Small Bite: Back Bay Social Club

IT’S FITTING THAT the Lyons Group’s new restaurant is called a social club and not a brasserie, as its mahogany bars and red leather booths would indicate. The vibe is fun, and the room is masculine and clubby like something out of a Mad Men three-martini lunch. The problem is that the food is generally just fine, not great. To its credit, BBSC serves a burger that rivals the city’s best, with perfectly seasoned grass-fed beef on a substantial yet lean bun – no brioche overkill here. Add caramelized onions and cheddar, and you’ve got a sandwich you’ll be craving long after you eat it. (At $21, it had better be good.)

Beyond that, though, the restaurant group’s culinary energies appear to have been reserved for Towne, its sister property across the street. A pork-belly starter had a lovely five-spice glaze, but the fava bean purée beneath it seemed unseasoned. The prime sirloin in a standard steak frites was cooked perfectly, yet half the frites were overdone. Artichoke agnolotti, on the other hand, were undercooked. These kinds of mistakes would be understandable in a new restaurant if the menu were large. But it’s quite modest, with just 10 entrées and a rotating list of specials.

Your best bet here? Stop in for one of the cocktails. In a refreshing departure from the Prohibition-era fad, this bar features classic drinks of the ’60s and ’70s (Harvey Wallbangers, White Russians). Split the burger and the solid charcuterie plate. Enjoy the excellent house soundtrack. Then head over to Towne for dinner.

867 Boylston St., Boston, 617-247-3200, backbaysocialclub.com.