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Boston Restaurant Blog -- April, 2009

Below are blog entries from April, 2009. 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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April, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Info on Ice Cream Stands in New England

After yesterday's record heat (Boston was 93 degrees), it seems like people across New England are more than ready to start the annual hunt for great ice cream stands. And for those of you who don't know, our site has a feature on Boston and New England Ice Cream Stands that includes the names, addresses, and phone numbers of a number of ice cream stands (many of which are little-known) around Boston and the rest of New England. A brief description of each ice cream stand is also included.

We may not be having many more 93-degree days over the next few weeks (after all, it is only April), but the weather is certainly getting warm enough to think about ice cream. Have fun looking at our ice cream stand feature, enjoy any ice cream you eat over the coming weeks and months, and let us know of any other ice cream stands we should be looking at!

Related Blog Entries: ice cream stands

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Upscale Italian at Siros, Marina Bay (Quincy)

As much as I like the Marina Bay section of Quincy, it always seems to me that the restaurant scene is a bit on the low to middle end, and at times bordering on the honky tonk. None of the restaurants are trashy, but the places I have been to seem to be more about the views than the food. But I had never been to Siros Restaurant before (at least not the one at Marina Bay--been to the others that are now closed), and going there earlier this week greatly changed my opinion of dining in this coastal Quincy community.

photo of Siros Restaurant, Marina Bay (Quincy), Massachusetts From the outside, Siros looks a bit like the other restaurants along the boardwalk at Marina Bay, with outdoor dining in the warmer months and a dining room with windows overlooking the water. But the inside of Siros borders on elegant, with white tablecloths, attractive sconces on the walls, and carpeting that helps keep the noise level down. The waitstaff seems professional yet friendly, which is more than I can say for some of the servers I have dealt with at other places in the area in the past.

We were originally looking to order off the regular menu at Siros, but noticed that there was a separate prix fixe menu that had been for the fall and winter, but had been extended into the spring. And what a deal it was--only $20 for a three-course meal that included soup/salad, an entree, and a dessert. We decided on that route, but first started with some house wine (a smooth chianti and a rich cabernet) while nibbling on their tasty hummus and bread. We began the three-course meal with a slightly bland but decent Italian wedding soup and a thick clam chowder that was overstuffed with pieces of clams. For our main course, we tried the pasta with bolognese sauce (fresh pasta, hearty and flavorful bolognese sauce) and the sauteed chicken with penne and broccoli in a cream sauce (fresh and chewy pasta, lots of chicken, and a deliciously cheesy-tasting sauce). Desserts were pretty good; the chocolate cake was served hot and wasn't bad, though it didn't have a ton of flavor, while the bread pudding had a slight apple taste that added a nice touch to it.

Marina Bay has never really been a food destination for me (more of a place for a drink or a casual stroll), but I may need to re-think this now that I know about the quality of the Italian and Mediterranean cuisine served at Siros. And if they can keep the fixed-price menu around (and keep it at a low price), it's all the reason more to return to Marina Bay, preferably on a warmer and less rainy night when I can sit at one of the outdoor tables.

If you are looking for the address for Siros in Dedham, here it is: Siros Restaurant, 307 Victory Road, Quincy (Marina Bay), MA 02171. The phone number is (617) 472-4500.

Related Blog Entries: Italian restaurants, outdoor dining, Quincy restaurants

Thursday, April 16, 2009
Quick Meal at Cafe Video Paradiso, Dedham

I always seem to be on the hunt for independent cafes and coffee shops that are open in the evening, but there are just so few of them in the Boston area. That is why we were happy to find such a place in the center of Dedham last weekend. And while the food at Cafe Video Paradiso wasn't anything that could be considered outstanding, it is nice to have discovered this place, especially since it is across the street from the Dedham Community Theatre, a great little movie house that I have been going to more and more often.

photo of Cafe Video Paradiso, Dedham, Massachusetts Cafe Video Paradiso is, as its name implies, a combination cafe/video store. It is a rather strange setup, with a cozy cafe and espresso bar in the front left area (complete with a couch and fireplace), while the video section runs along the right wall and takes up the entire back half of the space. I'm not sure how much business they do in video rentals (which seems to be a dying business), but the cafe part seemed to be doing a good business while we were there.

