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Why does the Acton/Concord area have NO GOOD RESTAURANTS?

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  • Disgruntled suburbanite Mar 22, 2006 02:54 PM
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With the amount of discretionary income in this area, you'd think there wouldn't be such a lack of decent dining options. Restaurants are either stuffy and underwhelming, decrepit hole in the walls, or chains. WAH! *rant over*

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  1. Folks are too busy working or getting Roche Bros takeout to support the restaurants which can't survive on 1/2 nights business.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bob

      Try Dalya's, yes it is in Bedford, Route 62 is well traveled by Concordians in search of fine dining and a touch of european atmosphere. I am surprised you didnt mention Le Lyonnaise and 5 Strawberry Hill. Have you tried any of these places?

      1. re: Bob

        99 is always packed...

        1. re: rl

          Your right it always is too packed there, I usually go to the one in Westford which is also packed but much larger.

          I was at the new Not Your Average Joes in Acton Saturday night. 7:00 it was packed. 9:00 totally empty. At least 7-8 staff just hanging out in the back with nothing to do. They still had 2 more hours till they closed too. Doubt it will last long.

        2. re: Bob

          Or maybe just perhaps because we know how to cook and greatly enjoy doing so for ourselves???? Never tried Roche Bros takeout, or prepared supermarket food from anywhere for that matter. Live in Concord.

        3. A chowhound should be able to find good eats just about anywhere. The key suggestion is to simply LOOK.

          Benjarong on Rt. 27 off Rt. 111 has great Thai food. Scupper Jacks on 2A has decent seafood.

          Look at the recent postings regarding Boxborough for more information on good eats in the area.

          1. I haven't been to the area in years, but when I worked out that way, I thought the Crossroads Pub (Acton? Littleton? ..in a shopping center across from the reservoir) had decent pub fare, cold beer and friendly bartenders.

            I also liked Savory Lane in West Acton for good sandwiches, soups and salads.

            1. Please tell us which places you've tried and have disappointed you. Then we may be able to suggest some alternatives.

              1. The 99? Scupper Jacks? Crossroads Cafe? That is scraping the bottom of the barrel. Savory Lane is mediocre at best. Teapot Tearoom in Boxborough used to be excellent, but it recently changed hands. Not Your Average Joes is pretty...well...average. 5 Strawberry Hill is hit or miss. Can't comment on Le Lyonnais as I've never been. Dalya's is very good but the decor is reminiscent of grandma's attic, if atmosphere is important to you. Concord really doesn't have many options, either. However in Westford there's a delicious Chinese / Japanese restaurant called Bamboo that's always packed and for good reason. Sorry this is blunt, but I have to agree with the initial chowhound, there's not a ton of good eating in the area. A chowhound should be able, ideally, to find good food anywhere, except when it doesn't exist!!

                6 Replies
                1. re: Actonian

                  I think you mis-understood my post. The 99 was given as an example by someone to show that people DO go out and eat because it was always packed. I brought up Average Joes, which is average, as an example of something new in town which isnt drawing enough of a crowd to even be open past 9.

                  Bamboo I have recommended many many times in the posts that were refered to. Its my favorite place in this area.

                  Scupper Jacks I find to be awful. Reminds me of a bad wedding but an overpriced bad wedding. Id rather trash pick through Legal Seafoods dumpster then eat there again!

                  Savory Lane I find to be below average, I only went once but got a pitiful corned beef sandwhich that was tiny and expensive and nothing special. Swore I would never go in there again.

                  1. re: jb
                    r
                    Recent Actonite

                    For all you Bamboo fans - check out TOBIKO at Nagog Park opposite to Crossroads on 2a in Acton. Top-notch sushi from former Ginza sushi chef - the rest of the menu is good too.

                  2. re: Actonian

                    How is the Japanese place by the rotary? I went when it was a chinese place years ago and that wasnt very good.

                    1. re: jb

                      I worked for five years by the rotary and enjoyed the Japanese restaurant (can't remember the name it has now, used to be "Mr. Sushi" or something off-putting like that) but sushi, sashimi and tea were always good to very good but the tempura was a little more hit or miss. I would recommend trying it for lunch and ordering one of their box lunches that will give you a sampling of several yummy items (make sure you are hungry!).

                      1. re: Jess

                        It is called Sushi House...decent...not as memorable as nearby Sudbury's Oiishi Two and Fuguakyu...

                      2. re: jb

                        I went there and split a shrimp/beef teppanyaki. It was very good and we spent under $30 and left perfectly full and satisfied. I would definitely go back. the atmosphere is slightly lacking, but its a good place for a weeknight meal.

                    2. Yes, you are so right.

                      I moved to the area in the early 90's from Boston and have been searching for some good food for years, it is a shame that one has to search high and low and settle for something just "OK" or "Not too bad" or that won't get you very sick (such as rancid gravy at a place in Ayer).

                      Places like Crossroads, Scupper Jacks, 99, Ken's American Bistro, Acton Jazz, Savory Lane, a slew of passable to horrible Asian places (too many to name) exist for some reason and people keep going and giving them business. What happens when you move to the burbs, does your taste for good food erode (big sigh!)? We seem to welcome with open arms every chain establishment like Applebee's, 99, Chili's. Mc D's and B King and the like, yet we rant and rave about how bad these places are for us (THINK OF THE CHILDREN!).

                      Westford used to have a great coffee roaster in the RT110 strip mall across from Agresti's (now defunct Italian place that was very good), but now westford has a McDonald's, Burger King, Applebee's, 99, D'Angelos, Dunkin Donuts and every other form of corporate food. To think this is the same town that fought and made national news to keep Walmart out back in the early 1990's.

                      On the other hand, there are some bright spots such as; Filho's in Groton (www.filhoscucina.com), Sonoma in Princeton (Amazing food), The Sole in Worcester (some of the best seafood in N.E.), Bamboo in Westford (good Chinese and Sushi), J's Restaurant (at Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton), Monument Grille (Leominster), The 111 Chop House (Shrewsbury) and T.C. Lando's pizza in Acton (NOT the one in Hudson) to name a few.

                      Oh well , keep your head up and find those hidden jems, they are out there. Filho's in Groton is great and Sonoma in Princeton is as good as it gets.

                      Happy Hunting.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bino

                        Have you tried any of the following:
                        Dalyas in Bedford
                        Serafina in Concord
                        Walden Grill in Concord (can be a little uneven)

                        1. re: cap

                          I went to Dalyas recently with two friends,for lunch.The food was very good EXCEPT-I don't get the cold onion strings-ugh! The waitress said that is how the chef likes to make them,and did not offer to get me any hot ones.Too bad this waitress was so awful,she had no interest in dealing with us. My DC is a chef,and had her own cooking show,so she likes to banter with the staff to see what their opinions are.Zip-no interest from this girl. 20 minute wait for caesar salad,ok,cold onion rings with bad attitude,no way, not even a how was your meal,sorry about the strings,did you like your dessert (we did) bad waitress means no returns for me.Too bad,the food on this my second visit was good-almost.

                        2. re: Bino

                          Westford now has Belle's Bistro which opened last July. They are open only for dinner, and the food is terrific. As far as coffee goes, they roast their own coffee at Belle's and at Java Mama's on rte 110. Starbuck's has moved in to the plaza where the Italian place once was, and an Indian restaurant is taking over where Agresti's vacated.

                          1. re: Bino

                            Have you tried Chang An in Concord?
                            I've read good things about Serafina's in Concord. You might also try Vincenzo's and Aigo Bistro in Concord, as well as Oishii Sushi and Fugakyu in Sudbury.

                            1. re: Andy Smith

                              Chang An is decent, not great Chinese.
                              Serafina is hit or miss and even the miss isn't all that great. Can be noisy and service is slow.
                              Vincenzo's in Concord in fair, large portions, in a noisy room
                              Aigo doesn't exist anymore. (their foi gras was to die for)
                              Walden Grill in Concord Center is adequate..if you are looking for something a bit inventive without the expectation it will be pretty decent.
                              We do need some great places out this way....
                              BTW, Le Lyonnais is good, much like visiting a family friend in France.

                              1. re: mellospice

                                I'll happily second Le Lyonnais in Acton. I wrote about my recent experience there on this thread:

                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/39646...

                                Dalya's in Bedford is worth a visit as well, if you don't mind the country-kitchen decor (which is fine by me). And my experience at Serafina in Concord was perfectly fine.

                          2. Only thing I can really recommend is the pizza at Walden Kitchen in West Concord. Nice Italian style pizza that reminded my of the pizza you can find just about anywhere in northern NJ. Thinnish chewey crust that crisps up on the bottom and outside and a good homemade sauce. Only problem is with the toppings - they are really cheap when it comes to putting toppings on even when you request a double topping.

                            I used to like Daneilla's in Acton before they switched from the taqueria style to table service. It was so easy just to pick up a burrito or their spicy chili.

                            What really burns me is there are really no neihborhood type places to get a good breakfast besides Julie's. Julie's is passable, but other places I've been are not.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: rl

                              I really like the pizza at Sorentos. In harvard, concord, and acton

                              Link: http://www.sorrentospizzerias.com/men...

                              1. re: jb

                                I used to go there before Walden Kitchen opened. I liked the flavor of the pizza, but I thought the crust was too spongey.

                            2. I think the short answer is that the people living in the area aren't terribly demanding about good food. My sister-in-law and her family eat out at least 2-3 times a week, always in mediocre places which they find satisfactory. They like Makaha (Great Rd., Acton) which makes me cringe. They think we're crazy to drive into Boston for a meal.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: cheryl

                                Not so! many of us are very demanding about good food, that is why most of us will travel to get it...Boston, Cambridge,,,etc.

                                1. re: mellospice

                                  But not enough of us for restaurant owners (and potential restaurant owners) to notice

                                2. re: cheryl

                                  Makaha isn't even decent "Chinese-American" food. They are very hit or miss-sometimes okay, other times you can tell it is re-heated garbage. They would have been gone years ago if they didn't have a bar.

                                  1. re: nhtom

                                    And a few times they haven't even had that, lost the license for a few days a few times for serving underage kids, even had a rather large bar brawl there one time. I remember chuckling to hear that the police complained that the bartender was still serving drinks to underage folks while the fight was raging....and the police were on scene. Must be that parents find that the kids will eat the stuff so they get it. Here's hoping that the new place in Acton (see the Boston board) does indeed last.

