Below are blog entries from April, 2010. 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.)
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Saturday Night at India Restaurant, Providence, RI
While most restaurants we talk about within this site are located in the Boston area, every now and then we check out places in Providence, as it is such a great city for dining out. Many of the restaurants we go to are around College Hill as well as the nearby neighborhoods, including Wayland, Fox Point, and the Hope/Mount Hope area. And it is this last section of the city that we visited last weekend, as we headed to an Indian place in this quiet, attractive neighborhood called simply India Restaurant.
Located across the street from the beautiful Lippitt Memorial Park and just south of the Pawtucket border, India Restaurant is a positively gorgeous spot. The place has a cozy outdoor dining area in the front, another outdoor section in the back (this one having swings for chairs--I kid you not), an exotic bar with unusual lighting (it looks like hundreds of votive candles are burning), a main dining area with lots of nooks and crannies, and a private room toward the back with a single table and a fireplace. The main area has lots of nice touches, including fabric-covered pendant lights, murals of people on the walls, comfortable booths, and a large television in the middle that shows Bollywood movies.
The sleek, upscale look of India Restaurant was certainly memorable, but we were also here for the food, of course; and fortunately, nearly everything we ordered was as impressive as the atmosphere. We started with both plain naan and basil pesto naan, both of which were excellent--neither one was excessively oily, and the basil pesto version had a ton of flavor coming from the herbs. The spinach and lentil soup was thick and slightly creamy, though a bit of salt and pepper were needed to add a boost of flavor to it. Our main entrees were both outstanding, with the lamb kabobs being rich-tasting and fairly lean (but not too lean), and the pieces of mango in the rice gave the dish a nice dose of sweetness. And then there was the paneer vindaloo...now I have had plenty of vindaloo in the past, but this one was about the hottest I have ever tried, so hot in fact, that the server brought over some yogurt to cool it down a bit for us. But even with the incredible amount of heat coming from the red-hot peppers in the sauce, the taste of the dish was wonderful, with the soft and mild farmer's cheese adding a nice balance to the nuttiness of the rice and the extreme heat of the sauce. We finished our meal with desserts and tea, with the gulab jamun (basically Indian donuts) served with a maple and rum sauce that was overly sweet, but the other dessert--the rice pudding--was nearly perfect, with a good sprinkling of cardamom adding a slightly sweet and almost floral taste to the rice.
India Restaurant impressed us in a number of ways. Its great atmosphere, satisfying food, and friendly service made for an enjoyable evening, and the prices, while just a tad high, weren't all that bad considering how much food we had. It doesn't quite seem like a hidden gem (it was packed by early evening), but India Restaurant is certainly a place that we can recommend. Plus, it is located in one of the nicest sections of Providence and only a short ride from College Hill, so it can easily be included as part of a fun trip to this always-interesting city.
For those who want the address for India Restaurant, here it is: India Restaurant, 1060 Hope Street, Providence, RI, 02906. The phone number is (401) 421-2600.
Related Blog Entries: Indian restaurants, Providence restaurants, Rhode Island restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on April 28, 2010.
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Friday, April 23, 2010
Five Places to Get Tater Tots
It is Friday, and we figured it's a good time for a goofy, silly topic. And what goofier topic could there be than tater tots? These crispy, cylinder-shaped morsels made famous in the movie "Napoleon Dynamite" seem to have a cult following among some, and I'll be the first to admit that I sometimes go to places solely because tots are on the menu.
