Next up on the MassFoodies dining tour was Lock 50 Restaurant and Cafe in Worcester’s up and coming Canal District. There is no doubt in my mind, this restaurant has elevated dining in Worcester and will become a cornerstone in the re-development of this neighborhood. For our dinner, we were seated in the Cafe, a comfortable room with dim lighting, rich dark wood, exposed brick walls and huge windows, creating the perfect atmosphere for the food we were about to encounter. An additional dining room and bar located down a few stairs has the same look and feel as the cafe with the ability to seat what looked like 50-60 people.

As we scanned a very adventurous menu, our server Madison promptly greeted us with a big smile, took our drink order and explained the concept of dining at Lock 50. She told us the menu changes regularly, the ingredients are sourced locally and each dish is prepared individually and from scratch.

I promptly ordered a Dogfish Head Namaste, which to me, seemed more than appropriate for the flavors I was about to enjoy.

First to the table, an assortment of crusty homemade bread accompanied with cultured butter and sweet olive oil, was promptly shared and enjoyed around the table. Next came a large wedge of Crisped Fontina Cheese over herb salad and crostini. The cheese was dipped in a flavorful, salty batter and fried to perfection. Again smiles all around our table. Not to be deterred by a full stomach, my dining partner and I ordered a third shareable plate, this time the Polenta board. Served warm, the creamy polenta was topped with bacon pieces and shaved asparagus. The dense, rich polenta was a bit salty for some (not for me) and combined with an ice cold Session Lager, could have been the end of an amazing meal, but not for us. We really were just getting started!

For my main dish I ordered the Roasted Half Chicken with mushrooms, marsala syrup and fried sage. The perfectly seasoned chicken was a bit crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. But what really stole the show were the amazingly flavored mushrooms. The rich, earthy mushrooms paired well with the moist and tender chicken (and the creamy leftover polenta). Both the chicken and the mushrooms were drizzled with slightly sweet marsala syrup that finished the dish off perfectly.

I suggested to Chef Tim Russo later on the mushrooms were so good on their own, they could certainly stand alone as a starter or small plate dish.

And as if the food to this point wasn’t enough, our table shared an amazing Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Pudding that was topped with caramelized orange served on top of a bed of whipped ricotta.

The service at Lock 50 was great. Madison was our main server and was extremely attentive, knowledgeable and prompt. The GM made his way to our table and talked wine with everyone, the owner and the head chef individually made sure they said hello and inquired about our dining experience.

Overall, Lock 50 is a winner and will be one of the restaurants to elevate Worcester’s overall dining scene. The combination of menu, atmosphere, service and drinks was outstanding. I certainly will return and encourage everyone to give it a try.