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Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2006

Below are blog entries from October, 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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Monday, October 23, 2006
Good, Basic Breakfast at the Breakfast Connection, Randolph

We headed over to the Breakfast Connection in Randolph a couple of weeks ago for a casual, low-key Sunday morning breakfast. I had heard that the Breakfast Connection was a pretty good place, and indeed it was; good service, decent Texas French Toast, tasty omelette, average home fries, and ok coffee. The place has that well-worn look that you might expect at a basic breakfast spot, including aging carpets and lots of old wood.

Although I liked the Breakfast Connection, I have had better breakfasts elsewhere on the South Shore, so I'm not sure I'll be back. But if you live near the Breakfast Connection or happen to be driving by, it's probably worth a stop.

If you are looking for the address and phone number to the Breakfast Connection, here it is: Breakfast Connection, 573 South Main Street (Route 28), Randolph, MA 02368; the phone number is (781) 963-9664.

Related Blog Entries: breakfast places, Randolph restaurants

Tuesday, October 17, 2006
A Few More New York City Restaurants

photo of Niko's Mediterranean Grill and Bistro, Manhattan, New York I just got back from another trip to New York City, this time to see family. I also got to check out several restaurants while I was there, starting with a great Friday night dinner at Niko's Mediterranean Grill and Bistro on Broadway (at 76th Street) on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Niko's specializes in Greek food, but also has some good Italian dishes. We had the tilapia and the pesto lasagna, both of which were excellent, and the Greek house wine was very good. I had been to Niko's a few years back for a nightcap, and loved the dark, cozy atmosphere of the place. After having dinner there, I can say that my opinion of Niko's has not changed a bit.

I woke up early Saturday morning to take a long walk through Manhattan, getting a decent bacon egg and cheese sandwich (along with many construction workers--always a good sign) at the West End Superette at the corner of West End Avenue and 72nd Street. Being from Boston, I have a place in my heart for superettes. And there are a million of these little family-owned places scattered throughout Manhattan, seemingly on every block.

photo of the Popover Cafe, Manhattan, New York Later in the morning (after my long walk through Manhattan), I had a second breakfast, this one much more substantial, at the wonderful Popover Cafe on Amsterdam Avenue near 87th Street. The Popover Cafe is in an old building that has lots of charm. Teddy bears and other knicknacks adorn the restaurant, and the vibe is upbeat and youthful there. We both ordered the French toast, which was about as good as I've had. It was fresh and hearty and had loads of strawberries on top. All in all, a great breakfast at this Upper West Side spot.

After breakfast we walked through parts of the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village. Along the way, I discovered that two restaurants I had been to fairly recently had closed: Vinnie's Pizza on Amsterdam Avenue in the Upper West Side and Mainland India on Bleecker Street in the Village. I really liked Vinnie's and will definitely miss it, but Mainland India was average at best, in my opinion.

photo of Joe's Pizza, Greenwich Village, New York After making the rounds through the Upper West Side and Greenwich Village, we had a late lunch at the famous Joe's Pizza on Carmine Street in the Village. I had heard so much about the place that perhaps my expectations were built up too much, so I have to say that I was mildly disappointed in the pizza. It was indeed classic New York pizza, the type that you fold to eat, and the crust was dry and fairly crisp. But I think I still prefer Grimaldi's in Brooklyn Heights, as well as Da Nico in Little Italy when it comes to New York pizza.

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through Greenwich Village and the Union Square area, taking in all the street entertainers and vendors in both areas. We walked by some great-looking restaurants along Fifth Avenue between Greenwich Village and Union Square, but we kept walking, as we were pretty full at that point! Perhaps I'll get to one of those dining spots on my next trip to New York.

photo of Topaz, Manhattan, New York Union Square is one of my favorite parts of Manhattan, with its incredible architecture, abundance of history, and vibrant feel within the park itself (thanks in part to the farmer's market there). We eventually pulled ourselves away from Union Square, however, as we had a reservation at a hidden gem of a Thai restaurant in the Midtown area called Topaz. Situated on the relatively quiet 56th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, Topaz is one amazing restaurant. I had an incredibly hot Tom Yum Goong soup, followed by a rather spicy but delicious Bangkok fried rice entree. Topaz serves authentic Thai food, so beware if you order something spicy; my mouth was on fire from the soup for a good amount of time.

Sunday morning soon came around and it was time to head back to Boston. We had a quick, decent breakfast at Viand Cafe on Broadway near 75th Street in the Upper West Side before I left. Viand was pretty good, but it felt like so many of the hotel restaurants I have been in on my travels (Viand is in the same building as the Beacon Hotel). In a way, the generic feel to Viand was a bit comforting, and the food wasn't all that bad. But it was no Popover Cafe, that's for sure.

photo of Blackie's, Cheshire, Connecticut After breakfast, I headed out. Because the foliage was so nice, I decided to take back roads to Waterbury, CT, where I would jump on Route 84 and zip back to Boston. The foliage was indeed spectacular in places like Ridgefield and New Milford, two towns in western Connecticut that rival the beauty of villages in Vermont. Eventually I got to Route 84, but jumped right off it in Cheshire to try Blackie's, a hot dog and hamburger stand that I have been trying to get to for awhile. What did I think about Blackie's? Well, you will have to wait for a short while, as it was good enough to be featured on this site!

Another trip to New York in the record books, and with it, several good restaurants. I'll be back in the city later in 2006, so stay tuned for more reviews of restaurants in New York.

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

Friday, October 13, 2006
The Boston Restaurant Blog Hooks Up with Technorati

Some of you may have seen the little Technorati logo on the home page of this blog over the past few days. I'm sure many of you are asking what Technorati is. Well, Technorati is basically a search engine (like Google or Yahoo), but it focuses on blogs. So over the coming weeks and months, if you go to Technorati to do blog searches, the Boston Restaurant Blog should start showing up more and more.

