A long time ago – during my awkward, braces-wielding, teeny-bopping days – I used to be obsessed with Hard Rock Cafe.
It wasn’t because I liked hard rock. In fact, I sort of hated it. Seriously, it was only because so many other people at school wore their shirts. You know how it is in middle school – you scope out what everyone else is wearing and you desperately try to copy it.
Hair-sprayed tall hair? Check. Huge Esprit tote? Check. Guess jeans? Hmm, actually my mom never let me get those, so I guess that’s not a check. But I tried as hard as I could.
I also liked visiting Hard Rock Cafes because they served as badges representing cities I had visited. My hometown did not have a Hard Rock, which meant we had to travel to get the coveted T-shirts. My sister and I relentlessly dragged my parents to multiple Hard Rock Cafes every time we traveled. If there was a Hard Rock Cafe in a city we visited, we had to go there.
I have Hard Rock memorabilia from Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Beverly Hills, and Orlando – not to mention Banff (Canadian Rockies), Tokyo, Singapore, and Honolulu.
That is, until a couple weeks ago, when I got an invitation from My Blog Spark to try Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe’s new menu.
Hard Rock? Wow, that totally brings back such funny nostalgia. It’s been years since I’ve even thought about that place.
I decided that, after almost 20 years, it was worth revisiting this place I’d sought after with such zeal during my childhood. I really had no idea how my new adult, food blogger self would see this place.
It all started back in the seventies in London when Eric Clapton, who loved eating at this American restaurant called “Hard Rock Cafe”, asked them if he could mark his favorite seat with a plaque.
They said, “why don’t we put up your guitar?”
A week later, Pete Townshend of The Who dropped off his Gibson Les Paul.
In Boston, for example, you can see Eric Clapton’s acoustic guitar, Aerosmith’s outfits, Van Halen’s electric, and handwritten lyrics by Bruce Springsteen. It’s sort of fun just to wander around the restaurant and peruse the stuff hanging on the walls.
Bryan and I arrived at the Hard Rock Cafe Boston on a warm, Monday evening. Although tons of seats were empty, the hostess told us there was a 20-minute wait. She could not seat us because the restaurant was severely understaffed.
“We only have 6 servers. You’re welcome to go to the bar.”
We walked over to the bar. Initially, the bartender told us she was maxed out and wouldn’t be able to serve us. However, we indicated that the hostess had sent us here. She looked harried. A piles of dirty dishes sat forlornly a few seats down from us, desperately wishing to be cleaned up.
“We had a crazy weekend; the patrons drank up most of the beer on tap.”
Thankfully there were one or two remaining choices, so Bryan opted for one of them (sorry, I can’t remember what it was!).
For appetizers, we tried the Santa Fe spring rolls, which were stuffed with spinach, black beans, cilantro, corn, jalapenos, diced red peppers and Jack cheese. It was satisfying (we were hungry!) and decent, though I did leave behind the tired bed of lettuce in which they sat.
We tried the hickory smoked BBQ combo with ribs and pulled pork. The ribs were, unfortunately, a bit tough and far from “fall-off-the-bone.” The pulled pork was OK, but it was hard to really love either one considering we had just tried some pretty incredible barbecue a few weeks ago.
Hard Rock calls their burgers “Legendary”, which compelled us to try one. These burgers are 10 ounces and come with either fries or onion rings. At $15 each, they are flirting with the prices of Craigie’s famous bone-marrow-infused burger, the famous Radius Burger, and actually cost more than a Smith & Wollensky burger made from 100% prime beef.
The burgers were good – definitely the best item we had that night. The meat is juicy, cooked well, and slightly charred on the outside. It’s filled with onion rings, cheese, and bacon.
They make regional versions of burgers too. The Boston version is topped with baked beans, which just didn’t sound all that appetizing to me.
For dessert, they have normal sized desserts and “bites”, which are small portions that only cost $3. We tried two different bites – chocolate mousse and chocolate peanut butter pie. Both tasted as expected – decent, but nothing to write home about.
Overall, Hard Rock Cafe is a mixed bag. The memorabilia is cool, and if you’re a fan of rock, you’ll love looking through the cool collection that the Boston Hard Rock Cafe has. However, the food is mediocre, not exactly cheap, and the service can be spotty (though I must say that after we sat down, our bartender actually took reasonably good care of us).
If you do come, the burger is pretty solid, and I’m guessing some classic “American” dishes might not be too bad either. However, I definitely wouldn’t consider the food destination-worthy. There are much, much better places in Boston for the same price.
I received free gift certificates to try the food at Hard Rock Cafe as part of the My Blog Spark program. All opinions in the post are my own.
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