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Boston Restaurant Blog -- July, 2010

Below are blog entries from July, 2010. 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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July, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sublime Cuban Sandwiches at Chez Henri, Cambridge

One of my favorite shows on TV is "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" on the Food Network. The show focuses on well-known chefs and other celebrities in the culinary world who dreamily talk about dishes at various eateries around the country that they can't stop thinking about. Well, if I were on the show, I would probably tell the world about the pressed Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri in Cambridge. and yes, I know it's just a sandwich, but it is indeed that good.

photo of Chez Henri, Cambridge, MA Chez Henri is located on a side street just off Mass. Ave. between Porter Square and Harvard Square. It is easy to miss, especially since the often-busy Mass. Ave. doesn't make it easy to casually check out the shops and restaurants while driving. The interior of the restaurant is broken up into two spaces, with a rather dark and rustic bar to the right and a slightly more formal-feeling dining room to the left. Both rooms are small, and, especially in the case of the bar area, it can get crowded and noisy at times, but on a weeknight, it is often fairly easy to grab a table in the bar area (or the dining room, for that matter). One note: The bar menu is not available in the dining room, but both the bar menu and regular menu are available in the bar area.

In the times that I have gone to Chez Henri, I have only had two items (and the same can be said for my several dining companions): The ham croquettes, which were awfully good (though they no longer seem to be on the menu) and, of course, the pressed Cuban sandwich, or Cubano as they are often called. On a recent visit, several of us tried both the regular Cuban sandwich and the vegetarian version, with both getting top marks. The regular Cubano is what I ordered, and once again it impressed me more than perhaps any single food item in recent memory. The combination of roast pork, ham, pickles, Swiss cheese, and mustard placed into pressed (and slightly greasy) bread was sheer perfection, and the delicious plantain chips on the side were just icing on the cake. Yes, the sandwich is $14, which means a Cubano and a couple of beers will set you back $25 to $30, but it is well worth it in my opinion.

So the Cuban sandwich at Chez Henri is quite possibly the best thing I ever ate, which is saying a lot considering all of the dishes I've eaten over the past several years. If you haven't tried the Cubano there yet--and you love sandwiches--you should definitely give it a shot.

For those who want the address for Chez Henri, here it is: Chez Henri, 1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138. The phone number is (617) 354-8980.

Related Blog Entries: Cambridge restaurants, French restaurants

Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Saturday Evening at the Lobster Shanty, Eastham, MA

The stretch of Route 6 that goes through the Outer Cape communities of Eastham and Welfleet is a seafood lover's dream, as it is lined with seafood shacks and restaurants, some of which are outstanding. We tried one of the slightly lesser known spots a couple of weeks ago while in the area, and while there were some hits and misses, we thought that the Lobster Shanty in Eastham was decent overall.

photo of the Lobster Shanty, Eastham, MA Located on the southbound side of Route 6 across the street from the Salt Pond section of the Cape Cod National Seashore, The Lobster Shanty is a sprawling spot with several rooms of dining as well as a large, covered outdoor patio. The inside of the place is casual and well-worn, with lots of little nooks and crannies giving it an almost maze-like feel. A lobster tank is set up in the middle of the place, while a small takeout area is in the front section for those who may be looking to dine at the nearby beaches.

When we arrived, the outdoor patio had a number of empty tables, so we were able to grab one of them and enjoy the near-perfect weather. As soon as we were seated, however, the couple on one side of us were complaining about the quality of the mussels they ordered, while the couple on the other side were grumbling about the fact that it was taking so long to get their check. Needless to say, we became a bit nervous about the place, and while our server did disappear for long stretches, there were no real complaints about our food. The clam chowder was delicious, being neither too thick nor too thin, while the crab cakes were perhaps the highlight of the meal, with lots of sweet crab meat--and very little filler--and a rich lobster sauce that added even more sweetness to the appetizer. Our main courses were also impressive, as the fried scrod sandwich was not too greasy and had multiple pieces of fish, and the seafood medley had a delightful mix of quahogs, shrimp, scallops, and scrod. Sides were a mix, with the French fries that came with the sandwich tasting a lot like McDonald's fries (a good thing in my book), but the baked potato that came with the seafood medley was a bit dry and the accompanying vegetables were obviously of the frozen variety. Drinks included a rather strong cranberry margarita that had an excessive amount of crushed ice and a sweet and creamy pina colada that had a nice kick to it. Much like one of the couples next to us, we had to wait a long time for our check, which made no sense as the place wasn't that crowded. The overall price was just a tad high, but not outrageously so.

With all of the seafood places in the immediate area (including some that people seem to rave about), I'm not 100% sure I'd go back to the Lobster Shanty. Sure, the food was mostly good and the outdoor patio was nice, but there was no excuse for the slow service, and the lack of crowds made me wonder if other people have had problems as well. I did love the crab cakes, though, and would certainly consider getting them again, perhaps as a takeout item.

