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I know I am a food snob...

but why I am I so consistently underwhelmed with most of the "top spots" in and around town. Service most times is average at best..food inconsistent..attitude and unearned arrogance..prices out of control..no wonder I stay home and cook. I just don't want to become a foodie recluse!! I am interested to know what your thoughts are as to the top 5-10 most overated/overpriced restaurants in and around town. I want to make sure it is not me becoming old and jaded. Ok, I'll start: Radius, All "Steak" Houses, Davios, Prezza, 95% of all N. End Restaurants,

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  1. I agree that none of the restaurants you listed are worth the time or money, with the exception of Prezza. I do think it's overpriced, I don't think the atmosphere or service are anything special, but I've had divine food there. It could simply be that I'm ordering the things they do best, and that some of the menu isn't very good. Chowhound is so valuable because it doesn't focus on the "top spots" or "hot spots," but on what folks think are the best spots, along with tips (both foodwise and otherwise) about how to avoid having a disappointing experience.

    Consistency is a problem since restaurants depend on the vagaries of humans and nature, so even L'Espalier can be a disappointment if you don't hit it right. I look at dining out the way I look at going to a movie. I say I like movies even though I only like about 5% of those I see. (That coincides with your "95% of all N. End restaurants" being overrated.) What I really like is seeing or trying movies because I know there's a chance I'll see something incredible which I would have been willing to pay 10 times the ticket price for, had I known I'd like it so much. The fact that it costs the same to see There Will Be Blood as it does to see College Road Trip seems ridiculous. Paying the same for dinner at Prezza and Davio's also seems ridiculous, but you don't know this until you've done some research and, if it's still in the running, tried it yourself.

    I read movie reviews by critics I trust so when I do go, it's not such a big crapshoot. But it's still a moderate crapshoot. I read chowhound for the same reason. I do more research before trying an upscale restaurant because I don't have the money to try them all myself. Even when I'm disappointed by a dining experience, I'm not sorry I tried the place because I find it interesting, and at least my curiosity is sated.

    1. Folks, while we welcome your comments that help lead people towards great chow in Boston (or away from bad chow!), we've had to remove some off topic comments from this discussion. Please keep the discussion here focused on specific local chow and not generalizations about the chow scene or people's individual perceptions on the overall scene. Thanks.

      1. flyer1, with all due respect, the premise of your post is flawed. One's enjoyment of things sensual is subjective. That's why the *discussion* here is so valuable, and chow.com is not simply a restaurant ranking.

        I will take issue with your assessment of Prezza, I think it is truly a gem of the Boston high end. Had dinner there this past Wednesday for my lovely wife's birthday. Mitt Romney at the table next to us with his lovely wife. Quite a scene, my rotisserie roasted pork chop was amazing.

        What are the restaurants in the area that you do enjoy?

        9 Replies
        1. re: Carty

          No disrespect taken. I was simply trying to communicate my disappointments that happen far too frequently. I prefaced the discussion with the fact that the problem is probably ME! I appreciate your "sensual is subjective" comment, and I certainly agree with that comment in general, however, I am not sure that applies to my take on overrated restaurants. I was not rating in any particular order...Overrated to me means, not delivering on a consistent basis night in and night out. The prices charged VS total overall experience was really the point I was making. When crucial steps of service are ignored by wait staff, cold attitudes by host/hostess is displayed; food is under-seasoned, not cooked to proper temp. valet is $30.00, wine is marked up 300%, food is $100.00++ pp. there needs to be questions asked. It seems to me that it is not the local clientele but more of the corporate expense accounts that float these places.
          As a side note, no disrespect, but I am not sure I would factor Mitt Romey in to any food, beverage or restaurant evaluation.

          1. re: flyer1

            I agree with your original premise 100%. My husband and I have definitely become more and more disheartened by the high-end dining scene in Boston. So often, you pay New York City prices without the food or the experience coming remotely close (tough to take for two people who really do love Boston). A few years back, we thought we'd finally found a place in Meritage, but repeat visits didn't bear out. Once, bad service ruined it, and another time, we realized that food had become very institutional tasting (like food at a huge benefit or cookie cutter hotel food). That being said, the bar there is still wonderful if you let it end at a glass of wine and an app or those lovely house made chips. Other disappointments? - Hammersley's, which we've been to a number of times and simply don't understand the fuss at that price point, Radius, Mistral....

            The few bright spots we've decided on - Blue Ginger has never let us down, we've been to Prezza and Lucca each once and enjoyed both of them tremendously, and, I've been a couple of times and enjoyed No.9 Park - my husband is going with me for the first time tomorrow, so fingers crossed.

            1. re: bostonbroad

              I think he will like No.9..It has always been a pretty special place. Her dishes are always well executed. As many customers know, her touch with fresh pasta is special. If she has a pasta dish as an App or something else it is definitely a must try. I hope you like it, I am curious to know because I have not been there since she has expanded her food world.

            2. re: flyer1

              None taken. I just thought it was cool, I lived in Andover for 21 years before moving downtown, we never ran into anyone famous there. I am not a fan of his politics but now that I know he likes Prezza I think he'd be a fine VP :).

