The Reserve Bar – Boston, Massachusetts

First Taste: No Reservations

In the 31 years since the old Federal Reserve Bank of Boston was converted into a hotel, only one part of the building was never renovated. That changes when the Reserve Bar opens in the Langham, Boston hotel lobby this month. “We just didn’t want to renovate and change the lighting, and do a little bit—no,” says the Langham’s managing director, Serge Denis. “We wanted to really bring something dramatically new.”

The Reserve Bar recalls vintage sophistication, replacing an ’80s look with a design that plays to the building’s history. “People seem to be nostalgic,” says Denis, “always trying to bring a little bit of the past back. But it’s not always done very well.” With its imported Italian marble floor and twinkling lounge dotted with leather chairs and sofas, the Reserve Bar has, in Denis’ words, “a kind of timeless elegance.”

Executive chef Mark Sapienza’s menus begin with a breakfast of house-made pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt parfaits and smoothies. An all-day menu includes New American options like tomato soup spiked with allspice and garnished with crème fraîche, and a Vidalia onion and Vermont goat cheese tart. The service, says Sapienza, will be modern, with staff plating modular trays (picture Americanized bento boxes) with customers’ choices.

Tea is another feature. In addition to the traditional Tiffin tea that the Langham, London introduced in 1865, there’s a “Boston Tea Party” with New England bites and pastries including Boston cream pies, French macarons and cranberry-ginger scones, served with a choice of hot or iced tea. A later service, an extension of Tiffin, features lobster Marie Rose, chocolate-dipped strawberries and, instead of caffeine, Champagne. “It’s quirky,” says Sapienza. “There are no boundaries.”

The Reserve Bar 250 Franklin St., Boston (617-451-1900)

This article originally appeared in the September 5, 2012, issue of The Improper Bostonian.