PRECINCT 10, WEYMOUTH
While the suburban dining scene in the Greater Boston area has improved greatly over the past decade or so, let’s be honest here—you generally won’t find the same restaurant-rich vibe that you get in such places as the South End, Allston, or Cambridge’s Inman Square in the suburbs. And when it comes to suburban shopping centers, it’s almost expected that you’ll be faced with national chains, pizzerias, sub shops, Chinese-American eateries, and other spots that may be more about the quantity and the price rather than the quality. This has changed to an extent with the building of such new mixed-use developments as MarketStreet Lynnfield and Dedham’s Legacy Place, but when it comes to old shopping centers such as the RK Center Plaza in Weymouth, there’s little hope of finding good eats.
Or is there?
This generic retail space just off Route 3 is actually home to a sleek new(ish) restaurant called Precinct 10 that wouldn’t be all that out of place in downtown Boston and is run by a group that also operates a few highly rated dining and drinking spots south of the city.
Precinct 10 is one of those places that is very easy to miss, because (as stated earlier) it’s in a dusty and rather plain-looking shopping center that has power lines cutting through it and two busy roads (Route 18 and 53) meeting up just north of its sprawling parking lot. The restaurant resides at the far left edge of the retail strip and doesn’t look like much from the outside—though to be fair, even the Gardner Museum wouldn’t look like much from the outside of a shopping center—and some may actually feel a sense of deja vu with its space, as it used to be home to the wonderful old Hilltop Butcher Shop.
While shopping center storefronts tend to be difficult to “beautify,” the people behind Precinct 10 have done quite a job with what they had to work with, as the interior is sleek and full of atmosphere. It looks just a bit like a dining and drinking club from long ago, which is what they seemed to be aiming for, calling it “an upbeat and modern take on an early 1900s Prohibition-era speakeasy.” Precinct 10’s space is quite large, with a lounge area to the right just as you walk in, a roomy bar in the middle, and lots of tables, booths, and bench seating to the left, right, and behind the bar. By the way, a fake oak tree is set up near the bar in a nod to a family member of the owners back in the Prohibition era who apparently hid some liquor in a cellar under an oak tree.
The Hynes Restaurant Group, which is behind Precinct 10, runs some pretty nice spots on the South Shore, including Bay Pointe Waterfront Restaurant in Quincy, Stockholders Steakhouse in Weymouth, and 42 Degrees North in Plymouth. Much like those places, this restaurant is upscale without being overly stuffy or formal, and the staff here reflects this, being among the most professional you’ll find in the Boston suburbs while also being friendly and engaging.
The menu is similarly unpretentious, featuring modern takes on comfort food items while keeping things relatively simple for the most part. A few items of note here include a not-too-thick and not-too-thin clam chowder with plenty of chopped clams and potatoes; a tater tot poutine that really isn’t a true poutine, but it has tater tots, cheese sauce, and pulled pork, so what’s not to like; house-made meatballs made with beef, pork, and Italian sausage and served with plenty of red sauce and parmesan cheese; a stuffed-to-the-gills meat and cheese board with a variety of cured meats and aged cheeses along with artichoke hearts, peppers, and more—though be forewarned that they add a healthy balsamic drizzle (more like a balsamic pour) to the board, so if you’d rather not have this, definitely ask them to leave it off; a marvelous smokehouse platter that includes all kinds of smoked meats (and yes, they do have a smoker here) such as brisket, baby back ribs, pulled pork, and house-made sausage; baked macaroni and cheese with penne and 10 different cheeses and made even better with the addition of fried chicken; a huge chunk of grilled Atlantic swordfish with jumbo shrimp, asparagus, and a delicious mashed potato cake; a classic prime rib that can be ordered as a queen or king cut and has a roasted garlic-rosemary au jus; and a sublime Cajun spice-rubbed bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with a bourbon maple glaze.
The beer and wine list is pretty standard, but this really seems more like a place to get a cocktail, and the offerings include a mix of modern and retro drinks including naked cosmos, sangria, sidecars, and “large format” drinks that are for three or more people (one option is the Pineapple Queen, which is made with Absolut Elyx vodka, passionfruit, spiced agave, and lime, and is served in a large copper pineapple). Prices are fairly reasonable overall at Precinct 10, with mains being mostly in $15 to $30 range, while individual cocktails tend to be between $10 and $13.
Let’s face it—most people don’t exactly get stoked when their friends or family members say, “Are you ready to head over to the suburban shopping center for dinner?” But that may change a bit as places such as Precinct 10 start to move into these aging retail centers, especially since their huge parking areas make it a lot less of a hassle for people with cars to go to them than, say, a dining spot on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. Dining in the suburbs can be a downer at times, but this South Shore restaurant and bar proves that it doesn’t have to always be that way.
PRECINCT 10. 110 MAIN ST., WEYMOUTH.
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.