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What Is the Least Romantic Restaurant in the Boston Area?

I figure this might be a fun topic today. :-)

As I said on Twitter a short time ago, my vote might go to Frank's in Brockton (dingy hot dog and burger place frequented by people from the strip joint next door--good hot dogs, though). Or Cheddar's in Cambridge (unless you consider it romantic to get yelled at for not ordering your meatball sub quickly enough).

This is firmly tongue-in-cheek, by the way...

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  1. It's too bad the Cantab quit serving food, otherwise I'd have my answer

    1 Reply
    1. re: jgg13

      My wife didn't find the bar at Lewis' in Norwood very romantic when we had lunch there recently.

    2. hey, how about mickey d's or the other fast food establishments which i am proud to take a woman to.

      1. Hi-Fi pizza in Cambridge ;) unless both parties are sauced.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Prav

          I thought that first, until I realized that Hi-Fi has a sort of, um, interesting relationship with romance, as in it may well be the tipsy food stop between the rock show, the after party, and going home with someone who may or may not be the world's greatest idea.

          1. re: Prav

            Hmmm...may have been one of my husband's and my first "dates". If you can call getting drunk at a show then gobbling pizza before hooking up a date. All's well that ends well. I like the Sportello suggestion. Nothing more romantic than sitting next to your date at a counter.

            1. If we're allowed to cite things from the distant past, Buddy's Sirloin Pit/Cardells in Harvard Square would be my vote. Cafeteria style with a soft spot for hiring special needs folks for busing. Shared tables where nobody talked to anyone except themselves. It made Charlie's Kitchen seem ritzy. I loved it and miss it still. Happy Valentine's Day.

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              Charlie's Kitchen
              10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

              12 Replies
              1. re: gourmaniac

                I forget to mention the Old Country Buffet in Watertown. Where else but the OCB would you see people putting full-sized dinner plates under a soft-serve ice cream machine?

                1. re: hiddenboston

                  Great image. I was on an errand at the Watertown Mall and popped my head into OCB just to see. OMG, it is everything that is wrong with food in America all in one convenient location!

                  1. re: gourmaniac

                    "it is everything that is wrong with food in America all in one convenient location!"

                    And what a location it is. Perfect for this thread. A low-ceilinged, windowless space, with some of the most unpleasant lighting ever.

                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                      It's amazing how many Hounds know what it is like in there...

                      1. re: PinchOfSalt

                        Unlike gourmaniac who went there but didn't inhale, I proudly admit that I went there and indulged (if that's the right verb). It didn't occur to me, though, to get a dinnerplateful of softserve.

                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                          Hey there was a time in my life many moons ago when I actually looked forward to the OCB, yuck. I'm sad to report that I also did not think to put softserve on a dinner plate

                          1. re: jgg13

                            My late grandfather can go one better. He took the bucket that the spoons were in and filled it with soft serve at a Chinese buffet once. Granted he had cataracts, but still....

                            1. re: Parsnipity

                              That must have cost him quite a bit, unless it wasn't one of those places where they weigh you on the way in and on the way out. (OK, OK, they only weigh the food.) The beauty of OCB is that it's a flat fee (or was, the one time I ate there a decade ago).

                              1. re: FoodDabbler

                                I've only ever seen the per-weight chinese once ever. It actually kinda peeved me that they called it a "buffet" as to me that implies all you can eat at a flat rate.

                        2. re: PinchOfSalt

                          I had to go - my in-laws took the family there :-)

                        3. re: FoodDabbler

                          Nothing more romantic than the sight I saw last time I was at OCB in Watertown a few years ago. Allow me to paint the the beautiful picture. As I walked towards the buffet for my second (or third) helping, I witness a very large, rotund gentlemen eating the pinnacle of Boston area cuisine, by his lonesome. As he seemed like a connoisseur of haute cuisine, I would have guessed he would have a wide variety of OCB's best offerings on his plate, but instead he had but just one dish. It was a large mountain of mashed potatoes and the plate was surrounded by about 30 pats of butter. Of course, that meal was not complete as is, it was covered in .... Nacho cheese. What a culinary delight!

                          1. re: tysonmcneely

                            I think that might have been me - and it actually was a somewhat romantic experience. I was trying to create a representation of the feminine ideal using my favorite media, powdered, reconstituted mashed potatoes and nacho cheese. The butter was a limpid partially reflecting pool. I call the experience, including gorging on my creation, "The Agony and the Ecstasy and the Agony."

