By Bernie Whitmore
Barber’s Crossing North
175 Leominster Road (Rte 12) Sterling, Massachusetts
It was a golden age of surf and turf in Worcester, a time when the place for lobster was Barber’s Crossing. They had a full family-style menu and salad bar, but inexpensive lobster was their specialty and they spoiled us with quality and low prices. People were always queued up for a table and the chance to get their twin lobster feast.
Then, at the height of all this, something mysterious happened and their doors closed. For a decade, the building remained empty, though through a coat of black paint one could still read their logo. In that time, Worcester’s restaurant scene has grown to the extent that we sometimes forget BC maintains two locations outside of town. Hoping for some mid-summer seafood, we drove up 190 to Sterling for Barber’s Crossing North.
Logistically, Barbers Crossing North has an ideal location halfway between Worcester and Leominster-Fitchburg ~ just off Route 190, with large parking lots. The building is one of those countrified roadhouses with lots of rough-sawn exposed beams, stone fireplaces and gingham curtains.
Mary introduced herself as our server and went through their list of draft beer options so that we could make our drink selection. While we waited for our appetizer, I reviewed the local businesses that had taken advertising space on my paper placemat. Plus we sampled warm buns served with Beaver Meadow butter pats. Soft-crusted and fluffy in the middle, these were the kind of rolls with which they make those little finger-sandwiches for family events.
Service was prompt throughout the evening and soon Mary returned with our appetizer, New York Style Buffalo Wings. Most places serve them so sticky with sauce that I usually require a quick shower after eating my portion. But the surface of these wings was dry, as if they’d been deep fried and then coated with a spicy rub. We loved them. Both drumsticks and winglets were loaded with meat and assertive in their spiciness and touch of salt. They came with the standard cup of Caesar dressing and huge sticks of celery and carrot.
We matched our Wings with glasses of Wachusett Summer Ale; refreshingly light and a touch sweet, it left lacy tracings of foam on the glass. The choice seemed especially fitting since Barbers Crossing is all but in the shadow of Wachusett Mountain.
But now we were poised to see if Barber’s still has their magic touch. After all, their website screams that they have the “BEST LOBSTER PRICES OF THE SEASON!” And indeed they do. For under twenty dollars, my friend had their Lobster and Prime Rib special.
The slab of prime rib, just under an inch thick, hung over the sides of the plate and was proclaimed “Delectable!” The shell of the lobster was soft, making it easy to penetrate but also meaning the crustaceous critter was just starting to grow into its new abode. But plump sweet chunks of lobster meat were soon extracted and extra napkins were required to sop up the broth. This was Barber’s as we remembered it!
Having just returned from a full day of turbulent air travel, I was ready for something much easier to manage, so I ordered their Fish & Chips. The chips turned out to be those wide-cut, fleshy steak fries, and the fish was moist and mild. It came with a small bowl of coleslaw flecked with carrot and red cabbage.
It’s common for people traveling to the Maine shore to insist on ordering a lobster and believe they’re getting the freshest seafood and the best deal. You won’t get the salt air, but if it’s a surf dinner you’re looking for, why not save the gas money and just drive a few miles north or south to Barbers Crossing?