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Any reviews of the new restaurants in Worcester?

There have recently been a rash of new restaurants popping up in Worcester: Coral Seafood on Shrewsbury Street, Bocado Tapas on Winter Street, and Tribeca on Shewsbury Street. Has anyone been to any of these new places yet, and how do they stack up to other local restaurants?

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  1. I loved Boacado Tapas (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356024) and didn't love Coral Seafood (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/356025).

    Someone else went to Bocado, but it seems you best make a reservation or you're in for a long wait.

    I haven't been to Tribeca.

    1. Also, how about Pearl Oyster? Haven't been. Not surprised about Coral...I was not impressed at their Marlborough location.

      1. Thanks, that is helpful. Sounds like Bocado is more worth it, maybe on a weeknight to avoid the crowds. Haven't heard anything about Tribeca yet. My friend got a gift certificate for her husband to go there, so I'll report back once they try it.

        1. Hit Bocado for the first time last night. They have a good concept and mostly succeed.

          Their portion sizes for tapas are dramatically larger than you might find in Boston or other cities, and the prices are reasonable (between $5 and $12, generally, per plate). Unlike in Boston, where you generally need to order at least 4 plates per person, you can make do with 3 each here due to the portion sizes. (The shaved steak on baguette was as big as a grinder, for goodness sake).

          One of the owners made her way from table to table to check on how diners were enjoying their meals -- a nice touch. There were plenty of servers floating around to pick up and drop off plates during our meal.

          We occasionally lost track of our waiter due to the increasing busy-ness after about 8:30, which made drinks difficult to order. The food quality was good, not spectacular. The bar looks like it will be a very lively location.

          I'd recommend it and suggest you give it a try.

          1. Has anyone tried Haiku yet, the new sushi place on Park Ave? So far, Zipango has been a disappointment for us, but Willy's in Shrewbsbury was excellent (if a little pricey).

            1 Reply
            1. re: JPchowhound

              I've been to Haiku several times. The rolls are delicious - the Tiger Eye is awesome. I don't recommend the Worcester roll - it's just weird. The tempura vegetables and shrimp are unbelievable delicious. And the grilled salmon entree is awesome - except for the unusual mango flavor - unripe mango, maybe?

            2. A meal a few weeks ago at TriBeCa was very nice -- excellent food, service, and atmosphere. Definitely upscale but in a comfortable way, with creative offerings around a vaguely Mediterranean theme. We went upstairs to the restaurant, but were also intrigued by the bistro/grill menu offered downstairs. Worth a second visit.

              Coral Seafood disappointed -- not a very interesting menu, and our tuna special was overcooked to the point of inedibility. Too bad, since it's an intriguing space with a nice bar. I think it's the kind of place to go when you're craving basic, fried seafood, but the atmosphere doesn't match that niche.

              We went to Pearl Oyster right after it opened...an interesting menu of upscale seafood, well-presented and prepared. I'm not sure if it'll survive, though -- the Sole, after all, was able to drive Legal Seafoods out of town a while back.

              We also went to an office/holiday dinner party at Bocado, before it opened for general business. The set menu didn't include their tapas, but the food, presentation, and atmosphere were promising. The interesting Spanish wine list was served, at least at the bar, in annoying little stemless tumblers from by some well-meaning staff who weren't at all familiar with the offerings, and tried to pass off one thing as another. Maybe they just weren't ready...I look forward to giving the place a try under normal conditions.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Rick_V

                Thanks for the feedback on Pearl Oyster. I will certainly give it a go soon. Not being a big fan of "The Sole", I would welcome a really good fish spot in Worcester. And I really don't think it says much that they drove Legal's away.....

                1. re: Science Chick

                  Try the Boynton on Highland St. Their seafood is better than the Sole's.

                  1. re: AWalker17

                    I second the Boynton...Great place, great beer selection,. Try the Wachusett products

              2. Just wanted to report that I ate briefly at Coral Seafoods- big disappointment. The restaurant itself is gorgeous- it is decorated with custom lights that reflect different sea animals- modern fish sconces, sea urchin bar lights, and gigantic jellyfish-shaped chandeliers that change color (it sounds cheesy, but they pull it off in a contemporary look kind of way). Anyway, we didn't have a full dinner, just appetizers, but I'm glad we didn't have more. Clam chowder seemed to have no clams and be a paste-like substance. I had crab cakes which were very full of breading and lacking big crab chunks. My husband got oysters rockefeller, and they just seemed a little off. Maybe dinner is better than the first courses, but in my mind, any seafood restaurant that can't make a good clam chowder has a serious problem. I know some people on this board slam the Sole Proprietor, but I'll be happily returning there next time I want seafood.

                1. If the Sole were in Boston it would still be, over-all, the preeminent seafooder in town, IMO.

                  1. Had a great meal and time at Bocado a few weeks ago, largely thanks to an excellent waiter who was helpful, enthusiastic, and very knowlegeable about the menu and wine list (which includes interesting flights of Spanish wines). It's an ambitious place for Worcester, and I hope it does well.

                    Took business clients to both TriBeCa (upstairs) and Castellana's recently and in both cases we were very pleased with the food and the service -- especially at Castellana's.

