The other day I told a friend to meet me at the Corner Tavern. I sat at the bar for fifteen minutes and got a text saying “Where IS this place?” He was across the street.
The Corner Tavern is a tiny spot tucked into the basement of a brownstone in the Back Bay. It’s terribly easy to miss this place, even if you are looking for it, and it would be terribly easy to dismiss it a dingy basement bar. Looks, however, can always deceive.
The Corner Tavern is a humble, unexpected bright spot in the Back Bay. Despite its location, in the shadow of Boston University, this is a bar for grownups. Maybe it’s because the place is too small to fit a huge crowd of “bro’s”, or maybe it’s because they don’t serve the cheap beer and nacho’s that are the siren call of the college crowd, but the Corner Tavern is a lot more adult than many of its neighbors. That is a good thing.
The crowd here skews older, more laid back, and friendlier. The small confines, combined with the flowing spirits, make it the kind of place where people have conversations with their barmates. You’ll find yourself chatting with an old friend, an eccentric local, or, as on my most recent visit, an Australian tourist who was trying to understand the baseball game. I’ve always had great service here, the bartenders are running a small bar and, as a group, are engaging and funny. They also produce what look like really good cocktails. As a beer man, I have no idea how good they actually are, but they sure do look pretty.
The food at the Corner Tavern is an example of what can happen when you get a good chef and let him run. Like the spot itself, the menu is small, but they seem to get everything right. I have been there a few times when the kitchen folk have come out to ask about my meal and talk about the menu. The place takes pride in its food and it shows. The menu is slightly upscale bar/comfort food made with fresh ingredients and something of a modern spin. Try the Tavern Tots, topped with a bit of fresh parmesan cheese and a nice spicy aioli, or one of the flatbread pizzas. If you are hungry enough, and not feeling too healthy, go for the meatloaf burger, served with bacon on top. Check the specials, I had a rabbit stew there once that was outstanding.
The Corner Tavern is a relaxed neighborhood place, with great food and an excellent staff. It’s a great spot to hide out after work. Or, perhaps, during work. If you can find it.
421 Marlborough Street