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favorite tasting menus?

Hi Molly,

Well, all of my meals there have underwhelmed me in a variety of ways but my last meal at Asta was just plain bad. I thought about complaining but I wouldn't want to even go back again

What do I mean by bad? Well, the raw materials were incredibly skimpy and low quality for the price and the technique was really just 'assemblage'

A few morsels of bland fish here or there, a raviolo which was just not cutting it etc.

I could go on but it was just my worst meal of this type ever in Boston. I gave Asta second chances in part because of this board but really I couldn't discourage people from going there enough.

In addition, the service was poor and when friends of the restaurant come in and chat it up with the staff right in front of us at length as they have EVERY time I have been there, I and my DC felt like we were intruding on a private get together. Just really awkward.

Oh and one last with the poster Antimony below I went there once last summer and it was sweltering. They had the front door open and I asked if there was a problem with the AC and they said no. In fact, I had cancelled at the Journeyman because they called me to warn me that their AC wasn't strong enough to cool the place down entirely so we went to Asta instead.

Big mistake. And I stopped into Journeyman on the way home just to compare and it was noticeably cooler too.

To end on a positive note, I very much preferred the Journeyman which I had thought might be a bit dilettantish before going and was really pleasantly surprised with Study and thought it was just fantastic.

favorite tasting menus?

Actually, I really disliked Asta the last time I went in so many ways. I have been a few times and never thought much of it. I would go to Ribelle or Study 10 times before ever going back there.

I also thought Journeyman was interesting, L'Espalier and Menton are reliable and have some excellent courses and O Ya and Craigie which you have been to are great though I prefer Craigie a la carte actually.

Study is probably the most underrated 'sophisticated' spot on this board and I am always surprised I don't read more about it.

Johnny D’s music club plans to close - The Boston Globe

The food isn't the greatest but it's not bad for a place which is primarily a real music venue. They programmed a lot of unusual music ranging from music from around the world to jazz and fusion and of course American roots music as well.

A big loss for musicians and music fans and it was one of those clubs which represented the Boston area well in my book.

Fine dining around Lowell MA

Bondir was far more interesting and well executed in my view than Woods Hill. For me it would be the place I'd pick of all these and it works time wise.

There is also AKA Bistro in Lincoln and the Gilson place, the Herb Lyceum in Groton which I went to once when he was there before opening the Puritan in Cambridge.

Fine dining around Lowell MA

I don't think fine dining exists in that area per se and I think you should specify what you hope to find otherwise the obvious answer is to drive to Boston/Cambridge.

There are bistro-ish places like Moonstones or Brasserie 28 but if you don't like Left Bank, I would think of places like La Campania in Waltham or Bondir in Concord which are within your time range as are Bistro 5 in Medford or Artistry on the Green in Lexington (there's also L'Andana in Burlington for what it is worth)

cafe piazza dolce winchester

You have lived there 30 years and never tried A Tavola in spite of how often you eat out and post on here?

I'm pretty surprised to read that...A Tavola is one of the most authentically Italian spots in Greater Boston and I went out there to try it once.

It's definitely the only place which I like in that area and is a solid option. I'm not sure why he located in Winchester but maybe he lives out that way. He also owns Bistro 5 which is a bit less to my liking and more of a mix of things.

Cafe Piazza Dolce has a fairly standardish Italian/American menu which wouldn't usually look promising to me but surprises can happen. I hope it is a good dinner and look forward to hearing about it.

Popular (and Successful) vs. Good

The Seaport may be a fiasco by many of our standards (I'm certainly no fan) but there's comparatively great focus on things like this and Strega etc and it makes this board seem like a negativity fest at times.

The Seaport is pretty successful and I would guess that rents are mostly prohibitive for anything too different from what is already there. It seems to serve its target markets well.

On the other hand, Fort Point is very close (Sportello, Menton, Row 34, Pastoral etc) and I enjoyed Babbo as well so why focus on one little piece of touristy restaurant row?

As for the OP, Boston has its trends for certain (fewer than many places I would guess) but I think it is fair to say Boston is generally conservative in terms of those trends.

I think Greater Boston is a very underrated city for dining, not least by its own more 'sophisticated' inhabitants who often seem to carry the 'shame' of not being in NY.

Seeking Malaysian or Burmese Recs

I had gotten it which is why I clicked on the "heart" as I thought it was pretty funny especially in the context of Chowhound sniping...

bakery, patisserie in boston, seriously??

I didn't dig my own hole; the OP compared the entirety of Boston patisserie to a chain located somewhere else. If you don't see why that's off putting to say the least then nothing I can say will help you.

As for whether Cafe Madeleine etc stands up to French standards, I grew up in France and have sent other French people there as well and so far we have all been pretty happy.

