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Roast Beast (Allston)

Just stopped in this afternoon, a week or two after the place finally opened, and I'm pleased to report this is the real deal for roast beef sandwiches.

The beef is sliced just thick enough to provide a bit of chew, and tastes properly beefy. (It's arguably a touch underseasoned: I might should have taken him up on his offer of a little salt and pepper.) It's not fatty, rubbery or processed-tasting.

I went with the option of a toasted onion roll (white and wheat rolls also available) and the house sauce, a sweet-hot barbecue sauce that's got a surprising thickness and depth of flavor. They would do well to sell it by the pint during grilling season.

Sides are minimal: bags of Utz chips and soft drinks. The owner, D.J., said they were bringing in a fryolator in a couple weeks and reacted positively to my suggestion of tater tots as one of the deep-fried options. D.J., incidentally, is a South Shore guy who says he basically opened the restaurant because he was tired of having to drive all the way to Brockton for a decent sandwich.

This is the kind of place Chowhound was made for: it's a tiny place in a slightly awkward spot that's delivering considerably better food than I expected it to, and at popular prices: large sandwich (and it is!), bag of chips, side of homestyle sweet-hot pickles for $8.50. I was only hoping it would be better than the rather disappointing and sterile Kelly's up the road, but in fact, it was as good a roast beef sandwich as I have had inside the city limits of Boston. I'd love to see these guys succeed, and if word gets out and they can keep up the quality when it does, this could turn into a neighborhood institution.

It's located on the corner of Comm Ave and Naples Road, across the street (and the streetcar tracks) from the Packards Corner Star Market. Open until 7 p.m. Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday. Later hours coming, supposedly.

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  1. I'm off work on Monday, think I'll go get me a roast beef sandwich for lunch!

    1. Have you tried Skampa near Lechmere? If so how does it compare?

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      Skampa
      424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

      3 Replies
        1. re: 5thAndNowhere

          Sorry, I'm almost never in that neighborhood. Never been.

        2. re: phatchris

          I'd be happy with a sandwich from either place depending on which was closer. Skampa and Roast Beast are the only two places in the immediate metro area which I think are worthwhile for RB. You can get out of each with a large, chops and drink for less than $10. Skampa also comes with fries.

          I think Skampa's sandwich is a bit more traditional in terms of Boston area RB 3 ways.

          The beef is comparable at both places. RB's may be a bit leaner and Skampa's a but juicier.

          I like the traditional James River type sauce at Skampa. The beast sauce at RB is good, and in time they may likely evolve into an overall better product with the combos of sauces, etc. that they are playing around with.

          The rolls are essentially the same IMO. Standard onion rolls which stand up with the sandwich. Nothing spectacular, nothing terrible.

          As pointed out, the owner of Roast Beast is a great guy who is willing to listen to customers and really wants to put out a quality product at a fair price. I sincerely hope he does well, and I think he will as there aren't a lot of good BU sandwich options. He also said they were going to start slicing turkey and some other meats to expand offerings a bit. There is ample meter parking right in front of RB, so don't hesitate to swing by. A Clear Flour cookie for dessert makes for a great calorie laden lunch.

        3. House sauce? Not James River?

          How does it compare to Billy's or Nick's? Or even Bill and Bob's? The lack of a deep fryer for the open implies to me that it's not a traditional roast beef place. Is that a fair assessment?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Fly

            It was explained to me that they didn't have a deep fryer at the open because they need a special self-contained unit that didn't require venting, and so it's on backorder.

            It's definitely a traditional Massachusetts-style roast beef sandwich -- the only difference I noticed was that you get a choice of sauces from the traditional (horseradish, bbq, etc.) to the less-so. I cannot claim to be an expert on every roast beef sandwich available on either shore and inside 128, so I'll stick with this comparison: better than Kelly's to the same degree that Regina is better than Pizza Hut.

            1. re: Fly

              Just curious. I'm not a Boston native and can't remember the last time I had 1 of these style RB sandwiches. It was probably at the place by the MGH.

              Roast Beast sounds great and I plan to try it soon. I'm on bike or T. Is this worth combining with a trip to the new Japanese fish shop? My Allston geography is weak..:)

              BTW, does anyone know why what seems to be a traditional Boston sandwich seems to use a bbq sauce that's named after a river in VA?

              -----
              Roast Beast
              1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

              1. re: 9lives

                Roast Beast is at Packards Corner T stop. Sakanaya is on the corner of Brighton Ave and Linden, which is three short blocks away. Five minutes walk, top.

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                Sakanaya
                75 Linden St, Boston, MA 02134

                Roast Beast
                1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                  Thx, that what it looked like on googlemap.

            2. Thanks for the review - I was wondering about that place. I just recently noticed the sign indicating they'd taken over the dope paraphernalia shop that was there the past couple of years.

              2 Replies
              1. re: BobB

                I was in Roast Beast again the other day. The sandwich was excellent, though a bit removed from a traditional RB.

                However something else struck me while I was there in a deja vu kind of way. By the time I finished my sandwich I was quite certain that the owner was also the owner of said head shop which Bob is referring to. There were other customers so I didn't mention anything or ask why the change of business plan at the time. Perhaps he had some imperial entanglements and decided for a safer product. Now just don't ask me why I had occasion to be in there in its old incarnation...

                1. re: Gabatta

                  You are correct. The city closed down his previous business, scoffing at the argument that the wares being proffered were "functional art," and he decided to target the munchies instead.

