Restoration Hardware will sell you a dining room table. It will sell you dining room chairs. Restoration Hardware will not, however, sell you dining. For that, there's Dillon's, which used to be Barcode, which used to be Division 16, and which is now a yuppie-scape of Restoration Hardware-esque furnishings that seem antique and tropically exotic. Look up. Ceiling fans with bamboo hand fans for blades are idle, but on a balmier night they might turn in that mesmerizing, lazy way we associate with the tropics. The room is a grove of oak and mahogany, leather ottomans and armchairs, and mirrors so widescreen you might half-expect to see yourself letterboxed. You'll feel safe showing up at Dillon's in the khakis and jungle prints you picked up back in Banana Republic's safari days. And you'll find it's a fine place to hang.
But it's not yet a great place to eat. Barcode was a Franco-Asian bistro that had upscale ambitions. The Dillon's menu is too far-flung, with pad Thai and pizza, steak and spareribs. At heart it's a pub. (The restaurant's owner, the Glynn Hospitality Group, manages a handful of other pubs, including the Black Rose and the Purple Shamrock.)
The pub vibe makes it a terrific place to find yourself when you're tipsy at 12:30 a.m., but not when you're hungry at 9:30 p.m. Late into the night, the ribs might not seem so anorexic, and the service might not seem to take so long. At either time, the crowd is a well-behaved assortment of corporate raiders, third daters, and downtown-bound undergrads.
The menu ended up leaving us hopelessly ambivalent and bemused. The spring rolls were tasty, but how can anything that deep-fried fail? The salade nicoise, though, with its juicy, rare tuna medallions and sweet Dijon vinaigrette, was perfect. But when you order beef stroganoff, you hardly expect fettuccine with meatballs to show up. Yet that's what happened. The white wine and mushroom reduction almost saved the day.
A 10-ounce sirloin showed up with curly fries, which seemed like a fine pairing right up to the moment of delivery. The fries spread over the steak like kudzu. With the Angus burger, the fries had a less botanical effect -- given the bun, the bacon, the cheese, the tomato, the lettuce, the onions, and the mayonnaise, the burger weighed more than the steak.
It was better than the satisfying but ho-hum lobster ravioli, and it presumably plays to the kitchen's pub philosophy that more is more and that less is for French-Asian bistros.
Dillon's 955 Boylston St., Back Bay. 617-421-1818.