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Boston Restaurant Blog -- January, 2006

Below are blog entries from January, 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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Thursday, January 26, 2006
New Section on Readers' Favorite Restaurants

Just a quick note that we have a new section that includes favorite restaurants, according to YOU. We figured this is a good way to get our guests involved with the site. If you want to mention your favorite restaurant in Boston, New England, or any part of the United States, go to Your Favorite Restaurants page. It may just be included on our site!

Thursday, January 26, 2006
Amazing Sweets at the Danish Pastry House, Medford

After looking for a place to get tea and pastries last night in Arlington and Somerville, we finally ended up at the Danish Pastry House in Medford. The Danish Pastry House is owned by a woman from Copenhagen, Denmark, and the pastries in this place reflect the fine Scandinavian quality of the sweets at this comfortable gathering spot across the street from Tufts University.

photo of the Danish Pastry House, Medford, MA The pastries we got at the Danish Pastry House were fantastic; they had marzipan in them, which gave the pastries a unique flavor. Some people don't like marzipan, but I found the pastries to be delicious. We were ready to head out when one of the workers gave us some bags and told us that because they make pastries fresh every day, they give what they can't sell away for free, so we loaded our bags with a variety of treats, which I will certainly be eating this evening.

I did a little research on the Danish Pastry House late last night, and discovered that they do a lot for local charities, including offering any unsold pastries and breads to shelters every night. On that note alone, I will be going back to the Danish Pastry House often in the future, since I really want to support places that give something back to the community. We recently put up a page with links to charities, nonprofits, and foundations on our site, and now I'm thinking that perhaps we can add to this page some restaurants and other eating establishments that help out people in need. If so, the Danish Pastry House will surely be at the top of the list.

For those who are looking for the address of the Danish Pastry House, here it is: Danish Pastry House, 330 Boston Avenue, Medford, MA 02155; the phone number is (781) 396-8999

Related Blog Entries: Medford restaurants, pastry shops

Wednesday, January 25, 2006
Restaurants on Route 1 in Saugus

A few of us were talking about past and present restaurants on Route 1 in Saugus. For those who don't know Route 1, it is one of the cheesiest, outdated, most over-the-top roads in Massachusetts, if not the United States. Everywhere you look, you see weirdness, including a leaning tower of pizza (not Pisa), a string of no-tell motels, a huge dinosaur guarding a miniature golf course, a bunch of plastic cows, and a huge ship near the Lynnfield border that used to be a restaurant. Route 1 in Saugus, for better or for worse, is a memorable road.

There are a lot of bad restaurants on Route 1, but there are a few good ones, too, and even some of the bad restaurants are worth going to just for the atmosphere. For instance, I don't particularly like the Hilltop Steak House, but the cheesy cactus sign and the plastic cows out front are almost worth the price of admission. Another rather mediocre restaurant, Augustine's, is now closed, but in its day, it was worth piling up on the pasta at the buffet while listening to the woman playing unforgettable songs (again, for better or worse) on the piano.

One restaurant I really like on Route 1 in Saugus is Prince Pizzeria and Bar, home of the aforementioned leaning tower of pizza. Some of the best pizza I have had has come from Prince Pizza, and the atmosphere is old-fashioned and family-oriented, so this is a great non-chain option for people with children. The owners are truly good people, and they really treat their help well, which is often a rarity these days.

Some other restaurants on Route 1 in Saugus include The Continental, a middling restaurant that isn't a bad option for families; a branch of Kelly's Roast Beef, though I would rather go to the Kelly's on Revere Beach; a branch of The Border Cafe; Donatello's; and, of course, the famous (or infamous?) Kowloon, a restaurant made famous partly by a certain sports radio guy's love for the place, and partly for its almost unbelievable cheesiness and tackiness.

If you have not been to Route 1 in Saugus yet, do yourself a favor and make a trip up there. You won't soon forget it!

