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May 26, 2010 12:28 PM

Exchange Street Bistro in Malden now has the chef from Zon's...anyone been?

The menu at Exchange St Bistro looks revamped. As I understand it, the new chef was pretty respected for his work at Zon's, in JP. I'm tempted to give the previously lackluster ESB another try! Anyone been recently?

Exchange Street Bistro
67 Exchange Street, Malden, MA 02148

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  1. Actually, yes: I was there last week, though we mostly went for drinks so we only ordered apps to nibble on. We really liked the brisket tacos - pretty simple, just well-cooked, tender tasty shredded brisket, some cheese, in a corn tortilla. I think the components were assembled and warmed up in a frypan or on a flat grilling thing, the corn tortilla was a little crisp as was the bit of cheese that spilled over. Very tasty and a large portion - three stuffed tortillas - for about 8 bucks.

    Also had the antipasto which came with a few different types of meats (I am not a salami expert; there was something that looked like salami and something that was like a very spicy ham), a couple of little mozzarella balls (forget the name for hte golf-ball-sized ones) drizzled with a little balsamic vinegar, artichoke hearts, Kalamata olives, and a few other things that I'm forgetting. Oh wait, I remember that there was some tuna (though I think it was water-packed, I don't remmebr any oil). It was billed as "for two" and there was indeed (at least) two of everything on the plate, as well and some mesclun. I think it was very nice and was good as a shared app, for 14 bucks.

    We also ordered the arugula salad, not realizing that there would be so much salad on the antipasto. This was my least favorite. The arugula was fine (it was the deeply serrated-leaves type, I grow something like it in my garden - the wild Sylvetta arugula). The menu listed it as arugula with roasted squash and a few other things...I forgot about the roasted squash until DC pointed out that is was 2 rings of acorn squash, hidden beneath the mountain of arugula. So I would probably not order that again. (Forget the price on the arugula salad - myabe 7-8 dollars?)

    Interesting that there is a new chef at ESB. We went there in the first few weeks after they opened and loved it. Many visits since have been hit or miss, so I stopped going for dinner and stuck to drinks and apps. (We kept going back b/c it's a comfortable room within walking distance. And hubby dearest loves martinins). On this last visit, the brisket tacos got me thinking that it was time to give the entrees another try...also thought that the prices on the menu overall were pretty reasonable (except for the ~10 martinis, but that's my weakness). So maybe it IS the new chef.

    Edit: just looked at the menu online - the brisket tacos were only $7. We didn't get the toasted rosemary foccacia that's listed with the antipasto. And I'm forgetting something...arrrgh.

    1. I was there last Friday night. The menu seemed very wintry (lots of heavy dishes) but the food was much better than it had been the last time I went, a year or so ago. I got the Statler Chicken Breast, which came with pumpkin gnocchi and mixed steamed veggies. The gnocchi and chicken were quite good, but the veggies were so bland and tasteless that I couldn't bear to eat them.

      1. Do you know when the new chef started?

        I went in early March - just had drinks and appetizers. I remember most being ehh, but one thing was really good - I think the brisket taco?

        1. So, we went on Friday and had a mixed experience. I saw at least one dish that was there before the new chef, leading me to believe the menu is a mix of new and old.

          Caesar salad was really underwhelming. It was supposed to have fresh anchovies. It contained a grand total of one.

          However, things brightened up considerably after that. The white pizza with arugula and sundried tomatoes was quite tasty. We also ordered duck, which had buckwheat soba noodles and a cucumber salad. There were some interesting flavors going on there and the duck was competently cooked (something that is not a given, even at much pricier places...looking at you, Scampo). My one complaint would be that the sauces in that dish weren't assertive enough to stand up to the duck. But we still enjoyed the dish.

          Service was iffy in the bar area, even though it was far from full. Pleasant enough, just not quite on the ball with wine, etc.

          All in all, on the occasional Friday when I am dead tired and don't want to venture into Cambridge, I would possibly head back. However, I'll generally pass and head to a serious food restaurant (probably not in Malden) if I have the energy. Habesha and Fu Loon are still the best bets in town.

          1. I work in Malden, and I used to really enjoy a meal at Zon's.

            Went there Friday night, got the burger and fries, my "I'm hesitant to order anything else" meal of choice. The burger was quite large, cooked properly but everything else was mediocre. Fries were pre-frozen, the cheese sauce that was included was bad and unnecessary, the caramelized onions (more of an onion confit) that were included were good but overpowered the burger so i had to scrape them off. The rolls that they threw in were pre-frozen as well and were served with some sort of "butter-spread".

            That being said, it looks like they have a fantastic happy hour from 4-7 with super cheap food and drinks, the people were nice and the prices for food were fair to slightly pricey.

            They need to shrink their menu and improve quality, then I will be back.

            1 Reply
            1. re: fishmanator

              I saw an ad in the Observer that the brisket taco was on the $1 "tapas" menu during happy hour. I assume that the dollar price buys you one taco, definately a good deal, unless they somehow make it into a Tiny Taco.