Sometimes, restaurants are just an excuse to get away from it all; for instance, a ride out on Route 2 to, say, The Old Mill in Westminster is certainly worth the one-hour drive from the Boston area just for the views of the duck pond, waterfall, cascading stream, and covered bridges. But did you know that you can also get away from it all and never even cross Route 128? Indeed, such places as Crossing Nines in Quincy and J.J. Grimsby's in Stoneham are where you can catch views of the hills and feel like you're in the deep woods, respectively, while being only a few miles from Downtown Crossing. And a bit further out (maybe 10 miles from Boston) is a restaurant and bar in Lynn called Four Winds that feels like it could be in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, so much so that they even make reference to a well-known body of water up there (more on this in a bit).
When it comes to dining out, Lynn is a city that is full of hidden gems, and Four Winds Pub & Grill is certainly one of them. Housed in a rustic old structure on the eastern shore of Sluice Pond, the dining and drinking spot looks positively resort-like when the sun is setting, with the hills of the Lynn Woods in the background and the twinkling of the lights coming from the homes along the far side of the pond making it feel like you are many miles from the Boston area. Four Winds actually has signs on its roof and patio referring to "Lynnapesaukee," which is a goof on Lake Winnipesaukee up in Central New Hampshire, and while they are clearly joking about this, the place does feel like it wouldn't be out of place in Alton Bay, Wolfeboro, or Meredith. The "interior" of Four Winds is really mostly outside, though the sprawling waterside patio (complete with bar) does have a roof, heat lamps, and canopy curtains that allow for patio dining when the weather gets cooler. The actual interior of the place is cozy and small, with another bar, a few tables, and views of the pond from the windows.
Four Winds may look like a place that focuses mainly on pub grub and beer, and while this is true to an extent, it also offers interesting twists on classic American fare as well. Some items that you will find here (depending on the season and the specials) include outstanding wings with buffalo, hot hoisin, BBQ, and sweet chili options; chicken fingers that the menu calls "pedestrian," but are one of the best items offered at the restaurant and are a bit like those found at Cambridge Common in Cambridge (which is high praise, indeed); extra-large tots that are stuffed with cheese and bacon; Chinese chips and salsa, with the chips being called Chinese because they are basically crunchy wonton wrappers; an old-fashioned corn dog that comes with a little side of mustard; a plate of onion rings with just the right amount of batter and grease; long strips of delicious artisan pizza with the garlicky shrimp scampi-style pizza being perhaps the pick of the lot; a tender and savory pulled pork sandwich with Carolina barbecue sauce; nicely-charred wood-fired burgers on a brioche bun and served with handcut fries; dry-rubbed steak tips that have the type of quality you only seem to find in the cities and towns just north of Boston; and a slow-roasted half chicken with extra flavor coming from cherry wood smoke. Don't expect a huge amount of beer, wine, or spirits options at Four Winds, but there should be enough choices to satisfy most folks within each category.
In some ways, Four Winds is the perfect hidden gem, as it is a local hangout in a beautiful setting with excellent food and easy parking while also being a relatively short drive from Boston. If you want to dine at a place well off the beaten path but don't want to spend a long time on the road, this neighborhood spot is about as good a place as you'll find.
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