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4/8/11 Sound Bites in Somerville: YES! A Great Breakfast Place at Last!!

opinionatedchef Apr 8, 2011 03:43 PM

Wow. To think we've been driving past this for the past 15 yrs. That's the bad part. But the good part is that thanks to local CHs, we've been reborn!! Nah, but seriously, when I think of the wasted trips and parking time and moneys spent on various ultimately not satisfying places in the city.........

So now we are among the lucky to know about Sound Bites, and we're passing it forward.

Eggs Benedict as perfect as they can be. Twice toasted Eng muffin, 2 or three layers of Canad. bacon, perfectly poached eggs and, of course, a real hollandaise. And when I say real I mean "I-don't-have-to-ask-for-extra -lemon" real. Wowee gee whiz mr. bill. for $8. Really. They're served with "better than home fries" that are delicious but homefries not. Cooked potatoes are mashed w/ plenty of garlic, sour cream, butter, s and p, packed into a pan, cut into generous squares and baked/browned. It did not surprise me when the waiter told me that he gets the 'but these are not..." comment all the time, but that people love them so much that some come in for them alone. yep. Their fresh fruit is such a treat- actually ripe melon, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, grapes, strawberries.

And then the other things: Pancakes. Someone finally understands pancakes. Three big Banana walnut blueberry cakes are thick, moist, tender, toothsome, leaving us to wonder if there might be more than just white flour as the starch, and if maybe the bananas were first sauteed w/butter and brown sugar, as they tasted. $6. Real maple syrup is $2 extra. Gladly. Eggs and bacon perfectly cooked. And My Love says the coffee is v good. He gives the pancakes here a 9 compared to Deluxe Town Diner's 7 .

Next time I want to try the French toast (very yellow bread; maybe portuguese...) with what sounds to be a granola and nut coating, with an option of caramelized bananas and blueberries. And Jimmy's Moroccan Eggs- poached in a tomato, onion , peppers stew w/ cumin. I haven't yet seen if they can make a good soft creamy pan-made omelet.

The guys who work there- what a nice smiling welcoming crew. Everybody is Colombian except the Syrian owner. Jaime is the head fellow; he or the owner are always there and sometimes at the same time, as today. They have been working together 15 yrs. Jaime is definitely a happy helpful fellow; knows every ingredient in every dish. And he'll gladly rattle off for you his top 5 fav. Colombian restnts in E.Boston.

Boy, if I were at Tufts, I would say screw the meal plan and go to Soundbites every day. Breakfast til 3pm. And now they're serving dinner too, with a number of middle eastern dishes: flame grilled marinated kabobs of course, but also Muhammarras and Mujadarra. (Anyone tried these here?) With the lunch and dinner menus, the number of items is ginormous, including a full line of Greek and Italian dependables, so I can't imagine that everything is good , but I am really looking forward to working our way through those menus! This is def. gonna be a go-to spot for us.

* btw, this is a very kid-friendly place.

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Sound Bites
704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

Deluxe Town Diner
627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

  1. b
    BJK Apr 8, 2011 05:35 PM

    Welcome to the club! I've been a Soundbites regular since my Junior year at Tufts 17 years ago.

    Excellent review. I personally love the Bennys, the omelets, and those "no place like home fries" most, but the waffles and the stuffed French toast are pretty darn good, too.

    Try the omelet with portobello mushrooms and goat cheese. Yum.

    1. Boston_Otter Apr 9, 2011 05:57 AM

      Be sure to try their multi-grain waffle. The menu said it comes "with fruit", which I imagined would be a few pieces of banana or maybe a sliced-up strawberry, but it's topped with a heap of amazing fruit salad that includes pineapple, blueberries, papaya, mango, and I forget what else.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Boston_Otter
        opinionatedchef Apr 9, 2011 08:59 AM

        yay! will do!

      2. opinionatedchef Apr 9, 2011 10:03 AM

        oh nooooo. Grammar Police!!!!!

        "Jaime is the head fellow; he or the owner are always there , and somedays at the same time, as today."

        ;he or the owner IS always there and sometimes they are there at the same time, as today."
        sorry, mom.

        1. opinionatedchef Sep 26, 2011 10:18 PM

          just wanted to follow up on this original rave. the last few months that we have gone, i have had problems every single time w/ the eggs bene. the sauce has been curdled and jaime, as nice as he is, does not seem to be able to change the chef's inability to serve an unbroken hollandaise, or toast the eng muffins well done. so, somewhat reluctantly, we ventured next door to Ball Sq. Cafe . They were that morning celebrating their 4th anniversary. Lovely staff, and the chef, Omar, actually llistened to me and gave me well done eng muffin and well done home fries. and his hollandaise was not broken, and lovely. Somewhere else on CH was mentioned the history of these 2 retnts. Seems Omar must have been in on the original Sound Bites; there was big falling out; he went and opened a breakfast/lunch place immediately next door to Sound Bites, and took his originally created menu with him (pretty identical to one SB still has, minus Omar as the chef). Some story eh? V. small place, only open til 3,no tvs.Anyway, we really enjoyed it and will return here next time.

          http://www.ballsquarecafe.com/about_u...

