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Boston Restaurant Blog -- November, 2007

Below are blog entries from November, 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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Monday, November 26, 2007
Poutine and More at Blue 22, Quincy

We checked out a new restaurant in Quincy called Blue 22 Bar and Grille a couple of weeks ago. I didn't know much about the place other than the fact that they serve poutine (French fries with cheese and covered with brown gravy), but that was enough for me to give it a try. And while the food we tried at Blue 22 was a mix of great and not-so-great, I was impressed overall with the place.

photo of Blue 22 Bar and Grille, Quincy, Massachusetts Blue 22, which is located on the northern edge of Quincy Center where Fajitas and Ritas used to be, is an attractive place in an industrial sort of way, with dark floor tiles, exposed wires and pipes along the black ceiling, and rather harsh, bright lights that can be irritating, depending on where diners sit. A small bar sits in the middle of the dining room, and a few window tables are found in the front. The menu is pretty eclectic, with a mix of Asian dishes, pub grub, and comfort food. We ordered the poutine to start us off, but were a bit disappointed by it. Usually, cheese curds are used for poutine, but this was not the case at Blue 22. And there was substantially too much cheese and a bit too much gravy used, which overwhelmed the taste of the fries. Fortunately, our main entrees were better, including a mouthwatering beer-basted cheeseburger that had just a hint of a bitter aftertaste from the beer, and a delicious plate of steak tips which were marinaded in an Asian teriyaki sauce. The Asian-style rice pilaf that came with the burger was a bit hard and dried out, while the garlic mashed potatoes were also dry but still tasty.

Poutine aside, our meal at Blue 22 Bar and Grille wasn't bad at all. If we go back to Blue 22, I think I want to try some of the Asian dishes the next time we go, as they have homemade dumplings and Japanese country-style grilled chicken, both of which sound like they might be worth a try. If I do get back there, I'll definitely let folks know how it was.

For those of you who would like the address and phone number for Blue 22, here it is: Blue 22 Bar and Grille, 1237 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA 02169. Phone: (617) 774-1200.

Related Blog Entries: Quincy restaurants

Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Just Posted: Best 2007 Boston Restaurants

Just a quick notice that our Best Boston Restaurants of 2007 page has been put up on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site. This year, there are a few repeat winners as well as several first-timers, and there are also two new categories.

For those of you who would like to see this new feature, jump to the Best Hidden Restaurants in the Boston Area, 2007 page to see which restaurants made the grade this year. Please don't hesitate to to comment about our choices, including giving us some of your own favorite restaurants over at our Viewers' Favorite Restaurants page if you wish.

Related Blog Entries: best Boston restaurants

Friday, November 16, 2007
Lunch at O'Brien's Pub, Newport, RI

A couple of weeks ago, we had some time to kill before the Patriots' game, so we took a trip down to Providence to wander around and eventually have lunch. The problem was, the entire city seemed to be closed until noon on Sunday. So we drove down to Wickford, Jamestown, and finally, Newport, where we spent some time before rushing back to catch the Pats/Colts game.

photo of O'Brien's Pub, Newport, Rhode Island We headed over to Lower Thames Street, which is perhaps my favorite part of Newport. After walking around for awhile and enjoying the balmy temperatures, we decided to go to O'Brien's Pub for lunch. Because it was such a nice day out, we sat at one of the many outdoor tables they had on their front patio. It was a perfect place to sit, as we could look in one direction and catch the street scene along Lower Thames, then look the other way and watch two of the 1:00 football games that were on at the bar, which was wide open to let the mild air in.

The food at O'Brien's was actually very good, especially for a no-nonsense, rather gritty watering hole (Lower Thames gets increasingly less touristy as you head south, away from the center of town). The clam chowder was excellent; it wasn't too thick or too thin, and it had a nice taste to it. The grilled white pizza with garlic was absolutely delicious the perfect blend of cheese and garlic covering the chewy crust. Finally, the two orders of sliders (2-ounce burgers on mini buns) were pretty mouthwatering, and the seasoned fries were gone in a flash. I washed my food down with a hearty amber beer called Newport Storm, which was packaged with one of the orders of sliders and fries, all for only $5.99.

O'Brien's Pub is not exactly fine dining, but it really did hit the spot. Plus the fact that their outdoor patio gave us a view of both the street and the football games was a big plus. I would have no problem going back there, though Mamma Luisa Ristorante Italiano (one of my favorite Italian restaurants) is just down the road, so perhaps it will be a drink at O'Brien's, followed by some pasta at Mamma Luisa's afterward.

For those of you who would like the address and phone number for O'Brien's Pub, here it is: O'Brien's Pub, 501 Thames Street, Newport, RI 02840. Phone: (401) 849-6623.

Related Blog Entries: Irish pubs, Newport restaurants, Rhode Island restaurants

Friday, November 9, 2007
A Great Experience at Great Chow, Abington

After hearing some positive reviews, we decided to head down to Abington to try out an Asian restaurant called Great Chow a few weeks back. Great Chow is a fairly new restaurant whose name might sound familiar (this is the second Great Chow, with the original being in the Wollaston section of Quincy). It is also a restaurant that seems to have gotten quite a following in the few months that it has been open, and for good reason; the restaurant has a lot going for it, including good food, interesting atmosphere, and a classy feel that is lacking in many other restaurants along this stretch of Route 18 in the Abington/Weymouth area.

