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Jul 29, 2007 12:04 PM

Moving to Brookline Hills/Village

Hi. I'm mercifully moving out of Porter Square (goodbye nasty student restaurants and the heinous Star Market!!!) and will be calling Brookline home. I have no car but am an avid shop-by-bike kind of gal and am seeking recommendations for:
Fresh Fish
FRESH Vegetables and herbs
Good Mediterranean food
Fish restaurants

I cook a lot and will spring for a Zipcar to get to Russo's. I have shopped at Bazaar and love their 9 versions of feta.

Advise away!

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  1. nothing beats russos for all around veg and fruit and if you have the car go to Sevans and the other grand armenian places for hummus, taramsalata, etc., on Mt. Auburn, but there's lots of good shopping in and around brookline. For shopping, Clear Flour and Athans for bread and pastry, Trader Joes for a variety of stuff, great spices and chutneys at the Indian Spice stores (I use Madras on Harvard), great Russian stuff especially jams and honey at Bazaar and Russian VIllage, kosher goodies like good whitefish salad at the Butcherie, Whole Foods alas at stupendous prices for fish (but if you drive to Russos, drive back along route 16 into watertown and you'll find an excellent butcher (particularly good homemade italian sausage) and a good fishmonger in the little commerical district between watertown and newton). for eating out, Family restaurant for good turkish food, Szichuan Garden for good hot chinese food particularly their rabbit, La Morra for really excellent Italian food, Michael's deli for a grand pastrami sandwich, zaftigs for your general all around overpriced but good breakfast, Khao Sarn and Rod Dee for thai food, Washington Square Tavern for good neighborhood bistro, Fireplace Grill for good to excellent lunches at good prices. People on Chowhound will pan Golden Temple, but I advise trying it for the great martinis, excellent all around bar, and really good golden temple special spareribs (sit outside, have the ribs and your favorite drink, and never mind the rest of the hype). If you soldier on over to the brighton side of harvard street and brighton avenue area, you'll find a ton of interesting quirky small ethnic restaurants. my current favorite is Yoma (burmese).

    2 Replies
    1. re: teezeetoo

      Great suggestions. Thanks! What is the Butcherie?
      I have shopped at the Armenian markets. I'm especially looking for grocers in Brookline -- places other than Stop & Shop, etc.

      1. re: ssata

        the butcherie is a kosher super market on harvard street midway between beacon and commonwealth - its where i go to buy brisket or kosher chicken, as well as herring, etc. super 88 is an asian market on brighton avenue, an excellent place for all sorts of asian products and a good source of certain fish (live tilapia for instance and sometimes great prices on lobsters and crabs, but I'm careful about the "dead" fish, never 100% convinced of freshness) - we used to have a great butcher in brookline village (George Roth, bless him) but those days are gone, alas. i don't like Wolfs fish market (across from the Butcherie) but you might check it out perhaps its better than it was. as to eating seafood, you'll find great sushi and asian fish in brookline at many of the good thai and chinese restaurants (try Super Fusion on Washington Street or the Chinese seafood restaurant on Beacon near Harvard, and the whole fish at Khao Sarn). i know it isn't "chowhound" opinion, but Legals is fine to me: i recently had an excellent tuna, cooked to the degree I like it, with a good and well-priced bottle of Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc and I had no complaints (the one near you is in Chestnut Hill).

    2. It'll be tough to find a seafood restaurant near you now that Village Fish has closed. The best option will be to take the subway Green Line to Copley and walk to B&G Oysters in the South End, or continue on the Green Line to Haymarket and hit Neptune Oyster in the North End.

      If you count Turkish food as Mediterranean, Family Restaurant is located in Brookline Village and is excellent; otherwise you'd have to head to Coolidge Corner to falafel spots like Rami's or Shawarma King or Allston to the Reef Cafe, all worthy options.

      Can't suggest options for the rest of your question.

