s

sak2011's Profile

Title Last Reply

El Centro: Awful. Boston, terrible food city.

Some requested specifics. Here you go, for what it’s worth.

On the list of the underwhelming:
Sorrelina: Bland, expense account dining
Craigie on Main: Overdoing it with the pork fat (Oooo I’m going to really get it for this one…)
Westbridge: Great. Egg in a jar… then what. Worst desert experience ever
Mei Mei: Eh. Still basically truck food despite the efforts. I knew about the lack of wine license but still lame.
Moo: Soggy Beef Wellington.
Persephone: Now closed. Among my first bad Boston experiences in 09 and a marker of things to come.

On the list of the good, but not delivering on the value (too high a price for the level of enjoyment derived):
Clio
Bistro du Midi:
Bondir: delicate. But kind of bland.
Erbaluce: down graded from “great w/o reservation” after thinking about Al di la.
Island Creek – don’t remember anything too innovative. Simple good seafood – paid through your nose.

List of the great with no reservations:
Strip Ts
Ribelle
Hungry mother: just remembered. Awesome.
Coppa
Sycamore: if we’re including Newton

Apr 21, 2014
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

El Centro: Awful. Boston, terrible food city.

Apologies to those I have offended on today’s Patriots Day, particularly on this emotion laden anniversary marathon day. As some of you rightly guessed I was pretty steamed after spending a rare “date night” on the abomination that is el centro (… hyperbole is my specialty). And that did trigger a less than nuanced critique of the boston dining scene – a rant, if you will.

Although worded inartfully, the post does capture the degree of frustration I feel as a dining consumer in Boston. What I could have said was: At a mid tier price point (i.e. not Menton or Daniel in NYC, etc.) I think the probability of having an awful dining experience in Boston is higher than in other cities (vs. for example, Brooklyn or Philadelphia). That’s more accurate in the particulars, though not in sentiment.

Which is to say, there are of course great dining experiences to be had in Boston- you just have to pay for it in expense of the meal or investment of time in research. On the higher (but not highest) end, you could get the same quality of dining experience in my comparators at a lower cost (again in dollars or effort).

So you can have a lovely meal at Erbaluce among the top tier of Italian dining here in Boston, but that same quality can be found at a neighborhood joint in Park Slope – which in my case was Al di la or Convivium Osteria. These are not the Babbos or Del Postos of NYC, just neighborhood restaurants that don’t take reservations and that you can walk into. It’s not an event – it is (or was) a routine night out.

Or you can have a banging slice at Otto in Cambridge, but that’s like 1 of maybe 5 places that serve a decent slice (another emotional /controversial topic, no?). I have to drive into Cambridge to get it and avoid the Greek pizza monstrosities that abound. Back home in New York…. well you know… great pizza falls from the sky like manna. Not really, but I’m talking about the relative measure.

On the personal side, many of your comments were on the money. I’m in Metrowest and have to drive into the city. Like many folks, I spent my formative foodie twenties and early thirties in the “City” and returned to the burbs to breed (like a salmon). I never lived in Boston as the “city”, just experiencing it as a harried suburbanite with toddlers.

I don’t have time to surf Chowhound to find the best find. My expectation is that if I find a place with decent enough reviews from the established sources (El Centro was the 2013 & 2012 Boston Magazine winner for best Mexican, which I now gather is like being voted the prettiest Hansom Brother); I have a fairly high probability of not being underwhelmed. Indeed…. I don’t want to work for it, because based on my experiences in more adept “foodie” cities – I shouldn’t have to.

So when I say “Boston is a terrible food city” I simply mean that enjoyment per unit of effort/resource is lower than in other cities. And that I’m annoyed that I have to invest more to achieve the return I am accustomed to. Just doesn’t’ have the same ring to it, does it?
Later.

That’s just my two cents, or buck fifty given the angst this has all caused.

Apr 21, 2014
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area
1

El Centro: Awful. Boston, terrible food city.

Relevant metric: 2013 GDP ($MM). Cities in Boston GDP range. Bureau of Economic Analysis

7 Philadelphia–Camden–Wilmington, PA–NJ–DE–MD MSA: 364,009
8 San Francisco–Oakland–Fremont, CA MSA, 360,395
9 Boston–Cambridge–Quincy, MA–NH MSA, 336,232

Apr 21, 2014
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

El Centro: Awful. Boston, terrible food city.

