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One night in Arlington/Lexington/Winchester - where would you go?

Eatin in Woostah Aug 23, 2008 03:02 PM

The SO and I have a rare night without child tomorrow, and want to go someplace close to home, where we wouldn't normally take her. Doesn't need to be a hoity-toity date-night as we're going to O Ya in a few weeks for our anniversary, just needs to be new to us and good.

We've recently moved to Lexington (hence the Woostah name) and want to branch out a little. Here is a list of places where we haven't been yet but that look interesting. Where would you go and why?

Catch
Lexx
Via Lago
Thai Lemongrass (we haven't gone with our daughter because of her peanut allergy)
Prose
Tango
Variety of Asian restaurants in Arlington
Whatta Wing

Please feel free to chime in with anything great that I've missed. In this area we've been to Daikayama, Kushboo, Upper Crust, Dabin, Blue Ribbon BBQ, Lady Siam, Mr. Sushi, Sichuan Garden.

Thanks!

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  1. peregrine RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 23, 2008 05:02 PM

    In Arlington, Punjab for Indian and Kathmandu for Nepali are both excellent. Each has a few unique things, and dishes that Kushboo (also excellent) does not serve.

    4 Replies
    1. re: peregrine
      m
      Mayflour RE: peregrine Aug 23, 2008 05:26 PM

      I agree, in Arlington, Punjab is great.

      Of the places you listed, Eatin, Catch in Winchester consistently gets the best reviews.

      Lexx is eh and Via Lago is less than eh.

      Prose however can be great. If I remember correctly, the chef has a limited menu and you eat what she has that night. It may have changed over the years though, I haven't been in a long time.... The chef will come out and talk to you and ask if you're enjoying the meal. Very nice and humble woman. The atmosphere is not the best though, I think it was a bank way back when.

      Have fun w/o child. Me and my spouse have not had the pleasure yet. We have an 8 mo. old! Enjoy!

      1. re: Mayflour
        Eatin in Woostah RE: Mayflour Aug 24, 2008 08:00 AM

        Good to hear about Punjab. We'll probably try that with our daughter in tow soon - easy to take her for Indian, luckily. I've been very underwhelmed with Kushboo. We've been driving out to Waltham to New Mother India for our Indian fix.

        1. re: Eatin in Woostah
          opinionatedchef RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 24, 2008 10:26 AM

          oooh woostah. you need to know about Namaskar in davis sq.
          maybe waltham is a little closer, but the extra 5 min is definitely worth it for you.tikka masala, uttapam, dosaonion kulcha,patri....
          Allstonian and barmeyfo......come all the way there from allston, and do you know how many indian restaurants there are in allston??!! hope you'll try it.

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            Eatin in Woostah RE: opinionatedchef Aug 24, 2008 11:21 AM

            Thanks, OC! Davis isn't much further, especially give the traffic into Waltham. Will absolutely try it and let you know what we think.

    2. b
      Bluebell RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 23, 2008 06:24 PM

      I might add Flora to the list, as I think their cooking is terrific, and emphasizes seasonal ingredients. Also, definitely a grown-up atmosphere. Not that different a concept than Lexx, but better execution.

      If you want Thai, Thai Moon in Arl Center is very good.

      Prose is quirky and small, but the food can be quite delicious.

      Whatta Wing and Via Lago don't seem datenight-ish at all.

      Also agree with Punjab and Kathmandu Spice reccs, but I think you could bring a kid to either and it would work out just fine.

      Wherever you choose, have fun!

      4 Replies
      1. re: Bluebell
        Eatin in Woostah RE: Bluebell Aug 24, 2008 08:02 AM

        Good add! I've been to Thai Moon, and agree, very good. Forgot to list it.

        Whatta Wing is on the list because we just really, really like a good wing. Our favorite used to be at the Busy Bee in Watertown before it closed. Curious whether Whatta Wing is any good (non-battered, crispy, traditional Buffalo sauce). But yeah, probably shouldn't waste date-night on it.

