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Calling All Worcester Area Foodies...

AntonEgo Apr 19, 2010 02:02 PM

The dining scene in worcester as I know it is quite limited and often terrible, usually things i consider good here are just par or low quality compared with other cities. Two examples; coney island hot dogs, sure they are good when compared with other local hot dog spots but they are not that great... they usually cut the onions too large and the bun is often too big for the hot dog which ends up being underwhelming. The pizza at wonder bar is relieving when you see that there is at least one mom and pop pizza shop doing italian pizza, but afterall the pizza is just ok if not terrible in comparison to new york or new haven italian pizza. I think that all the bigger named restaurants; Tribecca, Bocado,111, Via, The Sole, even sadly Baba are just merely filling a void, that being a lack of true fine dining restaurants in the area. They all lack soul and character and have menus that are completely tired and could be generated by a computer program. The terms "organic" and "local" are thrown around frivolously without truly understanding and participating in those movements. The last meal i had at Baba was lousy with the exception of the oysters, we spent a few hundred and the service was lazy, they were actually watching a surgery on the tlc channel while i was attempting to eat lunch. I also ordered toro, not cheap, and told the server to have the chef prepare it special what i got was toro tartare maki roll with multicolored tobiko or flying fish roe with food coloring. It was just terrible way too high a ticket for a sub par sushi experience. I have had good meals at Baba but they stopped 2-3 years ago..

So my question for you is where are the best spots to eat, source ingredients,and fire down cocktails in the greater worcester area??? Maybe even some of these lousy places have a few menu items that are worth a shot, if so report back! Know of a public or neighborhood food event/festival report here! Keep this Thread alive and lets hope it can be a FOOD SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR THE GASTRONOMICALLY IMPOVERISHED OF WORCESTER, MA .

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  1. Joanie RE: AntonEgo Apr 20, 2010 04:21 AM

    This will be moved to the Southern New England board. I just wrote up a jaunt to Worcester where I had a great pasta dish w/ ostrich sausage at 55 Pearl and an okay lobster roll (for a crazy low $9). In a cool old mansion of sorts, worth a try. I thought George's was a cool place but you're right, the hot dog is kind of dwarfed by the bun.

    55 Pearl
    55 Pearl Street, Worcester, MA 01608

    4 Replies
    1. re: Joanie
      AntonEgo RE: Joanie Apr 21, 2010 12:28 PM

      I have heard good things about 55 Pearl and will have to check it out. The building is definately really cool, and one of the investors truly does care about worcester, he also helped renovate and open the hanover theatre.

      I have been going to Georges, or what we call coney island, since i was a kid. For a long time it was the hot dog in which i judged all others. I think over the years the quality diminished (dont remember the bun to dog ratio being so skewed) They have a noteworthy chili sauce though, and the way they dress hot dogs is my favorite; chili sauce, mustard, onions, I just like the addition of celery salt something i picked up from NY System Weiners in providence.

      How do i move the post to southern new england board?

      1. re: AntonEgo
        nsenada RE: AntonEgo Apr 21, 2010 12:55 PM

        They'll move it for you. I have to say, I've been meaning to force my clan to go on an "Explore Worcester" adventure extravaganza, and will definitely be checking back on this thread. I am intrigued by "Muncheez," I have to say. An ex-colleague told me about them, apparently they will deep fry anything you ask them to, and make grape-soda flavored pizza dough. Given the name and cuisine, I can only imagine their R & D lab features black light posters and various tobacconist accoutrements.

        1. re: nsenada
          The Chowhound Team RE: nsenada Apr 23, 2010 11:52 AM

          Hi folks, contrary to popular belief :-) we don't see everything, and it took us a while to see and move this one. If you see a post that belongs on another board, please use the Report link at the bottom to let us know. Thanks!

        2. re: AntonEgo
          oldschoolshrewsburyST RE: AntonEgo Apr 27, 2010 02:57 AM

          55 Peal is changing hands..lets just hope that food stays the same and the building

      2. Science Chick RE: AntonEgo Apr 21, 2010 12:51 PM

        Surprised about your Baba experience.....Wilson should know about this! I've had nothing short of phenomenal food there that rivals even Oishi in Chestnut Hill! You should also try Kenzo's place, Haiku, down the street. For pizza, I highly recommend Corner Grille....super thin, quality ingredients. Really one of the best pies in Mass IMHO. I agree about Tribeca, 111, Sole. Have you tried 55 Pearl? I've heard very good things.

