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Jan 12, 2010 05:05 PM

I need a little help from my springfield area friends

I need help.
I have a wall in my kitchen that has pictures of the best meals i've ever had. I've done a good amount of traveling and I've photographed just about everything I've ordered out. I then determine if the meal was "food wall worthy". If it is, it's displayed in my kitchen in the form of an 8x10 or 5x7. I probably need help, but I'm posting this on Chowhound, so I may have friends who need the same help as me. I've lived in the Springfield area for ten years. I grew up in CT and I work in CT. I cant help but head south to the Hartford area every time I want a nice night out...(or north to northampton or east to Boston). Why should I be a gastronomical prisoner in my own region? We have the White Hut. I just went to type something else, and nothing else came to mind as far as "staples". I think I live in a region that deserves bail-out money for sub-standard cusine, or at least a tax write-off for travel expenses incurred for fleeing the region in search of a nice meal. Do I have any friends in this culinary void known as Springfield, MA that can help me navigate these tasteless waters?

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  1. You're ignoring the wonderful Big Mamou in downtown Springfield. Chef Wayne Hooker turns out a mean Cajun menu at his Liberty Street digs and his newest eatery in Williamsburg.

    Ginger Blossom on Parker Street in Springfield doesn't disappoint with some very tasty Chinese food.

    Not far away is the Federal in Agawam, and although I have yet to dine there, I've heard nothing but the most positive reviews of that fine dining restaurant.

    3 Replies
    1. re: BoNapateet

      Chef Wayne is the best thing going in Springfield. It's real deal and dosen't let you down. The Federal in Agawam is stuffy and the food is just OK. Its similar to Storrowtown Tavern. I like to think that i'll get what i pay for. I haven't tried Ginger Blossom, but I can say that I haven't had a good Chinese meal outside Chinatown in Boston. I'm a real Chinese food guy, not an americhinese Pupufortwo guy.

      1. re: BoNapateet

        I have to agree about Chef Wayne's. Best food from a cuisine not readily available.

        1. re: BoNapateet

          School Street Bistro in Westfield is very good. Fratelli's in Westfield is very good as well. Pintu in West Springfield is a great Indian resturant. Aside from those places, I'm at a loss.

        2. I know it's a resturant that has been there for a while, but what about " The Student Prince"? When I have been, it's old school german, but still a classic.

          2 Replies
          1. re: breakfastfan

            The Student Prince used to be "the place". The Phantom was there and he was a fan. Not as good anymore. The Hofbrahaus in West Springfield was my "go to" place. That went down too. Everything dies, baby, thats a fact.

          2. foodwallguy, I love that you have a foodwall--what a very cool idea!

            Can anyone tell me whatever happened to Caffeine's on Memorial Ave. near the Big E? I used to love that place and would always stop when in the area (or on a packy run, back when it was worthwhile to do that!). I never made it to the downtown location. By chance, have the Caffeine's folks opened somewhere new?

            5 Replies
            1. re: kattyeyes

              Caffeines closed down a couple of years ago. It's now a place called Lattitude. I hear good things for lunch. Haven't heard anything for dinner. I've been meaning to try it there because i'm determined to find a decent place around here (Springfield). It can't be this bad, can it?

              1. re: foodwallguy

                Hey, thanks for the info, foodwallguy. I'll check out these menus when I'm on my other PC. How cool would it be if we both find a new great place in Springfield as a result of your inquiry? :)

                1338 Memorial Avenue, West Springfield, MA 01089

                1. re: kattyeyes

                  My glass is raised......Here's to hope!

                2. re: foodwallguy

                  Latitudes is pricey and not fabulous. It thinks it's a five star restaurant and doesn't make the grade for those who know what fine dining really is. I'm going to give it one more try as I had a crabcake and fried brussel sprouts last time I was there (you can't call a crabcake seared when there is absolutely no crust on it and is obviously baked and the sprouts were really salty. My friends weren't overly-impressed with their meals either). I do want to try the braised beef taco and a couple other items and will make my final determination then. Theodore's for ribs and Southern Comfort food is also a good choice. And the best pizza in the Hood is an MJ's pizza from MJ's on Worthington Street. It's a Greek crust without sauce and has spinach, fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese. It's really good but you don't want to eat there.

                  1. re: Zazu22

                    Every place in the Springfield area thinks its a 5 star restaurant. In a culinary void such as Springfield, restaurant owners should get a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon right, before adding a sprig of blah blah blah with a hint of yada yada finished in a truffle infused bechamel. And, pricing shouldn't be at NYC or Boston rates.
                    I'm gonna try MJ's Pizza on your recommendation. You seem like you know what you're doing. Red Rose is pretty good , but Frank Pepe is only a half an hour away!! Theodores is actually a good place to eat. I love the live blues on saturday nights.

