HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >



After eating at Angelas for the first time last night and finding myself underwhelmed I was wondering, at what other places have people fallen victim to ChowHype?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Grotto, first and foremost. Hei La Moon. Probably others.

    1 Reply
    1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

      Definitely agreed on Hei La Moon -- I've tried dim sum there two or three times, and nothing has left me with any desire to abandon my beloved Emperor's Garden.

      Variably agreed on Grotto -- disappointed severely by the Big Night dinner, but their risottos and gnocchi have been consistently killer the times that I've been there, and I have eaten a few memorable prix fixe dinners there.

      Also not sold on Wang's in Somerville, though that was on the basis of a single experience that was miserable enough that I'm not eager to go out of my way to give them a second chance.

    2. This will definitely cause the ire of some of the regular crowd on this board but here is a list of some that I've felt similarly about:


      1 Reply
      1. re: Sal Monella

        We had some great meals at La Morra but haven't been so happy the last two times we went. In fact, the last time we went we were so disappointed that we actually called the restaurant and told them. We had loved the place so much and it's so close to us! But it's a bit embarassing when you like a place, bring friends, and realize that the food just ain't that good. Hope it looks up.

      2. Not quite on topic because I never even got to eat there, but we walked out of Eastern Standard because no one came around to take our order (or even recognize our existence for that matter) the one time we went there. We waited about 15 minutes, then left and went to the now-defunct Tiki Room a few blocks away where the server actually seemed happy to see us, which was a nice change from ES.

        As far as actual food, I'm not completely sold on Costello's in JP. Both the burgers and the chili cheese fries have been inconsistent, and I wasn't too happy that they were reluctant to switch from a woman's softball game on TV to the Sox game when I was there one time last year. I have had one excellent burger there, though, and one outstanding plate of chili cheese fries, so the jury is still out on this one, I guess.

        7 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          That actually sounds about right on Costello's -- inconsistent verging on annoying, but with occasional high points. I didn't realize it had been hyped higher than that.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            That sounds odd for ES, the front of the house is usually on top of things. I'd call it a fluke and try again. Or of course just grab seats at the bar.

            1. re: Joanie

              Been to ES twice, and the first time (on a Saturday afternoon) sat at the bar for 15 minutes (yes, it was that long) and no one came up to serve me -- both bartenders were down at the other end of the bar deeply involved in preparing what appeared to be at most two fancy drinks. Decided to leave at that point.

              The second time the bartender got to me right away, and the food was very good.

              So hiddenboston, I can relate. Looks like it has happened on more than one occasion.

              1. re: bachslunch

                Well, I'm glad it isn't just me (although I'm sorry you had to deal with that, too). I was feeling really self-conscious there for a bit!

            2. re: hiddenboston

              I agree completely with this assessment of Costello's. Sometimes the burger's are pretty good, sometimes not and the normal unadorned fries are never crispy. Nothing else on the menu has impressed me, except for the pizza, which they don't have anymore. I prefer the Galway across the street, where the burgers are consistently OK and the steak fries are almost always crispy and hot. Plus they leave the TV sound on for Sox games, a big plus IMHO.

              HB: in JP, don't you know you don't go messing with women's softball in a bar?! ;-)

              1. re: jpsox

                Heh, yeah, well, no one messes with my beloved team either, even though they do look pretty horrible right now... ;-b

              2. re: hiddenboston

                I had dinner at ES last night and was very happy with the service. Professional, attentive, knowledgeable and not intrusive. I had to pour my own wine once but otherwise staff seemed very well trained. In fact, the maitre d' dropped off a foie gras appetizer for no apparent reason other than to be nice. Now, whether it was a mistake that couldn't be returned or not, it was still a nice gesture. I found the food to be mostly spot on. The charcutrie board was delicious though not very substantial, the halibut (normally cod cheeks) gorgonettes were nothing special, the frisee salad with sweetbreads, lardons and hazelnuts was terrific, the coq au vin (nightly special) was terrific and the pork tenderloin was cooked to the right temperature but was over-peppered. We had a nice 2005 Vouvray for $80 that felt a little dear for the product, but that's French wine for you.

              3. Dare I say Oleana? The one time I had dinner there, everything was so salty I couldn't eat it. Because I was with a large group who liked their selections I didn't dwell on the fact.
                Perhaps it would be fair to return and see if I find it different from that visit.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  Interesting, the main reason I put Rendezvous on my list was due to the over-salting of most dishes...minor reason was horrible service. Been there 2X and underwhelmed both times.

                  Never had the salt issue at Oleana though but I respect your comments.

                  1. re: Sal Monella

                    Thanks Sal... I wondered why I didn't like the dish, and I love spicy food. IIRC it was halibut with veggies. Oh well, maybe my tastebuds were sleeping that night. The Merlot someone ordered was delicious tho.

                    1. re: Gio

                      No sweat Gio. Give it another shot sometime and see if you get the same results.

                    2. re: Sal Monella

                      Ditto on Rendezvous! (salting and service)

                  2. Ken's Ramen - really due to my ignorance. I didn't know ramen is made using alkaline solution, so when I ate there, I found myself disliking the noodles due to the "baking soda" flavor. It reminded me of Chinese noodles I ate growing up, which I never liked. OTOH, I was pleasantly surprised by the excellent pork dumplings.

                    1. Hei La Moon - Found it no better than the rest of the dim sum choices available, but I continue to go.

                      Angela's - Aside from the mole sauce and guac. which are both very good, everything else just ok. Will continue to visit I'm in the area and want Mexican.