                    Returned to TriBeCa to give the bistro/grill downstairs a shot. Much more informal atmosphere than upstairs, and a simpler menu, but surprisingly not much less expensive than upstairs. Our food was sort of boring...an uninspired cioppino and an OK salmon dish. Both lacked flavor, and even needed considerable salting, something we rarely find the need for. If I head back to TriBeCa it'll be to go upstairs -- not for the upscale atmosphere but for the much more interesting food.

                    Finally: to echo JP Chowhound, has anyone tried Haiku yet?

                    1. I have to say that I disagree about Sole. Although the fish is quite fresh, I find most of their preparations mediocre. Fish is frequently overcooked and sauces/flavor combinations usually don't work well.

                      On the up side, I had an amazing meal a few week ago at Pearl Oyster. The atmosphere was quiet and pleasant, unlike the Sole. Service was excellent as was the food. I encourage everyone to support this welcome newcomer!

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Science Chick

                        "And I really don't think it says much that they drove Legal's away"

                        Huh? Excuse me?
                        Like the man says "You have a right to your opinion, what you don't have is a right to your version of the truth!" With somewhere around 36 locations in eight States & D.C. it IS a big deal that a singular location, locally owned, full service seafooder can run the Berkowitz's Legal Seafood Empire out of town! Pearl Oyster caters to a niche market for limited hours and is both very intimate and very good.

                        Sole Proprietor has a different and tougher mission. The Sole does it all, for everyone at reasonable prices for both lunch & dinner. I've never had a meal here that was less than very good and more often great. If the fish was any fresher they'd have to slap it! In addition, they have a tremendous wine list, the best in town, that's very fairly priced. I hope Pearl Oyster can prosper, I really do. There can't be too many good seafood options. But rest assured, regardless of anything else, The Sole will still be there doing it right.

                        1. re: Harp00n

                          I think a bad location was more of the reason for Legal not working out. No parking, not much foot traffic, hidden behind the centrum, etc.. I don't think the Sole had much to do with it. I've always had good experiences at the Sole but my wife doesn't like it for some reason. I'd just as soon go to the Boynton across the street though..

                        2. I agree with Harp00n regarding the Sole. I work/live nearby and go there frequently for quick business lunches and for dinner. Very consistent, fair prices, very good service (although lately they've begun "pushing" too much). There's a reason why the place is packed every day for both lunch and dinner. The menu is both interesting and flexible, lending itself to lots of different combinations for building a meal. The daily specials are very creative. I will admit to Science Chick that some of their flavor combinations are unusual, but I'll take that over boring every time.

                          I have had one truly bad dish there in 20+ years (an undercooked fresh pasta side dish that was too gummy to eat). I decided not to complain since there was plenty of tasty seafood to focus on. When the waitress noticed I didn't eat the pasta, she asked if anything was wrong, if they could replace it with something else, etc. When I declined, they took the meal off the bill.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Rick_V

                            Regarding the Legal's comment, I meant it in a Chowish regard (not the success of their business) and I'm certainly not alone. if you check the Boston board, you will find numerous threads bemoaning their mediocrity...so I still don't think it speaks much about food quality. Regarding Sole's food, I have eaten their countless times (business dinners/lunches). I love unusual foods and flavors...Just because they try interesting food combinations doesn't mean they work. We have stopped taking clients and prospective new hires there. The noise level and mediocre food has turned off most people in our organization.

                          2. Science Chick: last night we headed to Pearl Oyster for the first time since right after they opened, largely based on your comments. It was excellent, and I would have to agree that it offers a better dining experience that the Sole, especially if you want a quiet, intimate setting and relaxed yet professional service. It's much less hectic than the Sole, and the menu was very inviting.

                            We had a sesame-seared tuna (not novel, but they used both white and black seeds, and the presentation was beautiful) and a spice-crusted salmon with ponzu. The side dishes were nothing special, but the fish was perfectly prepared and presented. The wine list was interesting and reasonably priced (we had a very nice bottle of Vouvray). Bill for 2, before tip, was $83. We had no starters or dessert since we weren't hungry enough.

                            That said, I will still probably go to the Sole regularly, not just because it's near work and home, but because it's great for a light meal (apps, kettle meals) or even just drinks and apps. And it's hard to beat for lunch. But some of those out-of-town visitors are going to see the Pearl from now on! So, thanks.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Rick_V

                              Rick_V...glad you had a positive experience. Hey, what are your favorites at Sole?? You seem to have more experience there than I have...Maybe you could steer me towards the best items............

                            2. For apps, I like the smoked sampler, the cherry pepper squid, and most of their maki rolls. At lunch, the warm tarragon shrimp salad is nice, as is Angel Hair Bernardi. A lot of people I know love their crabcakes. Tuna barcelona is a really nice dish, I think. I also like their tuna sashimi dinner. I'm partial to bluefish, and I get it blackened there. Most often, though, either for lunch or dinner I go for a daily special since I crave variety.

                              Maybe the biggest drawback to the Sole, if it's a drawback, is that they give you too much food at dinner. Portions are quite large, and come with either a salad or soup, plus rolls that are usually impossible to resist. That's why I often try to piece together a meal with some shared apps, sushi, etc., especially when I'm with someone else who wants to graze.

                              1. Tribeca didn't impress me. I spent 120.00 for lunch for 4 and we left with a little hmmmm.

                                1. I just want to add to the discussion on the Sole, it has to serve the best baked stuffed lobster in the area. I tend to prefer their simpler preparations on the whole.