                                3. Sorry to chime in so late. We lived right on 2A on the Littleton side of Acton for 2 years. For Thai, we did Benjarong, and Bamboo House for Chinese.
                                  The Indian at Monsoon in Maynard is pretty darn good and not a bad drive. Helen's in Concord Center is nice diner food, and Walden Grille is good too.
                                  (Nashoba Bakery in Concord for lunch.... yum!)

                                  For a drive, we'd head back to our old haunts in Arlington (Prose, Flora, etc.). It's really not that far for dinner.

                                  The steak/sushi house at the rotary is meh.

                                  Good luck!

                                  1. Have you tried any of the following:
                                    Dalyas in Bedford
                                    Serafina in Concord
                                    Walden Grill in Concord (can be a little uneven)

                                    1. Take a 30-35 minute drive west and try the Victorian House in Winchendon mass. As good if not better then anything in Boston.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: jb

                                        Victorian House is in Ashburnham. And I've been several times. Amateur hour at best. They try to pass off pedestrian food as upscale by charging unjustifiably high prices. I have yet to find a restaurant in Boston worse than this place. The last time we were there we thought the place was closed. A Friday night and there were three occpied tables (and ours was one of them).

                                      2. Did someone mention Twin Seafoods? Haven't been yet but heard it's good basic takeout seafood.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Joanie

                                          Yes, good fresh and cooked seafood.
                                          Really excellent codfish cakes.

                                        2. r
                                          Recent Actonite

                                          Ok, I was waiting for someone to mention Sushi in response here. Please take the time to check out Tobiko off 2a in Acton - Nagog Park - opposite corner to Crossroads Cafe. I can vouche for the top-notch sushi served here - sushi chef/owner from famous Ginza in Chinatown/Brookline/Watertown. Independent of them now but same high quality - also check out kitchen menu - also high quality asian food for folks not into sushi - ok for kids too. Sit at bar and watch ESPN(or whatever) with great sushi - big place, good service.

                                          1. I worked in the Westford area for six years and I managed to find a couple of good places for lunch.

                                            1. Daniella's Tacorito - very decent mexican style for lunch. I was there once a week for probably two years. It has gone down a bit, but I think that's because the chef opened a new place in Framingham and isn't there as much to keep the quality up.

                                            2. For Pizza, being an ex-New Yorker, it's always a tough thing to find. The best place I found was a little hole in the wall next to the railroad tracks in Westford. Here's how to get there.

                                            - Get off I459 at the Rt 119/2A exit.
                                            - Take a left and go North on Rt 110.
                                            - Go past Kimball's Ice Cream on your right. Yummy frappes!
                                            - Take the left just before the 99 on your left.
                                            - Go all the way down this road untiil you cross the railroad tracks.
                                            - Pizza is on your right, in a gravel lot.

                                            It's a hole in the wall, but the best NY Style pizza with a good chewy crust, right amount of sauce, etc.

                                            3. Bamboo was also good, nice lunch buffet.

                                            It's been two years since I've been up in the area, so I might be a little off now.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: l8gravely

                                              What's the name of this joint? I'm going to check it out asap.

                                              1. re: mohotta

                                                I'm guessing you're meaning the hole-in-the-wall pizza joint..
                                                I'm curious about this too.. What's this place called?

                                                1. re: mohotta

                                                  I think it is Forge Village Pizza, do not bother with it. I used to live about 2 minutes away, poor to OK at best. It you are in the Westford area just go to West Acton to TC Landos, it is the best in Metro West, the one in Hudson stinks.

                                                2. re: l8gravely

                                                  This hole-in-the-wall pizza joint in Westford is Pizza Presti, 2 E. Prescott St., 978-692-4543.

                                                  A few corrections & clarifications to the directions given above:

                                                  - Of course it's rte. I495 that you're starting from.
                                                  - Take exit 31/rte. 119/2A & take a left (I think) at the end of the ramp going toward Littleton/Acton.
                                                  - At the first light, take a left onto rte. 110 east toward Westford.
                                                  - Just before the 99, take a left onto rte. 225/Concord Rd west.
                                                  - Go all the way down until you cross the railroad tracks.
                                                  - Take an immediate right onto E. Prescott St.
                                                  - Pizza Presti is a small building on your right.

                                                  This may not be the shortest way to get there but you're less likely to get lost.

                                                  If you're coming from the north, get off at exit 32, Boston Rd/Westford.
                                                  - Take a right at the end of the ramp onto Boston Rd. toward Westford (away from rte. 110)
                                                  - You'll go up a hill to the town common (less than a mile).
                                                  - At the stop sign at the end of the common, go left onto Main St.
                                                  - Stay on Main, which become Forge Village Rd, which becomes Pine St. & you'll come to a stop sign where you'll bear right onto rte. 225 a short way before the railroad tracks.
                                                  - Cross the tracks, take an immediate right onto E. Prescott St.
                                                  - Pizza Presti is a small building on your right.

                                                  Good luck!

                                                3. I don't know the area that well but when visiting I have been to the following:

                                                  Willie's : not sure which town but it is in the general area and has a sushi bar near the entrance and excellent entrees

                                                  Chloe's: Located in Hudson, imaginative, well prepared food

                                                  Romaine's: Again, not sure of the town, but an an overall excellent restaurant

                                                  Wildwood: I thinbk it is in Marlborough and they have a well executed menu featuring steaks and seafood

                                                  1. Willie's is in Shrewsbury. Romaine's is in Northborough. These are decent places but none of them is really in the Acton/Concord area. Willies is probably 40 minutes from Acton, so you might as well be going to Boston. Even Hudson/Marlboro are probably 30 minutes away.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: ChinaCat

                                                      Seems reasonable to escape Chowless Acton !

                                                      1. re: ChinaCat

                                                        There is a big difference in going to Marlborough or Northborough, and going to Boston.

                                                        I think there are a fair number of Chowhounders that don't like dealing with parking and traffic of Boston, and are chiefly suburbanites.

                                                        My father is especially this way -- he *will not* go into Boston just for dinner -- he doesn't want the fuss of figuring out where to park, and dealing with the streets of Boston, so I can definitely understand TonyO's response.

                                                      2. Try living in Hubbardston and then you can talk about a bad dining scene! I would KILL to have the money to live in the Acton/Concord area. There are TONS of good restaurants within a reasonable driving distance.

                                                        I do despise the 99. Any burger place that can't cook a burger less than medium-well should be shut down!!!!! But I often drive long distances for good chow.

                                                        I do love Not Your Average Joe's.

                                                        Even the grocery stores out that way are so good, I'd be taking home dinner all the time.

                                                        The grass is always greener.....

                                                        1. The year I lived in Ayer was one of the longest in my life. It's a black hole for fine dining.

                                                          1. At least now they have J.P. O'Hanlons now (downtown Ayer) - good music, good beer, and reasonable irish food.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Keithel

                                                              NO NO NO! Keep away from J.P. O'Hanlons, our party was served rancid food there and another time I was served almost raw chicken. Stay with the wiskey at that place.

                                                            2. In Acton, it's easy - no sewers, meaning most restaurants use paper plates.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: greenengineer

                                                                I know it's not in the immediate area (probably 15 miles or so) but I strongly recommend the Gibbett Hill Grill in Groton. The ambience, food and service are excellent.

                                                              2. Sorry to be a late comer, but this thread really resonated with me. I lived in Concord for two years, and though it is a lovely town, it was seriously lacking in good food, not to mention anything open past nine. It is telling that there was a line out the door to get into the 99 on a Friday night! The bustle of Providence, where I live now, makes me feels like I'm in Manhattan by comparison...

                                                                I agree with all the "meh" ratings, though Chang An gets points for the "Chinese Elvis" bartender. Main Street Cafe, which I think nobody mentioned, was perfectly pleasant (love the old building it's in), and the food was decent, if a bit overpriced.

                                                                I thought Aigo was awesome, but it closed (don't know why).

                                                                The best restaurant in the area by far for me was Oishii in Sudbury if that counts as in the area (a few people have mentioned it, so it must count). The service was always super friendly and down to earth, and the chef would come chat with you if you ordered the omakase. None of the trendiness of the Boston location, just clean, simply sushi and innovative entres.

                                                                A big consolation for me was Verril Farm. Of course it's not a restaurant, but its a beautiful thing to be able to buy a wide variety of locally grown produce for so long in the summer. Everything they grew was amazing, like food is supposed to taste (sorry, Whole Foods, you just don't cut it by comparison, quality or price wise). Some of the smaller farms stands (like Arena) were a little cheaper and also very good, though less consistent quality wise and grew fewer crops.

                                                                1. I burst out laughing when I read the title of this. So true! I lived in Concord for several years. My explanation: it's full of Yankees. No offense. Chang An is not real Chinese food, but was tolerable if you didn't even try to pretend it was. I hated Aigo Bistro, and Walden...forget it. Frankly, the only reliable food was at a (good) chain, Papa Razzi. I dined in Boston.

                                                                  www.littlecomptonmornings.blogspot.com

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: janeer

                                                                    You are in a beautiful area of Rhode Island, Janeer. Gray's Ice Cream has the best coffee ice cream and coffee frappes (kabinets) in the universe.

                                                                  2. Acton:

                                                                    Atlantic Sea Grill
                                                                    77 Great Rd.

                                                                    Scupperjack's
                                                                    3 Nagog Park

                                                                    8 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Joshua B

                                                                      Okay, you've got to tell me what you like about Scupperjacks!

                                                                      1. re: three of us

                                                                        I agree! I prefer the 99. I have been 3-4 times to Scupperjacks and refuse to go again. It seems to cater to blue hair old ladies, not that there is anything wrong with that!

                                                                        1. re: hargau

                                                                          In the same mall as Skipjack's is an asian resto that does dim sum on Sundays, is it called Tobiko? I was very wary, but tried it a couple weeks ago and was surprised. It wasn't bad. For the barren 'burbs, it was pretty good. Everything was made fresh as you ordered, no cart. I will actually return.

