Food nerds love Allston: It has the city’s densest, richest array of affordable, globe-trotting restaurants. But its bar scene is still wet behind the ears, dominated by casual hangouts slinging cheap beer and deep-fried foods to callow bro-dudes. If you’ve outgrown such places, you should be thrilled by the advent of the Glenville Stops, a handsome new pub/restaurant tucked away on Glenville Avenue, a five-minute walk from Allston’s busiest intersection. Looking like a nicely restored factory with open rafters, its spare, clean design features giant windows, spaciously laid-out seating, a mahogany bar and elegant architectural touches like floating arches—clearly a space for grown-ups.
Beer geeks will want to drop a pin on their Google Maps here: It’s one of Allston’s best beer bars. It announces its seriousness with a rotating cask-conditioned ale, recently a delicately dry-hopped, barely fizzy, near-room-temperature ale from Ipswich ($7). Among 30 drafts are White Birch Berliner Weisse ($7), a mouth-puckeringly sour wheat beer (traditional fruit syrup optional), Holyoke’s own High & Mighty Beer of the Gods ($6), an easy-drinking, grassy Kölsch-style pale lager, and Tröegs Troegenator Double Bock ($6), a strong dark lager evocative of anadama bread. Another 22 options in bottles include St. Peter’s Organic English Ale ($10), boasting a smooth balance of malt and floral hops. It’s a beauty of a list, with many styles covered almost entirely by small producers, all perfectly cared for and served.
Wine lovers are similarly well-treated by a fine by-the-glass list ($7-$12): a dozen whites, two rosés and 15 reds. Typical are seafood-friendly pours like the 2011 Martin Codax Rias Baixas albariño ($9), with its lemony minerality, and the non-vintage Domaine de Cagueloup Bandol rosé ($10), an exquisitely dry, pale-pink Provençal quaffer. Reds range from the simple, brambly 2011 Domaine La Ligiere Côtes du Rhône ($10) to the “Cabernet of the Month,” recently a 2008 Bravante Vineyards cabernet sauvignon, a huge, plummy, smoothly tannic showstopper that gets more velvety in the glass: an $18 splurge that feels like a steal. The bottle list features 16 whites ($28-$70, most under $40), three rosés ($30-$40) and three dozen reds ($35-$370, most under $55), a useful mix of Old and New World wines with many impressively low markups, such as $75 for a 2009 Stag’s Leap Artemis that typically retails for $55.
Meanwhile, chef Juan Pedrosa turns out an eclectic menu of snacks and shareable plates with Mediterranean, Latin American and Asian accents. Day boat scallops ($11) feature two plump, nicely browned specimens in a fruity mole sauce topped with jicama and mango for brightness and crunch. Quick-seared shrimp ($9) with sofrito and chorizo aioli offer a tasty nod to Pedrosa’s Puerto Rican ancestry. Griddled cheese ($5) is a sweet little bar bite of skillet-browned queso de freir given sweet/savory oomph with honey and oregano-infused oil, a smart riff on saganaki.
The Stops burger ($13) is very good of its kind: a pub-sized all-chuck patty on a good roll, plus fine hand-cut fries. More noteworthy is the masa burger ($12), a patty of grilled masa dough flecked with whole corn kernels, topped with housemade carrot and fennel pickles, arugula and herb aioli—an original and delicious veggie burger. Generously proportioned small plates include charred octopus ($15), featuring tender tentacles sliced into disks and tossed with gigante beans, masa seca and feta-like queso fresco, practically Greek/Mexican fusion. Sticky pork riblets ($11) irresistibly combine sweetly glazed, crisp half-spareribs with grilled shishito peppers: sensational. Lamb meatballs ($12) again evoke the Mediterranean via cool tzatziki and crunchy toasted bulgur. Vine-ripe tomatoes ($10) with grape compote, sunflower kernels, goddess dressing and shavings of Mahon yield another offbeat, sublime combination of flavors. On the short list of large plates, roasted cod ($21) arrives perfectly cooked atop polenta-like quinoa crema, brightly highlighted with sweet peas and their greens. Desserts—like Tara Leigh’s chocolate cake ($10) with vanilla ice cream—are simple, satisfying and big enough for two.
The small, tight-knit staff for this 75-seat room delivers the kind of soft-spoken, genteel service I associate with nicer village pubs in England, birthplace of owner Michael Chapman, who mans the bar while his son and co-owner Fred runs the dining room. It’s too soon to interpret this genial, polished tavern as a sign that Allston is growing up: Ball caps, Bud and ballyhoo still run rampant on the avenues. But mere blocks away, down a quiet side street, the Glenville Stops provides a novel oasis where adults can get first-rate food, a better class of drinks and civilized service, all at comfy neighborhood prices.
– Day boat scallops
– Masa burger
– Charred octopus
– Sticky pork riblets
– Vine-ripe tomatoes
Hours: Bar, Mon.-Sat., 5 pm-12:30 am; Kitchen, Mon.-Wed., 5-10 pm, Thu.-Sat., 5-11 pm
Credit cards: Yes
Liquor: Beer and wine
The Glenville Stops 87 Glenville Ave., Allston (617-903-3638) glenvillestops.com