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Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2007

Below are blog entries from October, 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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Friday, October 26, 2007
Breakfast at Thornton's Fenway Grille, Boston

Most anyone who regularly goes to Red Sox games at Fenway Park knows about Thornton's Fenway Grille, an often-crowded dining spot a couple of blocks south of Fenway. But until recently, I hadn't realized that Thornton's also does breakfast. I was curious as to how their breakfasts were, so as a result, we found ourselves down on Peterborough Street in the Fenway neighborhood on a recent Sunday morning.

photo of Thornton's Fenway Grille, Boston, MA For those who have never been to Thornton's, it is pretty much a no-frills place with basic eats and decent prices, and like most other restaurants in this rather congested neighborhood, it is a bit on the small side (though it does have two dining rooms, which is one more room than most places around here). We sat at a table near the counter area in the front room and looked through the menu before deciding on one special (the Randy Moss, which was an omelette with mushrooms, scallions, and tomatoes) and one regular item (an egg, bacon, and cheese sandwich on an English muffin). Both dishes were pretty good, and the oven browns were also decent, as they had a nice kick thanks to a generous sprinkling of chili powder on top.

While the food at Thornton's was serviceable, the service was a different story. To put it plain and simple, the waitress clearly did not want to be there. She seemed bored and didn't even come close to smiling the whole time we were there. Needless to say, small talk was not an option with our waitress, so we pretty much kept conversation to little more than polite "thank yous" and the like. She did bring us our food and drinks promptly, but it was still disturbing to have to deal with someone who was totally not into her job.

I want to get back to Thornton's for dinner one of these nights. Perhaps once the Red Sox are done for the year (hopefully after winning another World Series), I will head over there to try one of their entrees. As far as breakfast, though, I'll probably pass on going back there, especially with so many other decent breakfast options in the immediate area (Martin's Coffee Shop in Brookline is one that particularly comes to mind).

For those who would like the address and phone number for Thornton's, here it is: Thornton's Fenway Grille, 100 Peterborough Street, Boston, MA 02215. Phone: (617) 421-0104.

Related Blog Entries: Boston restaurants, breakfast places

Saturday, October 20, 2007
Greek Salads and Pizza at Christo's, Brockton

Growing up, I used to go to Christo's in Brockton every now and then, but had only started going back to this Greek restaurant about five or six years ago. Since then, I have tried it several times, with mixed results. But two items that have never wavered at Christo's are their Greek salad and their pizza, both of which I ordered over the past weekend.

photo of Christo's, Brockton, MA A few of us made the trip down to Christo's as a last-minute decision, getting there early, knowing that the place fills up pretty quickly on weekend nights. Even though we arrived before 6:00, we had to wait about 10 minutes before getting a table in the lounge area, which was a first for me, as I have sat in each of their other rooms a number of times, but never by the bar. Our waitress was quick, friendly, and efficient, bringing us our appetizers and entrees in a timely manner, and we chatted with her about everything under the sun each time she came over.

The Greek salads were nothing short of spectacular, with loads of shredded feta cheese on top and their delicious dressing mixed in just right. In my mind, it is easily the best Greek salad I have had anywhere. As far as the pizzas, well, it is tough to categorize them (are they Greek pizzas? Bar pies? Someplace in between?), but they were excellent as usual. The hamburg pizza was loaded with well-done pieces of meat, while the pepperoni pizza had a delectable mix of tangy cheese and grease from the pepperoni forming a truly tasty treat.

I have heard from some people that Christo's has gone downhill a bit over the past few years, but if the Greek salad and pizza are any indication, I'm inclined to disagree. Personally, I wonder why I don't go to Christo's more often than I do; maybe that will have to change over the coming months.

For those who want the address and phone number for Christo's, here it is: Christo's, 782 Crescent Street, Brockton, MA 02302. Phone: (508) 588-4200.

