There are reasons why the Mt. Vernon restaurant has been quietly doing
steady business in Somerville for the past 62 years.
Solidity. Good, solid cooking. Hearty ambiance. Filling portions
of regular American food, done just right, at every table a warm
loaf of bread on a slab of wood, knife stuck smack dab in the middle,
standing at attention. And a friendly staff like Ellen, who helped
my hapless bibbed dinner companion open his just-boiled lobsters
with deft hands and a heavy dose of humor.
For the non-local, the succulent lobsters of Mt. Vernon ($14.95
for two, complete with salad and potatoes) are something of a surprise.
This is because the restaurant is on a literally stinky block, at
the very southern edge of Somerville, where it kisses Charlestown
under a knot of highways. There's no view to speak of, which is
probably why the restaurant has no windows. If you didn't know better,
you'd think it was a seedy bar or something. And you'd be way, way
Inside the Mt. Vernon? You'd swear you just walked into a country
club, the kind of swank joint doting well-to-do sons take their
mothers to on Sundays. Lots of white hair, aquamarine carpet with
tasteful peach accents, fresh and expensive flowers, mirrors in
the right places, soothing music. The back room where the bar is,
is not as classy as the front, sporting sort of a Roy Rogers/used
As for price? Let's say Mt. Vernon ain't cheap. Compared with Legal
Sea Foods, though, it's not expensive, either. Maybe $40 for dinner
for two, with a lot of food. In fact, Mt. Vernon has a lot in common
with Legal. The one thing it doesn't have, however, is the pretension.
No tuxedo shirts, nothing made with sun-dried tomatoes. Just a bunch
of locals cooking good food, served up on plates that look like
something your uncle and aunt have left over from an early '60's
The food on those plates, though. Yum. The baked salmon is buttery
smooth and has a thick dill sauce and crumbles on your fork ($9.95).
Like all dinners, it comes with rice or potatoes, and a vegetable.
The vegetable in my case was carrots, which came out a little dry.
OK. Really dry. But that's alright.
The mashed potatoes, too, were not spectacular, and in fact qualify
as the weak link. They had an identity crisis: We want to be runny.
No, we want to be lumpy. Runny, lumpy, runny. But nobody's perfect.
Get the fries. Or the rice. You'll be fine. There's always burgers,
The strong link in our meal was probably the shrimp cocktail, the
lobster, and the pecan pie, though I hear the eggplant parmagiana
and the lasagna are awesome. The shrimp($6.55) were plump and cold
and pink and deveined, resting atop a pretty bed of kale. The pie
was hot, topped with vanilla ice cream. The broiled scallops weren't
bad either, tender, not overdone, bouncy. The clam chowder ($1.90
a cup) was also outstanding, chunky with potatoes, a perfect warmer
for September evenings as the clouds move in and the weather gets
If you go to Mt. Vernon during the day, a plus is chatting with
the owner, Martin Henry. He's been around, watched his dad run the
place when he was a kid, has seen Somerville change. And there's
one thing he says makes him kind of happy these days: all the press
Charlestown is getting about its restaurant renaissance.
"We're not too far from all that" he says. "Hopefully
some people will catch on that there's great food in Somerville,
too." Mark his words.
Vernon Decor Makes For Rustic Setting
The Mount Vernon Restaurant began in 1935 under the proprietorship
of John Henry of Somerville. Since then, the business expanded from
a one-room bar to a restaurant with four large dining rooms. Located
on the Charlestown/Somerville line, the restaurant is accessible
from the main thoroughfare of Charlestown or down Broadway from
Lechmere in Somerville, a 15 minute drive from downtown Boston.
Decor consists of large padded booths flanking the walls with contrasting
carpeting on the floor. The two largest dining rooms also feature
working fireplaces with a continuous fire from a gas log. On our
most recent visit, the dining room we sat in featured antique tools
on the walls, which in turn were framed by rustic ceiling beams
and hanging lights.
We began dinner with a small loaf of bread on its own wooden bread
board, complete with a serrated knife and butter. Served warm the
bread was fresh and delicious. Accompanying it were draughts of
Tremont Ale and Samuel Adams. Tremont Ale, brewed in neighboring
Charlestown, had a nice bitter hop-induced flavor. Samuel Adams
was also flavorful, but with a slightly smoother aftertaste. ($2.95
Mount Vernon Restaurant offers and ambitious array of appetizers,
all moderately priced. After scanning the menu, we decided to share
the combo platter. Included were spicy, hot and sour buffalo fingers
in a red sauce (4); deep fried jalapeno poppers that were flavorful
as well as spicy (3); cheese sticks deep fried to a golden brown
(3); and potato skins topped with cheddar cheese and bacon bits
(2). Also included were vegetables; sliced carrots and celery along
with containers of bleu-cheese salad dressing with generous chunks
of bleu cheese and a separate container of sour cream, all of which
was served on a bed of kale. ($7.95)
Preceding the main course were salads, served chilled with a generous
amount of mixed greens - iceberg lettuce, tomato wedge, sliced cucumber,
very thinly sliced purple onion rings, a hint of cabbage topped
with croutons and more bleu-cheese salad dressing. Ingredients were
fresh, and portions were generous.
Our entrees included the filet mignon with mushroom cap and the
lemon-and-pepper schrod. My associate's filet mignon was a generous
cut of beef, charbroiled medium well as ordered, and served in it's
own juices with a large mushroom on the side. It was accompanied
by a side dish of bernaise sauce. Garnished with a piece of kale
and a sliced crabapple, the entree came with a side dish of baby
carrots and another of mashed potatoes. The filet was just what
we expected: tender, flavorful and juicy with a pronounced charcoal
My lemon-and-pepper schrod, one of the daily specials was a good
size filet that had been marinated in a special homemade lemon and
pepper marinade, baked in the oven and still simmering in it's own
juices. Accompanying it was a serving of french fries and another
of baby carrots. ($10.95)
Mount Vernon Restaurant offers a modest selection of homemade desserts
to round out the meal. We selected the Creme de Menthe parfait and
the Oreo Cookie Bash. My associate's was a more than generous (one
might also say intoxicating) blend of vanilla ice cream and Creme
de Menthe liquer. ($2.95)
Oreo Cookie Bash consisted of a chocolate brownie base topped with
chocolate mousse and covered with a thick rich dark chocolate sauce.
Served chilled, it was chocolate upon chocolate in layered textures.
($3.50) Accompanied by a cup of black coffee the dessert provided
a satisfying end to our meal.
We enjoyed our visit to the Mount Vernon Restaurant and will be
returning soon to sample lunch. We found the wait staff friendly,
eager to please and knowledgeable.