                    1. re: phatchris

                      We ate in this lobster place, forget the name - lost in the fog of time, but the waitrons
                      yelled at us. I guess it was part of the ambiance. Then again, we were there to eat lobsters,
                      not romance.

                      1. re: phatchris

                        Mike's is way too clean for this honor. why not any 99 or DD? oh, sorry, they are clean, too, sometimes.

                      2. The Super 88 (Hong Kong) food court in Allston's pretty low on romance . . . . yet we're there all the time!

                        GG
                        http://www.semisweetonline.com

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: gansu girl

                          Depends on who you go there with. I've had plenty of sweetly intimate dinners there with my beloved.

                          However, the obvious winner is Mitti's (formerly Rednecks) at Brighton and Harvard. Hard to be romantic when there's a BU undergrad booting under the table two booths away.

                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                            The Baseball Tavern at Fenway, in addition to horrid food, frequently boasts people puking off the roof deck. Not romantic.

                            -----
                            Baseball Tavern
                            1270 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02215

                        2. At risk of being pelted with rotten fruit (& 2 veg), grammatical correctness be damned, I think it depends who you're with.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Niblet

                            Ha, love this topic for today! I have to say it's hard to feel romantic while watching your beloved load up his tray with The Fat Boy at Jim's Deli on Washington St. surrounded by hungover college students. I always got a wink and an extra pickle from Jim though, so maybe there is some romance to be found!

                            -----
                            Jim's Deli & Restaurant
                            371 Washington St, Brighton, MA 02135

                            1. re: Niblet

                              I'll second that. Santarpio's has worked its romantic charms on a couple of occasions.

                              Plus, there is nothing more unromantic than bad food, wherever you go.

                            2. Great question! I'd have to rule out national fast food and casual dining chains as too obvious. It should be local, independently owned. The Liberty Diner immediately sprang to mind, but I just found out that it has closed. I drive by it at least once a week, never noticed. In the South End, I might nominate Yum Mee, the incredibly grim American-Chinese takeout on Tremont.

                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                              -----
                              Liberty Diner
                              1003 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                              1. Demo's in Watertown. Dull lighting (as opposed to dim), counter service, and hard Formica. Food's good, though.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: newhound

                                  If the food's good it doesn't count. Romance is kindled in the gut.

                                2. hehehe...for a few years, the hubs and I tried to find unromantic places to go for Vday. We mostly went to fast food joints - McDonalds in Coolidge Corner, Burger King at Government Center. The absolutely least romantic, though, was...the food court at the Longwood Galleria. Bad lighting, bad acoustics, bad food. Perfect

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: gimlis1mum

                                    I've eaten there too. I insist that Old Country Buffet bottoms it.

                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                      But were you at the Galleria for lunch, or for dinner? The presence of people greatly cheers up the space...at dinnertime it is (or was, anyway) pretty desolate...just us and some med students from the dorm who never learned how to cook.

                                      :-)

                                      1. re: gimlis1mum

                                        You're right. I've only lunched there. I can imagine that dinner *would* be desolate. OCB has human presence going for it -- large human presence.

                                        1. re: gimlis1mum

                                          I gotta agree with Food Dabbler on this one. Longwood Galleria means you're working too hard. ( I recall Sami's falafel trolley on Christmas eve in a former life). OCB means you've just given up...love... career... life...everything. There should be a sign on the door "Abandon all hope, ye who enter".

                                      2. re: gimlis1mum

                                        I remember there was one thing I actually kinda liked at one of the previous chinese spots in the galleria, I'd get it about once a week or two. I preferred the truck (and samis, but that's different) to anything in the galleria but I also preferred the 5 foot outdoor trek to the longer walk during cold &/| inclement weather.

                                        But yeah, that space sucks.

                                        BTW, I noticed the current chinese spot in there is on foodler and delivers to me in cambridge. Why I'd want delivery from a food court chinese spot, I don't know but it makes me laugh.

                                        1. The atmosphere at Belle Isle wasn't too romantic this evening, however the monster lobster rolls were just what cupid ordered.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Gabatta

                                            Forgive me for asking, but if cupid's lobster roll hit its mark tonight, why are you here?

                                            (My excuse is that I took advantage of the WorldWide Bus VDay special -- no, that does not mean joining the 5-foot-high club -- and caught their free wifi endowed bus to NYC.)

