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Boston Restaurant Blog >> 2011 archives >> November, 2011 >> blog entry

Boston Restaurant Blog -- November, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Excellent First Meal at The Madrona Tree in Arlington

Over the past decade or so, Arlington has become known as one of the best places to go to in the Boston area for food, with all kinds of restaurants lining the main drag (Mass. Ave.) as well as a handful of spots that can be found on other streets in town. And new eateries continue to open in this northwest suburb of Boston, including a rather offbeat and eclectic spot in the center of town called The Madrona Tree. We made our way over there for the first time last week, and were quite impressed overall.

photo of The Madrona Tree, Arlington, MA The Madrona Tree first opened its doors this past September at Broadway Plaza, moving into the space vacated by the Italian/Mediterranean restaurant Gemma, which moved next door into a bigger space. For those of you who recall the size of Gemma in its previous spot, you surely know how small a space The Madrona Tree resides in, but the folks behind the restaurant have made the most out of the space, which, while not exactly romantic or peaceful, is rather attractive with its wall murals, funky bowling-pin shaped hanging lights, and chandelier with tree branches attached to it. The restaurant seems to do a brisk takeout business, but there are a few tables for those who would rather dine in.

Upon entering The Madrona Tree, we were unsure as to whether to order at the counter, grab a table, or wait for someone to bring us to a table, but we soon figured out that we were to order at the counter then sit at a table. We looked at the rather quirky menu (think organic comfort food with Middle Eastern touches), deciding on a plate of hummus, a poblano cheeseburger, a portabella burger, and an order of garlic fries, along with beverages that included a raspberry lime drink. The hummus was smooth and creamy with more than a hint of garlic, while the garlic fries were absolutely covered in pieces of garlic and were quite tasty, though some of the fries were limp and undercooked. The poblano burger (called "papa's fireburger") was tremendous--perhaps being one of the 10 best items I've had anywhere in 2011--with roasted poblano peppers, American cheese, and a zesty sauce on top of a very juicy and flavorful hunk of beef, all within a fresh-tasting roll from Iggy's bakery in Cambridge. While it would be nearly impossible to top the poblano burger, the portabella burger was also outstanding, with a thick, meaty, and moist slice of mushroom complemented by a bright-tasting avocado sauce as well as cheese, onions, and spices. The raspberry lime drink seemed a bit too sweet and syrupy, making me yearn for a glass of fresh water instead. Our server was friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we visited the restaurant, and prices were maybe just a tad higher than what I thought they might be, but still fairly reasonable.

While I liked The Madrona Tree very much, I'm not sure how well the place will do in this location, which has little foot traffic and little traffic in general, thanks to the rather odd setup of ending Broadway in a parking lot rather than having it merge with Mass. Ave., as it used to do. This section of Arlington Center has seen a number of restaurants come and go (including some really good ones), so fingers crossed that this impressive little spot can make it here and become known to more and more people in the future.

If you are looking for the address for The Madrona Tree, here it is: The Madrona Tree, 315 Broadway, Arlington, MA, 02476. Phone: (781) 859-5551.

Madrona Tree on Urbanspoon

Related Blog Entries: Arlington restaurants

Patricia said:
This great new restaurant will prepare things to order; the homemade soda described in this review as being too sweet can be ordered with lots less sugar syrup (that's the advantage of homemade soda, after all). Similarly, some reviewers complained that the burgers are too small, but diners can order a larger burger. The place is tiny, but still is a comfortable place for dining in as well as for takeout (they also deliver).
Posted on 12/26/11

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