      And while I'll agree that the Porter Square Star Market is an expensive abomination, I'm going to disagree strongly with your dismissal of the area's restaurants as nasty and student-ish. Close by you'll find Tacos Lupita, Boca Grande, Anna's Taqueria, Elephant Walk, O'Sullivan's, Changsho, Seoul Food, Addis Red Sea, Chez Henri, West Side Lounge, Tamarind House, Forest Cafe, and a host of worthy Asian options in Porter Exchange, plus Simon's for coffee, a Rosie's Bakery outpost, Petsi Pies, an excellent sub/pizza place in The Half Shell, and a very good little neighborhood grocery in Evergood Market. Some would add Zoe's Chinese and Sugar and Spice to the mix, too. And that doesn't even count the options in close-by Davis Square. Sure, there are some mediocre spots or downright klunkers in Porter Square like Kaya, Passage to India, Christopher's, Temple Bar, Dunkin' Donuts, Qdoba, Three Aces, Cambridge Common, Harvard House of Pizza, Socrates Newtowne Grille, Pizzeria Uno's, and Wok and Roll, but that's the case everywhere with a bevy of restaurants to choose from -- too bad you apparently didn't find other than these spots when you were there.

      2 Replies
      1. re: bachslunch

        Thanks for your feedback -- especially for the Turkish options!
        Some of your suggestions for Porter Square are spot on, but many of these are not places you want to sit in and dine. Anna's, Petsi's are best for take out, O'Sullivans for the beer crowd. Elephant Walk is fine, but not for an affordable weekday option. I've had indifferent service at West Side (better food at Temple Bar) and haven't thought much of the Far East Asian offerings. I think the restaurants work better if you're in your 20s or 30s. My complaint with Cambridge is that affordable tends to equal dive and noisy.

        1. re: ssata

          A couple thoughts:

          "Some of your suggestions for Porter Square are spot on, but many of these are not places you want to sit in and dine. Anna's, Petsi's are best for take out, O'Sullivans for the beer crowd."

          I've eaten in at Anna's and O'Sullivan's on more than one occasion, and while neither place has very fancy digs, they're not anyplace I wouldn't go back to for eating in -- it's not like they're biker bars or something of that ilk. My experience suggests that most places with cheap prices will tend to reflect that in the decor.

          And we'll probably just have to agree to disagree on the merits of the East Asian eateries in the area (Kaya, Wok and Roll, Zoe's, Kotobukiya, and Sugar and Spice don't float my boat, but the rest mentioned above do) and Temple Bar vs. West Side Lounge (I much prefer the latter on all counts).

      2. The only market truly in the Village now is a smallish Korean place. Not mentioned is Rizelli Cafe, which the banner says was "formally" Istanbul Cafe (which was in Boston). There are two package stores but the better wine stores are in Washington Sq and Coolidge Corner (2, including the Best Cellars chain). The best wine store in the area, however, is easily walked to on Rt. 9 at Cypress - The Wine Gallery.

        You can walk to Stop & Shop on Harvard or to the small Shaw's / Star on Beacon - which will make your old one look good.

        At the Cypress / Washington shopping area next to the Library are a few places you should know. Virginia's makes terrific pastries - like eclairs. There's a good pizzeria, a couple of other places and an Indian market.

        If you want any specifics, I live in that area and can help.

        12 Replies
        1. re: lergnom

          Thank you so much! I thought I saw a tiny gourmet market when meeting my landlords, but can't remember exactly where it was. From the map I'd guess it was somewhere around Walnut or Kendall on Cyprus.
          Trust me, NOTHING will make me miss the Porter Square Shaw's!

          1. re: ssata

            I HATED that Stop & Shop on Harvard Ave when I lived there- used to call it "Evil Stop & Shop" for the slow as molasses cashiers and crummy produce. Maybe it's better now. It was only matched in evilness by the Shaws (?) on Beacon Street between Washington Square and Cleveland Circle, where all the little old ladies were merciless. They'll run you right down with those carts. I had the bruises to prove it.

            I used to go to the Shaws by the Super 88 (probably too far without a car) or the Bread & Circus in Brighton (ditto but probably bikeable). Of course, you've got Trader Joe's in Coolidge Corner, where you can find some decent bargains on wine. I also like Best Cellars, right there in Coolidge Corner as well.

            1. re: Chris VR

              This S&S is fine. I know a bunch of the managers, deli workers and cashiers and they are good people. The produce has improved over the last few years and is better than that Shaw's, though that market is much larger.