So where does one go to get tater tots in the Boston area? Well, there are a number of places that offer them--including some high-end restaurants--but we're going to concentrate on neighborhood spots where you can get a bowl of tots and a beer or two (or more). So without further ado, here are five places in the Boston area (in no particular order) to go for tater tots:
1) Cambridge Common, Cambridge
Perhaps the most well-known spot for tater tots on this list, Cambridge Common is a place where you can also get a variety of craft beers with your tots. Their tater tots are the garden variety, with no unusual seasonings or special ingredients used, so if you are a tater tot "purist," this may indeed be a place worth seeking out. Address: Cambridge Common, 1667 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02138. Phone: (617) 547-1228
2) The Lower Depths, Boston
Another spot where you can get any number of craft beers with your tater tots, this little basement bar in Kenmore Square ramps it up a notch by offering some different ingredients with its tots, including bacon, cheese, salsa, jalapeno peppers, and carmelized onions. One note, The Lower Depths is cash-only, so don't expect to put your tots on an American Express card. Address: The Lower Depths, 476 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115. Phone: (617) 266-6662
3) Garden at the Cellar, Cambridge
A British-style gastropub in between Harvard Square and Central Square, Garden at the Cellar has an eclectic menu that features small plates, grilled flatbread pizza, entrees that lean toward New American fare, and yes, tater tots. Their freshly-made tots are a bit more creamy than your typical ones, with a bit of a mashed potato consistency to the inside of them. (Note: you can also order tots in The Cellar, which is the bar below.) Address: Garden at the Cellar, 991 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02138. Phone: (617) 230-5880
4) Beacon Street Tavern, Brookline
A slightly upscale spot near the Boston line, the Beacon Hill Tavern is a fairly mellow place with a menu that includes both traditional American and New American dishes. A particularly good item on the menu comes from the appetizer section, namely the sweet potato tater tots, which include a fairly spicy curry that complements the sweetness of the potatoes. They may not be your standard tots, but they are absolutely delicious. Address: Beacon Street Tavern, 1032 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA, 02446. Phone: (617) 713-2700
5) Robyn's Bar and Grill [CLOSED], Roslindale
Roslindale Village has a variety of restaurants, including upscale options and some great ethnic spots. But there are also some old-school neighborhood joints in the area, including Robyn's Bar and Grill. This unpretentious restaurant and bar features mostly pub grub and classic American fare, including tater tots that you can get Cajun-style as well as loaded (cheese, scallions, and apple-smoked bacon). If you don't like your tots all dressed up, Robyn's also has plain tots as well. Address: Robyn's Bar and Grill, 4195 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA, 02131.
Hopefully this list can help those of you who are big tater tot fans. And by the way, if you have any favorite spots in the Boston area for tater tots, definitely let us know! (Note: Thanks to several sources for some of the information above, including Yelp, how2heroes, and the websites of the restaurants listed.)
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on April 23, 2010.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010
A Couple of Dinners at the Farragut House, South Boston
Have you ever been to a place that you wanted to like so badly, only to have it not quite live up to your expectations? Well, that is the way I feel about the Farragut House in South Boston, a little neighborhood spot on a side street in South Boston that I have heard much about over the years, but had never been to until recently. We actually hit the place a couple of times over the past few weeks, and both times I walked away satisfied with the cozy atmosphere and "hidden" feel of the place, but just a tad disappointed in the food.
The Farragut House is located in a primarily residential neighborhood of South Boston, just a stone's throw from Day Boulevard and the ocean (and within walking distance of Castle Island). The inside of the restaurant feels like a mix of an Irish pub and a family-style American restaurant, with booths along the edges, a wraparound bar in the middle, old fashioned ceiling lights and low hanging lights, and lots (and I do mean LOTS!) of memorabilia on the walls, including all kinds of posters and pictures. Toward the back of dining area is a little nook with a fireplace, and the table facing the fireplace is undoubtedly highly sought after on those cold winter nights.
On our first trip to the Farragut House, we started with a basic chili with tri-colored tortilla chips and a tasty clam chowder that was neither too thick nor too thin and had a lot of clams. The chicken curry was just ok, with a rather thick and gloppy curry sauce overwhelming the chicken. The crab cake sandwich was better, with lots of sweet-tasting meat and very little filler, while the steak fries that came with it were crisp and nicely seasoned. On our second trip to the restaurant, we tried a grilled burger that was juicy and nicely cooked (though this time around, the fries were limp and undercooked), and a steak tip salad with tender meat that had a very mild--almost tasteless--marinade. We had a variety of beers on our two trips to the Farragut House, with the Guinness being poured perfectly and the pints of Kilkenny being particularly refreshing. Service was friendly and efficient throughout, and prices were pretty much in line with a dining spot such as this.
