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Apr 13, 2007 05:48 AM

Other Side Cafe?

Does anyone have info about a couple of places on Mass Ave right near the top of Boylston Street? One is that place The Other Side which has been there forever but I've never known much about it. The other is a Malaysian place I think, right across from Match. I am going to a birthday party on Boylston tonight and want to grab dinner beforehand. Of course there is always Boylston itself, or Newbury, for eating. I was just thinking about trying something new.

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  1. The Other Side is a funky, independent cafe with good coffee drinks and teas, beer and wine, and a short menu of sandwiches, soups, and salads: food that doesn't need cooking on premises (they have no kitchen). It's crunchy, vegetarian friendly (they do fresh juices and smoothies, a good place to get your wheatgrass juice fix), rather shabby, boho and casual in vibe, with beat-up lounge furniture for seating upstairs, interesting artwork by local artists, and a fine patio. A great little place, nothing else like it nearby.

    Island Hopper is a pan-Asian place whose menu, as the name suggests, skips around Southeast Asia. It has Indonesian, Singaporean, Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, and a couple of Burmese dishes. It's casual but modern looking, has a full liquor license with some fruity tropical-ish drinks. I think it's just okay, like a lot of pan-Asian restaurants.

    You might also consider Bhindi Bazaar, which sits between these two places. It's a very good Indian restaurant covering a lot of regional ground, and has some dishes not seen elsewhere in Boston, like the British-Pakistani balti.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      just to add, the other side cafe has a tremendous selection of hand-crafted beers. its staff and clientele are of the more tattoos and piercings the better, and the music can be very loud. the fare is good and healthy.

      island hopper is ok, but i find the service better than many other restaurants of its type.

      right in that stomping ground, on gloucester st., is caffe jaffa for excellent middle-eastern fare

      1. re: MC Slim JB

        I agree with MCs review of Island Hopper. The food is Ok, but not something that you are going to write home about. They do provide a broad range of asian offerings, which may work against them, but makes a convenient place to pick up some basic asian offerings if you live in the area. The service is very good with the host (owner?) going the extra mile to make you comfortable and welcomed. That said, some friends were visiting over the summer with kids ranging in age from 9 to 14 years old and they loved it. And as a result of the welcoming staff I now visit it a bit more often. When the father of the family visited again a couple weeks ago, his eldest daughter told him to make sure he went to Island Hopper because it was her favorite restaurant "ever." As a result, it was his first stop for lunch and now he thinks he's a regular. As far as the food goes, you could do better, but you could also do a lot worse.

      2. The food at the Other Side is very simple, but in a good way. I really like the cheese, fruit and bread plate - it's nothing fancy, just your basic havarti dill, cheddar, etc., but the honey yogurt dip that they serve with it is tasty. They have some good wraps and veggie chili too. It's definitely cafe-style food but the quality is good.

        1. Other option that tends to be consistently good on the tried & true side and is in the neighborhood is Panificio. Original is on Charles St, but a new one opened on Mass Ave right near Comm Ave. Just another consideration...

          2 Replies
          1. re: jdubboston

            Anyone been to The Other Side for breakfast? Is the food decent and the scene a little quieter in the morning? According to Rao's Coffee in Northampton, they are one of the few places around that serve Rao's, which is quite good. We like a nice, peaceful atmosphere for breakfast, though, so if the music is really loud I'd rather skip it.

            1. re: jdubboston

              I have to disagree on this one. Every time I've gone to the Mass Ave location of Panificio, the food has been sub-par, service not so good, and I have given it more than a few chances. I think there are other places more worthy of visiting.