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Cheap Eats --- Chronicle's Version

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Tord Svenson Jan 26, 2000 02:31 PM

Cheap Eats --- Chronicle is a Channel 5 7:30 PM week-nightly gadfly show that covers all sorts of New England topics ('thought tonight they are going to West Palm Beach Florida). Occasionally Chronicle strays into food. This show featured three local food reporters and the subject was their choices of cheap, good restaurants.

The first thing you should know about Chronicle is that the two "anchors" - Peter Mehegan and Mary Richardson are perfect examples of 1940s Boston brains trapped in the amber of time. Their comments are hilarious and worthy of SNL -except that you realize that Chronicle tries to be perfect serious. Also, one of the key Chronicle stringers is Mike Barnicle - forced to resign from the Boston Globe for faking news sources. Mike is another example of the entrenched 1940's Boston consciousness - racist and absolutely vicious in the style of an Irish Imus.

Anyway - the cheap eats choices are of vital interest to us -so here is what the experts said -----------

Linda Machin -formerly of the Globe Cheap Eats section was retiring to another Globe post after seven years of Mozzarella Sticks. This was her last fling. Linda chose:

Frank's Steak House in Cambridge. 2310 Mass. Ave - about a ten-minute walk down Mass. Ave from Porter Square towards Arlington. Frank's has a great phone number 617/661-0666 -the Mark of the Beast -and it is beast that they serve. Tip O'Niel loved this place -around the corner from his home. It's an old fashioned steak house. Their "Sizzler" is a thick cut boneless sirloin cooked on wood and served on a hot platter. Linda likes the huge Onion Loaf -which looks paralytic (how many calories in that baby?). They also have items like shrimp scampi for $5.95. Linda reluctantly tried the Mozzarella Sticks and likes them -despite herself.

The Old Country Buffet in Watertown at the Watertown Mall 550 Arsenal St just down from Watertown Square. I think you can get there on the T from Central Square - the number 77 bus? The phone is 926-6377. Linda claims that the place has an "enormous salad bar" - "a couple of dozen entrees including several fish dishes - varieties of chicken - a home-made meat loaf, etc." "There is a large variety of children's dishes - " The meatloaf is superb -bursting with flavor!" The pricing board showed that the cost for the all you can eat buffet is $8.49 for adults.

The Shuttle Stop in Quincy just off Hancock St at the square was next ( Near the Quincy Square T stop). My wife and I have eaten at this Philippine restaurant with the strange name. They have a twelve foot wide wall mural photo of a Space Shuttle overlooking the informal eating space and curio shop. The food was described by the lady who runs the Shuttle Stop as "similar to Vietnamese" - I would add -"only different" :- ) The Philippinos are long gone into various flavored vinegars that add a lot of different tastes to the cuisine. The SS has a sort of "PooPoo" type platter that looked great -they call it something like a "Tartapi Special" (I couldn't hear the tape well). They make good chicken dishes with fine rice noodles Linda described as like "angel hair pasta". The duck dish was "6 alarms" on the heat scale. These are very friendly people with unique tasting food. I know of no other Philippine restaurant in Boston. You could easily fall in love with the lady that runs the Shuttle Stop.

The 50s Diner in Dedham was the last of Linda's choices. It's very retro looking - cheap- eats friendly - a large children's menu - great breakfasts and typical good diner food.

That covers Linda's last fling. I hope that some of us local chowhounds get out and try them - and get back to our list with reports. I'll cover the other two food reporter's choices later in the day -as this post is already getting burdensome to read.

The visual impact of this Chronicle was impressive. Makes me hungry! Time to get out in the ice for late lunch!
Tord