                      Biltmore - Went recently and will not go back. I didn't learn till after that there had been some changes in the kitchen.......Wish I went to Silvertone instead.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Infomaniac

                        Because of all the changes, there is basically no more hype for the Biltmore (except perhaps negative hype).

                        1. re: hiddenboston

                          Moronic owner fired the chef, manager and bar manager, who were making him money, because he wanted to run the place himself.

                        2. re: Infomaniac

                          My experience with HLM is that they *can* be better than the other local dim sum houses (not including things like gitlos, windsor, etc) but its more of a "sometimes" thing.

                        3. I'd have to say that UBurger was my biggest disappointment so far. It was just OK, and not close to In n' Out.

                          On the other hand, a big THANK YOU for the recommendations for Flat Patties, which was the closest thing I've found on the East Coast.

                          Oh yeah--Ten Tables is still the best place I've found because of Chowhound.

                          1. Pizzeria Regina (ducks and runs for his life)

                            14 Replies
                            1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                              And don't look back! Kidding. I'm genuinely curious: do you not like the type of pizza they make, aren't that big a pizza fan, or do you like the type but don't think they do it well? Whose do you prefer?

                              1. re: pollystyrene

                                I'm a pizza fan alright (who isn't?). And I was mostly kidding in my own post. I've tried P.R. many times, and my office occasionally gets pies delivered from there. My reaction is always....it's decent , yeah, but what's the big fuss?

                                Big disclaimer here: I've never been in person to the North End location, so that means I've never followed the strict instructions posted on CH many times, that one must sit at the bar, order a pepperoni pie well done (OR ELSE!). The adamance I've perceived (and I'm certain I'm overreacting!) by reading these directives about exactly what to order, how to order it cooked, where to sit made me unable to resist poking fun at P.R.'s.

                                I've had slices at the Copley Square food court, Whole pies at their Coolide Corner location (R.I.P.) and many different pies delivered. For some reason, when I go to the north end I rarely eat pizza, and when I do, I love Ernestos. I will give P.R. in the NE a try someday, (and will comply with the mandatory commands on what to order). ;)

                                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                  You don't have to sit at the bar. The whole thread about sitting at the bar wasn't about service or quality of pizza, it was about a single person being able to avoid the line that's almost invariably waiting outside the front door by sitting at the bar.

                                  And frankly, that injunction to only get single-topping pies is a load as well -- the multi-topping specials are excellent, especially if you do order them well-done.

                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                    My experience with the multi-topping pies (via delivery) is that some are good; others are overloaded or over-slimy.

                                    And if there's always a line out the door there, I'll be tempted to further delay my attempt at trying Regina's in the NE, when there are so many other alternatives nearby. I've got to get there on a day with crappy weather during a non-peak hour I suppose.

                                    1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                      That can be said of any delivery pie. I have given up on pizza delivery as a lost cause. It just plain doesn't work.

                                      Get there before 5, 5:30, any day, and you'll be fine.

                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                        Agree re delivery. But free pizza (at the office) is free pizza!

                                    2. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                      My bias, but the veggie pizza with artichoke hearts and mushrooms well-done can be very good at the original location. It has its flaws, but it is very different from the mall-based outlets.

                                    3. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                      I live less than a three minute walk from PR and ALWAYS try to eat it there, cardboard boxes are toxic to PR pizza IMO. I am also a follower of the small, well done theory.

                                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                        Um, you know that if you haven't been to the North End Regina's, then you haven't been to Regina's, right? I mean, the Pru Foodcourt is NOT Pizzeria Regina, no matter what name they have on the cups and napkins.

                                        1. re: tamerlanenj

                                          Um, yeah, that's what I keep hearing. Hence the disclaimers in my posts.

                                          But why do they put their name on the product if it stinks so bad elsewhere.

                                          1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                            I think a couple of things are going on here:

                                            1) The original location is perceptibly better than the other locations. The ingredients are the same everywhere, but the craftsmanship and the monster oven at the original are unparalleled in the rest of the chain.

                                            2) The other locations are a lot better than many chowhounds would lead you to believe. Yes, the original location is in a class by itself, one of the only national-caliber pizzerias in the city. But the other branches are still some of the better pizza available in Boston. As I've said before, if the original location didn't exist, I could easily imagine someone posting a thread about "Surprisingly Great Pizza Chow in the Burlington Mall Food Court!"

                                            1. re: finlero

                                              The Regina's at Copley was horrible the one time I tried it last October. I was at Hynes for a convention and didn't have time to really leave so I risked the wrath of the pizza gods. Lesson learned. Luckily I had already eaten at the original two days before so my pizza karma was not hurt indefinitely.

                                              1. re: finlero

                                                I have had some really good pizza from the Prudential and South Station locations (including a fantastic piece of pepperoni sicilian style). But I've also had some pretty nasty pizza. I think they are far less consistent than the original location (though I've only been to the original twice), but I've occasionally had pizza from Prudential that I thought was better than at the original (though that very likely could've been due to very different expectations).

                                                The original is very good, but I don't find it worth waiting in line for. Even when well-done. It's kind of frustrating, because I think their crust is fantastic. But something in the pizza is lacking for me. It might be the cheese.

                                      2. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                        Ahhhh. Knowing that I'm not alone in this world is nice. I've eaten at the North End location, cheese pizza, and gotta say, wasn't thrilled. Crust was very nice (that old oven burnt marshmallow taste--which my dinner companion thought I was making up until she "found" it--is amazing), but the sauce is lacking. Prefer Armando's any day of the week.

