Grabbed a meal at the new Elbow Room, formerly the El Phoenix. You'd never know what a funky place used to be in this space. It's very pleasant, seems roomier than I remember the El P. being. Big bar area which was picking up on a Wed. nite but not too crowded in the dining area. Interesting sandwiches in the $6-9 range and meals all $15 or under. I had a turkey club (w/ real turkey), a friend had the roasted egglant and mozzarella sand. (both came w/ fries) and someone else had the meat loaf w/ mashed and green beans. The meat loaf was wrapped in bacon and looked like tenderloins. Two of us split a brownie sundae and someone had the warm apple cake/pie thing (both $5). It was all quite decent for the price, esp. if you live in the neighborhood.
Thurs. I stopped by quickly to say hi to the Chowhound folks waiting for a table at the Taiwan Cafe. I was kind of glad I didn't have time to wait and eat there because I saved my appetite for a big dinner at Sonsie. People like to rag on this place, I think a lot of them don't even give it a chance cuz they hear it's too trendy or has too much attitude. But the people working there are almost always pleasant and the crowd isn't always filled with Euros and snotty rich kids. (And even if it is, it makes for fun people watching.) Last nite it picked up amazingly just between 7:30 and 8 and the crowd was varied, a bunch of Irish guys next to us celebrating something, parents with older kids on the other side, a big table with little kids running around, business people, etc. If you don't like noise tho, that's a problem. My friend had to lean his ear into me to hear what I was saying half the time (but he's played in too many loud rock bands). The food was great as it almost always is and the prices aren't crazy (most entrees were $18-22 with some higher, altho apps seemed a little high). We split the white pizza w/ portobello mushroom and garlic which is always good. I was hoping they'd have a good duck dish and they had the typical sliced breast and crispy leg. The leg was great, I hate it when the skin isn't done right. My friend had pork which had a very interesting flavor to the grilled edges. The spread for the bread was very good altho I can't figure out what exactly it was. And we split their "award winning" choc. bread pudding, which probably has won awards. Tasty. The waitress was really nice, the hostess tried to accommodate my seating wish, the maitre d seemed really interested in how our meals were and told one of the Irish guys he heard the meat was too well done and did he want to get another dish. With a beer and a glass of chardonnay and tip, it came to $83. It's one of my favorite places in Boston and you should check it out even if you've been leery of it.