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Sturbridge Seafood

Well, I can't say I have a new favorite restaurant in Sturbridge, since Kaizen still claims that place in my heart, but I have a new runner-up: Sturbridge Seafood. Chef-owner Ken Yukimura and family designed and built the interior themselves, and it's very appealing. The ceiling has a weathered-wood boardwalk strip running down the middle, the tables are butcher block (on locking wheels...very sensible: dining room can be reconfigured at will) and the candy-apple red metal flake crab sculpture on the wall was crafted from the hood of a Dodge Durango by the chef himself. One minor quibble...good quality heavy stainless flatware, cloth napkins of a generous size, elegant wine glasses, but water served in a mason jar. Seemed a little incongruous to me, but harkened back to the beach motif, I suppose. No big.

Of course, you go to a restaurant to eat, and I had lunch there today, accompanied by my friend and spouse. Chef Ken had just won the Chowder Fest, so we both tried some. Generous bowl for $5, good flavor, plenty of clams and bacon, smoooth creamy mouth without being too heavy. The smoked paprika garnish was a nice touch. We were just looking for a casual, reasonable priced lunch, so Mr. had the fish and chips ($8), and I had the fried calimari over caesar salad ($12). Fresh flakey fish cooked just right was served with a nice lemony aioli as well as the more traditional sauces and house cut fries. My calamari had a light tempura-style breading with a buttery flavor and was cooked perfectly. Tender as can be. Caesar was fresh and good, had a handful of obviously house made croutons which, although pleasant, were superfluous to my taste. The calamari supplied plenty of carbo crunch. I was too full to finish.

They have an extensive wine and an even more extensive beer list, including Yuengling, a nostalgic favorite for us since we used to live just shy of the PA border in Delaware.

I asked to see a dinner menu. No fancy leather or plastic holder, just a simple printed sheet, since the menu changes frequently--nearly nightly: check their Facebook page for the latest. They have an impressive raw oyster selection (Wellfleets, Strawberry Points and Blue Points this visit) as well as the usual cherry stones and shrimp cocktail. They have "shared plates"--most intriguing to me was the seared scallop, dusted with curry and served with a carrot-ginger emulsion and brussel sprout slaw. Several salads, entrees including paella, fish tacos, panko crusted salmon (forgot to ask if it was farmed or wild caught) and a bistro steak and spicy chicken alfredo for those non-piscatorily inclined.

Nice place, nice staff, tasty food--and they're expanding into the Sal's Pizza spot next door. Next time you're looking for a where-can-we-meet-between Hartford and Boston place, check out Sturbridge Seafood.

Mar 01, 2014
Altaira in Southern New England

Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot (Beacon Hill) now open

My son and I have lunch together in Boston or Cambridge once a month or so, and Saturday we tried Little Lamb. As others have mentioned (ranted) the kitchen is really slow. We had a pleasant waitress, and we as first timers we bumbled through the menu with varied amounts of success. We had the mongolian spicy broth, and it was pretty tasty...we had sweet potato, baby bok choy and watercress for vegetables, the beef/lamb combo for meat, a meat pie and scallion pancakes for sides. Scallion pancakes were good, meat pie nothing to write home about. Wouldn't order it again. Veggies came right out, meat took over 20 minutes, and the apps came last. However, the dipping sauces were good: got the hot oil and the ginger soy, and we really enjoyed the meal. It was pricey...$50 for lunch for two. After reading the other comments I might try a different hot pot spot.

Oct 28, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Reasonably priced breakfast or brunch for Father's Day?

Thanks for the suggestions. I injured my back, so we actually did not end up going, but we will try Devlin's and Cognac Bistro in the future.

Jun 18, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Reasonably priced breakfast or brunch for Father's Day?

Hi Hounds,
I'd like to pick up my son in Brighton and find a spot for breakfast or brunch that won't cost $25 per person. My husband (the father in question) is not so mobile--can't walk far, so parking is also an issue. Any ideas?

Jun 12, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Athan's in Brighton

I had the best pastry of my overeating life here. My son lives in the neighborhood (near St. Elizabeth's) and we stopped here for desert after tapas at Solea in Waltham. Their mousse tortes are superb. We had the Bolero and the Citron, and my taste buds are still tingling. MMMMmmmm.

http://athansbakery.com/products/mous...

Mar 27, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Vineyard in late winter (repost from Greater Boston board)

Thanks for the suggestions...we didn't get to eat out much due to car problems and sick kid (both our daughter's--we did transport and child care duty) but we did have breakfast at Linda Jean's and lunch at Offshore Ale. Linda Jean's is dinerish food and always consistent--I like their loaded home fries, which I ate for two meals. I was very pleased with the lunch at Offshore Ale--really great salad.