              2. I went to Onyx/Fusion with a group of 12 in December and it was fabulous. Granted the drinks were expensive but everything we had was great. Service was excellent as well. Worth a try in my book.

                1 Reply
                1. re: lonborgfan

                  Onyx in Springfield and Fusion in East Longmeadow are both good. Maybe a little better than good. The problem is they think they can get away charging $15 for pot stickers and $18 for a Crown and coke and a Grey and cranberry. I'm not gazing out of the 86th floor overlooking Midtown Manhattan as the sun sets over New Jersey.....I'M IN SPRINGFIELD!!!!!!!

                2. Been to Pho Saigon at the X? People come from miles around to eat there. I've have "good" to "very good" meals there. . . nothing I'd put on a food wall, but still. Might be worth a try.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: edub23

                    Allright edub23, next time I dine out, I'm going to Pho Saigon. What do you recommend? I take pics of everything I eat out.....just in case it's "wall worthy"

                    1. re: foodwallguy

                      Skip Pho Saigon and head across the street to Vinh Chau, much better! I usually get the pho with beef and meatballs.

                      1. re: Bri

                        Seconded, Vinh Chau trumps Pho Saigon anyday.

                        Chau's Restaurant
                        964 Main St, Manchester, CT 06040

                        1. re: andytee

                          You seem to have a very comprehensive view of the Springfield food scene. I thought of your post last night when I was driving through Springfield from Westside over the north end bridge. I passed on Chef Wayne because it was raining and I didn't want to stand in the rain. I passed on Theresa's southern soul food because my wardrobe choice was lacking kevlar. I ended up at red rose, more out of familiarity than anything. What I really wanted to do was try the Vinh Chau on your recommendation. The problem is of all the cuisines I am familiar with, Vietnamese is not one of them. I wouldn't even know where to begin. I'd like to know what the "American hook" dish is so there won't be disappointment at the table. (every foreign cuisine seems to have one, whether its pad Thai or chicken masala or sesame chicken...something that non adventurous americans will eat because when I say "lets try the Vietnamese place", they hear "He's going to make us eat roasted salamanders in a snake blood reduction" ) Then I'd like to know what I need to try. I want to check this place out soon.

                          1. re: foodwallguy

                            Okay, I tend to agree that Vinh Chau's pho is superior, but if you're looking for a dish that any American will like, try the shaking beef at Pho Saigon. It's UNBELIEVABLY delicious. Cubed supertender beef cooked in a wok (thats where the term "shaking" comes from, I think) with some addictive marinade and then served hot over watercress and slices of onion. I feel comfortable saying that ANYONE would love it. It is 100% ADDICTIVE and it keeps me going back to Pho Saigon, even though there is better pho across the street. Seriously foodwall-worthy. It is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten.

                            That said, I think anyone could appreciate pho. Just try it.

                            Chau's Restaurant
                            964 Main St, Manchester, CT 06040

                            1. re: foodwallguy

                              The great thing about Vietnamese food, I think, is that it's all pretty accessible. I suppose it's possible my judgement is off - I definitely have an adventurous palate and sometimes forget other people don't - but very little is too spicy or strangely flavored.

                              Pho is the Pad Thai of Vietnamese food. It's a delicious beef noodle soup. Savory broth, rice noodles, various kinds of beef. Comes with a plate on the side of bean sprouts, lime, herbs, etc for you to doctor as you like - or not at all. Any Vietnamese menu will have numerous Pho variants, newcomers might want to choose simpler version that don't have tendons and tripe - stick to rare beef and brisket, stuff like that - but I've never seen someone try Pho and not like it.

                              Bun (noodles) is another whole section of the menu. Kinda like Pho without broth, bun are rice noodles served at room temperature with some raw shredded vegetables on top and some sizzling delicious meat. You pour a tangy and sweet sauce over the noodles, or dip them in it, and enjoy.

                              Most menus will also have a section of stir-fry type dishes served over rice that should not seem that strange to anyone used to eating Chinese food.

                              Of course, google will also turn up tons of info if you want to read up a bit to get more comfortable (or hungry).
                              Start here -
                              or here -

                              For any new-flavor adverse friends, Goi Ga is a simple but delicious cabbage and chicken salad - - that will appeal to anyone who likes "Chinese Chicken Salad"
                              and Goi Cuon is a fresh spring roll that anybody will love -

                              Don't worry about mis-pronouncing anything. Everyone does. Often you can just order by pointing or saying an item number, but even if you can't, just go for it, it will work out.