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Worcester County: Quick raves and rants

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We've been dining out quite a bit over the last few months, so I thought I'd offer a few quick comments on some of the noteworthy places we've tried, both good and bad.

SUSHI: We absolutely love Baba on Park Ave. in Worcester, but on two recent occasions the place was overflowing so we tried Haiku, almost across the street. Our meals were excellent, the principal chef was in the kitchen, the drinks were creative, and the service was very good. We would return to either spot in a heartbeat, and I can no longer say that Baba is better.

PUBS: Armsby Abbey on Main Street in Worcester might make the best grilled cheese on the planet, the selection of Belgian beers is huge, and the bartenders are great. The pizza and cheese plates are also very good. Flying Rhino offers great casual fare on Shrewbury Street. The Boynton on Highland is a really nice spot to watch a game and offers very good food. Outside Worcester, the Whistle Stop in Oxford has a large bar, freshly popped popcorn, a gigantic menu and decent food with good service. (They need better TVs, though).

BREAKFAST IN THE BURBS: Central Diner in Millbury and the Heritage Coffee Shop in Auburn are very good. Carl's in Oxford gives you gigantic piles of mediocre food in a filthy environment.

PIZZA: Wonder Bar on Shrewsbury Street is the best thin-crust in the area-- cash only, though. Corner Grille on Pleasant Street is also excellent. Tony's on 146 in Sutton is standard Greek pizza and way, way below average.

SHREWSBURY STREET: Thumbs way up on Via, 111 Chop, Flying Rhino, Wonder Bar and Piccolo (but they REALLY need to replace the god-awful worn-out rug in the dining room). Piccolo's specialty salad, with apples and almonds, is probably the best salad in Worcester. Thumbs way down on Tribeca, Junior's Pizza, and Zipango.

OUTSIDE WORCESTER: Oxford Casual Dining in Oxford and Alicante in Mendon are well worth the ride. Be sure to get one of the bartender's special drinks at "OCD." Willy's in Shrewsbury offers excellent steak and sushi, but we found the service a little uneven on more than one occasion.

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