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Entries in Steak (7)


A Video Visit to 111 Chop House

111 Chop House

111 Shrewsbury Street
Worcester, MA 01604

111 Chop House is arguably one of my favorite restaurants in the area, ever since its 1999 opening, as reviewed here.  

As we thought about places to do a video visit, 111 Chop House was an obvious choice.  After working closely with the Worcester Restaurant Group and their marketing arm, we got the “green light” to capture the place.  Interestingly, we went on one of their busiest nights, when they were having a wine dinner.

I hope you enjoy this short video visit to 111 Chop House.


New England Steak and Seafood  

New England Steak and Seafood

11 Uxbridge Road (Route 16)
Mendon MA 01756

508 478 0871

Over the summer, I had the opportunity to meet with Patch Associate Regional Editor, MetroWest Boston…Danielle Horn and inevitably the conversation turned to food, with my asking her for the next great place to review:

“What’s one of your favorite places to go eat?”

New England Steak and Seafood in Mendon,” was Danielle’s immediate response. 

“Really? Are they still open?” 

“Yes, in fact I got married there.”

I had to check this place out…the very center of Danielle’s nuptials!

Before Westborough I lived in Blackstone for seven years (think Woonsocket, RI) and New England Steak and Seafood was one of those well-known places everyone went to for a fancy dinner.  One recent night I was heading out to do a review, and was joined by Danielle and her husband, Ernie.

Driving to “the little town of Mendon” was easy, Rt 495 S to Rt 85 S, to Rt 16 South.  I came back using the back road through Upton.  The restaurant is across the street from Imperial Cars, 52 bright acres of Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, Jeeps.

New England Steak and Seafood has been operated by the Quirk family since 1956.  Jimmy Quirk came over and visited the table, offering a quick answer on why one item on the menu is called, Seafood Sinatra.  “We used to call it Seafood Fettuccini…my brother John likes Frank Sinatra so we changed the name.  Sales are up and we didn’t change the recipe.  We even added a picture of Sinatra out of appreciation.”

The place looks like an old style New England restaurant, with exposed wooden beams and antiques galore.

Danielle commented the banquet facility on the lower level is quite large, and everyone complimented the food at the wedding.  As the facility boasts over 700 seats, one would hope the food was good.

The bread plate was overflowing with cinnamon sticky buns, onion rolls and blueberry bread.  The cinnamon bun smelled delicious.

Salads were next…with large sized fresh greens with delicious dressings.

For the main course, the Horns both went with a special steak stir fry, and I went with a sirloin steak.

I can’t say how the stir fry was, but observed Mr. Horn becoming a member of the “clean plate club” enjoying his dinner, while Mrs. Horn demurely asked for a take home package for the remainder.  My steak was reminiscent of a roast…good sized (for 12 oz) with nice texture and flavor, accompanied by a baked potato and veggies.

Beginning to breathe a sigh of relief the evening was going in the direction of a “green light” and not an awkward light of a different color, the deal was sealed when the large varied dessert tray arrived.  I went with a molten chocolate cake with ice cream and a cappuccino, while the happy couple each had a Hot Apple Fritter, which Head Chef John Quirk had served to Republican President Ford.

Overall, I was pleased with the restaurant and certainly the company.  I can see why someone would want to have a function there, and would place New England Steak and Seafood on my short list of classic New England eateries.

And, ironically, when this review runs it will be darned close to the Horn anniversary (October 17.)  Please join me in wishing them ongoing happiness.

Hours (opening)

Saturday and Monday at 4:00 PM

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 11:30 AM

Sunday at Noon, Closed on Tuesdays

New England Steak and Seafood gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


Smith & Wollensky – Atlantic Wharf

Smith & Wollensky – Atlantic Wharf

294 Congress Street
At Atlantic Wharf
Boston, MA 02210


Yes, we visited Smith & Wollensky at the Armory in the Back Bay in April, 2012. Going back so soon?  Not really…let me tell you about it.

