This month, the foodies took a step back in time with a trip to Worcester’s new Bootleggers Prohibition Pub. After discovering the secret entrance – which yes, can be found using the giant billboard out front – diners walked into an industrial-style restaurant playing old Westerns on the TVs and roaring ‘20s music from the speakers. Bootleggers was formerly EVO Dining until the Maykel family (with chef Al Maykel at the helm) decided to gut the entire place – concept included. They went with a prohibition-era pub instead and while some felt they didn’t fully commit to the concept, most enjoyed the bit of whimsy that came along with the visit.
As always, the best way to start at a speakeasy is the cocktails. Bootleggers has a full drink menu full of all the prohibition-era cocktails you’d expect. It also has a litany of moonshine cocktails, made with moonshine of all different flavors, including strawberry, blackberry, cherry, peach, apple pie and something called ‘ole smoky blue flame.’ Bootleggers easily makes this sometimes harsh drink more approachable with its flavor selection. The Moonshine Mule, a Catdaddy moonshine with ginger beer, honey, lemon juice and bitters, was tried by one foodie and then ordered by many. The prohibition-era cocktails also delighted diners, with the Old Fashioned and the French 77 winning rave reviews from foodies. Of course, there’s also a wine list and a beer selection, which includes a Bootleggers house made brew, for the slightly less adventurous. All the foodies agreed – Bootleggers is a great place for a drink.
Many foodies were won over right away with Bootleggers “Bluenose Bites,” essentially appetizers, section of the menu. When asked about the Coney Island Fries, Robyn told us, “It was amazing, I would come back just to order these delicious nuggets of goodness again.” The Southern Fried Lollypop Wings, which include three spicy wings served with coleslaw and bourbon-infused maple syrup, the Still-Potsticker, which offer three steamed and seared pork- and kimchee-filled dumplings accompanied by a spicy Korean BBQ sauce, and the Italian Meatballs, which have three meatballs made of hot Italian sausage and beef served over a tomato sauce and garnished with shaved cheese, were all big hits among the diners.
Each of the foodies easily found something intriguing on Bootleggers’ extensive menu. Along with some traditional pub grub fare, the menu also included sections for tacos and loaded hot dogs. Many enjoyed sandwiches, which donned names to fit the era include The Gatsby, a pressed Italian roll with havarti, cheddar, fresh mozzarella, bacon, tomato, fresh basil and garlic oil served with warm tomato sauce for dipping, and The Goodfella, capicola, pepperoni, provolone cheese, banana peppers, tomato, sweet onion with garlic oil and balsamic vinegar served in a pressed Italian roll. The burgers, even the veggie burger, were enormous and included unique heaping toppings. The Topless Floozie has a buffalo dry-rubbed patty topped with a fried egg, coleslaw and cheddar cheese, while the Blackberry Moonshiner Burger came covered in blackberry moonshine barbecue sauce topped with blue cheese, apple cider fromage, bacon, lettuce and onion. The street tacos section of the menu offers a few different options, including the Cohiba and the Naked Clam which has fried Cajun claim strips over shredded lettuce, sweet onion and tomato with a Sriracha lime agave drizzle. Dogs include ones topped with sauerkraut and horseradish mustard to a chili dog with banana peppers. Those foodies who tried for a high-end entree, namely the Seafood Fra Diablo, found little to be desired, unfortunately. Drew said, “When I ordered it, I was not told they were out of scallops, and was served the dish incomplete to what is advertised. The shrimp were tiny rock shrimp. The muscles were good and the calamari was average.” Overall, everyone agreed they’d love to go back for another taste. Donna said that, “the drinks alone were worth a trip to hang at the very cool bar” and Evan agreed, saying, “With so many delicious looking/sounding dishes and all at a very reasonable price, I will be sure to head back to the Bootleggers Prohibition Pub.”