Beth Davis-Noragon might be the first person to tell you that her Grovewood Tavern and Wine Bar can resemble an "old-man bar." It's an easy admission to cop to when you run one of the most beloved establishments in town.
"It's an unassuming building — one thing that's always been a surprise for visitors," says Davis-Noragon. "They wonder, 'Is this the right place?' But when they come inside, it's warm and friendly. It continually surprises people."
Instead of bare wood tables and neon beer signs, guests are greeted by white tablecloths and vibrant green countertops, along with well-lit and elegantly organized racks of wine, beer, and spirits.
The Grovewood has been an anchor of its North Collinwood neighborhood for 13 years. In that time, the area has risen to become a culinary and entertainment center to rival Tremont or Gordon Square.
The Grovewood began life as a wine bar, and it remains committed to the goal of "educating people about wine," says Davis-Noragon. At any given time, the tavern menu offers about 150 varieties of wine — an astounding 80 percent of which are available by the glass.
Beer drinkers also have dozens of options, from familiar German lagers to Indian ales and novel seasonal concoctions infused with pumpkin and cloves.
As for the food? Offerings have expanded beyond cheese plates (though they still have those) into a complete, eclectic, and bold menu.
According to Davis-Noragon, the ahi tuna — crusted with black-and-white sesame seeds and served over sesame noodles — is among the most popular entrees.
The Grovewood knows no borders when it comes to seeking ideal complements to their wines — and they're not afraid to blur the map to mix-and-match global flavors. Nowhere is this more evident than in their pot-stickers, which are splashed with Thai chili butter and garnished with seaweed salad — but fashioned from Lithuanian dumplings, a nod to the neighborhood's deep Eastern European roots.
This and other innovative appetizers are available during the restaurant's daily happy-hour "$5 at 5" menu. More robust dinner options later in the evening clock in at a similarly affordable range of about $13 to $26.
Newcomers to the Grovewood appreciate its warm and welcoming atmosphere and its convenient wine-and-food pairing suggestions happily offered by the tavern staff. Longtime patrons just love the Grovewood because it feels like home.
"We succeed in our goals of providing good food and wine from around the world at down-to-earth prices," says Davis-Noragon. "They love it, and we love to hear those happy, happy people."