                                  also, back when the Sole ran Legals out of town, Legals was a much better place. Yes, its mediocre today, but I didn't think it was back in the late 80's. I'm not sure when the Worcester branch closed, but I think it was roughly '91?

                                  I haven't been to Pearl Oyster yet, I will definitely check it out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: ChinaCat

                                    Hi ChinaCat, your point about how good Legal was "way back when" is very true. I forget sometimes that some of us are....errr, ...ummm, more seasoned, LOL! I well remember frequentling their original Inman Sq. Cambridge location and dining at the communal tables ala Durgin Park. In fact, although it won't fit anymore (Wife musta shrunk it) I still have a tee shirt in the bottom drawer that proclaims; "I got scrod last night at Legal Seafood!".

                                    In general, I'm not a big fan of sauces on any seafood. Fried seafood BTW, is a whole different discussion. Simply and quickly prepared, with a light hand on the seasoning, whether it's tuna here or grouper at Louie's in Key West is the only way to go, IMO.
                                    Legal, being the Big Dog on the block, is a lightning rod for Hounds. Having so many locations, even with their best-in-the-business fish aquisition, processing & distribution system, can be a logistical & employee nightmare.

                                    There have been a goodly amount of Hound complaints on these boards regards Legal.
                                    I have no doubt that at certain locations, recently, and at others in the past there've been some egregious situations. I also know that there are far more instances where, other than maybe their high prices, discriminating customers have left having had a very positive dining experience. Legal, as a chain, is a damn sight better than Red Lobster or Naked Fish, speaking of over-saucing, than some postings would seem to suggest.

                                  2. Mom went to Coral last week...she said it was horrible.

                                    1. Went to Bocado 3 weeks ago. Called late on a Saturday and got a reservation for 9:30p. Later than I really wanted, but we went for it. When we got there, there was a long wait and there were some long faces in the bar while people waited for their tables. It looked like larger groups. I think there were several groups lingering and I'm sure that set the whole time table back. The hostess was delightful and asked us to wait a couple of minutes and our table would be ready. We were a 2 top, so they had a table for us almost immediately.

                                      The atmosphere was dark and moody with votive candles on each table. It was really loud, but it was ok. I was up for it. Lots of energy. There are 2 bars.... one with a tv in the main dining room, which seemed odd in a nice restaurant. It's a pet peeve of mine. service was great. We had wine flights which was ok. I don't really know why I decided to do that. The novelty of it, I guess. I was looking around and people were drinking a lot of funky drinks and wine flights, so I joined in. I didn't really enjoy it-too many different flavors with my food. Should have stuck with one kind of wine.

                                      The tapas were great. Beef carpaccio was very nice and the tuna was good, too. A little thicker than I like it, but the sauce around it was flavorful. I loved the garlic shrimp. Shrimp were good sized and the garlic flavor was strong, but not overwhelming. We ordered another shrimp. What else... I don't remember what else we had, but I remember enjoying it all. It was a nice night out. I think it was the coldest night of the year and the valet took good care of us. All in all, service was really good, food was right on. It's a high-energy place that feels like your in a city that's not asleep on a Saturday night. I'm happy to have it so close. Goo Worcester, go!! More, please!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MMCC

                                        I was just able to visit Bocacado last night, and I had a similarly good experience. It was just two of us, and four tapas and a soup filled us up (and we are good eaters). We had the gazpacho, which was very fresh and tasty, and healthy as well, which is always nice. Fried goat cheese with honey and almonds (cancelled out the healthiness) was tasty, but the frying did kind of make it hard to cut into without it oozing everywhere. We also had: berenja asado (roasted eggplant, tomato, oil, garlic, and capers), piquillo rellenos (piquillo pepper stuffed with taso ham, garbanzo beans, & goat cheese with grilled onion crema), wild boar sausage with cranberry relish on mashed potatoes (okay, doesn't seem quite Spanish with cranberries and mashed). All of this was very good, and there were many more things on the menu that I would have liked to try on future visits. The best part was the wine list. It was almost all Temperanillo, and while my husband and I are very into wine, we are not familiar with this variety. But the waitress was quite helpful, and recommended some excellent ones. Their format is great- they allow you to choose whether you want a 2oz (taste), 6oz(glass), carafe (?oz), or a bottle. So any wine on the menu is available by glass or for tasting, which is different from many restaurants that have a limited wine by the glass menu. I had one that was so good, I am copying it from the menu here, for other Hounds to look for: 1996 Faustino I Gran Riserva (Temp/Mazuelo/Graciano),
                                        Rioja. The fact that they are pouring a '96 wine by the glass blows me away. I love that. And at $12 a glass or $6 per taste, you can try it without committing to an expensive bottle. All in all, our bill came to about $75- and that included 6 "tasting size" wines and 1 glass of the wine noted above. Not bad at all.

                                        The atmosphere was noisy- a good place to see and be seen, which is a rare feat in Worcester. Looking around, I thought, who knew that Worcester had all these funky young people? It was really refreshing, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will do well.

                                      2. Also, on my way to Bocado, I saw a sign for what seems to be a new restaurant right around the corner, the Cellar. Anyone have info on that one? So many restaurants, so little time!!

