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Boston Restaurant Blog -- May, 2007

Below are blog entries from May, 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.)

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MAY, 2007

Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Weekend Dining in Brooklyn, NY, and Elsewhere

Just got back from a trip to Brooklyn, NY to see family. Whenever I go to the New York City area, I tend to stay around Manhattan, but this trip was all about Brooklyn (and a bit of Queens, too). We arrived in the area on Saturday afternoon after a quick stop to get some incredible cheesesteaks at Doogie's in Newington, Connecticut (read more about Doogie's in our July, 2006 blog entry). After driving around the Midwood, Kensington, and Park Slope sections of Brooklyn for a bit, we went to a huge birthday party that took place in a warehouse in Prospect Heights. The food there was catered by a restaurant in the Upper West Side of Manhattan called Bistro Ten 18. The food from Bistro Ten 18 was some of the best I had on the entire trip, with the vegetable lasagna being particularly good.

photo of Adelman's Deli, Brooklyn, New York The party lasted awhile (and the warehouse was about 100 degrees, so it was a slow morning for me. We eventually drove over to Midwood to grab some breakfast at an authentic Jewish restaurant on Kings Highway called Adelmans Deli. After a number of fair to middling meals at various Boston-area delis, it was refreshing to go to a place like Adelman's, which had nearly everything you could every want from a Kosher restaurant. We ordered a number of items, including a corned beef omelette that had some of the best corned beef I've ever tried. The beef knish was also excellent, as was the kasha varnishkes. And the potato pancakes were thick, fresh, and had just the right amount of onion taste to them. The place itself was a classic, with thousands of framed baseball cards lining the walls, as well as many other sports memorabilia items.

photo of DiFara Pizza, Brooklyn, New York Because we had such a late (and hearty) breakfast, we held off on lunch until mid-afternoon, spending time relaxing at the Promenade in Brooklyn Heights and driving through the beautiful streets of Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens before heading back to Midwood to try what some consider the best pizza place in the country. DiFara, which is on Avenue J, has an almost legendary reputation for outstanding pizza, so the excitement built rather quickly as we waited in line there. I was intrigued by the way the owner of DiFara prepared the pizzas--he used a grinder for the fresh cheese, cut the basil with a pair of scissors, and added olive oil to the top of each pie by using what looked a bit like a bronze watering can. And the results were......well, they were really good, though I must say I was slightly disappointed. This was a truly incredible pizza, but what knocked it down a notch for me was the sheer amount of olive oil on top. If it weren't for the fact that the pizza was swimming in oil, I would probably consider the pizza at DiFara to be the best I've ever had.

photo of Michael's Restaurant, Brooklyn, New York The olive oil from DiFara weighed heavily in our stomachs, so we were in no rush for dinner. We spent the rest of the afternoon drooling over the beautiful houses in Midwood before driving down to Coney Island. I was almost tempted to get a hot dog at Nathan's, but I was way too full (and the crowds were excessive), so I passed. We spent some time in Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay before wandering over to a classic Italian place on Avenue R called Michael's Restaurant. This Sheepshead Bay institution was everything I expected from an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn; Michael's indeed had an instantly familiar feel to it, almost like something out of an old movie. I loved it, plain and simple, and the food (linguini pesto and veal marsala), though not the best I've had, was perfectly fine, with decent prices considering the great atmosphere and the classic feel to the place.

photo of the Brooklyn Bridge from Brooklyn, New York After dinner, we took a leisurely ride back through Millwood (I really liked that neighborhood!), ending up back in Brooklyn Heights at Cafe Buon Gusto for some late-night cappuccino. It was raining out, but we sat outside under the awning and watched folks walk up and down Montague Street for awhile, before driving down to the docks below Brooklyn Heights to soak in one of the finest views in the entire New York City region. The view of the New York skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge from this spot is unforgettable, and one that every visitor to New York should try to see. One other note about this area: Grimaldi's is only a couple of blocks up the road, so you can grab one of New York's best pizzas, then walk down to the docks to walk off the food. I really wanted to do this, but my stomach was about to burst at this point, so it wasn't about to happen, unfortunately.

photo of the Main Street Deli and Appetizing, Queens, New York Monday morning rolled around, and we debated whether to go to a diner we saw in Midwood, but decided upon a change in scenery on the way back, so we drove up to a particularly nice section of Flushing, which is a part of Queens. We stopped at a place on Main Street called Main Street Bagels and Appetizing, which turned out to be the culinary highlight of the trip. Main Street Bagels is an old-fashioned food place in a heavily Jewish neighborhood. We ordered bagels and blintzes and grabbed a couple of stools, at which point we noshed on bagels that were so much better than anything I've had in Boston that it is difficult to put into words. They make the bagels daily on the premises, which says a lot about the freshness, but there was something else that made them so good. (I wish I knew what the secret ingredient was!) One final note: We got to chat with the woman who sat next to us for a good amount of time. She was a local who told us about many of the better restaurants around the Flushing area. It was great to get a perspective on this interesting neighborhood; I definitely want to head back there at some point.

