10 January, 2019
1.12.19 Wexford House – The Gateway to Worcester – Worcester MA
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One this week’s Out With we take a look at The Gateway to Worcester!!!
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By Sandra Rain in Worcester Mag – reprint:
It’s not hard to believe the chef at The Wexford House once worked in the kitchen of Worcester’s most revered restaurant, when you taste The El Morocco salad ($6.95.) The salad is well dressed in an herbaceous lemon vinaigrette that will jolt you to consciousness amidst your quiet surroundings. Feta cheese and Greek olives pop with each bite, punchy reminders of a former time. If that’s not enough to transport you, The Rat Pack smiling down from a framed poster on the wall will be.
The Wexford House is sanitary and casual. Green booths are scrubbed clean and places are symmetrically set with a careful eye. Clean, patterned carpet compliments geometric light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. Specials arrive on a hand scripted index card. There is no point of sale system. Dark lattice work and wall length shutters obscure the view into the kitchen, but every once in a while a celebratory whoop rings forth from the back of the house. If it wasn’t so tidy, the decor would seem distractingly outdated.
There is ample parking outside where hanging flowers beckon customers in from each curtain clad window. Some customers come for the free popcorn and Keno at odd hours of the day, though most arrive in time for dinner at 5 o’clock. The restaurant is well staffed with two dining rooms separated by glass bricks in a central bar area. Menu covers proudly dub The Wexford House, “The Gateway to Worcester.”
Warm grape leaves ($9.95) are loosely stuffed with lamb and rice, well seasoned with a touch of allspice or cinnamon and a generous lemon spritz. Baskets of cold pita bread arrive with pads of butter as a welcoming accompaniment, and come in handy to scoop up the remains of the grape leaves that fail to hold their form.
The Wexford House serves up sandwiches and burgers; however, their Middle Eastern selections are the best on the menu. Still, the staff maintains that it’s not a Middle Eastern restaurant, per se.
The Port Said ($19.95) arrives with cubes of tenderloin sauteed in mushrooms and garlic, served on a bed of rice pilaf. My favorite entree is the haddock tarrator ($24.95), for which fresh haddock is baked and topped with creamy tahini, crispy onions and whole caramelized walnuts over rice pilaf. I’d dare to try it with crushed walnuts in the future for a more cohesive crunch if the kitchen agreed to humor me. When The Wexford House took the tarrator off the menu last year, they received so many special requests for it that they decided to bring it back.
The staff is clearly experienced. Food comes fast. Cuisine is consistent. The Wexford House is a nice place to bring someone nostalgic for the days of The El Morocco. Frank Sinatra won’t be cozied up to the bar, but someone with a tall tale about meeting him at The El Morocco in its heyday very well might be.
On my last visit, dinner and drinks for two came to $76.85.
503 Shrewsbury St., Worcester ‒ 508-757-8982 ‒ wexfordhouse-ma.com