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Boston Restaurant Blog -- October, 2009

Below are blog entries from October, 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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October, 2009

Thursday, October 29, 2009
Breakfast at Easter's Country Kitchen, Weymouth

I definitely have some favorite spots for breakfast south of Boston, including Stars in Hingham, The Venetian in the Jackson Square section of Weymouth, and a handful of others. One that I had never gotten to until recently is Easter's Country Kitchen on Route 53 in Weymouth (right at the Hingham line). And while our meal at Easter's wasn't bad, it didn't quite measure up to some of the other breakfasts I've had in the area over the past few months.

Easter's Country Kitchen is located in a homey old structure that has the feel of a roadside joint in the middle of the countryside. Its rustic interior includes a slanted roof, curtains, a counter area with stools in the front, a partially open kitchen behind the counter, a dining section with booths next to the counter area, and another dining room in the back. Photos of celebrities such as Dolly Parton adorn the walls, while country music plays on the speakers.

The food that we had was mostly decent, but a little inconsistent. The Texas cinnamon French toast was cooked just right and had just enough cinnamon to give the toast some extra flavor without being overwhelming. The scrambled eggs, however, had very little fluffiness, as they were rather hard and dried out. The grits were smooth and creamy and came with enough butter to add some flavor to them, while the home fries were very greasy but had enough in the way of seasoning to make up for the greasy texture somewhat. The coffee was all right, but not the best I've had on the South Shore (I definitely prefer the coffee at Stars). Service was mostly good, as our server was rather gruff but friendly enough and efficient.

I can't say that my trip to Easter's Country Kitchen was a memorable one, but I've certainly been to worse places for breakfast. Although Stars and The Venetian will continue to be places I head to for breakfast while in the area, I may give Easter's another shot in the future, perhaps trying them for lunch at some point.

If you want the address for Easter's Country Kitchen, here it is: Easter's Country Kitchen, 1385 Washington Street (Route 53), East Weymouth, MA, 02189. Phone: (781) 337-4123.

Related Blog Entries: breakfast places, Weymouth restaurants

Friday, October 23, 2009
Bar Food at Buddy's Union Villa, North Easton

Easton is a pretty nice town, but even nice towns need their dive bars and local roadhouses. And this pleasant community about a half hour south of Boston certainly has one in Buddy's Union Villa. Now I have been to "The Villa" before, but had not tried any of their food until recently. And while their bar food is just that--bar food--it's better than what you might find at many similar places around the Boston area, as both their bar pizza and boneless buffalo wings are really quite good.

photo of Buddy's Union Villa, North Easton, MA Situated on a mostly wooded stretch of Route 138 that is as straight as an arrow, Buddy's Union Villa is located in an old wooden structure that gives it the feel of a classic roadside tavern. From the live music drifting out the door to the parking lot full of trucks and motorcycles to the neon signs out front, The Villa might appear a bit rough to those who don't know the place--or the area--but it's perfectly safe, and actually attracts a diverse mix of families, retirees, bikers, truckers, and others. The inside of The Villa is pretty simple and straightforward, with an old wooden floor, a jukebox in the front, a bar taking up the left half of the space, a dining room with booths and tables to the right, and a small area back and to the right where singers and bands play.

On our most recent trip to Buddy's Union Villa about a week ago, I actually looked at a menu there (didn't even know they had one), deciding whether to get a chili dog or perhaps a grilled chicken sandwich or maybe a burger. But I remembered hearing that their bar pizza was pretty good, so I ordered a hamburger pizza along with an appetizer of boneless buffalo wings. The wings were surprisingly good, reminding me a bit of those at Cambridge Common in Cambridge, which are probably my favorite boneless wings anywhere. The ones at The Villa were similarly meaty and coated with a moderately hot marinade that had the same thick consistency that those at Cambridge Common have. The bar pie was also impressive, with lots of salty cheese and grease on top (a must for bar pizza), sauce that seemed to come out of a can (actually another must for bar pizza, believe it or not), and a crust that was perhaps a bit more chewy than cracker-like (I prefer a crispier crust). The overall taste wasn't quite up to the level of those at The Lynwood in nearby Randolph, but granted it's very difficult to reach the heights of their bar pies. Beers were mostly what you would expect at a place like this, with relatively cheap pitchers of brew coming to our group at a good clip (we had maybe 15 people at our table).

