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Boston Restaurant Blog -- July, 2009

Below are blog entries from July, 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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July, 2009

Thursday, July 30, 2009
Late-Night Dinner at Deluxe Town Diner, Watertown

After a few years away from the place, I finally returned to the Deluxe Town Diner in East Watertown a few weeks back for a late-night dinner. The last time I was there, I frankly wasn't all that happy with my meal, as the macaroni and cheese was rather watery and bland. But this time around, the diner greatly impressed, with the three of us who went being extremely happy with our meals.

photo of Deluxe Town Diner, Watertown, MA The Deluxe Town Diner is a classic dining spot located in a town that certainly has its share of old-fashioned diners. This diner is perhaps a bit better-known than the others, as it is in a heavily-trafficked area with plenty of locals, blue- and white-collar workers, and others converging on the neighborhood, as well as the diner itself. The quirky little place doesn't look all that big from the outside, but it is a bit more spacious inside then one might think, as its L-shaped space has plenty of room for tables. And in addition to the rectangular and round-shaped booths, there is some counter seating in the middle of the place. As is the case with classic diners, the Deluxe can get noisy with lots of hustle and bustle, but in a way, that's part of the charm of places such as these. Lounge tunes and other classic music gets piped through some very old-looking speakers inside the diner, adding to the old-school feel of the place.

Our latest trip to the Deluxe Town Diner was well past the dinner hour, but it was still relatively crowded when we arrived, especially considering that it was a night in the middle of the week. We were able to get a window booth right away, however, and our server came over promptly to take our orders. We had a mix of dishes, with nearly everything being satisfying, though there were certainly a couple of real high points. The reuben, for instance, was simply outstanding, with lean corned beef and swiss cheese smothered in tangy Russian dressing and sauerkraut, all stuffed between two pieced of buttered and grilled rye bread. The corned beef hash was also tremendous, although it wasn't like any kind of hash I've ever had (it was shredded, slightly dry, and a bit charred, with very little in the way of potatoes or onions, but delicious). One of the more interesting dishes of the night was the plate of Jo'nny cakes; they looked a lot like potato pancakes but tasted nothing like them, as they had a hearty corn flavor and a delightfully firm texture. The falafel sandwich was a little on the mushy side and came with green falafel that didn't quite have the rich taste of some of the better falafels I've had at Middle Eastern restaurants. But the pickled turnips and tahini did add some taste back in to the sandwich, making it an overall good choice. The sandwiches came with sides of sweet potato fries and regular fries, respectively, and it was tough to choose a winner, as both were handcut and the sweet potato fries were light on salt (a good thing) while the regular fries had a nice bit of salt on them (also a good thing). Drinks included linden tea, which had a nice, subtle taste, and earl grey, which was a little heartier than the linden.

This recent trip to the Deluxe Town Diner was much more enjoyable than the last trip I had made there. I am hoping that I simply had the macaroni and cheese on an off-night the previous time I had gone to this classic Watertown dining spot. I am looking to get back to the Deluxe sometime again this year, and certainly hope that the quality will be equal to that of this last trip we made there. If so, I can see myself going back to the Deluxe Town Diner many times in the future.

If you would like the address for the Deluxe Town Diner, here it is: Deluxe Town Diner, 627 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown, MA, 02472. Phone: (617) 926-8400.

Related Blog Entries: diners, Watertown restaurants

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Terrific Meal at JT's Seafood, Brewster

For the second time in less then a week, I found myself on Route 6A, a scenic road that roughly follows the north side of Cape Cod along the bay. The first trip along the road included a stop at the always-impressive Grumpy's, a local breakfast and lunch place in East Dennis. This time, we drove one town further (Brewster), stopping at a restaurant called JT's Seafood for dinner. And while it was a much different place than Grumpy's, it seemed equally good, with some truly good seafood dishes at fairly reasonable prices.

photo of JT's Seafood, Brewster, MA JT's Seafood is one of a number of restaurants along Route 6A in Brewster, which really is a good destination spot for diners even though it is such a small town. Unlike some of the other dining spots, JT's has plenty of outdoor seating, including a mostly shaded area in the front and a covered deck in the back that nevertheless can get a good amount of sun late in the day. Inside is more seating, including tables and booths in a room to the left of the main entrance. Customers order food at the counter just beyond the entrance, then look for a table and wait for their number to be called. The overall feel of JT's is that of a family-friendly place where one might head to after a day at the beach. And it also feels like a bit of a throwback with its counter service and outdoor dining, fitting in well with the old-timey feel of Route 6A.

When we arrived at JT's Seafood, it was right in the heart of the dinner hour and we had to wait in line to order. But once we did, we immediately found a table on the back deck that was mostly in the sun, but dropped back into the shade after a short time. We started out with some clam chowder and a couple of local brews called Cape Cod Summer and Cape Cod Red, both of which were excellent craft beers (and are made not too far away, in Hyannis). The clam chowder was very good, with a decent amount of clams in it and a broth that was neither too thick nor too thin. Our meals soon came out and they were certainly impressive.--the fried clam plate wasn't exactly overloaded with clams, but it was all about quality over quantity, as they were absolutely delicious, while the mild, delicate-tasting baked cod was coated with breadcrumbs that seemed to have a Cajun-style flavor to them, and the cod itself was substantial and with almost no waste on it. I also had a side of rice pilaf which was mixed with dill, giving it a pleasantly earthy taste.