                                        1. One more thing, and I'll stop posting, I promise.
                                          I noticed that 86 Winter St. has reopened. It used to be where Bocado is located (appropriately, @86 Winter St.), but has now reopened around the corner. This is exciting- 86 Winter had really good upper-mid range American fusion type cuisine. I was really sad to see it close, and it's good to know that it was just moving into a new space.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: woostalicious

                                            Yeah, they moved because of the growing popularity. They needed a bigger location.

                                          2. A friend and I wen to Bocado Tapas last night. Overall an outstanding experience.

                                            We started with a charcuterie board featuring the fried goat cheese with honey and almonds, a sheep's milk cheese (hard,, romano like with slight smokiness) and the chorizo. All were fabulous. Followed with a roasted beet and apple dish with blue cheese. The beets and apples cooked to perfection, and the blue cheese was nicely aged and served with the rind...nice touch. We continued with the fried calamari drizzled with a lemon/garlic aoli. Very large rings, very tender with just enough sauce for flavor, without making them soggy. Also sampled the raw tuna...melt-in-your-mouth slices glazed lightly with a cumin-scented sauce and served with sweet potato chips. The tortilla espanola was a lovely omelette of potato slices. We finished with the churros (doughnuts) and chocolate dipping sauce...fresh and warm (although a tad too greasy for my taste) with a very intense/not too sweet chocolate; and also the lemon/orange tart which was a perfect citrus curd in a delicate crust.

                                            Presentations were lovely and the service was absolutely top notch. Total with 3 martinis and tip came to $96. If I had to make a single criticism, it is that the space is quite loud (and cold!) and we had to almost yell to communicate with our server on occasion. However, we are definitely going back!

                                            1. I live in Boston, so I am used to good restaurants, and I have eaten at a bunch in Worcester. Coral Seafood is not one of them. The actual interior made me feel like I was sitting inside a Saturday morning cartoon. It was just tacky. That doesn't bother me if the food is good. Which it wasn't. My friend got the tuna special, and it looked like someone had gotten sick on it. It had some kind of pesto type sauce with peas on it. On tuna? He was optimistic and thought maybe it was a combo that might work...it didn't. He asked for his tuna rare, it was well done. Who cooks tuna well done? A seafood restaurant? I had a pasta special that was basically like a frutta di mare. None of my shellfish, the mussels or the clams had opened, so I couldn't even eat any of it. The sauce was actually just olive oil. We ordered a tuna roll, and I know it's not a sushi restaurant, but it was horrible. The rolls were falling apart, they were not rolled correctly. On the positive side, the prices are reasonable, but who really cares if the food is just awful. Our waitress was very young and sweet, but there was nothing she could do about the fact that the kitchen was backed up so I got my meal 10 minutes before my friend. Thank god he told me not to wait for him to get his food. It seems to me they shouldn't have brought mine out because my shellfish needed a little bit longer to cook. Tribeca on the other hand I was very happy with. The decor is nothing to write home about, mainly because the carpet upstairs looks like the one my grandmother has in her house, but I like the downstairs area. We had my sister's engagement party there and the service was great, and the food (mind you we only had h'our dourves) that I tasted were quite good. Everyone had a great time and we were very happy. Even when we went over our time, they didn't bother us. Would go back there anytime. Coral Seafood, you couldn't pay me to go back there.

                                              15 Replies
                                              1. re: firenze413

                                                Coral Seafood.......

                                                "The actual interior made me feel like I was sitting inside a Saturday morning cartoon"

                                                I just love that!

                                                1. re: Harp00n

                                                  My foodie 84 year old Mom had a horrid experience at Coral as well. She loves Sole Prop. and Castellana's.

                                                  1. re: phelana

                                                    Where is Castellana's? I've not heard of it before, but would love to hear more!

                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                      Castalana's is at the former Patrick Motors location on Harding St. It's pretty darb good for Worcester which IMHO appears to be on a fast decline in some serious regards. Back to food, I wonder how Block 5, Castallana's, Tribeca, Bocada ect...can survive?

                                                      1. re: luci

                                                        "Worcester which IMHO appears to be on a fast decline in some serious regards"

                                                        Care to explain??

                                                        1. re: CTeater

                                                          The neighborhoods I used to frequent have gone downhill. For instance, check out W. Boylston St. Long gone are Fortins replaced by a Halloween store. Seems like there is a check cashing store on every corner. What happened to the June St. Chandler St. neighborhood. Gone are the nice beauty salons, and hi end dining like Struck and Arturos. There is a CVS or Brooks on every corner. The appearance of Worc. to me is tacky and cheap with little healthy progress.

                                                          1. re: luci

                                                            Agree with you about Worcester and their neighborhoods. But Struck Cafe is still in Worcester in the same neighborhood but moved acros the street to a bigger spot (now in a small plaza). It's still a great place too.

                                                            1. re: luci

                                                              I have to disagree. I've only lived in Worcester for 3 years now, being formerly a Bostonian, and it seems to have gotten progressively better during that time (or maybe my standards are just getting lower!! LOL!) With all the new restaurants (at least 5 good ones this year alone), it seems to be on the upswing to me.