        Haiku Restaurant
        258 Park Ave, Worcester, MA 01609

        Corner Grille
        806 Pleasant St, Worcester, MA 01602

        55 Pearl
        55 Pearl Street, Worcester, MA 01608

        1. Rick_V RE: AntonEgo Apr 24, 2010 07:29 AM

          As a Worcesterite who gets to travel to a lot of good food cities, I share your desire for an elevation of the Worcester food scene. However, I don't see things as being quite as bad as you portray.

          I have had nothing but good experiences at Baba, including recently (the unfortunately-placed TV nonwithstanding). I know foodies who travel long distances to eat at Baba. I have a lot of regard for the food at Armsby Abbey -- yeah, it's a noisy bar with a bit of an attitude at times, but I find the integrity of the ingredients and care in preparation to be exceptional. Citizen offers a similar experience with a more limited menu.

          Bocado, Via, the Sole, Tribeca, and 111 are solid, although I agree that none of them are exactly thrilling destinations. 55 Pearl, after a rough start, is showing promise.

          If you haven't had the pizza at Via, try it. Also the brussels sprouts with pancetta.

          For soul and character, I think small and ethnic. One Love Cafe, El Flamboyan, Bahnan's. I mourn the loss of Bamboo Hut and Baja Grill, which also fell into that category.

          To source ingredients, we're lucky to have Hyder's and some good Asian markets. Emerald Meats is OK if you want straightforward stuff, but don't go there looking for anything out of the ordinary.

          1. invinotheresverde RE: AntonEgo Apr 26, 2010 01:35 PM

            OP, Armsby Abbey has pretty great drinks and solid, locally sourced ingredients. It's a bit spendy, and I always feel my bill is about 20% higher than I'd like it to be. The brunch is the best in the city (really awesome coffee), easily.

            On the negative side, the service is usually awful, the food takes FOREVER and they're douchey about substitutions/leaving ingredients out. If you have a dietary restriction, they basically tell you it's tough shit.

            The restaurant is teeny, but asthetically pleasing. The few outside tables are a bonus.

            Armsby Abbey
            144 Main Street, Worcester, MA

            13 Replies
            1. re: invinotheresverde
              phelana RE: invinotheresverde Apr 26, 2010 02:57 PM

              Just went to Haiku. It was really good. Bahnan's on Pleasant is great. I buy my Syrian bread here, Dodoni Feta cheese and good olives BUT I notice their stock is low and the last 3 visits they were out of Dodoni Feta. Curious..I find the Sole Prop. mediocre at best. Corner Pizza is fab. One Love I wanted to love but could not...and the food was cooked to order so if you have tables ahead of you forget it..On the funny site saw we saw a working girl making a transaction as we tried to leave the parking lot. Fortunately she worked fast so we could pass. I too want to hear of a wonderful spot..Is the Greek Festival alive and well? Mom goes to the Armenian festivals all the time. Great eats.

              Corner Pizza
              483 Farmington Ave, Bristol, CT 06010

              1. re: phelana
                AntonEgo RE: phelana Apr 27, 2010 01:59 PM

                Hey guys thanks for all your reccomendations a lot of places Ive been to, and a few I havent. I am going to have explore the more ethnic eateries saigon, one love, etc.
                I want to love Baba. I usually get similiar things when I go, I like the salad sampler which is really a trio of tasty lobster, crab, and tuna tartare. I love babas oysters, I think they are some of my favorites. If you have been to Yama Sakura in northborough you will know babas is not the only game in town. Regardless high end sushi should have better than cheap chopsticks and food colored horseradish i mean wasabi. Babas is an intimate environment and is still my fav in worcester, but I cant help but be honest they are not nearly as good as they were. Maybe Wilson should spend more time in the kitchen, the commis could not serve the food to his standard on their own.
                There is new fry shack in town, or at least new to me, Fish Shack & Egg Roll Lady. I must say this place does the basics pretty good. Awesome eggrolls and really good fish avoid the beer batter though.

