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Boston Restaurant Blog -- July and August, 2005

Below are blog entries from July and August, 2005. 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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AUGUST, 2005

Friday, August 26, 2005
Ashmont Grill, Dorchester -- The Countdown Begins

A new restaurant is coming to Boston very shortly, and there is much talk about the place, as a well-known chef from an upscale South End restaurant has started this place up. It is called the Ashmont Grill, and its location is in the Ashmont Hill section of Dorchester. Now, before you say, "Dorchester?" you need to know that this sprawling Boston neighborhood has a lot of great restaurants now, from CF Donovan's to Pho So 1 Boston to Common Ground to Pho Hoa to Venezia, and many more. And now, the Ashmont Grill, a restaurant that is already creating a lot of buzz.

Word is that the Ashmont Grill will be serving mostly casual American cuisine and pub food, from burgers and wings to steak and seafood. Entrees at the Ashmont Grill will be reasonably priced to cater to this mostly middle- and working-class neighborhood of Dorchester. The Ashmont Grill will apparently NOT be an upscale bistro for people who want to be seen, as so many restaurants are in other parts of Boston are these days. That, in itself, is very refreshing, and makes me want to be one of the first to try the Ashmont Grill out when it opens.

I haven't been this excited about a new restaurant in a long time. I'm looking forward to heading over to Dorchester to try the Ashmont Grill. Hopefully, I'll be back on the blog soon with a favorable report of the restaurant. Stay tuned!

By the way, for those who want the address of the Ashmont Grill, it is: Ashmont Grill, 555 Talbot Avenue, Dorchester, MA 02124, and the phone number is (617) 825-4300.

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Saturday, August 20, 2005
Beer Towers at Donohue's in Watertown

Not to get off track, but I must say that the beer towers at Donohue's in Watertown are one great invention! For those who don't know what a beer tower is, it is a bright red contraption that looks like a combination of a coffee maker and a gumball machine that is filled with two pitchers of beer. The good people at Donohue's (spelled Donohue's, by the way, not Donahue's, as many people think), which is a great Watertown watering hole, by the way, bring the beer tower to your table and you spend the rest of the night pouring your own beers.

I know, this has absolutely nothing to do with hidden restaurants, or restaurants in general, but think of it as a public service announcement for those who like beer. Nice job, Donohue's, in giving me yet another reason to head to Watertown on a Friday night!

For those of you interested in discovering the beauty of a beer tower, or if you are simply looking for a good pub in Watertown (which Donohue's definitely is), here is the address: Donohue's, 87 Bigelow Avenue, Watertown, MA 02472, and the phone number is (617) 924-4900.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005
Restaurants in the Adirondacks

Welp, another summer weekend and another road trip. This time, it was off to the Adirondacks in New York, along with several other regulars to the Adirondacks. If you haven't been to Adirondack State Park, do yourself a favor and head up there, as there is nothing like it in New England; deep woods, lakes everywhere, high mountains, and towns that look like they wouldn't be out of place in Alaska.

One other great thing about the Adirondacks is the fact that there are so many great restaurants up in that part of New York. We started by having dinner last Friday night at The Hard Times Cafe in Eagle Bay, which is directly across the street from The Tavern. This family restaurant, deep in the woods of the Central Adirondacks on scenic Route 28, is a classic Adirondack restaurant, with an old front porch, cedar wood everywhere, and great entrees including chicken, steak, and freshwater fish. I had never been to The Hard Times Cafe before; I'm glad we discovered it.

photo of the Buffalo Head Restaurant, Forestport, NY On Saturday, we had breakfast at our hotel in Old Forge, then wandered around the area, doing some boating on the Fulton Chain of Lakes. We had a quick lunch at The Pied Piper, a decent hamburger and ice cream stand in Old Forge, then played some tennis against the beautiful backdrop of Old Forge Pond. Eventually, it was off to The Buffalo Head in Forestport, which was where nearly all of us had our best meal of the trip. The Buffalo Head is a rustic old place at a train depot in the middle of nowhere. My steak at The Buffalo Head was among the best I've had in New York, or anywhere, for that matter.