It was July 4th in Boston. A hot, overcast day and I had to work for a while in the financial district in downtown Boston. My daughter, who has decided going to a Steak House once a month with her boyfriend is just the thing to do (I’m so proud), wanted to get together. Why not head to the water for beef?

Boston is a walking city, and we wandered over to the Boston HarborWalk area around 3:00. The area was teeming with tourists and various seafaring types (from the Navy and the Tall Ships.)  We headed toward the money…the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston…one of Boston’s more recognizable landmarks (the building with the hole in it.) Walking from the Rowes Wharf area on the HarborWalk, in the shadow of the InterContinental Hotel and just before the Boston Fed is Smith & Wollensky – Atlantic Wharf.

This 10,000 square foot restaurant overlooks the HarborWalk and is very inviting as a place to people watch on the outdoor patio, bar and lounge. The restaurant also makes a nod to the harbor, with a full-service raw oyster bar.

On this hot day, and after walking around town, we decided to sit in the air conditioned comfort of the facility.

For those worried Smith & Wollensky might lose its roots moving to the water, our waiter quickly arrived dressed in the signature greed S&W jacket. The menu looks the same, and checking on the website they look identical.

For our dinner we went with a Cajun ribeye, Salmon and a Filet. As you would expect in a high end steak house, all were prepared fabulously and our asparagus and onion ring sides were plenty for three. I also went with a wedge of lettuce with balsamic and bacon…and swear there had to be 3 ounces of bacon on the salad.

My daughter wanted dessert with the boyfriend and I passing. Good thing…the carrot cake was enormous and couldn’t be finished by the three of us.

There are parking lots around the restaurant a short walk away. If arriving as a group, I would tend to suggest using the valet.

Boston is home to many fine steakhouses, with Smith & Wollensky offering two. While the menus are the same, the ambience is decidedly different. The Back Bay has the heavy steakhouse feel, with the Atlantic Wharf location having a feeling of openness and airiness about it.

You can’t go wrong with either location.

Smith & Wollensky was founded in New York in 1977 by Alan Stillman, best-known for creating T.G.I. Friday’s. There never was a Smith or a Wollensky, company lore has those names being selected at random from the New York City phone directory. (The grand opening announcements listed the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky, the first names Charlie and Ralph were donated by Stillman’s dogs.)  The two Boston locations are owned by a separate entity, Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc., (headquartered in Boston’s financial district at 260 Franklin Street) who also owns locations in in Miami Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Columbus, and Houston.)


Monday through Saturday: 11:30am-12:00am
Sunday: 11:30am-11:00pm

Smith & Wollensky – Atlantic Wharf gets a

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


Willy's Steakhouse

Willy’s Steakhouse

2 Grafton Street
Shrewsbury, MA 01545

(508) 842-7220

There are places with a solid business, and a great following, that I just don’t get.

For example, JPs. Fellow blogger (and good guy) Glenn Parker said “Gary, you missed big time on this one. JPs has the best fish & chips, scallops, clams and steaks. This is a true locals place but not just townies.”  Conversely, I had someone send me a text thanking me for telling “the truth.”  I don’t “get”JPs, and I am happy they are doing just fine.

I like a good steak, and have reviewed 111 Chop House, Flemings, Del Frisco’s and Smith & Wollensky in these posts. Each of these restaurants offer a premium (and pricey) experience, in tastefully decorated steak house style.

Let me say it now. I don’t “get” Willy’s Steakhouse. It shares being pricey with the other places, and that’s where the similarities stop.

To be clear, I’ve been to Willy’s a bunch of times. I liked it when Willy’s served Sushi from an old house (now car wash) on Route 9 in Westborough…it was funky, like Lala Java was on Route 9 in Shrewsbury (Price Chopper.)  At their main location, I’ve always been disappointed. My visit this time was no exception.

The first thing about Willy’s is getting a parking spot. It is so tight they sometimes have a valet. On this visit, the valet was off, so I had to find parking on my own. Normally this is not a big deal, however the parking lot at Willy’s is tight to maneuver in. There were spots open, so I parked and headed in.