                                      3. I'd definitely second Rendevous, ESK, and U burger.

                                        I'd also throw Petit Roberto, Clio (due to the smell contaimnation from Uni which someone here brilliantly pointed out), and B&G.

                                        Oh yeah, Popeye's too...

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: Gabatta

                                          How can someone dis on Popeyes?

                                          "love that chicken!"

                                          1. re: jgg13

                                            Maybe Popeye's is good somewhere, but the Kenmore store served me the worst fried chicken I can recall having in Boston. Not surprising, since it was pulled off a mound of long-ago-fried parts sitting under a heat lamp. The sides were KFC-bad, too. (And the place was dirty, even though it was only a few months old.) Very disappointing; I have Southern friends who call it a guilty pleasure.

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Yeah, I'm afraid the Kenmore Popeyes is a pretty poor representation of the form. I have a theory that the further a regional fast-food place is from wherever it's based, the worse it's likely to be.

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                Yeah, it definitely isn't as good as Popeyes I've had elsewhere. Personally I've blamed it on the proximity to Fenway (and thus having a captive audience). But in all reality, its only ever been "a bit better than KFC" so if someone was expecting something different they'd be disappointed (to tie things back in to the 'chowhype' title. As your friends say, a guilty pleasure ... I tend to hit it up when I'm going to a Sox game just to get the 'fix' in but would never go out of my way to go there.

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                  the one in kenmore is horrible. its the worst fried chicken ive ever had. even the popeye's in the HONG KONG airport is x100000000 better

                                            2. Off the top of my head - Sorellina, Ken's Ramen, Eastern Standard, O Ya, No. 9 Park, Meyers and Chang, Blue Ginger, Clio, Gargoyles, B and G.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. Maybe the trick is to stop reading reviews once you read one that convinces you to try the place. (I have found this helps with movies.) Too many raves sets expectations that no place can easily live up to.

                                                I can't think of any outright busts I've experienced after having my expectations pumped up here. I am often -- way too often -- disappointed by a follow-up visit that doesn't equal a great first experience. This seems to be an especial disease of high-end places in the South End.

                                                Local Hounds have also helped push me the other way, convincing me to retry some places I'd previously written off. Chefs changes, places get better, there's a trick to ordering you didn't know about, or maybe you just had bad luck early on.

                                                Okay, which one of you told me that Luigi and Roscoe's at INQ would be totally awesome? Can't believe I fell for that. From the name alone, I had high hopes.

                                                (I think I was the first one to point out here that you can smell Uni from Clio's bar, and that's not a good thing for Clio.)

                                                6 Replies
                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                    One of many great MC Slim JB observations.

                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                      Why do you think the second visit dissappoints? I have also noticed this.... do we bring higher expectations the second time? Is it the thrill of discovery or of novelty the first time that is not present the second?

                                                      I have also noticed occasional places that are hyped and dissappoint the first time, but offer a much more satisfying experience on a return visit.

                                                      1. re: tdaaa

                                                        I call it the "magic trick" effect.

                                                        While it's never easy to stand out favorably in the modern restaurant climate, it's still much easier to stand out by doing something flashy and different than it is to do so with good, honest cooking technique. If a restaurant is doing something flashy and different, I'll often love my first visit, but when I go back, and the shock of the new is gone, the subsequent experience frequently doesn't stack up.

                                                        Actually, for me, a recent high-profile example of the magic trick effect was O Ya. As I posted in a previous thread, my first meal there was nothing short of a revelation. When I returned about two months later, everything was really, really good, but it wasn't the same visceral slap across the face that my first trip was.

                                                        This is certainly not to imply that the preparation techniques at O Ya are anything short of stellar, but considering the asking price of the meal, it was a lot harder to justify the second trip as, say, $200 better than a really nice dinner at the original Oishii than the first trip. Having said that, I definitely look forward to returning to O Ya, albeit after I let a bit more time pass, and perhaps a bit more cash accrue in my bank account.

                                                        A major reason I love this site is that it can bring to light those few restaurants that aren't magic tricks; they're just magic.

                                                        1. re: tdaaa

                                                          I don't think there's a general principle at work that explains this, other than that consistency is the hardest thing in the industry to deliver. I don't believe that it's the thrill of novelty wearing off.

                                                          I'm also not talking so much about service (which can be variable even at the very best places -- every server has an off night once in a while), but consistency of kitchen execution. Some places don't appear to scale well with their success: I've been served cold food at Rocca the last few times I went, and the same thing happened to me the other night at Banq. It's baffling, but it really crimps my desire to return to those places, especially at what they charge.

                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                            Agree with your comments. What is worse is when the accompanying food inconsistencies at a hyped up spot is coupled with jacked up prices which happens within the first year of operation.

                                                        1. Wow, I was afraid I'd seem to have bad taste when I posted mine until I read the others. It's a revolution. Taranta, La Campania, Oleana. None were disasters except for the service at La Campania, and I even had one excellent dish at Oleana, but was left at all places with a "so is that all there is?" feeling. I think Slim's point about going before you read too many raves is a good one, and I plan to try all three places again (but I'm in no rush).

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: pollystyrene

                                                            I had the same feeling about La Campania. We went there recently and the service was fine, but the overall experience was just kind of "eh". Food was fine, wine was fine, but we left there thinking there was nothing very special about it.

                                                            1. re: MrsCheese

                                                              I wonder if the recent chef change at La Campania has hurt. I know my raves were based on the time when Peppino was in the kitchen; he's now doing the same fine work at his own place, Da Vinci.

                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                Yeah, we considered going to Da Vinci instead, and I kind of wish we would have. Next time.