              2. Just got back home from lunch , and I think everyone should run, not walk to try Roast Beast for themselves. I had the large on a toasted wheat roll with pepperjack cheese and "Beast" sauce (the house sauce). The guy preparing the sandwiches gave me some of the delicious sweet-hot pickles, some extra beast sauce, and a side of hot pepper relish. The relish gave the sandwich a really nice bite. I did add some salt and pepper as well. The owner was cutting up brownie bits, and offered me a corner from the fudge brownies (super good) and after I mentioned seeing this thread on CH (she had seen the thread, and was pleased), she insisted I try one of the peanut butter brownie bites as well (also excellent). Glad to have this great place in the neighborhood. Certainly the best roast beef sandwich that I've had in Boston, served by super nice folks!

                11 Replies
                1. re: kimfair1

                  Were the brownies made with any of the equipment or wares of the previous tenant?

                  1. re: kimfair1

                    Have you had the Roast Beef from Cutty's in Brookline? If so, how does it compare?

                    1. re: Gordough

                      I have had the roast beef sandwich at Cutty's and I liked this one better. I liked the roast beef more, and a large is $7, and is actually large. I do love Cutty's, but I could eat two of their roast beef sandwiches. You'd have to roll me home if I had two at Roast Beast.

                      1. re: Gordough

                        The roast beef sandwich from Cutty's is -- you should pardon the expression -- a totally different beast. Cutty's roast beef is fantastic, but it's not a MA-shore roast beef sandwich. It's too apples and oranges to really make a comparison.

                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                          i've not had either sandwich and it sounds like you have had both. Would you plse describe how they are different and why you choose which one? thnx much.

                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            The roast beef sandwich at Cutty's is topped with fried shallots and Thousand Island dressing on a rather peculiar roll that's best described as a sort of crusty brioche.

                            The sandwich at Roast Beef is a traditional North Shore roast beef sandwich: rare roast beef piled high on a toasted soft roll (white, wheat or onion) with a choice of sauces, barbecue sauce and/or horseradish being the most traditional. (Unlike most shore-beef places, Roast Beast offers around a dozen different sauces, as well as a couple kinds of cheese.) It's a simpler, larger sandwich than the Cutty's one.

                            It's not really a matter of choosing one over the other, as they're both excellent sandwiches. Although frankly, the Texan in me usually orders the ham and pimiento cheese at Cutty's instead of the roast beef: it's damned hard to find pimiento cheese up here unless I make it myself.

                            -----
                            Roast Beast
                            1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                              The roll at cutty's is an iggy's black pepper brioche roll, same as you'll find on a number of burgers around town (canary square & regal beagle both use them I think, among others). It doesn't seem to inspire the same sort of disdain on their sandwich that the brioche-bunned burger has aquired.

                              I may just be selling high here, but I'm not sure I understand all the fuss about roast beast. It's a good sandwich, and I like the whole little guy/new effort thing, but I didn't find it particularly exceptional. I felt it under seasoned for one - maybe it's heretical, but a quick dip in a good salted beef broth would have done the meat wonders.

                              1. re: loper

                                I also thought it was a good sandwich, one I'd get if I were in the area but not so good that I'd travel for it. The roast beef was solid, but I can't say that I thought it was that much better than decent deli roast beef.

                                I haven't had Kelly's in years, so I'll have to try it again to see which I'd prefer. I do like to support an earnest small business that wants to get it right, though.

                                1. re: loper

                                  Coda uses it on their burger, too, and it doesn't offend me as much as most brioche burger buns.

                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                  We removed some replies that got into the details of pimiento sandwiches, hot mayo and tuna melts over to our General Topics board: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/777906

                        2. "D.J., incidentally, is a South Shore guy who says he basically opened the restaurant because he was tired of having to drive all the way to Brockton for a decent sandwich."

                          I want to know where in Brockton the owner is getting these great sandwiches!?!....

                          5 Replies
                            1. re: BobB

                              Do they have other sandwiches there as well?

                              1. re: lmuller

                                Just Roast Beef as far as I could tell.

                                1. re: lmuller

                                  Roast beef and roast beef only. I kinda hope it stays that way, actually: I like a place that's self-confident enough to do one thing and do it well.

                              2. re: cannedmilkandfruitypebbles

                                Georgios on the Brockton/Easton line would be my guess.
                                I want to see the cows that this roast beef comes from, and worship them.
                                Amazing old school roast beef on an onion roll for about $6.

                              3. I made it here on Friday afternoon while my car was in the shop down the street. My goodness, this is the real deal folks. Easily the best sandwich of its kind I have ever eaten. I must admit that I have not been to many of the legendary roast beef places (i.e. Nick's etc.) but I can't imagine a roast beef sandwich tasting any better. I went with the onion roll which was lightly grilled and added the beast sauce which was very good. I hope this place makes it because they offer an outstanding product at a very fair price. I am already thinking about when I can "find myself" in that area again and stop for another sandwich.

                                1. I went here over the weekend, like everyone says, very good Roast beef sandwiches, friendly service. A few things to add. The sole employee working seemed to have a hard time keeping up with the orders. I came with 2 other people and 2 random people came in behind us after. So 5 orders, and he couldn't keep the orders straight and it took a fair amount of time.

                                  Not that this sandwich needs it, but it is not served the traditional Boston/N/S Shore style where you can order it with everything and get lettuce, tomato, etc. It comes with your choice of bun (go with the onion), choice of sauce and a choice of cheese. You can also ask for pickles and hot pepper relish. That's it.

                                  I asked him if he made the roast beef, and he said he actually got it from somewhere on the South Shore. He does slice it there though. Regardless, the Roast beef is some of the best I've had anywhere.