Buddy's Union Villa may not be the place to go for a quiet date, and folks who don't like a loud, boisterous atmosphere might be put off by the spot, but I really like it. To me, The Villa is a perfect place to go with a group of friends and have a good time without worrying about dressing up or spending tons of money on a Saturday night. The place ain't pretty, but it is what it is, and for that I give it a pretty enthusiastic thumbs-up.

If you would like the address for Buddy's Union Villa, here it is: Buddy's Union Villa, 190 Washington Street (Route 138), North Easton, MA, 02356. Phone: (508) 238-2625.

Related Blog Entries: bar pizza, Easton restaurants

Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Fall Trip to Southern and Central Vermont

I occasionally do day trips to Southern and Central Vermont, often making the Vermont Country Store and a restaurant or two part of the trips. But I rarely stay in these two sections of the state, as they are close enough to the Boston area to make for a relatively easy day trip. Recently, however, we did do a two-day trip to the region, and got to several restaurants, all but one of which I had never been to before.

photo of Rick's Tavern, Newfane, VT Our first stop on the trip was Newfane, a gem of a village in the southeastern corner of the state that is one of the most photographed communities in all of New England. Before wandering around the village, we stopped at Rick's Tavern, a roadside restaurant and bar just south of the center that had quite a crowd at lunchtime. The place felt old, but in a rustic, comfortable, and well-worn kind of way, It included a packed bar in the front, a spacious dining room with old wooden tables toward the back, and a small game room attached to the back of the dining area. We seemed to be about the only non-locals in the place, but the server was friendly and welcoming, with a "How are ya doin', honey" type of personality that I'm used to in the dive bars around Boston. The food was a mixed bag, as both the chili and onion soup had too many undercooked onions but were otherwise tasty, while the turkey club and cheesesteak were good, solid sandwiches that filled us up in a hurry. The fries, potato salad, and macaroni salad were all ok but nothing outstanding. And the beer? Well, they have Switchback, which earns points from this beer lover, as it is something I literally seek out whenever I come to the Green Mountain State. Overall, Rick's Tavern didn't disappoint, but it didn't really bowl us over, either. As a certain NFL football coach might say, it is what it is, and considering the absolutely gorgeous area the dining spot is in, I would have no problem going back there.

photo of the Pot Belly Pub and Restaurant, Ludlow, VT After stops in Grafton and Weston (two picture-perfect towns that are home to the Grafton Village Cheese Company and the Vermont Country Store, respectively), we wound our way down to Ludlow, which would be our home base for our trip. Dinner was at the Pot Belly Pub and Restaurant, a dining spot in the center of town that I had been to at least one other time (I may also have gone there after a group ski trip years ago, but can't really remember, to be honest). My last trip to the Pot Belly was remembered mainly for great food and so-so service, and this time was no different. First, the good: The spinach salad was fabulous, with a deliciously tangy dijon dressing going nicely with the crispy bacon and carmelized onions, while the stuffed chicken with gorgonzola and cranberries in a madeira wine sauce was a sweet and savory lover's dream, and the turkey dinner was simply tremendous, with a moist, perfectly textured apple-sage stuffing that could have been a meal unto itself. And to top it off, the Switchback at the Pot Belly actually tasted a little fresher than it did at Rick's Tavern. The atmosphere was memorable once again, as the front of the place is dark and cozy, while the back is more open but rather rustic, with a barn-like feel. But then there's the service. It was slow almost beyond belief, with our several servers always seeming to forget to check in on us, and repeatedly forgetting to bring us water, which we had requested early on. The servers were friendly for the most part, but it was inexcusable that they left us alone for such long stretches of time. Granted, the restaurant was busy, but not overly so. The food really was excellent at the Pot Belly, which would probably make me think about going back there at some point, but they definitely need to do something about that service.