photo of Shady Glen, Manchester, Connecticut On the way back from Brooklyn and Queens, we stopped for lunch at a fairly-well known dining spot in Manchester, Connecticut called Shady Glen. It was a rather confusing place, with groups of people waiting in line in at least two different sections of the place, and a large number of waiters and waitresses seemingly running in every direction possible at the same time. Unfortunately, our service was lacking, and the food was a mix of good and not-so-good. The ice cream was excellent, however, so if I ever get back to Shady Glen, it will be for that reason alone, but I think that next time I will probably hit the nearby Vernon Diner instead.

It was indeed a whirlwind trip to Brooklyn this weekend, but one that I will not soon forget. Not all of the meals were top notch, but I'm glad I got to discover some of what this vastly interesting borough of New York has to offer.

Related Blog Entries: Brooklyn restaurants, Connecticut restaurants, Manhattan restaurants, New York restaurants, Queens restaurants

Friday, May 25, 2007
More Info on Our Unreviewed Restaurants Feature

As I mentioned in the blog last week, we have a new section on unreviewed Boston and New England restaurants. Basically, this special feature includes restaurants that we have either not been to yet or have not yet reviewed, but believe that they may be good candidates for being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants. Through word of mouth, postings and emails from our readers, and a lot of research, we have come up with this small but growing list of mostly little-known restaurants that are of interest to us.

One thing we are attempting to do with this feature is to identify restaurants that seem unique in certain ways; for instance, one restaurant might have outdoor dining along a river while another may be located on a country road in the middle of nowhere. What we are trying to do is avoid listing restaurants that seem even slightly generic.

Each restaurant that we list includes a form where our readers can post their own reviews of these dining spots, so if you have been to any of them, please feel free to post comments on these restaurants. Below are a few restaurants we have listed so far:

-- Brax Landing Restaurant (Harwich Port, MA)

-- Floating Rock (Revere, MA)

-- Freestone's City Grill (New Bedford, MA)

-- Gibbet Hill Grill (Groton, MA)

-- Lawton's (Lawrence, MA)

-- Meeting Street Cafe (Providence, RI)

-- O Cantinho (Cambridge, MA)

-- Peterborough Diner (Peterborough, NH)

Please post us your reviews of any of these restaurants (and any others that are within this feature). We look forward to hearing from you!

Related Blog Entries: New England restaurants

Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Exceptional Views, Basic Food at The Tides, Nahant

We took advantage of the nice spring weather a couple of weeks back by heading up to The Tides in Nahant for dinner. I used to go to The Tides quite often growing up, as I had family in nearby Lynn and neighbors who had a summer home in Nahant itself, but it had been ages since I had eaten there, so we decided that it was time to try this restaurant again.

photo of The Tides, Nahant, Massachusetts For those of you who have never been to The Tides, it is housed in a spot that can only be described as magnificent. Located at the end of the causeway connecting Nahant to Lynn, The Tides has sweeping views of the coastline as well as an unforgettable view of the Boston skyline as you pull into the parking lot. Indeed, there are few restaurants so close to Boston that are located in such a scenic spot. And The Tides has an outdoor seating area for those warm summer nights when you can watch the sun set over a bite to eat and a drink.

After soaking in the views, we headed into The Tides and grabbed a table that had some limited views of Nahant Beach. We started off with chicken quesadillas for an appetizer. They are all right, though not quite cooked enough and a bit on the bland side. We followed the appetizer with a lobster pizza (something they have had there for a long time) and a plate of mussels steamed in beer. The lobster itself was delicious, but the pizza that it was on was a bit runny and soggy, with tomato sauce that had little taste. The mussels were decent enough, though they were lukewarm.

I had been hoping for a better meal at The Tides, but I am willing to give it another chance, perhaps ordering (as someone had suggested on another forum) simpler meals such as burgers, steak tips, or fried clams. In fact, a burger and a beer at The Tides might be a good option, especially on a nice night when we can sit outside and enjoy those incredible views that The Tides has.

If you want the address for The Tides, here it is: The Tides, 2 Wilson Road, Nahant, MA 01908. The phone number is (781) 593-7500.

Related Blog Entries: outdoor dining

Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A Sneak Peek at Our New Restaurant Feature

Well, we are at it again at Boston's Hidden Restaurants, this time getting a brand new feature ready that will give viewers a taste of little-known Boston and New England restaurants that we have not reviewed yet. [Please note that this is not quite ready for prime time, so there are relatively few restaurants as of May, 2007.]