        1. re: Eatin in Woostah
          Raedia RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 25, 2008 12:34 PM

          I really wouldn't bother with Whatta Wing... my husband went for lunch once and still seems to be traumatized. Unappetizing presentation, poor service and below-average food.

          1. re: Eatin in Woostah
            j
            jfung77 RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 26, 2008 10:11 AM

            Not even worth a takeout order of their wings. Definite the anti-version of what you described - breaded and immediately soggy with a not very interesting buffalo sauce.

            Their sandwiches are pretty good and big though. Definitely not a date-night place.

            1. re: jfung77
              Eatin in Woostah RE: jfung77 Aug 27, 2008 07:19 PM

              Thank you! Will avoid. My mother highlighted it to me with the dubious opening, "I saw a place near you on the Phantom..."

        2. rlh RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 23, 2008 06:57 PM

          Not sure what's open on Sunday and what's not - you should call first to be sure.

          For what you describe, I would choose Catch in Winchester but you will almost definitely need a reservation if it's open.

          Toraya in Arlington has great sushi and Japanese, but basic atmosphere and service.

          Something Savory in Arlington Heights has delicious food and great service, but weak atmosphere.

          Thai Moon is our favorite Thai in this area.

          Za is great for casual locavore pizzas and salads.

          Moulton's Seafood in Medford is casual and awesome- the lobster scampi is huge and worth every penny!

          1. opinionatedchef RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 23, 2008 11:04 PM

            of what you have listed:
            catch for sure. prose is a bit odd i think.tango food is boring. flora is a lovely space but the food has never wowed me. catch has wowed me but it's not a cushy comfie place.

            tryst on mass. ave in arl.was comfie/lovely/romantic and excellent food the one evening we had there a few yrs ago.

            9 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef
              Harp00n RE: opinionatedchef Aug 23, 2008 11:19 PM

              A big-time thumbs up for Tryst, shocked that it wasn't on OP's original list!

              Harp

              1. re: Harp00n
                Eatin in Woostah RE: Harp00n Aug 24, 2008 07:57 AM

                Oh see!! I knew I was missing someplace obvious that I really wanted to try. Always happens.

                Thanks everyone for the feedback. I think it will be either Catch or Tryst, though Tryst is now higher on the list because we could also end up at the Capitol Theater. One night of "freedom" is heady stuff. Grown-up dinner conversation and a movie rated higher than PG! Woohoo!

                1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                  Harp00n RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 24, 2008 08:42 AM

                  E-N-J-O-Y. wherever you choose!

                  Harp

                  BTW if it's Tryst, stay away from their French 76's and if you don't, well you've been warned :-0)

                  1. re: Harp00n
                    LindaWhit RE: Harp00n Aug 24, 2008 11:12 AM

                    Gotta ask - what is a French 76?

                    And has anyone been to Tryst for brunch? Looks like a nice mix of breakfast/dinner entrees.

                    1. re: LindaWhit
                      Harp00n RE: LindaWhit Aug 24, 2008 01:14 PM

                      French 76
                      ************
                      3/4 oz. vodka
                      1 dash of grenadine
                      1 dash of simple syrup
                      1/4 oz. of lemon juice
                      4 oz. of champagne

                      Shake all ingredients, except champagne, well over ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a chilled champagne flute, fill with champagne, enjoy! While it may not appear that potent a mix, there's some kind of alchemy afoot between the vodka and the champagne. So careful on the intake, as you may be hearing Sinatra singing "You Go To My Head" presenty :-)

                      Harp

                      1. re: Harp00n
                        LindaWhit RE: Harp00n Aug 24, 2008 02:18 PM

                        LOL! Ummm, while it sounds good, I do think I'll pass on the French 76, thankyouverymuch. Well, *maybe* one. :-)

                    2. re: Harp00n
                      Eatin in Woostah RE: Harp00n Aug 24, 2008 11:23 AM

                      It's a school night, but that almost sounds like a challenge!

