In the Kitchen Luke Foley is only 25, but he grew up in the restaurant industry and had a strong sense of what he wanted to create in his first place. He’s now the proprietor of Bourbon’s Kitchen & Cocktails, a Framingham speakeasy with creative comfort food and classic cocktails. Like all great bars, it appeals to a range of customers. On a recent visit, as I waited for a table, I watched as parents and grandparents conversed among 20-somethings who looked as though they might be buying a first drink. The menu and craft cocktails were carefully planned by Foley, whose father ran the former 400 Club in Framingham for years. From that restaurant, he took the family recipe for the crusty, 24-square-inch “The 400” pizza and the original 65-year-old baking pans. On his dinner-only menu, Foley said he takes pains to make sure the ingredients are freshly combined daily, but that the entrees and meals are not too expensive. He’s been told repeatedly by customers since the restaurant opened in September 2016: “This is what Framingham needed.”
The Locale Understated is an understatement. When you enter the parking lot, you could be forgiven for thinking you’ve arrived at a bank in a strip mall. But don’t be fooled by outward appearances. This is a popular restaurant for good reason. The bar is tastefully decorated in subdued, wood tones. A small lounge area with low seats and small tables is positioned beside a more traditional dining room. Although the restaurant has a combined seating capacity of 98, and another 22 at the bar, it fills quickly on opening. Be prepared to wait if you are here on a Friday or Saturday night. The wait is less on weeknights and Sundays. Bourbon’s does not take reservations.
On the Menu First, the drinks. Although a full beer and wine menu is available, it’s the craft cocktails that Bourbon’s is known for. The house speciality is probably the Bourbon Smash. It’s a combination of bourbon, sweet fresh lemon, a simple house syrup, and mint. “Almost a lemonade like drink,” Foley explained. The Cherry in the Rye is a homemade syrup and American rye whiskey poured over an extra-large ice cube and topped with a Luxardo Maraschino cherry. The menu is heavy with appetizers. Bourbon’s had 17 on the weekend I visited. This is to encourage conversation and sharing. They’re under the heading “Shareables.” The Meatballs ($10) were served in a classic marinara with shaved parmesan. The Little Devils ($8) were eight bacon-wrapped prunes, stuffed with gorgonzola and accompanied by a Dijon dip. This was super-rich but delicious. The Nachos ($10) are more interesting than they seem, and feature grilled street corn with pepper jack, jalapeños, and cilantro. Odd as it may seem, the Buffalo Cauliflower ($8) and Crispy Brussels ($8) are the most popular appetizers. The first substitutes the veggie for chicken wings, and the latter is topped with a truffle-aioli sauce and parmesan cheese. “It’s out of control how much cauliflower and brussels sprouts we’re selling,” Foley said.
On the entree list, look for classic Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese-infused comfort foods. The list includes house made Gnocchi ($18), which has a wild mushroom truffle cream sauce, and the specialty of the house, Scallops & Chorizo ($24), served over a bed of risotto with roasted tomatoes and scallions.
“The 400” Pizza starts at $12 for the classic cheese; toppings ($1 to $4) run from the traditional pepperoni and sausage to pork belly and candied bacon.
Bourbon’s Kitchen & Cocktails, 47 Beacon St., Framingham, 508-861-7997. www.bourbonsframingham.comMary MacDonald can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.