photo of The Hatchery, Ludlow, VT The next morning, we headed back into the center of Ludlow for breakfast, stopping at The Hatchery, a restaurant that I had read some good things about. This was a real townie place, with lots of families and retirees sitting in the two small but pleasant rooms that made up the place. After a short wait, we were seated by one of the windows facing the sidewalk and were promptly greeted by our server. Within a few minutes, we had our food and beverages, and there were a couple of real highlights here. First, the homemade corned beef hash was simply tremendous, with a lot of corned beef, relatively little in the way of onions, and just enough potatoes to lighten up the dish a bit. This hearty yet non-greasy hash was about the best I have had anywhere, including some of my favorite spots in the Boston area (the Wheelhouse Diner in Quincy and the Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown come to mind). And the homemade French toast was nearly perfect, as the pieces of toast were moist and slightly chewy on the inside, slightly crispy on the outside, and flavorful throughout (the Vermont maple syrup certainly helped as well). The home fries weren't quite as impressive, as they were a bit too dry and some of the potatoes were much too salty. Potatoes aside, I loved the overall feel of this place and toyed with the idea of returning to The Hatchery for lunch, but the timing didn't quite work out. This is surely a place that I want to try again, perhaps the next time I'm in the area.

After making some stops in Woodstock and Bridgewater, we found ourselves in Chester around lunchtime, stopping at a wonderful dining spot within a Victorian house called Alice's Restaurant. We won't bore you with details about this terrific restaurant, since it has actually been featured on our site. (If you'd like to read the review, go to our Alice's Restaurant link.) Alice's was our final dining stop before heading back to the Boston area, though we did continue to hit some shops and farmstands on our way out of the state.

So it was a relatively quick trip to Southern and Central Vermont, though a great one, with beautiful foliage, charming towns, and some very good food. A day trip to the area might be in the works for later this year, and there is a slight chance a food-based road trip may also take place in the region over the coming months, so as always, stay tuned!

Related Blog Entries: Vermont restaurants

Thursday, October 15, 2009
Hot Dog Heaven at Speed's in Newmarket Square, Roxbury

I am generally not a big fan of hot dogs that "snap" when you bite into them (I actually like skinless franks better, especially Kosher beef franks), but sometimes I just have to try a hot dog with a natural casing, especially when it gets the type of reviews that those at Boston Speed's Famous Hot Dog Wagon do. This humble little food cart hidden away in an industrial area just south of downtown Boston has gotten so much praise over the years (including the Wall Street Journal calling it the best hot dog in America) that it is almost a crime that I had never gotten to the place until recently. But the wait was worth it, as it was easily up there with the best hot dogs that I have ever had.

photo of Speed's Hot Dogs, Boston (Roxbury), MA Speed's Hot Dogs is located in a dusty, dirty, and rather ugly section of Newmarket Square near the Southeast Expressway. The truck is set up among the many warehouses that call this bustling area their home, and the rumble of trucks can be heard (and felt) nearly constantly. Speed's is obviously takeout only, but they do have plastic picnic tables that they set up for folks if the weather is good enough to eat outside.

On our recent trip to Speed's, we ordered one hot dog each (with each dog having two different toppings), watched in anticipation as the marinated half-pound dogs were char-grilled over coals, slathered with the sauces, and placed in a toasted bun. And how were they? Well, words can barely describe how good they were; the combination brown sugar/apple cider marinade gave the hot dogs a noticeable richness, while the special sauce added a hint of sweetness and the chili sauce rounded everything out with a meaty taste and an added texture. And the "snap," while there, was something I could overlook, as it really did hold in the juices and the overall flavor of the massive hot dogs, which almost seemed more like kielbasas to me. One final comment: For those of you who typically down two or three hot dogs in one sitting, think twice before you order multiple dogs at Speed's; I couldn't imagine eating more than one unless I went the entire day without eating.

For all the accolades thrown upon Speed's Hot Dogs, the place remains a bit of a hidden spot to most people, perhaps because it is literally hidden away in a no-mans land near where Roxbury, South Boston, and Dorchester meet. Because of that, we can definitely see Speed's being featured on this site at some point, but we will probably hold off until trying a couple more of their sauces--and waiting until the spring, since they are already closed on Saturdays and will only be open on weekdays until the cold weather hits in a couple more months. So check back sometime in April or May, as Speed's may indeed be added to our list of featured hot dog spots.