                                                                          1. re: Kat

                                                                            Yes i went there a few weeks ago as well. Very very small list of dimsum 2 of us ordered and ate everything on the list. Wasnt too bad. I suspect some of the items are frozen/packaged and just steamed up to order.

                                                                            1. re: hargau

                                                                              When I was there, we were the only table in the whole place. I suspect, if that is the norm, that they will not continue the dim sum. One irritating thing was that I asked the server three times if a particular dish contained shrimp (allergic). He said no, then checked with the kitchen and happily said "no for sure!" Of course, it contained shrimp. I think there were only two or three items on the menu I could eat. We also tried the dim sum place in Saxonville that you suggested. Much larger selection there. I hate to say it, but although I took the chicken feet off the cart, I just could not make myself eat even one! Such a wimp. Spouse ate them, though.

                                                                              1. re: Kat

                                                                                When we were there, there were 3 other tables but only 1 other i think was ordering from the dimsum sheet. We also got a order of the pan fried noodles which were pretty good too.

                                                                        2. re: three of us

                                                                          The room, the fireplace, the salad bar, the fish, the rolls, the rest of the food, the live music on weekend nights...

                                                                          I lived in Acton for three years (about 3 years ago) and always enjoyed my time at Scupperjacks. So did dates and family. Oh well. :-)

                                                                          1. re: Joshua B

                                                                            vincenzos in concord,and chelmsford food is ok

                                                                      2. Has anyone tried Ichabod's on 2A in Acton (across from the Chevy dealer)? It changed over from Sunlight Cafe while I was away at school and haven't had a chance to try it.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: abs294

                                                                          Actually, it changed twice! :)
                                                                          It changed from Sun<something -- I don't think it was 'light'> Cafe to Paul's 'Diner' -- which had pretty good sandwiches n such, then to Ichabod's about hmm 2 years ago now?

                                                                          I went in there, but found it to be too expensive and fru-fru.
                                                                          I prefer dropping into Bagels Plus and getting their coffee, which I find to be very good, and of course their fresh bagels.

                                                                          Sure, Bagels Plus doesn't serve many other baked goods other than Bagels, but they do make some good bagel sandwiches, and they have nice fresh ingredients.

                                                                          1. re: Keithel

                                                                            I love Bagels Plus. Sometimes I'll take the long way to Rt 2 just so I can swing by BP and grab a bagel and coffee in the morning.

                                                                            Thanks for the opinion!

                                                                        2. I lived in Ayer for a year and it was a year too long. I think the thing that sold my condo the most was the excellent Chinese food 5 minutes away. That area is a black hole for fine dining. Heck even the supermarkets stunk.

                                                                          1. Over a year after this post the situation is worse for us Metro West dwellers. My minimum standard for a decent place for a special occasion is a Zagat food rating of 25 or higher: none have earned this in Concord/Acton. Dayla's in Bedford was mentioned but it is stale not having changed their menu much in 20 years - how many times can you have the same cream laden lobster ravioli? Vincenzo's is noisy and the Concord restaurant is going downhill as the owner focuses his attention on his new place - I don't think Vinny even goes to this restaurant anymore. Chang An is terrible - I've found metal pieces in my food and they get upset with you if you bring it to their attention. Serafina just got downgraded by Zagat to a 19 - they have the same chef as the Michael's pub at nine acre corner. Walden Grille is awful - stay in the bar away from the food and surly staff - it was better back was it was just plain Walden Station serving burgers and such.

                                                                            There are a couple decent sushi places. Sushi House in Concord for standard fare and Oishii in Sudbury - atmosphere is not so great, like a crowded dim sum place, but food is good.

                                                                            Other than that, you need to head to Arlington (Scutra's) or Waltham (Il Capriccio) or further afield to Boston or Cambridge.

                                                                            Have people in the Concord area just paid too much for their houses and can no longer afford to support a good restaurant, or are they too busy shuttling kids to soccer games?

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: LakeClouds

                                                                              While I agree that this area is a cullinary wasteland, I think you are setting your standards waaay too high. To get the kind of food and service you are asking for, you'll have to go to the upper class places in Boston or NYC.

                                                                              1. re: Keithel

                                                                                Oh, I don't think wishing for the likes of Scutra or Il Capriccio is too much in Metro West. I really like Chloe in Hudson - not exactly the Acton/Concord area, but not too far. I agree with Oishii II in Sudbury - very good sushi. But my real feeling about the dearth of good restaurants in Concord is that it's a very old-fashioned New England town. Yes there is a lot of disposable income - also a lot of very traditional, conservative people, and sky-high rent.

                                                                              2. re: LakeClouds

                                                                                I ask myself this question every weekend when I pull out my hair trying to find decent places for dinner. I think if someone invested in a good high end restaurant out here, it would be packed. There is just no choice and people fill crap restaurants because there is little else. Recently, we've gone to the Natick Collection for a decent meal. A MALL! However, the Met Bar is often completely full, couldn't get a reservation last weekend. Once you are inside the restaurant, you can suspend reality (being in a mall) and enjoy dinner. Very good basil and lime cocktail. Last Sat. ended up at Sel de la Terre there, good braised short ribs. However, the service is sometimes not as polished as you would expect at their Boston locations. We had a very unhelpful server once at Met Bar, but a great one the last time.

                                                                                1. re: Kat

                                                                                  Kat, Someone tried this before. Remember Aigo in Concord next to the train station? The cook/owner from the original l'Espalier used to run it.

                                                                                  Eatin in Woostah, As for Concord being a conservative place, I think you need to rethink that. Concord is and has always been a pretty progressive town.

                                                                                  I also don't agree that having options like Scutra is the Western burbs should be too much to ask.

                                                                                2. re: LakeClouds

                                                                                  Can't really accept your criticisms of Dalyas. They change several items on the menu for each season (summer/fall/winter/spring). And I can't remember the last time I saw "cream laden lobster ravioloi" on their menu. Perhaps you should try Dalyas yourself instead of relying on the dubious ratings from that publication.

                                                                                3. Rant on! I've lived in Concord for 25 years, I've eaten only once at most of the places mentioned and they are all perversely mediocre/boring. I heard it has something to do with the difficulty of obtaining a liquor license, or maybe because the town shuts down after 8pm, as if the place is stuck in a puritan time warp. Yet many locals are perfectly happy with these places and would deem it extravagant to drive into, say, Cambridge for a meal. We cook better at home, or we cruise into...Cambridge, or Arlington, or even Lexington. Exception was Aigo Bistro, but that was a bit pricey for an "I don't feel like cooking tonight" outing.

                                                                                  1. We had a pretty decent dinner last night in Maynard at 51 Main Street. At 7pm, it was packed but we had a reservation, and were led to a really terrible four-top, right outside the kitchen door. I politely asked the hostess for another table and told her we'd be happy to wait at the bar. She was fine with that request, and about 10 minutes later, showed us to a nice booth.

                                                                                    The food was better than expected. I had the escargot special, six escargot out of the shell with butter and garlic in the little porcelain server. It was offered with melted mozzarella (??) which I asked to be left off, and they complied. The butter was a little brown, I'm not sure why, and there wasn't much fresh garlic but the snails themselves were tasty and cooked right. My husband had the bacon-wrapped scallops served with a side of horseradish sauce, and they were good. For the entree, my husband had another special (they had at least a half-dozen), a half duck covered with a mango-jalapeno chutney. The duck itself was well-prepared, although the skin could've been crispier, but the chutney was right out a jar, gummy and sickeningly sweet. I had the steak tips, and they were excellent, marinated in something yummy, cooked exactly right. It was a big portion, and we had the leftovers for lunch today, sliced cold on bread with some blue cheese - yum!

                                                                                    Overall, it was a positive experience. Some of the best food we've had since moving out here, good service and a nice room.

                                                                                    We've tried almost every restaurant in the Acton/Concord/Sudbury area and have been totally underwhelmed. Paparazzi in Concord is consistent but too expensive for a quick bite, Not Your Average Joe's, Walden Grill and 99 are no-go, Vincenzo's in West Concord is good but don't order anything too ambitious and the portions are huge. We do like ScupperJacks for a Saturday lunch, but found Le Lyonnaise overrated and overpriced. The margaritas are better than the food at Sierra's, but Acapulco in Sudbury is way good. Serafina (owned by the same people who own Sierra's) is inconsistent and that room is just awful, poorly lit, noisy and ugly. Bullfinch's food is terrible.

                                                                                    We cook at home a lot but sometimes you just want to get out. We find ourselves driving into Cambridge and Arlington to eat more than we expected when we moved out to Acton.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: Valyn

                                                                                      Valyn, have you tried Sprigs in Acton? Just opened recently - check the Boston Board for reviews. Also Cast Iron Kitchen in Maynard.

                                                                                    2. I don't know why, but it is largely true. The last really good area restaurant was Aigo Bistro in Concord Depot, but it closed years ago. Crossroads Cafe is mediocre. Daniela's Mexican place, ditto. Il Forno, also in the Nagog Woods Shopping Center, is OK and you can bring your own wine. Le Lyonnais is a disappointment. Their "French" cuisine is all but unrecognizable to anyone who knows French food, the prices are high, and the service, though friendly, is excruciatingly slow. I haven't been to 5 Strawberry Hill since it changed hands and became Sprigs, but I have heard some reasonably good things about it. Helen's in Concord serves acceptable American comfort food, but no alcohol. That's it. Very disappointing.

                                                                                      26 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                        Came across this thread as I was searching for romantic restaurant ideas in this area (just moved here). Is this area still a lost cause? Am looking specifically in the Acton/Concord/Littleton/Westford/Groton area and immediately surrounding towns. Gene's Flatbread Cafe in Chelmsford is clearly the hot topic for this area, but I am looking for a "date night" place if that even exists. Inquired about Gibbet Hill in another thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/725544 but am open to any comments about any other choices.

                                                                                        1. re: spectra21

                                                                                          Bamboo in Westford is excellent, though not especially romantic.
                                                                                          Scupper Jack's has, thank god, closed. Crossroads Cafe is very mediocre.
                                                                                          You might try the Herb Lyceum at Groton -- chef Will Gilson's family runs it and he is cooking there a bit now.
                                                                                          In Lowell (about 15 minutes from Acton area, up 495), La Boniche is lovely and romantic.
                                                                                          80 Thoreau in Concord is another good choice, as is AKA Bistro in nearby Lincoln.

