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Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2006

Below are blog entries from August, 2006. Use the links in the left column to do a quick search of blog entries, or to see blog entries from other months. And feel free to use the "Comments" links under each blog entry to reply to us; your comments just might end up in our Boston restaurant blog! (Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.)

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AUGUST, 2006

Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Burgers and Chicken at Spike's Junkyard Dogs in Somerville

Tonight we drove over to Spike's Junkyard Dogs in Davis Square, Somerville. I had wanted to get one or two of their famous hot dogs, but found out this morning that their hot dogs have a pretty loud snap to them; whether it's a natural casing or not, I am not into hot dogs that snap (in fact, many people I know have this issue, too!). To make a long story short, we ended up getting burgers and chicken sandwiches at Spike's tonight.

The Ranger burger at Spike's was very good. It had bacon, cheese, lettuce, and BBQ sauce. I also got the junkyard fries, which are loaded with chili and cheese. They were good, but I have had better at other places. The Caesar chicken was also very good. It came with lettuce, Caesar dressing, and cheese.

Spike's Junkyard Dogs is a fun, lively place, with bright lights and 50's-style decor. And it was packed; when we left, there was a line 20 deep. I liked Spike's, but I also realize that people go there for the hot dogs. Perhaps I'll bite the bullet (and the natural casing) and grab a dog there in the next few weeks.

For those looking for the address to Spike's Junkyard Dogs in Somerville, here it is: Spike's Junkyard Dogs, 217 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02114. The phone number is (617) 440-1010.

Related Blog Entries: Somerville restaurants

Sunday, August 27, 2006
Excellent Food at Zaleks in Wakefield, MA

We went to Zaleks, a little sandwich shop behind Wakefield Center the other night. It is literally a hidden gem, as it cannot be seen from the main street, and I had no idea the place even existed until last week. I was very impressed by Zaleks, however, as the food was above and beyond what you typically get in a sub shop.

photo of Zaleks, Wakefield, Massachusetts Zaleks is a bright, clean place with a handful of seats both inside and outside of the restaurant. The menu has all kinds of sandwiches, as well as a number of seafood dishes and a smattering of Greek entrees. We ordered the monte christo, chicken kabobs over rice, and grape leaves, all of which were very good, though the rice pilaf was a bit on the bland side. It took awhile for us to get our food, but again, this Zaleks is a step up from your typical sub shop, so mostly everything here is cooked fresh.

I may end up featuring Zaleks on our site, especially since we will soon be adding a new section to our cuisine list--sandwiches--and Zaleks would be a good candidate for this section. But I want to try Zaleks a couple more times before we add it to our site. I will try to report back on the place as soon as I can.

Related Blog Entries: Greek restaurants, sandwich shops, seafood restaurants, Wakefield restaurants

Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Cheap Eats in Boston for the College Crowd

Over the next week or two, Boston will once again become home to thousands of college students, many of whom will be living in Allston, Brighton, Brookline, and Cambridge. Perhaps now more than ever, college students may be on a tight budget, with the ever-increasing costs of tuition, textbooks, room and board, gas, and food.

As far as the latter item is concerned, we can help students out a bit, as we have a Cheap Eats in Boston page that lists a number of good dining spots that won't break the bank. Each listing includes a brief description of the eating spot, as well as the address and phone number.

To all those coming to Boston for the first time, welcome to our great city, and get out there to enjoy all it has to offer, including all the great restaurants. And to returning students, welcome back! By the way, if any of you find other restaurants that might be good for this list, send us a comment. We might just include it on our cheap eats page.

Related Blog Entries: cheap eats

Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Dinner at Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain

After a fun afternoon at a family gathering the other day, we decided to head up to Doyle's Cafe in Jamaica Plain for a light Saturday night dinner. I've been to Doyle's at least 100 times in my life, but most of those times have been for a round or two of beers and perhaps some appetizers, mainly because I have never been totally in love with the food at Doyle's. Over the last year or so, however, it seems as though the food there has gotten better. So we figured it wouldn't be a bad place to go for a mellow Saturday evening.

photo of Doyle's Cafe, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts And as it turned out, our sandwiches were excellent; the turkey club was filled with thin slices of delicious white meat turkey, and the bacon was crisp and dry--just the way it should be in a club sandwich. The roast beef sandwich au jus was even better, with thin, lean, incredibly tasty slices of roast beef and mouth-watering beef stock on the side. The fries were also very good, and the beers, of course, were absolutely outstanding. It is tough to beat a Sam Smith IPA (unless you order a Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout, which they also have; love the Sam Smith line of beers!).