                                  1. I think the reason most North Shore style roast beef places are just so-so is crappy, too-soft rolls of the Bad Bread Aisle of the Supermarket variety. (I need a snappier term for this: commercial bakery rolls? HFCS-laden rolls? Something.) It's one of Kelly's's relative strengths.

                                    So: are the rolls any damned good at Roast Beast?

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I'm a sucker for almost any onion roll, so I may not the best judge, but I definitely enjoyed the onion roll at Roast Beast. He butters (possibly oils) and then toasted them on a flattop grill. It did not seem too soft, HFCS laden, but I mean it's obviously a refined flour type of roll with sweetness added in.

                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                        It's hard to judge simply because I kind of accept the soft commercial bakery roll as part of the roast beef gestalt, and actually would probably find something like brioche or a crusty bulkie weird and off-putting in that context. But as tysonmcneely says, the onion roll (the only one I've had on my two visits) is pretty darn tasty.

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          >crappy, too-soft rolls of the Bad Bread Aisle of the Supermarket variety.

                                          Isn't this just the definition of a bulkie roll? ;-)

                                          <Missing the hard rolls that were standard for sandwiches when I lived in NY>

                                          1. re: LStaff

                                            I think a good bulkie had a decent crust and substantial crumb, and isn't detectably sweet. But just as we have Wonder Bread and Iggy's, there are mass-market versions that suck, and small-bakery versions that are better.

                                            Hard rolls have a slightly tougher crust, and are preferable, but I have not seen them much outside of NY, either.

                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                            1. re: LStaff

                                              Wow - I totally forgot about hard rolls - I used to get them at Grand Union in my hometown. Memories...

                                            2. re: MC Slim JB

                                              Beef on 'weck *pounds desk* beef on 'weck!!!

                                              1. re: Duster17

                                                Amen to that. A shame that kummelweck rolls don't travel well.

                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                1. re: Duster17

                                                  I love your post! I am having the hugest craving for beef on weck. I just read a Wikipedia page that gives a straight-faced history of beef on weck and almost licked my computer screen. I don't suppose you can even get the rolls anywhere around here?

                                                  1. re: resipsaloquitor

                                                    No bakery I know of in Greater Boston retails kummelweck rolls.

                                                    The local restaurants that serve beef on weck -- the two worthy versions I know of are at All-Star Sandwich Bar and Bleacher Bar -- are making their own. I suspect this is done by applying a cornstarch/kosher salt/caraway seed slurry and briefly baking it onto already-baked kaiser rolls.

                                                    They're both pretty respectable renditions, considering our distance from Buffalo.

                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              2. My son and I got sandwiches from here last night for dinner. It certainly is as earnest and eager to please as everyone says. Really nice guy (D.J. I assume) and quality product. When I said we read great reviews on chowhound, he seemed pleased and gave us free (very good) brownie bites.

                                                We both got large on onion rolls. We enjoyed the sandwiches, and agree that the ingredients are fresh and high quality. The house pickles were tasty and seemed to be jarred kosher dills that had been seasoned with garlic, hot peppers and sugar. The house sauce was tasty and complemented the meat well . It seemed to be based on barbecue sauce with a definite liquid smoke flavor (sort of KC Masterpiece-flavored). The recently-added chipotle mayo that we sampled was pleasant, too. The beef itself was lean and tender although I'm not sure I'd say it is markedly better than what I've had at other quality sandwich places. I did like the carefully griddled roll, though.

                                                All in all, it's a nice little spot and I'd definitely return if I'm the area. I hope they do well.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: bear

                                                  Roast Beast

                                                  -----
                                                  Roast Beast
                                                  1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                  1. re: bear

                                                    I was told that the house pickles come from Alabama... any clues?

                                                    1. re: okra

                                                      That suggests they are Wickles Pickles, which used to be carried by one of the local supermarkets. I haven't seen them around lately. Slightly spicy-hot and garlicky and sweet pickle chips, nice for a commercial brand.

                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                        That describes them well, so they may well be. A bit sweet for my taste, but probably just right for many.

                                                  2. Having read all the posts to date, I am looking forward to trying this place.

                                                    I have a question though--I grew up here, but do not know what a "traditional" Boston-area Roast Beef is. Is it cooked through and grey (though not tough)? I had been disappointed when I got such at Kelly's. Or is it rare/med-rare?

                                                    I likes me some med-rare Roast Beastie and hope this is it!

                                                    Thanks!

                                                    SeaSide

                                                    25 Replies
                                                    1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                      It was definitely rare to medium rare when I got it. Not grey at all, nice and reddish without being raw.

                                                      1. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                        Traditionally a seasoned, possibly marinated top round roast, roasted very rare to rare. This is how I've always had it at Kelly's: never seen anything beyond medium-rare there.

                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                          Actually this varies a bit among places which make it in house and beef knuckle (from the round) is as or more common than top round. BTW, in the supermarket you can find part of the kunckle trimmed and labeled as "top sirloin roast" which is a reasonable option for roast beef at home: season, sear and roast in a slow oven. Also both can be larded with suet, although that seems to be a dying art.

                                                          1. re: itaunas

                                                            The gents at Roast Beast confirmed my guess of top round, but I will have to try knuckle at home some time.

                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                            -----
                                                            Roast Beast
                                                            1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                        2. re: SeaSide Tomato

                                                          Med-rare at most. Definitely pink.

                                                          I'm thinking I might gird my loins for a neighborhood meeting I really don't care to go to by swinging over for a sandwich...

                                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                            Girding your loins in pursuit of top-of-the-rump, eh?

                                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                              Quite.