I don't really find that sort of "authenticity showdown" to be the be all and end all but so far the results have been positive in my experiences for whatever that is worth.

Conversations about which city does X best, especially on a specific city board always seem a bit ridiculous to me and more about someone proving his/her sophistication than anything else.

bakery, patisserie in boston, seriously??

The OP isn't as sophisticated as he/she thinks if the OP thinks that "la boulange" would be considered better than many places in Boston by most people who grew up eating this sort of thing.

It's just more of the internet know-it-all-but-really-don't style which abounds online.

bakery, patisserie in boston, seriously??

Canto 6 is a nice spot but probably not what the OP is looking to find.

Really if one is seeking a patisserie in the French tradition, Cafe Madeleine is the place.

I have been to Maison Villatte too and definitely prefer Cafe Madeleine for whatever that is worth.

bakery, patisserie in boston, seriously??

You're speaking as if everyone agreed with you about taste or should but they don't and "objectively bad" as you use it is meaningless.

I grew up eating pastries in France and Italy (the 2 countries most often mentioned by pastry lovers here) and there are pretty divergent opinions within those societies much less abroad across the entire world.

In any event, the 'best' patisserie spot as far as I am concerned is easily Cafe Madeleine in the South End which for some odd reason doesn't get as much love as I think it merits on this board.

For bread and some other pastries though they are not patisseries per se, Clear Flour and Iggy's are by far my choice.

Italian Bakery

I'd definitely go with Clear Flour or Iggy's easily (la Salumeria, Formaggio, Dave's, Capone etc all use one or both with good reason).

Next down on the list would be Bricco or Nashoba.

Further down would be A & J King in Salem and places like Fornax in Roslindale or Hi-Rise in Cambridge.

All the Italian American places besides Bricco make bread which would be unrecognizable in Italy (La Cascia, Parziale, Italo's etc) and I find them pretty horrific but if that's what you're looking for, there are plenty of those.

There's a reason everyone uses Iggy's and Clear Flour. And Iggy's pizza by the slice is the real deal much like a high quality place in Rome would produce.

Dinner rec for tomorrow 4/21 in Cambridge/Somerville/Arlington?

It's the quieter part which is maybe tougher but Rialto is one of the better more quiet special occasion-ish places though maybe a bit more upscale than you wanted.

Otherwise I would say Oleana, Sarma, Craigie or Study which is new and really, really good...much better than I thought it might be. There is also the Journeyman (not so sure about just getting a salad there though). You might also try Hungry Mother or the Puritan...

Neapolitan style pizza in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/...

Since our last pizza meet up, I tried Marco's in Peabody which was very good (and also pretty good homemade pasta fatta in casa as well). The chef is from Genova.

I also have heard more great things about Volturno in Worcester and pretty good things about Babbo in the Seaport which I will try shortly (letting them get everything running smoothly first). One other place which I haven't tried for various reasons is Crush in Boston.

I just thought I would add all of these so the thread would be as complete as possible.

Neapolitan style pizza in Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/...

I agree with you 100% :) A4 is my favorite as well (which I mentioned at the pizza meet-up).

Sunday brunch: Coppa or Aquitane?

Coppa or maybe Ribelle for me.

Yelp for Pure Entertainment: Erbaluce

I was discussing the first review quite obviously.

The reviewer voiced his opinion, he didn't invite a response from the chef where the customer should be told to "beat a hasty retreat to the narrow world from which you emerged. There the bedazzled knick knacks and shellacked surfaces.."

It's a prick move from Draghi and it's way out of place. If a chef did it on here where the level of discourse is generally more informed on average it would still be a prick move.

You're a chef, get over it. You make food and some people like it and some don't. That's life.

People on here love to pick on easy targets like Nick Varano but let this slide because Draghi is more 'refined'

I've been to Erbaluce found it very underwhelming for a variety of reasons (didn't bother to post about it) and I'd certainly never set foot in there again after reading this. A more low-key person would think twice about posting a review because most people don't like being told by the chef that they are rubes and simpletons.

As for your question about musicians etc there is the Amazon reviews section and similar sites, multiple gear and musician forums like thegearpage (the most significant one) etc. I don't see Pat Metheny and Pierre Boulez sifting through reviews to argue with random people online who didn't like their work.

Do they respond to journalists and professional critics? Occasionally but very rarely and they certainly don't habitually troll online forums and review sites.

Yelp for Pure Entertainment: Erbaluce

Yes and I think you can see a difference between debating with a music critic and a random "critic" on the equivalent of yelp.

Draghi isn't debating with Devra First or Colby Krummer, he's lecturing a poster on yelp.

Not hard to see the difference.

Yelp for Pure Entertainment: Erbaluce

I'm a musician first of all and secondly I didn't say it never happens but musicians generally don't go on the equivalent of yelp and debate critiques.

