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Boston Restaurant Blog -- August, 2007

Below are blog entries from August, 2007. 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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AUGUST, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007
New Section on Restaurant Closings, Openings

Several new features have been added to Boston's Hidden Restaurants this summer, but perhaps none have quite matched the new Boston restaurant closings and openings feature in terms of popularity. Indeed, this section was only added to the site a couple of weeks ago, but it already become a big hit on the site, especially with the mentioning of the new restaurants Mooo... and Gaslight, both located in Boston proper.

The new section on restaurant closings and openings includes a list of restaurants separated by the month in which they closed or opened. There is also an RSS feed for restaurant closings and openings that allows readers to be updated automatically whenever a restaurant closes or opens. The feed includes some extra information, including the addresses and phone numbers of newly opened restaurants.

There are so many closings and openings in the Boston area at any given point that we can't keep up with them all. So if you know of a restaurant that has recently closed or opened, please contact us to let us know so we can add it to the list.

Related Blog Entries: closed Boston restaurants

Sunday, August 19, 2007
More Fun Times and Good Food in the Adirondacks

I took another trip to the Adirondack Mountains of New York earlier this month, and while I went to a couple of familiar restaurants, I also go to try new dining spots while on the trip. I took my time heading out on Friday (I was meeting up with family members later in the day), as I decided to take Route 2 instead of the Mass. Pike. I stopped at the beautiful Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls while on Route 2, then grabbed a tasty croissant at the Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters before hitting the road. I made it to Old Forge, NY (where we were staying) by late afternoon, relaxing for a bit before we all headed to the Hardtimes Cafe in nearby Eagle Bay. I've been to the Hardtimes a couple of times before, and it was as good as ever; my ravioli in vodka cream sauce was delicious, and everyone else enjoyed their meals greatly. (For more on the Hardtimes Cafe, check out our August, 2006 blog entry.) After dinner, we drove over to Inlet for some great ice cream at Northern Lights, then called it a night.

photo of the Tamarack Cafe, Inlet, NY On Saturday, we had a quick breakfast at the place we were staying, then wandered around Old Forge and Inlet for awhile, eventually stopping at a restaurant called The Tamarack Cafe for lunch. This was my first time at the Tamarack, and it turned out to be a nice spot. The inside of the Tamarack is wood, wood, and more wood (in keeping with the Adirondack theme), and the menu is simple, with sandwiches and a handful of other dishes offered for lunch. My burger, which was cooked on a griddle, was very tasty, and everyone else raved about the turkey sandwiches they ordered. The Tamarack is actually a combination restaurant/movie house, though we didn't bother seeing a movie, since it was such a nice day out.

The afternoon was spent doing an unforgettable canoe trip on the Moose River in Old Forge. I worked off the food I ate at the Tamarack and then some, so I was starved by the time we got to the Buffalo Head in Forestport for dinner. I have probably been to the Buffalo Head more than 20 times in my life, but the last time wasn't quite as good as previous times, as the steak I ordered was pretty fatty. But the sirloin I ordered this time was lean, tender, and perfectly cooked. We all left the Buffalo Head feeling pretty happy about our meals. (For more on the Buffalo Head, check out our August, 2005 blog entry.)

photo of Rein's New York Style Deli, West Springfield, MA Sunday morning came rolling along, and it was time to head back home. On the way out, two of us stopped at Mary's White Pine Bakery in Inlet, where we grabbed some excellent honey glazed and cinnamon donuts, as well as blueberry and chocolate chip muffins. Mary's is known for their delectable pies, but it was a bit early in the morning for that, so we continued on. We headed to the train station near Albany, then I continued on my own through the Berkshires, looking for a place to eat before heading home. I ended up in West Springfield, where I stopped at Rein's New York Style Deli. The original Rein's, which is in Vernon, CT, is an occasional stop for me on my many trips to Manhattan, though I have never quite warmed up to their food (it is more convenient than anything else). Well, the Rein's in West Springfield did nothing to change my opinion of the place, as the potato pancakes were thin and dry, the potato kugel was mushy, and the corned beef sandwich, while good, was nothing that I couldn't have put together on my own. The place wasn't terrible, but considering I was only about 2 minutes from Chef Wayne's Big Mamou, perhaps I made the wrong choice.

I already miss Old Forge, Inlet, Eagle Bay, and the rest of the Adirondacks. It is always tough coming back, but I hope to get back there either sometime in 2008, if not sooner. And when I do, I'll definitely be returning to the Buffalo Head, Hardtimes Cafe, and the Tamarack Cafe, as well as maybe a new restaurant or two.

