When diners first step inside Yvonne’s, many of them might initially feel confused. The entrance to this restaurant between Downtown Crossing and Park Street is lined with barber chairs, mirrors and hair products over counters, resembling a hair salon. Patrons have to go through another door to enter the actual restaurant.
The secret door serves its function as it transports diners to a restaurant in another place, perhaps to New York City or any big city that refuses to die down after 10 p.m. While the concept of entering through a secret door is certainly amusing, it’s nothing new or revolutionary to a Bostonian. The sneakerhead’s paradise Bodega introduced the trend years ago, but even so, Yvonne’s entrance is a signifier that the place is nothing like a typical Boston restaurant that values food over ambiance.
Inside, the bar and the main dining area are so heavily ornamented that they look kitsch. Diners struggle to hear the person sitting across from them without screaming and are forced to use simpler sentences due to the restaurant’s loud atmosphere. Yet, after a while, the sheer impossibility of holding a decent conversation ceases to matter. The lounge/deep house music playing in the background sets the mood right. Yvonne’s feels more like the setting for a pre-game than a dinner anyway. It is the perfect first place to go on a night out.
The restaurant is filled with college students, mostly international, and young professionals. The restaurant’s website includes a picture of a chandelier and quotes such as one by F. Scott Fitzgerald that says, “A little party never killed nobody…” Is it a little pretentious? Yes. But the quote also embodies the atmosphere of the place perfectly.
Yvonne’s certainly does not believe that “less is more.” The restaurant’s menu is almost too long and detailed, with tapas-style items coming from cuisines all over the world. However, the mix of cuisines works: the menu’s comprehensiveness allows diners to choose dishes from a specific cuisine if they wish.
Of the items on the menu, the sujuk stone fired pita stands out. Sujuk, a type of Turkish sausage, is spicy and similar to pepperoni. The sujuk pita is topped with mozzarella, basil, marrow butter, onion and parsley salad. Another notable item is the seared halloumi cheese. Served with charred eggplant, orange blossom honey and crispy chick peas, this dish should be a top pick for vegetarians.
Although the menu items are advertised as small dishes, they are quite filling. Tables should not order more than two items per person. Yvonne’s also offers great cocktails. The large format cocktails, which come in a bucket, are ideal for parties. In fact, because of its lively atmosphere, the place is perfect for birthday celebrations.
Yvonne’s is certainly not a standard Boston gem. While some might criticize the restaurant for imitating the ambiance of New York City restaurants, it is nevertheless able to fill a significant gap in the Boston food scene. Loud and a bit distasteful, the restaurant also manages to offer an awfully fun dining experience. The final bill and the overall vibe of the restaurant suggests that Yvonne’s target clientele is not the average Tufts student, but the place is optimal for students looking to dress up and celebrate for a night.