Connected genetically to Bokx 109 in Newton and physically to the Hampton Inn on Speen Street, SkyBokx 109 is a "gastrosports" pub that aims to raise the bar foodwise from the tired sports pub grub. The industrial looking space has brick walls, exposed ductwork and sports memorabilia in the form of framed photographs, painted team mascots and artfully arranged sporting equipment. There are TVs around the bar, but not large enough to be seen well from the outer areas that don't have screens of their own.
Brioche at different burger havens comes in a variety of colors, sweetness levels and densities; I'm not sure if this one qualifies but it certainly looks the part. Under the attractively shiny (and strangely wet) golden dome, this bun is basically just white bread. On an earlier visit I could have sworn the buns were lightly buttered and grilled, but for these two documented visits they were au naturale.
"The American" ($10) and all burgers other than the "Prime 109" (made with prime rib) use Angus beef, and all are grilled. My patty on the American had a decent but not noteworthy crust. More impressive was the interior that nailed the requested medium rare and burst forth juices throughout the experience. Flavor wasn't noteworthy either, but wasn't bad.
The more ambitious Prime 109 burger ($18) weighs in at a full pound of ground prime rib and other secret cuts* between the bun halves. A bit much, and much better for sharing than eating solo, but where size came in most handy was in the doneness department: good crustage on the outside and as-ordered medium rare inside. The beef composition didn't do much for me in the way of flavor, but the higher fat content helped the moistness level that with some additional toppings help—or what some would call cheating—produced a freely flowing juice parade.
*On both visits I sent the server into the kitchen to find out what the blend was. The first time, the crew couldn't figure it out. The second time, it was a big secret that could not possibly be shared. If twice the weight is less than twice the price, how special could this blend be?
The American is basic, and did okay with the cheese, tomato, kosher dill pickle spear. Lettuce was on the filthy side, but overall, good enough.
The Prime 109, despite the assumptions one might make given the name, is mostly about the toppings, which are a little unusual. I wouldn't think someone who'd like crispy onion strings on a burger would also like arugula, but they're both there. Although the arugula was mostly stems, it succeeded by bringing brightness and greenery to offset the heaviness of all that beef. Sharp cheddar got a decent melt but got a little lost. The two main players on this burger were the horseradish aioli and the au jus. The former delivered garlicky intensity that paired well with the arugula and lasted long (too long) after the burger was gone. The latter irrigated the burger, leaving a puddle on the plate and trying to leave the impression that the liquid was juice from the burger. Not so, but the actual juices were at least present, if restrained. An unlikely group of toppings and condiments that I'm glad I tried once.
The Fries (and such)
Lackluster fries often generate apathy, but these were so weak they angered me. Nearly as thin as potato sticks and nearly as stiff, these must have left their flavor in the freezer they came out of.
I'm not so sure that the food or beverage programs are at a high enough levels for the "gastrosports" term to be taken seriously.
The Bottom Line
I'm not going to be one of those guys who puts the place down simply because it's in the 'burbs. I'll just say that Skybokx 109 shows flashes but also comes up too short in too many areas for the big city aspirations to be fulfilled. It's worth trying if you're local to the area but not worth a drive.
Yelp reviews of Skybokx 109
Urbanspoon reviews of Skybokx 109
||'Like' PigTrip BBQ Reviews on Facebook to keep up with all of the reviews and much more content not available on the site.