Having been to the Compass Tavern once before and a few times when it served as the original location for Urban Smokestack, I knew what to expect from the atmosphere. It’s a casual environment with a large rectangular bar set in the middle of the main dining area. There is also another bar off to the left where many patrons go to enjoy a nice brew after work.

Being a Tuesday night, our group made up about 75 percent of the restaurant’s occupants. Not to worry though, the Compass Tavern becomes one of the best night clubs in Worcester on the weekend. Since we had a smaller group than usual due to an outbreak of the common cold, we were able to chat quietly and intimately in a comfortable environment. We didn’t have to scream over the next person just to have a conversation.

As I reviewed the menu, I found your typical gastropub fare options that ran the gamut from buffalo wings to pasta to steak and seafood to a classic burger with pretty much everything in between. Looking for something slightly different, I decided to go with the 10-ounce hanger steak with truffle fries and a house-made steak sauce ($14).

When the steak came out, it was presented beautifully. It was pre-sliced on the bias and fanned out to show that it was a beautiful pink, medium rare inside. Upon tasting the steak, I actually found that it was slightly tough. I know hanger steak has a reputation as a cheaper cut of beef, and therefore, needs adequate time to marinade and break down some of the tissue. This particular steak could have benefitted greatly from a slightly longer marinade or a more intense tenderizing process.

The truffle fries might have been the best part of the meal. Seasoned generously with coarse sea salt and fresh parsley, the fries were terrifically salty and tender. The mustard sauce–that I believe was meant for the steak–provided a deliciously tangy bite to the fries, which counteracted the richness of the steak and its accompanied sauce.

Having a smaller group than usual made service easier for one waitress to cover the needs of all of us. She was very personable and pleasant. She had some great recommendations for some of the bar’s craft brews in addition to some insight about the most popular menu items. She was always around in the event that we needed something. It seemed like she thoroughly enjoyed what she did and when this happens you can see the positive result in the eyes of the customers.

Experiencing the Compass Tavern’s environment on a Tuesday night was nice given that we had a smaller group than some of the past Foodies events. The background noise combined with the modern music and the chatting of other guests made for an enjoyable setting. For what Compass Tavern offers its customers, I think it is about average for the city of Worcester. It is a place that you wouldn’t mind going if you had no idea what you were in the mood for. This menu offers it all. The portions size was definitely a good value and the flavors had the potential to be great, but just needed some additional TLC.

Swing by the Compass Tavern to have a satisfying meal or hit it up late on a Friday night to get your groove on. With that type of diversity and dual functionality, it’s not surprising that the Compass Tavern is enjoying success.