Sunday was a misty, cool day, so we did some driving around, including heading up to Big Moose, which is a great little spot in the heart of the Adirondacks. For lunch, we went to a place called The Moose Caboose in Inlet, a rustic old town near Old Forge. The Moose Caboose is your basic takeout place, though my meatball sub was better than most, and the fact that they have outdoor dining is a plus. After lunch we took a fun train ride from Thendara to Otter Lake, then rested up until dinner, which was at an old Adirondack lodge in Inlet called The Woods Inn, a place that has been recently renovated and is now a prime place to stay in Inlet. The food there was decent enough, including a pretty good stuffed breast of chicken that I ordered, but the atmosphere made up for the rather average food there. Our table was in a huge old room with a tin ceiling and the air of another era. I might not go back to The Woods Inn for the restaurant, but I would love to stay there sometime.

photo of Walt's Diner, Old Forge, NY Monday morning...time to head back to Boston...some of us had a terrific breakfast at Walt's Diner, a townie joint in Old Forge with huge portions. Then it was goodbye to New York and the Adirondacks, and hello once again to Boston, but we took the long way back, through Eagle Bay, Inlet, Raquette Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, and other towns on the way back to the Thruway. It was a great trip, and a total gorgefest as far as eating. I'm eating a lot healthier this week, that's for sure. Can't wait to go back to the Adirondacks, though!

Related Blog Entries: Adirondack restaurants, New York restaurants

Sunday, August 7, 2005
Some Cheap Eats in Boston

The past week has been a bit of a breather as far as my wallet is concerned, as we hit a couple of great restaurants that are incredibly inexpensive. Neither one is well known, so they may end up being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants one of these days. But for now, here's a quick summary of the two restaurants.

Last Wednesday, we went to a tiny Lebanese restaurant in Allston called the Reef Cafe. The restaurant is little bigger than a shoebox, and feels more like a sub shop than an actual restaurant, but is it ever good! The houmos, grape leaves, falafel, and rice and lentil combination were all excellent, and the chicken schwarma was outstanding, too. The people who own the Reef Cafe are very friendly, and it has the definite feel of a Ma and Pa operation, as do so many other Allston restaurants. While I still like Cafe Barada in North Cambridge and Sepal in Watertown [NOW CLOSED] a little better than the Reef Cafe, it is still a great place that is worth checking out. By the way, our dinner bill came to a total of $20, so that part of the equation is tough to beat!

On Saturday, we stopped into the Randolph branch of Pho So 1 Boston for an early dinner. We have been to the original Pho So 1 Boston in Dorchester many times, and believe it is one of the best Vietnamese restaurants in Boston. And the one in Randolph, I must say, is just as good. Both the vermicelli entree and large vegetable soup were delicious, as were the chicken spring roll appetizers. And the bubble teas were very tasty. If you haven't had these quirky Vietnamese drinks yet, give them a try (unless you don't like tapioca). Many of the dinners at Pho So 1 Boston are under $10, including my vegetable soup dinner, which was only about $5.50. Cheap eats for sure! And good eats, which is the important thing.

I would recommend both of these restaurants, especially if you are on a tight budget. I will definitely be heading back to both in the near future.

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JULY, 2005

Monday, July 25, 2005
Quebec City Restaurants: One Great Meal After Another

Just got back from Quebec City, which has to be one of the most beautiful cities in North America. Narrow cobblestoned streets, old stone houses, cozy inns, and amazing views of the surrounding countryside make Quebec City a special place. And to top it off, Quebec City surely has one of the best restaurant scenes on the continent. I came back from the 3-day trip to Quebec a bit heavier and more sluggish, but it was worth it.

photo of Upper Town, Quebec City, Quebec On our way up to Quebec City, we stopped in Newport, VT to a great little diner called The Family Recipe. It was quick, cheap, friendly, and a community center of sorts, as everyone seemed to be going into this little restaurant. After loading up on hot dogs and pastrami, we continued to Quebec City, where, after making the rounds, we ended up at Le Grille in the Upper Town section of the city. Many of the restaurants in Quebec City specialize in Italian, rather than French Cuisine, including Le Grille. And the chicken penne pesto dish made me forget for a bit that I was in a French city, as it at least as good as any similar dish I've had in the states.