              The market you're thinking of is Kurkman's, which is just past Clark Park. (That area used to be called the Point, for Whiskey Point, and the spot where the huge Brook House condos is used to be the Farm, the poorest section of town for many, many years.)

          2. re: lergnom

            I meant to ask: could teezeetoo more closely pinpoint the location for the butcher you were referring to in Watertown? Thanks!

            1. re: ssata

              De Pasquale on Watertown Street (maybe around 300?) - also forgot the Farmers market is across from the Centre Street parking lot (behind Coolidge Corner Cinema) every thursday. River Rock organic beef is there and you can also google them and they'll deliver to you in brookline. excellent beef.

              1. re: teezeetoo

                The Brookline Farmers' Market also has excellent fish, goat, cheddar, and gouda cheeses from two vendors, great breads from Clear Flour, and some very good produce. The market is open until the last Thursday in October and is quite a happening in Coolidge Corner.

                If you are missing a seafood restaurant, the Perpetual Oyster will be opening soon. Also add Dok Bua to the list of very good Thai restaurants in the area

                1. re: chuck s

                  where is the perpetual oyster opening? we don't have a great "straight" seafood place so that will be a happening.

                  1. re: teezeetoo

                    In the space currently occupied by Takeshima in Coolidge Corner.

            2. re: lergnom

              Thanks! I thought I saw some sort of gourmet shop while walking on cyprus from the Bline Hills T, but didn't have time to sniff it out. Do you know what it is?

              1. re: ssata

                Kurkman's (at Cypress and Kendall) is not a gourmet market but has a surprisingly decent selection of produce and groceries. I wish they had prepared foods, gourmet or otherwise, but aside from some dodgy items at the deli, they don't seem to carry them.

                1. re: cookiezim

                  Kurkman's has really good meat and fish - they grind their own burger plus they will take special orders. They also have a nice little selection of fresh soups and deli items as well as good breads from local bakeries like clear flour. Except for canned and paper goods they are very reasonably priced. A real local opportunity for one stop shopping as they also stock beer and wine. You can tell. I'm a big fan- I've been shopping there since the 70's.

                2. re: ssata

                  I'm guessing Virginia's was the gourmet market you saw? On Cypress near the intersection with Washington Street. I used to live around there and while I didn't go there a lot, they were useful for a snack while doing laundry across the street. The New Paris bakery next door has been around forever; gets mixed reviews here but I had some of their mini-eclairs last night and they were pretty tasty.

              2. Might also mention Bottega Fiorentina on Harvard in the Village for Italian but mostly for very good sandwiches.

                The gourmet place is indeed Virginia's. BTW, the upholstery place next door is very good and reasonable for work.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lergnom

                  Thanks to the above posters for defending Porter Square.
                  I second Bottega Fiorentina, but not just for the sandwiches. I think their pasta / sauce entrees are great, fast, cheap and just the right size. That kind of place is really lacking in Porter (although Dave's is close by in Davis).

                2. Writing as someone who's just moved to the Porter Square area, has found more than nasty student restaurants, as others have noted above, but who does like various parts of Brookline:

                  Hearty seconds for the Brookline Farmer's Market, which is in the parking lot across the street from the Coolidge Corner Theatre lot on Thursday afternoons. Also for Clear Flour, my favorite baguette-and-croissant bakery in the Boston area. And for Brookline Family Restaurant, a rock solid Turkish eatery, low prices and divey atmosphere notwithstanding.

                  I'd probably opt for the 66 bus and go to Marty's Liquors if you're looking for fancy wine; they're at the intersection of Harvard and Comm Aves., not terribly far from Clear Flour. I've enjoyed shopping for fish at Wulf's, on Harvard Ave north of Coolidge Corner (though not everybody feels equally warm and fuzzy about same -- essential for fine, fine Maine shrimp in the winter months though). And you could do a lot worse than the waterzooi (Belgian fish stew) at the Publick House in Washington Square, also a haven for a dizzying multiplicity of Belgian beers.

                  Marty's / Fine Wine, Spirits Gourmet Food
                  193 Harvard Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                  Clear Flour Bread Bakery
                  178 Thorndike St, Brookline, MA 02446