Below are blog entries from September, 2007. 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.)
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Breakfast at Stella's, East Milton Square
I get over to A Lighter Fare in East Milton Square for breakfast quite often, but a few weeks ago, we decided to try another place in the square called Stella's. I had never been to Stella's before, but have passed by it many times. So finally we decided to see what it was all about.
Unlike A Lighter Fare, which is a roomy, comfortable, peaceful place, Stella's is closer to your typical local breakfast joint. It has table seating as well as stools along the counters, the latter of which is perfect for solo diners looking to have a cup of coffee and a quick bite to eat while reading the paper. The place was bustling when we went, and was a bit on the noisy side, but that is to be expected from a dining spot like this. Our food was hearty, solid fare; the hash omelette was very nice, with firm eggs and hash that was cooked just right, while the eggs benedict gave those at A Lighter Far a run for its money. Coffee was decent, and sides were all right, though I thought the home fries were rather bland.
Stella's is definitely a place I will go back to. And it is surely a little-known dining spot. So does that mean that it could be featured on this site at some point in the future? I would have to say that there is indeed a very good chance of that happening.
For those who want the address and phone number for Stella's, here it is: Stella's, 558 Adams Street, Milton, MA 02186. Phone: (617) 698-2740.
Related Blog Entries: breakfast places, Milton restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 27, 2007.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007
Phantom Gourmet Food Festival Review
A friend of mine and I headed over to the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival over by Fenway Park today to try a number of restaurants and food shops that are located in the Boston area. We almost didn't make it over there, as the festival had been sold out since Thursday, but we were able to grab a couple of VIP tickets from someone who had a couple of extras.
The festival, which took place on Landsdowne Street and Ipswich Street along the perimeter of Fenway Park, was absolutely packed. Even with a limited number of tickets being sold to the event, it did seem like there were too many people in too small a space, and the lines at some of the booths reflected this. Fortunately, the lines moved quickly because most places were serving only one item and no money needed to be passed to the servers, making even the longest lines at places such as Salvatore's and Trani seem tolerable.
I tried several places at the festival, with mixed results, although keep in mind that the people behind the booths were making and serving food at a hectic pace, so perhaps it is unfair to pass judgment on the quality of the food. But here are my general thoughts on the places I tried, anyways:
Trani: Located in the North End of Boston, Trani is home of the injectable ice cream. The cupcake and cannoli, both of which had ice cream inside them, were pretty tasty, but I'm guessing that they paled in comparison to the freshly made items they serve at their shop.
Fuddruckers: With several locations around New England, Fuddruckers is famous for their burgers. I had never been to one and I must say that I was completely blown away by the burger I had at the festival. Steaming hot off the grill, this was a burger that I could eat again and again, which is exactly what I did at the festival, getting seconds just before I left.
Ivy: Ivy is a highly regarded restaurant in downtown Boston that serves, among other items, arancini (rice balls). And arancini was what they were serving at the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival, but I can't say that I was overly impressed by the one I ate on my way out. It was a bit mushy and watery, and I wasn't crazy about the overall flavor. But again, it could be that the arancini is much better fresh, so I may have to give them another shot at their restaurant.
Kane's Donuts: Located in Saugus, Kane's has been voted on of the top 10 donut shops in the United States by one well-regarded Web site. And after trying their cinnamon coffee roll at the festival, I can see why. Their coffee roll was, in technical terms, “insanely good.” I was almost tempted to get a second one before leaving, but I had had too many sweets at that point.
Edible Arrangements: Speaking of sweets, the chocolate-covered bananas and strawberries at Edible Arrangements were tremendous, with some of the highest quality chocolate I've had in awhile used for the outer coating. I could have eaten these all day long given the chance (and given a much bigger stomach).
Carl's, T.C. Lando's, Tory's: This small chain of sandwich and pizza shops is well known for their steak and cheese subs. I had recently had one at the T.C. Lando's in Hudson, and thought that it may have been the best steak and cheese I've had in New England (with all due respect to Doogies in Newington). The one I had at the festival was excellent, though not quite as good as the one I had in Hudson.
