At Yvonne’s, a modern-day Locke-Ober
Where to Yvonne’s, a “modern reinterpretation of the supper club” from the team behind Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar, located in the space that was Locke-Ober for more than a century.
What for A menu built for sharing. A raucous bar scene spread out over two rooms. And a glimpse of the old girl, revamped for modern audiences.
The scene Enter through a space set up like a hair salon. A doorman inquires whether new arrivals have reservations, then lets everyone in. In one direction is the Library Bar, walls lined with books and a portrait of a tattooed JFK (a Locke-Ober patron). There are candles and couches, antlers and flowers, cow-patterned armchairs, a gilded fireplace. A woman wearing a bike helmet cavorts with co-workers; a young man with long, puffy hair gazes into the eyes of a companion. In the other direction, a lounge area leads into the dining room. Locke-Ober’s hand-carved bar remains, now topped with white marble. The original, ornately carved dark wood is here, too. Local chefs and bartenders mingle; a frosted blonde with frosted pink lipstick gets frosted. The dining room is filled with grand chandeliers, curved acid-green booths and tufted gray couches, and swags of light bulbs. On the wall hangs a portrait of a nude standing in the same pose as restaurant namesake Mademoiselle Yvonne, featured in the Locke-Ober painting that was draped in black whenever Harvard lost to Yale.
What you’re eating Culinary director Tom Berry (Nantucket’s the Proprietors) and executive chef Juan Pedrosa (the Glenville Stops) serve up pumpkin hummus, baked oysters “Savannah” (a nod to Locke-Ober’s famous lobster dish), and toasts and flatbreads with a variety of toppings. “Social plates” range from grilled octopus with gigante bean salad to chicken-quinoa meatballs to tuna crudo with pickled mango, black bean crema, and jalapeno vinaigrette (pictured). There are also large-format “feasts” such as the grilled “viper” chop — pork short rib with kimchi fried rice. Pastry chef Kate Holowchik (Bread & Salt Hospitality) creates fanciful treats like Negroni ice cream cones with orange zest Magic Shell.
Care for a drink? The Library Bar list features champagne juleps, Gibsons, and other modernized classics. At the bar in the dining room, sample inventions like the gin-based Rubicon, scented with rosemary, and the Ladder District (rye, Calvados, cinnamon, and bitters). Both bars, of course, offer the Ward 8, supposedly created at Locke-Ober.
Overheard Talk about Snapchat, juice bars, and the restaurant business. “Want a haircut? You can’t get a haircut,” a woman teases her boyfriend at Yvonne’s entrance. “It’s a Tar-zhay special,” someone exclaims as her outfit gets compliments. Industry workers reminisce: “I loved having 50 seats. The food was great. The staff was great.” A man looks around, biting his lip. “I love the space — sexy, sexy,” he murmurs. “I just want real success. Real success,” someone declares. “Now is the time in your life to take risks,” his friend assents. A group saunters up to the bar: “Can we get three Fireball shots?” Beverage director Will Thompson replies diplomatically. “We don’t carry Fireball, but we can do something similar.” A woman orders a Rubicon and chortles as it’s made: “He burned my rosemary!”
2 Winter Place, Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-267-0047, www.yvonnesboston.com.