                                                                                          1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                            Sorry, I don't think Bamboo is excellent, & definitely not romantic. When they opened several years ago they tried for service that was better than the average Asian place. Didn't last long. Now it's rushed & impersonal & the food is pretty much run of the mill.

                                                                                            1. re: graciesquare

                                                                                              We've only ever had wonderful experiences at Bamboo, and the food is definitely a cut above the other glop served in the area. Makaha, anyone??

                                                                                              1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                Sure there is worse in the area than Bamboo but Bamboo at best is average Americanized Chinese food. We see no reason to go when you can drive 10more minutes and be in Lowell where there are all types of wonderful and authentic alternatives. Lower priced too!

                                                                                                1. re: hargau

                                                                                                  HARGAU, do tell -- where?

                                                                                                  1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                    Well some of the places we go to that i consider much better than Bamboo...
                                                                                                    Simply Khmer in lowell. (Cambodian)
                                                                                                    Viet Thai in lowell (South East Asian)
                                                                                                    Sichuan Gourmet Billerica (further away but worth the drive) (Sichuan)
                                                                                                    Sichuan Palace in Chelmsford, not our favorite but would take it over Bamboo any day.. (sichuan)
                                                                                                    Asia Gourmet in Concord. (taiwanese)
                                                                                                    Woo Jung in Ayer (korean)
                                                                                                    Pho 88 (vietnamese)
                                                                                                    Lin Garden in Dracut (only on Sunday noon for dimsum buffet)
                                                                                                    South East Asia in lowell used to be a favorite but has gone to crap- but i hear its under new ownership so hope it comes back...

                                                                                                    Bunch of others in Lowell that i have not made it to yet but are on my list of places to try.. Like Red Rose for instance.

                                                                                                    If pupu platter , eggfooyoung or moogoogai pan is what one was after though, none of these specialize in that sorta thing and bamboo prolly does it better but we are never after that sorta style.

                                                                                                    1. re: hargau

                                                                                                      I'd add Szechuan Chef in N. Chelmsford to the better-than-Bamboo category. Not in the same class as Sichuan Gourmet but they're always friendly & efficient, & the scallion pancakes are really good (OK, sometimes I revert back to the Chinese food of my youth).

                                                                                                      1. re: graciesquare

                                                                                                        Not many people know that theses folks also run JoJo Taipei in Allston, and have a special Taiwanese menu in N. Chelmsford. The owner told me they would make anything on the JJT menu if requested.

                                                                                                        1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                          i thought that i heard that the chef was from JJT rather than that the place is owned by JJT. In both cases, you probably can get JJT kind of food out there.

                                                                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                            I've talked with the very personable owner, Wayne, who says they own JJT. Once I asked him where he was from, and he said Taiwan. It so happened that I had recently eaten at JJT, so I mentioned it. He whipped out the special Taiwanese menu and told me they owned JJT, as well.

                                                                                                            1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                              I originally brought up Szechuan Chef in this thread a few months ago. Recently we had a rather bizarre experience there. My dinner-mate ordered his meal first; when I ordered mine, the waiter (who was also the host) told me that the entree I'd ordered (which I don't remember now) didn't go well with the rest of our meal & suggested that I order lo mein instead. I've had their lo mein many times, & it's fine, & I'm a wimp, so I acquiesced. He left & I was left shaking my head. I can understand a waiter suggesting something special, or even something more adventurous. But lo mein? I know it's my own fault for not standing my ground & getting what I wanted, but really, lo mein?!? And what I've read above gives me another reason to not go back--I dislike restaurants that have menus available only to those in the know. Inappropriate & off-putting customer service all around.

                                                                                                              1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                i stand corrected

                                                                                                            2. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                              I thought the chef at Asian Gourmet in Concord had ties to jjt?? Or is it a different Taiwanese rest?

                                                                                                              We tried Szechuan chef once a few years back for the szechuan and were not impressed so never returned. Maybe we need to try it again for the taiwanese.

                                                                                                              1. re: hargau

                                                                                                                As I understand it. One of the chefs (not the owner), left Jo Jo Taipei to start Formosa Taipei in Lexington. They tried to open a second in Nashua that failed. Then one of the partners or chefs left there to take over Asian Gourmet in Concord. Now someone else from that group (perhaps the people still at Formosa Taipei, have opened Taipei Gourmet in East Lexington, where Three Gorges was....
                                                                                                                Whew!!
                                                                                                                Lotta Taiwanese going on out this way!

                                                                                                                1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                                                                                  Justbeingpolite is correct as far as I know. The people at Asian Gourmet is formerly of the Nashua Location (closed) and prior to that they did run the Formosa Taipei restaurant. The new owner quit her job at Formosa Taipei to open Taipei Gourmet. I also really like Asian Gourmet and the people there so good luck to everybody.

                                                                                                                  1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                                                                                    The chef is Jet Lee (I'm not kidding) and his wife Jean Lee, who I've never seen cook, but apparently she does too. They did indeed work at Jo Jo Taipei and were partners at Formosa Taipei, then took over Asian Gourmet (in which is it's 3rd ownership that I know of). The Taipei Gourmet place, I'm not sure who owns it, but I'll ask Jean today. I suspect it is a woman and husband who worked at Formosa who worked alongside the Lee's. Years ago, she ran Yummy Thai on Mass Av where L'Impasto is today believe it or not.

                                                                                                                    I really like the Lee's a lot and Jet is one of the greatest Taiwanese cooks around in my opinion. They started a Chinese New Years menu special till the 20th, and it's epic, I went last year. I'm organizing a group outing that's definitely not going to be organized on Chowhound, since admins are hostile to it. You'll just have to get at me through yelp or facebook.

                                                                                                                    Tatsu
                                                                                                                    http://tatsu.yelp.com/

                                                                                                            3. re: hargau

                                                                                                              Where is Pho 88?

                                                                                                              1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                1270 Westford Street, Lowell, just over the Chelmsford line, north of the Drum Hill Rd/Rte. 3 intersection. Drum Hill Rd. in Chelmsford become Westford St. in Lowell.
                                                                                                                www.pho88online.net/

                                                                                                  2. re: spectra21

                                                                                                    80 Thoreau in Concord is wonderful & definitely a date night place.
                                                                                                    http://www.80thoreau.com/
                                                                                                    Search CH & you'll find plenty of raves.

                                                                                                    1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                      Still a food wasteland, saving graces are AKA Bistro in Lincoln for French/Japanese fusion and Oishii or Fugakayu in Sudbury for sushi. IMHO,those are the best of the lot. Also, there is an Asian place on RT 2 in Concord with Taiwanese specialties (next to Paparazzi) which I pretty good.

                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                        Went to Asian Gourmet 2 weeks ago, which is the Taiwanese place you referenced off Rt 2. It's definitely above average Taiwanese food; unfortunately the decor is dated inside and outside and so not the best ambiance (just booth seating with 2 large hibachi tables taking up the majority of the space). I'd prefer to trek out to Jo Jo Taipei in Allston.

                                                                                                        1. re: Kat

                                                                                                          Kat - what do you (or others) think of Fugakyu vs . Oishii in terms of comfort and atmosphere (the ones in Sudbury)? I have been to Fugakyu in Brookline years ago and that atmosphere would be fine for me. Since I'm looking for a date night place, I am looking for a place that feels a little more special than a cafe or diner, though I don't have to have candle light. Still considering 80 Thoreau as well based on the comments, though I am probably more in the mood for sushi or Japanese food (in other words something very clean and light like seafood on the palate).

                                                                                                          1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                            I have pretty much given up looking for atmosphere and good food out here all in one place. But, 80 Thoreau is the exception. There are two rooms ( I prefer the room with the bar); it is as chic as it get in the western burbs. The food is very good as well. As for sushi, Oishii is a tiny room and it can get quite crowded, we have had to wait outside. Fugakayu is big, but it is family friendly and not really a "date" kind of place. AKA Bistro in Lincoln is a candlelight date night, type of restaurant with excellent food and they have sushi.

                                                                                                        2. re: spectra21

                                                                                                          spectra, plse don't hate me for not offering you anything other than AKA and 80 Thoreau for your date nights, but just in case you haven't seen about this place>>Gene's Flatbread in Chelmsford? in case you start dating someone who craves a funky unromantic delicious unusual handmade chinese noodle lunch....

                                                                                                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                                                                            Thanks opinionatedchef - I have gone to Gene's Flatbread twice already and have tried most of their entrees. It is a great find, but I am looking for that elusive "Friday night" place in this area. Have Moonstones in my calendar, will keep you all posted.

                                                                                                      2. It's true, there is so little of culinary interest or pleasure to be had in this area. I did have some good meals at Aigo Bistro back in the day, but that's a while ago. Chang An is decent Americanized Chinese, but not great and certainly not authentic. Benjarong is serviceable Thai, but nothing special (I have spent enough time in Asia to know what I am missing at these places). La Lyonnaise is atrocious (amazingly slow service, and food that bears only the slightest resemblance to anything French), and whatever 5 Strawberry Hill is calling itself this month is overpriced, pretentious, and mediocre, as it has always been. I've not yet been to AKA, but it is on my to do list, as is the Herb Lyceum. I ate recently at Gibbet Hill in Groton, and thought it was decent, if not spectacular. My favorite local pick is Little Pusan in Maynard. Much of the menu is rubbish, but the pickles and kimchi are good, and the dolsot bibimbap - I usually get it with pork - is quite good. Be sure and pay the extra dollar or two for the dolsot (the superheated stone pot, which makes the rice develop a nice crust on the bottom). The British Beer Company in Westford is pretty good for what it is, and if the food is merely decent, the beer is great. Otherwise, I have to go much farther afield: Waltham has some good picks: I have never had a bad meal at Capriccio, and there are many funkier and less expensive places that serve good eats. Otherwise it's into Cambridge or Somerville. And there is Yama Zakura in Northborough: great sushi and maki and a pretty fun vibe. It's something of a schlep, but my wife works in Marlborough, so it's not too bad.