The reason we are doing this is because, while we are constantly looking around Boston and the rest of New England for great hidden restaurants, there are literally thousands of dining spots in the area, and we have such a long list of restaurants to try that many of them won't be featured for a long time to come. So what we are doing is creating a new section that gives descriptions of restaurants that we believe may fit the bill for Boston's Hidden Restaurants, but that we can't review since we have not tried them yet.

Included on each page is the address and phone number of the restaurant, as well as a link to a map that shows where it is. A brief description is given, including a link to their Web site (when applicable), sample menu items, type of cuisine, cost, and general location. In addition, readers are given the option to write their own review of the restaurant, so if you have been to any of these places, feel free to write about them.

This feature could end up being huge, with hundreds of pages of restaurants that we look forward to trying. Well, on second thought, maybe won't have the chance to try them all, but we will hopefully put a big dent into the list!

Related Blog Entries: New England restaurants

Monday, May 7, 2007
Tasty, Healthy Food at Sweet Lemons, Weymouth

I don't know why, but for some reason, I haven't had much Thai food in 2007. I love all kinds of Thai cuisine, but until we went to Sweet Lemons in Weymouth a few weeks ago, it had been a long time since I enjoyed a good meal at a decent Thai restaurant. The wait was worth it, though, as Sweet Lemons proved to be an excellent place, and one that may end up being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants if it continues to impress.

photo of Sweet Lemons, Weymouth, Massachusetts Sweet Lemons doesn't look like much from the outside, as it is a small dining spot in a nondescript shopping center on one of the busiest streets in Weymouth (it is very easy to miss). But the inside of the restaurant is rather pleasant, with comfortable seating and a quiet, peaceful feel to the place. The restaurant was fairly busy, though not excessively so, even though it was a Saturday night.

We started with a couple of delicious soups--the Tom Yum soup, has mouthwatering mushrooms, chicken, and veggies in a broth that had a slight burn to it, and the chicken rice soup was fresh, light, and tasty. Then we moved on to an interesting appetizer called chicken puffs, which had ground chicken and curry sauce, and cucumber sauce on the side. They were delectable; I could have easily made a meal out of them. The main entrees we ordered were a bit of a mix, as the spicy, full-flavored basil fried rice was one of the best I've had anywhere, while the chicken with wide noodles and Chinese broccoli in brown gravy was a bit too heavy for me.

Sweet Lemons turned out to be a great choice for Thai food. I want to try it again soon, since there were some other items on the menu that looked interesting, such as the Thai noodle soup and the stir-fried glass noodles with shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. As soon as I try Sweet Lemons again, I'll report back on it to let folks know whether it was as good as the first time I went.

If you would like the address for Sweet Lemons, here it is: Sweet Lemons 1, 828 Washington Street, Weymouth, MA 02189. The phone number is (781) 340-5551. Note that there is also a Sweet Lemons 2 on Main Street in Weymouth.

Related Blog Entries: Thai restaurants, Weymouth restaurants

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
My Favorite Dining Experiences in 2007 (So Far)

Over the past couple of weeks, I haven't been to many restaurants, but I hope to pick up the pace once again starting this week (it's a tough job, but someone has to do it). Looking back at some of the restaurants I've been to in 2007, I have to say that I've had a number of pleasant surprises, perhaps more so than in 2006. What have some of my favorites been so far this year? Read on for a few select places...

Perhaps my favorite meal since the start of the year was at Cafe Polonia in South Boston. This Polish restaurant, a true hidden gem near Andrew Square close to the Dorchester border, has some of the most amazing food in the Boston area. And the meal I had there in January--wild mushroom soup with sour cream, followed by a plate of potato dumplings with goulash--was simply extraordinary, and extraordinarily cheap to boot.

Another unforgettable meal I had was at Cafe Azteca in Lawrence. Cafe Azteca is little-known outside of the Lawrence area, but it is one of the best (and most authentic) Mexican restaurants in Eastern Massachusetts In January, I had a sauteed chicken dish with a tangy brown sauce and strips of cactus that ALMOST was on par with some of the best Mexican food I've had in San Diego over the years. It was that good.

Chinatown is full of many excellent restaurants, and one of my favorites is New Jumbo Seafood on Hudson Street. I've been to several good Chinese restaurants over the past few months, but perhaps none as good as New Jumbo. The Singapore Rice Stick and fried calamari made me forget about a lot of other great Chinese dining spots in a hurry when I went there with some friends late one night in January.

Everyone seems to have their favorite burger joint, and mine is probably either O'Sullivan's in Somerville or Mr. Bartley's in Cambridge. But I had a burger at Zon's recently that nearly made me forget about both places. Zon's, a funky Jamaica Plain restaurant, has many terrific dishes, including their fabulous macaroni and cheese, but the burger I had there in March was a juicy, messy, meatball of a burger that was simply too good to really describe in words.

Since I love burgers so much, I think that this is a good place to stop. But the restaurants above definitely have helped make 2007 a special year for restaurants, and we're only about a third of the way through!