Saturday was a day of good restaurants, too. Breakfast was a freebie at the hotel, and it was ok, and lunch was at the St. Patrick Pub in the Latin Quarter. The burgers were decent there, but not great, although the beers were terrific. So at this point, we had eaten at an Italian restaurant and an Irish pub, so it was time to find a place in Lower Town that had more of a French twist to it. We ended up at a place called La Finestra, which is actually built into one of the steep staircases between Upper Town an Lower Town. In this spectacular setting, we had a plate of mussels and a plate of veal canneloni, both of which were very good.

photo of Auberge La Goeliche, Ste-Petronille, Quebec So far, we were happy with the food in Quebec City, but not overwhelmed. Sunday, however, was a different story. For breakfast, we went to an outstanding breakfast place in Upper Town called L'Omelette. Then we headed to l'Ile d'Orleans, a peaceful island just east of the city, and had our best meal of the trip at Auberge La Goeliche in the quaint town of Ste-Petronille. The restaurant and inn are located right on the St. Lawrence River, facing the skyline of Quebec City. Our meals were, finally, truly French cuisine. My meal was absolutely incredible; tender slices of chicken in a brown sauce with bok choy, roasted potatoes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Auberge La Goeliche is one restaurant I can't wait to get back to someday. Finally, for dinner, we went back to the Latin Quarter for an excellent Italian meal at Les Freres de la Cote. The pizza and pesto were both better than just about anything I've had in Boston, and it was a great way to cap off the trip to Quebec City.

photo of the Pilsen Pub, North Hatley, Quebec On our way back to Boston, we made a little side trip to North Hatley, Quebec, which is a small lakeside village a short distance north of the U.S. border. North Hatley reminds me so much of towns in the Adirondacks of New York such as Inlet, Old Forge, and Long Lake. And the restaurant we went to, The Pilsen Pub, well, it is one of those classic waterfront restaurants that is just made for a beautiful summer day. The Pilsen Pub has outdoor seating along the river that opens up into the lake (which is across the street), and excellent pub grub and American fare. Going to the Pilsen was the perfect way to end a memorable trip. I hope I'll get back to the Pilsen--and Quebec City--very soon.

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Sunday, July 10, 2005
Bridgeman's in Hull: A Restaurant That Is Almost Too Good to Be True -- and Too Popular to Be on our Web Site

A quick thought on a restaurant I tried last night while enjoying the day in cozy Franklin St. Park in Cambridge...Bridgeman's in Hull (145 Nantasket Ave., Hull, Ma, number: 781-925-6336), which I tried Saturday evening, may be the best restaurant I have tried since perhaps Apsara in Providence, RI, or Via Veneto in San Francisco, CA.

Bridgeman's is in the heart of Nantasket Beach, a part of Hull that went through some bad times years ago, but is now coming back strongly, and is a very enjoyable place to go in the summertime. The Nantasket section of Hull has some great restaurants, including the romantic Mezzo Mare, and some restaurants that, while not outstanding, have a fun seaside atmosphere, such as The Red Parrot. Bridgeman's, however, may be the best of them all, and perhaps the best restaurant on the entire South Shore of Boston.

The chef at Bridgeman's is actually the brother of Donnie and Mark Wahlberg of acting and music fame. And what a chef Paul Wahlberg is; the sliced tenderloin of beef with risotto is absolutely fabulous, and the Brodetto Di Pesce, which has black pasta with mussels, clams, and shrimp in tomato broth, is out of this world. The Wahlberg family is talented in many ways, that's for sure! One note about the items on the menu; while the entrees are mostly upscale Northern Italian dishes, the prices are very reasonable. Many items are under $20, which is a bargain for a restaurant like Bridgeman's.

We sat in the outdoor patio and watched a double rainbow curve toward the Atlantic Ocean while waiting for our food. And while there was a long wait for tables inside, we were able to get our outdoor table right away. But alas, the hour-long wait for an indoor table and the many accolades I have read in books and online about Bridgeman's prevents us from including this incredible Italian restaurant from being featured on Boston's Hidden Restaurants. At the very least, though, I'm glad I can use this blog to let people know just how good Bridgeman's in Hull is. This is one Boston restaurant that everyone should consider going to, in my opinion.

Again, if you want the address for Bridgeman's, here it is: Bridgeman's, 145 Nantasket Avenue, Hull, MA 02045; the phone number is (781) 925-6336.

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