Beard Papa's: Known for their cream puffs, Beard Papa's was one of my favorite stops at the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival. Their two-layer shells were filled with custard at the exact moment that they were served, and the freshness showed. The vanilla cream inside these pastries was exquisite, and little bits of vanilla beans helped give the cream puffs a pleasant aroma.
Salvatore's: Being familiar with both Sal's Pizza and Salvatore's, I was expecting decent pizza at their booth, and that's exactly what I got. With a thin, crispy crust, decent sauce, and a good amount of cheese on top, the slice I tried, while not nearly as big as the ones from their restaurants, was every bit as tasty.
Firefly's: More than making up for the dreadful food I had at the Firefly's in Quincy recently, the pulled pork sandwich I tried at their booth was lean, tender, and full of flavor. While not the best pulled pork I've had, I thought it was good enough to warrant another trip back to this small chain of Boston-area BBQ places.
Overall, I'm glad I went to the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival. The food at their BBQ Beach Party (held during the summer in Government Center) was generally better, but the lines at the food festival moved faster and there was a wider variety of food at this event. I guess my only gripes were that it was too crowded, at least one place ran out of food halfway through the event, and there were a lot of pretty rude people cutting in line, bumping into others, and generally acting like they owned the place. But it was worth going to, at the very least to try the many restaurants and food shops that had set up booths at the festival. My favorites? Well, again, it is tough to accurately judge these places because they were trucking out food so quickly, but my three favorites were probably Fuddruckers, Kane's Donuts, and Beard Papa's.
If anyone out there went to the Phantom Gourmet Food Festival, feel free to post a comment here. I'd love to hear what you thought of the event.
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 23, 2007.
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Monday, September 17, 2007
Saturday Night at Stars on Hingham Harbor
We finally made it over to Stars on Hingham Harbor a couple of Saturday nights ago. We tried a few times to get there over the past year or two, but it was crowded each time, causing us to hit the Liberty Grille, which is across the street, and a couple of restaurants in nearby Hull. But this time around, Stars was a bit less crowded, so we decided to give it a try.
Stars, which looks like a classic American diner from the outside, actually feels like one half family restaurant, one half sports bar inside. We opted for the dining area, which was a bit on the noisy side and packed with families. We started with an appetizer that turned out to be outstanding; the steak and cheese spring rolls (no, that's really what they were called) were tremendous, with tender shaved steak mixed with gooey cheese, all wrapped inside a Chinese spring roll. Unfortunately, the dining experience at Stars went a bit downhill from there, as our entrees weren't quite up to par. The grilled pizza was rather bland, with a crust that was not very crispy and almost seemed stale. And the portobello sandwich had little taste, and paled in comparison with the best I've had in the Boston area (the Ashmont Grill in Dorchester). Service, which I've heard is a bit spotty, was mostly good, though it took a long time for us to get our check.
I don't see myself going back to Stars anytime soon, especially with so many other good dining spots nearby (including the Liberty Grille, which has excellent pizza, by the way. Stars seems to be a good place to go as a family, though, as it is indeed one of the most family-friendly places I have been to on the South Shore.
For those who would like the address and phone number for Stars, here it is: Stars on Hingham Harbor, 3 Otis Street, Hingham, MA 02043. Phone: (781) 749-3200.
Related Blog Entries: Hingham restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 17, 2007.
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Monday, September 10, 2007
Fall Foliage (and Food) in New England
It is chilly and raw in Boston today, and looks to be that way for the next day or two. Perhaps this is a harbinger of things to come in New England, as the summer is, sadly, just about over. But the end of summer also indicates the beginning of fall, which is a particularly beautiful season in this part of the country. Soon people will be driving north, west, and south of Boston, looking at leaves turning from green to orange, red, and yellow.
Fall foliage trips in New England can be memorable experiences, especially when combined with cozy inns and classic New England restaurants. The latter if of notable interest to us, of course, and we have indeed created a New England Fall Foliage Dining Options page that lists some restaurants that are great places to go after a day of leaf-peeping. This page includes the names, addresses, and phone numbers of these restaurants, and separates them by state.
