Atop Anglo pub the Shakespeare is luxe clubhouse the Peacock, creating an upstairs-downstairs dynamic worthy of Downton Abbey. The rich-wooded space smacks of old money, perhaps a lingering ghost of the hotel’s former tenant, the Williams College club.
With four separate rooms, the stately complex recalls a game of Clue. But instead of Colonel Mustard, you’ll find businessmen sucking down Scotch in the library, or postcollege couples tilting heads beneath the Waterford chandelier in the dining room. The only disruptions to the convincingly 19th-century vibe are hotel guests tapping on their laptops in the bar.
The Peacock’s food isn’t particularly worthy of its dapper digs. Short-rib pie ($26) features melting hunks of beef and flaky puff pastry, marred by the unrelenting funk of Stilton. Lamb curry ($27) vexes too, tender-enough meat wronged by watery sauce and mushy rice.
Still, British chef Robert Aikens (London’s Le Gavroche, Philly's the Dandelion) isn’t lacking finesse altogether. Instead of a tired trope, his beet salad ($15) is a sweet-tart synergy of roasted and pickled roots, amplified by beet juice vinaigrette. Beef tartare ($16) also improves upon the bistro norm, a creamy, truffle-tinged mix loaded into crunchy Yorkshire-pudding cups instead of ubiquitous toast.
The same fish-and-chips ($26) and bangers and mash ($21) available at the Shakespeare cost more up here; save those rib-stickers for a night at the pub, and spend your extra dollars on the silky roasted salmon ($28), which is more befitting of the space. There’s a members-only feel at the Peacock, where an air of exclusivity justifies opening your wallet, but the humdrum dishes don’t make you want to join the club.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
Meal highlights: Beef tartare, beets, roasted salmon
Behind the bar: Cocktails ($16–$18) are organized by booziness, starting light and ending with knock-you-on-your-ass concoctions, like La Malinche, a moody mix of Scotch, Campari and mole bitters.
Vibe: A bastion of decorum—unlike the Shakespeare downstairs—meant for sipping and chatting, not swigging and bellowing.
Cocktail chatter: The Peacock takes its Anglophilia seriously; that Waterford crystal chandelier is joined by other English embellishments like Wedgwood china and hand-crafted Farrow & Ball wallpaper.
Soundcheck: Hushed tones are the norm in a restaurant that has a library.
By Daniel S. Meyer