Related Blog Entries: Saugus restaurants

Thursday, January 19, 2006
Great Burgers and Fries at Christopher's, Cambridge, MA

We headed over to Christopher's Restaurant and Bar in Porter Square, Cambridge, last night. I have always loved going to Christopher's, mainly because it is such a cozy restaurant on a cold winter night. Christopher's has a huge fireplace in the back, lots of exposed brick, and comfortable tables in both the dining room and bar area.

Both the veggie burger and the English burger were excellent. The English burger comes on a large English muffin, and the beef has tasty seasonings. The beef at Christopher's which is all-natural, by the way (would you expect anything less in Cambridge?). As good as the burgers at Christopher's were, the fries were even better. Small wedges of potatoes with just the right amount of seasonings and salt. I could have made a meal out of the fries, they were so good.

photo of Christopher's Restaurant and Bar, Cambridge, MA Christopher's is a very popular place, especially among the college students in the area and the residents of Avon Hill, a beautiful old neighborhood located behind Porter Square. The clientele is rather quirky, with lots of bow ties, long gray hair, flowing dresses, and conversations about politics and philosophy. But remember, this is Cambridge, a city that marches to the beat of its own drum, and in some ways, Porter Square embodies the essence of Cambridge more than just about any part of this great city. But I'm getting off track (sorry!). The bottom line is, Christopher's Restaurant and Bar is a fun, cozy dining spot that may not wow you with their food, but it is a very good, and rather unusual restaurant that is a great option if you are tired of the generic dining spots that seem to be everywhere these days.

For those who want the address and phone number for Christopher's Restaurant and Bar, here it is: Christopher's, 1920 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140; the phone number is (617) 876-9180

Related Blog Entries: American restaurants, Cambridge restaurants, hamburgers

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Restaurants to Visit in 2006

I have compiled a small list of restaurants in the Boston area that I want to go to in 2006. At the top of the list is Bianchi's in Revere. I keep hearing people say Bianchi's has some of the best pizza in the Boston area. And another restaurant, in the South End, is also gaining rave reviews for their pizza. Picco, which is on Tremont Street, has gotten a lot of press lately, though I have heard some people say the pizza at Picco isn't quite as good as they expected. One more pizza place I keep hearing about is The Alumni in Quincy. The Alumni, much like Bianchi's, would be considered a hidden gem, while Picco would not. But I want to try all of them, of course.

Another restaurant I really want to go to is Maurizio's on Hanover Street in the North End of Boston. Maurizio's keeps getting all these awards for best Italian cuisine in Boston, so I figured it might be a pretty expensive restaurant. I checked the menu out, though, and it seems that Maurizio's is pretty reasonable considering how good it is. Also in the North End are two other restaurants on my list. La Summa, which is tucked away on Fleet Street, looks like a great little casual Italian restaurant, and Ristorante Fiore looks like an intriguing restaurant, and it has rooftop dining, so this will be a place to go in the summer.

As far as ethnic food goes, I want to try two Indian restaurants -- Namaskar in Davis Square, Somerville, and Punjab in Arlington. For Chinese food, I'm looking at checking out Shangri-La on Belmont Avenue in Belmont, as well as Peach Farm and Taiwan Cafe in Chinatown. Finally, for Thai food, I really want to go to Rod Dee in Brookline, which has been on my list for a long time now.

One other place I'm interested in is a romantic dining spot in Southbridge called the Vienna Restaurant. Located in a boutique hotel near the Connecticut border, the Vienna Restaurant serves German, Austrian, and French cuisine in an elegant, intimate setting.

2006 could be another good year for visiting restaurants. I can't wait to start checking these places out!

Sunday, January 8, 2006
Boston Valentine's Day Restaurant Page is Up

Just a quick note that our new romantic Boston restaurants for Valentine's Day page is up and running. We have about 20 romantic restaurants that you may want to look into for your Valentine's Day plan. Many of the restaurants are little-known, so you may stand a decent chance of getting into one of them.

