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May 16, 2007 12:10 PM

Contrarian views on "popular" restaurants?

Can you name a restaurant or 2 that you've experienced but left wondering what all the hullabalu was all about? I'm talking about consensus favorites by CH'ers in and around Boston. I'll start by mentioning Sabur. Been there several times, had different dishes and have left wondering why so many people rave about it.

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  1. Great topic! I can think of one in particular that got too much hype when they opened up:

    --All Star Sandwich Bar, Cambridge (decent food, but the hype was way too overblown when they first opened up)

    And a couple of others that didn't quite live up to my expectations:

    -Za, Arlington
    -Cafe Bella, Randolph

    1. Funny, I really enjoy Sabur and the staff was wonderful when I was there. They even suggested a wine and said if I didn't care for it, we would just move on to the next one - no charge! The place that I couldn't understand the hype about was Potbellies in South Boston. I'll admit that they made a pretty decent sandwich, but the service was basically nonexistent and the owners weren't all that friendly. Maybe it was just a bad day, but I haven't found myself in the mood to give it a second chance.

      1. I was thoroughly underwhelmed by Grotto: a lovely room with some seriously uninspired food (some of which was just plain inedible), topped off with the strangest dessert I have ever had, a "chocolate pudding" that was in fact about 3/4 cup of ice cold ganache.

        6 Replies
        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

          Yeah, I thought one or the other of us would bring this up. Even allowing a LARGE level of benefit-of-the-doubt for the fact that many restaurants aren't at their best during Restaurant Weeks, it was a really underwhelming meal, BFP's more than mine, and made worse by utterly half-assed service. (Kicked off by our waitress pouring BFP's beer so abruptly that it foamed up out of the glass and all over the table, after which she half-heartedly tried to wipe up the mess with a starched dinner napkin - not the best tool for the job.)

          1. re: Allstonian

            I've been a couple of times to Grotto - been pretty darn pleased with everything each time - if your experience was just the one time, I hope you'd give it another shot.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              utterly underwhelmed by grotto and went because of recs from here. ok food, but the service, although friendly, was so amateurish it was painful.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Service is definitely NOT Grotto's strongpoint. I like the food and the prices, but the service can be sloowwwwww and bad.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  I LOVE LOVE LOVE Grotto- but service does stink. That said it's more of a dateplace than anything else, and if you're in a hurry on a date than more is going wrong with your night than the service!

                  I think Anthony's Pier 4 Stinks. I don't care HOW good the view is!

            2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

              I absolutely agree - I went with much anticipation from reading raves here, and was completely bored by the food and disappointed by very mediocre service. I had sweet potato ravioli (why? this was New England in the late winter, and squash is perfect) that was tough, greasy, and unpleasant, and a duck entree that had about 700 things happening on the plate, all of them way too heavy and unfriendly with the other ingredients. I also really hate the space.

            3. Tuscan Grill - Got their famous pork chop. It was tough and on the cold side. I have done better at home.

              Trattoria Toscana - Again, I ordered pork chops. These were served in a pool of oil that made me feel slightly ill afterward.

              Al's State Street Cafe - Their fresh baked bread reminds me of Brown n' Serve. The sliced turkey is thick and similar to what one could get off the rack in a supermarket. Don't care for the chicken parm either, maybe if the bread was toasted it would be better.

              Anna's Taqueria - Bland, unimpressive, its popularity is a mystery to me.

              East Coast Grill - Cramped, loud, a little pricey, just ok food.

              3 Replies
              1. re: wontonton

                I agree with your comments on Anna's Taqueria. I have tried it over and over again thinking that maybe it was me. It wasn't. The food is just average. I like Bocca Grande much better. Their menu is more diverse and I especially like their tamales.

                1. re: tjd3

                  Hah, anyone who considers their visits to Anna's "tries" is not the target audience. Anna's doesn't need a diverse menu, or tamales, or fish tacos or whatever. It's a way of life that involves excellent burritos and low cost.

                  1. re: tjd3

                    Yeah. Boca Grande is so much better. Anna's is the Subway of Tacos

                2. The Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown has been a consistent bummer. I've been a 1/2 dozen times for breakfast and every single time my order has been messed up in some way. So far the omelettes are blah, hash was overcooked, and I haven't been able to get an egg over-medium. I haven't been impressed yet but I am keeping an open mind because everyone I've gone to breakfast with were really pleased with their orders.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: kittychow

                    It's amazing how few people can cook an egg over medium. Which to me is nice and cooked on both sides but still with a good yolk. Usually it's hard or still over easy. But I think I actually got over medium the way I like it at Deluxe.

                    1. re: Joanie

                      I worked as a breakfast cook for six years, and am also very picky about my eggs. Over medium seems the most elusive for our Boston cooks. Often it seems the egg will sit in the hot window too long and become over hard, or the cook just thinks it's an over easy, I hate loose egg whites. A good overmedium has the whites fully cooked, and the yolk the consistency of cold maple syrup.