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Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2013

Below are blog entries from December, 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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December, 2013

Sunday, December 22, 2013
Favorite Dining Spots and Dishes of 2013 from Restaurant and Media Folks

Last year, several folks in the restaurant business and the media gave some of their picks for favorite dining spots and dishes of 2012, and now a few people have given their picks for 2013. Below is a running list that will keep being updated through the end of the year, so continue to check back for additions to the list.

Dan Andelman
(The Phantom Gourmet)
Some of my favorite dishes of 2013:
-Chorizo Flatbread with fingerling potato chips from Cook in Newton
-Roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon & Parmesan from 29 Sudbury
-"The Katz" pastrami sandwich from Moody's Delicatessen in Waltham
-Horseradish twice baked potato from Strega Prime in Woburn
-Porchetta from Tavern Road in Boston
-Gyro from Feisty Greek in Norwood
-Steak tips from Fells Market in Wellesley

Kara Baskin
(Writer at The Restaurant Hub blog of The Boston Globe)
Sarma in Somerville, Good Thymes in Lowell, La Posada in Arlington, Posto in Davis Square, Gene's in Downtown Crossing and Chelmsford, Blue Dragon in FT PT, Flo's hot dogs in Maine, Casa B in Union Square, Biryani Park in Malden, Qingdao in Cambridge, Bistro du Midi, L'osteria, Trade

Walt Perkins
(Sports Director, WBZ News Radio 1030)
Besides the all the wonderful meals and memories emanating from the Perkins’ kitchen this year, there are a number of dining out experiences I’ll remember in 2013.
Eastern Standard was superb with both food and beverage on more than one occasion.
Falmouth was the scene of a couple of memories. Silver Shores Shanty is a local lunch-time gem. Fresh food and friendly folks all around. And Anejo Mexican Bistro serves up one tasty meal after another. I favor the Anejo Steak Frites.
Closer to home (for us, anyway) is Romaine’s in Northborough and Bullfinch’s in Sudbury. They never disappoint.

Susan Holaday
(Editor and Publisher, Foodservice East)
I'd say the biggest was Pier 6 in the Navy Yard - we've needed this style of restaurant for a very long time in that location. The food is quite consistently good, beverage program needs work but is coming along, and service is very good. Elsewhere in the city we've had lots of good additions from CinqueCento and BoMa late last year to Ward 8 just recently.

Richard Auffrey
(Author of The Passionate Foodie)
I'll concentrate on some of my favorite suburban restaurants, as Boston area spots usually get most of the attention. My top pick, for great French & Japanese lunch, dinner and brunch is the AKA Bistro in Lincoln. Get the Moules Frites! Also check out Thai cuisine at Phu Ket in Wakefield (Spicy lobster soup), breakfast at Iron Town Diner in Saugus, Italian cuisine at Bistro 5 in Medford, and Cuban food at Oya Cuban Cafe in Malden (bread pudding). And for a Boston area rec, I strongly recommend Bergamot in Somerville.

Michelle Collins
(Local Food Writer, Blogger at The Economical Eater)
One of the best meals I had this year was at Harvest in Harvard Square. We were celebrating an anniversary and enjoyed fantastic food, impeccable service, and even a complimentary glass of champagne for our celebration. It was definitely a memorable evening!

Patrick Maguire
(Author of Service Industry Blog Server Not Servant)
Thanks to all of the bartenders, servers, chefs, FOH and BOH workers, and owners who made eating and drinking in Boston awesome in 2013. So many places have opened that I couldn't get to. I'm sure I forgot a few, but here's what I can remember through the haze as we close out the year. Slainte.
Memorable Meals/Dining Experiences
Theo's Cozy Corner, Giulia, KO Pies (Eastie), Puritan & Co., Erbaluce, Prezza, Sportello, Oishi, Salty Pig, Sorellina, Coppa, Ribelle, Grill 23, East by Northeast, Asta, Metropolis, Neptune, The Abbey, Mooo...., Toro, Uni, Strip-T's, and Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe.
Best Dishes of 2013
Dino's (steak + cheese sub), Abe & Louie's (swordfish chop), Galleria Umberto (Sicilian pizza), Sportello (gnocchi), Neptune (cherrystones, crudo, + buttermilk johnnycake), Drink ("secret" burger), Aragosta (turkey hash @ brunch), J. Pace & Son (All sandwiches on fresh, braided, seeded buns), Lulu's Sweet Shoppe (chocolate salted caramel cupcake), Mistral (tuna tartare and crab ravioli are still awesome), Coda (steak + eggs @ brunch), Douzo (hamachi kama-collar), Ribelle (warm garlic knots dipped in marinara sauce), Metropolis (chicken over rosemary-mashed potatoes w/oyster mushrooms, gravy + watercress. Superb. Also, cauliflower and potato gratin, and gnocchi w/duck confit, brussel sprouts, truffle rosemary jus and parmiggiano reggiano.), Mei Mei (carrots & seeds), Oishi (uni spoon w/quail egg), KO Pies (basic meat pie) and Salty Pig (pastas and meatballs @ Red Sauce Sundays).
Beverages & Bartending
Silvertone, Citizen, Backbar, West Bridge, Stoddard's, Drink, The Butcher Shop, Russell House Tavern, Bristol Lounge, Tavern Road, No. 9, The Franklin, The Gallows, and The Hawthorne.