If you want the address for Speed's, here it is: Boston Speed's Famous Hot Dog Wagon, 54 Newmarket Square, Boston (Roxbury), MA, 02118. There is no phone number.

Related Blog Entries: hot dogs

Tuesday, October 6, 2009
First Time at Kabab Corner in Medford

The Chowhound site is a terrific place to go to if you like to find little-known restaurants. I try to go there as often as I can to learn about restaurants that I may not have heard of, and one such place popped up on the site over the past few weeks. And after reading some great reviews for Kabab Corner on Chowhound, we decided to check out this Indian restaurant on the edge of Wellington Circle in Medford. The verdict? Well, it was very good, though the food we had generally seemed a small notch below some of our favorites (Shanti in Dorchester, India Quality in Kenmore Square, and Kebab Factory in Somerville, to name a few).

photo of Kabab Corner, Medford, MA Kabab Corner is literally a "hidden" restaurant, as it is located toward the back of a strip mall and wedged into a bit of a no-man's land between the Mystic Valley Parkway (Route 16) and the Fellsway (Route 28). The sign out front is bright and colorful, almost to the point of being festive (it looks a bit like the type of sign a toy store might have). The inside of the restaurant is pleasant enough, with attractive hanging lamps and sconces, a wooden floor, warm yellow walls, and granite tables. You never forget you're in a shopping center, however, as the space itself is perfectly rectangular and has a rather generic feel that has fortunately been dressed up a bit with the aforementioned touches.

The food we had at Kabab Corner was good overall. There was one real standout, namely the item that came to us first - the aloo naan, which was basically a baked flatbread stuffed with mashed potatoes. There was something about this dish that was perfect for a chilly night, as it had just the right amount of warming spices and potatoes to make it a terrific comfort food item. The garlic naan was nearly as impressive, with a good amount of pungent garlic (but not too much) added to the bread. We also tried a pleasant tasting vegetable soup that had plenty of lentils, giving the soup a nice texture. It also had a slight bit of heat, but it really wasn't all that noticeable. One appetizer that didn't seem up to par was the aloo chaat, which was a plate of chickpeas and potatoes in a sour, fruity, and tangy sauce that unfortunately was also very runny and inconsistent in texture and quality. Our entrees were better, though, with the chicken dosa (which was actually listed in the appetizers section) having a perfect mix of potatoes, onions, and meat stuffed inside a tasty rice and lentil crepe, and the chicken tikka masala featuring a light and creamy tomato sauce and an abundance of tender white meat chicken. Our server was friendly, low-key, and helpful, and the prices were about where they should be for this kind of cuisine.

So would I go back to Kabab Corner? Certainly. Would I pick it over most other Indian restaurants I typically go to? Maybe. It is admittedly tough to judge a place on one meal, but based on what we had at this restaurant, it seems like a solid, decent place that might be just a shade under the top-tiered Indian spots in the Boston area. I do plan to try Kabab Corner again in the near future, and when I do, I'll definitely report back on this place.

If you would like the address for Kabab Corner, here it is: Kabab Corner, 4110 Mystic Valley Parkway, Medford, MA, 02155. Phone: (781) 395-3310.

Related Blog Entries: Indian restaurants, Medford restaurants

Thursday, October 1, 2009
Reminder About the Boston Restaurant Talk Blog

Just a quick reminder about our "other" blog, which is separate from this site. Now a full-fledged news site that concentrates on the Boston restaurant scene, the Boston Restaurant Talk blog covers everything from restaurant openings and closings to updates on our Twitter and Facebook pages to postings of the latest reviews within this site, and much, much more.

Boston Restaurant Talk is typically updated 5 to 10 times per week, with some weeks featuring upwards of 15 or even 20 updates. And as is the case with this blog, all of the blog entries within Boston Restaurant Talk allow for comments from our viewers.

Thanks once again for supporting both this blog and the Boston Restaurant Talk blog, as well as Boston's Hidden Restaurant in general. It has been said before, but we would be nothing without our readers!.

Related Blog Entries: restaurant blog