                                                              1. re: woostalicious

                                                                I would totally agree with you. I've been here for 6 years and have seen a lot of new fun places open up recently. I think most of the problem that worcester has is that because it's not boston, it's not good enough. i've met a lot of worcester natives who complain about the city not having things yet these same people don't support the great things that do open. i think the new restaurants have a pretty solid following and i hope that they make it! from the looks of bocado's crowd last night, i'd say they'll be ok :)

                                                                1. re: jmacd

                                                                  The restaurant scene rocks..it's the check cashing places on each corner, the tacky stores, the loss of the small neighbor markets and pizza places replaced with Halloween Outlets, the Brooks or CVS pharmacy's on every corner. IMHO

                                                                  1. re: luci

                                                                    Another unfortunate barrier to elevating the restaurant scene in Worcester is the lack of experienced waitstaff for upscaled environments. I can't tell you how many potentially nice meals were ruined by crass, unkept waitpeople who just haven't been trained properly for "refined dining". The most recent example was at Pearl Oyster, a newer Shrewsbury Street establishment that I have been touting on this board. We took an out of town colleague there for a meal, and were appalled at the service. The woman was not properly attired (heavy thick silver jewelry on all fingers, bracelets, etc), greasy hair and clearly not well educated regarding the menu. Her wine service included picking around to get all the wrapping off of the bottle *after* it was uncorked, so that she had put her fingers all over the bottle opening!! At other local establishments, I've had similar experiences, including being offered ice for our red wine when we mentioned that it was quite warm (i.e. not room temp...actually *warm*!).

                                                                    1. re: Science Chick

                                                                      Couldn't agree more. Although I have to say the waitstaff at The Sole and Chophouse has always had very experienced professional waitstaff when we have dined there. Maybe the Ahlquists have cornered the Worcester waitstaff market???!!!

                                                                      1. re: RandyL

                                                                        I've actually had great service at Pearl in the past. Also, a friend and I hit Bocado last week and had wonderful service! I guess it is just the spottiness that gets to me!

                                                                        1. re: Science Chick

                                                                          And I had great service at Block 5 Bistro a few weeks ago. I guess you're right about the spottiness......but The Sole and Chophouse seemed to be more consistent than most.

                                                  2. re: firenze413

                                                    Your post is why I love this site. Not, "Coral sucks," but very specific reasons why. Allowing unopened shellfish out of a kitchen is purely criminal. I have a brother who lives in the area, and the next time I get there, I will definitely avoid Coral and go for tapas instead.

                                                  3. Block Five Bistro Bar. 139 Green Street Worcester, MA
                                                    On the advice of Womag, My wife and I decided to try this restaurant, by now, a not so new addition to the restaurant scene. The decor was modern with sleek and geometric motifs; the booths were severe and sleek and not that comfortable to sit in. The color scheme: mostly soft greens, and light blues. Ceilings were high, the noise level loud.
                                                    We were seated right away, and the waitress was very attentive. We opted for the arugula salad with goat cheese, I ordered the pork chop medium, and my wife chose the seafood pasta.(orechette) Before our food arrived, we were served some tasty bruschetta with white bean puree. The salad came with slices of roasted beets, accented with some fried bread-crumbed goat cheese balls. These were tasty morsels. But the dressing was disappointing, a creamy vinagrette that overpowerd the sharp, spicy taste of arugula. My pork chop arrived cooked to the desired doneness, but it was bland.( a pre-rub spice coating would have helped) With my pork came a stir-fry of vegetables. This is where my meal became un-done; there were little carrots (the kind sold in super markets now, machine cut)
                                                    and some leafy kale, and onions. But the vegetables were under-cooked, almost chewy. Tthe vegetables served seemed more of an after-thought and were not prepared with any technique. The sauce was too sweet. And under my pork chop sat this orangey-bread-like mound. (sweet potatoes) it tasted too sweet, its texture uninspiring. (garlic mash potatoes would have been a better counterpart) I sampled my wife's dish and found the scallops chewy and over-cooked. This dish also tasted too sweet. A half-slice of roasted patty-pan squash was a nice touch, but tasted rancid. The only gem...some roasted caulifower that actually tasted fresh.
                                                    All in all, this place was high on ' image', but the food was only average. I am surprised that the chef under-played the role of well-prepared fresh vegetables; an important ingredient in the already crowded restaurant row not far away on Shrewsbury street. ~Tiaotse

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: tiaotse

                                                      Tiaotse, you took the words right out of my mouth! I agree with your conclusions about Block 5. Seems like it has plenty potential but never really reaches what it is grasping. The service was fery good, valet parking is nice, the atmosphere is very modern and sleek, but the food didn't quite "hit it".

                                                      1. re: tiaotse

                                                        Is Block Five Bistro really a Bistro?
                                                        My second visit to Block5 confirmed my suspicions, the owners of this restaurant could benefit from a visit to France.

                                                        'Duck confit is prepared in a centuries-old process of preservation that consists of salt curing a piece of meat (generally goose, duck, or pork) and then poaching it in its own fat. ~To prepare a confit, the meat is rubbed with salt and garlic, then covered and refrigerated for up to 36 hours.'

                                                        I ordered the duck entree: $33 ~ the breast portions were skimpy, lacking a crisp skin; the confit(leg) was crispy but had no flavor, actually bland. I think the entire leg was thrown into a deep fryer and served as a duck-confit. Disappointing. Accompanying my duck, were fava beans, but the sauce was texturally off-base; it was orange in color and tasted like a squash sauce with a touch of curry? Was the sauce hiding a un-fresh duck portion? Maybe I should have ordered their french fries and their hamburgers...at least that would be more bistro-like?

                                                        Another missing element? where was the crusty bread to sop up any juices?

