15 Sep 2014
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Vine Brook Tavern Eying an October Opening in Lexington Center

New restaurant to offer a modern take on a colonial classic: the American Tavern. Plus, the promise of a prominent Boston chef attached.

Its liquor license now approved, a late October opening could be on tap for the Vine Brook Tavern.

The restaurant’s ownership team took over 20 Waltham St. about a month ago, and swaths of paint on the side of the building hint at the transformation happening at and its equally Italian predecessor, Vinny T’s. 

With a name that’s screams colonial Lexington, Vine Brook Tavern plans to put American cuisine back on the map here in town, according to Marcus Palmer, the restaurant’s owner/operator.

“They way I’ve been describing it to my friends,” Palmer said, “Is that if you were having a small group of people coming over to your house for dinner, I think our menu would be a good representation of what you might serve. We’re taking your dining room and putting it on a larger scale.”

American is central to the concept, but equally important is the distinction between “pub” and “tavern," according to Palmer.

To that end, black cod, salmon, short ribs and a nice steak are more likely menu items than New England-style roasts an pot pies. And picture those proteins served as composed dishes, with a starch and a vegetable.

Add to that a fully developed children’s menu and a name Boston chef to be named later, and there's the plan according to Palmer, a veteran of the resident business making his first foray into suburban dining and hospitality.

Vine Brook Tavern diners can expect appetizers starting in single digits, entrees largely grounded in the $17 to $25 range and the occasional special that might skew to the higher end.

“In this economy, I think you have to be approachable,” said Palmer. “What we’re going to try to be is a place where you can go a couple of days a week if you want.”

In addition to a new menu, Vine Brook Tavern will feature re-thought interior design and beverage options befitting of a more urban eatery.

According to Palmer, focus on food won’t take away from drink. Vine Brook Tavern will have a full complement of artisanal beers – probably 12 on tap and another 12 in bottles or cans – and has invested in a system to pour 24 wines by the glass at the correct temperature. “One of my pet peeves is going into a restaurant and paying for a really good glass of wine and getting it at the wrong temperature so you can’t really enjoy it,” he said. 

On the design front, Palmer said a fresh paint job will have the exterior looking a little more like the post office the building once was, while comprehensive redesign inside will promote a livlier first floor with larger tables upstairs.

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