Mar 27, 2013
Altaira in Southern New England

Vineyard in late winter (repost from Greater Boston board)

I should have posted here to start with. My bad.
We're spending an extended weekend (wednesday to monday) on the Vineyard, and will be out and about mostly for breakfast and lunch options. Places already on the list are: Scottish Bakehouse, because awesome. They make the only typical fruit-filled danish pastry that avoids boooring, although you have to be up early to get some as they sell out fast. Especially if I'm in town. We will also hit the Art Cliff for breakfast at least once, and probably Net Result for fried clams. We won't be visiting the highest end places. Anything else we should have on the list?

Mar 03, 2013
Altaira in Southern New England

Horse meat?

We used to have horses, and when a horse died or was put down you either sold it to a rendering plant...a truck would come and winch the corpse in and haul it away...or if you had a back hoe or bulldozer you dug a hole in the back forty and dumped it in. Racehorses were often sold at auction and often went to slaughterhouses, but keeping a horse today is such an expensive proposition (housing, vet, farrier) that they are virtually all sport horses and have been liberally dosed with chemicals to control parasites (among other reasons). I'm not sure how long it would take for the chemicals to clear the system, but I doubt anybody would take the time. I wouldn't eat it.

Mar 03, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Dungeness crabs

Dungeness is a west coast crab. You don't want to buy them in Boston. Here you can get stone crabs or blue crabs (sometimes). Blue crab is closest to dungeness in flavor, but they aren't easy to find. Stone crabs are plentiful and cheap.

Mar 02, 2013
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

What's good in North Cambridge/ Mass Ave between Porter + Alewife Pkwy?

Addis Red Sea. 1755 Mass ave. Ethiopian, tres yumm.

Dec 22, 2012
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Best Asian Cuisine -Park Ave Worcester Area

I agree with you about Worcester chinese food, with the exception of the Golden Wok on Grafton Street. The thai selections are excellent (green curry chicken!) and my coworkers and I have never had a bad dish here.

Nov 18, 2012
Altaira in Southern New England

Boston - Cambridge Tapas Sunday Noonish

Hi Hounds...looking for great tapas in Boston or Cambridge for lunch/brunch on Sunday. Any favorites?

Apr 21, 2012
Altaira in Greater Boston Area

Cooking in the NE during power outages

Our power's been out since Sat night...luckily I have town water, so plenty of (cold) water, and also luckily I have a fireplace. I have a whole new appreciation for the 18th century. First night, I cooked steaks in a big ol cast iron frying pan over the fire. Next night...leftover mac & cheese, with leftover steak bits, leftover chicken and gravy, and a can of chopped tomatoes for liquid. I just couldn't face cooking everything in seperate pans. It was actually way better than it sounds. Coffee was easy: broke out the camping equipment, but heating enough water on the fire to wash dishes is a drag. We're having sensory withdrawl, since no tv, no radio, no internet, and I've been reading aloud.

Nov 01, 2011
Altaira in Not About Food

Crabs on the Waterfront in Baltimore

What about Obrycki's? Our hotel bartender rec'd it, but we didn't get a chance to try it. They still seem to be serving steamed crabs.

Oct 19, 2011
Altaira in Washington DC & Baltimore

inner harbor- little italy

I second Gia's. Three of us had a great meal there.

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Gia's Cafe
410 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Oct 19, 2011
Altaira in Washington DC & Baltimore

Good recs for Inner Harbor area without a car?

Don't know about burgers, but there's a great italian place, Gia's, within walking distance, but it wouldn't do for your Friday--definitely a place to linger. I just got back from a conference, and sampled food from a couple of other places. Noodle & Co. was fast, but nothing special. La Tasca had quite acceptable tapas....we had a vegetarian friend with us, so we didn't have any meat, but everything else we tried was fine, particularly the Pan a la Catalna, the tortilla, the asparagus, the spinach and pear salad, and the gambas al ajillo. I had a drink and a spider roll at the kona grill: good, but expensive. Really Gia's was the best meal we had. Didn't venture to any seafood places, since I couldn't bring myself to eat at the Rusty Rudder. The bartender at the hotel rec'd Obrycki's, and would have tried that for the traditional crab pickin' but that's no place to go with a vegetarian, so we didn't. There's a Hard Rock and a Hooters, which I would not patronize, but they should be able to make a burger.

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Gia's Cafe
410 S High St, Baltimore, MD 21202

Oct 19, 2011
Altaira in Washington DC & Baltimore

Mad for Crazy Hot Dog Toppings

A little hot dog place in Delaware used to serve a Texas Tommy: their version was a split, grilled hot dog with bacon, cheese and pepper relish. My favorite hot dog still.

