by Christine Liu - 156 Reviews - 111 List
Boston, charmed with a split-personality disorder between historical tradition and modern reinvention, has a curious way of turning old into new. One of the best examples: morphing the architectural grandeur of bank buildings into modern commingling spots. Whether anchored by vaults, lined with marble or marked with unbelievably high ceilings, these Boston bars and restaurants carry a moneyed history, indeed.
(Photo: The vault at Bloc 11 by Christine Liu)
Updated: November 17, 2009
This sturdy, sprawling, red-brick lined expanse currently slings espresso and snacks, but its former life as a bank is clearer as you head to the back. Vintage money drawers sit underfoot at the back coffee bar, and an enormous vault yawns open to expose a quiet chamber for refuge.
The name of the game is 1930s-style power seafood (think steakhouse, but swap cod for cow), featuring a daily changing menu. But much of dinner's dramatics also has to do with the space in the old U.S. Trust Bank Building, with grand marble columns, vintage detailing and soaring ceilings.
After getting past the velvet rope and shimmying inside this downtown lounge, you'll realize that this is not just any old building. Vaulted ceilings upstairs set a tone of sophistication. Totter down the central stairwell to confront the enormous safe doors and notorious one-way mirrored bathrooms.
Once you step into the plush confines of this opulently trendy bar, the hints that you're in the former Federal Reserve Bank aren't too subtle: enormous floor-to-ceiling presidential portraits, cocktails named after U.S. currency and a Dom Perignon lounge located upstairs. Money's on the mind.
A swooping, sculptural architectural masterpiece on the ground floor of the classical revival Penny Savings Bank building, Ginger Park casts a net for hobnobbers craving Asian small plates by chef Patricia Yeo, who's made her mark in New York City. There's also a Citibank lodged in the adjacent space in the same building; a modern bank, albeit one wearing a historical skin.