                                                        There were some small highlights: My appetizer, their calamari was first batter-fried, and then tossed in a spicy jalapeno sauce. And we were all served an 'amuse-bouche', a broccoli puree soup with fresh spices. Tasty!

                                                        The head chef who designs their menu can be creative, yet the food lacks execution. I wonder if they are trying too hard to be different. My advice? stay with the basics, shorten the menu list and cook with more flavor. ~Tiaotse

                                                      2. My Worcester Bests? .... No question the best place in Worcester at the moment is BABA... this place is worth the drive from the western suburbs or even Boston for a nice change of pace... and shockingly low pricing compared to Boston. 111 Chophouse is very solid and has a nice wine program. 111 is a fine steakhouse at/near the level of some of Boston's steak places... fine for people in the area, but no reason to drive from Boston to go there. Their sister restaurant, Sole Proprietor never impressed me though. This group also opened a new Italian place about 2 mos ago... called VIA. Not bad, very casual. You have to be careful what you order there....some winners, some clunkers. Nice casual atmosphere though and if you pick right you'll enjoy it alot. You'll have to go and experiment... Via also a prefect place to bring the kiddies... not the other spots mentioned above.

                                                        If you haven't been to BABA what are you waiting for???.... a blessing for Worcester. Place is tiny, so tables may be tough.

                                                        2 Replies
                                                        1. re: WineTravel

                                                          I, too, finally made it over to Baba the other day for lunch...what can I say? Wilson is a genius....and I've missed his touch ever since he left Zipango. Even the simplest rolls are masterpieces that melt in your mouth. The sushi is top quality. I rate it on par with Oiishi in Chestnut Hill!

                                                          1. re: Science Chick

                                                            Let's keep it quiet.... just kidding. I wish him well. Place is killer.

                                                        2. VIA Italian Table, on Shrewsbury Street in Worcester.

                                                          While opened by the talented owners of The Sole Proprieter and 111 Chop House, their newest restaurant around the corner from the Chop House is a terrible disapointment.

                                                          Marketed as an authentic Italian restaurant, they have a lot to learn. Starting off with the service, there were two "servers" assigned to our table. Neither one knew what the other was doing so we got asked multiple times about our orders, other servers dropped off food without checking to sees if we had utensils, or plates, or cheese etc and just hurried away, leaving us to flag down other staff for help. While it may have been a mistake to accept a table near the open kitchen, to say that there was lots of passing traffic would be an understatement, try watching an ant colony under seige!

                                                          Food wise, we ordered the house antipasta which arrived moments later, obviously made up ahead of time and unceremoniously dropped off on our table. (no plates). While there was a wide selection, much of it appears to have been spooned from a jar. Some thinly sliced mortadella was accompanied by a thick round of cooked salami, a variety certainly never seen in Italy and never served in a chunk... The cheese on the platter was hardly of "Italian" origin either. There were some other nice nibbles which raised the quality to at least mezza-mezza. We did receive a fresh round loaf of bread, which looked very appealing and which was a nice touch.

                                                          Our entrees were two varieties of pasta, which you can be ordered with 4-5 various "sauces". I had a wide pasta called parparadelli with a bolognese sauce and my companion ordered ravioli with a garlic, oil, and breadcrumbs. Sadly both of the "fresh" pastas arrived as a mass of starchy paste. I would guess that the cooks don't know how to cook pasta, or possibly if made on site, they used the wrong flour. While the server was good enough to get us fresh replacements, the second try was not much better. The bolognese sauce could have used more tomato and the breadcrumbs on my friends dish should have been toasted in the oil, rather than just having dry bread crumbs dusted on top.

                                                          While the decor was great along with the visuals of the restaurant, with a wide attached veranda allowing outdoor dining, there was little else to rave about here. With the addition of one cocktail each, the bill came to a hefty $64 for a mediocre antipasta and 2 lousy pasta dishes. Trust me, after just returning from two weeks in Italy, VIA Italian Table is VERY far from a real Italian restaurant!

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: mapinhand

                                                            Thanks for the detailed account! My parents are visiting today and were curious about Via, since they've enjoyed 111 and the Sole during other visits. Depending on their insistence we may end up there anyway, but at least I'll know what NOT to order.

                                                            1. re: mapinhand

                                                              Funny -- I've spent a lot of time in Italy, and while none of the local restaurants offer the type of menus I've enjoyed there, I'd say that Via does a better job of achieving Italian flavors than most. And they use a lot of authentic ingredients, too. For another opinion on Via, see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/404580. I've been back there 4 times since I wrote that review, and overall I continue to be a fan -- especially because of the al fresco dining.

                                                              1. re: Rick_V

                                                                Thanks, Rick! Would you consider Via to be kid-friendly? I've got a 6 year old that is *usually* well-behaved in restaurants and not too picky an eater (she eats sushi and doesn't need mac and cheese to be on every menu). She loves the Sole and is OK at 111, but I haven't read much about the atmosphere at Via. Couldn't read your linked post - something is going on with the boards at the moment.

                                                                1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                  It's a restaurant with many spaces -- a large patio, a lively and informal space near the open-air kitchen, more intimate spaces on the other end behind the bar. So I think that it would be kid-friendly. Lots of comfort food -- some nice thin-crust pizzas and simple pastas on the menu, and the overall vibe is casual.

