In a hidden and modestly marked entry on the backside of the building where EVO was formerly located, you will find the faux-bolted door for Bootleggers Prohibition Pub. Bootleggers is one of the newest dining and drinking establishments to find it’s home in Worcester and our spot for the dreary November foodies meeting.
A bit flustered after driving to Bootleggers from work, I found myself anxious to meet up with my foodie friends and dive into our next adventure. I had known where Evo was previously and that Bootleggers had moved in to their former spot so getting there was not a problem for me, but the parking on the other hand was a challenge. The small front lot was already occupied when I arrived so I made my way to the back of the building, which had limited space, but luckily one lone spot for my car. I walked around to the front of the building only to find that there was no entrance there. And no entrance where I thought the door was for Evo either.
Finally I made my way back around to where I had parked. Behind a glass slider, that I must have missed the first time around, was the entry for Bootleggers and I looked up to see a sign as well. I immediately thought about how there should be better signage or directions on how to find the place, but the more I considered this, the more I realized that a watering-hole as such would be frowned upon during the Prohibition, and likely led to this detail.
As difficult as it was to find, once I did make my way in to Bootleggers, I felt like I was a member of a small group or secret society that was brought here to break some rules. A place where men come and clink glasses after a hard day’s work or enjoy a cigar and ladies laugh and dance on tables.
Music from another time buzzed through the space, but was hummed by the chatter of patrons at every table. Smaller pub tables provided a more intimate feel and the rustic, wood and metal décor, along with dim, but yellow lighting, provided country warmth that made me like I was in a western saloon.
In consideration of the atmosphere and its simplicity, I thought I would find a correlation with the food. And though there were some signature favorites, Baked Mac and Cheese, Burgers, Chili and even a number of hot dog options, with various toppings, there were also plenty of options for a more adventurous crowd.
It is well known by my close friends and family that I have a hard time veering from a few designated favorites when it comes to dining out. I am often picked on for always getting the same thing, which is frequently mac and cheese or chicken tenders. Normally I would see Baked Mac and Cheese on the menu and not look back, but tonight was different. I was in a new place with good company, so I opted for a change. I ordered the Fried Clam street tacos, playfully named “Naked Clam,” and giggled a bit as I spoke the words to the waitress.
The dish included 2 of my other favorite foods- seafood and tacos! The grilled soft tortilla shells were served on a metal stand and were filled nicely with fried clams and crisp iceberg lettuce. Each bite was fresh and flavorful! The sweet onions and tomatoes really were the biggest surprise, provided a cooling sensation to the spicy and tangy, Sriracha lime and agave drizzle. Normally I am not one to eat anything too spicy, but this dish was absolutely delightful and bursting with flavor! I will definitely be coming back for these again sometime!
The service was good, but I wouldn’t say it was great. Our waitress was friendly enough, but not very outgoing. The pace of the service was great, but a little bit slower than expected since it was a Tuesday night. Given Bootleggers is still a newer spot and trying to establish their flow though, this isn’t anything I would be too concerned about.
I was pleased to see the menu had some very decent prices. I must admit, that I was a bit nervous about the bill. Considering Bootleggers replaced Evo, I figured Bootleggers would have a similar fare. My libation of choice for the evening was a Blackberry Lemonade (Midnight Moon Blackberry Moonshine, and Bootleggers Lemonade) as a light and sweet cocktail and only $6.50 and served in a decent sized mason jar. The Naked Clam street tacos (2 grilled soft flour tortillas stuffed with fried Cajun claim strips over shredded lettuce, sweet onion and tomato with a Sriracha lime agave drizzle) were only $6.95 and definitely enough to fulfill all my taco fantasties! The smaller portions and plates were ideal for sharing and I could see myself and some friends coming here and ordering a few items to sample!
Overall, I think Bootleggers will fit nicely into their spot. The folks of Worcester always seem to be on board with trying new places and their unique menu and cocktails will surely gather a crowd. I look forward to hearing how they grow to be more well-known in the Worcester scene.