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Worst local spinoff ever?

Another local Hound's bemoaning the weakness of the food at Sunset Cantina, sibling to the much-better Sunset Grille and Tap, got me thinking: what other well-regarded Boston restaurants have spun off inferior secondary concepts? For example, I think Ashmont Grille is a worthy second restaurant from Icarus' chef/owner, but a lot of Dot Hounds clearly dislike it. I genuinely miss Rouge, a plank in Tremont 647's ill-fated brand extension scheme, but not enough other folks liked it well enough to keep it in business.

I concur that the Sunset Cantina's food is vastly inferior to the merely-passable food at the Sunset Grille, and would add a few more ugly sibings to this list:

* All non-original Pizzeria Regina outlets

* Bonfire (compared to the original good-old-days Olives, anyway)


I know I'm forgetting some others.

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  1. The Sel De La Terre, in the "Natick Collection" is a lackluster drag (I've only been to lunch). None of the special quality of the original location.

    2 Replies
    1. re: onefineleo

      Even the bread?

      I live close to the original, so I'm not going to Natick for the knock-off anyway, but I'd think their bread should still be excellent there.

      BTW, one of the best lunches in the city is the Salad Nicoise at the bar. Yum. And I'm not even a salad guy.

      1. re: Bostonbob3


        Yes, even the bread. I couldn't figure that out.

    2. Kelley's RB Fried Clams- I think it's the old fryalators.
      Dunkin Dognuts- I seem to remember they were good once upon a time.
      Filene's Basement- Remember the hot dog/ice cream? (keeping on topic)

      5 Replies
      1. re: trufflehound

        Ah memories....Filenes basement hotdogs. I remember that smell (and occasional taste) well.

        1. re: catsmeow

          Yes, I fondly remember the smell. My mother used to to take me there to keep my happy while she dragged me through the Basement. It was called the Frosty Corner.

          1. re: tamerlanenj

            Heh heh, something tells me that wasn't an accidental misspelling. I do concur!

            1. re: hiddenboston

              Our friend Foodperv is also fond of that spelling. Gets a chuckle out of me every time. :)

        2. How about 608, the B Side Lounge spinoff?

          Mission of Burma came out retirement and played there first, that's about all that happened there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ponyboy

            No, I saw a great show by Tender Trap and the Orange Peels there. But I remember absolutely nothing else about the place.

          2. Afew that come to mind..

            Michela Larsen's...Blu

            Frank Depasquale..Mare, Bricco

            Stan Frankenthaler....Salamander/Red Sky? in the first Finale space

            Tony Ambrose..Ambrosia to Blackfin

            Mantra has never lived up to it's initial "fine dining"..more a nightspot.

            6 Replies
            1. re: 9lives

              I liked Salamander when it was in Cambridge.

              1. re: Bostonbob3

                I did too..never seemed to catch on in Back Bay.

                The original Jae's in the SE was great..the branches never seemed to live up to the original..especially the 4 story place bordering on Bay Village

                1. re: Bostonbob3

                  I used to love Salamander when it was in Cambridge (at the bottom floor of that office building). I think his other place was Red Herring though.

                  Off subject but I would have put Stan Frankenthaler against any chef in New England when he was at his peak at Salamander (even when he was manning the kitchen at Jasper's while Jasper wrote his first cookbook).

                  1. re: RandyL

                    I work in that office building, and no one misses Salamander more than everyone who worked near it. Now there's some crappy Rebacca's Cafe-run coffee stand and a bunch of empty tables.

                    1. re: bobot

                      I can certainly empathise with you. Just the smell of those wonderful breads baking in the oven would have driven me wild there. I hope you were able to partake quite often in the close proximity of having such a great restaurant steps from your office. Of all the long gone restaurants in Boston, I miss Salamander (and the original Jasper's) the most.

                    2. re: RandyL

                      yes Red Herring was the name. I had a decent meal there; but it just never caught on. I'd rather have it back than Finale..which I'm not a fan of.

                      Pignoli was a failure after Lydia Shire's great success at Biba.. This was in the space that's now Via Matta.

                2. Interesting thread. Siro's at Marina Bay comes to mind. Was real good when it first opened. Then they opened 3 other location which didn't cut it. Now the original Siro's is only a shadow of it's original self. Great location and view, with just passable food.

                  1. I thought that the latest Firefly's (in Quincy) was terrible, and I wasn't the only one who thought that when I went.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hiddenboston

                      I've been hearing the same about Marlboro. Tough ribs, tasteless sides.