                                                            2. re: pollystyrene

                                                              Do try Taranta again someday. I vaguely remember your not liking it a while back, and—unless it's just a matter of not being down with the whole Italian-Peruvian fusion thing—I'd like to think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                Thanks for the nudge. I will try it again sometime. I'd love to find a NE favorite that lies somewhere between Regina's and Prezza in price. And as long as there's not too much spice heat, I'm all for a Peruvian-Italian mingling.

                                                            3. A few points:
                                                              1. Quality of a place changes all the time, no one is 100%, at best we're looking at averages. And not everyone eats the same dishes, it's possible that dishes vary tremendously.

                                                              2. Different people love and hate different things. It's important to speak up when you disagree, because the alternative is a very skewed set of opinions. (And of course it's equally important to accept contrary views and be willing to agree to disagree) For example, not everyone loves Angela's, and they have good reasons for that, but you might only read about it on the few threads like this.

                                                              3. Rather than eat at what other people post about, it's super important to go explore chow yourself, so that you get to find new places, especially ones that don't have good PR firms behind them to post press releases and get themselves on people's radar because they're in the media. Chowhound is about exploration and blazing trails. It's nice to see lots of hounds heading out to East Boston to eat at Angela's. But there are ton of places not that far away from Angela's that folks hardly ever post about. One very effective antidote to the chowhype that (rightly or wrongly) surrounds a few places is to throw out more places into the mix.

                                                              1. how could we all forget about LA VOILE? read the long long post about WHERE ARE THE BAD REVIEWS FOR ANGELA'S AND LA VOILE - you'll see that in the beginning everyone raved about it and then the latter ones were all saying the same bad reviews. i brought a ton of friends there, totally hyped the place up due to chow reviews and was totally underwhelemed - and so were all my friends.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: kweesee

                                                                  One can only hope that the spots mentioned here were having an 'off day'. I generally read the reviews posted here and elsewhere with a pinch of salt but I think the more troubling factor is when the restaurant's food is inconsistent and/or overpriced. That's when it fails to live up to the hype in my books.

                                                                2. Rami's in Brookline. I went there for a falafel based on comments here and did not like it at all. The falafel was very dense, dry, and oddly spiced and the sandwich was put together poorly. There really wasn't anything good about it and I really love falafels.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: jpsox

                                                                    for me, meyers and chang, oleana, and lineage have disappointed and no matter how many times folks insist, I don't care for Santarpios. On the other hand, I like Golden Temple and the board's poobahs hate it, So maybe there has to be some range for differences in taste. For example, I love the sweetbreads at La Voile and haven't had a bad meal at Eastern Standard Kitchen. Others disagree.

                                                                    1. re: teezeetoo

                                                                      OMG how could i have forgotten about meyers and chang!!!!!!!!!! i am a big fan of joanne chang, im american chinese (lived in taiwan for 13 years) and i was GREATLY disapointed by this place.

                                                                    2. re: jpsox

                                                                      Oh, right. I really hated my falafel at Rami's too.

                                                                      1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                        agreed, but their shawarma is quite tasty, though a bit overpriced for a sandwich.

                                                                    3. Brookline Family Restaurant!!! The food is one note, too heavy (yes, just being meatless does not make it light) and 'eh'....And they haven't had any of the fish specials anytime I've been there. I'm surprised how often it gets recommended, even for special ocassions....Eggplant and lamb, lamb and eggplant....

                                                                      1. Sichuan Garden---Brookline location. Even going with Chinese people and ordering from the Chinese menu, it was underwhelming for all of us.

                                                                        Trattoria Toscana---I hear the boos now. Been twice and the 45 minute wait both times did not live up to the hype of what I expected after reading so many raving reviews.

                                                                        East Coast Grill---I just don't get the fascination with this place. I thought it was ok, but pretty standard fare.

                                                                        Eastern Standard---The exception is their cocktails

                                                                        Rami's---Same reasons as what others have already posted

                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Chrispy75

                                                                          La Voile. I had dinner there last night and was, for the second time completely underwhelmed. The amuse bouche of escargot was overcooked and looked as though it had been sitting under the salamander for hours. The bread had good flavor but was super stale. My first course, the fricassee of spring vegetables, was a bowl of frozen peas and fava beans, with one limp artichoke heart and two morel mushrooms.... Moules Frites were also very disappointed, the broth had NO flavor and there was about a palmful of soggy frites. Everyone at our table was equally dissapointed with their choices, with the exception of the rabbit and pistachio terrine, which was delicious. To be honest, I've had much better experiences at the Petit Robert in Kenmore Square (NOT the one on Columbus) and Brasserie Jo which i think is a bit of a sleeper.

                                                                          That beings said, Tratorria Toscana, East Coast Grill and Eastern Standard are some of my favorites, so to each his own...

                                                                          1. re: Chrispy75

                                                                            I actually understand about Trattoria Toscana.

                                                                            Personally, I adore this place because it's such a rarity in the States, a real neighborhood Tuscan restaurant, the kind of storefront you might find in a non-touristy, middle class neighborhood in Florence. The food is essentially a [much] better version of the everyday-style stuff I might cook at home on a given night.

                                                                            But if you're waiting for 45 minutes or longer, expectations are almost necessarily going to change. Now it's dinner as an event, an arena where Trattoria Toscana can't really compete (nor does it try).

                                                                            That said, if I'm anywhere nearby on a Wednedsay in the early evening, I can't think of too many places I'd rather wind up for a weeknight dinner out. And for that matter, in terms of meeting my expectations, I also think it trounces most of the event restaurants around town as well.