                                                              Changes since last week: turkey sandwiches are now available, by request of D.J.'s mother. There's an Asian-style sweet-hot sauce now, and Swiss cheese in addition to pepper jack.

                                                              There's also a pretty decent made-to-order raspberry lime rickey on the menu now.

                                                              The guy who came in behind me asked for lettuce and tomato and was told basically that they're looking into adding them, but that since right now only one person every couple days asks for them, they would go bad before they got used, which is fair enough.

                                                              Slim: the rolls are by Piantedosi. Does that mean anything to you one way or the other?

                                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                Yes: it means that Roast Beast will probably feature in an upcoming episode of TV Diner.

                                                                I haven't bought those products in a long time, but as I recall, they are more of a mass-market kind of roll: not as fluffy/soft/HFCS-laden as, say, Arnold's brand, but nothing like a Clear Flour or Iggy's roll. At least they're local.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                -----
                                                                Roast Beast
                                                                1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                  I stand by my feeling that as devoted as i am to Clear Flour, I would find a roast beef sandwich on a CF roll offputtingly inauthentic. It would be a fine sandwich, but it would not be the sandwich i want when I want a North Shore roast beef.

                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                    I agree, a crusty roll wouldn't be bad, but it would kind of be out of place for this style of Roast beef. McSlim, I normally agree with you, but I would suggest trying Roast Beast with their roll. The guy toasts them up in the griddle perfectly.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Roast Beast
                                                                    1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                    1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                      Sounds very Kelly's-like, and therefore canonical. But while the Kelly's roll is a cut above most of its competitors, and helped by griddle-toasting, I still wish for something more substantial.

                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                    What's your view on the Martin's potato rolls on which many burgers are served (Shake Shack's, e.g.)? And, before the thought police who say that you can have only one thought per thread swing into action, let me say I have not eaten at Roast Beast, but hope to some day soon. However, I'm in New York right now and since this talk of top round and loin got me hungry for beef I ordered a delivery of 1/2 lb of brisket and 1/4 lb of fatty corned beef from Carnegie Deli.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Roast Beast
                                                                    1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                      I think the Shake Shack roll is the burger's weakest link: too soft for my taste.

                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        I agree with you, but you'll find peculiarly fierce defenders of it. I stand with you, shoulder to crusty shoulder, on the bread brigade.

                                                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                          I understand this: if you grew up eating roast beef on squishy rolls, that's what you expect and want.

                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                            I'm afraid that if the roll had more structure, then the roast beef would succumb to the slipage factor, whereby you're trying to chew your way through the bread while it's contents are making their way down your arm to your elbow.

                                                                            I had the sandwich today, it's damn good at a damn good price, served by a nice guy who deserves your business. Don't go re-inventing his one wheel! :)

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Roast Beast
                                                                            1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                            1. re: okra

                                                                              Sorry, but the notion that a more substantial roll makes a sandwich uneatable is nonsense. I understand the canon here, wouldn't dare suggest to any restaurateur how to run their business. Better rolls are just a longstanding fantasy of mine.

                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Honestly, I suspect that if you walked in with the roll of your choice and told DJ or John (the Asian guy who does most of the cooking) to build you a sandwich on it, they'd do it without blinking.

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    And it may well violate all kinds of health code.

                                                                                    1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                                      Health codes? We don need no steenkin health codes.

                                                                          2. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                            Ironically, given my general support for soft rolls, I hate Martin's potato rolls. They're not just soft, they have this strange rubbery texture to them.

                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                              You and MC will be amused by this: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/773679

                                                                              Gotta run. The bell just rang and I have 3/4 lb of beef to get through.

                                                                  3. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                    Thanks for the update on the doneness folks--sounds terrific, can't wait to get there.

                                                                    MC-my experience of very done beef at Kelly's was in the Natick outpost at Jordan's-- there by coworkers' choice. Explains a lot, I expect. The rare times I made it to the original, I was too young and too late at night after an evening out to notice the doneness!

                                                                2. I am very excited to try this place as a good RB sandwich with cheese and sauce is my favorite meal ever (occasionally drive to supremes to get one/makes every visit to gloucester worth it). I am especially happy to hear about the rareness (is that a word...?) of the beef, as i think that a good RB sandy needs to be almost bloody, and i agree wit \h Jenny about the necessity of a soft roll for this type of sandwich. Finally, does the sauce have spice like the james river kind? 5 years living in Allston, and no beef. Soon as I move out 2 places open (tho not a Kellys fan...)

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Libbypizza

                                                                    Yeah, there's decent heat and flavor in the sauce. And it's entirely possible that the other BBQ sauce they offer aside from the house sauce is James River: I've never bothered to ask, as I've learned that what I really like on a sandwich is the house sauce and a slathering of horseradish. (They have horseradish cream too, but I prefer the straight stuff.)

                                                                  2. Kinda related to this thread, I I tried the roast beef at Skampa today and I really don't like it as much as Kelly's. It was good, but the beef wasn't as flavorful and was kinda shredded instead of sliced, the sauce was a little sweet, and the roll was an eggy roll that also was on the sweet side.

                                                                    Also sweet were the proprietors, but that wasn't the point.

                                                                    What I love about Kelly's roll is the buttering and grilling. It is perfect, in my opinion. I will plan to check out Roast Beast in Allston, but in the meantime, I'll take mine rare with horseradish at Kelly's thank you very much.