Julie King
(Owner of Villa Mexico Cafe)
CUCHI-CUCHI @ Cambridge. It is a Spanish place the atmosphere is very nice, they serve tapas and I really enjoy their food!
FUSION TASTE @ Stoneham: Very good food, outstanding service and competitive prices, I love their grilled salmon which is very fresh and excellent flavor. For brunch there are few in Cambridge and one of is the Cambridge Brewing Co. nice service and good food!!! There is also a little place on Broadway St and by the way the owner is from Mexico, it's Dwelltime, even though they do not have a full kitchen, the food they serve for brunch is pretty good and they bake their bread there!!!

Jeff Cutler
(Content Specialist and Writer - Writes about Food, Travel, Tech and Myriad other Topics. Food and Travel Blog at
You can't swing a pork chop in Boston without hitting menu items and venues that inspire and satisfy. That's what makes this challenge/request so difficult. As readers know, my tastes range from the uber upscale to the pedestrian, so identifying a favorite dining spot and dish makes me think about mealtime. For breakfast, I have a couple favorites but the winner is the Croque Madame at Brasserie Jo. For lunch, I could have chosen a burrito and Anna's, but I'm actually going to select Chacerero and their BBQ chicken sandwich. It's spicy, tasty and a delight. Further, the atmosphere (diners regularly standing in line for a sandwich no matter the weather) is a testament to how much people like this place. Dinner...a burger at the Yard House near Fenway Park. Really. Maybe it's because it's a recent memory, but you know when a meal is done expertly and you know if anything is awry. The burger I had at Yard House in early December was perhaps the finest example of a burger I had in 2013. Would love to hear what people think about my choices. Find me on Twitter @jeffcutler.

If you are in either industry and would like to tell us about your favorite places for 2013, please send us a note on Twitter or Facebook, thank you!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013
10 Restaurant and Food "Predictions" for 2014

Last year a few "predictions" were made on this site, and out of the 10, none of them came true. Actually, this isn't quite true because in a way, Fort Point did become the next Seaport District, and oh yes, In-N-Out Burger indeed continued to not expand into the local region. This time around, hopes are high for more accurate predictions in the restaurant and food world, with at least some of the ones below actually coming true (fingers crossed).

1) A New Restaurant Called Wikifeedia Opens in Burlington; Diners Allowed to Make Changes to Online Menu
This is only based on rumor, but there are rumblings about a dining spot coming to this northern suburb of Boston--along with 2,500 other restaurants opening in Burlington by the spring of 2015--that will give customers the chance to edit the menu in order to improve its selection of items. The eatery will also apparently be asking for donations in order to keep the menu online.

2) Boston to Annex New York City in Order to Claim It Has Good Bagels
A common complaint concerning the Boston restaurant scene is that it has few good places for bagels. A possible fix has been discussed, however, attaching a parcel of land in New York City (the parcel being Manhattan and part of Brooklyn) to Boston, which would quickly and easily remedy this problem. The proposal would also turn Boston into a destination spot for lovers of New York-style pizza, though it would likely be renamed Boston-style pizza, or perhaps just "pizza."

3) A Facebook Flame War Erupts Between a Chef-Owner of a Restaurant and a Customer, But No One Notices
2014 will see a well-known Boston-area restaurateur facing off against a diner on Facebook after the diner complains about the food served at the eatery. However, because of Facebook's new algorithm, not a single person on the social media site will see the thread.

4) Groupon to Offer a Daily Deal on Its Shares of Stock
In order to achieve profitability and re-boost interest in the site, Groupon will offer a 2-for-1 deal on its stock shares, though the stock will expire 90 days after purchase. LivingSocial will also offer a daily deal on its stock, with this deal including a free t-shirt from Woot with every 100 shares purchased.