                                                                            1. re: finlero

                                                                              Hey, I was just at TT on a Wednesday. I adore it for very similar reasons, but understand it may fail on expectations - it's a great neighborhood restaurant, but they're not doing anything innovative or spectacular with their cooking - they're just cooking nice, solid Tuscan food.

                                                                            2. re: Chrispy75

                                                                              On ECG ... (disclaimer: I've never had their seafood, which is most of their regular menu - so only speaking about their other stuff), I've found that their normal menu is "meh" but I *love* their brunch and have always enjoyed their special events (e.g. Hell Night, the rib cookoff, etc). I think part of the hype is their atmosphere/generally great service.

                                                                              1. re: Chrispy75

                                                                                I too believe Trattoria Toscana to be hyped, and in two ways: 1) that it's "Tuscan," which it isn't particularly, and 2) that it serves tasty food, which I found quite lacking.

                                                                                1. re: fame da lupo

                                                                                  Which brings up a question: can you truly dis and dismiss a restaurant after only one meal?

                                                                                  1. re: gini

                                                                                    It has to suck if you got the big buildup, traveled in from a distance, and found it underwhelming. Most folks who experience that kind of bust aren't going to give a place a second chance. But the small sample size has to be pointed out.

                                                                                    It's one more reason that consistency is so prized and so rare: like that dandruff shampoo commercial said, you never get another chance to make a first furfur-free impression, or something like that.

                                                                                    As I said earlier, I don't think it does you any favors to keep reading raves about a place here after you've read enough to convince you to try it. Quit reading Chowhound and just go eat there, already.

                                                                                    1. re: gini

                                                                                      Gini, that is a good question. I think I can safely critique this restaurant after the staff demonstrated a lack of basic knowledge of Italian cooking and having sampled two appetizers, three mains, and a dessert. I can also safely critique them based on their ravioli, which were so very uniform that they had to have been made in a factory setting, and not on site. That's a big no-no for any Italian place, even those that charge "only" $14 for the plate. I specifically ordered the ravioli because it is not typically something I want to make at home - too time consuming. But I can very well go to the frozen aisle at Whole Foods and pick up a box of frozen ricotta ravioli.

                                                                                2. Two things: 1) I've had many more solid recommendations than bum steers here, and b) with the exception of Deep Ellum, none of this food struck me as inedible. It just seemed "meh" to me.

                                                                                  I guess it should be said that c) I don't really care about the inexpensive meals that got hyped; the expensive places are the only ones I truly regret.

                                                                                  So in no order at all:

                                                                                  --No. 9 Park (though the bar certainly wasn't in the "meh" category
                                                                                  --Brasserie Jo
                                                                                  --Soul Fire
                                                                                  --La Morra
                                                                                  --Shanghai Gate
                                                                                  --Gitlo (*ducks tomatoes*)
                                                                                  --Taberna de Haro
                                                                                  --Petit Robert

                                                                                  1. Neptujne Oyster, That said, I am always mystified when someone says that they went to (e.g. Angela's) and did not find the food a "life changing experience." Get a grip. It is only food. If you want a life-changing experience, work in a soup kitchen, volunteer in a hospital, help someone in need, climb Mt. Everest, whatever. But with food?

                                                                                    1. I don't believe in chowhype. People have different tastes. An example: there is much passionate discussion about burritos and Mexican food in general but, to me, the difference between one burrito and another is not so large that one deserves panegyric and the other damnation. I've traveled in Mexico and spent a ton of time in the southwest, particularly in Texas, and the Mexican food I've eaten here is okay, sometimes interesting (some molé sauces in particular, a few fish dishes over the years) but not that varied (and often consisting of variations on fried tortillas with stuff on top). But I can understand that some people really, really feel strongly about what are to me small differences in a gordita or a burrito.

                                                                                      The same is true with dim sum. It can on occasion be spectacular but it is often just okay, even in Hong Kong.

                                                                                      There is, to me, much more variation in the quality of French food and there is clearly a quality difference in Indian and the various Chinese cuisines but go to Xian and eat noodles and you won't be blown away either. I thought that New Taste of Asia was often a step above the quality of preparation, something I've also experienced on occasion at Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham. The knife work, the prep work and the care put in frying was simply more consistently fine. The soups and stews were not muddy but deeply flavorful. That said, some people really love beef with broccoli or sesame chicken and could argue about the virtues of Americanized Chinese food at length. Power to them.

                                                                                      I've never had a good meal at Brasserie Jo, but others say they have. Is it bad luck or do our tastes differ? Am I put off by what I perceive as fawning but sometimes inept service (as in pushing bottled water without telling you while forgetting place settings even after food has been served)? I don't know.

                                                                                      I grew up in the midwest eating jello in a land where Campbell's Cream of Mushroom was a sauce base. I can tell the difference between a better version of those "midwestern classics" but people not raised in that world might think they're all crap. Here's an example: I ate at a restaurant extolled in food magazines for its real American food in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition. I ordered their signature dish . . . and it turned out to be Chicken a la King, the same yellowish stuff the cafeteria at my junior high would serve. And it tasted about the same. I guess the magazine writers didn't have my childhood and thought this was something more and, yes, I understand that this cuisine is a big part of the basis of what we think of as family American eating.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: lergnom

                                                                                        I think I know exactly the restaurant you mean: Allstonian and I ate there once based entirely on Jane and Michael Stern's recommendation in Gourmet and elsewhere. The food was fundamentally identical to things I'd eaten in various cafeterias and restaurants in my ancestral homeland of the Texas Hill Country (which also has a strongly entrenched German presence) but for the most part wasn't quite as good.