Most of the menu at Cafe Video Paradiso focuses on paninis, coffee and tea, and desserts, so we sampled a bit of all three. The espresso was terrific, while the Persian tea had a strong jasmine smell and was also excellent. The sandwiches were a mixed bag; the prosciutto and mozzarella panini was very tasty with vine-ripened tomatoes and roasted red peppers rounding out the flavors, but the turkey and stuffing panini suffered from too much gooey muenster cheese that overwhelmed the dish. I ordered a slice of chocolate mousse for dessert, and while the frosting and chocolate shavings was delicious, the cake itself was rather dry and bland.

All in all, Cafe Video Paradiso turned out to be a nice, relaxing stop before going to the theater, and sitting on the comfy couch in front of the fireplace was a big plus. And the food, while a bit inconsistent, was decent enough. So a return trip or two (or more) is certainly in the making, especially since Cafe Video Paradiso is one of only a few of its kind in the Boston area.

If you would like the address for Cafe Video Paradiso in Dedham, here it is: Cafe Video Paradiso, 565 High Street, Dedham, MA 02026. The phone number is (781) 326-5674.

Related Blog Entries: cafes, Dedham restaurants

Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Lunch at the Horseshoe Grille, North Reading

Because I go to so many unique and interesting restaurants, I sometimes need to remind myself that the humble family-friendly suburban dining spots can also make for good dining experiences. Such is the case with a place I went to recently called the Horseshoe Grille in North Reading. The Horseshoe Grille will never be mistaken for a fine dining spot or an exotic ethnic restaurant, but for what it is--a comfortable and reasonably-priced barbecue spot--it really is quite good.

photo of the Horseshoe Grille, North Reading, Massachusetts Several of us made it over to the Horseshoe Grille last week for lunch, having made a reservation just in case it was crowded. The place was about half-full, however, which seems to be par for the course for restaurants these days. We were seated at a large table near the fireplace that sits in the middle of the main dining area and soon ordered drinks and appetizers as well as our main meals. I ordered the Death Valley chili to start, and while it wasn't quite as hot as I had hoped, it was flavorful with lots of beef, peppers, onions, and cheese mixed in. For our meals, we ordered a variety of items including a few salads, a shoe dip (basically a roast beef au jus), and, for me, a pulled pork sandwich with hot sauce on the side. Again, the sauce wasn't all that hot, but it had some nice flavor, and the pulled pork was delicious, if just a touch on the dry side. The salads were a hit among my dining companions, and the shoe dip was given a thumbs-up. We also ordered a big plate of homemade potato chips for the table; some of them were limp and watery, but most were crisp and tasty.

Service at the Horseshoe Grille was excellent; our waitress was friendly, personable, and efficient. The prices were good overall, with nothing we ordered being particularly expensive. And the atmosphere really was rather nice, with the fireplace adding a cozy touch to the room and the slightly dim lighting adding on to the coziness.

So would I consider the Horseshoe Grille to be a hidden gem? Well, maybe. I wasn't quite blown away by the place, and I'm not entirely sure it's all that hidden. But it is a very good option that I would certainly recommend if you find yourself anywhere north of Boston near Route 93. And I will surely try to get back to the Horseshoe for dinner one of these nights to try some of their other items, so stay tuned...

If you want the address for the Horseshoe Grille in North Reading, here it is: Horseshoe Grille, 226 Main Street, North Reading, MA 01864. The phone number is (978) 664-3591.

Related Blog Entries: barbecue joints

Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Boston Visitor Info Page for 2009 Marathon Runners

The 2009 Boston Marathon is quickly approaching, and with it, tens of thousands of runners, families of runners, and visitors who are interested in this famous road race, which dates all the way back to 1897.

If you are running in the Boston Marathon (or are a friend, spouse, or family member, or just coming to Boston to see the race), this Boston Visitor Information Page may be of help. The page gives brief snippets of information on what to see and do in several Boston neighborhoods as well as some interesting cities and towns nearby.

Here's hoping that the weather holds out for the day of the Boston Marathon (Monday, April 20, 2009); best of luck to anyone who is running in the race!

Related Blog Entries: Boston Marathon