The Gallows is one of those rare restaurants whose food and atmosphere are sophisticated but without any pretentiousness. Chef Seth Morrison—an alum of East Coast Grill, where that same combo works to perfection—has crafted a playful menu that's always fresh and always changing. The bright space has a bar area to the right of the entry and a midsized dining room straight ahead. There's no open kitchen, but a window at the back is an amusing tease.
A puffy, slitted-on-top hybrid between white and brioche had good freshness, good pliability and mid range denseness. This is a no-nonsense bun approach that's just right for the size of the burger, just right for the price ($10 with fries or salad) and just right for those who don't want anything too cheap or too hifalutin. It's generously buttered and grilled, adding a richness that works well—though a little less would be a little better.
Before the plate hit the table, a gumdrop-sized chunk of beef fell off the edge of the burger. Cause for alarm? No way. This is a good thing, because it means the patty was loosely packed and not overcooked. A closer study revealed lots of bumpiness to the well-salted, moderately crusted beef. Our server initially said the kitchen couldn''t accommodate our request for medium rare due to the thinness of the patty, but my burger wound up thicker than expectation (also based on reviews) and a good compromise between medium rare and medium. There was plenty of moisture inside, with juices not quite flowing but definitely trickling. The first bite was all I needed to know that this would be a good one. Juices did start flowing in reaction, and the beef flavor from the chuck-brisket blend was on full throttle. Neither juices nor wow factor subsided one bit as I made my way through this simple but exquisite sandwich.
There's nothing fancy about the cheese, but it's melted nicely and adds some flavor without trying to upstage the beef. Ditto the thin, perfectly cooked onions. And ditto even the thin-cut, house made pickes, which were refreshing without being overly sweet, tart or voluminous. Iceberg lettuce was, well, lettuce. A small cup of tart, fresh tasting house made ketchup, served on the side, was a huge upgrade from the standard bottled version, which was also made available (I like that the chef understands that his ketchup is not for everyone). Our server described the ketchup best by saying it tasted like Christmas. Whether you like the ketchup may not matter, because on a burger this moist and flavorful it's only an option, not a necessity.
The Fries (and such)
The fries were dark, crisp, only lightly salted and ultimately just okay overall (hello, ketchup). I actually preferred the salad, which was your basic mixed greens tossed in a thin, tangy vinaigrette. Back to the fries: fans of topped fries should check out the Gallows poutine selections that drape standard fries with gravy and other catalysts.
The Bottom Line
The Gallows Our Way burger is an unassuming creation that relies on beef first and foremost, and all of the complementary touches work. Simply put, it's one of the best in the city, and a bargain at $10 with fries or salad. I'm looking forward to revisiting, probably to try one of the more ambitious burgers with toppings like fried oysters.
Boston Burger Blog review of the Gallows burger
Yelp reviews of The Gallows
Urbanspoon reviews of The Gallows