                                                                                        1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                                          I don't remember the restaurant but the owners' name was Stoltzfus. The NYT loved them.

                                                                                          I had a terrifically funny conversation with a hotel clerk in that area. I was in the Bird-in-Hand restaurant in the little town of Bird-in-Hand, which is next to Intercourse, and needed directions. She said and this is verbatim, "Are you at the Bird-in-Hand in Bird-in-Hand or at the Bird-in-Hand across from the hotel?"

                                                                                        2. re: lergnom

                                                                                          Bravo. I don't believe in chowhype either.

                                                                                          1. re: StriperGuy

                                                                                            Ditto. I'm sad so much energy is being spent talking about the meals that have underwhelmed instead of the ones that have been unexpectedly great.

                                                                                        3. Agree with all the caveats on taste, subjectivity, consistency, etc. With that being said, this wasn't a dish I actually tasted, but in my recent King Fung Garden visit, I was eager to try the Hon Shue beef that so many board members were raving about.

                                                                                          Surprise number #1 - the Chinese name didn't translate to hon shue beef. Made me ever more curious about what it was and what makes this dish so good. Surprise #2 - when I ordered it, the waitress stopped me, and said "Uh...this is a dish that usually doesn't appeal to Chinese palates. It's meant for more Western tastes. It has celery and beef stir fried together..." She recommended a dish of beef stir fried with ginger and scallions that was fabulous! But it left me wondering why the hon shue beef dish is so hyped, because the waitress didn't seem to think it was so hot.

                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: kobuta

                                                                                            I thought it was the hon sue lamb that was so hyped. I certainly prefer it to the beef.

                                                                                            1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps

                                                                                              This thread mentions the beef and lamb, but being a non-lamb eater, I guess I'll never know if the lamb is worth the hype.

                                                                                              Mind if I ask what's the difference between the two (aside from the meat)? I noticed that all the other hon shue dishes are direct translations from the Chinese. The beef was the only thing that had a totally different Chinese name, suggesting it's a totally different dish.

                                                                                          2. I keep trying the India Quality Restaurant in Kenmore Square since folks seem to love it, and the food there never impresses me. IMHO, there are much better places in Boston for Indian food.

                                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Delhiwala

                                                                                              I've been going to Indian Quality since 1998. I've tried a few other highly rated Indian places in Boston and Cambridge but they were all forgettable and I've always return to Indian Quality. Please give me your suggestion "much better places in Boston."

                                                                                              1. re: joebloe

                                                                                                I have had lots of good meals at Tanjore (Cambridge), Bhindi Bazaar (Boston), and Punjab Cafe (Quincy).

                                                                                                1. re: joebloe

                                                                                                  The best Indian food I've ever had was at Indian Samraat on Mass Ave.

                                                                                                  1. re: Guinness02122

                                                                                                    I'll second Guinness! Be sure to look at the specials.

                                                                                                2. re: Delhiwala

                                                                                                  I went there a handful of times in the early naughts and while I never disliked it, I never viewed it as being any better than most of the other local options.

                                                                                                3. I think when you see 50 posts about how great (insert restaurant here) and how they have the best whatever and they have great service, ambiance, etc etc, you are bound to start thinking oh that sounds great, and when you get there, oops they have a long wait or the bar is crowded or you get a server who doesn't want to be there or the line cook puts too much salt on your salad. Restaurants are very hard to run because you can't make everyone who comes in happy, no matter what, someone will not be blown away. Consistency is an everyday struggle front of the house and back of the house. Great restaurants make extra efforts. Perfection is a lot of little things done well.

                                                                                                  Some better places the chef tastes almost every salad, every risotto, etc (No. 9 park does for sure), some places that would be utterly impossible, but even then your tastes may not be the same as the chefs. I know when my risotto is cooked enough or needs more butter or more salt, but what if you don't love butter like I love butter? Or you like your risotto well cooked (puts finger in throat, just kidding)?

                                                                                                  Anyways I try not to get overly excited about going to somewhere that I find on chowhound, and am usually not super let down when the meal doesn't blow my socks off (rendevous, butcher shop, aquataine, gaslight, hamersley's), but am usually happy with places that I don't expect to be mind blowing (angela's, neptune, toro). That being said I know that angela's is a small 30 seater in east boston with 3 or so cooks making tacos and mole. It isn't going to be a wow you, showy, dover sole filleted table side, with a rolling cheese cart, and your wine coming from some dungeon in france (hooray for angelas getting b&w tho), but I do know that I am going to get simple, fresh awesome tacos, and the family that owns it is there and they want you to try the chipolte sauce, and they are just happy to be doing what they love (plus i can eat the whole left side of the chalkboard for like 30 bucks).

                                                                                                  In closing I think chowhound has opened me up to many places in Boston and other cities that would take a long, long time to just find on my own. I want to eat tapas somewhere near fenway, oh go to taberna de haro. I want to eat pizza in charlestown, oh try figs. I want to get ceviche in east boston, how about rincon limeno. Good reviews should be a way of saying that a restaurant is given an honest effort and it makes me consider trying it. If a restaurant is getting super hyped I usually want to try it more, but wont get myself overly excited. I love food and dining out is my personal vice, but I understand that restaurants are just like people, they have their highs and lows, but no one is perfect.

                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: BeantownHound

                                                                                                    I agree with almost everything, but on my visit to No 9, no cook, let alone chef, ever tasted our food, and it wasn't a question of palate.