The first thing striking me is the restaurant is below grade. Entering the vestibule, a musty smell immediately hit me…reminding me of an old building. OK, old buildings can have charm.

The hostess immediately told me there was only one table left in the restaurant, a table right next to the kitchen. This seemed an odd greeting, especially with a number of open tables. Well, perhaps the other tables had reservations, and I didn’t. Cool. I’ll look at the table by the kitchen as a chef’s table!

My computer engineering background trained me to look for patterns. The pattern of slow service was immediately clear….and at first I thought I would only see my pleasant waitress every 10 minutes or so. That was her “best” time:


  • 7:19 Seated. Willy’s has a wide range of menus to go through, so you are left with a stack of things to go through. There’s the wine list, the regular menu, and two specials menus (includes one Sushi.)  (Heck, a computer would have been handy for navigating.)  My beverage order was taken.


Trumpet jazz music loudly blaring.


  •  7:30 Beverage served. Hmm, 11 minutes to get a glass of wine. Better order appetizers and entrée quickly.


We are out of fresh bread, we need to make more.


  • 7:39 Bread Delivered
  • 7:40  Appetizer served. The shrimp cocktail was my choice. The shrimp were crisp, although they had a slightly odd taste. I can’t describe the taste, it wasn’t fishy. It reminded me of a very slight chemical taste. The cocktail sauce was sparse, with a welcomed dollop of horseradish.
  • 8:04 Dinner delivered, 24 minutes after the appetizer.


 I went with the Swordfish Nantucket, “Center cut swordfish encrusted with a spicy almond and pecan crust, served with a lemon thyme and parsley sauce.”  My swordfish was just about perfect, not dry as so many swordfish can be. The sauce was delightful, light and flavorful.

Willy’s serves à la carte, so my choice of side was asparagus. Visually, the asparagus was appealing, nice sized stalks in a béarnaise sauce. Sadly, the asparagus was cold, and mushy.


  • 8:25 The lights went down throughout. (It was already dim). It seems rather unnecessary to adjust the lights in a basement restaurant.
  • 8:26 The bill dropped off, “No rush sir - whenever you’re ready.”
  •  8:27 The lights went darker. Not to worry, the flash on my phone can be used as an emergency light.


Check + credit card went away. $68 bucks for a single person for dinner. I was longing for 111 Chop House. Heck, leave the lights out.


  • 8:28 The lights came back to their original level.



  • 8:30 My car wrestled out of the parking lot.


Many people rave about Willy’s. I’m not one of them.


Daily 4PM to close

Willy’s Steakhouse gets a RED LIGHT…use caution.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


Smith & Wollensky

Smith & Wollensky

101 Arlington Street
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 423-1112

Have you ever eaten in a castle?

The closest you might come to dining in a castle in Boston is grabbing a steak at Smith & Wollensky in the Back Bay.

Getting there is easy from MetroWest. Exit the MassPike at the Copley exit, and stay straight onto Stuart. Follow Stuart to Arlington, and make a right turn – almost immediately allowing the valet to park your car. Coming home is almost as easy; continue on Arlington a couple blocks and make a right turn after Cortes onto the MassPike West. It’s hard to find an easier “Boston” restaurant to access.

Smith & Wollensky is located in a historic stone and brick “castle” built in 1891. Originally serving as the Armory for the First Corps of Cadets, it is listed on the National Historic Register.

Steak houses are often heavy, dark, wood affairs where you can almost sense the martini fueled business deals occurring. The Back Bay Smith & Wollensky (there is also an Atlantic Wharf waterfront location at 294 Congress) lets the building impart the importance allowing a feeling of dining in a castle.

Our group dined in the first floor main dining area, a mammoth room tastefully divided so you never feel “lost” in the space. The ceilings are very high, with natural light coming in from a series of windows in a mezzanine area.

