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Beacon Hill Opinions

g
gbednarz Aug 3, 2006 05:04 PM

I just moved to Phillips St and am curious about the area where I now reside. I moved to Boston from Philadelphia and really miss the BYO scene there. I have walked around the neighborhood a little but want to hear your opinions on the markets, bars and restaurants on Cambridge and Charles St. Thanks!

  1. a
    adams_jo Aug 3, 2006 06:35 PM

    Savenors: top quality meat/seafood/produce, friendly butchers will work with you
    Beacon Hill Wine/Spirits (across Charles St)from Sav.: good wine store
    Berman's on Cambridge St: always had a weekly six pack beer special to help make decisions easier
    Panificio: next to Sav. great bakery/cafe
    Beacon Hill Pub (BHP): dive
    Seven's: classic pub, bad food unless you come to love the chili plate
    Upper Crust: good, gourmet pizza
    Artu: solid sandwiches
    Lala Rokh: very enjoyable Persion food
    Toscano: bombed twice when I was there many years ago
    Red Hat: viscious mud slides
    The Hill: you won't believe this but it used to be a really raunchy gay bar; now a decent, yuppy, beer and good food bar
    Venice: try the chicken agostino for comfort one night
    Buzzy's Roast Beef: we sorely miss 24 hours a day
    Delucas: good market, wine srore
    Paramount: good for breakfast, lunch, and decent dinner

    Other than that, I don't have any secret "finds." If you have anything specific, come on back.

    Have fun, I lived on Philips St. for a long time a number of years ago.

    1. Alcachofa Aug 3, 2006 06:42 PM

      Almost nowhere in Boston is BYO, except for some Chinatown places :o(

      I'll start at the top of Cambridge Street, go down the hill, and then loop around to Charles and then up Beacon:
      Ma Soba: Used to have great sushi, now it has good-enough sushi when you don't want to go far for your fix.
      Cafe Podima: pretty standard stuff, the lemon chicken soup used to be great; haven't had it in years.
      Venice Pizzeria: I decided they don't really care about their customers at all, so this place doesn't exist to me anymore. Decide for yourself.
      Hill Tavern: somewhat above average bar food. Excellent chicken sandwich. Doughy pizza, which I crave sometimes. I haven't tried any yet, but it looks like they have re-hired a chef that knows how to prepare fish. I'd like to try it, because they used to have the best fish specials, dollar for dollar, anywhere. (I've been here since it opened, and don't recall it ever being a gay bar.)
      Phoencia: middle eastern. I've heard some things are OK, but I haven't been back since I got a watery hummos like 10 years ago. Can I hold a grudge or what? :o)
      Pierrot Bistro: good, stick-to-your-ribs French.
      Antonio's: Touristy Italian place. Heard some things are good, though.
      Harvard Gardens: good mac and cheese, some decent sandwiches. The chef sometimes gets ahead of himself with some items, but I've had a phenomal roast chicken there as well. Stick to the basics, generally. More of a bar scene. Diane can make a proper Old-Fashioned.
      Panificio: decent enough coffee and breakfast. Other food looks good. Why have I not tried out the lunch or dinners here yet?
      Artu: simple, reasonably priced Italian. I believe the lamb and eggplant panini would be included on a Top 10 Chowhound list, judging by the number of times it is mentioned here.
      Paramount: good breakfast, surprisingly good comfort food dinners.
      Sevens: in addition to the chili, has a good french-dip sandwhich
      Figs: pizza. Others can vouch for it, because I won't
      Lala Rokh (up Mt. Vernon St.): yummy persian food.
      Toscano: I've heard it used to be one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston. That certainly still is not the case, based on my experience.
      75 Chestnut (down Chestnut St): used to be a formal restaurant with a bar, now a comfort-food bar. Should be OK, haven't had the food in its new incarnation yet.
      Upper Crust Pizzeria: very thin crust pizzas with spicy chunky sauce. Good toppings.
      Bin 26 Enoteca: not yet open Mediterranean place, but I am pumped, as it is owned by the Lala Rokh people, yea!
      Beacon Hill Bistro: solid French food.
      No 9 Park: search the board
      Scollay Square: decent if inconsistent upper-mid level restaurant.
      Federalist: $$$$$
      21st Amendment: dive bar with food

      In addition to No 9, you can probably search the board for pretty much all these places. I've missed a couple places, I'm sure.

      1. b
        Bostonbob3 Aug 3, 2006 06:53 PM

        Alcachofa, glad to see there's someone who still remembers when the sushi at Ma Soba was excellent. I lived on Hancock Street for a couple of years, and was surprised at the quality, freshness, and occasional originality (didn't hurt that I struck up a friendship with the then-sushi chef). Nowadays, it's average at very best.

