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City Bar & Grille Brings Comfortable Neighborhood Feel to Chandler Street

Al Soto has worked for different restaurant owners all over the world. Now it’s his turn to call the shots at City Bar & Grille!

Located at 395 Chandler Street, Worcester, City Bar & Grille hopes to be “the local neighborhood spot where friends and family can enjoy simple, good, fresh food” Soto told MassFoodies during an interview before he opened the restaurant. Soto even handmade many of the tables in his dining room.

So it just made sense the Foodies Group would venture to taste one of Worcester’s newest spots! Located in the former Caffe Espresso Trattoria space, City Bar & Grille features a seasonal menu that they say “offers a refined approach to American Classics.” All menu items are made in-house from scratch. The bar area is intimate but inviting, with some neighborhood couples enjoying apps and drinks the evening we were there.

Aaron used the word “diverse” to describe the menu and Lynn thought “many of the choices were very unique.”

To Start

New England Baked Cod at City Bar & Grille

For starters the City Bar & Grille menu offers some interesting options such as Chicken Liver Mousse Toast and Grilled Octopus to name a few. I saw the Beet Salad, which Robyn said was “a very large portion and very tasty.” Aaron thought the meat plate was “good and interesting,” and at our end of the table, we shared the Spicy Tuna Tartare which “was as good a Tuna as I’ve ever tasted.”

After another round of drinks, dinner was served.

Dinner is Served

“I ordered the burger and it was cooked beautifully,” said Evan. “I ordered it medium and it came to the table warm and pink on the inside…quite difficult to achieve consistently on burgers. The fries were not quite shoestring but also not steak fries. They were seasoned nicely and paired well with a seemingly house made ketchup.”

Robyn thought her New England Baked Cod was very good. “It came in a light curry sauce, topped with buttery cracker crumb topping, spinach and wild rice pilaf and was cooked perfectly.”

Aaron had the Braised Chicken Bowl which he thought was very flavorful but a little salty.”

“I got the Mixed Lettuce Salad topped with Salmon,” said Julie. She added “the salad was delicious especially with the large chunks of gruyere cheese which you don’t see often in a salad, the salmon was a large portion cooked like I have never had it before, they seared in on the grill, giving the salmon a delicious flavor without overcooking it, typically I ask for it Cajun style but I am glad I didn’t this time because it was so good the way it was cooked.”

David and Stephanie both had the Cavatelli with Wild Mushrooms with David adding it “was good” and Stephanie thought “it was cooked perfectly and the braised greens and mushrooms were amazing” – although the dish was a bit salty for both of them.

I had the Smoked Cheddar Stuffed Meatloaf and found the flavors to be extremely rich and flavorful, exactly what is needed in a quintessential comfort food dish.

The Double Burger at City Bar & Grille

With any group, not every dish is perfect. Steve thought the “meatloaf was overdone and dry” and Drew thought his meal was “average.”

Unlike its predecessor, City Bar & Grille has a full liquor license with Stephanie adding the “beer and cocktail list was also quite extensive.”

Definitely Going Back

Our large table might have been a bit overwhelming for our server, but she did a great job getting us our food and keeping up with drink orders. Food out of the kitchen at City Bar & Grille was a bit on the slow side, but we understand our group is large and the restaurant is still getting its’ legs underneath itself.

Overall we were pleased and think the City Bar & Grille is exactly what they want it to be… a comfortable neighborhood spot for great food, at a good price. Many added they will be back! City Bar & Grille is located 395 Chandler Street in Worcester. They have a large off-street parking lot making it convenient to get in and out.

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Reunion Tap & Table Brings New Dining Options to Grafton

Worcester’s restaurant renaissance has received a lot of media attention the past few years, and rightfully so, as we have always noted. But let’s face it, Worcester isn’t the only area taking their restaurant game to the next level. And as a group, the Worcester Foodies are always up for a new adventure.

