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Sep 11, 2006 07:24 AM

Washington Sq. Tavern, Ali's Roti, South End Buttery

Washington Sq. Tavern, Washington Sq., Brookline

A very serious burger, cooked perfectly, great balance of meaty flavour and drippy greasiness. Good dense bun. Crisp, golden shoe string fries. Definitely one of the best I've had. Not outrageous at $13, certainly shames the version at the Bristol Lounge. Advantage of having the burger here is having a juicy earthy shiraz to drink with it ('03 Gatekeeper, iirc). Nice wine list that seems fairly priced by restaurant standards.


Ali's Roti, Roxbury, Boston

Tender oxtail with penetrating tomato-paste flavour, a fairly aromatic goat curry pleasantly spiced, savoury yellow rice dotted with frozen mixed vegetables, warmly flavoured cabbage cooked to a light yellow (tumeric?). A hearty satisfying lunch, nothing mind blowing, but certainly affordable.


South End Buttery, South End, Boston

Nice chocolate cupcake, moderately moist. Buttery frosting. In the realm of fine but not exceptional.

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  1. Sorry, but a $13 burger anywhere outside of Manhattan is an abomination (and even there it's a slap in the face). Don't even get me started on pairing burgers and wines!

    Bring back the Hammond Lounge.

    8 Replies
    1. re: GrowingBoy

      Aside from the fact that the Hammond was a smokey, stale-beer-smellin', windowless dive -- which I forgave for its $2 Buds -- I recall pickled eggs and stale popcorn as the main dining attractions there. The only other food I ever saw was sandwiches brought in from Family Restaurant, that Greek diner kind of place where the Fireplace is now, or the B&D Deli around the corner.

      I personally don't mind shelling out $13 for a burger if it's really high quality: I eat far fewer of them these days, so I want to make them count. If you know of some places that serve great burgers cheap, please share with the rest of the board!

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        What about the fine Surf and Turf - a stuffed quahog and a cheeseburger eggroll? I wasn't wishing for a return of the Hammond's cuisine. Myself, I always took in Chinese from down the street (a place which is now occupied by a swell sushi bar, BTW). I was lamenting the upscaling of the neighborhood.

        How 'high-quality' can a burger get? Anyway, I think $9.95 is about as expensive as a burger should get (and that includes the fries, thank you very much), unless it's Kobe beef or something. With that in mind, I'm a big fan of the burgers at O'Hara's in Newton Highlands. I had one at Thornton's near Fenway last week that was pretty good as well.

        And hey, the Hammond had windows - two of them that you could even see out of on really bright days.

        1. re: GrowingBoy

          I think that the burger at the Washington Square Tavern is ground in-house and that makes a huge difference to me. (I asked a couple years ago; haven't been since I moved from the neighborhood and had a baby.) I'm willing to pay a couple extra bucks for the labor, rather than eat a burger with ground beef from possibly hundreds of cows.

          1. re: GrowingBoy

            I wonder if there's a thread in here: "dive bars that don't serve food but allow takeout to be brought in, and there's really good takeout nearby."

            The late, lamented Waltham Tavern did this; folks regularly brought in the excellent fried fish plates (stryo containers, actually) from Morse Fish Co around the corner. These actually improved the smell of the 'Ham.

            The Dig has an excellent review of All-Star Sandwich Bar today, in which Brodeur mentions bringing an amazing BLT into the Abbey Lounge:


            1. re: MC Slim JB

              This is so common on Revere Beach, that a number of bars (Sammy's and I think Bill Ash's) have windows directly to takeout establishments. The better takeout, however, is usually obtained by walking (or driving in the case of Floating Rock), but I have brought in at all the bars I have tried there.

              1. re: MC Slim JB

                Sky Bar in Somerville allows this - I'm not sure what's nearby though besides the wretched Chinese next door.

              2. re: GrowingBoy

                On my one burger sojourn there, I thought the burgers at Thornton's were pretty weak - looked and tasted pretty much like standard, 8 oz pre-formed frozen patties to be. Never tried the burger at O'Hara's, which I used to frequent monthly at lunch. Huh.

            2. re: GrowingBoy

              I'm with you $13 for a burger is absurd. Oh for Tim's Tavern.

            3. I like the pumpkin side dish at Ali's.

              1. The original comment has been removed
                1. I used to frequent O'Haras too, but alas, it was back in my non-meat eating days so I never got to try the burger. I do, however, remember being with co-workers who had it, and it always looked really good. However...when I find myself in Newton, Buff's always gets precedence; good to have an O'hara's burger on the radar now tho'..

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    What is this Buff's? A quick Citysearch mentions wings. I long for wings. And many tap handles. And sassy waitresses.

                    These things, I need.

                  2. I am a big, big fan of the WST. Just tuesday night I had their burger for dinner. Or, rather I had half the burger for dinner as it is enormous. I have no problem paying $13 for something delicious, quality, and filling.

                    The meat is high-quality and full of flavor, the irish cheddar is nice and sharp and i love the thin salty fries.

                    $13 for a bad burger is a travesty. $13 for a delicious meal is a great value.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: heathermb

                      I used to disagree with this, but now less so. I had a really good bacon and boursin burger and "frites" at Auitaine Bis yesterday for lunch. It was about $13 also. The burger meat itself was awesome and it was cooked perfectly medium rare (I can't stand places that cannot handle this). However, the bun was weak - it broke too easily and honestly tasted a little stale - perhaps that because it wasn't a regular burger bun but more of a lighter, eggier roll and the frites, all 15 of them, were darn good but not the usually uber thin crispy fries you expect when you think frites. If they could perfect the bun and add a few more fries, that burger would be freaking excellent.

                      1. re: Dax

                        For me, it's one of those psychological things like paying >$2 for a cookie. I hate paying >$10 for a burger altho I certainly have/do. They can be tasty as all get out but it somehow still doesn't seem right. That's why Abe & Louie's is a veritable bargain at $9.95.

                        I have a problem with desserts over $10 too.

                        1. re: Joanie

                          Abe and Louie's burger may be the best in town, but I wouldn't know as it's nearly impossible to get a table or even a seat at the bar during regular business hours without a reservation. Even then, there is often a wait.

                      2. re: heathermb

                        But when you can get the same delicious meal somewhere else for much less money, you're letting yourself be exploited. And you didn't even eat half of it. It's like paying $25 for mac and cheese or barbeque or pizza. Paying big bucks for foods that are inexpensive by their nature is just a waste. I'd rather blow the extra 5 bucks on dessert (or another beer).

                        Having said all that, I'd probably still hit the WST once in a while because they're the only place I've been to in a while that had Fuller's ESB on tap.

                        1. re: GrowingBoy

                          BF ate the other half of my burger and enjoyed it immensely. He also loves WST b/c they have Anchor Steam on draught.