                                                                                                    1. re: BeantownHound

                                                                                                      no way Barbara could taste your food, not when she is running 3 eating establishments, 1 catering company and 1 produce stand plus giving cooking classes!

                                                                                                      1. re: nasilemak

                                                                                                        Barbara isn't the one in the kitchen tasting food, Colin Lynch (no relation) the exec sous chef is. I have been in that kitchen and believe me when I say that everything is tasted from when it is prepped, to when it is being plated. When is is very busy, not every plate is tasted, but for the most part they are. I applaud that kitchen for caring about every single plate, be it a pasta bolognese for the bar or a $128 4 oz wagyu ribeye, every dish matters to them, which is more than I can say for most restaurants.

                                                                                                        1. re: BeantownHound

                                                                                                          I hope no one's taking a bite of my 4 oz $128 waygu steak..:)

                                                                                                          1. re: 9lives

                                                                                                            I can tell you that at $128, any 4oz cut of "wagyu" is a ginormous money maker for the restaurant.

                                                                                                            1. re: almansa

                                                                                                              I don't know what ginormous means.

                                                                                                              I'd pefer to taste it myself..instead of having the retauraunt take a bite...

                                                                                                              I know $128/for 4 ozof waygu is ridiculous...and the idea of someone tasting all or most of the plates that come out of the kitchen is absurd

                                                                                                              1. re: 9lives

                                                                                                                gigantic + enormous = ginormous (i.e., really, really big)

                                                                                                                1. re: ritcey

                                                                                                                  Right. A sample sentence would be, "Harold made the mistake of eating a ginormous sammich before playing basketball." (Both "ginormous" and "sammich" can be found at urbandictionary.com, BTW.)

                                                                                                                  Would Emma's in Cambridge be considered a place that has had some hype on CH? Because if so, I'll add that one to my list of overhyped restaurants...the pizza isn't bad, IMO, but it hasn't really bowled me over, either.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ritcey

                                                                                                                    gotcha...agree..that waygu is an ginormous $maker...all the more reason why I don't want anyone but me tasting it..:)

                                                                                                      2. Pops in the South End. What a joke. I don't care if it's cheap, I thought the food was awful. The Sambal Chicken Wings that everyone was raving about were unseasoned and glopped with a cloying sauce. The hangar steak and french fries were also not seasoned correctly.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: Gourmet Groupie

                                                                                                          i had lunch there once. some shrimp salad. no good !!

                                                                                                        2. Without question, I have been met with far more benefit than disappointment on CH. I know who's opinions I tend to agree with and whose I don't and act accordingly.

                                                                                                          Getting back to Chow Hype: Mamma Maria. I can honestly say was the worst dining experience of my adult life and yet MM continues to be heralded as the "Crown Jewel of the North End" Yes, it is a romantic spot and depending upon where you are seated can offer nice views of the NE.

                                                                                                          I've held my tongue on this place for a long time, but I absolutely cringe any time a Hound recommends this place (especially to an unfamiliar out of towner).

                                                                                                          Folks familiar with my posts know that I am typically forgiving to a fault of an establishment which I think has merit from a food/ service perspective even though my specific experience did not go so well . Aquataine comes to mind. My RW visit ( yes it was RW) was sub par, but based upon respected opinions on this board I will give it another shot.

                                                                                                          Mamma Maria gets zero love from me. For the longest time I thought that "there was something wrong with me" until a very good friend, far well versed in the Boston food scene than I, confessed that she thought MM was dreck as well.

                                                                                                          Just to back up my egregious statement: uncaring and pretentious service. FU , you are here to serve me, it's not my privilege to dine here. Bad food (how do you mess up carpaccio?) which was sadly the highlight of the evening, general sloppy presentation and quality overall. It reminds me of the defunct Momma Leone's in NYC that was a staple in "Where" magazines found in hotel rooms and largely a tourist trap.

                                                                                                          Certainly it's not my intention to insult any Hound enjoys this place, but IMHO there are far better experiences for the same $$$ (or less) to be had in the NE or otherwise.

                                                                                                          12 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                            Mamma Maria was much better in the mid-nineties. It is now way past prime, I think.

                                                                                                            1. re: nasilemak

                                                                                                              I went to this place with my wife a few times during the 1990s. When we were with larger groups, it was great (perhaps we got more attention from the staff with a large party). One time we went on our own during a crowded holiday that fell on a weekend...big mistake.

                                                                                                              Havent' been back since, what with so many more affordable options nearby, many of which I still haven't tried.

                                                                                                            2. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                              F4T - I've never been and always been curious about MM - what else did you order and what were the problems?

                                                                                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                                                I'm also curious if this was a one time occurrence. Things can go very wrong one time and overall be good. Not that you want to spend the $$ to find out, but I don't think a one time visit is necessarily a good barometer. Thankfully my one time there was quite nice.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                                                                                  Bob, I've spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours in therapy trying to repress...just kidding. This was about 2 years ago, I browsed the current online menu in order to jog my memory...nuthin'. All I remember was that the carpaccio was the best part of the meal and it was nothing special. As I alluded to, the service acted as though we should be grateful we were given a table and being served food. The courses were very rushed ( maybe there was a bottle of Chianti in it for most tables turned).

                                                                                                                  Yes, you run into a waiter that's a dick from time to time, but I noticed this type of behavior from all the servers in my area. And then the basics, water glasses not refilled, not clearing silverware after each course and placing the utensils back on my napkin. Yeah, that is expected in some (many) places, but I felt that in a restaurant of this "calibre" flatware should be replaced between courses.