              OK, I'll bite, and I've posted on this before. I think Neptune Oyster is pricey, the menu not well balanced, the service distant. Many people here are fanatics. I like it. But clearly we value different things.

              Makes the world go 'round.

              1. re: flyer1

                Easy answer: Keep reading the board to find where the real chow is, rather than following the pols and the crowds to the North End, etc. ;) (No disrespect to Carty. I reflexively avoid places where there is someone dining who is more famous than me. ;-)

                Try Angela's in Eastie - Vinny's at Night vs. any traditional Italian place in the North End - The burger I had yesterday at the B-Side for brunch (cooked perfectly, nice bun, good toppings and a fried egg) vs. the Radius burger ($20 is it?) - the lamb shank I had the other day at El Oriental.

                Am I intrigued by trying an outlandishingly expensive omakase at O Ya? O yeah you betcha! So if you can afford eating at the No. 9's and Radii of this world, more power to you, but just saying, the best chow often has very little correlation with price, which of course is why we come here to this board. Otherwise, we could just wait for the Globe or Boston Mag to tell us where to go.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                  Well said...That is exactly the point I was trying to make. I frequent many of these pricey places mostly because I have to for business.{believe me, I am not whining about that}, but being a food and wine person I guess my expectations run high at certain price levels. When my wife and I go out we tend to gravitate towards neighborhood spots, typically ethnic with no expectations. We love it when the food, people, ambience etc. are spot on. All for reasonable prices. The Franklin Cafe in the S.End has been delivering that for years. Silvertone, comes to mind; great wine prices, decent food, humble, friendly, hard working owners. On the higher end, I think Hammersly's and Rialto are fairly consistent. Anyway, on to other topics and the pursuit of great food, cocktails and wine.

                  1. re: flyer1

                    Now we're talkin'.

                    Silvertone a value favorite and favorite at any price for me.

                    But both Rialto and Hammersly's strike me as unadventurous and expensive. The kind of places couples from the 'burbs have been going to for 'special' occasions for years without feeing the need to grow or experiment.

                    At that price point I'd go with No. 9.

                    And I have yet to be to either Sorellina or Troquet but based on my obsessive vicarious living on this board I'd try both before those two old chestnuts.

                    1. re: Carty

                      So agree with the assesment of Rialto and Hammersley's. Not where I'd go to enjoy the best of fine dining these days. (Although I've not been to Rialto for a while so I need more recent experience.)

                      Based on what you've said here, I think you would enjoy Troquet tremendously. It's a splurge, at least for me, but setting a wine budget ahead of time helps to alleviate some of the $$ jitters. The food and wine pairings are the best I've had anywhere in town, although Steve Johnson's crew at Rendezvous does a great job with a lower tariff.

                      Interesting discussion.

                    2. re: flyer1

                      Flyer1, now I hearing you. It's a good question why the so-called top places don't deliver better. I would guess that complacency plays a role. Of the places you specifically mentioned in the OP, they have all been open quite a while vs. O Ya or that new Italian place that people seemed to like in the old O Cantinho space.

              2. I too disagree with your Prezza assessment. Other than one time, I've had food that was consistently very, very good. As a matter of fact, I was there last night and the food and service were both great. The meal was not $100++ per person but rather $80 and that included many cocktails, lots of wine, apps and entrees for each person plus 20% tip.. Also, I don't think 95% of North End restaurants are overrated but rather 95% are just not that good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lissy

                  Fair enough...I like your assesment of the 95% ratio for the North End. I must say, I went to "Monica's Enoteca" recently, down from Salumeria Italiana. They know who the are and what they do. Not trying to be "refined Northern Italian". Fresh, regional Italian, home cooked type of cuisine. Very well done. I was plesantly surprised.. Need to try one more time to verify!!

                2. I so agree with your post. The individual restaurants vary based on the visit, waiter, who is in the kitchen, etc. I have to say that I love Davio's, but more for the wine guy Al than for the food.

                  There are so many great places that I have come across through these posts. However, once you get in the exaulted price points, such as Hammersley's, those restaurants are better left to the convention types.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: aadesmd

                    I'll chip in with my 2 cents here. I couldn't agree more with the OP, but I have found a couple of places that I think are excellent, at a fair price point. I'd put Ten Tables at No. 1. Hmmmm. Come to think of it, the other places are all in Providence.

                  2. What restaurants in other towns actually live up to the hype? After a while they're all the same. I've found the French Laundry disappointing, Gary Danko incredibly underwhelming, Nobu a suburban tourist trap, Chanterelle boring, etc. On the flip side I loved PorterHouse New York, which promises much less but delivers much more. And I will always love Blantyre in Lenox. That, for me, beats just about anything else.

                    I have less of a problem with prices, though. There's a reason supermarkets no longer use price labels, and it's not for the environment. Wheat now costs more than gasoline. Prime beef costs more than foie gras. I just noticed that my small box of All Bran was $5.00. If we want to spend at fine dining restaurants (something that I am not so inclined to do, anymore) then we have to realize that inflation has affected food and energy most. I'd estimate that wholesale food costs have risen about 100% in the past few years, and you certainly don't see that reflected in most menus.