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Boston Restaurant Blog -- November, 2011

Below are blog entries from November, 2011. 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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November, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Our New Google Plus Page

As many of you probably know, Google Plus has been around for a little while now, competing against such social media giants as Facebook and Twitter. But what you might not know is that the site recently expanded to include not only personal pages but also business pages, with many companies and businesses immediately jumping on board to set up pages within Google Plus. We recently did the same, setting up a page that focuses on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site as well as our sister site, the Boston Restaurant Talk blog.

So what exactly is Google Plus and how does it work? Well, it's a lot like Facebook, with users posting status updates, news stories, photos, videos, music, etc., and readers being able to "like" and "share" posts much like Facebook, though instead of having a "like" button, there is something called a "+1" button that works in much the same way.

There is a lot more to Google Plus, but perhaps the easiest way to see how it works is to show some parts of our Google Plus page. First, a main link to our page:

Boston's Hidden Restaurants Google Plus Page

And the two links below go to areas where there are restaurant photos and food photos, respectively:

Restaurant Photos on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants Google Plus Page

Food Photos on the Boston's Hidden Restaurants Google Plus Page

We are just getting started with Google Plus, so expect to see much more from us over the coming weeks and months. If you are on Google Plus, please follow our page--hope to see you over there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Five Interesting Turkey Dishes in the Boston Area

photo of deep-fried turkey from Mrs. Jones, Dorchester, MA Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and with it, turkey dinners on the horizon for countless folks in the Boston area and beyond. And while I like a good plate of roasted turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce as much as the next person, there are other types of turkey dishes that can be every bit as tasty, if not more so. A few of these items happen to come from dining spots that we have reviewed within this site, including the five below:

1) Turkey Shawarma from Rami's, Brookline
Rami's is a tiny spot on the edge of Coolidge Corner that is known in part for its outstanding falafel. But it also has a truly amazing turkey shawarma, with the meat coming from a spit and sliced very thin. It is crisp yet tender and moist, making for some of the best shawarma of any kind, be it chicken or otherwise, that you will find in the Boston area. Address: Rami's, 324 Harvard Street, Brookline, MA, 02446. Phone: (617) 738-3577

2) Deep-Fried Turkey from Mrs. Jones, Dorchester
Another spot that is not much larger than a shoebox, Mrs. Jones is really more of a takeout place than anything, even though a few counter seats can be found inside. But whether you dine in or do takeout, one of the can't-miss items at this authentic soul-food place in Lower Mills is the deep-fried turkey. You can choose from white meat or dark meat (or both), with the meat being moist and extremely flavorful, and further enhanced by their excellent gravy. Address: Mrs. Jones, 2255 Dorchester Avenue, Dorchester, MA, 02124. Phone: (617) 696-0180

3) Monte Cristo Breakfast Sandwich from Victoria's Diner, Boston
Victoria's in the Roxbury/South Bay section of Boston is one of our favorite diners not just in the city, but in all of New England, as they feature interesting takes on classic comfort food dishes. One such item is the Monte Cristo breakfast sandwich that is made up of tender turkey and ham along with Swiss cheese, all stuffed between a couple of pieces of French toast. The result is a mouthwatering concoction that can be enjoyed early in the morning, or any time of day, for that matter. Address: Victoria's Diner, 1024 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA, 02118. Phone: (617) 442-5965

4) Turkey Meatball Sandwich from In a Pig's Eye, Salem
A wonderfully offbeat and eclectic eatery on the North Shore, In a Pig's Eye is also your classic neighborhood spot, with locals frequenting the place (and very few tourists to be found). This is another one of those "inventive comfort food" spots, with one dish being the turkey meatball sandwich. This item includes house-made turkey meatballs with a mild tomato sauce, grated parmesan cheese, and mixed greens, all stuffed into crispy and hearty panini bread. Address: In a Pig's Eye, 148 Derby Street, Salem, MA, 01970. Phone: (978) 741-4436

5) Turkey Tips from Cronin's Publick House, Quincy
Cronin's is a little-known neighborhood watering hole that is known in part for their outstanding steak tips, but so many other items on the menu at this local spot are worth getting, including the grilled turkey tips, which, depending on whom you talk to, equal if not surpass the steak tips here. It's all about the marinade when it comes to Cronin's turkey tips, with both the teriyaki and Cajun marinades being fantastic. Address: Cronin's Publick House, 23 Des Moines Road, Quincy, MA 02169. Phone: (617) 786-9804

There are plenty of other good turkey dishes that can be found at various Boston-area restaurants, but these five should help give you an idea of some of the alternatives to your basic turkey dinner that can be found out there. If you have any favorite turkey dishes, please post a comment below, thanks!