Related Blog Entries: Greek restaurants, pizza places

Monday, October 15, 2007
Best Boston Restaurants For 2007 On The Way

Well, we are getting to that time of year once again where we decide which restaurants are considered the cream of the crop. Yes, the 2007 Best Boston Restaurants page will be up in a few weeks, but this year seems particularly difficult since we have found so many tremendous restaurants over the past few months. The toughest categories right now seem to be Best Pizza, Best American Restaurant, and Best Mexican Restaurant.

While you are waiting for us to figure it all out for 2007, feel free to check out the best restaurants in the Boston area for 2006 that were featured on our site. We can tell you one thing for sure; at least a couple of restaurants from 2006 will be repeat performers, but there will be a number of new spots, too.

Stay tuned, as it should be an interesting list of dining spots this year.

Related Blog Entries: best Boston restaurants

Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Fall Foliage Trip to Stowe, VT

After two long years, I finally got back to Stowe for some leaf-peeping (though there wasn't much of it, as the fall foliage season in New England is late this year). And while we were in Stowe and the surrounding area, we got to a number of restaurants, most of which were very good.

photo of the Farmer's Diner, Quechee, VT We left the Boston area late on Friday morning, stopping in at the Farmer's Diner in Quechee, VT (just over the New Hampshire border), for lunch. Part of the Farmer's Diner is housed in a renovated Worcester dining car, while the rest of the diner is housed in what looks like an old barn. In keeping with Vermont's progressive ways, the Farmer's Diner serves food that is mostly from local farms and producers. In fact, the menu points out where many of the items came from. For instance, the wonderful portabello burger was on bread that came from the Colatina Bakery in Bradford, VT, while the cheese was from a local farm, and the tasty and hearty smokehouse club had Vermont bacon and cheese as well as tomatoes from Long Wind Farm in East Thetford, VT, and whole wheat bread from LaPanciata Bakery in Northfield, VT. As would be expected, the food was fresh and healthy, and the slightly higher price for the food was well worth it.

photo of The Shed, Stowe, VT After lunch, we jumped back on the highway and arrived in Stowe in mid-afternoon (after a quick stop at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill in Waterbury Center). We spent some time around Smuggler's Notch before heading to a longtime favorite of mine for dinner. The Shed is in some ways the ultimate Stowe dining spot, as it is wildly popular with skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. And one reason for its popularity is its terrific microbrews. We tried a couple of beer samplers, which included six different handcrafted beers, all of which were great, then ordered a hot open-faced turkey sandwich and a barn burger, both of which were as tasty as ever. The barn burger is a larger version of the Shed burger, both of which are marinated in beer and served on English muffins. The beer really brings out the flavor of the burger and is definitely worth ordering if you are a meat eater. After we finished our meals, we split a sinfully good dessert before heading back to Smuggler's Notch for the evening.

photo of Peggy's Cookin' Roadhouse Cafe, Jeffersonville, VT On Saturday morning, we stopped by Peggy's Cookin' Roadhouse Cafe in Jeffersonville for breakfast. Peggy's Cookin' Roadhouse Cafe, used to be Jana's Cupboard for years when I was making the annual trip to Smuggler's Notch, but based on our dining experience at Peggy's, not much has changed (good food cheap, but slow service). The farmer's breakfast was a good bargain, and the Smuggler's Vermont Toast (basically French toast with cinnamon sugar and a slightly spicy batter) was delicious. But as mentioned, the service was slow, so slow in fact that we decided against going back the next day (more on where we went later).

photo of dessert at the Austrian Tea Room, Stowe, VT We spent the morning looking for foliage along the back roads of Jeffersonville, Cambridge, Johnson, Hyde Park, and Stowe, finally stopping for a late lunch at the Austrian Tea Room at the Trapp Family Lodge high above Stowe Village. We grabbed a table on the back deck and gawked at the spectacular views below until the waited came by to take our order. We started with a tremendous alpine mushroom and onion soup, then moved onto our main dishes, which were a tasty roast beef sandwich with horseradish mayonnaise and a delicious knockwurst plate that included traditional warm potato salad and sauerkraut. We were full after finishing our plates, but just had to go for one of the Austria Tea Room's famous desserts. And was it ever worth it; the black forest cake, which I hadn't had there since I was a child, was unforgettable, with chocolate cake layered with chocolate whipped cream and tart cherries, and topped with whipped cream and shaved dark chocolate. The photo here doesn't do the cake justice; you have to try it for yourself to believe how good it is.