Sep 03, 2011
Altaira in Features

What hot dog brand is best?

Personally, I like Kunzlers, but kayem, hebrew national and boar's head are all pretty good.

Jun 04, 2011
Altaira in General Topics

Martha's Vineyard - Summer 2011

The Scottish Bakehouse has the most amazing danish pastries...very pricey, but a total tastegasm. Go for the mixed berry...and go early: they sell out. The amaretti are terrific also, but find out when they were baked. Not so good when they aren't fresh.

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Scottish Bakehouse
977 State Rd, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Jun 01, 2011
Altaira in Southern New England

One Day on MVI in mid-June - lunch in OB, Edgartown or Vineyard Haven?

Check out the bus schedule: http://www.vineyardtransit.com/pages/...

If your ferry docks at Vineyard Haven, I would rec. the Art Cliff diner...never had a bad meal there. If you dock at OB, you have a lot more lunch choices. Head up to Circuit Ave and you will find plenty of restaurants. Slice of Life seems popular...depends on what you're looking for. The harborside restaurants, Nancy's and so on, are also easy walking distance. Nancy's has good fried seafood (and onion rings!) but def. not cheap. We paid over 65 bucks for a clam plate, onion rings, 1/2 pint each of clams and shrimp, a beer and a wine.

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Slice of Life
50 Circuit Ave, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568

Jun 01, 2011
Altaira in Southern New England

Blue crabs anywhere in the Wilmington, Delaware general area?

Well, the best laid plans...as we were coming over the Del Memorial Bridge, spouse and I discussed the crab issue--he is indifferent but not hostile to picking crabs, I the one who longs for the cerulean crustacean. He was not keen on Toughkenamon for some reason, and pointed out that we were pretty close to New Castle right then.

Of course I did not remember the names of any of the crab places in New Castle, and am too poor to pay the monthly service for a smartphone, but I figured that NC is not such a big town--surely there would be signs, perhaps billboards, for the aid of the crab famished.

Well, no. But stopping at a bar and asking provided directions to Lestardos. It was a small, genuine beer-after-work bar with a larger room with all the signs...paper covered tables, mallets, paper towels. Empty but for one couple--who were picking crabs. We sat, ordered the last seven large (all males...I dimly remember thinking that the interior arrangements of the females make them easier to pick, but perhaps that was a dream) and a mixed fry for spouse. I did let him have one crab. The mixed fry was ok, but the fries! I don't even like french fries much, but these were the real magilla: peel left on, just the right thickness, hot and yummy. Total tab, including two draft Yuengling and a cup of crab bisque (thick with crab meat and cream, not over seasoned) $59.34. Service was very friendly and attentive (the first couple hugged the waitress when they left, but I believe they knew her) and the waitress followed us out to thank us for the $12 tip.

Hot crabs. Hot damn. First night of the trip. I gave it 3 stars, just because I would reserve 4 for fine dining, and 5? Not so far in this hounds life.

Thanks for all the input, one and all.

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Lestardo's Crab House
Prangs Ln, New Castle, DE 19720

May 14, 2011
Altaira in Mid-Atlantic

Blue crabs anywhere in the Wilmington, Delaware general area?

I have been to Sambo's many times (when I actually lived in Delaware) and that is truly crab heaven. Mickey's in Bethany is pretty good also, but both those too long a drive. Hilltop it will be. Thanks!

May 06, 2011
Altaira in Mid-Atlantic

Have you ever slaughtered an animal? Would you?

I used to keep my own chickens, and slaughtered them myself since I thought it would be a wimp-out to ask my husband to do it. My mother told me that her grandmother wrung necks, but this was a technique I never learned. I used a hatchet. My husband tried to wring the neck of a troublesome rooster once...we were sheltering a one-winged turkey vulture named Walter at the time, so the rooster, post-wringing, was thrown in with him for a treat. Next day, Walter was at the top of his pen looking frantic and the rooster was up and around...but much more respectful...

May 05, 2011
Altaira in Not About Food

Best farmers markets in the mid-atlantic region?

Lancaster, PA farmers market. It's quite a production, but well worth the trip.

May 05, 2011
Altaira in Mid-Atlantic

Blue crabs anywhere in the Wilmington, Delaware general area?

I'm not sure you ever get "local" blue crabs anymore. I was in Bethany Beach at the height of the summer season a couple of years ago and the server said that their crabs always come from Louisiana...but maybe they're just heretics.

And I'll try the Hilltop...thanks!