The Reunion Tap & Table in Grafton, MA opened a few months back to many rave reviews. Newly built, it is the brainchild of the Briggs brothers, Josh and Shawn and their business partner Sargon Hanna. If the Briggs name sounds familiar, it may be through their other business, Wicked Twisted Pretzels. Wicked Twisted Pretzels are distributed to many local and national grocery stores, restaurants and breweries. For good measure the team brought on food veteran Gary Benacquista, to run operations.

So, what are two pretzel-making brothers doing opening a full-service restaurant? As Josh explained, “We thought the area was a bit underserved and we could bring a new experience to the area. And we thought it would be fun…,” he added.

The experience, as described by the owners “is a place to relax, enjoy great American comfort food that is prepared fresh every day, with a menu of “elevated American Fare”. We were anxious to give it a try!

Walking into Reunion Tap & Table, the first thing you notice is the design and décor with warm rich wood, distressed metals, and exceptional tile work. The contemporary design is open and provides clean lines throughout with lots of attention to detail that really catches your eye. As Stephanie commented, “The interior was really beautiful, rustic yet refined with the coziness of a log cabin”. Evan found it “comfortable…a modern rustic chic that makes you feel at home”.

Entering the restaurant, the dining area is set to the left and lounge area to the right. These spaces are separated by a service walkway that creates two distinct spaces to enjoy.

The menu is subdued offering a variety of choices but not so many options that it is overwhelming. There are choices to satisfy any mood, from light and casual salads, burgers, comfort classics such as Bratwurst and Fish & Chips, to a Roasted Red Pepper Cavatelli or all out with a NY Prime Sirloin or Maple Brined Pork Chop.

We all arrived and were seated immediately as our server began the process of taking drink and app orders. Shawn, one of the owners came over and introduced himself. He chatted about how the restaurant came to be, told us a bit about Wicked Twisted Pretzel and thanked us for coming.

Soon drinks and apps arrived. As a table we shared the Fried Calamari, a well-appointed Cheese Board, a warm, soft Wicked Twisted Pretzel and the Pork Belly Poutine. The tartar aioli on the calamari was a big hit that Steph commented was “amazing, tangy, with a bit of heat that was very enjoyable” Evan was particularly fond of the Pork Belly Poutine announcing “the large chunks of juicy pork belly helped throw this dish over the top. I was actually so captivated by the pork belly that I ordered the Jumbo Mac and Cheese with an addition of pork belly for my meal”. Wine, beer and cider came to the table to help round out the beginning portion of our meal.

The table ordered a variety of main courses, all looking impressive and well plated when arriving at the table. David said, “The Lamb Gyro was made with freshly marinated lamb which came in a large pita with a generous portion of Mea and toppings.  As a side, I opted for the salad which was a nice accompaniment to the Gyro”.

Stephanie enthusiastically offered “For my entree I settle on the Prime Sirloin. While it was the priciest option on the menu ($27), it was well worth it. The 10 oz steak was cooked perfectly and paired great with the heaping pile of mashed potatoes and mushrooms. This was no small meal! I will say for me personally, this was a tougher cut of steak than I’d like as I normally prefer something a little fattier like a ribeye, but that being said, it was seasoned great and very hearty”.

Julie ordered the Caesar Salad topped with Grilled Salmon. “The salad was large and fresh accompanied with an authentic dressing. The thick cut salmon was cooked perfectly, you could tell the fish was fresh.”

Personally, I had the Reunion Burger which was am 8oz. chuck patty topped with Tillamook cheddar, bacon and pickles. It was perfectly cooked and served with house-made chips that added the perfect amount of salt to compliment the cheddar and pickles of the burger. This was one of the best burgers I have had in a while.

For dessert, we shared the Black & White Chocolate cake and the Citrus Cheesecake. Both were plentiful and the perfect ending to a great meal.

Overall our experience at the Reunion Tap & Table was excellent with many of us making plans to revisit! Reunion Tap & Table is located at 198 Worcester Street (Rte 122) in Grafton MA.