Terrible. Had tacos al pastor and 3 other tacos. Overstuffed tacos with wet bland goop. All of them tasted the same - soggy.

Wife had beef in molacetes. Very salty and with oddly dry beef floating in a onion tomato sauce.

Michelada was the high point. Smoky and spicy with right amount of lime - the beer, to its credit, was cold.

Overall a terrible mexican meal.

However, not surprising - this is Boston after all. On a related topic, I've lived here since 2008 and I've had only four meals worth the parking expense - Strip T's 2X and Ribelle, maybe erbaluce. This is just an awful food city. I lived in Philly and Bklyn before. Great restaurants in every neighborhood, at least one gem. I have no idea why a city with this much wealth and relatively cosmopolitan culture can breed such awful middling cuisine. I'm done. I'll eat out every 3 months when I can travel back to NYC or Philly.

Apr 20, 2014
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area
2

Best pizza in MetroWest 'burbs?

Hi. Thanks to "nsenada" for the tip. I took my family to Echo Bridge last night. Very pleased. I just posted a new review as a new topic. Thanks again.

Feb 04, 2012
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

Best Pizza in Metrowest! Very family friendly.

Former New Yorker here with very high standards for a good slice.

I've had some decent pizza in Boston proper - but really it still takes a pretty special place up here to match up to a routine corner NYC greasy pizzeria with no rep or fancy pretentions. In the Boston suburbs (Needham since 2009), in particular, we are in a wasteland of so called "greek" pizza. I understand how nostalgia can influence natives' taste (for which there is not accounting) - but I really have never warmed up to this flavor of "pizza".

I thought I would have to wait for business trips back to NYC for a decent slice - until this Friday when I took my family to Virgilio's Echo Bridge Restaurant in Upper Falls, Newton (on the border with Needham). It's not entriely undiscovered (see hidden boston review: http://www.hiddenboston.com/Virgilios...) - but it took some digging on chowhound and the web to find it mentioned.

Pizza is the draw. Brown, charred crust. Cheese with the right mix of mozz and romano. Zesty sauce. Slices are wide enough for folding and droop a bit in the center. Veggies are not super fresh but really its about the pie (a corner joint in the city would not be rocking organic either - but it doesn't matter).

A bit of a warning / rave - depending on your point of view. This is not a sleek, craft beer, veggie provenance touting establishment (if you want that you can go to Stone Hearth in Needham - and eat vastly inferior pizza). This is an old 70's joint attached to a bar - straight up Mo's from the Simpsons. The walls are wood paneled, the floor carpeted, and the tables formica. I love this!! This is what I remember of neighborhood restaurants from my childhood. Plus my wife and I dine with two lovely dining companions aged 2.5 and 15 months - ambiance is not on top of mind.

Summary - best pizza in Needham / Metrowest. Enjoy.

Feb 04, 2012
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

Very solid barbecue in Needham: Midtown Smokehouse and Grill

Okee-dokee.

Has anybody else been to the restaurant that is the subject of this entry, namely Midtown Smokehouse and Grill in Needham.

Oct 26, 2011
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

Very solid barbecue in Needham: Midtown Smokehouse and Grill

Sorry. I must really disagree - were we at the same restaurant? We got take out last night and ordered pulled pork sandwich, texas ribs, and baby back ribs. Sadly I must say this was one of the most disappointing I've have had as of late.

Pulled pork was bland.
Both sets of ribs were completely dried out -like pork and beef jerkey and completely burnt. Char can be good, if the meat is still juicy - this was not the case

In terms of service, I stood around for a good 5 minutes before someone bothered to acknowledge me and tell me the order was ready.

I'm not a big bbq snob, and I'm not expecting NC 'cue but this was just awful. I'm a big fan of the Needham dining scene (amongst the best you can do in the burbs for variety, quality, and pseudo urban walkability) so I'm really rooting for this place to improve.

I'm going to go back in 2 months and see if they've shaken out the problems.

Oct 20, 2011
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area

Petit Robert, Needham

I went there on a weekend evening and I was surprised to see the number of "blue hairs" in the room. Is there a retirement community nearby or something. Food was of a similar nature - meat, vegies, and potatoes. Yikes! I didn't think moving t suburbs would mean de facto moving to a nursing home.

Aug 07, 2009
sak2011 in Greater Boston Area