We arrived at Great Chow a little before 6:00 on a Saturday night, and the place was already starting to fill up, which is saying a lot, because the restaurant is huge. Every time I looked, I seemed to spot a new section to the place; there is a large room to the left of the entrance, some smaller dining areas to the right, a sushi bar in the middle, and a teppanyaki area toward the back. But even though Great Chow is large enough to accommodate a small army, the layout of the place allows much of it to feel cozy and intimate.

We ordered a number of items at Great Chow, all of which were satisfying. We started with a hot and sour soup and a miso soup, then moved on to a house fried rice that was fresh and had none of the hard, dried-out rice that is often found at so many Chinese restaurants. For our entrees, we had the beef moo shi, which had everything but the kitchen sink in it (but it was delicious), and the gai po lo mein, which was fresher and less greasy than I've had in other places. Our waiter was friendly and attentive, though we had to ask him for water. Also, we never received any kind of tea, which struck us as a bit unusual.

Our experience at Great Chow was a good one. I'd like to go back and try some of the Japanese dishes at some point. Even if my future experiences at Great Chow are positive, however, I'm not sure we will be able to feature it on our site. Why? Well, I have the feeling that Great Chow is destined to become a South Shore institution of sorts, thanks to its unique atmosphere, terrific food, and that certain something that makes this restaurant feel like someplace special. And people seem to be finding out about Great Chow in a hurry, as there were lines nearly out the door by the time we left. And for such a large restaurant, that speaks volumes. It may not be a hidden gem for long (if it ever was), but Great Chow is certainly worth a trip if you're looking for a memorable dining experience.

Related Blog Entries: Chinese restaurants

Monday, November 5, 2007
Good Ribs, Chicken at Lester's Roadside BBQ, Burlington

I am not a huge fan of BBQ, but I like it enough to realize that the Boston area is woefully short in good barbecue joints, especially compared with major cities in the Midwest and the South. There are a few I like, including Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington and Tennessee's in South Braintree, but it is definitely slim pickings when it comes to good BBQ around Boston. That is why I was excited when Lester's Roadside BBQ in Burlington opened up awhile ago. After going there twice, I would have to say that I consider it a step above most barbecue places in the Boston area, but perhaps not quite at the level of my two favorites above.

photo of Lester's Roadside BBQ, Burlington, Massachusetts My most recent trip to Lester's Roadside BBQ was a few days ago. I was actually picking up food for a business lunch that included upwards of 30 people, so I knew I would be sampling several different dishes. I drove over to the place, which is rather plain standalone building that they have spruced up as much as they could (it looks like it may have been a fast-food joint before it became Lester's). One nice thing about Lester's is that they have curbside pickup, which really came in handy the other day, considering I needed to lug about 10 or 15 pounds of food. While I was there, I took a quick peek around (I had never actually been inside the place before). It was pretty nice, with old gas pumps and neon signs giving some flavor to the restaurant, and it seemed pretty clean and was well-lit (and also had an outdoor patio, which will definitely come in handy next summer).

The food from Lester's ranged from just ok to outstanding. On one end of the spectrum was the rather mushy, runny macaroni and cheese. I personally like my mac and cheese to be baked, with a clumpy quality to it; Lester's, unfortunately, was pretty much the opposite, though I realize that this is the traditional way of making macaroni and cheese in some parts of the country. The pulled pork didn't bowl me over, either, as it was tasty but absolutely swimming in grease. I preferred the pulled chicken, which had little grease and a lot of flavor. The corn bread was terrific, with a moist, heavy consistency to it. But perhaps the best dish was the St. Louis dry rub ribs, which were tender without being overly so, were extremely lean, and tasted absolutely amazing with the variety of sauces they gave us.

So Lester's turned out to be a good choice (and a big hit among nearly all of the people at the business lunch). I'm still not convinced that it is up to the quality of some of the best BBQ joints in the Boston area (Blue Ribbon in particular), but it seems pretty close. I want to get back there to try some of the other dishes soon, including the chopped barbecue beef, the sliced brisket, and the chili. And who knows? If some of those items are as good as the ribs and pulled chicken, Lester's Blue Ribbon BBQ may be a featured place on Boston's Hidden Restaurants one of these days.

Related Blog Entries: barbecue joints, Burlington restaurants

Thursday, November 1, 2007
Finally: Printer-Friendly Restaurant Review Pages

Well, it has taken awhile, but finally, we have set up our restaurant review pages to be printer-friendly. Now, when you go to a featured restaurant review and print the page out, all the advertisements, button and navigation links, and background designs are ignored, giving viewers a clean page with nothing but the review (and the photo of the restaurant) on it.

This new feature should be especially helpful to the actual restaurants that have been reviewed on our site; if they wish to have a copy of our review to place on their wall or one of their windows, they no longer have to cut and paste (as a few restaurants have done in the past). They can now simply print out a clean copy and put it up without having to do anything to the printed page.

At this point in time, this printer-friendly function is only being used for the featured reviews we have on Boston's Hidden Restaurants, so blog entries, question-and-answer pages, and unreviewed restaurants, as well as other features do not yet have this feature. Stay tuned, however, as we may start adding this useful function to other sections of our site over the coming months. We will let you know if we do...