                I have been to Armsby Abbey and totally agree about the service. I have worked as a chef in fine dining restaurants where certain items need to be made a certain way, or they dont make sense or taste food or right. However, subsitute courses will always be made in a true fine dining restaurant. A customer should ALWAYS be treated with respect, no matter how good your food is, that is part of dining out. It is called the hospitality industry for a reason. The food is actually not well cooked here, but the ingredients are good. good ingredients+poor technique=travesty. The menu is also very sad for a belgian restaurant. Why is there jerk chicken on menu, oh wait it's not a belgian restaurant, its a hipster one. I also dislike the idea of a thousand cheese boards just have a cart and let people select what they want or just have a menu of cheeses, olives, jams, etc. They way it is being done crowds the menu and none of the selection go brilliantly together. All that complaining aside, the beer menu is the best in worcester.
                Went to Nicks the other night, less impressive beer menu but good for the wu none the less. Did not try the food but it was german themed, but not authentic, spaetzle mac and cheese. There was also a bacon infused cocktail i sampled that tasted absolutely nothing like bacon and the bartender admitted it and was embarressed as it was the owner idea and recipe and he had to serve it. The bartender was fun and knowlegable and made the whole experience pleasant. Again the importance of good service.
                Phelana, what is the difference between dodoni feta and regular I guess I could google but what the hell. I will have to check out that market.

                Well cheers for now, eat well. Im going to start posting wu food pics on this post. I'll start with this fish sandwich from fish shack eggroll lady!

                Armsby Abbey
                144 Main Street, Worcester, MA

                The Fish Shack
                609 W Boylston St, Worcester, MA 01606

                1. re: AntonEgo
                  Science Chick RE: AntonEgo Apr 27, 2010 02:29 PM

                  Wow, that looks like a righteous fish.....how was it? What else to they have there? Take out only, or seating?

                  1. re: Science Chick
                    AntonEgo RE: Science Chick Apr 27, 2010 03:37 PM

                    It is really a takeout place but they have a few tables maybe 4, 4 tops. Really tiny. As it is fried food I would absolutely try and eat it there. The place is run by a vietnamese woman and her two daughters. The food comes out extremely hot and crunchy. The menu is comprised of mainly if only fried items. New England seafood items and some vietnamese/chinese american items. The eggrolls are made with a spring roll wrapper. They are the closest I have had to the home made ones my vietnamese friend's mother makes. The one thing is the hourse are quite elusive! Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

                    1. re: AntonEgo
                      oystertripe RE: AntonEgo Apr 28, 2010 06:32 AM

                      Pearl just locked their doors.

                      1. re: oystertripe
                        AntonEgo RE: oystertripe Apr 29, 2010 09:28 AM

                        That is too bad.

                        1. re: AntonEgo
                          Joanie RE: AntonEgo Apr 29, 2010 11:50 AM

                          Do you guys mean 55 Pearl I assume? The bartender there was really nice, that's too bad.

                          55 Pearl
                          55 Pearl Street, Worcester, MA 01608

                          1. re: Joanie
                            AntonEgo RE: Joanie Apr 29, 2010 01:30 PM

                            That is too bad, such a quick stint. Went to the Fish Shack & Eggroll Lady today more pics for those interested. Had scallops that were perfectly crisp, sweet, and very tender. Had clam fritters that were amazing little bits of red and green chilis in them, very subtle. Must be made with cake flour, dryer more crumbly texture then most, big chunks of whole belly clams as well. She served with a little clam chowder because she said that is how she likes them. I would like to see a thinner sauce maybe fish sauce, mirin, yuzu, chili, garlic, and ginger. Somthing thinner. Regardless they were yummmmy. More eggrolls they are great, I noticed she uses vermicelli in them to absorb some of the fat and liquids as they cook, this keeps the outside crisper. GO THERE NOW. Heres the pics as promised.

                            The Fish Shack
                            609 W Boylston St, Worcester, MA 01606

                        2. re: oystertripe
                          jmacd RE: oystertripe Apr 29, 2010 07:38 PM

                          the public word is that it's reopening this week (or has already reopened, not 100% sure) after some renovations, although changing hands very soon. is the real word something different?

                          1. re: jmacd
                            Joanie RE: jmacd Apr 30, 2010 04:30 AM

                            No one answered me, are we talking about 55 Pearl?

