The Hangover Pub officially opens its doors in Worcester at 4 p.m. today, April 4, to cure any weekend woes with bacon-centric plates, bacon drinks, and, well, more bacon.
But for the time being, The Hangover Pub will operate as a reservation-only gastropub seating 80 — save 15 spots at the bar designated for walk-in service — so make sure to call ahead. Executive chef Michael Arrastia assures diners that this policy will only last until the restaurant can orient itself.
This decision also stems from demand. Arrastia smokes and cures all of his bacon in-house for eight days, so he needs to make sure he can tackle the crowds expected during opening week before accepting walk-in parties. Arrastia, formerly of Peppercorns in Worcester and Rovezzi's in Sturbridge, also wants to make he's not overpacking the restaurant and hindering food quality.
So for the debut, all the restaurant's bacon will be apple-smoked and made with local maple syrup, though Arrastia said that he has other varieties on the way, including a Korean barbecue-influenced recipe, as well as a spicier option.
"Because we're about to open, I want to make sure we stick to our [New England] roots and make one really good maple and apple bacon — and do it well," Arrastia said.
The restaurant is showing off that bacon through a number of alluring entrees, such as a chicken and waffles dish with maple bourbon sauce and bacon bits, as well as an "Adult Pop-Tart" dessert pastry.
"Everyone from childhood remembers running to a vending machine and getting a Pop-Tart," said financier Jay Grey. "We're taking it to another level — it's fresh fruit soaked in a liquor jam, inside a pastry with a cream cheese frosting and bacon crumbles on top."
"We're not people lost on the area that we're in — we take pride in Worcester and the people welcoming us into the community."
Of course, what would a bacon-themed restaurant be without bacon drinks? Adventurous patrons can sip on bacon-infused bourbon Manhattans with house-made bitters, among other bacon-brewed infusions, mixed by head bartender Matt Comeau. The restaurant will also have a full craft beer menu and featured menu pairings.
For the non-bacon lovers, The Hangover Pub will also serve salads, a catch of the day, and various other daily specials. Grey said the restaurant wants to keep a portion of its menu bacon-free to encourage Worcester residents to stop by for more than just comfort food.
"Our entire menu is $5-$15," Grey said. "No attention to detail is spared — our fries have salt on them that we're smoking for 12 hours. Even though we're putting that time into it, we're not overcharging it."
The restaurant's interior features a sleek red color scheme with scorched wood and wine barrels scattered throughout. A large stripe of chalkboard wraps around the restaurant and displays the Hangover Pub's entire menu along the walls. Local artists are also encouraged to take over the restaurant's "gallery" section to create a forum for showcasing artwork and photography.
"We're not people lost on the area that we're in — we take pride in Worcester and the people welcoming us into the community," Grey said.
The Hangover Pub will also open a patio area later in April, offering up a pet-friendly area with an additional 50 seats. If your pet does tag along, the restaurant will have bacon-flavored dog biscuits for sale. There's no shortage of bacon-anything at this gastropub, and that's exactly the therapeutic food experience Arrastia and Grey are hoping to provide.
"[The Hangover Pub] is a reflection of us. It's not something we can simply explain to people," Grey said. "It's kind of like the Matrix — you have to see it for yourself."