Review Date: 10/09/15
Visit Dates: (04/22/15) (10/05/15)
A sleek-looking newcomer to the Restaurant Row of sorts on Third Avenue, the Bancroft is another steakhouse by the Webber Restaurant Group (Gibbet Hill Grill in Groton, Scarlet Oak Tavern in Hingham). The interior is divided into several sections with distinct personalities, some with couches and coffee tables. The 3-sided bar can seat around 30; many eat full meals there. There's a nice mix of new and old, with contrasting materials in the building (wood, brick, steel) and the furniture (wood, leather).
I visited twice (one Saturday, one weekday) to try the Bancroft Burger (brioche, cave aged cheddar, fries, $15) that's only available at lunch.
A fairly standard-looking brioche rises above the standard with good pliability and a fluffy, airy consistency (more so on visit 2) that belongs in brioche but is too often replaced by denser, overwrought impostors. Buttered and grilled inner surfaces add both light crunch and richness. Without any grand innovation, this bun feels right ergonomically and tastes right gastronomically. A win.
A shortrib-chuck blend in a thick and narrow patty reaches close enough to the bun periphery to avoid distress. It's clearly grilled, evidenced by the tell-tale surface and the char flavors that dominate on visit 1 and contribute more as an ensemble player on visit 2. Seasoning is uneven: most bites deliver nothing; some pack a salty-peppery wallop. While the first visit's patty, cooked slightly past the requested medium rare, is tight and stingy with the juices, the return visit rebounds nicely with a looser construction, spot-on cooking and free flowing beef nectar. Beef flavor is respectable both times.
I'm not a fan of crunchy, starchy additions to my burger, but the onion strings are crisp enough to not detract and used sparingly enough to not overwhelm. Think of them as that orchestra instrument that contributes to the whole without standing out. Such is the case with the cheddar, which gets a fine melt but remains far in the background flavorwise. Lettuce and tomato are lettuce and tomato.
Pickles served on the side in a mini-pan are refreshingly tart with mere hints of sweet. House ketchup continues that refreshing theme with more tartness and a natural tomato sweetness, like a lighter, zippier, more homemade version of Contadina tomato paste.
I'm almost certain they're frozen. Not very potatoey, but they mitigate somewhat with good crispness, decent salting and a pouch similar to McDonald's but with a classier logo (thanks, Spirograph).
Impeccable service on visit 1 (full table service).
The beef, the execution and the service are noticeable upgrades to their sister restaurant Gibbet Hill Grill.
Parking is a breeze.
The Bottom Line
Succeeding more when the cooking hits the target (one out of two tries), the Bancroft Burger falls a little short of my pantheon and short of one I like better up the road, but it's a solid creation that I'd certainly have again.
Boston Burger Blog review of the Bancroft
Yelp reviews of the Bancroft
Zomato reviews of the Bancroft
Tabelog reviews of the Bancroft
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