Sunday, December 9, 2007


Sometimes a restaurant really needs little publicity. It is so popular already and word of mouth continues to sing its praises. So why add one more positive review?

As I have said before, all of our favorite restaurants need our support, no matter how popular they might seem. One more positive review certainly won't hurt. And it might garner a few more customers for the restaurant, helping it to survive.

Gavens in Middleton is a suburban steakhouse, easily accessible on Rt.114. It is a very popular place and reservations are usually necessary. I had heard much praise from some friends about this place. I had tried to walk-in one evening at around 6pm but they were already completely booked. So when I knew I would be in the area on a specific date, I made reservations.

The restaurant has both a dining area and a bar. I did not go into the bar area so cannot describe it. The dining area has three separate rooms and the restaurant actually seems a bit smaller than I thought. It is nicely decorated and presents an elegant ambience, though it is a bit casual as well.

The menu is typical of a steakhouse with appetizers, salads, entrees and sides. Appetizers include such items as Alaskan King crab legs, tuna, escargot, and lollipop lamb chops. Most of the entrees are beef, though they also have seafood, chicken, and duck. Sides includes a few different types of potatoes, various veggies and macaroni and cheese. What is evident is that their prices are very reasonable for a steakhouse, and less expensive than the typical Boston steakhouse. Entree prices generally range from the $20s to $30s, rather than the $30s to $40s at a usual Boston steakhouse. Gaven's is also less expensive than some other suburban steak houses.

The wine list is diverse and there are a fair number of choices under $50. Most wine prices seem to be around twice the usual retail price but there are some real bargains there as well. I almost hesitate to mention the bargain I found because it then might not be available when I return to Gavens. I found the 2000 Sean Thackrey Orion available for $109. This wine is priced at basically retail, with no real mark-up at all. There are wine stores selling this wine for over $109. If you can even find it at a wine store.

Sean Thackrey is an amazing and unique wine-maker and I love his wines. The Orion is his top end wine, and it is very limited production, around 350 cases each year. Interestingly enough, Thackrey is not sure what varietals go into Orion. For a time, he thought it was Syrah but UC Davis researchers found that there was Petite Syrah in it as well. So now, because of the dispute, Orion is labeled as "California Native Red Wine."

When the wine was brought to our table, I asked for it to be decanted, worried more about potential sediment than anything else. Our waitress had their sommelier come over and decant the wine for us. He mentioned that the Orion had not been selling so they had lowered the price. A lot of people are missing out on this wine. Sean Thackrey may not be well known to the average person, but they certainly would enjoy his wines if they tasted them.

The Orion is an exceptional wine. It is inky dark in color with a nose of spices like clove and licorice. On your palate, you realize this is a complex wine as there are so many flavors swirling around your mouth. Dark berries, licorice, clove, cinnamon and so much more. Yet the tannins are mild. This is not an in-your-face wine. It is more subtle, more like a Bordeaux than an Australian Shiraz. It has a satisfying and lingering finish. Just a fantastic wine.

Back to the food. Prior to receiving our appetizers, we got some warm bread, large slices of Ciabatta. The bread was very fresh and delicious, with a crusty exterior and a soft, thick interior. For someone who enjoys bread as much as I do, this was a great start to our meal.

For appetizers, we ordered the Gavens Salad, ($9) and the Sesame Tuna ($12). The salad included a large wedge of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, onion, bacon, and all topped with a blue cheese dressing. The ingredients were fresh, the salad was large and it tasted very good. The tuna consisted of four long rectangles of tuna, seared on the outside and raw inside with sesame seeds on the seared exterior. A very good portion of tuna. The tuna came with a seaweed salad, wasabi and soy sauce. The tuna was silky smooth and quite delicious.

There were a couple entree specials and we ordered one of them, a petite filet mignon wrapped in bacon with polenta, peppers and pearl onions and in a wine sauce ($39). I also ordered The Classic, a petite filet mignon and a lobster casserole (market price $46). I should note that these items were probably the most expensive items on the menu. You can find plenty of entrees in the $20s. Their prices are very reasonable.

The petite filets are 9 ounces, while their regular filet is 12 ounces. The filets were very tender, grilled well on the exterior and rare on the inside, as requested. These were excellent pieces of beef, definitely on par with any other steakhouse I have been to. If this is the quality of all of their beef, then you won't go wrong with any other choices. The bacon on the special filet dish was a nice addition. All of the extras on the special were very good, including the polenta.

The lobster casserole was exceptional. There were plenty of pieces of lobster in a moist, buttery sauce with Sherry and tarragon. It was not dry in the least like some other lobster casseroles. I could have eaten this for my entire meal. It was a decadent delight.

We did not get dessert as we were already too full.

Service was very good. We had no complaints at all about the service. Overall, this was an excellent dining experience and I will definitely return to Gavens. I can easily see why this restaurant is so popular. Prices are very reasonable, food is plentiful and delicious. This steakhouse certainly can compete with any Boston steakhouse. Go and I am sure you won't be disappointed.

119 South Main St.
Middleton, MA
Phone: 978-774-0500 (Their website is currently not working)

Gaven's on Urbanspoon

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