As I drove down Water Street on Tuesday after a loaded work day, I couldn’t wait to get to Lock 50 for the most recent Foodies destination. The night was warm, but cloudy. I approached the large silver doors that gave the appearance of entry a secret club and along the whole outside were large windows.

As I headed to my table, I was overwhelmed by the amount of noise that was coming from the small space. There wasn’t even any music playing, but the crowd of people provided an abrasive roar that made it difficult to carry on a conversation, even with the person next to me.

The opposite wall, covered in bricks, helped pull in the high ceilings and metal and give the space a more warm and inviting feel.

The menu at Lock 50 is definitely one of the most unique you will find anywhere. Advertised as bringing a variety of seasonal dishes sourced from, and prepared with, the freshest local ingredients whenever possible, I was both excited and nervous about my dining experience. Excited because I was prepared to try something new. Nervous because a restaurant with Octopus on the menu may be a little to “out there for me”. Upon review of the menu though, it didn’t seem as intimidating as I had originally thought. And the swirl of chatter from the other Foodies about what they were going to get or what they had already tried, helped set me on the right path.

Potato Gnocchi from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA

Potato Gnocchi from Lock 50 on Water Street in Worcester, MA

For starters I shared the Potato Gnocchi and Crisped Fontina Cheese. The Crisped Fontina which was served with fresh greens and crustini was by far the most amazing thing I ate during my entire night at Lock 50. The gooey Fontina cheese and the crunchy fried crust was just perfect! And the crunchy, buttery crustini just made the whole thing even better. As for the Gnocchi, I really enjoyed it, though I could have done with some more blue cheese. The exterior of the Gnocchi was crispy and the inside was nice and smooth. I really enjoyed the scallions and the sweet potato on the top added a nice sweetness to the dish.

As a main course, I opted for the Grilled Tri Tip Steak, Roasted Potato, Broccoli Rabe sans Pesto. While others around me were more ambitious, ordering the Whole Fish with head and tail still attached and Roast 1/2 Chicken, I went with what I felt the most comfortable. Originally I think I would have really enjoyed the Polenta board, but the dish was drizzled with pesto and as I am allergic to tree nuts, this was not an option. Luckily, for the Tri Tip Steak, I was able to forgo the potential anaphylaxis‎. My steak was cooked perfectly. And although lean, there was still some fatty pieces that I thoroughly enjoyed. The broccoli rabe was really nice too and provided a delightful crunch. I had never even heard of broccoli rabe and at first I thought it was a half-cousin of the asparagus, but it was completely different. Roasted potatoes accompanied the dish and were essential to completing the whole meal. Plus they were drizzled with parmesan, which is always a good thing!

Our waitress, Madison, was absolutely wonderful! She was young and bright and very knowledgeable of the items of the menu. She handled our large party with flare and spunk and didn’t miss a beat. There were some obstacles of course, a missing order, a longer wait, but she remained calm and even laughed along with us during the night!

In closing, I am not sure I would go to Lock 50 again. Though I am very impressed that they serve Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, I felt that Lock 50 was just a little too niche for me. The menu items and even the drinks made me feel like they were trying too hard to be different. Also, I was very disappointed when a lot of the items had pesto or nuts included and how unaccommodating they seemed. I was told when ordering and advising of my nut allergy that some of the things are “cooked in the same pan and oil as other things that were cooked with nuts” and it just made me feel very put off. I have been so many places, and even in the most humble of places, they would clean the pan or have a separate cooking pan to ensure that those with allergies are not at risk. For such a nice restaurant with an expensive menu, I guess I just expected a little more.

Christmas shopping for fine art collectibles and inspiration at Vaillancourt Folk Art in Sutton, MA