If you have any favorite restaurants that you go to while doing fall foliage tours in New England, please let us know; perhaps we will add them to this page. And we hope that everyone enjoys another year of leaf-peeping in New England!
Related Blog Entries: fall foliage, New England restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 10, 2007.
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Tuesday, September 4, 2007
A Mixed Bag at Jamjuli, Newton Highlands
I had a rather disappointing meal at Jamjuli in Newton Highlands a couple of weeks ago. It is too bad, as I had gone to this Thai restaurant in Newton Highlands a couple of years back for a birthday celebration, and it had been very good that time. But this time around, the restaurant just seemed a bit worn out.
The first thing I noticed about Jamjuli when we walked in was that the place was nearly empty, and this at about 6:30 in the evening on a Wednesday. I figured that business would pick up as the evening went along, but it never did. We looked at the menu once we sat down, deciding on a few items to try. The vegetable rolls were fresh, the glass noodle soup was quite tasty, and the Thai iced tea really hit the spot. The hot crazy noodles with chicken entree was pretty good, though it wasn't quite hot enough for me and didn't really stand out from similar dishes I've had at other Thai restaurants. The other entree we ordered was a big disappointment; the chicken with pine nuts had little taste, and the whole dish was covered in a gloppy sauce that rendered the dish nearly inedible.
With such great Thai restaurants as Dok Bua and Khao Sarn nearby (both in Brookline), it is tough to justify returning to Jamjuli. Perhaps we hit the place on an off night, but based on the musty smell inside, the spring pushing through the old seat I was on, the lack of patron during the heart of the dinner hour, and the inconsistent food, I'm not sure I want to give the place the benefit of the doubt.
For those of you who are looking for the address and phone number for Jamjuli, here it is: Jamjuli, 1203 Walnut Street, Newton Highlands, MA 02461. Phone: (617) 965-5655.
Related Blog Entries: Newton restaurants, Thai restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 4, 2007.
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Saturday, September 1, 2007
A Couple of Lunches at Lee Chen, Lawrence, MA
Over the past few weeks, I've met some friends for lunch at Lee Chen Chinese Cuisine on Route 114 in Lawrence (near the North Andover border). One of my friends had been saying lots of good things about Lee Chen, so I was looking forward to trying it. Well, the first trip was better than the second trip, in my opinion, but both meals I had at Lee Chen were very good.
On my first trip to Lee Chen, I ordered the sliced chicken with spicy garlic sauce, as well as a hot and sour soup and vegetable fried rice. The quality of the chicken was excellent, as it was all white meat with no gristle at all, and the sauce was fresh tasting and delicious. The hot and sour soup was good, too, though I've had better at places such as King Fung Garden in Chinatown and Jade Garden in Arlington Heights. And the veggie fried rice was fresh, too, with none of those dried out, rock-hard bunches of rice that are often found at some of the more average Chinese restaurants.
As I mentioned, my second trip to Lee Chen wasn't quite as good. I ordered the sesame chicken, and while the chicken itself was almost as good as the sliced chicken I had there previously, the sauce was gooey and gloppy, and there was so much of it that it was sliding off the chicken in a very unappealing manner. I finished the dish, and it tasted pretty good, but the sauce was definitely not up to par. Also, the veggie fried rice I had this time around didn't seem as fresh, though the hot and sour soup was about as good as the last time I was at Lee Chen.
So will there be a third time at Lee Chen? I think so, though I may try to avoid getting anything that might come with a potentially gloppy sauce. It does seem to be a step above some of the other Chinese restaurants I've been to north of Boston, and the clean, quiet dining room as well as the terrific prices for lunch make Lee Chen a worthwhile place to go.
For those who would like the address and phone number for Lee Chen, here it is: Lee Chen Chinese Cuisine, 230 Winthrop Ave, Lawrence, MA 01843. Phone: (978) 689-9888.
Related Blog Entries: Chinese restaurants, Lawrence restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on September 1, 2007.
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