One aspect of Doyle's Cafe that I love is the fact that it represents the Boston of old; it is a comfortable old place where politicians and locals dine next to one another, while groups of people at the bar sip their drinks under the hanging lamps that look like they have been around since the early part of the 1900s. Doyle's is one of the few remaining "old Boston" watering holes, and I hope that, unlike so many of the others that have fallen by the wayside, Doyle's will be around for many years to come.

If you would like the address for Doyle's Cafe, here it is: Doyle's Cafe, 3484 Washington Street, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130. The phone number is (617) 524-2345.

Related Blog Entries: Boston bars, Jamaica Plain restaurants

Friday, August 11, 2006
Senior-Friendly Restaurants in Boston and New England

We stopped in for lunch at the Salmon Run Fish House in Lee, MA, earlier this week, on our way back from the Adirondacks in New York. This was the second time I have been to this hidden Berkshire dining spot, and it was every bit as good for lunch as it had been for dinner when I went the first time. Both the white tuna club sandwich and the buffalo chicken sandwich were delicious, and the sweet potato fries were crispy and not greasy at all.

While we were at the Salmon Run Fish House, I noticed how many senior citizens were there, and remembered that the last time I had been, it was also filled with retirees. It got me to thinking that in the Boston area especially, there is so much emphasis on the "hot" spots and the trendy, upscale places that not much is written about simple, unpretentious restaurants that are senior-friendly. Perhaps this is because the ever-increasing popularity of family- and senior-friendly chains such as Applebee's and TGI Friday's has nudged many of the independent, senior-friendly restaurants out of the restaurant business.

I'm thinking that in the near future, a new page will be added to Boston's Hidden Restaurants; it will be a feature that lists and briefly describes good restaurants that cater to retirees and senior citizens. The list will definitely include the Salmon Run Fish House, as well as Jimmy's Steer House in Arlington, Hart's Turkey Farm in Meredith, NH, and a number of other good dining spots that seniors frequent. If you have any restaurants that might be good choices for this page, send me a comment. It might just get into this upcoming feature!

Monday, August 7, 2006
Another Trip to the Adirondack Mountains

A group of us did another trip to the Adirondack Mountains in New York over the weekend. I go up there nearly every year, staying in Old Forge, which is an old resort town in the southwest Adirondacks. We usually hit some good restaurants up there, and this year was no exception.

We started the trip on Saturday by going to the Riverside Diner in Rensselaer, which is just across the river from Albany. The Riverside was a good diner that kept us filled up until we reached Old Forge several hours later. Once in Old Forge, we tried Frankie's for dinner. Frankie's is a friendly, popular restaurant in the center of Old Forge that has some great dishes and some average dishes. The pastas are mostly in the latter category, but the veal is outstanding there (I just wish I had ordered that instead of the pasta!). After Frankie's, we went over to the Pied Piper on Old Forge Pond for some ice cream. While the ice cream was ok, the soft serve was gummy and not all that tasty, and paled in comparison to the ice cream we would have on Sunday.

photo of the Hardtimes Cafe, Eagle Bay, New York Sunday morning was mostly a time for tennis, shopping, and picture-taking (the top of McCauley Mountain is a beautiful spot, by the way, if you happen to get up to Old Forge). A few of us went over to the Hardtimes Cafe in Eagle Bay for lunch. We had gone to the Hardtimes Cafe, which is 8 miles east of Old Forge, last year, and were very happy with our dinners there. And the lunches were just as good. I had a tasty Italian wedding soup, and a delicious bean burrito with cheese, washing it down with some Saranac root beer. The Hardtimes is a comfortable place, and was very busy around lunchtime, even though Eagle Bay is a tiny hamlet in the middle of the woods.

