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Boston Restaurant Blog -- May, 2013

Below are blog entries from May, 2013. 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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May, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Dinner and Drinks at Armsby Abbey in Worcester

The Boston area has no shortage of beer bars and gastropubs, but what about other areas of New England? Well, these types of eating and drinking establishments can certainly be found elsewhere in the region, with one such place being in downtown Worcester. And after hearing some glowing reports about the spot, we finally got to Armsby Abbey earlier this month.

photo of Armsby Abbey, Worcester, Massachusetts Armsby Abbey calls itself a "boutique beer bar," but the interior looks in some way like a dive bar, with its dimly lit room that has exposed pipes along the high ceiling, exposed brick walls, and a wooden floor that has its share of nicks and scratches. High-top tables run along the brick wall to the left, while a cozy bar area that is comfortable enough for dining is to the right. A narrow bar rail that acts as a partition between the tables and the bar area sits in the middle of the room, and it has stools set up for folks who might not want to feel like standing. More seating can be found by the front windows, and a blackboard along the brick wall shows some of the beers that are being offered.

Armsby Abbey was pretty busy when we arrived, so we opted for seats at the bar rather than wait for a table. We started off with a round of beers, including a citrus-y and slightly sweet Stillwater Stateside Saison and a yeasty Mahr's Saphir Weisse, and I also had a deliciously rich carrot parsnip ginger soup that was so brightly colored that it was almost glowing. For our meals, we ordered a macaroni and cheese along with a Mediterranean "slate," with both being nothing short of outstanding. The mac and cheese had house-made croutons baked into the top of it and while the portion didn't look all that big, it was so hearty that it could barely be finished (but it was also one of the best versions of this dish that I have tried in the past year or so). The Mediterranean plate included everything from serrano ham to house-made hummus to locally-made feta to green olives to almonds, as well as pieces of freshly-baked bread. This beautifully-presented plate scored on all counts, with the bread and the hummus perhaps being the standouts. Service was about as good as you can get, and the folks behind the bar were both friendly and funny. Prices were a bit high overall, but they would probably be even higher if this place were in Boston. By the way, some of the beer prices are extremely high, with at least a few being around $50 (and yes, these are literally some of the best beers in the world), so you definitely want to double-check the prices before ordering.

The only complaint I have about Armsby Abbey is the fact that it's too far from Boston to go to on a regular basis. And no, it's not really a hidden spot--at least among people living in Worcester, folks in the restaurant industry, and beer geeks. But this has the potential to be one of my personal favorites in New England, comparing favorably to another similar spot that is also a fave--The People's Pint in Greenfield--along with When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine, which is more of a true restaurant, though it also features some fantastic scratch-made comfort food and an impressive array of beers. The fact that Armsby Abbey compares favorably to these spots certainly says quite a bit about the place.

For those who want the address for Armsby Abbey, here it is: Armsby Abbey, 144 Main Street, Worcester, MA, 01608. The phone number is (508) 795-1012.

Armsby Abbey on Urbanspoon

Related Blog Entries: Worcester restaurants

Tuesday, May 14, 2013
First Time at Napper Tandy's in Roslindale

Just under a year ago, a new location of Napper Tandy's in Norwood opened in the Roslindale neighborhood of Boston, and since its opening, I really haven't heard much about the place from fellow food writers, friends, or anyone for that matter. Last week we finally got to check out the place, and while it's not a truly memorable spot at the level of top Irish pubs such as James's Gate in Jamaica Plain or O'Hara's in Newton, it seems like a decent place overall for a bite to eat and a drink.

photo of Napper Tandy's, Roslindale, Massachusetts Housed in the former Robyn's Bar and Grill toward the northern edge of Roslindale Village, Napper Tandy's has a clean, new look outside, with an attractive exterior that has a classic Irish pub look to it. The interior has a split personality, as the main dining and bar area is clean, new-looking, and modern, while the room to the right is very spartan, with pool tables dominating the space. A mix of regular tables and high tops can be found in the main room, and the wraparound bar has plenty of seating for folks who are looking to hoist a few pints and/or have some lunch or dinner.

We grabbed a high-top table in the main room at Napper Tandy's on our recent visit there, starting off with a round of drinks (include a very well-poured Guinness). Our server took our food order when she brought the beers out and within a few minutes we had a delicious buffalo chicken dip sitting on our table, complete with lots of gooey cheese, crispy tortilla chips, and spicy diced chicken. Our meals were a mixed bag, with the fish and chips being among the best I've had anywhere in the Boston area (tender, flaky fish with a delicious batter that wasn't overly greasy), but the shepherd's pie was a bit of a mess, with a pile of ground beef, house-made gravy, and veggies placed on top of a bigger pile of mashed potatoes that took up the entire plate (the gravy was too rich, making this a difficult dish to finish). Service was adequate throughout, and prices were about where you'd expect them to be.

With the wonderful James's Gate just up the road, a return trip to Napper Tandy's might be a tough call, though the place is comfortable enough, and a great spot to watch a game with the large TVs set up by the tables. The fish and chips might help lure me back as well, since they are really, really good, so perhaps there might be another trip back to this Irish pub after all.

For those who want the address for Napper Tandy's, here it is: Napper Tandy's, 4195 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA 02131. The phone number is (617) 323-8400.

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs, Roslindale restaurants

Tuesday, May 7, 2013
A New Google+ Community -- All Things Food

For those of you who are on Google+, I set up a "community" page within the social media site this week. The page is called "All Things Food," and as you can probably figure out by the name, it focuses on a variety of food categories, including restaurant talk, favorite recipes, and food photos, as well as a question-and-answer section and an area to post food-related events.

The "All Things Food" community page is open to the public, so anyone can join (pending acceptance of invite), and once you're a part of the community, you can post anything you like in the categories mentioned above. If you would like to join the community, please go to the the link below and ask to join:

https://plus.google.com/b/110602460966029672043/communities/110335583239116856326

And if you would like to connect with our main page on Google+, please go to this link:

Boston's Hidden Restaurants Google+ Page

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Twelve More Burgers from Restaurants in the Boston Area and Beyond

photo of bacon cheeseburger from Bliss Bros. Dairy, Attleboro, MAAs some of you may know, May is National Hamburger Month, so what better time than now to post "Part 2" of a burger slideshow? (Part 1 went up last April.) Included here are all kinds of burgers from various dining spots in the Boston area and beyond, with cheap eats versions (such as Sullivan's in South Boston) sharing space with slightly more upscale burgers (such as Coda in the South End). There were a few that had to be kept off the list this time around, so who knows--maybe a "Part 3" will be on the way at some point.

Here is the newest burger slideshow, with twelve different ones included this time around.

Slideshow for Twelve More Burgers in the Boston Area and Beyond

Related Blog Entries: slideshows