                                                                  1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                    We took our six year old to Via for dessert after the fireworks on Tuesday (and to wait out the traffic). We sat on the outside porch. The food looked accessible (and he enjoyed the brownie sundae), but the vibe is much more adult. It was O.K. for what we did, but I don't think that Via would be high on my list of family friendly restaurants -- more like a "leave the kids with the sitters" restaurant. Via's sister restaurant, The Sole Proprietor, is much more family oriented.

                                                                    1. re: MUGger

                                                                      Thanks Rick and MUG! We'll probably try it without her first. MUG, it's impressive that your six year old made it to the end of the fireworks and still for dessert after - mine was falling asleep on my lap, muttering "wake me up for the grand finale." Luckily we were on the sidewalk in front of our house so we could just carry her inside after. :)

                                                                      1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                                                                        My daughter is turning 14 this summer; when she was younger, Truffles opened in Milford- another place with an adult feel. She heard my husband and me describe it as a "babysitter place," and told us last year that at the time, she thought we meant it was a place where babysitters eat!

                                                              2. Wow, this thread has turned into such a great resource for Worcesterites to find a good place to eat.

                                                                I have some more restaurants in Worcester that I'd love to hear people's opinions on:
                                                                -Bamboo Hut (don't think this is new, but I've been hearing some good things lately)
                                                                -Tribeca (this was posted in my original post, but there doesn't seem to be too much of an opinion so far)

                                                                I have to agree with the poor reviews of Via and Pearl Oyster. I expected a lot out of both places and got awful service and disappointing food. The seafood at Pearl Oyster did not taste all that fresh. And at both places, the bill was much higher than the experience justified.

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: woostalicious

                                                                  I believe I read on another post that Bamboo Hut has closed....but I could be mistaken.

                                                                  Baba is AMAZING...Wilson is one of the most gifted sushi chef's in the Northeast, IMHO. I think his preparations rival those at Oishii!

                                                                  1. re: Science Chick

                                                                    I hope you are remembering that Green Bamboo has closed--even though I'm not likely to be back in Worcester any time soon, the closing of Bamboo Hut would make me terribly sad.

                                                                    Go on a weekend with your own bottle of wine, order as many of the daily specials as you can, and chat with the owners and their kids.

                                                                    1. re: b grubbs

                                                                      Ahh, that must be it....see, I knew I wasn't sure! ;)

                                                                    2. re: Science Chick

                                                                      We're regulars at Da Lat, but decided to try Bamboo Hut based on recommendations on this board. The food was absolutely wonderful. The super-fresh (and giant) green papaya salad was the best I've ever tasted. Everything we ate was freshly prepared and delicious. The one drawback for us was the slow service. They cook everything to order (which is probably one of the reasons the food is so good) but when you're eating with a hungry 6 year old, no matter how patient she is, it can be a torturous wait. So for date-night I'm sure we'll return, but for quick week-night Vietnamese, Da Lat is still the tried-and-true.

                                                                      Sadly, Green Bamboo did close. Too bad because it was closer to our home than Da Lat, but I was never as happy with the food there and got the sense that it wasn't as clean as it could be. Just my impression from eating there a handful of times.

                                                                    3. re: woostalicious

                                                                      Baba was mentioned earlier in this thread... unquestionably the best food in the city of Worcester... and the prices are strikingly low for what you get. Sushi, cooked food, everything is great!

                                                                      1. re: woostalicious

                                                                        Bamboo Hut is alive and well...but as Eatin' in Woostah says, it's not a place to go if you want/need speedy service. When it's just the owners, they're busy and it takes a while. When they have "help" it's a bit worse. However, for the money it's the best meal in Worcester, and BYOB to boot. Order off the specials menu -- the tamarind duck is a killer, and you can't go wrong with the crispy whole fish or the grilled pork loin. The salmon in a clay pot, off the regular menu, also slays. Their crabcakes are the Platonic ideal of a crabcake. All their seafood is spectacularly fresh -- I believe Nam drives into Boston in the morning to get it.

                                                                        Castellana's is quite upscale -- a bit formal, even -- but quite good for a "date to impress" or a business dinner. Sorta Mediterranean, with some very nice dishes. I had some short ribs there last spring that were absolutely wonderful.

                                                                        Tribeca is two places. Upstairs is like Castellana's, only more so. Downstairs is less formal, almost as expensive, and didn't impress us that much.

                                                                        I often wonder how many pseudo-Italian restaurants one city (even the second largest city in New England, thank you very much) can support. It was a shame to see Anthony's close.

                                                                        And finally, Baba is as fabulous as everyone says.

                                                                        1. re: Rick_V

                                                                          Ummmm....I thought we'd dropped to third, after Providence? Heading to Baba for the first time tonight, and can't wait.

                                                                          1. re: Rick_V

                                                                            Have you tried Dante's on Shrewsbury St? After Anthony's closing, I think it's the best Italian left on that street. It's weird- it's in the bottom of a multi-family house and looks kind of shabby from the outside, but it's actually quite nice inside and the food is very good Italian, and reasonable prices.