                                          2. Victor's deli in Ball Square gets my vote.

                                            -----
                                            Ball Square Cafe
                                            708 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

                                            1. If anyone's ever been to Medina Market, the Pakistani joint on Brighton Ave, you'll know how appropriate it is for this thread... Nab, care to vouch for me?

                                              Eat some haleem with your walentine.

                                              -----
                                              Medina Market
                                              72 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Prav

                                                I may have to change my vote to that one, actually. Every time I walk past that place, it just seems awash in waves of despair.

                                              2. The now-closed location of snappy sushi on newbury. The whole place smelled like chlorine and you get bumped in the back everytime a customer or server walks by.

                                                1. The correct answer is the Squire in Revere. ;)

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: mats77

                                                    I've actually seen couples on dates at The Squires. Oh wait, I mean, I've never been to The Squires, but heard that couples go there on dates. ;-)

                                                    1. The Busy Bee
                                                      Charlie's Kitchen
                                                      Sonny's Pub
                                                      Orchard Park Grill
                                                      Redbones
                                                      The Pour House

                                                      Blasts from the past ...

                                                      El Phoenix
                                                      Flash's Snack 'n Soda

                                                      -----
                                                      Redbones
                                                      55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                                      Charlie's Kitchen
                                                      10 Eliot St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                      Pour House
                                                      907 Boylston St Ste 21, Boston, MA 02115

                                                      Busy Bee Restaurant
                                                      1046 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                                      Orchard Park Grill
                                                      208 Waverley Ave, Watertown, MA 02472

                                                      5 Replies
                                                        1. re: edgewater

                                                          I take exception to that - Santarpio's can work magic on the right kind of woman.

                                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                            I agree, Bob. Fewer things are more romantic than staring into your lover's eyes while the waiter at the next table says to another couple, "Pasta? Pasta?! We don't have no f**king pasta!"

                                                            1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                                              Also, Santarpio's did the wine-on-tap thing way ahead of The Russell House Tavern. But to the general point, I like to think that romance is mostly found in the food, not the ambiance. It was kind of what my whole Phoenix bit last week was about.

                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                              -----
                                                              Russell House Tavern
                                                              14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                          2. re: C. Hamster

                                                            Slabs of pork and craft beers=romance under my roof!

                                                          3. Gotta be Giuseppe's Sandwich in Nonatum. (wing man required) Although even fear is part of romance.
                                                            Most romantic blast from the past would be the old Dante's hidden away on Joy Street. Roaring fire. Complinetary wine. (dating myself much)

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: EATTV

                                                              Is this the place that looks like it's from the 60s and has subs for about 3 bucks? If so, i love this place and any woman who did too would own my heart.

                                                              1. re: gourmaniac

                                                                My wife, 110 soaking wet, read an interview with Newtonian Matt LeBlanc and marched in there for a meatball sub. A homeless guy was gumming down some American Chop Suey and the counter guy disappeared in back and produced a grinder you can really get behind. Very good meatballs. Reminds me of the erstwhile Tim's Tavern burger. It was where the beef was but I never could put my finger on just what made it so wickedly awesome. Ever seen Sweeny Todd?

                                                                1. re: EATTV

                                                                  Yes. I love their meatball sub. That and the sausage and pepper. Both lend themselves to Toddian preparation.

                                                            2. My vote would be Minado in Natick or any other buffet-type restaurant where you see a disproportionate number of grossly overweight people loading up their plates on grossly overpriced mediocre food. Nothing against larger people, but greed really grosses me out and pretty much removes all my appetites.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Isolda

                                                                Don't ever go to Wright's Farm. =-O

                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                  Honestly, i couldn't disagree with your description of Minado more. I agree that any buffet-style restaurant will be very unromantic due to high levels of noise, cafeteria atmosphere, the need to repeatedly get up from the table and break conversation to serve yourself your different courses, etc. However, calling the quality of the food, the prices, and the patrons "gross" seems quite the overstep. In terms of price v. quality, the meal is $30 which would be the equivalent of $10 app, $15 entree, $5 dessert. While their dishes are not Best in Boston variety, they are made competently and certainly on par for what I would expect to get for a $10 app, $15 entree, and $5 dessert at any Japanese restaurant. This does not take into account the benefit of variety and selection...if I want to try a tiny bit of this or that and not commit to 1 or 2 dishes, I get to and again for the same prices I would expect elsewhere for the same without that added perk. Could I spend 5X the price at Oishii or O-Ya and have an amazing meal? Sure. Does that mean Minado is a poor restaurant or value? No. It means they are offering middle ground, competent quality Japanese food in a suburban setting for a fair price for the variety, freshness, and pricier nature of the ingredients they utilize. If you are going to a $30 sushi buffet and expecting a $50 meal experience, that is your failing, not the restaurant.

