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Dorchesters best???

When you first hear the name Dorchester, does that immediately turn you off? Well, it shouldn't. Despite what people may think, Dorchester is an up and coming area as far as restaurants go.

Now for the dinning. I would have to say that dbar would have to be one of the better meals I've had this year. We started off with Beef Tenderloin Mini Tacos, and Tuna Ceviche, and both were done very well. For my entree I had Bourbon Dijon Pork Tenderloin and my husband had the Duck Confit (yes, in Dorchester). The chef had great flavor going on in both of these dishes, as was the theme all night. Surprisingly, when we received the bill we managed (with two glasses of wine) to get out for under one hundred dollars. Great value!

The only problem I found at dbar was not being greeted promptly by the service staff. Myself and my husband waited several minutes while the staff enjoyed their conversation. We were unsure whether we were supposed to seat ourselves or wait.

Another great place to eat is Ashmont Grill. The food was enjoyable, but buyer beware, this menu is al a carte'. We started out with the Casco Bay Mussels and Pumpkin Soup. The soup was good, but the mussels could have been better. Next, the entrees. I had the Pan Roasted Cod. While the cod was delicious, I was disappointed to have to pay $17 for a small piece of fish and a little bit of tomato. My husband had the Wood-Grilled Flat-Iron Steak, which was appetizingly drenched in butter. While the steak was great, I enjoy having a complete dish, as opposed to having to build my own. Following the entrees we were still hungry, so we indulged in dessert. We split the Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake between the two of us. The service was good. A meal for two people came to $150, including two glasses of wine.

224 is another good place to dine. Been there forever, can't go wrong with meatloaf, can you? Well, actually, I didn't get the meatloaf, but I don't know too many restaurants who still have that on the menu.

We began with the Lobster and Asparagus Pizza. The pizza was great, even though lobster was overcooked. For entrees, I had the Pumpkin Ravioli, which was delicious, but very heavy and unbalanced. My husband had the Swordfish over Fingerling Potatoes. The fish was fresh, but the dish wasn't that great. The star of the night was our two glasses of wine. The service was decent, and we got out for just under one hundred dollars.

Here is my view on these three restaurants:
dbar for food
Ashmont for service
224 for portion size

I would love to hear about your dining experiences at these three restaurants and your recommendation for other great Dorchester dining experiences.

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  1. 3 years ago I would go to 224 every week but after a bunch of bad experiences and a large staff turnover I've started going to other places. dBar is great as long as you are out of there before 10pm. After 10pm it switches from a restaurant to a gay club and they put away most of tables. Ashmont Grill does a great burger and we have had good brunch experiences but, as you point out, the "a l carte" aspect kills this place. With sides a skirt steak ends up costing $30. For that price I'm going into the city.

    My two favorite places in Dorchester are the Blarney Stone and Shanti. The Blarney Stone has a menu that takes it a step above a regular bar meal, awesome service and very reasonable prices. Shanti offers Indian food with an emphasis on Bangladeshi curries. It's not the best Indian I've eaten but for Dorchester it's perfect and they deliver.

    1. I've been singing Dot's praises for a little while now. Most of my favorites have been mentioned. I'd add: Avenue Grill (modest, friendly American and Italian-American), the Vietnamese noodle soup joints (Pho So 1, Pho 2000, Sunrise), Ba Le bakery (banh mi), Chef Lee's II (buffet-style soul food), and Ka Carlos (Cape Verdean).

      Cafe Polonia (Polish) is technically in Southie near the edge of Dorchester, but well worth a visit.

      Still meaning to try a few others, like Anh Hong for Vietnamese beef seven ways, Singh's for roti, Cesaria and Laura's (Cape Verdean), and a few of the pubs (C.F. Donovan's, the Banshee).

      1. Second Anh Hong.

        In addition to the 7 courses of beef, they do a fish version. Very fresh fish and worth getting a group together to do both.

        1. Second 224 on Boston Street, a little slice of the South End in Dot. The meatloaf is quite good and I have always been very happy there. Wonderful dining in the warmer months on the patio.

          1. What about Laura, Cape Verdian. Anyone care to chime in?

            6 Replies
            1. re: trufflehound

              I posted this back in February and won't comment further because I haven't been back since (not a comment on quality -- it's not terribly convenient to where I am now but since I'm moving to Fields Corner soon, I look forward to going more often).


