Deadhorse Hill Opens Friday in Worcester

The long-awaited first venture from Strip-T's alumni Jared Forman and Sean Woods is part of a new downtown for the central Mass. city.

Roasted carrots and lentils at Deadhorse Hill

Roasted carrots and lentils at Deadhorse Hill. / Photo by Caroline Amighi

The Worcester dining scene gets a pedigreed new restaurant tomorrow with Deadhorse Hill, the first venture from Strip-T’s alumni Jared Forman and Sean Woods.

Along with business partner Albert LaValley, Forman and Woods developed the upscale, American concept over the past year-plus. Woods, director of operations, approached Forman after the chef and Brooklyn native left Strip-T’s, intending to go back to New York.

“But I really love this chance because I think Worcester is such a beautiful city,” Forman told Boston last year. “I took a hard look at the New York market, then I realized that the same things going on in Worcester are what’s been happening in New York over the past decade-and-a-half. To get in on the ground floor of something like that is a really good opportunity. Also, it’s a very familiar, gritty city to where I grew up in Brooklyn. It feels like home.”

Deadhorse Hill’s menu reflects Forman’s globally-informed style and technique, developed at lauded New York restaurants like Gramercy Tavern, Per Se, and Momofuku Ssam Bar, and Strip-T’s in the Tim Maslow era. With New England-sourced ingredients, expect shareable plates (“Small,” “Large,” “Also”), like chicories with red wine gastrique, shallots, and yogurt; soft-shell crab Cantonese with pork ragu, ginger, and scallions; and rotating “Centerpieces” like a 36-ounce rib-eye with bourbon jus.

In the coming weeks, the team will open a casual café at the space, too. A full espresso menu, plus drip and cold-brew coffee, will complement sandwiches, snacks, and pastries, like sourdough brioche doughnuts.

Woods, who also worked at Craigie on Main and Maslow’s Ribelle, is overseeing the bar program. A 12-year Scotch Penicillin, Vieux-Carre, and other classics are presented alongside inventive cocktails like “i shot the clerk? i shot the clerk?,” with Cynar, house-made kina-kina (a French aperitif), and lemon oil. Wine consultant Julia Auger has selected 12 varieties by the glass, plus a few dozen bottle options from smaller-scale producers. There will be rotating New England craft brew on draft, too.

Deadhorse Hill co-owners Sean Woods (L) and chef Jared Forman

Deadhorse Hill co-owners Sean Woods (L) and chef Jared Forman. / Photos by Caroline Amighi

Deadhorse Hill is named for a notoriously steep Worcester incline, a few miles from the restaurant’s Main Street location. Deadhorse Hill is situated on the ground floor of the 160-year-old, former Bay State House, where the Worcester Automobile Club, which held the Dead Horse Hill Climb from 1905-1911, was headquartered.

These days, the space is part of the CitySquare development, a $565 million, nearly unprecedented public-private partnership aimed at revitalizing downtown Worcester. Forman credited his Strip-T’s experience with helping him envision what will work in the central Mass. city.

“We had people from the old Strip-T’s that just kind of left and we had to accept that we weren’t what they wanted anymore. But that being said, a lot of the old customers stuck around, and not only did they accept the changes, they were super excited about them,” Forman previously told Boston. “I definitely want to cater to the locals, and when we get to the point where they trust us enough, we’ll push their boundaries.”

A creative team and the owners designed Deadhorse Hill with the building’s history in mind, enhancing vintage elements like exposed brick walls and a parquet tin ceiling.

“We intend to return this space and neighborhood to its former glory,” the team writes on its website. “We intend to earn the right to call ourselves deadhorse hill.”

Deadhorse Hill, dinner Tuesday-Saturday 5-11 p.m., cafe Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-3 p.m., 281 Main St., Worcester, 774-420-7107,