        As for other Beacon Hill spots, I still frequent Savenors, especially during Patriots tailgating season. Also always enjoy Lala Rokh, love the burgers at 75 Chestnut, enjoy the occasional night at The Sevens, and can actually tolerate several of the menu items at The Red Hat (sure it's pub grub, but some of it is surprisingly decent). Upper Crust has good (if often overrated pizza), and the many of the sandwiches at Cafe Podima are pretty good, and also very large. Harvard Gardens can be hit or miss, but overall better than ou'd expect. The Hill should be renamed Savenors on Cambridge, because it's really just a meat market. Finally, I don't know anyone who doesn't like Panificio.

        1. w
          wontonton Aug 3, 2006 08:11 PM

          At Artu on Charles St. a great take out meal is to buy one of their whole roast chickens - make a potato or fresh veg to go with it at home. I used to do this regularly when living on the hill. They will quarter it for you if requested and they used to throw some fresh bread in the bag to go with it. Good deal.

          1. 9
            9lives Aug 3, 2006 08:26 PM

            Grotto on Bowdoin St for good Italian influenced food.

            1. MC Slim JB Aug 4, 2006 03:58 AM

              My own personal faves include Grotto, Beacon Hill Bistro, Lala Rokh, Pierrot Bistrot, Figs, Upper Crust, Panificio, Artu, and cafe dining (and especially the cocktails) at No. 9 Park.

              Okay but not great: Scollay Square, Ma Soba, Harvard Gardens, the Paramount, Antonio's.

              Good but overpriced: The Federalist, the dining room at No. 9.

              Bad: the King and I Thai, the Bull and Finch (now just called Cheers, I guess), the Hungry I. The Beacon Pub used to be an almost-charming dive bar, now it's just plain septic.

              Decent places for a drink: 21st Amendment, 6B (a fancy-cocktail bar, with the adjoining Emmet's Pub a not-terrible fake-Irish bar), the Sevens, 75 Chestnut.

              Looking forward to: Bin 26, the new enoteca in the old Torch space from the Lala Rokh people.

              5 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB
                t
                tomaneng Aug 4, 2006 04:07 AM

                MC Slim JB -

                From following your past posts, it seems we have similar palates so I'm curious about your Figs recommendation. I went there only once, and it was to the Wellesley location. The crust was burned and the calamari app. was soggy. Did I hit it on a bad night/location? Worth trying again? If so, suggestions for dishes they do particularly well?

                1. re: tomaneng
                  MC Slim JB Aug 4, 2006 10:56 AM

                  I've only been to the Beacon Hill and the Charlestown locations; maybe Wellesley has a quality control issue. I always order pizza, sometimes with a salad to begin, as I have not been impressed with the rest of the menu. The char on the crust is intentional, but it should verge on black only at the very outer edges: burnt all over is a kitchen error. I happen to like this style of crust (I was surprised when Upper Crust opened practically next store on the Hill, as its crust is quite similar) -- done properly, it is both thin and bubbly -- but it's not for everyone. Some of my favorites include the salad-topped one (which I first saw here, an occasional special), the fig and prosciutto, and the spicy chicken sausage. The half-and-half option is a nice idea for two people.

                  I've given up on Todd English with the bitterness of a betrayed former fan (watching him go corporate and soulless was like seeing Johnny Damon become a Yankee, even though I understand the desire to play on a bigger stage for more money), but I still like this corner of his empire, which I believe is his daughter's operation, not his.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    Joanie Aug 4, 2006 04:37 PM

                    Is his daughter old enough to run Figs?

                    1. re: Joanie
                      k
                      kate used to be 50 Aug 4, 2006 04:56 PM

                      Todd's daughter is about 13 or 14 (Isabella - I think). His son (Oliver) is about 15 or 16. Neither kid is running Dad's empire. Olivia - the X may still have her hand in the operations, but no one would mistake her for Todd's daughter.

                      1. re: Joanie
                        MC Slim JB Aug 4, 2006 09:05 PM

                        Well, I guess that's how rumors get started! I have no idea where I came up with that bogus factoid, but I've been repeating it for at least a couple of years now. Thanks for the correction!

                2. limster Aug 4, 2006 05:29 AM

                  Expensive, but Beacon Hill Choclates has fairly good chocolates from Mary's (classical bon bons from Belgium) and Moonstruck (from Oregon). They're not the best of their kind, but good for what's available locally. Also a fairly good selection of chocolate bars.

                  I've always enjoyed the made to order chicken parm sub and meatball subs at Venice Ristaronte, on Cambridge Street next to the fire station.

                  Upper Crust can be good, even if it's not my favourite -- the quality of the crust can vary quiet a bit but on a good day they give off a good crisp. Good ingredients too.

                  My Persian friends don't seem to like Lala Rokh very much; I think they're decent, but would rather eat at other persian places like Molana in Waterotwn or Kolbeh of Kebab in Inman Sq.

                  Try a double pistacchio frozen yogurt at Cafe Podima.

                  Cafe Vanille on Charles Street sells Annabelle's ice cream. Unfortunately, they don't always seem to store it properly. But if you're lucky, it can be great.

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