                                                                    -----
                                                                    Skampa
                                                                    424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                                                    Roast Beast
                                                                    1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: yumyum

                                                                      Growing up in Revere, I'd take Petes or Beachmont over Kelly's and Skampa any day of the week.My favorite used to be Mals on Squire Road next to the McDonalds...RIP

                                                                      -----
                                                                      Skampa
                                                                      424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                                                    2. After reading all about it here, I had to try this place. Not so much because I love roast beef - I really don't - but because my fiance does. She's been telling me forever that if I just got to try some decent roast beef, I would love it. So I was excited to try this place myself, to see if it could in fact inspire an interest for me in this form of beef. And I was very, very impressed.

                                                                      First, the sandwich itself was just fantastic. The meat was so rare, and the griddled bun and sauce went so well with it, that it was just a delight to eat.

                                                                      Second, the owner there was a wonderfully friendly guy. Very chatty, and had a clear sense of what he was doing.

                                                                      Third, I thought his raspberry lime rickey was damn fine. As a former Brigham's counterman myself, I made my share of these back in the day, and realize that it can be an art form in and of itself. While not the best I've ever had, it was the best I've had in a long time.

                                                                      Oh, and I brought the fiance along. And she loved it. Although she loves roast beef, she's very picky about it. She thought this was equivalent to her favorite ever. So that is something indeed.

                                                                      I can't wait to go back.

                                                                      1. Found myself nearby and had to try. Im not a roast beef person either, but I like Skampa and this was good too. Guy is very nice, very accomodating, very eager to please. They got some things wrong - I wanted a plain bun, but got the onion roll; I couldn’t taste the horseradish, so either forgotten or too little; he was out of the special beast sauce (6pm at night) -- and he is not yet into the fresh toppings like onion (a must for me), lettuce and tomato and all that, but he said fresh veg was coming once he started to get a sense of daily output (doesn’t want it to go to waste). Good sandwich and good service. Wish there was more seating because by the time you get this thing to a park bench or, worse, home, the bun has cooled and it's just not the same.

                                                                        The pickles are not homemade tho - did someone say that above? They're Wickles, from Alabama, he showed me the jar. Nice bite - both sweet and spicy. I got some on the side and felt bad once he told me he's been running to Shaw's daily to get them since Wickles hasn't fulfilled his wholesale order yet! Ill be looking for them myself now > htp://www.simsfoods.com/

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Skampa
                                                                        424 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: 5thAndNowhere

                                                                          As stated above this place is great and I want it to succeed, however I don't totally get the veg toppings going to waste concern. Of course you have to watch every penny, however buy a tomato and a head of lettuce. The downside isn't too much if that needs to get thrown away after a few days. Slowly increase the amount bought/ordered judging from daily demand. It is OK to say that you have run out of something if you are worried about over ordering & spoilage.

                                                                          When he is at Shaw's for the wickles, pick up some veg toppings.

                                                                          1. re: Gabatta

                                                                            Grocery store March tomatoes? Blerg. Better he skips the tomatoes entirely until real ones are available.

                                                                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                              Pet the owner, Roast Beast isn't skipping the tomatoes due to seasonality. There are already several requests for tomato (and other veg) in this thread alone. There are decent tomatoes available for currently (plenty of other places serve them on sandwiches). You don't have to order them if they cause you to 'blerg'. I had a sandwich from Monica's on Friday with beautiful ans tasty tomatoes. It's not that tough really.

                                                                              1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                The thing is, if this is a north shore style sandwich, lettuce and tomato aren't really expected. I'm sure they're good, but it's not the style.

                                                                                1. re: Fly

                                                                                  It's a great sandwich, but not really a classic north shore rb anyway (the sauce flavor(s), pepperjack cheese, chipolte mayo, relish, pickles etc. are not traditional). From the standpoint of getting the guy more business, having garnish available might be a good idea, particularly since he is starting to offer turkey sandwiches. Personally I like a classic three way, however it is easier on me if the wife can get tomato if she desires.

                                                                        2. Add me to the list of Roast Beast fans. Stopped in today and it was everything people have said. I hope he makes it.

                                                                          -----
                                                                          Roast Beast
                                                                          1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: chuck s

                                                                            No love for Mino's in Lynn? Their Super Beef sets the standard for me.

                                                                            I'm in NY now and apparently there is a place that opened up in the city that uses Harrison's as their benchmark - may try it out this weekend. I grew up in Swampscott and Captains Roast Beef did just fine getting us by

                                                                          2. Thanks once again for the tip, fellow Hounds! My Phoenix review is out today.

                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                              "never mind the freakish dissenters who might crave a firmer roll"

                                                                              scrolls up.... :) Good job MC!

                                                                              1. re: okra

                                                                                Yes, I imagine Chowhounds might be the only ones to grasp that the freakish dissenter is in fact I.

                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                              2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                Great review -- I'm just bummed that I haven't been able to hike it to Allston yet to get the sandwich -- and now the crowds will be stampeding there!

                                                                                tb

                                                                                1. re: trueblu

                                                                                  Not so sure a Phoenix review, even a rave, guarantees crowds. Plenty of places I've praised to the heavens that did not enjoy a big bump from it.

                                                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                    well let's hope, if not a stampede, some extra custom so they don't go bust...

                                                                                    tb

                                                                                    1. re: trueblu

                                                                                      Heartily agree. Just saying that a Phoenix "On the Cheap" review doesn't quite have the same power to change the character of a place with new mobs the way Guy Fieri did with Rino's, for instance.

                                                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                        Maybe if you mentioned that Roast Beast took you to Flavortown, or that you would eat the roast beef off of a shoe, then people would go there.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Roast Beast
                                                                                        1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                        1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                                          I originally described it as being "off the hook", but my editor nixed it, saying we would have to pay royalties.