                            55 Pearl
                            55 Pearl Street, Worcester, MA 01608

                            1. re: Joanie
                              phelana RE: Joanie May 1, 2010 10:21 AM

                              I called Mom in central MA and suggested she drive over to the shack. She liked it well...not in love and would not run back but the owner was delightful. They even went next door to procure her a beer. She said parking was a bit tough. Mom is a 87 year young major foodie...

                              1. re: phelana
                                AntonEgo RE: phelana May 1, 2010 02:52 PM

                                Glad she likes it sorry she didnt love it. Again its fried food. I think they do it very well, curious what she had. If any of you havent been to idlewild farm in acton, go there they have the best ingredients around bit of a drive but totally worth it.

                                1. re: AntonEgo
                                  phelana RE: AntonEgo May 1, 2010 03:14 PM

                                  she had an egg roll and fish and chips..again she loved the owner..they treated her like gold..

              2. c
                cbui19 RE: AntonEgo Nov 12, 2010 08:04 AM

                Hello Jon,

                I was wondering if we could email each other about the Eggroll Lady's facebook? I've been working on her website and did not want to duplicate the facebook and would like to have access towards it. Thank you!


                1. Science Chick RE: AntonEgo Nov 12, 2010 06:34 PM

                  We had a very good experience at The People's Kitchen a couple of weeks ago. Nice locally sourced ingredients, very cool atmosphere, delicious preparation. A roasted cauliflower soup left me swooning! Part of the Bocado/Mezcal group. It is upstairs, with the citizen wine and chocolate bar downstairs.


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Science Chick
                    JPchowhound RE: Science Chick Nov 13, 2010 07:11 AM

                    We had a really nice dinner just last night at People's Kitchen, in fact. The prices are incredibly reasonable -- $14 to $28 for entrees -- and the food was tasty and well prepared. With cocktails and two of their more expensive bottles of wine, 5 of us had dinner for $375, which included a hefty tip.

                    We tried the charcuterie and cheese plate, beet salad, caesar salad, fried chicken, filet mignon, sirloin steak, bison steak, and shrimp and sweet potato casserole. Of all of those dishes, only the casserole disappointed. The menu didn't tell us that the shrimp were baby shrimp -- they were tiny and bland, and the dish really just didn't work.

                    Our waiter, Carlos, had a lot of personality and really seemed to enjoy the restaurant's philosophy of fresh and local food. The menu apparently changes daily, based on the ingredients the chef has been able to source.

                    Cocktails from the Citizen downstairs are imaginative and tasty. You have to love the giant ice cubes that appear in some of their drinks, including the Prohibition Punch.

                    All in all, we would definitely return.

                    1. re: JPchowhound
                      Science Chick RE: JPchowhound Nov 15, 2010 06:50 AM

                      Good to hear that you had a nice experience too. I hope folks will come out and support this place. I forgot to mention the reasonable prices.....a big plus! Thanks for reminding me!

                      1. re: Science Chick
                        Rick_V RE: Science Chick Nov 17, 2010 09:19 AM

                        Prompted by recent posts, we hit The People's Kitchen last night. Very impressive place. They just started a Sun-Thurs 3-course $20 prix fixe menu that's an outrageous deal -- choice of about 6 apps/salads, 6 mostly comfort-ish entrees, and 3 desserts. Crazy good for the price.

                        I had a braised lamb shank (not on the prix fixe menu, but a good deal at $16) with nice mashed potatoes, a huge pile of nicely blistered green beans, and a chipotle sauce. Started with an interesting salad and some nice calamari with Cuban mojo/lime flavors. The other entree (off the prix fixe) was a tasty casserole of shrimp, sweet potato, and chorizo.

                        Very nice wines, very nicely priced by glass and bottle. Great beer selection and of course good cocktails from down below. Our waiter was very attentive and appealing in a trying-way-too-hard sort of way.

                        The downside is that the place still harbors some residual smoke aroma from a previous incarnation. My dining companion couldn't detect it, but I could. Not bad enough to ruin the evening, but it's there.

                        We'll be back, though. It's a great concept, well executed.

                        1. re: Rick_V
                          Science Chick RE: Rick_V Nov 18, 2010 12:50 PM

                          I also smelled the smoke when they first sat us, and asked to be moved. Other rooms don't suffer from it. It is from the downstairs cigar bar, so that won't be dissipating any time soon. Since they are comprised of several interesting rooms anyway, it should be easy enough to avoid it.

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