Smith & Wollensky was founded in New York in 1977 by Alan Stillman, best-known for creating T.G.I. Friday’s. There never was a Smith or a Wollensky, company lore has those names being selected at random from the New York City phone directory.  (The grand opening announcements listed the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky, the first names Charlie and Ralph were donated by Stillman’s dogs.)  The two Boston locations are owned by a separate entity, Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, Inc., (headquartered in Boston’s financial district at 260 Franklin Street) who also owns locations in in Miami Beach, Chicago, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Columbus, and Houston.)

Three in our party settled in for dinner, immediately admiring the tall ceilings and immense room. Our waiter was impeccably dressed in an uniform embroidered with his name. The wine list wasn’t as extensive as Del Frisco’s or Flemings…although we were able to readily find a really nice Shafer Vineyards selection: Relentless.

The menu is your typical steak house menu, offering a good mix of steaks and sides. We started off with salads (a Caesar, mixed greens and tomato & mozzarella), quickly moving to our main entrees.

One in our party went with the Cracklin Pork Shank, “A tender pork shoulder cured with salt, pepper and sugar is slow-cooked and then fried to create a crisp outer skin. Brushed with pineapple-mustard glaze and served with creamy sauerkraut and firecracker applesauce.”  The presentation was amazing, (with way too much food) filling a plate. Thankfully the tall ceilings allowed the entrée into the room. It was the hit of the evening with a crisp (not greasy) skin and succulent pork.

The others went with 10oz steak filets. While very tasty, the temperatures were off a wee bit. Medium was more medium well, and medium rare was pretty rare indeed.

I had Cajun spices on mine, and welcomed the seasoning on an otherwise delightful steak.

In typical steakhouse fashion the table shared sides of whipped potatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and roasted asparagus. Our server served the sides to each of us, in an appreciated departure from “family style.”

In typical high end steak house fashion, everything is à la carte. Entrée prices were lower than most other high end places…roughly $10 an entrée less. This still isn’t a Longhorn Steakhouse for pricing; it costs a lot to run castles these days.

For dessert, we went with Pecan Pie, NY Cheesecake, and Warm Butter Cake. All were good, although I should have passed on the calories.

If a nice summer night and you’re up for a little walk, I might pass on the Smith & Wollensky dessert and head over to the Park Plaza Finale for a special dessert treat.

Overall, our group had a great meal at Smith & Wollensky. Easy access, a stunningly unique location and great food provide a winning trifecta.


Monday through Sunday
Bar 4:00pm-10:00pm
Dinner 5:00pm-10:00pm

Smith & Wollensky gets a

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money



Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar

One West Exchange Street
Providence, RI 02903

Restaurants in hotels tend to disappoint.  The last one reinforced all the badness, and won a RED LIGHT on the RAG scale.

So when a friend recommended Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in the Westin Providence, my cautionary radar started functioning.  No need for concern, the hotel could actually add to an evening.

First, this particular restaurant is located in the heart of Providence.  I’ve come to really enjoy Providence, and all it has to offer.  One of my favorite public events is WaterFire.  Providence offers lots of restaurants, is easy to get to, and is energetic. 

We chose to use the $9 (after validation) Valet for parking the car, although we discovered (as we were leaving) the entrance to the garage is just past the hotel entrance.

Using OpenTable for our reservation, we were quickly seated, having a choice of a booth or table.  Opting for a table, our waiter, Brock Reels (is that a great name or what?), quickly changed the white linen napkins to black, so any lint wouldn’t stand out on our darker clothes.

Everywhere you look in the restaurant you’ll see wine.  The wine is used effectively to segment off portions of the restaurant, and certainly gives you the impression of a deep wine list.  The wine list is extensive, with over 100 available by the glass, although the wine guy in our group commented Del Frisco’s list was deeper. In any event, we had no difficulty finding selections we wanted to try.

Our opening order for appetizers, starter beverages, water, and two types of wine would have quickly overwhelmed our table, and the omnipresent Brock expanded our table by opening folding leaves. 

Starters like Aki Tuna and Shrimp Cocktail were delicious.

Service is an important element of any dining experience, and the service at Fleming’s was impeccable.  With three in our party, our dinner order of three steaks with three sides was rushed to our table from the kitchen by a team with the speed of a fire department going to a blaze. 