                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                      I'm glad to hear that. I'd like to eat there first before people like me start flocking there.

                                                                                        1. re: celeriac

                                                                                          It's stolen from (OK, inspired by) Groucho.

                                                                                2. Just read where Roast Beast is closed temporarily until they can obtain the proper permits.

                                                                                  http://www.universalhub.com/2011/bure...

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Roast Beast
                                                                                  1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                  8 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: cwinboston

                                                                                    hope it gets sorted for them soon...creating a buzz and maintaining momentum is what makes or breaks places such as this. Will need to rain-check my visit I see.

                                                                                    tb

                                                                                    1. re: cwinboston

                                                                                      Wish I read this before I stopped by today...

                                                                                      1. re: chefematician

                                                                                        That'll learn you to go around not constantly plugged in to CH. I had an operation a few months ago and I now have a CH chip permanently implanted in my brain. (It's covered by insurance, under their mental health benefits.)

                                                                                        I'm disappointed by the news. I was looking forward to this roast beef from Roast Beast.

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Roast Beast
                                                                                        1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                        1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                                          There was a hand-written sign in the door yesterday that read "Closed for the day - family emergency [nice euphemism]. Back tomorrow." Let us hope...

                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                            If the sign was yesterday, then today is tomorrow. Anybody been?

                                                                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                                              They got their common victualler's license today, and they can only stay open till 7, so tomorrow (Friday) is more likely.

                                                                                              1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                Just stopped by today (Friday April 8th). They are open and are GREAT! Met DJ (owner) and Sam - just like others reported, very friendly and really trying hard to please (free samples, free brownie bites, shaking our hands and remembering our names). Roast beef sandwich is the best we have had in the area.

                                                                                                DJ mentioned that it took him 9 months to open the place because of the Boston govt, so maybe we should give him a little bit of a break about the lettuce and tomato - I bet he only has very thin profit margins and had to reconfigure his business plans due to the delay.

                                                                                                And DJ mentioned he will stay open later, as soon as he gets permission from the city of Boston.

                                                                                                PLEASE GO! GREAT PEOPLE, GREAT SANDWICH!

                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                Roast Beast
                                                                                                1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                                1. re: spkldhnd

                                                                                                  A bunch of us from the office went yesterday and everyone loved the roast beef. The two person staff couldn't have been nicer but still got a little overwhelmed by so many customers at once so we may call in advance next time. Like any new place they are still getting up to speed but well worth the wait!
                                                                                                  So happy to have a new NON CHAIN restaurant in the area.

                                                                                    2. Made my way to Roast Beast for lunch (was in the hood randomly.) Contrian alert: My experience did not live up to the hype.

                                                                                      Yes, despite the incredibly friendly folks cutting the meat, I see no reason to return.

                                                                                      I ordered a regular with special sauce on an onion roll. The "special" beast sauce was decidedly pedestrian (as in, on par with commerical brands like Stubb's, which I like, but still), the meat was cold (which to my palette, is a NO NO when paired with a warm griddled onion bun), and the overall beefiness of the regular sized sandwich was jfine, but did not strike me as "better" than any of the competitors which can be found in just about every business district in Eastern MA.

                                                                                      Having once worked at a beef joint (Mimi's in Waltham back in 1986), I feel like I have some level of expertise on this topic. At Mimi's, the schtick/trick to their unique beef flavor was to trim every ounce of fat off the roast (top round, as I recall), then slow roast it at around 190 degrees after slathering the top with shortening (yes, shortening. They used the beef fat for the burger mix ...). The slow/low cook and the grease combo delivered a pretty unique flavor profile ... and was always juicy (though never below medium/medium rare ...)

                                                                                      At Roast Beast, I was hoping for, but never tasted a flavor that made me go "mmmm, beef."
                                                                                      It was more like, hmm, Dietz & Watson? Boar's Head? The beef was a bit chewy (dare I say stringy?) It was medium/medium rare, but that hardly matters when served cold ... the best thing I could say, is they did not skimp on portion, though it was hardly huge.

                                                                                      Maybe I'm a beef snob, but I'll take Billy's in Wakefield any day of the week, which remains the current gold RB standard in my book. Billy's is always a warm beef, sliced thin (but not wafer thin), medium rare/rare (key to my taste buds) and uses a sauce that is not garden variety (piquant tang, plenty of black pepper after taste, yet not thick or redolent with tomato flavor.) Mmmm, I need to get me one of those ...

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Roast Beast
                                                                                      1080 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                                        "Did not strike me as "better" than any of the competitors which can be found in just about every business district in Eastern MA"

                                                                                        Although to be fair, what I've said, at least, is that this is the best roast beef sandwich I've had within the city limits of Boston--which by definition rules out places like Mimi's, Billy's, etc.--and that it beats the living crap out of the Kelly's up the street, which is definitely true.

                                                                                        1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                                          I don't disagree with anything you've said, Bob. Good sandwich, but tastes a lot like deli roast beef to me. Maybe Boar's Head? I also thought the house sauce had a KC Masterpiece base, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but not super homemade tasting. I don't mind the temp, though, since it allows the beef to stay rare.

                                                                                          I chalked my reaction up to my not being a real veteran of the local roast beef scene. Great folks, though, and lots of care put into everything. A good place for locals.

                                                                                          1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                                                                                            Can you compare it to the Walt's Roast Beef chain in RI?

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Walt's Roast Beef
                                                                                            680 Reservoir Ave, Cranston, RI 02910

                                                                                          2. Just an update - there are now 3 size sandwiches, and a plethora of sauces and toppings. An $8 large is just what I was looking for today. I got exactly what I wanted on it, and the beef was not only cooked perfectly, but sliced perfectly thin so it melted in my mouth. Sorry if I am gushing!