                    3. re: Eatin in Woostah
                      b
                      Bluebell RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 24, 2008 05:54 PM

                      I like Tryst, but think the front room's vibe is the best. Back room just doesn't feel right to me. The bartending is pretty good too. I do prefer Flora.

                      Wherever you end up, tell us what you thought!

                      1. re: Bluebell
                        Harp00n RE: Bluebell Aug 24, 2008 06:46 PM

                        I agree with your comment that the front room's vibe being better at Tryst. The "problem" with the back room I think, and having said so in the past, that is that it's oddly laid out. BTW, I like Flora a lot but I do. lol. prefer Tryst :)

                        Harp

                2. s
                  ShelT54 RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 24, 2008 02:33 PM

                  Flora is over-rated. I had a good meal @ Scutra. Ristorante Olivio is ok too. In Somerville, L'il Vinny's and Out of the Blue are worth looking into for Italian and seafood respectively.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: ShelT54
                    litchick RE: ShelT54 Aug 24, 2008 04:40 PM

                    A shout-out for Scutra, which has great food and great owners. Wish they had a better wine list, but their Belgian beers are nice and pair well with the Belgian menu.

                    Other faves (some already mentioned): Punjab, Bollywood Cafe, Something Savory, Za.

                    We like Prose, but be forewarned, the owner is... quirky. If she's in an off mood, it can leak over into the dining experience as she's basically the only person in the kitchen AND in front-of-house. Every now and then she has a waitstaff or busboy helper, but mostly, it's just her. My meals there have been very tasty, despite her sometimes odd personality.

                    I would agree that Lexx isn't worth it. We had a very mediocre and pricey meal there recently. Skip it.

                    1. re: litchick
                      opinionatedchef RE: litchick Aug 24, 2008 05:16 PM

                      at scutra 4 yrs ago i had the single worst meal of my 37 years in boston. the chef WAS working that night and it was so laughably awful that i determined that he knew nothing about fine food.if someone told me that a bum had been pulled in off the street and told to cook my food, I would have understood. blechhhh.

                      1. re: litchick
                        p
                        phoebek RE: litchick Aug 24, 2008 05:30 PM

                        Definitely agree on Lexx. Re Something Savory--we were there last night and they were getting ready to go on vacation--today for at least a week, maybe two (I forget), but they're definitely worth checking out after they get back.

                        1. re: litchick
                          rlh RE: litchick Aug 24, 2008 06:10 PM

                          Used to love Scutra, but since they expanded, the food doesn't seem as high quality or well-prepared, and the dining rooms feel much more like hotel dining in the suburbs. For the first time, the service was also odd on our last visit -- always around and kind of intrusive, offering unsolicited, unhelpful opinions about everything. No longer a top choice in spite of being so convenient and wanting to like it.

                      2. n
                        nasilemak RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 25, 2008 11:07 AM

                        Go for Thai Moon. Order one or two extra dishes and enjoy them back home!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nasilemak
                          rlh RE: nasilemak Aug 25, 2008 12:43 PM

                          Be sure to include an order of the Crab Rangoons - very unique and quite amazing - even pretty good for takeout, but the best for dining in.

                        2. t
                          tdaaa RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 25, 2008 11:47 AM

                          Obviously too late to be of use this time, but in the future don't forget waltham as an eating destination. Lots of good places, not too far away.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: tdaaa
                            Eatin in Woostah RE: tdaaa Aug 27, 2008 07:22 PM

                            Thanks, tdaaa! We both lived in Waltham (actually met there) and have eaten pretty much everywhere on Moody, Main, and beyond. :) I agree, Waltham is a really fun food destination in this area.