                                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                          I have never been impressed with Little Pusan, I find WooJung in ayer to be much better. I dont think they do the stone pots though but they have great kimchi pancake and bulgogi. Portions are very generous too and service much friendlier

                                                                                                          1. re: hargau

                                                                                                            Moonstones in Chelmsford is a good date place, small plates but also entrees.

                                                                                                            1. re: momoftwo

                                                                                                              Second Moonstones. They also have a pretty innovative cocktail menu.

                                                                                                              1. re: dying_for_dosa

                                                                                                                Thanks for all these replies last month. Ended up going to 80 Thoreau which was a nice find in the area. Really enjoyed the atmosphere, given the suburban location. Now trying to decide on the next date night place....will do a little more research on Moonstones and Herb Lyceum. It is still disappointing that you have to hunt so much in this area! *sigh*

                                                                                                                1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                  But at least you're hunting!! I hope you track down a gem in your travels. I'm sure something is out there!! Keep us posted what you discover!

                                                                                                                  1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                    The elder Swanks had a luscious meal at Crossroads Cafe in Acton last weekend. I was shocked, and so were they. Apparently there's a new chef.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                                      Wow. I am shocked too. We stopped going there about 5 years ago after two meals with raw chicken. What did you order?

                                                                                                                      1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                        My parents went -- I still won't go near that place with a ten-foot pole. However, I'm fairly sure they had steak of some sort and definitely enjoyed it. They also said the wine pours were very generous (maybe that's why they enjoyed it!).

                                                                                                                        1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                                          The wine pours have been Crossroad's only redeeming quality for years. Oh the nachos are decent.

                                                                                                            2. re: hargau

                                                                                                              How can you say the service at Little Pusan is unfriendly? The proprietor is certainly a unique individual and has a brusque manner, but if you show appreciation for the food and select the right items - don't order the miso soup, for example - she warms up perceptibly.

                                                                                                              1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                Really? I go for traditional Korean stuff, get wine, even bought kimchi to go once; she does not have good interpersonal skills, shall we say, for someone in the hospitality industry...

                                                                                                          2. Amazingly long thread considering how little there is to eat. I think families with children drive the dining scene and kids joyfully eat crappy food and parents joyfully watch them. When I am on the road for business heading through that area Acton/Concord/Stowe/Sudbury/Lincoln I reach for the dried fruit in my glove box and keep on driving....best take out is from the WF in Sudbury.

                                                                                                            1. When I lived closer to that area, I enjoyed Belle's Bistro in Westford. Chef owned, good food and a very warm and welcoming atmosphere. Last time I checked on the internet, it was still operating.

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: gracenote

                                                                                                                Another worthy pit-stop is Filho's in Groton, a cozy little Italian place (best for takeout).

                                                                                                                1. re: gracenote

                                                                                                                  Having recently been turned on to Chowhound, I started reading through posts about us and am happy you enjoyed your visits when you lived in the area, though I am curious who it was that told you we are chef owned. Nancy and I are the only owners of the place since we bought it back in 2005, and neither of us are chefs.

                                                                                                                2. Went to Moonstones recently upon recommendation from this board. I enjoyed it a lot. It was great service, modern decor, and an interesting menu. Food was good, especially enjoyed the oysters- fresh from Duxbury that evening. Thanks again for pointing me in the right direction - not sure where to next?!

                                                                                                                  1. I was in Groton today and went to Filho's after seeing it recommended a few times on the board. It made me think that I'm going to need a special term to apply when I'm dining in this area. My first attempt at this is to call Filho's "GFG" -- Good For Groton. I didn't think the food was anything outstanding, but I wonder if such a thing as outstanding food exists in this area (see: this thread). Anyway, it was okay. It was good for Groton. See?

                                                                                                                    My panino was not pressed, which was quite surprising. Perhaps the pressed sandwich is voguish and has yet to come to Groton. I don't know. The eggplant parmesan was eggplant parmesan. The eggplant was very nicely fried but there were only two thin slices where three or four probably would have done (or, alternately, they could do thicker slices). The sauce was a little watery.

                                                                                                                    1. Thanks Finn FPM for your feedback on Filho's. I had passed by it the other day; glad to know I don't have to rush over to try it. Trying to figure out what "nice" restaurant I should try tonight - Sprigs in Acton, Herb Lyceum, Belle's Bistro or something else in the vicinity. Had a rough week! Any thoughts? I have no reservations...

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                        I've had drinks and apps at the bar at Sprig's. Funky little building -- I think it's much better when you can sit outside, but the food and drinks were solid.

                                                                                                                        1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                          Don't be too dissuaded by Finn's comments, and certainly not on the basis of mediocre eggplant parm. I mean, it's eggplant parm, probably one of the least 'exciting' dishes on any menu.

                                                                                                                          What Fihlo's does, they do well - and that is provide fresh, reasonably-priced fare that is not bland (perhaps excepting the aforementioned parm) and that is consistently good. It's certainly not "fine dining" but it is a restaurant that would certainly thrive in places with more options, not just in Groton.

                                                                                                                          On that note, a really good place in Groton for top flight dining is the Gibbet Hill Grill.

                                                                                                                          http://www.gibbethillgrill.com/

                                                                                                                          1. re: lescaret

                                                                                                                            Went to Gibbet Hill Grilll as a walk-in last night - it was great. Thanks for the rec lescaret. The place was packed as it was Parents' Weekend for one of the private schools in town. The parking lot was also crowded from the wedding taking place in the "Barn" facility on the property as well. We were lucky to score a booth in the bar area, and enjoyed delicious mussels as an appetizer and steaks for the entrees. Clean and country-modern decor inside with farm-type surroundings and architecture. Not "quiet and romantic" but it was a fun, date night, type place with a lively vibe.

                                                                                                                          2. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                            I had dinner at Filho's last Friday adn it was very good. I ad the lobster and crab raviolis with a lobster cream sauce and sauted shrimp and grap tomatoes. My DCs had a frutti di mare kind of special and one had a sautee of chicken veal and something else. We had two large sald split between 2 people each. The 4 of us were very happy with our meals. We got there at 7:15 pm and had to wait 20 minutes for a table. By 8 pm there were a number of free tables. It is BYOB with a liquor store right enxt door.

                                                                                                                            1. re: frond

                                                                                                                              I was a really big fan of the restaurant-attached-to-liquor-store concept. Good liquor store, too.

                                                                                                                          3. Today we did Woo Jung in Ayer for lunch. Very good! I've never been to a place that served banchan with the meal, so it was like the best surprise ever: you order your food, and then they bring out all of this delicious kimchi, kkakdugi, bean sprouts, egg drop soup, and so forth. And they keep refilling your banchan as you request, which probably won't be very often, since the portions are very large. I love kimchi, and theirs is milder, not quite as fermented as much of what I've had in Chinatown and from Asian markets. There were two separate kinds; one of them cabbage-based, the other mixed vegetables with more of a sesame, almost ketchup-y taste. I don't know what the latter would be called. It was the first time I've encountered it.

                                                                                                                            Gimbap and scallion pancakes -- both were very good, and more than enough for two people. The lady got japchae, which I thought was good, but a little bit bland -- the Koreans I know say it is supposed to be mildly sweet, but this wasn't at all sweet. Maybe that's a good thing; I don't need sugar in my noodles.

                                                                                                                            We were stuffed and happy! We'll be back. Adding my voice to the recommendations for this place.

                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: FinnFPM

                                                                                                                              We go there often. To me one of the cabbage ones tastes pickled and the other one more traditional. I love the sprouts with sesame.

                                                                                                                              1. re: hargau

                                                                                                                                The sprouts are awesome. One of us will have to inquire about the difference between the two kimchi next time we go.

                                                                                                                              2. re: FinnFPM

                                                                                                                                I love Woo Jung! The food is really good and it is reasonably priced.

                                                                                                                              3. Lived in North Andover 10 years ago and would visit Le Lyonnais once a month for their Roast Duck à l'Orange.

                                                                                                                                4 Replies
                                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                                  I wouldn't bother these days

                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                    Aw, what happened?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                      I, also, am curious about this place every time we pass it. Do tell. Is the same fellow running the kitchen who reputedly has been since the restaurant launched?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: FinnFPM

                                                                                                                                        Yes, the owner/chef, whose name I forget, has been there since it opened. He is French, but has lived in this country for 50 years. I have eaten there twice, but won't go back. I have written a review on Trip Advisor, which recounts my most recent visit in all its horrific details.

                                                                                                                                  2. Wanted to do a check-in to see if any chowhounders have any updates on this area? Anyone try the new Burton's in Westford yet?

                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                    1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                                      Something called Evviva Cucina is opening in Cornerstone Square at some point in March. It looks like a boilerplate new Italian lunch/after-work spot.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                                        Tried Burton's a few weeks ago, 4 of us. I had the beet salad and roasted corn risotto, both great. Beet salad was actually about the beets rather than the too common greens with a few beets, enjoyed that for a change. Don't remember what the other 3 people had but everyone was happy with their food. Will go back.

                                                                                                                                        Definitely make reservations unless you're going fairly late. We had tried once previously and there was a 90 min wait on I think a Tuesday night.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                                          Jason Bond is opening a place in Concord. Last time I was in Bondir, the staff seemed very excited about it.

                                                                                                                                          I'm also a big fan of 80 Thoreau. I've heard good things about AKA Bistro in Lincoln, but haven't been.

                                                                                                                                          For take-out options, both La Provence and Farfalle in Concord can be quite delicious.

                                                                                                                                        2. I have enjoyed a few meals recently at Sprigs in Acton. Last week they had a tapas and Spanish wine dinner that was very good.

                                                                                                                                          1. Some communities don't get behind their local businesses. This seems to happen in towns where residents commute to Boston and work long hours. Saying that I think if you polled the concord residents, they would tell you that they're happy with their down town rests.

                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                              What do you think is an example of a non-commuting town in the area that does get behind its businesses?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                                Huh? I don't understand what you're saying, at all.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: libertywharf

                                                                                                                                                  FWIW, there's a trend piece in the Globe today about restos "discovering" the burbs.

                                                                                                                                                  http://bostonglobe.com/business/2013/...

                                                                                                                                                2. I saw on Patch recently that the Littleton Cafe is open again under new ownership. The woman who took over was a longtime lunchlady (seriously) at Littleton High School.