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          Sound Bites
          704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

          12 Replies
          1. re: opinionatedchef
            Bob Dobalina Sep 27, 2011 06:14 AM

            Glad you've come around to my way of thinking....that BSB is better.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina
              b
              BJK Sep 27, 2011 06:51 AM

              I find it hard to support BSB given the story.

              The details as I understand them are that the owners of BSB also own the building (and Victor's next door, from what I understand). They were Yassar's landlord for the many years (15?) that Sound Bites occupied that space.

              Somewhere along the way they decided to jack up Yassar's rent high enough to force him out and to steal Omar, his chef, to run the breakfast place they intended to open up in the same space. Yassar managed to move into the space next door, but IMHO it was a greedy, power hungry, gutless move on the part of the landlord and now owner of BSB, and one that makes it hard for me to support the business.

              I've been a patron of Sound Bites for 20 years and will never set foot in BSB.

              -----
              Sound Bites
              704 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02144

              1. re: BJK
                Bob Dobalina Sep 27, 2011 06:55 AM

                Huh - had no idea - I always thought Yassar was the bad guy.

                1. re: Bob Dobalina
                  b
                  BJK Sep 27, 2011 07:41 AM

                  Yassar gets vilified for being "the breakfast Nazi" so it's easy to imagine him as the bad guy. Personally, I've always sympathized with him.

                  For that 15 years or so that he occupied the space that is now BSB, there were always lines out the door and down the block. From what I personally witnessed, the things that most frequently pushed him to confront a customer (which some people understandably believe is never okay) were either (1) occupying a table for too long (say, waiting for someone to arrive before ordering, chit chatting over coffee, or reading the newspaper at the table) or (2) standing in the doorway with the door propped open (alternately either letting in cold winter air or hot summer air).

                  Perhaps my favorite story about the other side of Yassar is from the days following 9/11/01 when everyone was still in complete shock about what had happened. He's a Persian guy who could easily have been vilified or victimized due to public sentiment. And standing in line one morning, as he had his usual smoke and was chatting with some of the patrons waiting for a seat, his comment about the events of 9/11 was, "I don't understand this terrorism. I understand pancake, waffle." :)

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina
                    Boston_Otter Sep 27, 2011 08:29 AM

                    I first visited Sound Bites after they'd opened their new space, and Yassar was never anything but charming, giving people lots of free fruit, smiling, etc. When I'd go in for breakfast he'd often pat me on the back and say "I hope to see you at dinner, my friend!"

                    The last time I went, I saw him and the BSB owner screaming at each other outside his restaurant. I haven't been to either place since.

                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                      opinionatedchef Sep 27, 2011 12:02 PM

                      yikes. for us, in the last yr that we have been going to Soundbites, yassar has never been anything but friendly and seriously making sure that his customers are taken care of(jaime does the smiling; yassur's just a serious guy i guess).It's the food i have based my decision on. Bob D, why do you prefer BallSquareCafe(BSC not BSB)?

                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                        Bob Dobalina Sep 29, 2011 07:40 AM

                        To me anyway, the quality of the ingredients is a step better at BS over SB. The pancakes seem fluffier, the fruit salad of better quality, and I also prefer what I perceive anyway as a friendlier vibe to the place. SB always seems to have an edge - BS not so much.

                        1. re: Bob Dobalina
                          m
                          mizzduke Sep 29, 2011 08:14 AM

                          I agree Bob, I do find the service to be much more pleasant at Ball Sq and the food a bit better lately (but they are still pretty close in quality).

                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                            opinionatedchef Sep 29, 2011 09:48 AM

                            well, i actually felt oddly self conscious about saying this before (thinking "it must be me; it's prob the same product" ) but I noticed a distinct difference and superiority of the BSC english muffins and ham on the eggs bene.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              tammyh Sep 29, 2011 10:04 AM

                              ditto on the better food and service at BSC. I've been to both places multiple times, and each time I went away with the same conclusions. I used to do 30-45min waits in 30-40F degree weather for BSC at times ...

                        2. re: Boston_Otter
                          b
                          BJK Sep 27, 2011 12:12 PM

                          There has been much ugliness between the two, culminating in a physical altercation last year when Yassar backed out of a Travel Channel episode of Restaurant Wars (or something like that).

                          http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/04/26/cafe_owners_come_to_blows_in_somerville_square/

                          http://somervillenews.typepad.com/the...

                          1. re: BJK
                            opinionatedchef Sep 27, 2011 12:24 PM

                            if true, i like it that he backed out of the war.

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