May 05, 2011
Altaira in Mid-Atlantic

Blue crabs anywhere in the Wilmington, Delaware general area?

Hey Hounds,

Going to a friend's wedding and staying at my brother's place near Wilmington (Hockessin, actually.) I live in Massachusetts now and whenever I get this close to Maryland I start to think longingly of pickin' blue crab. Is there anyplace within a half an hour of the area that has blue crabs? Not interested in king crab or dungeness crab...I need those blue claws for my fix. Soft shell crab is an acceptable alternative, but not too upscale, please.

If it doesn't exist...I guess I'll have to buy some crab meat at the grocery store and make myself some crab cakes instead.

Thanks for your help!

May 04, 2011
Altaira in Mid-Atlantic

Sal's Pizza comes to Sturbridge

A couple of days ago my husband came home with a menu from Sal's Pizza, which has just opened in Sturbridge. So it being the night before Thanksgiving, figured we would give it a try. Hey, it's Sal's Pizza! Like in the North End!

We couldn't get through on the phone, and we live five minutes away, so we figured we would just go down there. Mad house! Long wait, which is understandable. They seemed to have plenty of help, but not enough oven space. We ordered two steak and cheese calzones, one with onions and mushrooms, and decided to take it to go rather than wait in their dining area, particularly since they had Glenn Beck on the television. Now, if you like the Beck, fine, but if you're in business, I would think you would not have something quite so polarizing playing in your place. Drove back home and figured we'd give them a little extra time.

Anyhow, came back after 45 minutes, waited a little while longer, took food home, and....no steak on the one with onions and mushrooms. Their 'famous two pound calzone' was mostly bread. They had greek salad for sale...with regular canned black olives. The calzones were soggy.

Probably not going back.

Nov 24, 2010
Altaira in Southern New England

Slipping the waiter a "tip" under the table

I worked in the restaurant business for many years, front of the house and administration, and I loathe the idea of tip pooling. I worked in some very nice places, but never encountered a waitstaff where there wasn't a slacker. Why should the good servers be penalized for their cohorts' poor performance? I always wonder about the dim sum cart ladies and if they even get a share of the tips, since there's always a waiter who brings the tea and the check, at least in the places I've been to.
I've never slipped a server extra dough because of tip pooling--never thought of it, and of course you don't always know the restaurant's policy--but I have lingered behind to make up a better tip when dining with cheapskates. Anybody who has ever waited table knows how tough a job it is, and how grateful you can feel to a regular who tips well. About a zillion years ago I worked in a fried fish place on Cape Cod, and there was one guy who always tipped ten bucks...around a 90% tip in those days. We loved him. I'm not that generous, but all servers know that restaurant folks tip the best.

Aug 15, 2010
Altaira in Not About Food

Breastfeeding in a restaurant?

I am very firmly on the side of if you don't want to see it, don't look. While I do feel that we overdo the family worship in this country--I would personally prefer to see tax incentives that encourage people to limit their family sizes--once you take on the task of bearing and raising a child you deserve some slack. It's just a boob, after all. That's what they're for.

Full disclosure: have two grownup kids of my own, and a grandchild. Breast fed both my kids, and yes, I would have covered up with a blanket. But that's just me.

Aug 15, 2010
Altaira in Not About Food

Sub sandwich

Ok, I grew up in Delaware, which, while not Philly, still had great subs. Alas, the area where I lived (and where my brother still lives) near Newark has slid somewhat from its sub pinnacle. We used to patronize Nardo's Sub King on the Kirkwood Highway, and oh, my.

When I moved to the Boston area several (cough) years ago, I was appalled by what they called a sub or a grinder. Chopped vegetables, stingy meat, blah. An outrage. Things have improved, but oh, the subs of my youth...still can get a pretty good one at Casapulla's in Elsmere.

Now that I work in Worcester, I have found a very good sub at Belsito's on Plantation Street. I am not usually a bread person, but their bread...is awesome. Crusty, chewy, yummy....not the fluffy tasteless stuff you usually get from chain shops. Belsito's is a family owned and operated place, and has a small selection of imported italian goods as well as homemade soup and a fine selection of sandwiches. I'm a turkey sub aficionado (sacrilege for some, I know, mea culpa) and theirs is fine.
Not quite what you might get around Philly...best subs I have had were a roll of meat and cheese surrounding the veggies and surrounded by bread. But Belsito's has the best subs I've had in New England. We always get Belsito's Withdrawl when they go on vacation.

Good stuff.

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Belsito Deli
305 Plantation St, Worcester, MA 01604

Aug 15, 2010
Altaira in Southern New England