                                                                                                                                                  Apparently the septic system there is too small to allow them to get a full kitchen permit -- Littleton has no sewer -- so she's making the food off-site and bringing it there, with a convection oven to assist.

                                                                                                                                                  1. That sounds like a lot of New England towns. They live in a time before the foodie revolution. Keeps us thin ;)

                                                                                                                                                    1. Ate at 80 Thoreau recently.
                                                                                                                                                      Wonderful food and wine, and amazing (good) service for Metrowest.
                                                                                                                                                      It's back to the good old days when first Anna Sortun and then Guida Ponte were running restaurants there.

                                                                                                                                                      1. It looks as though Scupper Jack's is getting a paint job. Has anyone heard news of something new opening in that space?

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mrssamiam

                                                                                                                                                          Redravenacton.com gastropub

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hargau

                                                                                                                                                            Huh! Very interesting. Good tip.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Maybe this thread has motivated some people to try to remedy the situation. The Red Raven Gastropub and Bondir soon to open, things are looking up!

                                                                                                                                                          17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                            Acton is getting a gastropub? That's fantastic.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                                                                              sounds interesting and i am glad to see something new coming to the area. But i can tell already, without seeing the menu that it is going to be expensive and not a place i will frequent. However a good option for those who like place like KO prime, etc.. not for me personally though.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hargau

                                                                                                                                                                How exactly can you tell this? My experience of gastropubs, and I have eaten in quite a few of them, is that they are considerably less expensive than what the trade considers "fine dining," i.e., white tablecloth establishments with greater focus on wine than beer and some pretension to haute cuisine. It would not surprise me if this place were priced comparably to, or even lower than, the Crossroads Cafe across the parking lot and forced the latter into upping their game or going under (the latter probably a better outcome, since something much better could go in there). Or similarly priced to Not Your Average Joe's, but also considerably better.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                  I get the feeling just from reading the website about the executive chef who previously worked at The Ritz, Eastern Standard, KO Prime, etc. and the whole "elevated pub menu and farm to table" and "gastro pub" buzz words, to me rings $$$$ but time will tell, hope i am mistaken.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                    "Or similarly priced to Not Your Average Joe's, but also considerably better." How could you even pretend to know this might happen? It's not open yet.

                                                                                                                                                                    The gastropub term is flung around very loosely, and at this point, means almost nothing in the US. (BTW, gastropubs in the UK are NOT inexpensive, generally.) The place in Acton might turn out great, but I wouldn't get too excited just because they are calling themselves a gastropub.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                      I see their main "bistro" menu is now out. $44 ribeye steak!? $18 for what one yelper described as 2 small spoons of Foie Gras. $9 for a cup of onion soup.. Yea definitely comparable to crossroads cafe or nyaj!

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                  According to their webpage, opening on 11/24 and serving their Pub Menu until mid-December. Heard the place looks really nice inside and it will be interesting to see the draw on the Weds before Thanksgiving as the Scupper used to be the local watering hole for reunions....

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sidesfive

                                                                                                                                                                    After a cold-a$$ day of tree-shopping out RT 2, I remembered some chatter about Red Raven; so, hungry, cold, and looking for the Pats game, we checked it out. Honestly, we found the atmosphere to be pleasant, especially in that rather bleak stretch of Acton (we have almost zero knowledge of this corner of the world). We settled in at the bar with the game, and had fine service from the bartender. B was perfectly happy with the taps and I think he got a couple of Lagunitas. Not cheap at $6/mason jar (these need to be banned), but, heck, when you need a good beer, what's a dollar or 2?! Wines by the glass were serviceable. I had the garden flatbread - crust was just ok, but the veggies were quite flavorful. A bit soggy, so maybe they could go a bit more easy on toppings and get the stone/oven hotter or keep them in a smidge longer? B said his short rib tacos hit the spot.

                                                                                                                                                                    In the time we were there, the chef came out to chat with an older couple sitting next to us who had some dietary restrictions (real allergies, not just some fake "I can't eat gluten" $#!t). He told them what he could do to accommodate them, and we joined in on the conversation. Nice fellow and he and the couple came to a solution.

                                                                                                                                                                    Well, to make a long story short, if we're ever in this part of town again, we'd stop by again. We fortunately did not get the bad service of Dinsdale45 (a 'hound that I trust). Which experience is the out-lier is to be seen.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: digga

                                                                                                                                                                      $6 for a mason jar of Lagunitas is pretty much the going rate at bars in the area - I've seen it sold for more too. And I agree, those mason jars have got to go - have no idea how much liquid they hold and the sharp lip is unpleasant to drink from. The local Lagunitas rep/distributor must be pushing those for some stupid reason (hold less than a shaker = more profit for the bar?) because Lagunitas is the only beer I've been served in them in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                                                                        I actually think that the mason jar has a Lagunitas logo on it. I could swear we've seen them elsewhere in the greater Boston area, but can't remember.

                                                                                                                                                                        We still like their beer, despite this unseemly practice.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                    Regarding Red Raven. I was there for the first time last night. Horrible experience with management. I posted a review on Yelp, and I just heard from a couple of people on there that the restaurant has had negative reviews removed from that site. Anyway, in case I get censored over there, I'll repost here.

                                                                                                                                                                    "Nice business model. Buy an outdated seafood place the size of a barn out in an affluent suburb and adopt a trendy name/theme like "gastropub" to justify the prices. Red Raven has all the charm and ambience of Chili's, with the pretension and prices of some tiny mahogany-lined joint in downtown Boston. I really wanted to like this place, since the area really needs a decent drinking establishment, and was excited to give it a try.

                                                                                                                                                                    First of all, my bad for not checking the beer prices. I usually go to craft beer bars and order the good stuff, and I consider myself to be an informed consumer of high end beers. So I ordered a high gravity beer from a domestic brewer that seemed like the least boring option on the list. Fine. Beer was OK, nothing special. I realize they're still in a soft-opening and the full menu isn't available, so I ordered a $14 burger. This was a decent burger, but I don't know if it was a $14 burger. It was pretty juicy, but the bun was so thin and weak, it was a saturated sloppy mass by the time I finished. The fries were thinner than Mickey D's shoestrings, and were cold and hard. But, they were accompanied by a tin of aioli. Oooh. How very Continental! Maybe that was what I was paying for. Also, I read negative postings about the waitstaff, but they were very friendly and helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                    Anyway, I went to cash out and I was taken back at the charge of $11 for the beer, so I asked the bartender to see if it was a mistake. I'm normally not into complaining, but this really bugged me because it was so far out of line. She told me that there beers are very expensive. Uhh...OK. The manager was right there, so the bartender called her over. I tried to explain that I was shocked by the amount they charged for the beer, since I order better craft beers all the time, and I know what things should cost. This condescending Barbie-doll proceeded to do a corporate tap-dance all around me, pulling out some caveat-emptor doublespeak, and smugly suggested that I should order Bud-Light if I don't like paying $11 for a beer. Then a guy I correctly pegged as an owner came over to join in. This mega-tool started in asking me what I expected them to do, throw the beer down the sink? He started pestering me with questions like, "how much do you think that stuff costs me?", and "do all those craft beer bars you go to have to pay high rent like I do?". Oh, OK, sir. Now I get it. By all means, keep on hosing your guests with overpriced mediocre food and drink. You have bills to pay, and an illusion of class to maintain. A burger and a beer at the Red Raven in Acton costs about $30, so budget accordingly.

                                                                                                                                                                    Unfortunately, this place has been quickly crossed off my list, and because of the unpleasant interaction with the arrogant, confrontational, and short-sighted management, I will do my best to spread the word that this place does not deserve our money and patronage. Too bad."

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                      That stinks. I had high hopes for this place. I would have been surprised by an $11 beer too, but to hear that the manager and owner were graceless about your complaint and told you to go drink Bud is really rude.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                        hmmm sounds like my prediction that everyone criticized was spot on in regards to the $$$

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                          What a shame! I recently visited the new Bondir and found it an overpriced, pretentious let-down (full review coming soon).

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                            OMG can you imagine how blocked (emotionally) a restnt owner has to be to confront a customer in that way? He is what I call "in the wroooong business". I experienced a show down like that 2 years ago at Bacaro in Providence, and I still think it must have been a bad dream.....

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                              From the menu it looks like you ordered Dogfish Head Midas Touch (is that even a beer? lol).

                                                                                                                                                                              You really have to check the menu prices (and pour sizes) on craft beer these days and decide for yourself if its worth it or not, you just can't assume prices are fair, in line with other places in the area, or even other similar beers on the menu. Could be a number of reasons why the beer is priced the way it is - including the reasons given to you. But sometimes it is obvious (to me anyway) that some beers are just put on the menu at a much higher price to catch unsuspecting customers like you who assume they will be priced fairly, those who just don't know what it should cost and/or don't care what it costs, or those who assume the higher the price the higher the quality/rarity.

                                                                                                                                                                              It seems most of the other beers on the menu are in line with what most bars serving craft beer in the Boston area are charging. I wouldn't touch the Duvel at $12 either.

                                                                                                                                                                              But the treatment you received after you questioned the pricing was unacceptable, but not out of the realm of the snootiness that comes with craft beer these days.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: LStaff

                                                                                                                                                                                The fact that Guinness and Sam Adams are $7 are indications that they gouge customers. But, as I said, I neglected to check the price because I knew I wasn't ordering anything imported or rare. Yeah, the pricing of craft beers is getting pretty ridiculous these days, and not going out as much as I used to, when I do see the tabs I'm pretty shocked at what everything costs. And this is a "down" economy? I guess it just highlights the growing difference between people who are doing so well that they don't care what anything costs, and the rest of us who try to be a bit more budget conscious.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. Asian Gourmet in Concord has been fairly popular - I enjoyed it!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Hideous food crawl experience, Sudbury, Maynard, Stow. Had a sitter for only 2 hours so couldn't go far. Started out at the newly reopened Sierra's in Sudbury on 117. I was interest as I read that it was opening with a New American menu. We found two empty stools in the bar and filched a menu from the hostess stand. The menu seemed very average and on the pricey side for the burbs. $17 for fish and chips? Really? we thought we'd stay for at least a drink, but it was so packed that we were unable to get the bartender's attention so we left.