So I live on THAT planet.

Glad I made you laugh; I won't say what your post "made" me do.

Yelp for Pure Entertainment: Erbaluce

I can't disagree more actually. It's a service industry and even musicians who are the quintessential art for art category rarely speak this way to people about their taste for that matter.

You do what you do and let people like it or not.

I find responding to reviews by random people to be very unseemly regardless of the merits.

And would you really want musicians etc to reply to your likes and dislikes pointing out that your ears are untrained and that you aren't capable of understanding real music and so forth?

Step outside your area of expertise for a moment and think how much you'd appreciate that

Yelp for Pure Entertainment: Erbaluce

I clicked on the first link and found Draghi's response and tone to be quite a turn off. That seemed a very snooty reply and as bad in its own way as the silly review itself.

"beat a hasty retreat to the narrow world from which you emerged. There the bedazzled knick knacks and shellacked surfaces.."

I have eaten at Erbaluce and am not a fan of the food actually.

Moreover, I don't think that telling someone he comes from a narrow world and he should run away from "culture" is really the thing to do.

A wine bar focused on US and (and non old world in general) production?

I mentioned Meritage before and they are going to reopen April 21st with a new look, menu and a wine bar as well:

Ribelle Outstanding

I've been many times and never had a salt issue. I think it's a great spot and I always take out of town guests there.

Sarma and the Multiple WOW!s

The food at Oleana is very different from typical forms of Turkish food...and in a very good way. Someone looking for Turkish home cooking would be missing the point entirely.

Oleana doesn't purport to be a Turkish restaurant or Persian restaurant either for that matter though there are elements of both cuisines.

first time at Mulan. What are your favorites?

It definitely matters to me...

What Chinese places use higher quality fish around here?

I've been to quite a few of the better considered places on this board and haven't been too impressed with some of the sourcing in that sense.

Don't Waste Your Allowance on Ordinary Sweets! Hold Out for the Good Stuff; Hold Out for Paris Baguette!

I can't say I have had anything I can even recall at Paris Baguette which struck me as a forgettable chain bakery so I gave up after 3 visits.

I would much rather make a stop at the Iggy's store in Cambridge.

Cafe Madeleine in the South End on the other hand is a great relatively recent spot and worthy of more attention on the board.

Best place for seafood dinner

I lived in Barcelona for a while and don't there's anything sad about seafood in Boston in some imaginary seafood face-off.

I have noticed you to be one of those posters who constantly compares Boston unfavorably to cities elsewhere. I don't think you are actually interested in conversation so much as confirmation of your own prejudices and attempting to project an air of sophistication.

On topic, Island Creek, Neptune, Row 34, Ostra and (probably) the new Select oyster bar would be very seafood centric places which I would feel comfortable recommending.

I would also recommend Courthouse Seafood depending on what you are seeking and what time of day; pick out anything you want in the fantastic seafood market next door and then have them grill it in the restaurant with their fried seafood/clamshack specialties.

As noted elsewhere many times, most good restaurants in Boston know how to prepare fish well and most people here don't feel the need for a "seafood restaurant" since it's pretty commonly well made throughout the finer establishments and oysters are all over etc.

Fenway/Kenmore: Good, cheap restaurants?

Yes it has indeed been "widely discussed" including by me and a few others in the past few weeks on this very board.

NY style pizza does exist here and so do other pizza styles (Neapolitan and otherwise) which are very worthwhile even in Italy, much less NY so I continue to marvel at this ridiculous statement about pizza and Boston.

I have lived at length in both NY and Italy and we just had a chowmeet with some Italians and other lovers of pizza to discuss and eat pizza in fact.

Back to the OP...if you are interested in pizza, there are 2 very recent threads with loads of recommendations. They aren't light-years distant from Fenway but they aren't right in that neighborhood.

If you are looking for high quality food near Fenway, these would be my recommendations for spots close by (if price is no issue):

Island Creek Oyster Bar
and to a lesser extent, Deuxave and Eastern Standard.

Trattoria Toscana used to be pretty solid (and it's reasonably priced) but I haven't been back since the chef changed.

Otherwise, go a little further to Allston or Cambridge or Chinatown and your cheap food options expand exponentially.

One can hardly complain about a dearth of good cheap food options while simultaneously living in a high rent part of town...

Best ice cream in Boston is..

Well, for ice cream it's pretty obvious that it's Toscanini and Cristina's to a lesser extent but for gelato the options are pretty limited in the area (the North End has several mediocre options with "glow in the dark" powders and food coloring).

Giulia however makes some really good gelato, far better than the others available in town up to now. Dolce Freddo in Methuen and Newburyport was the only other decent option but I am curious to see how Amorino does here; has anyone been?