21 Nichols Grille and Tap, 21 Nichols Avenue, Watertown, MA
March 14, 2005
Like other taverns in the area, 21 Nichols Grille and Tap is gearing up for St. Patrick’s Day. Plenty ‘o green is in evidence as my lunch companion and I enter for lunch on a sun splashed mid March afternoon. The green lights and Guiness streamers are festooned around the oak bar lining one side of the deep, narrow pub and the tables and benches to the right. 21 Nichols has pushed back their opening schedule from 3 PM to 11:30 AM. Every Monday through Friday from opening till 3 PM, 21 Nichols is offering $4 and $5 lunch specials and a beer and a burger for $7. This certainly gets the attention of this Adventurer, who thinks the idea will be a good catch for local lunch goers intent on good grub at great prices.
Today’s specials include a, a BLT wrap for $4, a pesto chicken wrap, and a mussels, scallops and pasta dish for $5. We opt for the pesto chicken and mussels specials. While waiting for our order, we comment about the welcome sunlight streaming into the place through the greenhouse-like sloped glass ceiling. Glancing through the plate glass windows that line one side of the bar, we see a real Pullman railroad car that’s been sidetracked ten feet away and is part of the restaurant. The bartender informs us that it’s been made into a lounge and invites us to take a look. Sure enough, a short walk through a breezeway brings us into the car, in which couches, easy chairs and tables have been set about, surrounded by green velvet drapes that give it a cozy feeling. A walk to the far end of the car reveals the establishment’s kitchen, where we chat with the cooks who will engineer our lunch selections.
We decide on the chicken wrap and the pasta special and admire what my companion calls “the warm atmosphere”, the exposed brick and glass interior, and the 5 plasma TVs that show us men in uniforms running on impossibly green lawns after a small white ball. Spring is near.
Our orders arrive with our food arranged artfully on blue platters. The scallops and mussels are a bit too drenched in red sauce but tender, moist, and tasty nevertheless. The pasta is al dente but somehow one patch is cool while the rest is piping hot. Much too hungry to send back to those engineers, I mix it together for a better average temperature. When I admit this fact to the waiter who’s asked about the meal, he tells me how he thought it had been prepared to ensure proper temperature and says he’ll speak to the cook. The garlic bread, served in wedges, is perfect. Crusty on the bottom, tasty with garlic, butter, and cheese on top, it disappears long before the rest of the meal is consumed. The wrap brings compliments from my food-wise companion. She gives me a blow by blow description of the tender and tasty bite sized chicken breast pieces that are mixed with fresh mozzarella cheese, basil loaded pesto sauce, and crunchy, sundried tomatoes in a warm, soft white flour tortilla. The wrap is accompanied by deep-fried thick onion rings that taste good even after the batter has cooled.
Just as spring training means the the baseball season will soon be underway, it seems that these inexpensive lunch specials are harbingers of a good lunch season for 21 Nichols. This Adventurer is sure to return for extra innings.