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Boston Restaurant Blog -- March, 2011

Below are blog entries from March, 2011. 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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March, 2011

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Polls, Polls, and More Polls

For many months now, we have been doing Twitter polls on various food and drink items that people like from Boston-area restaurants and food places. Lately, we have also been asking "quick" poll questions within this site on timely issues and other topics of interest at the moment. And now we are starting to use the Facebook questions feature to ask general questions about restaurants and other food-related topics.

To find some of the more recent Twitter food polls, the results can be found within our Boston Restaurant Talk blog at the link below:

http://bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com/search/label/polls

And to find our "quick" poll results as well as our Facebook questions, please go to this link:

http://hiddenboston.com/polls.html

The latter two sections (which are found within the same page) are just getting going, so expect more to come soon. Also, here are the links for our Hiddenboston Twitter page and our Facebook Page for Boston's Hidden Restaurants if you would like to check them out.

Related Blog Entries: Facebook, Twitter

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Five Restaurants That Have "Hidden" Outdoor Seating

photo of The Ledge, Dorchester, MA Believe it or not, warm and pleasant weather is not all that far away, and with it, outdoor dining in and around Boston. There are countless places with outdoor seating, including prime spots for people-watching on Newbury Street in the Back Bay, scenic spots along the Boston waterfront, and sidewalk seating all over Cambridge. But the focus on this article is on those places whose outdoor seating areas are, well, hidden--restaurants with patios out back, at the end of alleyways, and so on. A number of such places could be mentioned here, but we will limit it to the five restaurants listed below:

1) Sophia's Grotto, Roslindale
This is one of those restaurants that is appealing whether you sit indoors or out. The interior of this Mediterranean restaurant in the heart of Roslindale Village is quite attractive, with exposed brick and little nooks and crannies that are just made for romantic dinners. But the outdoor dining area is terrific as well, as the space is a shared courtyard that can be accessed through a narrow alleyway off to the side. It feels a bit like an Italian piazza, and the food only adds to this vibe, with a mix of Northern Italian and Southern Italian dishes along with Spanish items as well. And the courtyard is almost completely protected from the elements, making it a good choice on windy evenings. Address: Sophia's Grotto, 22 Birch Street, Roslindale, MA 02131. Phone: (617) 323-4595. Our featured review can be found at: http://www.hiddenboston.com/SophiasGrotto.html

2) Scup's in the Harbour, East Boston
The outdoor seating at this eclectic eatery in Jeffries Point isn't necessarily hidden (the picnic tables are in clear view out front), but the restaurant itself sure is. In order to get to Scup's, you have drive past a guard's booth, since the restaurant is within the Boston Harbor Shipyard--an odd place for a dining spot, indeed. By the way, there is word that this year, Scup's will have a backyard patio, making for more in the way of outdoor seating, which is currently rather limited. Address: Scup's in the Harbour, 256 Marginal Street (Building 16), East Boston, MA 02128. Phone: (617) 569-7287. Our featured review can be found at: http://www.hiddenboston.com/Scups.html

3) Khushboo, Lexington
While not our favorite Indian restaurant in the Boston area, this dining spot in Lexington Center has something that few other eateries tend to have--a 2nd-floor outdoor patio that affords views of the hustle and bustle below, as well as some beautiful sunsets. Khushboo, which resides in the space where the popular deep-dish pizza spot Bel Canto used to be long ago, feels well-worn and could probably use some upgrades, but the food is decent, the prices are mostly ok, and the upstairs patio is truly special on a mild spring or summer evening. Address: Khushboo, 1709 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA, 02420. Phone: (781) 863-2900. Our blog review can be found at: http://www.hiddenboston.com/blogentries/khushboo-lexington-0708.html

4) Ledge Kitchen & Drinks, Dorchester
Boston has seen its share of gastropubs, beer bars, and upscale American eateries open over the past few years, including this pleasant spot in the Lower Mills section of Dorchester (near the Milton line). The inside of The Ledge includes a couple of dining rooms as well as a comfortable bar area to the right, but continue on to the back of the place and you'll see a walkway that leads out to a beautifully-landscaped two-tiered patio. The outdoor area, which includes a little bar, is cozy and intimate, thanks to the high wall that gives it a private feel. On a hot summer night, there are few places south of Boston that I'd rather be for dinner, especially considering that the food is mostly very good and the drink options are varied. Address: Ledge Kitchen & Drinks, 2261 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA, 02124. Phone: (617) 698-2261. Our blog review can be found at: http://www.hiddenboston.com/blogentries/the-ledge-dorchester-1010.html

5) Mexico Lindo, Melrose
Even without its outdoor dining area, Mexico Lindo would be a great option, as the Mexican fare at this dining spot in the center of town can be excellent (the arroz con pollo, for instance, is fantastic). But this is indeed another eatery that has a "hidden" outdoor seating area--a comfortable patio that is situated behind the restaurant. Because it is somewhat boxed in by the buildings that make up Melrose Center, the patio at Mexico Lindo is an especially good place to go on windy days (as opposed to, say, the rather exposed picnic tables at Scup's in East Boston, though that could change with the coming of their backyard patio). Address: Mexico Lindo, 449 Main Street, Melrose, MA 02176. Phone: (781) 662-4056 . Our featured review can be found at: http://www.hiddenboston.com/MexicoLindo.html

If you like dining al fresco but are more into being away from the hustle and bustle, the five restaurants above are a good start, but there are many other "hidden" outdoor dining areas out there, so do some searching online over the coming weeks before the really nice weather arrives!