                                                                                            1. My boyfriend and I accidentally stumbled upon Roast Beast on a Saturday while in the area and thought we'd check it out. I think they had just opened not too long ago so we really weren't able to look up any reviews on the place but decided to take our chances - we were hungry! We tried their special at the time, the SAMwich, and boy were we surprised! The roast beef was tender and tasty and the sauces and pickles were delicious! The service was fantastic and the staff told us a bit about how the owner started the business and we fell in love with the place. Since then, we've been there a few times and had the owner offer us samples of everything from the different cheeses to the different buns to the different sauces! We love the place so much that we started giving away their t-shirts that we purchased just to support the business! If they continue to do what they do and are able to get a license to extend their business hours, I don't think I need to worry about them ever going out of business! So yummy!

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: geegers

                                                                                                I had the Ianwich the other day and it was divine. Roast beef (obviously) on a griddled onion roll with chipolte mayo, grilled onions and some very spicey pepper jack cheese. Not a traditional roast beef sandwich by any means but it was superb and hit the spot. This place is a winner.

                                                                                                1. re: Gordough

                                                                                                  I tried the Ianwich for the first time this afternoon (my first time back in several months) and thought it was absolutely delicious -- the best sandwich I've had here yet, in fact!

                                                                                                  The place was hopping at 3 p.m. on a Monday. I'm glad to see they're well entrenched at this point. I'm still disappointed that they never bothered to get a deep fryer, though.

                                                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                    Sounds great, but why is it called a lanwich? That strikes me as particularly odd as I work in digital communications and a lan is a Local Area Network. Technogeek sandwich?

                                                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                                                      Not LANwich, IANwich. Presumably there's a staffer or customer named Ian who thought up that particular combo.

                                                                                                      1. re: Allstonian

                                                                                                        Aha. Never mind (in my best Emily Litella voice).

                                                                                              2. I was by Roast Beast today and had a great sandwich. They have definitely continued to round out the menu and toppings available since my last visit.. I addition to the turkey they previously, the now have jerk turkey as well. The cheese selection has expanded and they now offer lettuce, tomato, onion optional. Service is still friendly.

                                                                                                I went for a large roast beef on an onion roll with american cheese, bbq sauce (which I prefer to their beast sauce) and mayo (asked for light mayo and got globs). The order I could come with to approximate what I consider 'traditional' roast beef. It was a great sandwich.

                                                                                                It would be great if tthey starrt slicing the beef to order at some point.

                                                                                                1. We were thinking of going tomorrow and grabbng our first sandwich there but as I was looking at his menu I noticed they use Boars Head roast beef. Is it really that good? Honestly, I'm not a fan of Boars Head product, especially the beef which I find bland and underspiced. My go-to local joint is Timmy's in West Yarmouth, He cooks his whole beef roasts as a slow roast and it's sliced to order and nice and warm. I'm starting to think I might be disappointed, although the great reviews are tempting.

                                                                                                  Any comments?

                                                                                                  29 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                    How do we know if you're gonna like it or not?

                                                                                                    One of my kids likes to dissect everything on their plate. If you're like that then this might not be your place.

                                                                                                    If you like shoving a damn tasty sandwich in your mouth, then about 2/3rds the way through think - Mmmmm, this is pretty good, well then.... by all means, report back. What's the worst thing that could happen? You get in a trip to Allston, a sandwich, an experience, and an excuse to go over to the Super 88, if you're so inclined.

                                                                                                    My $0.02

                                                                                                    1. re: okra

                                                                                                      I know I'm in the minority here, but I don't think it's worthy of a separate trip. It's a very tasty sandwich and the bread and sauces are good quality, but it didn't blow me away. I'd definitely get one if I were in the neighborhood but I wouldn't drive to Allston just for one.

                                                                                                      1. re: bear

                                                                                                        To each their own - a couple more blocks, at Pho Viet inside the Super 88 (Hong Kong) market is a pork banh mi that almost certainly is worth the trip.

                                                                                                        1. re: okra

                                                                                                          Will all the amazing food options in Allston I cannot even imagine getting a roast beef sandwich which you can more or less get anywhere.

                                                                                                          1. re: okra

                                                                                                            I'd be lying if I said I have never grabbed a pork bahn mi from Pho Viet and then walked across the street for a sandwich (small Ianwich please) from Roast Beast!

                                                                                                        2. re: okra

                                                                                                          Have they always used Boar's Head or is this a new development?

                                                                                                          I went a couple years ago and thought the sandwich was fine, but I assumed it was house-roasted beef (like every other decent beef place around). Specializing in roast beef and not roasting your own is shameful.

                                                                                                        3. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                          I'm pretty sure they don't use Boar's head Roast Beef, unless this is a new change. I admittedly haven't been there for a few months, but last time I was there, they weren't using it. I saw them slicing from a huge chunk of roast beef that would never be confused with Boar's head. Also, I spoke with the owner when they just opened, and he said he gets it from somewhere on the south shore.

                                                                                                          Unless I'm missing something, the website makes no mention of Boar's Head, save the cheese, which is Boar's head.

                                                                                                          1. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                                                            The menu page does.

                                                                                                            Choose A HEAPING HELPING OF
                                                                                                            BOARS HEAD ROAST BEEF, OVEN GOLD TURKEY OR JERK TURKEY

                                                                                                            1. re: rknrll

                                                                                                              Pretty sure the Jerk Turkey is a Boar's Head product too.

