One of the fun parts of finding dining spots to feature for the Boston's Hidden Restaurants website is the fact that every now and then, we find a restaurant that is just so incredibly interesting, yet so completely unknown, that it makes us almost wonder if we should indeed tell the rest of the world about it. And so it goes with the Old Timer Restaurant, an historic Irish dining spot and pub in the central Massachusetts community of Clinton that has about as much character and charm as any restaurant that we have reviewed.
The Old Timer Restaurant is located just off the downtown area of Clinton, a hilly old mill town situated on the Wachusett Reservoir about 35 miles west of Boston in the heart of apple picking country. Clinton is a town full of old restaurants and watering holes, with perhaps the best (and most interesting) of the lot being the Old Timer. This restaurant has been around since the Great Depression (it took over a flower shop in 1929 as a bar, adding a dining room a few years later), and has been open ever since. The interior of the Old Timer Restaurant oozes with history, with dark wooden walls and booths, old photos displayed everywhere, a couple of balconies overlooking the spacious dining room, and a high ceiling that almost gives the dining area a church-like feel.
The Old Timer offers up pub grub as well as dinner entrees, with a Sunday afternoon buffet that includes live music. The menu includes a hearty onion soup, juicy flame-broiled burgers, a simple yet tasty "Old Timer" sandwich (thinly-sliced turkey and ham, Swiss cheese, lettuce, and Russian dressing on rye bread), an open-faced steak sandwich that contains 10 ounce of lean sirloin, and a delicious hot roast beef sandwich smothered in brown gravy. Also on the menu are such items as prime rib, baked sea scallops, and veal marsala. The Old Timer has a number of beers on tap, including a Guinness that is poured perfectly.
While the Old Timer Restaurant is little-known outside of the Clinton area, it has had some well-known entertainers perform in the past, including Sammy Davis, Jr., and it has also had a number of politicians visit the place, including some of the Kennedys. But overall, the Old Timer Restaurant is still a hidden gem after all these years, and one just waiting to be discovered by diners who live the Boston area.
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