It’s a warm Friday night in June on Boston’s Boylston Street, lined with restaurants, boutique shops and people spilling out of busy bars. The after-work crowd is pushing happy hour into overtime when we arrive at Abe & Louie’s, a steak and seafood restaurant with no shortage of alpha males in the house. You’d be mad to come here without a reservation, and the bar is packed, the Red Sox game fuelling extra drink orders. The wine list is long, and varied, but this is the sort of place that demands Mad Men-style drinks. This is a place for martinis and whiskey.
I couldn’t see a single empty table, and wondered just how this was going to work, when we were whisked away to a comfortable booth, one of my favourite elements of American restaurant decor, just across from us a table full of old friends. Those friends would come in handy for the steak review. We were here for the fresh New England seafood. Meantime, we pore over the menu, amidst low lighting, dark wood panelling and bankers lamps. It’s buzzy and busy, but not so much it’s distracting. It’s also the kind of place men in suits, or even blue button-downs and chinos flock to, and yet it’s not intimidating for two chicks ordering the healthiest stuff on the menu.
We start with a serious protein hit of lump crab meat cocktail, which is actually Maryland blue crab, but despite a bit of extra mileage, it’s delicious and well, very meaty. The chopped salad draws a decidedly authentic remark, “This is my kinda’ salad.” It’s got the right amount of feta and onion without being overpowering, and nuts and seeds complement it well.
When in New England in the summer, there’s only one thing to eat - Maine lobster. A two-pounder is delivered to the table with the classic drawn butter on the side, grilled asparagus and spinach with mushrooms and garlic. The lobster is good, but the swordfish steak is the sleeper dish. The wood-fired grill has left it crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The roasted taste reminds me of countless summer barbecues.
Over at the other table, four grown men are getting giddy over classic steakhouse salads of iceberg wedges, beefsteak tomatoes and blue cheese before the Mecca part of their meal arrives. It’s steaks all around, and they’re too busy inhaling iron to give more than a quick thumbs-up and wide, satisfied smiles.
If you know anything about great American steak places, you’ll know what to expect from the dessert menu – apple pie a la mode, New York cheesecake, and ice cream, for sure. But what we weren’t expecting was a plate of fresh baked, warm cookies and house-made chocolate sauce (none of that thin Hershey’s syrup), lemon sorbet, and my favourite, a mound of dark, fresh berries.
Abe & Louies will remind you of the sort of place your father may have come to close a business deal, but on a Friday night, with a few gin and tonics, and a peek through the bar to catch the Sox at the bottom of the ninth inning, it feels like the perfect place to kick off the weekend, which is, in fact every night, if you’re a tourist.
Abe & Louie's
793 Boylston Street Boston, MA 02116 (617) 536-6300