, a row of baby striped and golden beets with salty whipped feta and light dill dressing. Braised baby artichokes ($9) is a bit plain, underseasoned, in a salad of assorted grains and potatoes. We suspect Bar Harbor mussels ($15) are a casualty of the sparsely populated dining room; they smell fishy on arrival and after a taste, they are pushed to the far end of the table.
On a rainy night, it’s a great idea to pull up to the bar and order a pint, soup, and sandwich for a comforting casual dinner. Creamy carrot soup ($7) is deeply flavorful, spiced with cumin and coriander, and kissed with a little raw honey to bring out the carrots’ sweetness. Confit chicken sandwich ($11) is wonderfully savory, with chile-spiked aioli and enough fresh herbs to brighten the rich poultry filling. Split the generous sandwich with a date so you’ll have room for the crisp golden fries.
The Stops burger ($13) is fine, with good cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and pickles on a potato bun, but the Stops Asian-style burger ($13) packs more flavor with crispy onions, house hoisin sauce, and Asian pickles with daikon, cucumber, and scallion bathed in a chile-garlic brine. The house Longanisa sausage ($10) is a tender pork sausage flavored with oregano, a take on the classic Puerto Rican dish Pedrosa grew up on (he was born in Puerto Rico, raised in the Boston area) but the accompanying cheesy grits are bland.
Despite filling ourselves with so many small plates, dessert beckons. We order one of each: a light and tangy passion fruit mousse ($10) layered with a gingerbread cookie and toasted coconut, and Tara Leigh’s chocolate cake ($10) a rich, homestyle chocolate confection topped with chocolate ice cream (though it’s billed as vanilla) and a toasty almond cracker. With little in-house space for a dessert program, Pedrosa reached out to former Trade colleague, Tara Leigh, who creates sweet treats for the restaurant from her Middleton home bakery.
With a few misses, and plenty of hits, we wonder why there aren’t more diners. Yes, parking is less than ideal, the location mostly residential, and the student-heavy neighborhood population probably not interested in a $13 burger. After dinner, the spot gets busier with 20-somethings filling bar stools and tables, ordering drinks.
The Glenville Stops is just not yet discovered. Restaurant rookie Mike Chapman and his team are passionate, eager to please, and excited to be bringing something new to the neighborhood. I’m rooting for them. Go. You will, too.Catherine Smart can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.