If you would like to go to our Technorati Profile, feel free! Not much to see there, but it is our connection to what I consider a very important search engine.

Related Blog Entries: restaurant blog

Sunday, October 8, 2006
A Surprisingly Good Meal at the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville

We took a ride over to the Thirsty Scholar in Somerville several days ago to try the place out after a few years of avoiding it. Why has it been so long since I have been there? Well, the last couple of times I went, the food was, well, not very good. So it was a pleasant surprise that we had a very good meal there last week.

photo of the Thirsty Scholar, Somerville, Massachusetts The atmosphere has never been a problem at the Thirsty Scholar, as this authentic-looking Irish pub has an attractive interior complete with snugs (tiny private rooms with one or two tables), wooden tables, large windows that open during the summer, and a nice bar at the back. Indeed, it has always been a good place to go for a pint or two, but I was never impressed by their food. But this time around, the mussels were excellent (the spicy sauce they were in was delicious), the char-broiled burger was thick, tasty, and cooked just right, and the fries were addictive.

The Thirsty Scholar is still not a true destination place, so unless you live nearby, it's probably not worth going out of the way to check it out, but it is nice to see that their food might just be a notch or two above where it was a few years ago.

If you want the address and phone number to the Thirsty Scholar, here it is: Thirsty Scholar, 70 Beacon Street, Somerville, MA 02143; the phone number is (617) 497-2294.

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs, Somerville restaurants

Saturday, October 7, 2006
New Sections Added to the Boston Restaurant Forum

For those of you who don't know, Boston's Hidden Restaurants has both a blog and a forum within the site, and we recently added two new sections to the forum. Our new Notices and Announcements section on the forum gives information on the latest updates on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site. And the Restaurants Outside of New England and New York City section is a place to talk about any restaurants outside of the Northeast.

If you would like to post new topics, or reply to existing ones, on any part of the Boston Restaurant Forum (except the announcements and notices section, which is read-only), please don't hesitate to register for our forum. Registration is free and only takes a minute or two. Hope to see you there! [ED NOTE: We have taken out the links to our forum, as it is now closed.]

Related Blog Entries: restaurant forum

Thursday, October 5, 2006
Cambridge Has Another Winner with the All Star Sandwich Bar

We went over to Inman Square last night to see what all the fuss is about the All Star Sandwich Bar, a restaurant that is being talked about all over Cambridge as well as the entire Boston area, and for good reason; Chris Schlesinger, the person who heads up the wildly popular East Coast Grill, is also the brains behind the All Star Sandwich Bar (which is next door to the East Coast Grill, by the way).

photo of the All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge, Massachusetts I had expected the All Star Sandwich Bar to be crowded, and it was, though not overly so. We waited about 5 minutes to get one of the 10 or so tables in the restaurant. Once we did, we ordered a couple of beers (Smuttynose and some kind of Oktoberfest beer) and checked out the rather extensive menu. I had my heart set on beef on weck, which is an upstate New York specialty that has roast beef, au jus, and horseradish, all on a Kimmelwick bun, but alas, they were sold out. So we ordered three other dishes instead: The hot pastrami, a ripper (deep-fried hot dog), and a hot corned beef with swiss cheese (not on the menu, by the way, but they were kind enough to make it).

The verdict? Well, the corned beef and pastrami sandwiches were wonderful; both had just enough fat to give it a great taste, and the grilled bread was fantastic. The ripper was good, but my expectations may have been a bit too high, as it didn't really stand out all that much.

Overall, I'd say that the All Star Sandwich Bar shows much promise. The other dishes we saw there looked delicious, and the waitstaff, though still getting up to speed (this IS a new restaurant), is friendly and accommodating. But when you come down to it, the All Star Sandwich Bar is simply a sandwich joint, so perhaps there may have been too much hype for a simple, unpretentious place like this. Indeed, there is only so much you can do with a sandwich, though the All Star Sandwich Bar does it very, very well.

If you would like the address and phone number to the All Star Sandwich Bar, here it is: All Star Sandwich Bar, 1245 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139; the phone number is (617) 868-3065.

Related Blog Entries: Cambridge restaurants, sandwich shops

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Drinks and Good Conversation at The Last Hurrah, Boston

Four of us went over to The Last Hurrah in Boston on Saturday night. The Last Hurrah is a classy, low-key bar within the Omni Parker House, which is a boutique hotel right in the heart of downtown Boston. The bar itself is big with the old-money crowd, and as such, is pretty laid back, unpretentious, and quiet. Indeed, this watering hole, which has been around since the 1800s, is in some ways the perfect place to grab a drink and either grab a window seat or crash out in one of the comfortable sofas in the corner of the bar. The sofa area is perfect for kicking back and enjoying a good conversation over a beer, shot, or mixed drink.

I am not crazy about the food at The Last Hurrah--it is average at best--but the atmosphere at this old-school Boston bar is something special. If you're looking for a drink and a quiet place to chat, The Last Hurrah is certainly a good choice.

Related Blog Entries: Boston bars

Sunday, October 1, 2006
Best Restaurants of 2006 Coming Soon

It is hard to believe that 2006 will soon be winding down. But it is October already, so 2007 really isn't that far away. Because of this, we are starting to look at all the restaurants on Boston's Hidden Restaurants to see which ones deserve "Best Of" consideration for 2006. There are some easy choices this year, but a few categories are definitely up for grabs.

We will be doing some serious brainstorming over the next few weeks to figure out the best restaurants of 2006. In the meantime, check out our best restaurants of 2005 page to see our choices from last year.

Related Blog Entries: best Boston restaurants