About the only negative I can say about JT's Seafood is that it is too far from Boston to go to on a regular basis. I typically get to the Cape only two or three times a year, so I'm not sure when I'll be able to get to JT's again. But I will certainly make an effort to get there, as it is a great spot to go to while enjoying a low-key drive along scenic Route 6A.

If you want the address for JT's Seafood, here it is: JT's Seafood, 2689 Main Street, Brewster, MA, 02631. Phone: (508) 896-3355.

Related Blog Entries: Cape Cod restaurants, seafood restaurants

Tuesday, July 14, 2009
July 4th at Barefoot Bob's, Hull

I typically head down to Bristol, RI, and the surrounding area on July 4th, not so much to watch the fireworks down there, but to go on the beautiful bike path that follows the water most of the way. But this year, we decided to spend the afternoon and evening in Hull, watching the Boston fireworks from Hull Gut (at the very tip of the peninsula). But before we did, we made a trip over to Barefoot Bob's, an offbeat spot across from Nantasket Beach that turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

photo of Barefoot Bob's, Hull, MA Barefoot Bob's looks a little rough upon first glance (at least approaching it from the beach side), with its big outdoor patio that looks more like someone's driveway and its cheesy tiki bar near the entrance to the inside dining area. But I quickly realized that, at dinnertime, anyways, it seems fairly peaceful, with an interesting mix of wealthy suburbanites in designer outfits, burly bikers with cans of beer in their hands, and mellow beachgoers strolling across the street for a bite to eat after a long day on the sand. Indeed, few restaurants in the Boston area can claim a more intriguing spot for people-watching.

I expected basic bar food at Barefoot Bob's, but what we got was a little more than that. The chili, for instance, was rich in flavor and loaded with beef (though they shouldn't call it four-alarm chili, as there was very little heat). The steak tips were lean and tender, and the tangy teriyaki-style marinade was so good that it instantly placed these tips into the upper echelons of dining spots in the Boston area that serve this dish. As for the grilled turkey panini, well, it was the least inspiring of the dishes, as the thick bread wasn't really pressed all that much and the half-melted cheddar cheese overwhelmed the otherwise tasty apple wood smoked bacon and real turkey slices. Drinks included a Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat (always outstanding) and a sixteen-ounce can of Red Stripe--a guilty pleasure of mine that always seems to taste better when the ocean is nearby.

We were pretty happy overall with the food and drink at Barefoot Bob's, and the atmosphere was something we won't soon forget--the odd mix of suburbanites, bikers, and beachgoers felt downright weird at times, but certainly never dull, and there was a lot of laughter and good times being had by most folks there. I'm looking forward to heading back to this little spot across from Nantasket Beach, perhaps trying the pizza or a burger next time.

If you would like the address for Barefoot Bob's, here it is: Barefoot Bob's Beach Grill, 276 Nantasket Avenue, Hull, MA, 02045. Phone: (781) 925-2007.

Related Blog Entries: Hull restaurants, outdoor dining

Monday, July 6, 2009
Early July Trip to Vermont

I have been to Vermont a couple of times over the past several months, including visits to Weston, Manchester, Grafton, Ludlow, and a few other towns. But it had been more than a year since I had been to the Stowe area, and I really needed to get back there, as it is one of my favorite places in all of New England. So a trip was made there last week, and although the weather wasn't all that good, it was great seeing the old sights again. And it was also great getting to a number of restaurants, including a couple I had never been to before.

Our first stop was for lunch at Eaton's Sugarhouse in South Royalton, VT, a place we are familiar with, and actually featured on the site this week (see our Eaton's Sugarhouse page for more). Lunch at Eaton's was excellent once again, and very filling, allowing us to have a fairly late dinner. Between lunch and dinner, we stopped for a drink at Mr. Pickwicks Pub at the Ye Olde England Inne on Route 108 in Stowe, where I had my first Switchback Ale (it was outstanding) and I also got to taste a decent honey beer from Long Trail called the Pollenator. We then headed up the road to The Shed, a restaurant and brewpub that has been one of my favorites over the years. They have something called a Shed burger, which is a burger cooked in beer and served on an English muffin, and it was as good as ever. I also had a "ski of beer," which is a sampling of six of their homebrews, and while a couple of them were quite good, none of them approached the level of the Switchback Ale I had tried before dinner.

