Exceptional Dishes in Unlikely Places
Have you had a truly well-executed dish (entree, app, side, whatever) in the Greater Boston area that really surprised you, that it would even be worth going to the place, sitting at the bar, and just ordering that dish?
Especially a place not usually on the Chowhound radar.
Examples for me:
1. The grilled artichoke hearts appetizer at Houston's (the Boston one).
They are really smoky, well-charred, perfectly tender, with lots of lemon. Unbelievable. I would be willing to bring a couple of foodie friends there, order a cocktail, and a few plates of those.
2. Skirt steak tacos at Bonfire.
Yes, Bonfire suffers from the over-the-top Todd English mediocrity, but the skirt steak tacos are really something special. Well marinated, darkly charred (a theme!), with avocado crema, in a soft flour tortilla---perfect contrast of smoky, creamy, hot, cold...
3. Frites au Bercy at Les Zygomates.
Not a huge fan of Les Zyg. BUT: These fries, served with gravy and a big, nasty knob of compound butter are a fat-addict's dream.
The Tower of Power (an appetizer meant to be shared, but too bad for my companions), a mighty raw bar selection, at the Summer Shack at Mohegan Sun. Only at that Summer Shack, though. You can pick your oyster varieties, and it's just luscious.
More to the topic, in Boston, slices from Ernesto's on Salem St in the North End.
Excellent topic! Here are a few that I can think of:
-the hot and sour soup at Jade Garden in Arlington Heights
-the steak tips at Joe Sent Me in Cambridge
-the Cubano at Pollo Tipico in Lawrence
-the pepperoni "bar" pizza at Doyle's in JP
-the pork chops at the Venetian in Weymouth
-the boneless buffalo wings (extra hot) at Cambridge Common in Cambridge
-the wild mushroom raviolis at the Macaroni Grill in Burlington
-the pizza at Primo's on Beacon Hill (no joke!)
It's a shame it's too late for me to get to Les Zygs for those frites tonight, I'm having a fit for them.
Any of the food at the Tir na Nog I'd consider suprisingly above average, I typically shy away from bar food in Boston. Unfortunately, they're closing in a few weeks.
The lobster bisque at the Lobster Claw in North Reading has been a favorite mine since I was little. It's just your basic fish and chips shop that does this bisque really well.
The ribs at Texas Roadhouse in Methuen. I'm usually too snotty but sometimes I get dragged out to suburban chains and boy was I impressed with these.
And while this is probably Greater Boston only when the ferries are running in the summer, the boboti (I think) at the Karoo Cafe in Provincetown always makes me happy. Think of a meatloaf made with Indian spices in an British manner, (greasy, fatty and custardy). YUM!
This is a great question. I absolutely agree about the artichokes at Houstons and the tuna tartate at Kingfish. I'll have to try those frites.
Here are mine; the only things I'll order...
Cheesecake Factory: Grilled artichokes with garlicy dip
Steve's: Avgolemono soup
Summer Shack: Tuna tartare
Border Cafe: French Quarter chicken, or fish in same sauce
Red Bones: Catfish fingers and potlikker soup. Also dirty rice.
Oh, I second this suggestion. Fab chicken livers in a scrumptious, slightly spicy sauce. Absolutely delicious, and horribly addictive.
For another unexpected treat, try the steak tips at The Paddock.
And while I'm not a huge fan of Assagio's in the North End, their risotto always blows me away.