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The Early Word on Worden Hall

South Boston's not-newest (hello, Coppersmith) new American restaurant debuted late in August. The third local venture from native Saratogian Dylan Welsh and Hawkeye Hospitality, Worden Hall is meant to be a step up from its sibling Five Horses Tavern restaurants. With an excellent location directly across Broadway from the Red Line, the crowds have been coming in. What do they think of Worden Hall so far?

The Atmospheric Conditions: In an early August interview with Eater, Worden Hall owner Dylan Welsh said the new restaurant was aiming to be a neighborhood spot welcoming to all walks of life, not just another corner bar in Southie. In an honest and somewhat hilarious assessment, a Facebook fan suggests it's succeeding. "FINALLY a place in Southie that isn't just about going home with the first person you meet. Cheers to an amazing atmosphere!"

Yelpers invariably describe it as having a "nice" or even "great" atmosphere. Kara Baskin of the Boston Globe said you'll find "good cheer" there. A Facebooker calls the interior unpretentious, yet "refreshingly different."

Does it appeal to young people as well as grandparents, as Welsh had envisioned? Baskin describe some of her fellow guests: "Young bucks in backward baseball caps discuss Kickstarter while navigating sandwiches ... An older dame with tennis balls on her walker and sunglasses dangling from her neck blazes past the host stand and into the dining area, surveys the scene, and beelines for the bar." So.

The Service News: In early reviews, this aspect of Worden Hall is unsurprisingly the most in need of work. While some critiques name servers as "attentive and helpful," other guests experienced "bizarre" service.

The Booze News: Presented in a "hipster's diary," as Baskin describes it, is a list of 100 whiskeys and 40 craft beer drafts. "Thank you for bringing good beer to Southie!" one Facebook reviewer gushes. Another Yelper is "very impressed" with the beer options. Yet another is happy to see breweries not represented at other Southie establishments.

So far, cocktails have been lauded as "perfectly made" by one person, and underwhelming by a different Yelper.

The Deep Dish Dish: Worden Hall is making a name for itself by offering Chicago-style deep dish, a regional treat not typically found 'round these parts. And how is it? Huge, people seem to agree. "The deep dish pizza is great for sharing," one Yelper declared.

One deep dish fan says the cooking method needs to be tweaked; she reports a burnt bottom. Another amateur reviewer would like to see more toppings, but an enthusiastic Facebook fan says the current options are "super fresh," and overall, the "pizza will knock your socks off!"

In Other Food News: Before Worden Hall opened, Welsh told Eater there would be ample vegetarian and gluten-free options, and he wasn't exaggerating. "Helpful" demarcations on the menu point out dishes like buckwheat and ricotta crepes, and baked heirloom tomato with succotash and pepper puree. "Vegetarians will be happy here," the Globe's Baskin wrote. "It's nice to have an option other than a salad," one Yelper agreed.

It's not all meat-free: Much has been said about Worden's series of "elevated" hot dogs. With what the Globe calls "modernized condiments like pickled mustard seeds and horseradish aioli," the $7 sausages are favorably reviewed, but often considered too small for the price. The Kobe beef dog, which has a strong smell, according to one Yelper, is "small, not sharing size, and delicious." Coconut-crusted chicken nuggets are another oft-reviewed enjoyment.

The Value News: Welsh promised leftovers in his early August Eater interview. The hot dogs have been covered, but are other plates making it to lunch the next day?

One person doesn't see the value: "It was 200+ dollars for 4 chics to munch on some falafel & cocktails. crazy expensive for what it is," a Yelper writes. But another found his meal to be prohibitively huge, reporting a soggy second half of pastrami sandwich, because the meat is piled so high. "You couldn't pick it up," the person wrote.

Sandwiches are accompanied by fries and a salad, explained one Yelper. "The spuckie portions are HUGE and we couldn't finish everything." At $20, another Yelp reviewer thought the pizzas are too pricey, but also says "you can easily share among friends." One couple ordered a pizza and falafel: "The portions were enormous and we each took half home."

Worden Hall

22 W Broadway, Boston, MA 02127 (617) 752-4206 Visit Website

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