Related Blog Entries: Adirondack restaurants, New York restaurants

Monday, August 13, 2007
A Big Welcome Back to Boston for College Students

The summer is quickly winding down (seems like it had just begun!), so it is almost time for college students to return to the Boston area. One way that we can tell they are back in town is by the sheer amount of traffic that our Cheap Eats in Boston page gets. Indeed, with the price of going to school these days, students seem to put great weight on the price of food, which is why there are so many inexpensive dining spots in areas such as Allston, Brighton, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.

For those college students who haven't checked out our "cheap eats" page yet, please feel free to click on the link above to see some of the better dining spots in the area that are also reasonably priced. We will be adding on to the list over the coming weeks, so keep checking back. Also, if you find a great spot somewhere in the area that college students really love, please contact us with the name of the place; we might just add it to our list.

One more thing of note: Much of our site can be accessed through RSS feeds, so if any of you want to keep up to date on our blog, for instance, subscribe to the RSS feed below, or use the other buttons if you are hooked up with My Yahoo, My Google, or del.icio.us (use this last one to bookmark our blog):

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Related Blog Entries: cheap eats

Monday, August 6, 2007
Outdoor Dining at Salvatore's, Boston

I have had a number of good meals at Salvatore's (also known as Sal's Pizza) in Lawrence over the past couple of years, so when I heard that a new Salvatore's was opening up in the Seaport District of Boston, I was pretty excited. And after going there for the first time a few weeks ago, I can say that I was not disappointed, though I was a little surprised about some aspects of the place.

photo of Salvatore's, Boston, MA It needs to be said that Salvatore's in the Seaport District is a bit different from the one in Lawrence, and worlds away from most of the Sal's Pizzas scattered about the area. Unlike Salvatore's in Lawrence, which is a pretty laid-back, old-school Italian place, Salvatore's in the Seaport District is almost trendy; in fact, the place feels like it wouldn't be out of place on Newbury Street in Boston. The staff is dressed in black, the music is mostly Euro Techno dance music (which I can't stand, but nobody ever mistook me for being hip), and the place itself feels almost industrial in its layout and decor.

We grabbed a table outside since it was such a nice night, and started with a rice ball appetizer. The dish actually had three different rice balls--one with tomato sauce inside, one with mushrooms, and one with spinach. They were very gooey, but delicious. They also brought over some fresh bread with a nice garlic and olive oil dip, which we ate sparingly, then we dug into our meals. The gnocchi came with Salvatore's creamy mamarosa sauce and was very nice, though the sauce was pretty rich. The chicken marsala was better, with a tasty homemade mafaldine pasta in a rich gorgonzola marscapone sauce. We barely finished our large portions, and politely declined on dessert.

I really liked my first experience at Salvatore's, though not all was perfect. First of all, the woman who worked the front was rather cold not just to her staff, but also to us. Second, the Euro music was just too much after awhile, though that's probably more of a lack of coolness on my part than anything. And third, while the food was very good, you can find better food (and better prices) elsewhere in the Boston area. But none of this will keep me from returning to Salvatore's, especially on a warm summer night when I can sit outside and look around, marveling at the progress being made to the Seaport District of Boston.

Related Blog Entries: Boston restaurants, Italian restaurants, outdoor dining

Sunday, August 5, 2007
Blog Tags Are Now Complete

It took a few weeks, but we have finally finished adding tags to the blog entries to the Boston Restaurant Blog, which is part of the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site.

Now that we are done with adding tags, let me give a brief tutorial on how tags are used. Let's say you go to the blog entry on Alfredo's Restaurant in Quincy. At the bottom of the blog entry are two green links (these are the tags) with the titles Italian restaurants and Quincy restaurants. When you click on these links, they take you to a page that shows other blog entries that are related to Italian restaurants and Quincy restaurants. Then you can click those links to read these related blog entries.

We feel that this is an exciting new addition to our blog pages, as it will allow our readers to easily find what they are looking for without having to deal with cumbersome search engines, both inside and outside of the site.

By the way, if any of you are still a bit confused about tags, feel free to read the Tags on the Way for the Boston Restaurant Blog entry, which talks a little about how we use tags on this site.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007
A Mid-Summer Weekend in Jackson, NH

It has been a summer of short trips for me so far, including New York City (twice), the Pioneer Valley, Rhode Island (several times), and most recently, the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We headed up to the peaceful little town of Jackson a couple of weeks back, enjoying the mountain views, swift-moving streams, and slow-paced feel of the area. And along with way, we tried out a few more restaurants, including one that has risen instantly to my list of top 10 favorite restaurants in New England (more to come on that later).

