Friday, June 11, 2010

Beacon Grille: Lunch

Beacon Grille is one of the newest restaurants in Woburn, located just off Rt.128 at the Tradecenter 128. It is an unusual restaurant in that 100% of their net profits are donated to the Cummings Foundation, Inc., a charitable organization. There are plenty of restaurants that donate to charities, yet I am unaware of any other restaurant that donates so much of their profits.

The restaurant is part of Cummings Properties, which designed, engineered, built, and operates the entire TradeCenter 128 complex. It also is eco-conscious, engaging in numerous Green Policies, as well as trying to buy as much locally as possible. There is much to admire about the restaurant, yet the bottomline is always the quality of the food. No matter how charitable or green a restaurant, the primary question is always "is the food good and worth your money?"

My current answer is "Yes." I have eaten lunch twice at the Beacon Grille, and have enjoyed most of the food, and I will be returning soon to check out their dinner menu.

First, it is an elegant and beautiful restaurant, with plenty of dark wood and marble. The bar is quite large, seating about 90 people. There is an open kitchen and though the restaurant seems fancy, it lacks any pretension. It certainly would be a great place for a romantic date, a business meeting, or even a family meal.

The lunch menu includes Starters ($6-$13), Soups, Chowders & Salads ($4-$15), Vegetarian ($13-$16), Entrees ($13-$38), and Sandwiches ($9-$17). There are usually some specials of the day too. You can generally substitute any sides for vegetable of the day, rice medley, mashed potatoes, French fries, sweet potato fries, small salad, or cole slaw. Basically everything I ordered seemed reasonably priced, though there are a few high priced items on the menu, generally the better steak selections.

On my initial trip to the restaurant, I received a basket of warm bread with butter, a variety of delicious breads. That always puts me in a good mood. Unfortunately, on my second trip, I did not receive, and was not offered, any bread. Though I later saw other tables had received bread.

(Sorry for the quality of the photos as I did not have my regular camera with me.)

I tried several of the different Starters, wanting to get a feel for the restaurant, as well as to get a variety of tastes. The Pulled Pork Rangoon ($10), pictured above, consists of hand pulled pork mixed with South American flavors and wrapped in wonton skins. These were pretty good, with a nice, crispy wonton shell and a moist, creamy interior. I was expecting the pork to be a bit firmer but it was more of a paste. It had a decent flavor, though not what I expected.

The Beacon Onion Rings ($6) are Jumbo-sized onion rings, hand-breaded and lightly fried. They certainly are jumbo, quite large rings with a light, crispy breading and sweet onion inside. You only receive about six onion rings, but each one is the size of many smaller ones. An excellent choice if you love onion rings.

The Thai Chicken Tenders ($7) are crispy fried chicken tenders tossed in a sweet and spicy Thai chili sauce. These were meaty and tasty, though the sauce tended on the sweet side rather than the spicy side. I would have liked a bit more spicy heat in the sauce. The chicken was cooked very nicely and there was plenty of it.

The Lobster Mac n’ Cheese ($13) has tiny pasta shells and fresh Maine lobster in a creamy cheese sauce with Panko topping. Though the mac n' cheese part was fine, there was little lobster to be found. So this was not a dish that really satisfied as it should.

On the other hand, the Lobster Bisque ($8), a creamy, highly seasoned soup with Maine lobster pieces, finished with a hint of sherry, had a decent amount of lobster pieces in it. If the mac n' cheese had the same amount of lobster, I might have been satisfied. The bisque had an excellent flavor, being neither too thin or thick. It was creamy and full of flavor, and I would certainly order it again.

One of the lunch Specials was a Prime Rib French Dip with Swiss cheese and sweet potato fries. A top notch sandwich with tender, thinly sliced prime rib atop fresh, soft bread accompanied by some au jus. The above photo shows only one half of the sandwich. If this sandwich is an indication of the quality of their beef, then I eagerly look forward to checking them out at dinner. Plus, the sweet potato fries were excellent, one of a handful of restaurants that really gets them right. Crispy outside, soft and flavorful inside. Addictive!

The Innkeeper’s Melt ($11) has shaved roasted prime rib atop sliced Italian bread with barbeque sauce and Swiss cheese. It was a very good sandwich too, just not as good as the French dip. I think the prime rib for the French dip was a bit thinner, and more tender. But, I did like this sandwich and would order it again if the French Dip was not a special.

The Baldwin Burger ($9), is a half-pound USDA Choice Black Angus burger with your choice of two toppings: Applewood bacon, sautéed onions, mushrooms, roasted peppers, American, cheddar, Swiss, feta, or blue cheese. This is a meaty and tasty burger, and a good choice for a lunch sandwich.

A more unusual, and very compelling, Entree is the Rice Paper Salmon Rolls ($13), which are crispy seared salmon wrapped in rice paper, served with a side of roasted peach mango cucumber chutney, wasabi soy dipping sauce and herb rice croquettes. The rolls were superb, with a excellent blend of textures and flavors, and lots of salmon. The croquettes were also very good, with a crunchy coating and a creamier interior. A highly recommended dish!

For dessert, a decadent and recommended choice is the huge Baldwin Ice Cream Sundae ($5.95), which has three scoops of Brigham’s vanilla bean ice cream smothered with caramelized fresh sliced apples and their own butterscotch, plus fresh whipped cream and crushed candied pecans. This is a dish you can easily share, and everyone else with you will want some. A nice blend of flavors, it is different from the usual hot fudge sundae, and that is a good thing.

Service was generally excellent, except for not getting any bread on my second visit. Much of the food is very good and reasonably priced, and I like the restaurant's charitable and eco-friendly philosophy. As a lunch spot, it does very well, and I look forward to checking it out for dinner.

Beacon Grille
100 Sylvan Road
Woburn, MA 01801
(781) 933-3333

Beacon Grille on Urbanspoon

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