                                                                  As to the overweight customers being the majority offenders in terms of food quantity and greed, clearly you have not been their often or your eyes were drawn to the heavier set patrons because you find them so gross. I have been there several times and have seen many a patron of all shapes and sizes burning their way through more than their fair share....young thin men / teens actually being the majority offenders I've noticed.

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Minado Restaurant
                                                                  1282 Worcester St, Natick, MA 01760

                                                                  1. re: InmanSQ Girl

                                                                    To Isolda's credit, I've had a variety of experiences at Minado; on some nights (even busy ones) I've seen a mix of Anglo and Asian diners, fat and thin, happily trying all kinds of things, helping each other out ("try that, it's great!") and patiently waiting in line. Other nights there's an influx of gigantic people shoving people out of the way to load up their plate with crab legs, filling whole plates with dozens of pieces of sushi, and being horribly rude. And I've unfortunately had enough of the latter experience that going back isn't a big priority for me.

                                                                2. Any fast food located in a Wal-mart.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: trufflehound

                                                                    ouch! even worse than fast food at Target, or outside Home Depot!!!

                                                                      1. re: gansu girl

                                                                        This is the winner. Sharing a Chicken Bake and a churro at the Costco food court would be the least romantic restaurant I can think of... but I guess it depends who you're with and why you're there!

                                                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                          Nothing better, especially if "Wholesale Love" by Buddy Miles is playing in the background.

                                                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                                                              I have another nominee - lunch in the old tap room at Locke-Ober.

                                                                          1. re: Madrid

                                                                            Hmm its definitely not romantic, but the Somerville Home Depot has had a decent food truck (good sausages, ok dogs, not as good steak/cheese) since long before those were popular and you can fall out of the Chelsea one into the Old Brown Jug (Everett you can get an ok chicken fried steak at Texas Roadhouse). And in general I would eat at some teamsters routes (not all of them but there are some decent ones out there) over some of the food trucks which get mentioned here. Heck even lacking in ambiance: buy new kitchen cabinets or a closet organizer, then get a good sausage and onions, sounds like a pretty decent valentines for someone out there. :-)
                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4499...

                                                                        2. Least romantic but chowish for me would to get takeout in Revere (Thmor Da, Bianchi's, Lupita, Kelly's) and take-in to a crappy bar. Woud still be a date to hang on and give some lessons, now the one that takes you to the Joshua Tree........

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Joshua Tree
                                                                          1314 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: itaunas

                                                                            My S.O. and I sat out at Revere Beach awhile back (when there was no snow on the ground) and shared a Bianchi's pizza, using my open hatchback as a makeshift table. She and I agreed that it was oddly romantic. (Until the seagulls started yelling down "Hey, can ya spare a slice of 'roni?")

                                                                          2. I asked for a romantic dining option for two weeks back and many said Erbaluce. We went and I must say, it was the most unromantic spot ..the pretty gaslights outside were nice..the rest, not romantic in the slightest...cold stark and loud....

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Erbaluce
                                                                            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: phelana

                                                                              The bar atmosphere is a bit nicer, but that dining room is seriously lacking.

                                                                              1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                Thanks for your feedback on Erbaluce, Gabatta...the referrals here seriously confused me ..and it was such a special night so when it was such a disappointment I felt bad....awell, we had fun...

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Erbaluce
                                                                                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                                1. re: phelana

                                                                                  Yeah, I was very disappointed by the dining room there. We felt like we were eating in someone's finished basement. It's the company the matters in the end. Glad you had fun.

                                                                                  Try Bondir. Similar cuisine and a very cozy room (at least in the winter with the fireplace). Unfortunately it has been a bit more crowded lately after some of the recent reviews (TV Dinner; Globe). The food is excellent, but I'd go elsewhere for dessert.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Bondir
                                                                                  279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                            2. The Friendly's at the Dedham Plaza.

                                                                              There are no great Friendly's, IMO, but that one is seriously depressing. maybe because it's right next to a Liquor store and people hang around outside and scratch their lottery tickets.

                                                                              1. Buzzy's ( what? are you telling me Buzzy's is gone?)