For those who want the address for the Lobster Shanty, here it is: Lobster Shanty, 2905 State Highway (Route 6), Eastham, MA, 02642. The phone number is (508) 255-9394.

Related Blog Entries: Cape Cod restaurants, seafood restaurants

Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Our First Live Online Panel Discussion

As many of you know, Boston's Hidden Restaurants (as well as its sister site, Boston Restaurant Talk) is actively involved on both Twitter and Facebook. Recently, we used both sites to help us in our very first live online panel discussion that focused on little-known restaurants in the Boston area. Included on the panel were several folks connected with the Boston restaurant scene, including media people and bloggers.

The first 30 minutes or so of the panel discussion centered around the panel's picks for various "hidden gems" in the Boston area and beyond, while for the last 15 minutes or so, the chat was opened up to viewers who were watching the discussion on our site, with some of them asking questions for the panel (as well as for other viewers). A replay of the discussion can be found here:

And a written transcript of the discussion can be found at this link:

We are going to have more live online panel discussions in the future, so keep checking back, as the next one may be fairly soon!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Outstanding Food at Kabob and Curry, Providence, RI

A little over two months ago, we dined at an Indian restaurant in Providence called, well, India Restaurant. The place was terrific, with outdoor dining, a romantic and exotic interior, and food that was quite good. Well, about a week ago we returned to Providence for more Indian food, and while the atmosphere at Kabob and Curry was much more plain and simple than that of India Restaurant, I thought that the food was better, possibly being about the best food of its kind that I've had in a long time.

photo of Kabob and Curry, Providence, RI Kabob and Curry is a few minutes south of India Restaurant (which is in a quiet, pleasant area near the Pawtucket border), in the heart of College Hill and within walking distance of the downtown section of the city. Like many businesses on bustling Thayer Street, the restaurant is rather small, though it does have two floors of dining, giving it a bit more space than some of the other nearby eateries. The first floor of Kabob and Curry is set in an enclosed four-season porch with a slanted ceiling and large windows affording views out over the street, while the upstairs section is a basic dining room with a handful of tables. The first floor, which is where we were seated, is definitely the preferred spot if you like to people-watch, though folks looking for a quieter, more intimate meal are probably better off in the upstairs area.

The menu at Kabob and Curry features a mix of familiar and not-so-familiar Indian items. On our recent visit there, we did a mix of both, starting with a delicious naan stuffed with a mild homemade cheese and an absolutely sublime idli sambar, which is a plate of steamed rice and lentil dumplings. This latter dish featured breadlike dumplings smothered in a rich lentil sauce and seasoned with various spices, including mustard seeds. The slightly hot chutney that came with the dish gave the dumplings a little boost, though they were so flavorful (mainly from the lentil sauce) that they almost didn't need the chutney. Our entrees were similarly satisfying, with the chicken korma featuring perfectly cooked white meat chicken in a creamy sauce and a sweet and savory mix of raisins and nuts, while the chicken tikka masala had a richer sauce than many others I've tried, and the herbs and spices mixed into the dish only added to the goodness of it. Drinks included a very pulpy mango lassi (smoothie) and a lychee drink that had a floral sweetness to it. Service was low-key and friendly, while prices were about where they should have been.

I would have to say that our dinner at Kabob and Curry ranked among the top five I've had so far in 2010, with the idli sambar being perhaps the best individual food item I've had all year. If only this place were in the Boston area, I'd probably go there every week or two, but it is perhaps just as well that it is located in Providence, giving me yet another reason to head down to this fun and interesting city less than an hour from Beantown.

For those who want the address for Kabob and Curry, here it is: Kabob and Curry, 261 Thayer Street, Providence, RI, 02906. The phone number is (401) 273-8844.

Related Blog Entries: Indian restaurants, Providence restaurants, Rhode Island restaurants

Thursday, July 1, 2010
A Few More Updated Reviews

Over the past three months, we have updated several more reviews of restaurants that have been featured within the site. A few have just had brief updates (Spirit in Cambridge, the Union Station Brewery in Providence, and the Vanilla Bean Cafe in Pomfret, CT, for instance), but others have had more substantial reviews, including the ones listed below.

A few of the restaurants that we have given updated reviews for include Amrheins in South Boston, the Centre Street Cafe in Jamaica Plain, Tony's Clam Shop in Quincy, Kashish in Belmont, Taqueria Mexico in Waltham, and the Sahara Cafe and Restaurant in Worcester. We have also posted "re-reviews" of a number of dining spots we have mentioned within this blog via comments, including such places as Stars in Hingham and Prince Pizzeria in Saugus.

We will try to return to more restaurants we have featured within the site, posting the updated reviews on our Facebook Page and our Twitter page, so if you are on those sites, keep checking them for updates.