                                                                                                                  Good chance this may have been an off night, and admittedly one visit is not a good barometer, but I'm with Ralphie- with so many other places to check out on my list, not worth returning.

                                                                                                                  I felt that MM qualified as Chow-hype because is seems to appear often as an oft recommended place when there is a broad NE discussion or when out of towners request NE suggestions

                                                                                                                  1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                    Thanks for trying. When MM is recommended here, it never seems to be for any particular cuisine or dish - as opposed to Daily Catch, Taranta, Limoncello, etc., so was just curious. Amazing how important service is to dining out. Your memory of the food is negative as much as because the service clearly left a bad taste in your mouth.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                      Along these lines, I agree. Even at some of my favorite places I've experienced an off night. I think what characterizes these experiences is how the establishment handles such incidents. The places that base their reactions with the idea of what "hospitality" truely means are those which stand out more than the actual sidestep incurred. Those restaurants that are in the business to show people a wonderful time, are committed to their craft, no matter what, and act accordingly when there are issues with food, service, what have you, are the ones i will continue to patronize and give multiple chances for redemption.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                        I was no fan of MM either. Granting I was only there a couple of times, once on one of the annoying Big Nights—New Year's Eve—I felt hosed (3 courses, one of which was a green salad, $90 per person); the next year, I went to T647 and the value was for real (4 courses, for less, and no filler).

                                                                                                                        But I didn't feel it ever got hyped, exactly, just generally solidly praised with a few exceptions.

                                                                                                                    2. re: Food4Thought

                                                                                                                      I don't think that MM is considered the crown jewel of the North End. I've done work dinners there and everyone has been happy, but if I'm eating on MY dime, you're much more likely to find me at Taranta, Pomodoro or the Daily Catch.

                                                                                                                      This is why this whole thread confuses me ... some people will pipe into a discussion with a VERY strongly held opinion about a place but that doesn't make it the board consensus or = "hype" to me. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen a board consensus on anything.

                                                                                                                      Bah! Chowhype, whatever.

                                                                                                                      1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                        I have perceived near consensus on Pizzeria Regina, and Angela's. There have been threads that hold both places up to immortal standards. Sure not 100% of all CH posts on them are positive, but some threads seem to have a serious case of CH groupthink.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                                                                                                                          That's only because those two are so good. ;-) No, actually I know I've seen dissent on Angela's. I happen to think it's great, but I know others have been under-wowed. Like the starter of this thread.

                                                                                                                          Pizzeria Regina has some dissenters too. But we've run most of them out of town.

                                                                                                                          1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                            I answered Angela's as being overhyped, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it, or would never go back, In fact I have been a few times, and the same with Hei La Moon,

                                                                                                                            Just because places don't live up to the hype doesn't mean they are not worth going to.

                                                                                                                    3. Oleana
                                                                                                                      #9 Park
                                                                                                                      Tu Y Yo

                                                                                                                      On the flip side, U Burger (I somehow made it in before the hype, and fell in love), Antico Forno, Taranta, O Ya, and the late, lamented O Cantinho met or exceeded expectations. So did Neptune prior to the change of chefs last year.

                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                                                                        When was ASSBAR hyped? People's feelings were mixed from the beginning.

                                                                                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                          Agreed, I think people *wanted* ASSBAR to be something it never was. So the *desire* for hype was there but right from the get-go most folks were underwhelmed/disappointed, myself included.

                                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                            ASSBAR was hyped on CH, (see the headler from this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/322048),
                                                                                                                            in several Boston Globe articles (there were something like 8 articles in 2006 when they opened, including a full front page spread called "The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread" the day after it opened), and in cyberspace (more than 4,600 citations in Google search.)

                                                                                                                            Y'know, I really, really wished they lived up to the hype. Too bad they did not. Beef on Weck was a wreck ... guess I'll have to get back to Laughlin's in Bffalo to satisfy that craving.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                                                                              I will contend that marketing/PR hype is a different animal than Chowhound hype. Having a good publicist gets your name out there, and having good .... um ....goods gets the customers to come back.

                                                                                                                              ETA: I liked the Beef on Weck.

                                                                                                                              1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                                I wanted to try the Beef on Weck but they were always out when I went.

                                                                                                                                Since I've discovered Mike's in Coolidge Corner and Pop's on Monday nights I haven't been back since those places both make Reuben's that I prefer to ASSBar.

                                                                                                                                1. re: yumyum

                                                                                                                                  Yes, I should have clarified that it was hyped *beforehand,* even here, by me and others, but the earliest reports were very WTFy.

                                                                                                                          2. Kind of amazed this thread has taken on this much life. I want to make sure that it is clear that I feel that Chowhound and Boston offer many more good to great places than they do overhyped or over sold places. I do feel that the collective admiration for the places on the board do at times set expectations unreasonably high for certain places. I feel that Angela's is good, the mole and the pipian sauces were great but chronically overcooked meat is a serious downfall. I will go back, just as I will to many of the places I have found because of the Board. I do find it interesting that some places tend to carry their threads for a really long time while others fall off never to reappear despite my continued love for them. Papusas Guanica (sp?) is one that comes to mind.

                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                            1. re: ChickenBrocandZiti

                                                                                                                              I think threads like this, which crop up from time to time, are totally useful; they serve to remind everyone just how diverse the CH community is, and sometimes make lurkers/newbies feel more comfortable with the notion that contrary opinions are welcome.

                                                                                                                              I should add B&G to my own list. Always liked it fine; never thought it had half Neptune's originality/charm/value.