The Boston dining scene has been on fire over the past several years, with the openings of new spots greatly outpacing the closings, and some of the biggest hotspots for restaurants are no longer even in the city. Indeed, some of the suburbs along Route 128—and especially those near the major highway intersections—are absolutely booming, which is jarring for longtime residents to see, as who would have expected Burlington, Peabody, and Braintree to become such major dining destinations?
Well, all three (and others) are certainly on their way, and this latter community has been seeing all kinds of restaurants pop up of late, including options for Mexican, Vietnamese, Italian, and more. One of the newer spots to open is a restaurant and bar in Weymouth Landing (basically right on the Weymouth/Braintree line) called Bates Bar & Grill, which moved into a space where the Landing Pub and Ultimate Pizza had been until a 2015 fire resulted in the building being torn down. The family who ran the pizzeria are behind the new place which opened a few months ago, and it shows some real promise and potential based on a recent visit.
The exterior of Bates Bar & Grill has a clean and modern look to it, and it has a relatively big presence compared to many of the small, independent shops and eateries found along Commercial Street and Washington Street in Weymouth Landing. Inside, you’ll find a setup that’s becoming more and more common these days—one large room with a U-shaped bar dominating the center and a number of tables set up to the left and right as well as tables by the front windows.
This setup doesn’t always work well depending on the size and shape of the space, with the acoustics sometimes being awful to the point where customers literally can’t hear each other speak (which may or may not be a good thing depending on the situation, of course), but in the case of Bates, the noise level is relatively tolerable even when the bar is packed and all of the tables are full. Setups such as these also tend to indicate that dining might be taking a backseat to drinking, but this spot does seem to put a little more emphasis on food, so the atmosphere leans just a touch more toward subdued than rowdy.
So many newly opened restaurants and bars these days tend to emphasize inventive or modern takes on bar food and pub grub, but Bates doesn’t seem to do that, perhaps because it positions itself as a family-friendly place or maybe because it’s in the heart of the suburbs where classic American dining spots tend to do well. Thus, the menu holds few surprises, going with such favorites as wings, chili, clam chowder, a Caesar salad, burgers, fish and chips, and yes, a few less common items such as a delicious plate of souvlaki “sticks” (Greek-style pork skewers); “The Meze,” which includes toasted pita bread, olives, tzatziki, and Greek “salsa”; and something called chowder fries, which is pretty much what it sounds like—fries that are covered in clam chowder and smothered in bacon and cheese.
The comfort food theme at Bates includes a variety of pizza options, and it’s tough to pin down a style to the pies served here, as they have hints of everything from bar-style to gourmet to Neapolitan. Whatever the style is, the pizza is very tasty, with such options as Buffalo chicken and bleu cheese dressing; honey ham and pineapple; and sausage, grilled peppers, and caramelized onions. Another item to consider is the steak tip plate, as the tips are tender, marinated nicely without being overdone, and have just a hint of char—and they come with a large helping of chunky mashed potatoes, which is a good option for this dish. Among the burgers is one that lovers of Greek food may want to try (and yes, the menu does have some Greek influences here and there), with the Saloniki burger coming with feta cheese, onions, tomato, and a tangy tzatziki sauce.
Drink options are pretty impressive at Bates, as the beer list includes some options from such top breweries as Ommegang, Jack’s Abby, Cisco, Newburyport, and Stoneface, while wine options include reds and whites from the West Coast, South America, Italy, and New Zealand, and the cocktail list includes a mix of old-school and modern drinks. Prices for food items are pretty reasonable overall, with nearly all dishes being around or under $20.
Early impressions of Bates are mostly favorable, especially if you see this place for what it is—a simple, unpretentious dining and drinking spot that’s good for everyone from couples to families to work groups to those who might want to simply hang out and catch a game while sipping a drink at the bar. In a time where too many new restaurants and bars try to make themselves out to be unique and special, it’s nice to see a place such as Bates stick to the basics and do them well.
BATES BAR & GRILL. 2 COMMERCIAL ST., BRAINTREE (WEYMOUTH LANDING). BATESBARANDGRILL.COM
Marc is the founder of @hiddenboston, a textbook editor, a hike leader for @AppMtnClub, and a food and travel writer and commenter for DigBoston, NBC/NECN, WBZ, WMFO and indie617.