I like the atmosphere of the Farragut House enough to justify heading back there again--perhaps to try the Sunday brunch--but if you are looking to go somewhere mainly for the food, I'm not sure this would be the place, based on what we had on our two trips there. While it's certainly hidden, I won't go so far as to call it a gem, but it is a decent local spot that is surely a good alternative to the mostly sub-par family-style chains that are out there.
For those who want the address for the Farragut House, here it is: Farragut House, 149 P Street, South Boston, MA 02127. The phone number is (617) 268-6348.
Related Blog Entries: American restaurants, Irish pubs, South Boston restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on April 15, 2010.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010
Some More Updated Restaurant Reviews
Back in December, we posted links to a few featured restaurant reviews that we had recently updated. Well, since then, a number of other dining spots that we had reviewed on this site have been revisited, and these reviews have been updated as well.
Some of the restaurants that have been "re-reviewed" include Allora Ristorante in Marlborough, Vecchia Roma in Newton, Addis Red Sea in the South End of Boston, the Channel Cafe in the Fort Point neighborhood of Boston, Shanti in Dorchester, La Hacienda in Somerville, Lil Vinny's Ristorante in Somerville, Pescatore in Somerville, Dok Bua in Brookline, Joan and Ed's Deli in Natick, Finnegan's Wake in Walpole, the Inn at Bay Pointe in Quincy, and Quincy Dynasty in Quincy.
We will continue to revisit restaurants that we have featured on this site, typically posting updated reviews on both our Facebook Page and our Twitter page, so keep checking those for updates.
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on April 8, 2010.
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Thursday, April 1, 2010
A First Look at Brunello Bistro in Somerville
A few weeks back on the Boston Restaurant Talk blog, I wrote about a Somerville dining spot that was more or less morphing into a new restaurant, concentrating more on dinners than baked goods and cafe-style food. Well, I had never made it to the old Bread and Company in the Winter Hill section of the city, but a few of us did check out the new Brunello Bistro a few days back, and we were very impressed in our relatively brief amount of time spent there.
Brunello Bistro is an upscale spot that features Italian and New American dishes, as well as what seems to be a hint of Brazilian cuisine mixed in. This isn't a surprise, as the old Bread and Company was affiliated with a Brazilian bakery by the same name in Everett (and Brunello indeed remains connected with it). The space is attractive, with dim lighting, comfortable seating, a fireplace, an outdoor patio, and a small bar in the middle. The fact that Brunello is housed in what used to be a Bickford's makes it all the more impressive as to what they have done with the space.
We went to Brunello late in the evening (and mainly for drinks), but we did try some food while we were there. The Caesar salad was just about perfect, with fresh ingredients used throughout. The freshly-made ravioli was tasty enough, though they seemed just a bit undercooked, while the sauce was slightly chunky and had a rich, slightly acidic flavor. By far the best dish we tried was the crab cake plate, which came to us with four small-sized cakes that had no real filler to speak of, and they had the mild and slightly sweet flavor that you would expect from fresh crabmeat. Some of the other items on the menu sounded rather tempting, including the risotto, gnocchi, and Chilean sea bass, but as I said, we weren't really there for a full meal.
The Winter Hill section of the city that runs along Broadway between Magoun Square and East Somerville isn't exactly known as a place for dining out, but Brunello might change that. I'll certainly be looking forward to heading back there at some point in time to try a few of the other dishes there.
For those who want the address for Brunello Bistro, here it is: Brunello Bistro, 349 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145. The phone number is (617) 623-9455.
Related Blog Entries: Italian restaurants, Somerville restaurants
Posted by MH, Boston's Hidden Restaurants, on April 1, 2010.
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