                                                                                                                                                                              Time was ticking so we made a rash decision to go to the nearby Peyton's River's Edge for a drink and apps. After a disappointing meal last spring we had sworn not to return and should have abided by that. The place was 3/4 empty at 8:00 p.m. We decided on the wings, since spouse is a low carber. That was the next poor decision. This was possibly the worst food I have ever been served in a restaurant. Flabby skin, undercooked meat, just inedible.

                                                                                                                                                                              Had about a half hour left, so we then went to Red Ginger in Stow for sashimi and sushi since we were so hungry by this point. Fish was adequate. I ordered a mai tai and saw it being poured from a gallon size plastic jug, pre-made.

                                                                                                                                                                              So, I am just so disgusted by the general state of dining out in this area. We make every effort to avoid chains and go local, but it is nearly impossible to do that here and get a decent meal without spending $$$ and going to AKA. Sorry, rant over.

                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                Sierra's is the single worst restaurant i have ever been to in my life. utterly disgusting.. so you lucked out in not getting anything there.

                                                                                                                                                                                I have never been to peyton's or even heard of it...

                                                                                                                                                                                Red Ginger i went to 2x when they 1st opened. Once tried the buffet, once the menu.. never went back, very disappointing. So many better choices around so no reason.

                                                                                                                                                                              2. We recently ate at AKA and 80 Thoreau...

                                                                                                                                                                                AKA:
                                                                                                                                                                                I had a stewed octopus special that bordered on bad. Tasted like they pressure cooked the octo (so it was tender) then dumped it into a red wine sauce that needed another hour simmering with the octo. Sharp, rawish (the wine not the octo) red wine flavors and fennel in the wine. Really did not hold together.

                                                                                                                                                                                Wife had scallops which were very nicely done but almost overly simple. No real WOW. Fries (for the kids) were excellent, but $6. They also split a grill cheese.

                                                                                                                                                                                Overall I would give it another whirl, but nothing we had was particularly delicious.

                                                                                                                                                                                Hit 80 Thoreau for a quick light dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                Had duck liver bar snack, it was tasty, but really just 3 tiny nubs of duck liver pate (not foie gras) and some toast points. Fine for $7, but totally forgettable.

                                                                                                                                                                                Also had the eggplant soup, which was nice, subtle and tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                We had already snacked in the afternoon, so just had a main, and split the (name?) chickpea Socca crepey thingie with grilled veg. and cheese inside. Very flavorful, but SUPER rich. Felt like it had a stick of butter melted into it. Sort of classic veggie dish of a chef who is creative, but not entirely comfortable in the veg zone, so goes over the top with butter to make sure it tastes good.

                                                                                                                                                                                We would have tried another main instead, but they all seemed very sort of standard meat, fish, protein, nothing really caught our fancy. They did say they were doing a chef's tasting. That would have been a good test of the kitchen... next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                Overall a decent meal. The decor is a tad too Crate and Barrel, designed utterly not to offend, but nice, warm, welcoming. Very professional staff. We'd certainly give it another whirl.

                                                                                                                                                                                Jury still out for us on 80 Thoreau.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Great to see some recent reviews. Thanks StriperGuy for your recent reviews; I won't rush to try AKA Bistro. Looking for a nice restaurant to try in the neighborhood later this week ; too bad Red Raven is not open yet. Thinking about going to Cobblestones in Lowell for the first time. Any other ideas? Have done 80 Thoreau, Moonstones, and Gibbet Hill this past year; may repeat, but would love to try something new.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                                                                                    Have you tried Strip T's in Watertown? It is a bit of a drive east, but very worth it. I have to respectfully disagree with Striper about AKA, I have had a number of very fine dinners there. The frisee salad with poached egg and lardons is my favorite!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: spectra21

                                                                                                                                                                                      If you've gone to Groton for Gibbet Hill, how about Filho's Cucina?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: gracenote

                                                                                                                                                                                        I've done Filho's already for takeout a few times in the past-not bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I am sorry to hear about the foul experiences suffered at the Red Raven. I have relatives who live in the region and the word on the street is that the menu doesn't fit the town -- older residents who prefer the familiar fare of nearby Crossroads Cafe. The word "gastropub" raises brows, as do the prices.

                                                                                                                                                                                      These are my stomping grounds when visiting elder Swanks and Swank-in-Laws. I can wholeheartedly endorse: The Concord Cheese Shop (Concord), AKA Bistro (Lincoln), Twin (West Concord; ignore the surly server and get a meal to go); Gibbett Hill (Groton); Sprigs (Westford); Bamboo (Westford); Dalya's (Bedford); and Luigi's (Bedford).

                                                                                                                                                                                      Also: I would recommend avoiding Sierra's (some of the worst Mexican food I've ever choked down), Bueno Y Sano (sad, since the Amherst branch is awesome), Crossroads (bland suburban strip-mall horror show), Serafina (gloppy gloopy overpriced Italian food), Colonial Inn (the atmosphere is circa 1780, and the food tastes like it's been under heat lamps since the same era), Makaha (a garish MSG temple of your underage nightmares), and Papa Razzi (fine after three lukewarm glasses of Chardonnay in a pinch).

                                                                                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Swankalicious

                                                                                                                                                                                        To add to your list: River Rock in Maynard (served a microwaved plate of plain, dry chicken breast with gloppy gravy on the side, right out of a jar) and Peyton's Place, also in Maynard, (undercooked, flabby chicken wings). Also, Sierra's is no longer Mexican, it is supposedly "New American" now with $17 fish and chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm bummed to hear that Bondir was overpriced and pretentious (a few posts above), I was hoping it would be another AKA in the area.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kat

                                                                                                                                                                                          Last weekend I visited the new Sierra's to meet up with some friends. On a Saturday night, it was 3/4 empty. I ordered the chopped salad with steak. The "steak" consisted of a handful of shreds of beef each about the size of the nail on my pinkie finger. It was also tasteless. I will not be returning.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. This is a review of the new Bondir on Walden Street in Concord. I am told this is a twin of the one in Cambridge and our waitress told us that people who can't get reservations in Cambridge tend to come out here. However, having looked at the Bondir Cambridge menu, it appears that there are some significant differences between the two. Possibly not sufficient, though, to tempt me to try the Cambridge branch.

                                                                                                                                                                                        It is a very nice space, I have to say. But the food is less than stunning, especially given the prices and the hoopla. The menu is a list of about a dozen dishes that can be ordered either in appetizer or main course portions. My wife and I went on a Sunday. The only seating options were 5.45 and 9 PM, so we took the early one, skipping lunch. The bread is excellent. The menu lists two kinds, but when the server brought us a basket it contained only 2 slices of one variety and we were not sure which one it was. She subsequently asked if we wanted more and we said yes, asking which of the two we had just tasted and then she asked if we wanted to try the other kind. Curious: why not bring both in the first place?

                                                                                                                                                                                        I decided to go for three appetizers, which the server said would be roughly equivalent in quantity to an appetizer and a main.

                                                                                                                                                                                        The menu descriptions are fussy in the extreme. One of the dishes, which I ordered, was "Roasted Black Futsu Squash
                                                                                                                                                                                        Concord Mangalitsa Braise, Satsuma Tangerine,
                                                                                                                                                                                        Spiced Brown Butter, Petit Greens"

                                                                                                                                                                                        OK, I can figure out that Futsu is a variety of squash, probably some heirloom sort, but what in the world is a Concord Mangalitsa Braise? The dish was pretty good, but even if they had flown the squash all the way from Japan there was in no way $14 worth of food on the plate. Next up was the pasta with shaved white truffle. This is a classic dish, which I have had before in Italian restaurants, and I was prepared to splurge and fork out the $45 for the appetizer portion (as a main course it is $70). The pasta was homemade and very good, but the quantity of truffle was minimal and difficult to taste, especially with the accompanying "L’escala Breadcrumbs, Braised Kale, Prairie Fire Chili, English Thyme" I didn't bother to ask what l'escala breadcrumbs or prairie fire chili is, or in what essential way English thyme differs from the American variety. Other items on the menu, which I didn't try, included "Sweet Potato Custard Tartine, Seared Teff Polenta, American Chestnuts, Autumn Vegetable Mignardises, Mustard Oil." That's a single dish, in case you're wondering. I am fluent in French, but use of the term "mignardise" here had me stumped. A mignardise is like a petit four or something similarly sweet, typically served with the coffee at the end of a meal, so what on earth would an autmun vegetable mignardse be, and what was it doing on that plate?"

                                                                                                                                                                                        I rounded out my trifecta with South Texas Antelope Leg, which was very good. Obviously not a whole leg, unless they grow especially small antelopes down in Texas, the meat came sliced, red in the center but with a good sear on the outside, and a flavorful and not too obtrusive sauce with cocoa in it.I am drawing a blank on what my wife had; she said she was not overly tempted by anything on the menu, and whatever it was she ordered was good enough (I had a taste) but hardly spectacular.

                                                                                                                                                                                        My wife had two (or was it three?) glasses of the house Cava. I had a glass of Burgundy to start, followed by a glass of Barbera. But when you're charging 12+ bucks for a glass of wine (and a far from generous pour), something a little more original than a generic Burgundy would be welcome.

                                                                                                                                                                                        We decided to skip dessert, mainly because they all sounded pretty unappetizing. The choices were: a French Laguiole cheese surrounded by all manner of frou-frou garnishes (do I even want to know what a "parsnip mostarda" is?); a Chambord-poached sunchoke "coeur à la crème," and four varieties of ice cream/sherbet: Cider & Birch Bark Sorbet, Juniper and Whey Sherbet, Concord Pumpkin Gelato, Buttermilk and Winter Savory Ice Cream. I mean, come on, could any of those be any good? They sound horribly weird, especially the savory ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                        My wallet lighter by about $180, we took our leave. I won't be back.