When it comes to the menu, it had to be steak.  Two of our group chose the 22 ounce bone-in Ribeye, while the third went with a massive filet.  Our sides included green beans, crisp asparagus, and Flemings’ Potatoes.  All our food was perfectly prepared, with just the right seasonings and requested temperature.

For desert, I went with the “Chocolate Lava Cake,” described as “rich chocolate cake with a molten chocolate center of Belgian chocolate, served with vanilla ice cream and chopped pistachios.”  I can’t honestly say I know what the other two had for desert, I was so lost in the goodness of mine.

Fleming’s is “Steakhouse Pricey,” with three apps, entrees deserts, wines, and drinks totaling just under $700.

So while Fleming’s may not be priced as a daily diner, it is certainly great for a special event.

Fleming’s gets a

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money


Oregon Club

Oregon Club

117 Oregon Road
Ashland, MA 01721

Wikipedia defines a speakeasy as an establishment illegally selling alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition (1920–1933). During this time, the sale, manufacture, and transportation (bootlegging) of alcoholic beverages was illegal throughout the United States.

Little did I know we have a “legendary speakeasy” nearby in Ashland. Yet, with the excellence of the food, who needs booze?

A friend has raI don’t “get” the Moose - it doesn’t talkved about the Oregon club for the past year.  The stars and moons aligned recently and we saddled up for a trip over to the Oregon Club.  The restaurant does date back to the beginning of Prohibition, serving spaghetti and steak to the locals as the “The Briasco Inn.”

After Prohibition, the place was renamed the Oregon Club and remained a private club for the privacy of members.  Now, the location is open to the public, overseen by Chef Chris Scanlon and Judy MacLeod, owners of the Oregon Club since 2009.

These are very much hands on owners.  Judy seated and waited on us the entire evening.  Chris manned the kitchen, yet still had time to come out and chat.

The 86 seat restaurant is made up of a series of little rooms.  My friend described it as “Maine homey.”  It wouldn’t surprise me if nothing Veal Meatballshad changed in the aesthetics since the opening.  At first, it was a little disconcerting to wander through all the little rooms, and one can almost imagine whispered passcodes to gain access to different areas.

Nonetheless, we’re not here to review architecture.  Seated in a booth, the menu was made up of traditional American favorites.

We each had the homemade veal meatballs- Ground veal with house special seasoning and panko crumbs.  Served with a simple brown gravy and Romano cheese.   Meatballs are often dry in my world; these were a notable delicious exception.  Moist anThe Steakd tasty!

I had an entrée simply called “The Steak,” a 12 ounce Sirloin Strip Steak prepared in the Oregon Club Style (cooked in pans originating in the Parker

Pork Chop

House, seared in a beef fat and seasonings creating a slightly crusty flavorful outside with melt in your mouth goodness inside.)  I’m a big steak fan, and “The Steak” is one of the finer beef selections in the area.  Truly fabulous.

My friend had the bone in pork chop….again cooked to perfection.  The portion was huge….more than enough to be the centerpiece of lunch the next day.

For desert we had two choices prepared onsite….a chocolate mousse and a tart with fresh Maine blueberries.

Blueberry Lemon

Overall, the ambiance may be an acquired taste although I am sure it has many, many fans.  Personally, I’m always less concerned with wall hangings than I am the food, and rest assured the Oregon Club is a hidden jewel.A different Mousse

Finding the place can be a little tricky the first time.  Take Route 9 towards Southborough, turn at Oak Street (Walgreens) then head south.  Make a left at the flashing light (Oregon Road) and the restaurant is just up on the left.

This is one of those places it’s good to know about, and to keep quiet lest it morphs into something else.  Sort of like a speakeasy.  Quietly tell them, “Gary sent you.”


Tues - Sun: 5:00PM - ??

Oregon Club gets a GREEN LIGHT…go and enjoy.

About the RAG scale:

       Green Light – Go and enjoy

       Amber Light – Use caution

       Red Light – Save your time and money