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Better than you make it

I think this topic is appropriate for this forum, but if not feel free to move it.

Here's the gist of my inquiry: Think of your favorite dish that you make at home and are very proud of doing well. Now admit, what Boston area restaurant does that same dish, better than you do?

I'll go first. I make a mean Oso de Buco, using a modified version of this recipe: http://www.cookingforengineers.com/re...

My changes: I skip the cornstarch, celery and chicken broth and use mushrooms and white wine instead. I also use 5 times more garlic, because we like it garlicky. Last but not least, I use lamb shank rather than veal, tried both and prefer lamb.

As good as mine is, I have to say that Luciano's on Rt. 1 in Wrentham makes a heavenly version of this dish, and I always order it anytime they have it as a lunch special. In fact, their version is what I was trying to duplicate when I tweaked the recipe.

Your turn.

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  1. The Eggplant Salad and the spicy hummus at Massis in Watertown is Better than mine. While I love what I make, they make it is even better! Watch out they are closed on Sundays.

    1. I love the Steak Teriyaki at Jimmy's - believe it is a NY strip. Not sure if it's their marinade, meat purveyor, or expertise on the line, but I am really sorry that their Burlington Mall location closed. I am not a frequent steak person, so I got to the point where the only time I had it was there. I know they have other locations, and I can beat their rice pilaf, but miss ordering the surf n' turf. I'd eat the shellfish and a quarter of the steak, and have the rest for the next day's dinner, or two lunch sandwiches.

      1. Disappointing lack of replies, I hoped to uncover a few gems based on people's favorite homade dishes, but... either the CH community is such great cooks that restaurants can't beat their homemade favorites, or maybe it's just not that many of us cook at home?

        Come on, take the bait/challenge! Boston Zest, surely some Boston restaurant does Lemon or mushroom risotto that competes with yours?

        3 Replies
        1. re: tbiscaia

          Well, you did post it on a weekend...

          Risotto ai porcini and chicken liver crostini from Trattoria Toscana
          The entire menu at Gran Gusto
          The entire menu at Baraka Cafe

          1. re: finlero

            finlero, I'm still learning my way around here and didn't realize that weekends are slow, since that's when I can do most of my non-work websurfing.

            I have yet to experience any of the 3 of the restaurants in your reply, but that's gonna change very soon. Thanks!

          2. re: tbiscaia

            The problem is that we eat risotto so often at home that I just don't order it when we're out. But, I made an exception for L'Espalier. In part to see what how it would compare to mine and in part because I have met their mushroom guy and wanted to taste those mushrooms he had shown me earlier in the week.

            It was fantastic.

            Now I will have to try it at Toscana.

            I never see lemon risotto on menus around here!

          3. Chicken B' Stila - Tangierino
            Veggie grape leaves - Sevan Bakery
            Pomegranate lamejuns - Eastern Lamejun Bakers

            1. I know it's not truly an authentic Italian dish, and I'm sure not many CHers order this dish out, but I love my own Chicken Broccoli Ziti dish. But Al Dente in the North End makes it way better than me. It's awesome! (the garlic & oil version; not the cream-based)

              1. I make a good flourless chocolate cake from the recipe from America's test kitchen, but Finale's is even better.

                My tofu red curry stir fries have been pretty good, although not a specific recipe ever, but East Asia's homemade tofu makes their dish better than mine will ever be. I also suspect that they use the full fat coconut milk and I always buy reduced fat...

                I wonder what percentage of these dishes have to do with restaurants not being afraid of the butter, and home cooks saying "2 sticks?! I bet I can get away with 1 and a 1/2..."

                1. Hammersley's roast chicken. I have Bistro Cooking at Home, which has their recipe, but mine isn't quite as good as the restaurant's.

                  Trattoria Toscana's mushroom risotto. Again, mine is pretty good, but...must be veal stock or something.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: bear

                    I have tried to replicate that roast chicken at least a dozen times and have never succeeded. My version is usually very good but not even remotely close to being in Hammersley's league. Still an all time favorite even though I hear Gordon is tired of making it.

                  2. I make pretty good hummus- but last week I got some from my chowfind that nobody goes to (grin), El Madina Market on Rte 60 in Revere. Nothing fancy, just mild, with lemon/garlic overtones, but mmm mmm. I also tried the frozen kibbe (you need to order fresh a day in advance, but the frozen was not bad!) It's a small grocery with a takeout counter, but I don't think they get a lot of takeout business. Make sure you're asking for the homemade stuff behind the counter.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Chris VR

                      i go to el madina market. i like their homemade merguez. will have to try the hummus and kibbe

                    2. I followed Julia Child's recipe for Filet of Beef Wellington to the letter. It took me three days to make it, but I've never had a better version anywhere. The same is true of her recipe for Roast Duck a l'Orange, which is not difficult, but very time comsumming. Lots of us do better things at home than can be had in many restaurants, but the fun of going out to dine is to have someone else do the cooking and hopefully it will better than what you can do in your own kitchen. In a good restaurant you can come across a unique seasoning or variation on a sauce that you might not think of. Going out to eat should just be a pleasant experience, not a "battle of the chefs" !

                      1. this one comes to mind because I'm stumped on what they do differently than me but theirs is just so much better!

                        Mango Salsa ... i love it on chicken or fish or just as a refreshing snack in the summertime with chips. I make a really good one but...

                        Uncle Pete's Hickory Ribs has an AMAZING mango salsa that is to die for! I know, a rib joint making mango salsa. Trust me it's worth going just for that! well, yea, the ribs are great too but that's a whole other topic starter.

                        1. The Grilled Garlic Calamari w/ white beans at Franklin Cafe. Again I think its the butter!