photo of the Foxfire Inn, Stowe, VT After that bit of food heaven, we spent the next few hours relaxing around the Smuggler's Notch area, and I took a walk along the trails of Smuggler's Notch Village to try to work off the black forest cake. Later in the evening, we wound our way through Smuggler's Notch and back into Stowe, where we had an excellent dining experience at the Foxfire Inn, which is located on Route 100 about a mile north of Stowe Village. The atmosphere at the Foxfire represents old New England at its best, with oil lamps, crooked floors, and lots of dark wood. The menu, however, tilts closer to Italian cuisine, with a number of veal, chicken, and pasta dishes offered. We ordered the spaghetti pesto (very nice, but not quite enough garlic and oil) and the chicken rollatine (outstanding dish with delicious eggplant, prosciutto, and cheese and served in a white wine mushroom sauce). We skipped dessert, as there was no way that any pastries offered would match the one at the Austrian Tea Room, and headed back to the Village at Smuggler's Notch.

photo of 158 Main, Jeffersonville, VT Sunday morning came too quickly, and it was time to head back to Boston. We drove to Jeffersonville on the way out, opting for a place called 158 Main this time around. It turned out to be a great choice, as both the food and the service were excellent at this cozy dining spot in the center of the village. 158 Main is housed in an historic building, with hanging lights, ceiling fans, hardwood floors, and old wooden booths. We sat in one of the booths and ordered a couple of interesting items; the French toast was flavored with Grand Marnier and vanilla beans and was actually made with homemade baguettes, while the grilled maple bread almost sent my body into shock, as the griddled cinnamon raisin bread was topped with an impossibly rich maple glaze. It was all very fine, and the home fries that we ordered were also excellent, with chili powder and other spices added to the potatoes.

I will probably be eating nothing but fruits and veggies for the rest of this week, but it was certainly worth sampling some of the best that Vermont had to offer over the weekend. I'll be looking forward to my next trip to Vermont, with the particular hope of stopping by the Austrian Tea Room once again to try some of their other incredible-sounding pastries.

Related Blog Entries: Stowe VT restaurants, Vermont restaurants

Monday, October 1, 2007
Two Good Lunches at the Paddock, Walpole

Back in February, a group of us went over to The Paddock in Walpole (not to be confused with The Paddock in Somerville, by the way). The place didn't look like much--just a bare-bones, working-class Irish pub in the center of town--but we were surprised how good the food was there. A family member had tipped me off to this place, and I have to say that we weren't steered wrong.

photo of The Paddock, Walpole, MA I returned to The Paddock a few days ago with several others, looking forward to trying some new dishes there. In February, we had tried the pasta carbonara, which was better than most versions I've had in Ireland (yes, spaghetti carbonara is a popular Irish dish), the turkey club, which was very good, and a grilled chicken entree, which was also satisfying. This time, we tried a few more items, including a bar pizza, which didn't quite match the best pies I've had in Boston, but it was pretty good; a steak and cheese rollup, which was packed with lean steak and was perhaps the best item of the lot; and a cheeseburger, which was quite nice, though nothing compared to the Fuddruckers burger I had the following day. Onion rings were just about perfect here, as they were thick and hearty, and the pint of Guinness I had was ok, though the pour could have been better. Service was slow at times, much like it was back in February, but not too bad overall.

The Paddock is by no means a place to go out of your way for, but it is a good spot to play darts, watch a game on TV, and have some decent pub grub. And on a rainy Saturday or Sunday afternoon, I'm thinking it would be even better, as Irish pubs tend to be perfect places to hang out when the weather is bad. Perhaps the next time it rains (could be months, the way this year has gone), I'll head down there for a pint or two and a bite to eat.

For those who would like the address and phone number for The Paddock, here it is: The Paddock Pub, 998 Main Street (Route 1A), Walpole, MA 02081. Phone: (508) 668-2774.

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs, Walpole restaurants