                    2. Demo's Waltham. We used to live around the corner from Demo's Watertown and ate there every week. Checked out the Waltham place and it sucked so bad, I wouldn't let the kids eat their food. The dog, OTOH, thoroughly enjoyed the rawish lamb we brought home for him.

                      1. Dare I say it?
                        The Butcher Shop! lol

                        1. Although I can't think of anything that would trump many of the above, I want to take a moment to come to the defense of the non-North End Reginas.

                          No, the pies are nowhere near as good as the ones coming out of that monster original oven, but I'd argue that like it or not, they're still some of the better pizza in Boston. If I had never heard of Pizzeria Regina and tried my first slice of it in Burlington mall, I could easily see myself posting on the Boston board about a "surprising chow find in the food court".

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: finlero

                            Totally agree -- I visit the Station Landing Regina's regularly and think the pie is almost as good as the original -- I said almost. If I can make it to Thatcher Street, the whole experience can't be beat, but for pure pie goodness, the Medford Regina's is great.

                          2. Davio's is fairly decent (although I have heard recent reports of bad/slow service at the bar), I don't enjoy their sister restaurant Avila.

                            1. How about the everything baked in a clay pot place in the atrium mall that jody adams opened? I forget the name


                              4 Replies
                                1. re: gutterman

                                  I forgot about that place -- obviously for a reason. Red Clay -- truly awful.

                                  1. re: Trixie Too

                                    That was a bizarre little experiment, indeed

                                2. Boston Chicken later changed to Boston Market, original in Newton was great, then turned into a franchise with hundreds, if not thousands of locations, great concept and product ruined by the franchisors (not Arthur or Kip) the original founders in Newton.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: bakerboyz

                                    The original Boston Chicken, on Austin Street in Newtonville, was incredible (as evidenced by the fact that if you didn't get your name on the chalkboard during the day, you weren't gonna get a chicken at night, as they always were sold out).

                                  2. I prefer the original, however the Station Landing Pizzeria Regina in Medford is just fine in a pinch.

                                    I think KO prime does not live up to the standards of Clio, Uni and Toro.

                                    Blackfin never held a candle to Ambrosia.

                                    I definitely agree with the Butcher Shop as well.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Gabatta

                                      I believe the Station Landing Regina's uses an old oven, so that might explain why it's good.

                                    2. It's not the worst, but I'd nominate Legal Sea Foods for special consideration, after they closed the original Inman Square location and went all corporate. The food is mostly still good, but the atmosphere is nothing like the original.

                                      And while we're on the subject of Inman Square, it's not exactly a spinoff but the S&S Deli in Inman Square reinvented itself in the '70s, expanding to five times its original size and brunchifying the menu, and losing its soul in the process.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: BobB

                                        Oh thank goodness, another Hound who isn't a huge fan of Legal's. Honestly, I've never understood the allure of this place--the food is alright, but I've never had anything there that would seem to match the hype the place gets. I should caveat this with the fact that I lived in Hawaii for nearly 4 years, so my standards for seafood are high.

                                        1. re: okello

                                          So that makes you an expert on Mahi-Mahi and Fresh tuna. A coworker who is a native Hawaiian tells me that this is the only seafood native to Hawaii, as there are no reefs making home to shellfish near the islands.

                                          And Legals regularly gets ripped to shreds nearly every time it's mentioned on Chowhound.

                                          To stay on topic, my vote is for Regina's also. Food court at the Pru just isn't the same as the original.

                                      2. Prezza spinoff Copia belongs on the list.

                                        1. How about Summer Shack? Does that qualify? I love the place, and you can still get Jasper's pan-roasted lobster with chervil and chives, but it is a far cry from the original Restaurant Jasper over near the North End. In my mind, that was THE greatest Boston restaurant ever.

                                          1. The Lower Depths, the Bukowski's spinoff, is pretty crapariffic.

                                            1. Does All Star Sandwich Bar count as a spin-off? I guess my view of this place is that it actually isn't so bad, despite a rough start.

                                              I actually like Lower Depths too, mainly for beers in the Kenmore Square area - their hotdog deal is also pretty good though.

                                              1. since someone mentioned butcher shop (which i totally dont agree with, i love ALL barbara lynch restaurants).....does oringer restaurants count?

                                                i liked clio...but KO PRIME sucksssssss! the kobe is not kobe, and the steaks are disgusting. worse than cheap steak places.

                                                1. Another one that I think qualifies is Beacon Street Tavern, out of Washington Square Tavern and lacking the charm.

                                                  1. Alta Strada- Schlow's restaurant in Wellesley is a very poor cousin of Via Matta/