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Boston Restaurant Blog -- September, 2011

Below are blog entries from September, 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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September, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Lunch at Offshore Ale Company in Oak Bluffs

I recently took a trip to Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard, checking out a few restaurants along the way--including Betsy's Diner in Falmouth, which we "re-reviewed" (still good) and Jimmy Seas in Oak Bluffs, which we have subsequently featured. Another spot that I got to try was a restaurant and brewery in Oak Bluffs that has been around for nearly 15 years. And the Offshore Ale Company was a very fun dining experience, with decent food, great atmosphere, and terrific beers.

photo of Offshore Ale Company, Oak Bluffs, MA Like the aforementioned Jimmy Seas, the Offshore Ale Company is located on a narrow side street (Kennebec Avenue) that runs parallel to Circuit Avenue, which is Oak Bluff's main drag. Just west of that street are the historic gingerbread cottages that so many folks visit, but few tourists seem to head east of Circuit Avenue to Kennebec Avenue, instead dining and shopping on the main strip. This makes the Offshore Ale Company a bit easy to miss, though locals (and tourists in the know) certainly go there. The building that houses the place is rustic and charming, with a barn-like feel coming from the high angled ceiling and the abundance of woods used throughout the structure. Plenty of tables can be found on the ground floor (as well as a small bar), with the brewing equipment in clear view on the second floor. Because of the high ceiling--and the hard floor--it seems that the dining and bar area are prone to a high noise level, so don't expect to come here for quiet conversation.

We arrived at the Offshore Ale Company toward the end of lunchtime, but the place was still nearly full. The host sat us down at one of the last empty tables and our server immediately came over to take our drink order. We opted for a medium-bodied nut brown ale and a refreshing amber ale, both of which were excellent, and also ordered an appetizer of soft Bavarian pretzel spears, which could have been cooked a bit more and needed a little salt, but were otherwise tasty (and the house-made pale ale mustard was very nice). Our meals soon arrived, with the fish and chips featuring lots of flaky, fresh cod coated in an amber ale batter and the fries seeming to have a slight truffle taste to them, while the wood-fired tartufo pizza had a deep, earthy truffle mushroom flavor, though one small complaint about the pizza was that it was a little underdone, needing another minute or so in the oven. Our server was friendly and efficient from start to finish, and prices were actually pretty good considering that we were on the Vineyard, which is known for its high restaurant prices.

While the food at the Offshore Ale Company didn't quite match up to the tremendous dishes we had at Jimmy Seas, our overall experience was certainly a positive one, confirming that this is a place I could see myself going to whenever I'm on the island (whether it be for a round of drinks or a bite to eat). Kennebec Avenue may not look like a place to go for dining, but between this place and Jimmy Seas, this is indeed a pretty good road to head to if you're hungry.

If you are looking for the address for the Offshore Ale Company, here it is: Offshore Ale Company, 30 Kennebec Avenue, Oak Bluffs, MA, 02557. Phone: (508) 693-2626.

Friday, September 16, 2011
Five Great Dessert Items from the Past Year

photo of chocolate cake from Area Four, Cambridge, MAWe continue our new slideshow series with a brand new one on desserts. Over the past year or so, we have had a number of excellent dessert items at various restaurants, cafes, and bakeries in the Boston area and elsewhere in New England, including the five that make up this slideshow. Four of the desserts shown here are from places in the Boston area, with one particularly good one (saved for last in the slideshow) being from a diner in Vermont.

More slideshows will be coming over the next few months, so keep checking back for new ones. We will start to organize them via a tag once we get a few more ready.

And now, on to the slideshow...below is a link to it, which will take you to the photos of the five dessert items.

Slideshow for Five Great Dessert Items

Related Blog Entries: slideshows

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Bar Pizza from S6 in Quincy

Every now and then, I love going to a good dive bar (and sometimes even a not-so-good dive bar), and as many of you know, I also tend to eat a lot of bar pizza. These are two reasons why I find myself in Quincy quite often, as the city is full of local townie joints, a number of which serve bar pies. We hit one such place recently, and while it is right in the heart of Quincy Center, S6 on Hancock Street is one of those classic blink-and-you-miss-it spots that results in being known by very few people. (The name S6 is dedicated to fallen Quincy Police Officer James M Cochrane, by the way--thanks to a reader for letting us know about this).

photo of S6, Quincy, MA S6 is one of many eating and drinking establishments along the stretch of Hancock Street that runs through the downtown section of Quincy and like most of them, it isn't a very big place. In fact, from the outside, it doesn't look like much of anything at all, with its narrow storefront consisting of a plain blue sign and a bit of neon in the windows. The interior of S6 isn't as gloomy as you might think, however, as it is modern-looking and clean, with a good amount of light coming from the skylight in the ceiling during the day. An old wooden floor and high ceiling make for slightly echoey acoustics, while ceiling fans keep the air from getting too stale. The narrow space consists of high-top bar tables along the left wall and a long bar (with a number of TVs above it) along the right side of the place. A brightly-lit Jagermeister tap behind the bar hints to what this place might be like a bit later at night.