photo of the Pizza Barn, Center Ossipee, NH We left Boston on Friday afternoon, dealing with traffic here and there, until we finally broke clear of the cars on Route 16 in New Hampshire, motoring at a good clip to our first dining destination. The Pizza Barn is a place that I have drive by literally hundreds of times in my life, but I had never stopped there to eat until now. The restaurant is actually a barn, with high ceilings, a loft, lots of beams and pegs, and long, communal picnic tables. In a way, the Pizza Barn reminded me a bit of Prince Pizzeria on Route 1 in Saugus, MA, though unlike Prince, there is table service here. We ordered a large pepperoni pizza, and it truly was large, but it was also bulky, thanks to the sheer amount of pepperoni slice on the pizza. In fact, it was almost difficult to see the rest of the pizza through the pepperoni, and the grease that came off the meat soaked the crust, the plates, everything. And yet this was a very tasty pizza; The sauce had a zing to it, the cheese was tasty and gooey, and the crust was a bit thicker than I am used to, but it had a slight sweetness that complemented the flavor of the rest of the pizza. We had trouble finishing the pizza and had no appetite for the rest of the evening, but what a feed it was--everything that we had heard about the Pizza Barn was indeed true.

The next morning, we had a tasty breakfast at the inn we were staying at, then meandered around Jackson and North Conway before hopping on board the Dining Car "Chocorua," which is a beautifully restored dining car on the Conway Scenic Railroad. We had a light lunch on the dining car, enjoying the views of the Mount Washington Valley along the way to Bartlett, where the train stopped before heading back to North Conway. We hopped off the train and went immediately to Zeb's, a North Conway institution that is one of the nicest country stores in the White Mountains.

photo of the Thompson House Eatery, Jackson, NH From North Conway, we headed north, spending the afternoon around Gorham and Pinkham Notch, including a stop at the scenic Dolly Copp Picnic Area, before heading back to Jackson for the evening. And it is in Jackson where I had one of the best dining experiences of the year. The Thompson House Eatery, which is in the village of Jackson, represented so much that I love about classic New England dining, from the rural location (set in what appears to be a large field) to the rustic, cozy atmosphere inside (at least part of the restaurant is a barn, which means we ate in two barns over the weekend), to the friendly, attentive staff, to the absolutely incredible regional dishes that they offer. The bread and salads were both fresh and tasty, and the entrees were truly memorable. One entree, the mushroom ravioli in cream sauce, had organic veggies mixed in with the raviolis, including some of the best plum tomatoes I've had in awhile. And the other entree, chicken and veal with tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese was a heavenly mix of flavors that might have even been better than the mushroom raviolis.

After the Thompson House Eatery, we drove down to North Conway to grab some pretty good, though not great, ice cream at Lickety Splitz before heading back to Jackson for a nightcap at the elegant, classy Wentworth in the center of town. The scotch was smooth, the piano player was terrific, and the clientele was, well, rather interesting in an old money kind of way--perhaps not quite my scene, but very nice nonetheless, and a fun way to end the night.

photo of Walter's Basin, Holderness, NH Sunday morning found us having another good breakfast at the inn, after which we headed out of Jackson (always a sad thing!) and drove down the West Side Road, hitting a farm stand before jumping onto the Kancamagus Highway for some more spectacular scenery. Once we hit Route 93, we zipped down to the exit for Ashland and Holderness, stopping at Walter's Basin for lunch in the latter town. Walter's Basin is situated in a tremendously scenic spot, basically where a short waterway connects Little Squam Lake to Squam Lake itself. Walter's Basin is on Little Squam, with the dining room affording views of the lake and the wooded hills behind it. Because of the restaurant's location and name, you would think that Walter's Basin would feature mostly freshwater fish entrees as well as some steak and chicken dishes, and while it does, their menu seems to concentrate more on barbecue dishes than anything else. We decided to go with some BBQ items, starting with an appetizer of nachos and smoked chicken (the smokey flavor of the chicken was fabulous). Then we moved on to a couple of dishes that were a bit similar to each other--one was a potato filled with chili and cheese, while the other was a potato filled with brisket and pulled pork (I believe they were called the blazing saddle and the smoking saddle, but don't quote me on that). Both were surprisingly good, with the chili being moderately hot while the brisket and pulled pork were slightly dry, but filled with flavor from the rub that was used on them.

The town of Holderness pretty much marked the end of our trip, as it was our last stop before heading back to the Boston area. That night I was dreaming of the dining experience I had at the Thompson House Eatery, counting the days until my return to the Jackson area (probably late September or early October). I would love to have the restaurant featured on this site, but it has quite a following, not just in New Hampshire, but also throughout New England and in other parts of the country. So no, it is not quite a hidden restaurant, but yes, it is, in my opinion, a destination spot that lovers of regional New England cuisine should seek out.

Related Blog Entries: New Hampshire restaurants, pizza places