Thursday, March 17, 2011
A Couple of Breakfasts at Jimmy's Broad Street Diner in Weymouth

A couple of years ago I went to a restaurant just outside of Weymouth Landing called Jimmy's Broad Street Diner. The breakfast I had there was good, but not great, and I promptly forgot about the place. But over the past few weeks I've been back there a couple of times, and while I still don't consider it among the best breakfast places on the South Shore, it's definitely better than I had initially thought.

photo of Jimmy's Broad Street Diner, Weymouth, MA Located on a long street that is slightly off the beaten path and has a mix of homes, apartments, and retail spots, Jimmy's Broad Street Diner is really a place where locals seem to go. (You won't find much in the way of reviews from the media or on the Internet for the place.) It is housed in a standalone structure that is a rather colorful spot, with a sleek, modern look to it, both inside and out. The interior is relatively spacious for a diner, with tables to the left of the entrance and more tables, along with counter seating, to the right. While it has the feel of a breakfast place, Jimmy's is also open for lunch and dinner, featuring all kinds of American classics and comfort food for each meal of the day.

For both of our visits to Jimmy's Broad Street Diner, we were able to get seating right away, even though it was a bit crowded both times. And each time our server (two different servers, actually) was gruff but efficient, and our second server was downright funny at times. We had a pretty wide range of foods, from eggs to bacon to toast to waffles to home fries to pancakes and more, but I'll just comment on some of the highlights (and lowlights) here. In the former category, the Belgian waffle was really quite good, as it was neither too dry nor too mushy and had lots of sweet whipped cream on top of it. The potato pancake plate was also decent with a nice combination of herbs and spices mixed into the pancakes, though there was an underlying taste that almost seemed like the oil used to cook them may have been a bit old (or mixed with other food items, thus carrying over those items' tastes). The home fries were a little on the dry side and had too much of a raw onion flavor, while the corned beef hash was also a bit too heavy on the onions, though to be fair, some people may like their hash with that kind of a heavier onion taste. Coffee at Jimmy's was excellent, including the decaf, which was almost as good as the regular. Prices for each of our meals seemed right about where they should be, though some items on the menu seemed just a bit higher than what I've seen at similar places.

As I mentioned earlier, there are other places south of Boston that I'd probably choose over Jimmy's for breakfast (Niko's, which is just down the street, and McKay's in South Quincy), but I did find most of the food to be satisfying--and I am now also curious about their lunches and dinners. If and when I get there for a non-breafast meal, I'll try to post an update here.

If you want the address for Jimmy's Broad Street Diner, here it is: Jimmy's Broad Street Diner, 122 Broad Street, Weymouth, MA, 02188. Phone: (781) 245-1525

Jimmy's Broad Street Diner on Urbanspoon

Related Blog Entries: breakfast places, diners, Weymouth restaurants

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Dinner and Drinks at Harrington's in Wakefield

Every year around this time (with St. Patrick's Day coming up), I tend to check out Irish pubs around the Boston area, including those in the suburbs. This year is no different, as we recently went to a cozy, comfortable spot in Wakefield called Harrington's, and while the experience we had there wasn't completely memorable, there were indeed some high points, including one of the best dishes I've had so far in 2011.

photo of Harrington's, Wakefield, MA Harrington's, which is located toward the southern edge of Wakefield Center (and just off the main drag on Route 129 east) is a handsome-looking spot both inside and out; the dark woods and attractive sign on the outside make it look like a classic pub in Dublin, Galway, or Cork, while the dimly lit dining area and bar inside--which are separated by a windowed partition--creates a slightly moody feel that makes the place perfect for a rainy afternoon. A couple of booths are built into the partition, and a small area that is somewhat separate from the rest of the dining area can be found in the front by the windows. Upstairs is a function room where private parties can be held, along with Irish set dancing. Entertainment at Harrington's includes traditional Irish sessions on Wednesday nights, and live bands on the weekends.

We arrived at Harrington's early in the evening, with it being about half-full (it would get a little busier--and louder with the set dancers upstairs--later on in the evening). The first order of business was a round of pints, including a Guinness that was poured too quickly, as well as an appetizer of zucchini chips. The chips were initially watery, but they quickly firmed up as they cooled off and were quite good once we let them sit for a short time. Our meals included an absolutely tremendous Guinness beef stew, which included some of the richest, most flavorful, and most tender braised beef I've had in this type of dish. The carrots, onions, and mushrooms were perfectly cooked, and the broth was wonderful. The "Pork O'Reilly" was very good (though not quite at the level of the beef stew), with a nicely seasoned sauteed pork tenderloin that was topped with a hearty pork mushroom gravy. The mashed potatoes that came with this dish were a bit dry and didn't have much in the way of taste, unfortunately. After finishing up with our meals, we ended the evening with a chocolate cake that was moist and tasty. Service was good enough, though our server rarely smiled and wasn't all that talkative, and the prices were right about where they should be, with the meals being in the low-to-mid teens.

I would return to Harrington's for the Guinness stew alone, though there are other reasons to go back, including checking out the Wednesday night Irish sessions at some point. It is probably not a destination spot like some Irish pubs in the Boston area are (The Burren in Somerville and The Druid in Cambridge come to mind), but Harrington's seems to be a good option for those who either live or work in the northern suburbs of Boston.

If you want the address for Harrington's, here it is: Harrington's, 17 Water Street, Wakefield, MA, 01880. Phone: (781) 245-1525

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs, Wakefield restaurants