                                                                                                            2. re: tysonmcneely

                                                                                                              When I talked to the owner for my Phoenix review, he spoke of marinating and slow-roasting big top-round roasts, the classic Kelly's approach. And it sure tasted like the real deal to me. (Piantedosi onion rolls, too, a better-than-average choice for this kind of place.) So I suspect that's a menu error: the "Boar's Head" belongs after the roast beef, as that's definitely what all the non-roast-beef cold cuts are.

                                                                                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                I concur: the turkey options -- which the owner once told me he put on the menu at his mother's behest because she doesn't particularly like roast beef -- are certainly boar's head, but the roast beef itself isn't. He should get that fixed, unless that's a recent change.

                                                                                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                  Unfortunately (or maybe not), I do believe it is a recent change. The beef is being sourced elsewhere, though I am not sure that the beef is specifically BH per the website or another product. But the owner did acknowledge recently (coupla weeks ago?) that the beast is not made in-house.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Nab

                                                                                                                    That's unfortunate. I'd enjoyed the two sandwiches I'd had there, as well as the small conatiner of ghostpepper-based hot sauce I'd taken away.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Nab

                                                                                                                      That was my fear. Honestly, I can slap some BH roast beef on a grilled onion roll and throw some sauce on it. Hell, my local RB joint, Timmy's, roasts his own beef and it's not nirvana, but not bad at all.

                                                                                                                      We switched gears and landed at Aquataine and had a fabulous lunch. Entirely different I know.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Nab

                                                                                                                        Well, the beef has always been sourced from elsewhere, I think. I don't think it's ever been cooked on-premises, just sliced and warmed, and as far as I know, DJ has always been open about that. But it would suck if it was now Boars Head.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                          Please don't get me wrong. I'm not disparaging the place. I've never been and many, many people are certainly huge fans. It's just we don't get up to the area often so we like to be judicious as to where we eat and go to places that serve things we can't easily find on the Cape.

                                                                                                                          1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                                            No, in that situation, I absolutely wouldn't suggest you go to Roast Beast. It is -- and I think the owner would fully agree with this assessment -- a place to go for a fix when you can't go to the south shore.

                                                                                                                              1. re: rknrll

                                                                                                                                No, the owner's from the south shore, and says he based the menu on his local roast beef places. And as many said way up at the start of the thread, Roast Beast isn't in the classic north shore tradition, since they don't do James River sauce or have fries. Although I think they do have lettuce and tomato now, which they didn't use to.

                                                                                                                            1. re: CapeCodGuy

                                                                                                                              The next time you are in the area, check out Cutty's.

                                                                                                                              "There’s no lack of good roast beef sandwiches in these parts, but when Cutty’s started serving its paper-thin slices of tender, pink meat on buttery brioche, a hush fell across the land."

                                                                                                                              http://articles.boston.com/2010-12-29...

                                                                                                                              http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/...

                                                                                                                              They have a pork sandwich on Saturdays. Get there early before they are gone.

                                                                                                                              1. re: eatntell

                                                                                                                                Yeah, the owner previously said he sourced the Roast Beef from the South Shore. I doubt he switched to Boar's Head Roast Beef, and as mentioned previously, it is a listing error. I will try to confirm this weekend, but I would bet dollars to donuts, this is the case.

                                                                                                                        2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                          you might mention to the owner that boar's head is not considered top grade.

                                                                                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                                                                                                            Boar's head is getting a bum steer around here. Its website says "We use pure beef, pork and poultry, and real spices." I mean, it's not like they're using impure beef and fake spices.

                                                                                                                            Actually, although I'd expect better from Roast Beast, I've had adequate roast beef sandwiches from delis in New York made with Boar's Head. Turnover is important, so that the meat has not been sitting around for very long, as well as which particular BH beef product they are using (the website lists several). Some BH roast beef can be nicely garlicy, and on a crusty roll it can be quite edible.

                                                                                                                            1. re: FoodDabbler

                                                                                                                              Well, that's the thing: Boars Head is,,,adequate. But not much more than that.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                                                                                                Yep. I'd be very surprised if turns out Roast Beast was using BH last year when I stopped by after your initial shoutout. The meat was too tasty and too toothsome. It would be a pity if they had now switched to a mass market brand like BH.

                                                                                                                                Of course, it could all be your fault: You told us about them. All 37 of us flocked there. They were overwhelmed by the demand. (Some of us are big meat eaters.) They were forced to outsource. In their success lay the roots of their failure.

                                                                                                                    2. Had one this past Sunday and found it to be as good as the one that I had this past winter. Meat is tender, roll soft, and the sauces have good flavor. Love that they now have tomatoe and lettuce on the menu. My sandwich of choice is a small wheat roll w/spicy pickles, lettuce, tomatoe, and horseradish mustard. Though next time I need to sample some of the sauces and trying combining them. Love the bahn mi down the street, but sometimes I crave a meaty sandwich.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: viperlush

                                                                                                                        Yup, I'm pretty sure it's the same roast beef as when they opened. I don't know if it's Boars Head or not, but my sandwich the other week was good.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Gabatta

                                                                                                                          The sandwich I had at Roast Beast last year was good, too, and I thought it seemed Boar's Head-like at the time and posted so. I don't have a problem with that, although I'm usually a bit disappointed when I see the BH signs around. The whole package worked.

                                                                                                                          Lexington Roast Beef and Seafood on Marrett Rd. roasts their own beef, and while the meat is tasty, the overall sandwich didn't seem quite as tasty as RB. I didn't enjoy the condiments quite as much. Both were worth having if in the area and hungry.