                                                                        2. Wild Willey's Who wouldn't like Wild Willy's? Whats not to like about a place that serves decent handmade angus patties, and cooks them decently. I found the burger decent and tasty, definitely a cut above fast-food burgers, but wondered why mine was medium-well, while my sister-in-law's burger was medium rare the way I like it. If they are charging $6+ for a burger, then diners should have a say in the way they are cooked. Sure, sure the FDA has cracked down on 'NO MORE RARE' burgers, but Hey! this is not a fast-food place where thousands of meat patties can escape quality control, I am talking about a small place that prides itself on serving quality meat and will maintain high standards. AM I RIGHT? WELL I HOPE SO.
                                                                          The reasons for the long lines out the door? Poor service. Apparently the management has not come up with the right solution. When you arrive, no matter how large or small your party, you line up at the counter? AND there is only one person taking orders. Does this makes sense? NO ONE, no management person is there to assure you that your wait will be short or long, so you wait. After you pay, and your order is taken, you sit down in the dining hall, (mess hall?) and wait.
                                                                          Personalized service ? no such thing. The young staff will bring you your order when ready. Its a traffic-management problem. After a while, when the novelty is over (new restaurant and all that) will people really want to stand outside the door in the freezing weather? Why not allow staff, or management to circulate and take orders and allow diners to sit down while waiting? I know I know, this place does not believe in waitering service. But seriously, is it good business to make customers stand and wait? Now if only they had a real Live Western style band.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: tiaotse

                                                                            Where is Wild Willy's in Worcester? They don't list a Worcester location on their website.

                                                                            1. re: Angel Food

                                                                              Just North of the Greendale mall on Bolyston Street. If you are coming from the mall, it's on the other (wrong) side of the street, and you have to go up a light or 2 and make a U-turn and come back because there's a concrete median.

                                                                            2. re: tiaotse

                                                                              First of all, Wild Willy's IS a chain. Also, the size of an establishment really has little bearing of whether contaminated meat gets onto your plate. Unless they grind their own meat (which they don't), there is always a possibility of E. Coli contamination in the meat they buy from the distributor. It doesn't matter how careful the restaurant is.....if the meat arrives contaminated and it isn't cooked, you eat the bacteria.

                                                                              1. re: tiaotse

                                                                                WW's has become more consistent on their cooking, they generally come how you ask now. I think the place is a good value, great handcut fries. They could do a better job in the ordering dept, it is too much for one person, but we don't usually go there when it is busy.

                                                                                The FDA doesn't tell anyone how to cook their burgers. Some states have laws, most don't. MA doesn't, and don't let anyone tell you it does. The places that choose not to serve you your burgers how you want them are doing it because they are afraid of lawsuits. One guy once in TX over a decade ago died from a bad Jack in the Box burger. It was a food handling and storage issue, and I think that Jack in the Box wasn't cooking stuff rare. Biaggios also has good burgers and will cook how you want, so will Finders and Bennies, all good choices for the un chain liking people

                                                                              2. Tribeca ** Shrewsbury St., Worcester, Ma
                                                                                Efficient, professional, 'well-coiffed.' These are adjectives that describe our experience. Our Waiter was young, eager-to-please: "Hi, I am Bill, I will be your waiter." My wife commented that the place prided itself on quality ingredients; she was right: good meats and fish with minimal preparation. At times, this minimal approach though professional, lacked excitement.
                                                                                Upstairs, the interior was large and spacious, with exposed brick walls and carpeting. The bar was the showpiece and stood in the center of the space, built with polished richly grained woods. The atmosphere: cavernous and noisy; conversation from surrounding tables could be distractingly, making it difficult for us to hear the waiter when he was reciting the specials of the evening. We started by sharing their version of a Japanese platter: tiny slivers of raw tuna perched on slices of toasted baguette, some 'ura-maki,' a reverse version of the maki roll, slices of picked ginger, grilled asparagus, a few shiitakes, a cube of wasabi, and soy dipping sauce. Although we ate every morsel on the platter, the appetizer was not memorable, Japanese-inspired but not really Japanese-tasting, the tuna was served in such tiny portions, almost miniscule; and the 'ura-maki' was a little dry. Our salads arrived, and our waiter performed the fresh-pepper-grinding ritual. The salad was unfortunately drenched in too much vinagrette, and tasted too astringent for our tastes. (Elizabeth did convey this to our waiter) For main courses, Elizabeth chose the duck, and I the filet mignon. While waiting for our dishes, we were served two perfectly baked rolls, slightly warm and crunchy to the bite. Upon finishing one, we hoped for some other choices of bread but none came.
                                                                                The duck breast was served medium, with oven-baked young potatoes, in a demi-glace sauce. Surprisingly, the duck was devoid of crispy skin, and tasted slightly sweet. (they had apparently been pre-brined) My filet mignon arrived cooked rare as I requested, accompanied by perfectly cooked baby carrots,similar potatoes, in a demi-glace sauce. Perhaps I should have ordered something more challenging such as the sirloin-au-poivre; at least I could have sampled the chef's deft touch. And in all fairness, the filet is probably the least tasty of all the cuts of beef. We finished by sharing their chocolate soufflé served with pistachio ice cream.
                                                                                Total bill for two: $130 before tip. (this included one bottle of Syrah, one glass of Stella Artois, and one coffee)
                                                                                All in all, our experience reminded me of dining in a private club. The food was good but not exceptional. Service was amateurish. If Worcester can support a restaurant of this type, then Bravo! I personally think their prices are too high for what they offer. At this price level, I would expect the food to have more personality and the chef more creative in the preparation of dishes. Tiaotse