5) Owner of Hungry Mother to Open National Park
Barry Maiden of the award-winning restaurant Hungry Mother in Cambridge has opened a new spot in the city's Kendall Square area called State Park, and its success in 2014 will motivate him to expand once again. This time, the Chef/Restaurateur will look to Washington, DC, where he will open a new eatery called National Park. (Ironically, the restaurant will feature regional dishes.)

6) Sysco to Open New Chain Called Rav's
Based on some chatter heard in various places from both reputable and disreputable sources, the mammoth company that markets and distributes foodservice products could be opening its own chain of restaurants. The working name at this point would appear to be Rav's, and it would indeed offer an array of toasted ravioli plates, including many with mozzarella cheese inside.

7) Studio 34 to Open in Boston's Fort Point Neighborhood
The city's hottest neighborhood for dining out doesn't have a whole lot of nightlife at this point in time, but this may be about to change. It appears that one of the warehouses on A Street could become home to a new nightclub called Studio 34, with the place featuring 23 rooms of dancing and a capacity of 11,000, including a bar with 12 seats. It is not yet known whether this will have any connection to the new seafood spot Row 34, but based on the name, er, number, it may be possible.

8) A Cambridge Restaurant Closes for Renovations, and Actually Reopens After Renovations
This one may be a stretch, but 2014 could see a dining spot in Boston's neighbor across the river put a sign in the window saying "Closed for Renovations," only to open a month later completely intact and with the same name.

9) Readville to Become the Next Hotspot for Dining Out
This little neighborhood in Hyde Park is poised for greatness in 2014, as it has everything needed for a new "restaurant row"--it has streets, streetlights, buildings, electricity, and people. It is also possible that in 2015, Hyde Park will become the next Readville, but it may be too early to make such a bold prediction.

10) Brookline Restaurant to Have Year-Long Soft Opening
Word is, an upcoming dining spot near Coolidge Corner will open for family and friends in early February of 2014, and will remain open just for family and friends until the following winter, mainly because the owner of the eatery has a large family and many friends. After that, the restaurant will have a month-long media night, followed by an official opening in the spring of 2015 (depending on how the licensing and permitting process goes).

Thursday, December 12, 2013
How to Deal with the Increasing Invisibility of Facebook Pages

In the fall of 2012, it appeared that Facebook fan and business pages (as opposed to personal pages) began to become more and more "invisible," with only some posts being seen by people, even though those people were fans of the pages. Well, over the past week or two, it seems to have gotten even worse, with more than a few people I've talked to who have business pages getting ready to throw in the towel and look more into Google+, Twitter, and some of the other social media sites.

While the situation does seem increasingly frustrating to both business owners and people who want to see their pages, there do seem to be things that can be done to make the posts more accessible. One easy solution that may help a little is to simply like a post on a given Facebook page, and/or add a comment to a post (sharing a post on your page is an option as well). Any kind of interaction between a fan/business page and you may help bring more of the page's posts into your Facebook timeline.

A more surefire way to see a page's posts is to go with Facebook's get notifications feature, though this may not be for everyone (more on that in a bit). To set this up, go to a Facebook page that you follow, hover over the "liked" button to the right of the page's name (just below the banner photo) and when the dropdown menu comes up, click "Get Notifications." While this will allow you to get all posts from the page, for many it will send a text message to your phone whenever a new post goes up, which can be a bit of a hassle.

There are other ways to get to Facebook pages, of course, including simply bookmarking a page or perhaps adding it to a Facebook interest list that you can create via the left sidebar on your Facebook page. Hopefully this trend of invisibility and decreased reach won't continue and that Facebook will allow more and more posts to be seen, but in the meantime, the above options may allow you to see your favorite pages more easily.

If you would like to follow our Facebook page, here's a link to it: Boston's Hidden Restaurants Facebook page

Related Blog Entries: Facebook

Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Twelve More of the Best Food Dishes of 2013

photo of Indonesian fried rice from 3 Country Bistro, Woburn, MAThe year is rapidly coming to a close, so it's that time once again--time to take a look back at some of the best food items of 2013. Back in June, a slideshow on the best dishes of the year (at that point) was posted, with some truly great items such as the decadent tiramisu from Spinelli's in East Boston, the meaty pork chops from Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge, and--what may have been the best of them all--the coppa pizza from When Pigs Fly up in Kittery, ME, included. This time around, 12 more items are looked at, with most being from lesser-known restaurants and food spots in and around Boston, though the last couple are a bit outside of the immediate area.

The link below will take you to "Part 2" of the slideshow that looks at the best food items of 2013.

Slideshow for Twelve More of the Best Dishes of 2013

Related Blog Entries: slideshows