                          2. Small Plates RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 25, 2008 12:54 PM

                            Flora is not only my favorite restaurant in Arlington, but it one of my favorite restaurants in the greater Boston area. I find the food to be always prepared well, delicious seasoning and flavor pairings, comfort food that is not too heavy, i.e., uses more olive oil than butter, and they use mostly locally sourced produce and proteins. The staff is professional and very friendly - it is a family run restaurant that takes good care of its staff as well as its customers, and it shows. My last meal there was a few weeks ago - we had (IIRC) gazpacho with avocado creme fraiche, the herbed gnocchi with wild mushrooms, asparagus and sherry-vegetable jus , and the pan-roasted Giannone chicken - I forget what my DC had for appetizer - I think it was a corn soup special - yes, it was - and it was delicious! Entrees are in the 20s - so it is not an everynight place - but it is certainly date worthy and weekend worthy. We go regularly and love it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Small Plates
                              MrsCheese RE: Small Plates Aug 25, 2008 08:50 PM

                              Yes! Love Flora. Have to totally disagree with the person who said it was overrated. We used to live down the street and I've been there at least 10 times and I've never had a bad (or even mediocre) meal there. As a matter of fact, not too long ago we had a rare night out on our own, and we chose to go to Flora, of all the places we could have chosen (we don't live in Arlington anymore). It was great. Any fish I've ever had there has been spectacular. Particularly memorable was the bluefish I had there last summer, but I also remember a trout entree that was really good.

                            2. opinionatedchef RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 27, 2008 09:39 PM

                              aren't you going to tell us where you went?

                              1. Eatin in Woostah RE: Eatin in Woostah Aug 28, 2008 07:00 AM

                                How odd - I posted a whole recap last night and it's gone! Hmmm....

                                So to recreate:
                                As is often the case in relationships where two people have brains and opinions, my husband did not come to the table (so to speak) without ideas. He had a MAJOR MOROCCAN craving, so we ended up at Tangierino. I can't say I was disappointed, as it was excellent and we hadn't been in quite a while. It is a great date-night spot.

                                Thank you all for your research and suggestions - they won't go to waste! I now have a better, narrowed list for the upcoming weeks, including some places where we can take the munchkin along. And the advice on places to avoid is just as valuable - can't afford to waste time.

                                So much to eat, so much weight to gain.
                                Thanks everyone!

                                1. Eatin in Woostah RE: Eatin in Woostah Sep 20, 2008 12:10 PM

                                  Eating my way through the list....

                                  Tango - we had a really nice night there (child in tow.) I agree that the steak and sides were somewhat boring (still good), but the beef empanadas were phenomenal! Decent tempranillo by the glass. We'll be back for more.

                                  Via Lago - went last night. We tried to head to Arlington to Punjab, but our child was at her first sleepover and we got called back after 10 minutes for a brief freak-out. After that we wanted to stay closer to home just in case, so ended up in downtown Lexy. Food was pretty good - I had roasted chicken with latkes and brussels sprouts. Tasted like something I would have made at home, which was perfectly fine for the evening. Mr. Woostah had a crab cake sandwich which he said was good. Service was quite slow and not great - they forgot to tell us about the specials and the people sitting next to us (who were seated after us) were done and paying their bill before we got our food. Still, it wasn't bad, and for a local comfortable place I'd rather go there than Not Your Average Joe's or Vinny T's.

                                  Nu Jang Su Korean - What a find! The bi bim bap was better than my fave to date, Koreana. So happy to have a really good Korean restaurant within easy weeknight driving distance. The place was filled with Korean families, and the service was beyond friendly. Just great.

                                  I heard today about Guru the Caterer for takeout in Somerville. Opinions?

                                  1. s
                                    sablemerle RE: Eatin in Woostah Sep 20, 2008 07:25 PM

                                    Tango is one of those places we keep meaning to try, but never get around to.

                                    I can't speak for their entrees, but we went to Town Day (far too late) and they were blowing out their empandadas (the Arlington police were passing by telling all the vendors it was time to start shutting down).

                                    I was disappointed that they were out of beef, but bought four of the chicken for me and kid #2. Despite being stored in a foil-covered chafing dish, these were among the most delicious empanadas I've ever had. The pastry was light, flaky, and somehow (um, chafing dish) still crispy. The filling was the standard chicken, onion, pepper, olive, but deliciously balanced and seasoned.