photo of the dining room at the Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, VT The next morning, we had a continental breakfast in the elegant and classy dining room within the Trapp Family Lodge. Continental breakfasts can often be pretty boring, but not at this place, as the buffet table was loaded with fresh pastries such as croissants, muffins, Danish, and more. Oatmeal, fresh fruit, and cereal were also offered, as was some of the best coffee I have tried in a long time. The staff was friendly and professional, the seating comfortable, and the views out the windows occasionally outstanding when the clouds broke over the mountains. At $15 per person, the price was just a tad steep, but certainly worth it in my opinion. The Trapp Family Lodge is really one of the most interesting lodging options in New England, so whether you go to the Austrian Tea Room (across the street) or the main dining room as we did, or even the lounge where you can hear piano music, getting a taste of this wonderful spot high up in the hills above Stowe is something you won't soon forget.

photo of Pie in the Sky, Stowe, VT The rest of the morning was spent hiking around Smuggler's Notch and driving around Jeffersonville, Cambridge, and Waterbury, finally stopping in Stowe for lunch at a surprisingly excellent pizza joint called Pie In the Sky. You wouldn't expect to find a place specializing in wood-fired thin-crust pizza in rural Vermont, but Pie In the Sky does indeed feature that. We opted for their lunch buffet, trying the plain, pepperoni, and white pizzas. The plain pizza was perhaps my favorite, with a terrific mix of zesty and slightly bitter cheeses. The pepperoni was almost equal to the plain, while the white pizza was almost too bitter, but pretty good overall. Pie In the Sky is family-friendly, and a great place to go if you're in a hurry, especially when they have the buffet going. This wasn't my first time here and it definitely won't be the last.

After lunch, we made another trip (actually it was across the street) to Mr. Pickwick's for more Switchback Ale as well as an excellent German wheat beer that they had on tap. It was raining, but the outdoor deck was covered, so we spent a nice chunk of the afternoon kicking back and watching the rain fall while smelling the wood-fired pizzas being cooked across the way. The afternoon turned into evening, and we eventually ended up at the Foxfire Inn just north of the village of Stowe for some Italian food. I have written about the Foxfire before (and have been there countless times), but it is again worth noting that this is perhaps the place to go if you want Italian food in the area, especially if you are looking for a quaint, charming environment. The signature bread sticks with garlic were as good as ever, as was the fresh Caesar salad and the rich and flavorful cream of broccoli soup. Entrees impressed as well, with the baked penne coming with a smooth layer of ricotta cheese and a hearty tomato sauce, while the chicken ripieno was loaded with delicious gorgonzola cheese, sweet figs, and savory pancetta, all in a moderately rich marsala wine sauce. We had just enough room for dessert, which was a good-sized mud pie with gooey hot fudge and a crumbly chocolate cookie crust.

photo of the Rochester Cafe, Rochester, VT After another continental breakfast at the Trapp Family Lodge, we hit the road, heading south along Route 100 through the charming towns of Waterbury, Waitsfield, and Warren, before stopping for lunch in Rochester. Our destination was the Rochester Cafe, a classic Vermont restaurant, country store, and soda fountain that was absolutely packed, even though it was a weekday. We waited awhile for a table, finally getting one under the "specials" board. One of the specials was a plate of potato pancakes with sour cream and apple sauce, which we ordered to start. They weren't quite Manhattan-style potato pancakes, but they were quite tasty. I also ordered a thick maple milkshake, which had the rich, sweet flavor of real maple and nearly filled me up before our entrees even came along. And the entrees were very impressive; the north country wrap had deliciously crunchy chicken mixed with tangy cheddar and jack cheese, fresh veggies, and tasty honey dijon dressing, while the mount cushman grill sandwich had healthy multi-grain bread with real turkey, crispy bacon, Vermont cheddar, veggies, and a delightful homemade pesto mayonnaise. The fries were also a hit, as they had a rough outer coating that gave them a good crunch. Unfortunately, we had no room for dessert.

The Rochester Cafe pretty much marked the end of our trip, and about 3 hours later we were back in the Boston area. There were many culinary highlights to the trip, with the pizza from Pie in the Sky actually sticking in my mind more than anything (except for perhaps the Switchback Ale). Another trip or two to Vermont will hopefully be in the works later this year, as well as a drive through the state on the way up to Canada, so there will be more reports coming up on this always-interesting New England state.

Related Blog Entries: Stowe VT restaurants, Vermont restaurants

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Reminder About Picnic and Outdoor Eating Page

July 4 is almost here, and while the weather so far this summer has been positively awful, better days are surely ahead. And once the sun finally starts shining over the Boston area, it will be time to start heading outdoors for picnics, hiking, and many other outdoor activities.

If you are looking for places to go on a picnic--or you like to hike and want to know about good areas to stop for lunch--our site has a Picnic Areas and Outdoor Lunch Spots Around Boston feature that gives information on interesting areas that are perfect for relaxing over a bite to eat while in the great outdoors. Included are brief descriptions of each area, and whether they are more geared toward folks looking to picnic or hikers who want to take a lunch break.

We are always interested in hearing about other places that would be good for a picnic or a quick stop while hiking, so if you know of any good ones, let us know. Thanks!