              Could somebody comment more about Irie? I heard the ice cream was really good.

              1. re: Dizzied

                The ice cream is pretty good. They have some interesting flavors. I go there because it's the closest ice cream to my house, not because it's particularly wonderful.

                Here's my review of Irie from several months ago.

                1. re: DotDiner

                  Just to add, best ice cream in Dorchester can be found at the Ice Cream Smith in Lower Mills.

                  1. re: Chaumiere

                    Ice Cream Smith makes their own ice cream and it is tasty. Another good choice for ice cream in Dorchester is The Ice Cream Factory on Morrisey Blvd. Irie Does not make their own ice cream and the interesting flavors they have are similar to other Carribean ice cream shops in the area.

                    1. re: foodieB

                      Ice Cream Smith is closed for the season until March. I'm not as much of a fan as others -- I had some really weak-tasting chocolate there, and have often found bits of ice or congealed butterfat at other times. I like the people and the place, but I don't think the ice cream itself is all that great.

                  2. re: DotDiner

                    That's what I would say currently about the Ice Cream Smith in Lower Mills...

                    and thanks for the review of Irie.

              2. My three favorites are CF Donovan's and McKenna's on Savin Hill, and the Ashmont Grill. I also like Shanti a lot, too, as well as several of the Vietnamese places in Fields Corner. Donovan's is probably #1 for me, though. It's such a nice neighborhood place, with friendly people, good food, and decent prices.

                1. As everyone already knows, Donovans is my local hangout, but I do love the Shanti and I have to give a shout out to the Avenue Grill!

                  1. My favorites in Dorchester are Ashley's for breakfast and Irie for good solid Caribbean food.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: Johnresa

                      Ashley's? Are they connected with the one in South Braintree?

                      1. re: hiddenboston

                        No. It is a small family owned diner. I actually know the son of the owners.

                        1. re: Johnresa

                          What is the food like at Ashley's? I live a couple of blocks away and have been meaning to go. I wasn't sure if it was just a pastry shop.

                          I LOVE Irie. Yum!

                          1. re: DotDiner

                            I have only had lunch there once and was not impressed but they have great solid breakfasts.

                          2. re: hiddenboston

                            At one time one family owned Ashley's in South Boston, Dorchester and Braintree.

                        2. This is my favorite thread ever!

                          My hometown faves:
                          Donovans- great pub ambiance and outrageously large portions
                          Cesaria- fantastic Cape Verdean food; fantastic prices (haven't been to Ka Carlos yet)
                          Shanti- solid Indian
                          Pho 2000- solid Vietnamese
                          dbar- solid upscale cuisine
                          Blarney Stone- our own Regal Beagle; wonderful in the spring and summer when the patio is open
                          224- went for the first time last month; nice ambiance, great service, decent food.

                          Ashmont Grill- unoriginal, lacks culture
                          Harp and Bard- don't let the "Patio Open" sign fool you-- the patio is an alley behind the pub; the food is sub-par

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: DotDiner

                            I've only been twice for lunch b/c it's tough for me to get to, but I think Cesaria is a little jewel and am always pleased when people bring it up. Both times it was empty--does it do brisk evening business?

                          2. I'll have to give the Blarney Stone another try, given all the positive posts. The one and only time I went, the food was not very good and the service was worse. I would never recommend the Harp & Bard which is too bad because at one time it was a decent place. Won't get into all the problems there except to say that the owner has major attitude. I also would like to add that I've heard some really positive feedback on the Japanese BBQ place next to the Shanti on Dot Ave.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Pegmeister

                              MMMmmm, yes, I forgot about the new BBQ place-- Lucky Cafe. It's REALLY good, on par with any bbq place in Chinatown. Tons of food, good prices, very good.

                            2. where is Avenue Grill located? Is it near Ashmont Grill? What isthe parking situation? Thanks

                              1. Ave. Grill is on Dot Ave., just off Columbia Rd. On street parking is pretty easy. A good spot. Enjoy!

                                1. Ashley's has great (and cheap) Southern-style diner breakfasts. I love the patio at the Blarney Stone; it's a great place to get together with friends, even if the food is nothing exceptional. A great thing about the Cape Verdean restaurants like Cesaria and Ka Carlos is that they are surprisingly affordable; most traditional Cape Verdean stews are $8 and bottles of Vinho Verde are about $15. dBar, while boasting good food, is a bit expensive for a casual weeknight dinner; I was hoping this place would have a more "neighborhood" menu when it opened (entrees $10-$15) but they priced it higher than that (entrees $15-$20). Still, it's a better deal than you'd find in the South End. Has anyone tried Irie's "small plate Tuesday's"? I was thinking of trying that out tonight but I haven't seen the sign for that promotion lately.