                                    It has lit a fire under me to get to the restaurant and try the beef empandas (I can only imagine how great the pastry will be freshly fried).

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: sablemerle
                                      opinionatedchef RE: sablemerle Nov 10, 2008 08:31 PM

                                      I did a whole write up on empanadas and theirs in particular. if you do a CH search, the thread should pop up easily. i buy their beef emps and freeze them. they survive well. nuke briefly and then toaster oven/bake to finish off/crisp. hmmmm.

                                    2. Eatin in Woostah RE: Eatin in Woostah Apr 10, 2009 07:55 AM

                                      Another follow-up as we eat our way through the restaurants in the area.

                                      Zocalo - went last night. What a find! I don't know why it doesn't get more attention. My DC and I liked the guac better than Angela's, though our daughter said it was second to Angela's. Not enough lime for her. She had the fish tacos which she actually picked up and ate like a taco, veggies and all (big deal for her - she usually pics apart the various elements and avoids the veg.) Declared 2 thumbs up. Hubby had a really delicious chorizo taco, and I enjoyed my carnitas verde enchilada. The meat was not what I expected, but still very good. When we requested hot sauce we were given adobo, which had a nice deep round flavor and added lots of heat. Perfect with the chorizo. My white sangria was super-fresh and yummy.

                                      Toraya - Mediocre atmosphere, but really nicely prepared sushi. Sashimi seemed expertly sliced, edamame not overcooked, and rolls were small and tight. Not many creative roll options, so we'll leave that to Mr. Sushi and Daikayama, but for straightforward, fresh Japanese Toraya was great. Thanks for the rec!

                                      Punjab - really tasty and much nicer atmosphere than many other Indian spots in the area. Seemed a bit overpriced, and they were out of a few of the beers on the menu. Haven't been back yet, but we will. Good option.

                                      Guru the Caterer - I wrote about this somewhere else on the board too - Very fresh and incredibly cheap. Awesome option for takeout.

                                      A few other places not mentioned yet -
                                      Blue Stove in Nordstrom's at Burlington Mall: Not bad food but really overpriced. Tiny portions, even for "small plates". Not a destination, but a decent option if stuck in the mall. Nice wine list by the glass.

                                      Downtown Lexington: Vinny T's awful, Mario's OK for a quick red sauce meal with the fam, Not Your Average Joe's - I find most things there too salty. Mustard chicken is pretty good. Winesdays every Wednesday, bottle of wine and 2 entrees for $40 is a good deal. Upper Crust - highly contested on the board, but I like it. Good thin-crust. Lemongrass Thai and Kushboo - both fairly average.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                        opinionatedchef RE: Eatin in Woostah Apr 23, 2009 04:42 PM

                                        If you try Lexx, I highly suggest you stay with trad dishes, not fusion .The app of sushi tuna w/ quacamole, in cake form, was sad indeed. Tuna tossed w/ bottled lime juice. period. so ceviche really. Dreadful even for ceviche. But the salmon entree was perfectly grilled; an o.k. plate. The multigrain bread from___? was the highlight of the meal.

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          Eatin in Woostah RE: opinionatedchef Apr 26, 2009 08:02 PM

                                          We've been to Lexx a few times now, just keep forgetting to mention. I agree, the traditional stuff has been pretty good. Roast chicken was very tasty, mac and cheese good though overpriced. Steak frites were OK - nothing special. I don't care for the burger. My favorite dish so far is the hummus/mezze appetizer platter.

                                          1. re: Eatin in Woostah
                                            justbeingpolite RE: Eatin in Woostah Apr 27, 2009 06:17 AM

                                            If you haven't been to Catch yet, a strong third here.
                                            One that hasn't been mentioned, if you want to drive the other way, is Ginger in Bedford. It's a small family type Japanese place on the Great Road across from the Bedford common. Very good sushi and standard bento box stuff, IMO

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