Tuesday, March 31, 2015

First Impressions: Number 5 Tavern in Hopkinton

After watching the coming soon sign hang outside the old Blaser’s Fireside Tavern in Hopkinton on Route 103, we wondered if the new restaurant would ever open. Months went by and we waited. The place would be called The Number 5 Tavern so we occasionally checked their Facebook page and recently noticed that they were open.

Apparently, everyone in town decided to visit on the night we went. The parking lot was full so I ended up driving around in circles hoping someone might leave. Finally after 10 minutes I gave up and parked on the side of the main road. Walking through the front door I noticed the busy bar downstairs. The main dining room is up the stairs to the left where I found my wife who had already been seated.

Taking it all in the large windows overlook a small pond which I'm sure will be more beautiful later in the year. Tables are all black and spread throughout the main dining room.

There is a nice deck off of the room which looks like a great place to grab dinner during the warmer months. Pictures on the wall seem to reflect Hopkinton and the local area, a nice added touch. The room gives off a relaxing vibe that is expected in a tavern environment.

Our waitress dropped off some pretzels with a honey mustard dipping sauce and I thought these worked well together. Looking over the drink menu my wife ordered a cocktail called "The Number 5" and I needed a few minutes since I had just taken my seat. I eventually chose a beer from Moat Mt. The waitress brought over my beer but my wife’s drink was nowhere to be seen. She had to remind the waitress and after several more minutes, it finally arrived. The second my wife put it to her lips I could see that something was wrong. The drink wasn’t made properly because it tasted and smelled like rubbing alcohol. Luckily, the owner was walking around the dining room so I told her of the issue and she quickly got her a replacement drink. Later in the meal, we noticed that at the table behind us a man ordered a martini (not the same one as my wife) and he also complained to his waitress that it didn’t taste good at all. My advice is to stick to the beer and wine selections.

Moving on to dinner. Looking at the menu I think they did a good job of keeping it small while providing enough variety. The majority of entrees are under $20 which I think is reasonable although a couple of steaks are around $30. Selections include fish & chips, grilled pork chop and mac & 5 cheese. There are also sandwiches, salads and burgers along with appetizers such as hand cut poutine, number 5 nachos and shrimp cocktail.

We ordered the Rhode Island calamari to start.

These were fried and seasoned in garlic and chili sauce and served with tomatoes and cherry peppers. The only problem was that we had to wait 45 minutes for them to arrive! The calamari was requested at the same time as the drinks so we have no idea what the disconnect was between the dining room and the kitchen. The chili sauce has a bit of a kick but it’s not overwhelming. We really enjoyed this selection.

My choice on entree was the shellfish gumbo.

For the first time in my life I ate mussels. Since they were a major part of this dish, I really hoped that I would like them. Tender and juicy I wondered why I had waited this long to try them. The mussels were mixed with shrimp, okra and tomato and served on wild rice pilaf. I wish there had been a few more shrimp but overall I was pleased.

My wife ordered the grilled jumbo shrimp which was served over asparagus risotto.

The risotto was delicious with a great creamy texture. Her only complaint was that the shrimp weren’t jumbo as advertised on the menu. The risotto was so filing that she decided to take the rest home with her.

After we were done with our entrees the hostess arrived at our table to clear the plates. My wife asked her to box her food and her response was "we are too busy" This was the wrong answer. All she had to do was ask the waitress to do it when she had a chance. I ended up asking her to box the food and she reluctantly agreed as she walked away. You should never say that you are too busy to provide the service that your customers expect.

The desserts we understand are not made in-house but are brought in from a local baker in New Boston. We ended up ordering a chocolate cake:

It had a nice flavor and we didn’t have any trouble finishing it off!

Understanding that the Number 5 Tavern has only been open for a short time there are some positives and negatives. The food is good and the decor is nice and homey, however, it seems that the service and the bar need some additional focus and training. We look forward to trying it again in the future.