by Christine Liu - 156 Reviews - 111 List
Toasting cocktails in a former high-security jail, or cheering on the Red Sox in an old police precinct? We'll take 'em--ghosts and all. The beauty of Boston, where storied history and architecture are integral to the city's identity, is that a trendy destination can look toward the future while breathing vestiges of its past. Here are five local spots that lived colorful previous lives. The cops and robbers of yore would be proud.
(Photo: Scampo by Christine Liu)
Updated: April 22, 2010
Located in The Back Bay Hotel, the former and forbidding Boston Police Department headquarters is appropriately named Cuffs. At this Irish bar, chef Raymond Southern dishes a seasonally inspired menu, featuring small plates such as a Misty Knoll Tuscan-style chicken burger, crispy housemade pork rinds and roasted criminal--um, we mean crimini--mushrooms.
At the Liberty Hotel, which once housed the Charles Street Jail, Lydia Shire's Italian restaurant shines brightest of the three resident hot spots. Scampo exudes warmth with its open kitchen and rustic food. Hints of its past life are visible in bulletproof glass and vintage jurisprudence posters.
Surround yourself in season-appropriate drinks (margaritas with rosemary-infused agave), celebrity mugshots (Hugh Grant meets Lindsay Lohan) and tasty bar plates like lobster pizza (ferried from Scampo) within the iron bars and brick of jail-celled Alibi. The expansive patio flanking the entrance of the hotel is a cushy, colorful way to be seen.
The official restaurant of the Liberty Hotel carries a double entendre in its name (scary jail noun and vivacious social verb) as well as a double purpose in its space. One can feast on modern American cuisine all day in the sleek dining room, or mingle until dawn under the hotel's rotunda.