The city of Boston has no shortage of old-fashioned neighborhood spots that give the city some of its uniqueness with their warm and comfortable atmosphere, classic American fare and pub grub, and prices that won't break the bank. But some of the most "Boston" of restaurants aren't actually in Boston, though a few come very close including the beloved--and somewhat unknown outside of the area--Midway Restaurant in Dedham, which is a short distance from the West Roxbury line. This longtime old-school joint would not be out of place in one of Boston's many outer neighborhoods (including West Roxbury) but it is indeed a suburban dining and drinking spot--and one that has tons of character, being a great alternative to the many nearby chains.
The Midway Restaurant is a bit of a hidden gem in part because it is so easy to miss; the place sits along the outbound side of busy Washington Street and if you're heading inbound toward Boston, it is one of those outdated roads where you need to find a place to take a left so you can turn around and get back to it. And once you're there, if you don't know anything about the Midway, your first thought might be, "Is this a dive?" or "What am I getting myself into?" because it does have the look of a truly local watering hole, which it kind of is, albeit a very friendly one. The interior is instantly familiar when it comes to these types of neighborhood spots, with the space being dominated by a long, massive, oval-shaped bar, and seating is mostly limited to tables along the outer wall as well as seats at the bar itself. The noise level can be a touch loud when it is busy (and especially when they do trivia nights) due in part to the low ceiling and relatively tight quarters, while the clientele tends to be a bit older, with lots of middle-aged couples and retirees sitting at the bar and at the tables.
Quite often a place like the Midway focuses mainly on the familiar, everyday items that you'll find at an unpretentious neighborhood place like this, but while the Midway does offer the standard mozzarella sticks, potato skins, club sandwiches, and the like, it also serves up some classic comfort food meals including some that tend to be Boston and/or New England staples. Some of the highlights here include a very cheesy French onion soup with a dark broth and delicious croutons; a decadent pastrami burger with Swiss cheese and a savory sauce; a Santa Fe burger that gets some heat from some jalapeno peppers added; a perfectly-cooked prime rib that is available on special and which is of the type of quality that you only seem to find in the neighborhood bars; a charred porterhouse pork chop plate that is also available as a special and that has the potential to be a "best of" dish for this site; a bistro steak (also on special) with tender and thinly-sliced meat along with rice pilaf; a chicken parmigiana plate that comes with a dark, rich tomato sauce and ziti on the side; a classic pot roast that has been on the menu from the start (the place dates back to 1947); a plate of local fried clams, or if you don't like bellies, a plate of clam strips; a broiled Boston scrod that gets some added flavor from lemon butter; a really great take on a steak and cheese sub; and pizza, which is only served in the evening and can be topped with everything from anchovies to hamburger to pepper and onions. Desserts at the Midway include a signature grapenut custard while drinks include a decent selection of beer, wine, and cocktails, though don't expect fancy adult beverages here.
If you're into old-school dining and drinking spots that have that retro-Boston (or Boston area) feel to them, the Midway Restaurant is the type of place where you might end up kicking yourself once you discover it because you feel like you should have learned about it a long time ago. It is certainly that kind of place, and one that has the feel of such legendary neighborhood joints as the Newbridge Cafe in Chelsea which is high praise, indeed. It may not be the easiest place to find, but the Midway is definitely one that you need to keep in mind if you like local hangouts.
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