Related Blog Entries: Romantic restaurants

Thursday, January 5, 2006
Brown Sugar Cafe: Best Thai Restaurant in Boston?

I had one of the best dinners in awhile last night at the Brown Sugar Cafe, a Thai restaurant with two locations in Boston. We went to Brown Sugar's Commonwealth Avenue location last night, and it was every bit as good as the one on Jersey Street.

photo of the Brown Sugar Cafe, Boston, MA Our meal at the Brown Sugar Cafe started with a plate of puffy Thai dumplings, or pastries, filled with celery, potatoes, mushrooms, and a mild yellow curry. They were delicious, and held our hunger in check until the entrees came. One entry was a marinated beef in gravy with ginger, watercress, macadamia nuts, peppers, and mushrooms, which was absolutely amazing. The second entry was a stir-fried rice dish with ground chicken, basil leaves, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, and cucumbers, all in a very hot, spicy chili sauce.

I was pretty astounded at the quality of the food at the Brown Sugar Cafe. The menu is extensive and includes both authentic Thai and Americanized Thai cuisine, so there is something for everyone at the Brown Sugar Cafe. I can't recommend these two Boston Thai restaurants enough. But is the Brown Sugar Cafe the best Thai restaurant in the Boston area? Well, I'm not ready to put it at the top of the list just yet, but it is darn close.

Related Blog Entries: Boston restaurants, Thai restaurants

Tuesday, January 3, 2006
More Boston Restaurants to Start 2006

I ended up going to three more restaurants to start the New Year. I started out by going to Doyle's in Jamaica Plain for a New Year's brunch. I love Doyle's, especially on a Sunday morning, and it did not disappoint, as the food was good, the atmosphere was mellow, and the waitstaff was excellent. My belly was happily full as we wandered over to the nearby Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain for a brisk walk up Bussey Hill.

Later on New Year's Day, I ended up at Rick's Cafe on Route 139 in Randolph. I can't say I was all that impressed by Rick's Cafe, as the salad and the pizza were both rather forgettable, but perhaps I'll give Rick's another try when I'm in Randolph again.

The next morning, however, I had a much better meal at Gerard's in the Adams Village section of Dorchester. Adams Village is a throwback of a neighborhood, and Gerard's is definitely a throwback, too. You enter Gerard's through a convenience store, and sit in one of two comfortable rooms. Gerard's has the feel of so many of those old family restaurants that I grew up on, so it felt instantly familiar in a way. We ended up having a terrific breakfast at Gerard's, including such items as Irish bacon and brown bread (many of the diners at Gerard's were Irish immigrants, enjoying some of the traditional foods that are found in Ireland). I can't wait to go back to Adams Village to try Gerard's at dinnertime, as their dinner menu seems appealing.

I think I may be done with restaurants for a few days, as I feel very sluggish after eating so much food. 2006 has indeed started much as 2005 ended, food-wise.

Related Blog Entries: Dorchester restaurants, Jamaica Plain restaurants

Sunday, January 1, 2006
New Year's Eve at Ristorante Romanza, Providence, RI

We went to Ristorante Romanza in Providence, RI, for New Year's Eve last night. This was the second year in a row that I've been to Ristorante Romanza on New Year's Eve, and it was as great an experience as last year.

Ristorante Romanza is located in a house in the arts district of Providence, just down the hill from Brown University. It was half full at 6:00, so we were able to get a table next to one of their three fireplaces (one fireplace in each room). The pasta pocket with pumpkin entree was tremendous, and the ravioli with pork filling was nearly as good. And the goat cheese salad was absolutely delicious. Somehow, we had room for a sinful chocolate brownie with ice cream and whipped cream, which was about the best I've ever had.

We have been so impressed by Ristorante Romanza that Boston's Hidden Restaurants has awarded it the best Italian restaurant in the Boston area. After our meal last night, Ristorante Romanza has a good shot at the award in 2006, too.

Related Blog Entries: Italian restaurants, New Year's Eve restaurants, Providence restaurants