                                                                                                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                                          I went a week or two ago with some friends and many dishes similar to the ones you write of. All were quite good to excellent, with just a couple issues for me in the cooking of some of the meats. That he uses ingredients that some find exotic or unusual seems to be an issue for the staff right now in finding the right balance of explanation for a new audience, but I for one am happy to know that the mangalitsa pork is local, and that sweet potato dish was wonderful (and where is he getting american chestnuts?). Compared to 80 Thoreau, which we like very much, Bondir presents a menu that is a little more challenging and very personal to the chef/owner, and it may take a while for its audience to sort itself out after all the hoopla of a new opening in town. Staffing is likely also a challenge - our server was a bit on the condescending side until we made it clear that we actually understood most of the menu and would ask about items we did not. Very happy to have it here - and that Juniper Whey sherbet was a highlight of the evening - could have eaten a quart of it.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: loper

                                                                                                                                                                                            Loper,

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am glad your experience was better than mine. I am not averse to "challenging" menus - I have eaten rotten shark in Iceland, ika natto in Japan, viper in Cameroon, camel in Chad, live termites in Congo - but I found the menu (and, especially, the menu descriptions) overly fussy, hard to understand, and just plain weird. I am aware now that mangalitsa is a kind of pig, but what a "mangalitsa braise" is remains unclear to me, and in any event the presence on the plate of any kind of pork was undetectable.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Opening a new restaurant is a risky venture, and I certainly wish the chef/owner the best of luck and hope he finds a market for his very personal style of cooking. But even more than that, I would hope for him to turn his very considerable talent in a slightly more accessible direction. Using the same ingredients and cooking style in a slightly less overdone fashion could yield terrific results and also broaden the restaurant's appeal. And, in the event that I ever do return, I will take your advice and try the juniper whey sherbet.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                                            First - "Obviously not a whole leg, unless they grow especially small antelopes down in Texas" excellent!

                                                                                                                                                                                            Secondly, I think this is an Bond trademark - give you so many rare ingredients you have no idea what you are eating. I spent half my time at Bondir Cambridge on my phone trying to know what the menu said and I think I know food pretty well. I like to try something new, but a little more guidance is required. I never went back to the Cambridge location after one try, but I might give the Concord one chance. Just one.

                                                                                                                                                                                            www.hungrytommy.com

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                                              That was an excellent write-up, foodfight. Even though you clearly were not a fan of Bondir, you shared a lot of solid information so that someone could actually read your review and decide "hey you know what? I like all that and will give Bondir a try." Thanks.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm still on the fence, leaning towards a pass.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Alcachofa

                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks for the compliment

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: foodfight54

                                                                                                                                                                                                Great review, thank you. Like you, I am fluent in French and well versed in food but every time I've looked at the menu at Bondir Cambridge, I don't really know what to make of it. And I can't help but feel some of the definitions of these words are getting stretched for no good reason except to appear fancy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                That said, I enjoyed our meal at Bondir Cambridge and look forward to trying the Concord location eventually. I do think though that the style of cooking is one you really have to be in the mood for. It's certainly not a place to go when you're hungry, tired, or just feel like getting some food (at least for me).

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Klunco

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks for the compliment. I think you may have hit on something important: this is not a place to go when you are just looking for a meal, however good. You have to be in the mood for some theater, for an experience. My wife, though she will try new things, is more into familiar comfort food, so if I do go to Bondir again I will probably have to find another dining companion for the occasion.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3. Acton/Concord Area Roundup

                                                                                                                                                                                                I havent posted here in ages so this is a catch up post. Nothing detailed just a brief post.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I have two local favorites, 80 Thoreau and Sprigs. Sprigs more so because its warmer and friendlier. 80 tilts toward the trendy crowd.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I used to go to Belle's but they took a turn for the worse a couple of years back

                                                                                                                                                                                                The Red Raven:.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I have mixed emotions feeling about this and tilt slightly negative.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The menu is very limited, though I did like the pork sliders and wings.

                                                                                                                                                                                                I haven't tried a cocktail because I know I'll be disappointed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                My complaint with the beer isn't the price (I'm used to Boston prices), its how they handle it. It just doesn't taste right. Its like they don't keep it properly chilled or mishandle the kegs. I've tried 6 or 7 different beers and they've all tasted better elsewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                                The bartenders are something else entirely. Their not particularly friendly or personable. Nor are they inattentive or rude. Lets just say that Sprigs or 80 has better.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Even though I'm not thrilled about this place I have hope that they will improve. The second time was better than the first and I this place is so close I can almost walk home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                That said Sprigs is still my number one. I always feel wanted and have never had a bad meal there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DaveCan

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have not been to 80 Thoreau, but it is definitely on my list. Based on this recommendation, perhaps I will give Sprigs another try. It is several years since my last visit, and I have had no desire to go back, but perhaps it has improved...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  As for the Red Raven, I tried to eat there on a recent Friday and left in a mixture of confusion and disgust. The place seems to suffer from a severe case of confused identity. It bills itself as a gastropub, but it appears to have pretensions to something more - a white tablecloth (literally) establishment. The two don't mix.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  We came in, the place was packed, and the hostess told us it would be a 45-minute wait for a table but if we could find a place at one of the high-top tables near the bar on the ground floor or at the bar upstairs we were welcome to seat ourselves. There were plenty of high-top spaces available, but they were all marked "reserved." Upstairs, the bar was packed, but there were a dozen empty tables. I went back downstairs to enquire and was told there was no waitress/waiter service at those tables, but I could order food at the bar and then go sit down at one of those tables to eat. Back upstairs I asked a bartender for a menu and he nearly flung it at me. We consulted the menu and saw nothing terribly appealing, and left. I may go back on a weeknight when I have a decent chance of getting a place to sit and of being served something to eat and drink, thus giving the place a fair chance, but on past form I am not terribly hopeful.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: DaveCan

                                                                                                                                                                                                    We had dinner at Sprigs over the holidays when family visited from out of town. It was wonderful. The atmosphere was very cozy, the service was attentive and the food was delicious. There was not one complaint among the seven of us. It was also quite packed. I think it was the best meal that I have had in this area for a long time (with the exception of AKA).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. We went to Red Raven on Saturday at about 4pm (I had a concert to sing in that evening and needed an early supper). The upstairs bar was closed, and they weren't seating in the dining room, but the bar was hopping and several of the high-tops were open.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Generally the experience was fine, surprising given some of the reviews here. We started with some marinated olives, which were quite good (we love olives and always order them if they're on the menu. These were better than what's offered at 80 Thoreau). I had the steak frites, and both the steak and the fries were tasty and cooked correctly. A blob of what tasted like roasted tomatoes was on top of the steak; they didn't add anything to the dish but weren't bad. The aioli with the frites was good and garlicky but tasted like something out of a jar, not homemade.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    My husband had a burger, and he said it was good. The wine-by-the-glass menu had some decent stuff on it (although the best wines were by the bottle only), and the wines themselves were handled well - the glasses of red were even ever so slightly chilled.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    The service was okay. Our waitress was young and helpful but confessed she "doesn't know anything about wine" which is pretty weird in a bar-server. They ought to train their servers better and take advantage of upselling opportunities. Plus it just sounds dumb when a server at a 'gastropub' doesn't know anything about alcohol. She mixed up the glass of malbec with the glass of claret, even after (we suspect) checking back with the bartender before she approached our table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    We'll go back, but it's different experience than 80 Thoreau. Much less formal, and the food and service is not as high-end. I would hesitate to go on a Friday or Saturday night, seeing as how that's when a lot of the bad reviews tend to come in. Maybe they just don't know how to run a high-occupancy space during peak times.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Valyn

                                                                                                                                                                                                      We finally tried Red Raven again about a week ago. (Our last time was soon after they opened, and was a poor enough experience that we had little interest in returning.) I still don't see us going here often, but it seems much improved and I expect we will occasionally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Our first visit the service had been comically messed up. I put this down to them being new, though still not really excusable given the prices and what they seemed to be going for. Service was much better this time, and from watching other tables I got the sense things were running pretty smoothly in general and staff was better trained.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The menu didn't seem well thought out in the beginning and we both found it hard to find anything we wanted to order back then, also the prices were generally much too high for what it was. I'd heard about menu changes a couple times which is why we finally tried it again. While not an inexpensive place, prices are more reasonable now. The menu is still a bit more limited than I would prefer, but at least makes somewhat more sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Food had actually been pretty good the first time we were there, and it was still pretty good. Nothing astonishing, but a decent option in the restaurant wasteland.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      -------
                                                                                                                                                                                                      On other fronts, after a first unimpressive visit we've been back to Sprigs a few times, we like the menu and have been very happy with the food. We've had problems with slow or non-existent service on several visits, but this always seems to be just us, and always for some odd if not humorous reason. It's a good place for a nice evening out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I just saw that comment about Belle's taking a turn for the worse. Wish I had seen that a month ago. We went after not having been there in quite awhile, and everything just seemed off. I was hoping we'd just hit a bad night, but am wondering about that now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Not fine dining, but Oscar's Burritos and Mexican Grill in Boxborough is now open in the "Hayward Farms" building by the ice rink (where the garden center and ice cream place is.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      No website or menu online (both this and the ice cream place could probably benefit from a little more advertising and visibility than the sign by Rt 111 and traffic to the rink.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Nachos, Spicy Fries, Tortilla Soup, Vegetarian Chili, Taco Salad, Chopped Salad, Potato Taco (baked potato stuffed with veg chili, cheese, etc.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Assorted Burritos or Chimichangas (grilled chicken, spicy chicken, grilled steak, spicy chipolte BBQ steak, roasted pork carnitas, chile verde, al pastor, grilled veggies) Also a few "signature" burritos.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Cheese or Truffled Portobello Quesadillas
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Regular and Fish Tacos
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Mexican Fiesta plate
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Enchiladas (shredded chicken or beef, chorizo, or veggie)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I had the fish tacos. I thought they were pretty tasty, though I wished they used something other than tilapia. I will definitely go back soon to try other stuff. (While I have no objective reason to say this, I'm guessing they will make a better burrito than Bueno.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: snippet

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thx for the heads up about this new Mexican place! Will have to try it. I still haven't made it over to Red Raven, but had a very good lunch at Bondir recently.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: snippet

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Is the Mexican place related to Oscar's Pinatas in Tewksbury?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Dinsdale45

                                                                                                                                                                                                            don't think so. The bit in the local paper was "The owner has worked in the restaurant industry in Boston and recently moved to Boxborough."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            stopped for lunch today. My husband had the blackened cajun chicken burrito and liked it. I had the mushroom quesadilla and that was good too.