                                  1. Oh, and how could I forget 224? My favorite place in Dorchester. Their calamari is out of this world.

                                    1. Shanti is by far my favorite and it makes me sad to see it so empty so often.

                                      The Blarney and CFD's are both pretty good, though I have found the quality to be inconsistent. The service at CFD's is very friendly. You have to love McKenna's. You just have to. But it is what it is.

                                      I TRIED to like Ashmont Grill, but have, sadly given up on it. The quality of both the food and service was so wildly inconsistent (in the same week I had THE perfect pork chop and chicken wings that were literally raw) that it made no sense to put up with their IMO ridiculous ala carte pricing scheme which made every dinner a $40 event. It's not that I mind paying South End prices -- it's that I mind paying it when its a roll of the dice as to whether my server will be rude and inattentive or both (again) and/or whether I'll be served a mediocre meal or have to send my plate back to the kitchen (again).

                                      They were also unable to make accomodations for a dairy allergy which really pissed me off (and speaks to premade dishes). I wrote Chris but didn't get a response.

                                      I would like to see some decent food pop up down in the Village. That's one neighborhood that is a culinary wasteland.

                                      1. Had dinner last night at Avenue Grill...great place!
                                        The service was excellent & food was great. This is a great cozy neighborhood place with a friendly vibe. They were out of the wine I ordered by the glass, so the owner came over and offered to pour a glass from any selection on the wine list.

                                        Thanks for the info on this one, its definelty on our regular visit list !

                                        1. DotDiner, thanks for bringing up Irie again! Where were you when I was looking for goat stew? :o)

                                          1. Just wanted to mention a new spot on Dot Ave that opened just before Thanksgiving. It's called the bar and that's exactly what it is, but they offer a really good steak and cheese sandwich. The bar is located across from the Burger King on Dot Ave near the Dbar. They have off street parking and the space has been renovated. Nice open room with an attractive bar and plenty of tables. At the moment they have a pool table but there's talk of removing it. Food is limited to sandwiches, burgers etc which are listed on the blackboard. I went with a group and we all enjoyed are steak and cheese sandwiches.

                                            1. Common Ground is a great place for lunch. Hot turkey sandwiches,wraps.It has some limited dinner specials,which are good. Wonderful salads for those who are watching thier lbs on the scale.The inside is like nothing you have ever seen before,very Rustic with a real fireplace which will be very cozy when and if it ever snows.

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: ChrisB1

                                                Common Ground gives new meaning to the term "offbeat." I like the place--the food is fresh and healthy, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is truly unique. But you need to have an open mind if you go there, as the place is run by the Twelve Tribes, a religious group that has some....well...interesting beliefs. But the folks are nice there and the food is good, so what more could you ask for?

                                                1. re: hiddenboston

                                                  This is true the food is good.I have eaten with groups like the krishnas and their food is for the most part pretty good too.The seventh day adventist had a place downtown that was pretty good but I'm not sure if it's there anymore, I can't rememer the name Four Seasons maybe?.

                                                  1. re: ChrisB1

                                                    I think you mean Country Life, a vegetarian buffet place on High Street that closed about three years ago. The Seventh-Day Adventists advocate vegetariansm, and observe other dietary restrictions similar to keeping kosher.

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      Yes That's the place, or... was the place. I am sorry it has closed.

                                                  2. re: hiddenboston

                                                    Agree. Common Ground has the best ice tea and I'm not even a big fan of ice tea. I wish someone could get their recipe.

                                                    1. re: bosloft

                                                      Another who agrees about the iced tea, and almost everything else, at Common Ground.

                                                2. Re: 224 "Missing a dish." I used to order the pistachio crusted chicken breast @224. It was always well prepared, moist, & delish. Our waiter at the time said it was a customer favorite. Then it disappeared from the menu. When I inquired, I was told, "Don't worry, it's very popular, it will return." Well that was 2 (?) years ago and it has never returned to my knowledge. My opinion is that if a restaurant doesn't care enough about what their customers like, they don't want my business. I return only occasionally now, but it's off my regular favorites list.