Monday, November 14, 2011
Excellent First Meal at The Madrona Tree in Arlington

Over the past decade or so, Arlington has become known as one of the best places to go to in the Boston area for food, with all kinds of restaurants lining the main drag (Mass. Ave.) as well as a handful of spots that can be found on other streets in town. And new eateries continue to open in this northwest suburb of Boston, including a rather offbeat and eclectic spot in the center of town called The Madrona Tree. We made our way over there for the first time last week, and were quite impressed overall.

photo of The Madrona Tree, Arlington, MA The Madrona Tree first opened its doors this past September at Broadway Plaza, moving into the space vacated by the Italian/Mediterranean restaurant Gemma, which moved next door into a bigger space. For those of you who recall the size of Gemma in its previous spot, you surely know how small a space The Madrona Tree resides in, but the folks behind the restaurant have made the most out of the space, which, while not exactly romantic or peaceful, is rather attractive with its wall murals, funky bowling-pin shaped hanging lights, and chandelier with tree branches attached to it. The restaurant seems to do a brisk takeout business, but there are a few tables for those who would rather dine in.

Upon entering The Madrona Tree, we were unsure as to whether to order at the counter, grab a table, or wait for someone to bring us to a table, but we soon figured out that we were to order at the counter then sit at a table. We looked at the rather quirky menu (think organic comfort food with Middle Eastern touches), deciding on a plate of hummus, a poblano cheeseburger, a portabella burger, and an order of garlic fries, along with beverages that included a raspberry lime drink. The hummus was smooth and creamy with more than a hint of garlic, while the garlic fries were absolutely covered in pieces of garlic and were quite tasty, though some of the fries were limp and undercooked. The poblano burger (called "papa's fireburger") was tremendous--perhaps being one of the 10 best items I've had anywhere in 2011--with roasted poblano peppers, American cheese, and a zesty sauce on top of a very juicy and flavorful hunk of beef, all within a fresh-tasting roll from Iggy's bakery in Cambridge. While it would be nearly impossible to top the poblano burger, the portabella burger was also outstanding, with a thick, meaty, and moist slice of mushroom complemented by a bright-tasting avocado sauce as well as cheese, onions, and spices. The raspberry lime drink seemed a bit too sweet and syrupy, making me yearn for a glass of fresh water instead. Our server was friendly and seemed genuinely happy that we visited the restaurant, and prices were maybe just a tad higher than what I thought they might be, but still fairly reasonable.

While I liked The Madrona Tree very much, I'm not sure how well the place will do in this location, which has little foot traffic and little traffic in general, thanks to the rather odd setup of ending Broadway in a parking lot rather than having it merge with Mass. Ave., as it used to do. This section of Arlington Center has seen a number of restaurants come and go (including some really good ones), so fingers crossed that this impressive little spot can make it here and become known to more and more people in the future.

If you are looking for the address for The Madrona Tree, here it is: The Madrona Tree, 315 Broadway, Arlington, MA, 02476. Phone: (781) 859-5551.

Related Blog Entries: Arlington restaurants

Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Five Great Sandwiches in the Boston Area

photo of an Italian sub from Lambert's, Dorchester, MATomorrow (November 3) is National Sandwich Day, and to celebrate, we are posting a new photo slideshow with this one focusing on some of our favorite sandwiches in the Boston area. This is our sixth slideshow, and as with previous ones, the photos show items from places that mostly aren't all that well known (the breakfast sandwich from McKay's in Quincy or the corned beef sandwich from Inna's Kitchen in Newton, for example). And as always, there are plenty of other photos that we could have posted here, but these five seemed to be among the cream of the crop.

More slideshows will be on the way over the coming weeks, so check back using the "slideshows" tag below. Also, if you have any suggestions for new slideshows, please let us know.

Here is the slideshow on five great sandwiches in the Boston area. Have a happy National Sandwich Day tomorrow!

Five Great Sandwiches in the Boston Area

Related Blog Entries: slideshows