After some time wandering around the rustic village of Inlet, which is just east of Eagle Bay, we headed back to Old Forge and made reservations for the Buffalo Head Restaurant in Forestport. The Buffalo Head is a favorite of ours, as it is an old restaurant just outside of the Adirondacks in a spot that looks more like Montana or Alaska than New York. And the steaks at the Buffalo Head are fantastic; indeed, everyone ordered the same thing--delmonico steak--when we went on Sunday night. It was delicious, though mine had just a bit too much fat on it.

photo of Northern Lights, Inlet, New York The trip back to Old Forge from Forestport was beautiful, with the sun setting over the pine trees and the many ponds that line Route 28. We actually ended up continuing on through Old Forge, as we had a special destination in mind in Inlet; the Northern Lights, an ice cream stand that has about the best ice cream in the Adirondacks. Nearly everything Northern Lights has, from the gelato to the custard to the soft serve to the sundaes, is outstanding. And was it ever packed on a Sunday night. When we left at 9:00, there was a line of about 20 people waiting for ice cream. Bottom line: The Pied Piper in Old Forge is good in a pinch, but it is well worth driving the 10 miles from Old Forge to Inlet to try the ice cream at Northern Lights. Plus, Inlet is an interesting town that has a little bit of something for everybody.

photo of the Muffin Patch Restaurant, Old Forge, New York Monday was a day of travel, as we all had to get back to Boston and New York City. A few of us did find time to stop by the Muffin Patch Restaurant in Old Forge, however, which is about as good as the excellent Walt's Diner, just down the street in the center of town. The Muffin Patch Restaurant has very good muffins, with the chocolate chip muffin being particularly good. The eggs were done just right, the pancakes were large and meaty, and the home fries were tasty, though a bit cold. This was another place that was absolutely jammed, with about half being locals and half being tourists. Our stomachs now full, we headed east along Route 28 through Eagle Bay, Inlet, and the central Adirondacks, eventually hooking up with Route 87, and back to our respective abodes in Boston and Manhattan. It was the end of another great trip to the Adirondacks, and lots of good eating!

Related Blog Entries: Adirondack restaurants, New York restaurants

Friday, August 4, 2006
Tags, Web 2.0, and Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Over the past year or so, we have been moving more and more into Web 2.0, or the next stage of the Internet, with such features as blogging, forums, RSS, syndication, and now, tagging. Many of you might be asking the question, What are tags? Well, it's a simple concept, but also a rather fuzzy, flexible one, too. Basically, tags are keywords (or descriptive phrases or terms) that are added to text pages or photos. These tags can help categorize pages or photos, making them easy for people to find.

Tags can also be used to help show which pages or photos are more popular than others--this is the area in which Boston's Hidden Restaurants is concentrating. We have a new page called Tags of Popular Pages on Boston's Hidden Restaurants that shows a handful of pages on Boston's Hidden Restaurants that come up often when people do searches on the Internet. These pages are represented here by tags, which are shown in various sizes. The larger the font size for the tag, the more popular the page.

The tags used on Boston's Hidden Restaurants are a bit different from tags used in various photo or video sharing sites, as many of those sites use tags to group items together by category. But as I say, the term "Tags" can mean many different things in Web 2.0, and we are not going too far with it here, as Boston's Hidden Restaurants doesn't do anything with file sharing. Hopefully the use of tags will give you an idea of which pages are looked at a lot, though, and will make it easier to find some of our most popular pages!

Tuesday, August 1, 2006
Excellent Sweets at Metropolis Fine Confections in Lawrence, MA

A few of us went to a neat little place in Lawrence called Metropolis Fine Confections last week. Actually, we went two days in a row, since the fudge, candies, and other sweets were so good there, and also very reasonable. I particularly liked the fudge, which was also a good $3.00 to $5.00 cheaper than I've seen at other places around the Boston area. And both the milk chocolate with pecans and the dark chocolate with pecans were delicious. I went through about a half pound of those in only a couple of days.

photo of Metropolis Fine Confections, Lawrence, Massachusetts Metropolis Fine Confections is one of several shops that can be found in the Cotton Weaving House, an interesting old building with lots of nooks and crannies. Lawrence has a number of fascinating historic buildings like this one, with the Cotton Weaving House being especially well-suited for shops, since the building is small and manageable. I just wish that Metropolis and the other businesses here had more prominent signs out front, as it is so easy to drive by the Cotton Weaving House without even knowing what is inside the building. Hopefully people will start discovering Metropolis Fine Confections, as it is a terrific little spot in the heart of up-and-coming Lawrence.

For those who would like the address of Metropolis Fine Confections, here it is: Metropolis Fine Confections, 181 Canal Street, Lawrence, MA 01840; the phone number is (978) 683-2873