One Ten Grill
116 Chelmsford St., Chelmsford
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri., 7 a.m.-10 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sun., 8 a.m.-9 p.m.
Late-night menu until bar closes at 1 a.m.
Reservations and call-ahead seating offered
Major credit cards accepted
Accessible to the handicapped
Restaurateur John Gailey had owned the Devens Grill in Devens for 7½ years when he decided to sell the restaurant in July. He shared the news with a developer friend, who suggested they meet for lunch at Café Madrid in Chelmsford.
“I told him I wanted to own another restaurant someday and he asked, ‘What about this place?’ ” Gailey recalled. “I didn’t even know it was for sale.”
The restaurant remained open during the transition, with all 14 employees staying on after Gailey officially became owner on Aug. 22. He changed the name to One Ten Grill, in a nod to its location on Route 110, and brought chef Brian Diederich on board to shift the menu from its previous Spanish and Cuban orientation to American cuisine.
Striving to offer something for everyone, the restaurant features soups, salads, burgers and sandwiches, steak, chicken, create-your-own pasta dishes, seafood, vegetarian options, and a children’s menu.
When our four-person party visited on a recent Saturday night, nearly all 14 seats at the U-shaped bar inside the front entry were full. We sat at a table within the dining room, which was busy without being overcrowded, with expansive windows on three sides overlooking the parking lot. Our friendly and knowledgeable waitress delivered a basket of fresh-baked bread with herb dipping oil and quickly took our orders.
The top-selling appetizer, Asian lettuce wraps with chicken ($9), was a medley of flavors interspersed with pleasing crunches. We spread out the cool, fresh lettuce pieces, each of which was nearly the size of one’s hand, and piled on seasoned stir-fried chicken, carrots, bean sprouts, pineapple, water chestnuts, peanuts, and hoisin sauce.
At first glance, the bruschetta ($8) seemed to be average toasted bread with typical toppings. What made it special, however, was the notable freshness of each ingredient: diced tomatoes, green onion, basil, and cubes of buffalo mozzarella in an aged white balsamic vinegar served with lightly grilled crostini. The combination was simple, and it worked.
The smoked BBQ beef brisket ($16) was slow-cooked and sliced thin, served with apple bourbon barbecue sauce that had the chunky texture of salsa. The meat was a little fatty along the edges, but this old-fashioned comfort food was tender and flavorful. It is served with two sides — in this case, dense mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables of broccoli and carrots cooked al dente.
The blackened salmon filet ($17) was perfectly cooked to the diner’s medium specification, with an Asian chili pepper glaze that was plentiful and tasty. It was accompanyied by subtly fragrant jasmine rice and mixed vegetables.
The chicken marsala ($17) was a heaping portion of tender, pan-seared tenderloins, crimini and button mushrooms, and cubes of sweet capicola served with a demi-glace over creamy risotto. While the marsala taste was a little weak, the dish still had good overall flavor.
Happily surprised to find three vegetarian entrée options, our friend selected the one our waitress said was most popular. On this night, however, the outer pasta layer of the hand-rolled vegetable cannelloni ($15) was chewy, overwhelming the smooth blend inside of ricotta, goat, and mozzarella cheeses, zucchini, eggplant, shredded carrots, artichokes, and sweet tomato sauce. The accompanying side of butternut squash with cranberries was perfectly prepared and a nice seasonal choice.
Of the six desserts, one is homemade: the cinnamon bread pudding ($6) with raisins, which was pleasingly sweet, moist, and thoroughly worth the calories. The Death By Chocolate Cake ($6) was so fudgy that it was hard to tell where the cake and chocolate sauce began and ended. The blondie brownie ($6) was served warm with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle.
Regulars will notice a major change in coming weeks when the wall currently dividing the bar and function room with a 120-inch television is removed. According to Gailey, the existing bars in each space will be joined to create a single 24-seat bar with more plentiful, spacious seating arrangements throughout the brighter space.
Gailey emphasized his ongoing appreciation for the loyalty of his employees and the many patrons who have welcomed him to town.