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Cooling our heels at the Cottage

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emilief Dec 9, 2007 10:12 AM

Ventured out last night to the new restaurant in Wellesley in "Linden Square". Amazing at 5:45 that people were almost spilling out into the street and the place was packed with couples and lots of families with kids from infants to teenagers. It seems that there is a real pent-up demand for restaurants in metro west.
The "Cottage" is fairly large and open with a long bar near the front, and a few high top bar tables. They don's take reservations. We were given a beeper and told it would be 25 minute wait for a table of 5. About one hour later, we were seated. In the meantime we sat at the bar. Lots of people trying to sit at the bar holding their kids, had to be told that no one under 21 could sit at the bar. I ordered a margarita which tasted more like lemonade- pretty weak on the tequila. After 1/2 hour we ordered guacamole and chips- ok, not too much heat but a small portion for $7.95- served in a raddichio leaf.
Finally seated. We had fried calamari and artichok fritters for apps. Both were good but not outstanding. I had the fish tacos which were billed as coming in fresh corn tortillas but were served in flour tortillas. They were ok- some meager pieces of mahi mahi with cabbage and mango salsa and a small( maybe 3 oz cup) of black beans on the side. Other adults had capellini with garlic shrimp which was oddly sweet tasting.
There is a kids menu- mac and cheese, sliders, fish and chips, pasta. One kid had the sliders- odd- a hamburger cut in three pieces, each served on a bun- lots of bread which went to waste. The fries on the side were good. Other had chicken fingers- about four pieces with "fresh fruit" again, in a tiny 2 or 3 oz cup on the side.
Service was reasonably efficient given how slammed they were.
This is a nice addition to metro west. However, not worth waiting an hour for a table. Would try again on a week night when possibly it would be less crowded. Oh. and they do have a takeout menu.
Looking forward to other's opinions on this place.

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    terrycatch RE: emilief Dec 11, 2007 01:37 PM

    We live nearby, heard the buzz, and stopped in Sunday to pick up a menu. Ridiculous. Uninspired, unimaginative menu at prices you'd expect in the Back Bay (e.g., entres above $25). Reminds me of the crowds and buzz that accompanied Alta Strada in Wellesley when it opened - and whose high prices and so-so food turned lots of people off right quick. Yes, residents in the Metro West area are looking for quality new dining experiences; but it seems like restaurant operators feel they can exploit this interest by charging top dollar for superficial, pretentious attempts at upscale dining. For us, it's well worth the 20 minute drive into Boston for something much, much better for not much more.

    3 Replies
    1. re: terrycatch
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      emilief RE: terrycatch Dec 11, 2007 04:00 PM

      I agree 100%. Not such a bad drive for better food, ambiance etc. What a shame that so much space is taken up with such a ridiculous concept!

      1. re: emilief
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        tealilly RE: emilief Dec 16, 2007 04:30 AM

        Similar experience on our end: I heard lots of buzz from co-workers, and decided to visit last Sunday with the family. Initially wanted to go for breakfast, but couldn't find their telephone number or website anywhere online. Not a problem, new businesses have this issue often, but we'd heard these guys had opened Wellesley as a second location to the original in La Jolla. No mention of a second location online (http://www.cottagelajolla.com/), so we did the 411 and called. Were told that breakfast will be available "in a few weeks".

        No problem, we'll do dinner instead.
        Hmmm. Greeted nicely enough by the kids behind the large reception desk, were being seated immediately (arrived just before 5.30PM -- early bird special, here we come!) couldn't walk past the mass at the bar, watching the VERY loud game on television (please, no!) and had a bit of a juggle trying to sit somewhere quiet (a few large parties were there). Finally gotten settled, the experience went downhill from there. I wanted to like The Cottage -- we all really did -- but very little worked for us. Again, nice waiter, no winelist offered, but provided upon request (selection OK); very very broad food offerings -- California-style, some Southwestern, some Asian-inspired, some (New) England ... American pan-regional?

        Everyone seemed to be running like mad -- the place was packed -- kitchen seemed in the weeds -- execution and follow-through failed as a result. To start, we had their "famous" chicken tortilla soup and did a double-take: a teeny-tiny cup filled with a few chunks of grilled chicken (not bad) topped with lukewarm "soup" and two 2" strips of corn tortilla; the kid ordered the grilled avocado salad which was a huge plate of char-marked tomatoes and avocados cut in half and drizzled with pesto. When my kid (who loves both of these "fruit") barely touched the plate, I mentioned that it looked like it could use a little acid (sure enough, it was described as being served with a balsamic pesto). Little things like this caused some "who knows?" eye-rolling on our end, we let it pass: nothing earth-shattering. Nice to receive free refills on soda, and we waited for the next course.

        Do NOT order appetizers as entrees -- they'll be held at the pass as ours were -- turning the guacamole a very unappetizing dark brown, the quesadillas rock hard, and the salad accompanying chili shrimp completely wilted. Not good. Husband (Scottish) described his bowl of short ribs (on "triple-mashed potatoes" made with cheese ...? it had an orange-y hue and drowning in a sauce that looked like canned stew) as a "bowl of baby sick", I couldn't but agree. Visually awful, but the beef itself tasted OK. Kid had chicken fingers which were OK. Dessert was not good: peanut butter pie for the kid and molten chocolate cake for us; both seemingly stale tasting, accompanied by a very odd, thin "chocolate" sauce. Nothing to write home about, our server sternly informed us that they are "known for our desserts" upon hearing our review of "they're OK".

        Our "doggie bag" (why did we even ask for this? to be polite?) went missing, and a new order was prepared -- a nod to the management, for taking care of this. We left with a headache from the blaring TV, wondering why did we bother, but wanted to give it a try. They've been open just under a month, so things will happen -- we all understand that. But with less than 90% of the experience successful, I'm not sure I'll do this again. To be frank, The Cheesecake Factory does this a hell of a lot better ... seems to me that The Cottage is trying to do the same concept, but upscale, which is just one of their points of failure (the place looks good though!).

        I have no doubt that I'll be there again at some point with an insisting friend, and pray that the experience will be more successful.

        1. re: tealilly
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          emilief RE: tealilly Dec 16, 2007 09:21 AM

          Desparate for new places in town, my husband wanted to go back on a weeknight to see if the experience would be better. It was not.We arrived early and were seated right away. I had the ceasar salad which was completely tasteless and dry, no anchovies or anchovy flavor. Ordered the burger which was ordered medium rare and came well done. It tasted ok- with cheese and thousand Island dressing (maybe 1 tsp) and about 10 french fries on the plate. But it really didn;t taste any better than a fast food burger- would take a whopper any time and I am not a fan of those either. H had the steak frites, which came on the rare side although ordered medium again with a few fries. The most glaring error of the evening was my cocktail- a pomegranite chaiparina which was described on the menu as cashassa, lime and pom. When served it came in a very tall glass and was fizzy. Well, I know my chaiparinhas and this was not one. I sent it back and asked if it had sprite in it- the waitress came back and said it had gingerale! Ugh. Not in the description and not in this drink! The made me another one but without any sugar and it was awful (although better than with gingerale). The owner came over and asked why I didn;t like my drink- I told her if you are going to put gingerale in a drink which is described in detail on the drink menu you need to include it and - that a chaiparinha does not have gingerale. When I got home I realized that I did not feel like I had been out to dinner. The food was so mediocre and definitely not close to what I can mke at home. Won't be going back.

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