We went to S6 around lunchtime on a weekend day, and the place was nearly empty except for a group at the bar. Grabbing a couple of seats at the bar, we asked the bartender for a round of beers (this is mostly a Bud and Miller place, naturally) and ordered pizzas to go. The TVs had both baseball and football on, so the 15-minute wait seemed to go quickly (the games were good ones) and we soon had our bar pies and were on our way out the door. So how were the pizzas? Well, neither the pepperoni pizza nor the hamburg pizza was up to the level of The Alumni Cafe or Cronin's, two Quincy watering holes that serve up some excellent bar pies. But the pizzas weren't bad, either, with a rich and spicy sauce and a nicely charred (if slightly bland) crust. The cheese probably was the one part that brought these pies down, as there wasn't much in the way of flavor, mostly because of a lack of salt and herbs. The individual-sized pizzas were filling--perhaps due to the slightly thick and puffy crust--which led to a couple of slices being left over for another day.

My mixed feelings toward the pizza aside, I kind of liked S6, as the atmosphere was relatively appealing, the bartender was pleasant, and the prices for both the pizza and drinks were plenty reasonable. Indeed, it seems like a decent place to watch a football game on a Sunday afternoon while chomping on a basic bar pie and drinking a beer or two. My pick still goes to Cronin's for a good overall bar experience in Quincy (though the Alumni pizzas are better), but S6 isn't such a bad place to go if you're into neighborhood watering holes.

If you want the address for S6, here it is: S6, 1544 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA, 02169.

Related Blog Entries: bar pizza, Quincy restaurants

Friday, September 9, 2011
Five Unusual Food Items from Restaurants

photo of SOS (s--t on a shingle) from Al Mac's Diner, Fall River, MALast month, I posted a slideshow (our very first one) that displayed five of the best food items we have tried so far in 2011. Well, a new slideshow is up this month, with more on the way. This month's focuses on offbeat and unusual dishes that we have tried at various dining spots during recent times. Included are items from Mexican restaurants and diners that you don't often see, as well as a very interesting dish from a Nepalese eatery that also happened to be included in our first slideshow on best dishes in 2011.

A few other unique dishes could have been included in this slideshow as well, but these five seem to be the most interesting of the ones that we looked at. Expect another slideshow of this type sometime next year, and look for more slideshows on other topics to be posted this fall.

Below is a link to the latest slideshow, which will take you to the photos of the five items.

Slideshow for Five Unusual Food Items

Related Blog Entries: slideshows

Thursday, September 8, 2011
Quick Meal at Cheeseboy in Boston's South Station

Over the past few years, I have been to South Station many times, mostly to meet up with others (and sometimes to take the bus to Manhattan), and up until recently I have tried to avoid eating there, mainly because I have had some truly bad meals in its food court. Lately, I have tried to get there early so I can run to Chinatown and go to any number of excellent spots for some quick food, but sometimes time is simply too short to do so. That's why I was encouraged to hear about a place called Cheeseboy opening up in the middle of South Station late last year (they have since opened other locations in Braintree and at the Prudential Center). I didn't get around to trying this grilled cheese spot until recently, however, as I continued to head to Chinatown for quick meals--or ate before heading into the city. Well, last week, I finally got over to Cheeseboy and was mostly impressed by the place, and it definitely seemed to be a much better option than most of the other spots in South Station.

photo of Cheeseboy, Boston, MA Like the other eateries in South Station, Cheeseboy is a quick-food counter service spot that is geared toward travelers. It resides in the middle of the terminal building, near Au Bon Pain and a short walk from the main food court area that houses such places as McDonald's, Master Wok, and Cosi (by the way, this last spot is actually pretty good). The setup is pretty simple, with an ordering area on one side, a pickup area on the other side, and a cooking area that is filled with grilled cheese presses and other equipment. A few tables are set up in front of Cheeseboy, with more tables over by Au Bon Pain and the food court.

I went pretty basic on my first trip to Cheeseboy, ordering their "Cheeseboy Classic" as well as an order of macaroni and cheese. The help was friendly and polite in both taking my order and handing it to me, which is a lot different from what you often find at the South Station eateries, and the place looked clean and well-run. It took about five minutes for me to get my food, waiting with a few other folks who were looking to pick up their orders as well. Once I got my meal, I grabbed the last available table in front of the place and went to work on the grilled cheese first. It was very basic, with American cheese melted inside pressed Italian bread, but as most people know, a basic grilled cheese sandwich is very tasty, and this one sure was that (plus, it was cheap, coming in at around $3.00). The macaroni and cheese was a little less impressive, with overcooked macaroni mixed with cheese that was lumpy in spots and runny in others. While I was there, I took a closer look at all the different cheeses (cheddar, Swiss, provolone, etc.) and toppings (bacon turkey, basil, pickles, etc.) and decided that next time I would try a couple of different sandwiches with various options, most notably one with basil, which I heard was excellent.

My first visit to Cheeseboy was mostly a positive one (mac and cheese aside), and one that made me re-think the Chinatown option, especially when short of time. Hopefully I'll be returning to this little eatery during the fall; when I do, I'll post a quick update here on what I tried.

If you are looking for the address for Cheeseboy, here it is: Cheeseboy, 720 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA, 02110. Phone: (617) 737-4600.

Cheeseboy on Urbanspoon

Related Blog Entries: Boston restaurants