Sometimes upgrading a beloved old dive is a good thing
Some folks bemoaned the closing of Weggie's, a Leather District dive that slung drinks for years to Big Dig workers (which presumably accounts for some of the workmanship). But is it always a tragedy when this kind of dump disappears? Did Cambridge neighbors really prefer the Windsor Tap, a scary drug bar, to the B-Side Lounge? I say kudos to the former Weggie's barman who bought the place, shined it up, and renamed it the Corner Pub, keeping the workingman's tavern ambience while adding respectable food.
Not that everyone's eating: many of the contractor regulars here knock back Bud longnecks ($3), shots of Patron (a bargain-priced $6), and little else. But I admired the sliders ($6.25), three smallish though not tiny burgers. The grillman puts a good crust on both the beef patties and the rolls, then piles on chopped lettuce and tomatoes. A chicken Caesar wrap ($6.50) filled a big flour tortilla to bulging with moist grilled breast, chopped romaine, and a garlicky dressing — quite tasty, and accompanied by a pile of okay steak fries. The individual-size bar pizza ($2/plain; $2.50/pepperoni) was as salt-laden and dull as a toaster-oven frozen pizza, but who complains for two bucks? The quesadilla ($4/plain; $6/chicken) was better: big, oozing, with some sizzle from jalapeños and a bit of griddle browning — a perfect pal to cold lager. The usual deep-fried suspects were here, too: chicken wings ($5.50), onion rings ($4.25), and chicken fingers ($5.95; $6.95/with fries). They're all solid but unmemorable.
If this sounds pedestrian, it is: straight-up bar eats, a salty, fatty base for drinking with the game on, not destination dining. It's dim but not windowless, small (10 seats at the bar, 20 at tables, another 20 in semicircular booths) but not cramped, with a jukebox and a video game for entertainment. The Corner Pub is merely the kind of easygoing joint with gabby patrons who make it easy to waste a pleasantly bleary hour or two talking sports, politics, and police-blotter news with whoever just wandered in. Weggie's pool table and B&B ("beer and a beating") vibe are gone: you can't really call it a dive anymore. Nor could you say its kitchen turns out amazing pub fare. But sometimes being a friendly, clean, well-kept neighborhood bar with decent, beer-friendly food is enough.
The Corner Pub of Chinatown, located at 162 Lincoln Street, in Boston, is open Monday–Saturday, 11 am–2 am, and Sunday, 5 pm–2 am. The kitchen closes nightly at 10 pm. Call 617.542.7080.
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