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Redbones' Hush Puppies Make Me Sad

maillard Jun 9, 2011 08:04 AM

I always order them because I want them to be delicious, but they never are. Which is kind of odd to me, because I feel like they do a really good job with the fryer otherwise. The fries, onion rings, corn fritters, etc. are all great. Why the sad, dry, leaden balls of cornmeal, then?

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Redbones
55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

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  1. Boston_Otter RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 08:25 AM

    Agreed -- they're just never a good time, dry and tasteless. I always hope they'll be better than they are. Just make 'em a little bigger, mix in some corn kernels and diced onion, and I guarantee they'll be much improved.

    1. r
      robwat36 RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 08:29 AM

      The hush puppies at Highland Kitchen are good. Have you tried those?

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      Highland Kitchen
      150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

      2 Replies
      1. re: robwat36
        maillard RE: robwat36 Jun 9, 2011 09:42 AM

        No! Are they always available? I was there recently and didn't notice them on the menu...

        1. re: maillard
          r
          robwat36 RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 10:09 AM

          I've always had them at brunch (they go great with the trout and bacon hash and a Hemingway daiquiri, as long as you can nap afterward). They might not have them at dinner.

      2. l
        LStaff RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 08:49 AM

        I've had them at Redbones years ago that were pretty good - then stopped getting them when they would come out dry and hard as a brick.

        The corn fritters are the soft, delicious fried dough ball choice at Bones - although I always forget about the sweet syrup they drizzle over them which I'm not a fan of.

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        Redbones
        55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

        2 Replies
        1. re: LStaff
          mtm7654 RE: LStaff Jun 9, 2011 09:31 AM

          We grew up with home made corn fritters with maple syrup-OMG GOOD!

          1. re: LStaff
            maillard RE: LStaff Jun 9, 2011 09:43 AM

            Huh... I wonder what happened.

            I do love those corn fritters. I need to just start ordering those instead.

          2. r
            Ricardo Malocchio RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 09:46 AM

            The BBQ at Redbones makes me sad. At least circa mid-90s, and after several visits ("is this really what Boston thinks is good bbq?"). Have not gone back in over a decade.

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            Redbones
            55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

            21 Replies
            1. re: Ricardo Malocchio
              Bob Dobalina RE: Ricardo Malocchio Jun 9, 2011 10:18 AM

              So many people mention Redbones as "the" place in Davis. I think I remember going once years ago - never really understood the draw. I think the name has something to do with it being memorable. It's a good name.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                e
                emannths RE: Bob Dobalina Jun 9, 2011 11:01 AM

                I think the draw is low-ish prices and that it's probably the best beer spot in Davis (heck, it at least rivals anywhere in Cambridge or Somerville, save CBC/Lord Hobo).

                1. re: emannths
                  Bob Dobalina RE: emannths Jun 9, 2011 11:16 AM

                  Right...I always forget it is supposed to have a good beer selection...

                  1. re: emannths
                    r
                    robwat36 RE: emannths Jun 9, 2011 11:30 AM

                    Although Foundry and even Flatbread are competitive on that front these days.

                    1. re: robwat36
                      r
                      rknrll RE: robwat36 Jun 9, 2011 05:04 PM

                      Flatbread is cheap, I'll give them that...but the selection is pretty weak.
                      I know they are trying to do all local stuff but nothing changes very often, other than switching to seasonals with certain breweries.
                      Redbones has jacked up prices now, but the selection is much better and it changes daily.

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                      Redbones
                      55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                2. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                  m
                  Madrid RE: Ricardo Malocchio Jun 9, 2011 10:18 AM

                  as a native north carolinian, i feel your pain. the hushpuppies at all star sandwich bar are somewhat better. I've tried redbones several times and then just stopped. it's not barbecue. they have no clue. I just make it at home now, and even in the crockpot without smoke, it's better.

                  1. re: Madrid
                    Boston_Otter RE: Madrid Jun 9, 2011 12:06 PM

                    People from the Carolinas and St Louis are always telling me how abysmal the BBQ at Redbones is, but when I ask where I can find better barbecue, they just sigh sadly. Therefore I still don't know what's actually wrong with the tender, juicy, well-smoked meat at Redbones, but I guess I'm happy in my ignorance.

                    1. re: Boston_Otter
                      c
                      CarolinaGirl06 RE: Boston_Otter Jun 9, 2011 05:38 PM

                      I'm from NC as well. The place that makes me happiest (for barbecue) is Blackstrap BBQ in Winthrop. The pulled pork is a little more chunky than I am used to, but it is tender and well-flavored, and the cornbread is sweet, but the cornbread everywhere but Hungry Mother is sweet. If those are my biggest complaints, I'm a happy girl.

                      1. re: CarolinaGirl06
                        opinionatedchef RE: CarolinaGirl06 Jun 12, 2011 10:33 PM

                        it would be fun to hear how you like the bbq and cornbread at East Coast Grill. We get a couple of their $3 ribs as a side dish for their great brunch. Their cornbread is not super sweet (but you can have it sweet w/ their honey cumin chili butter.). Next door, All Star Sandwich Bar has excellent white cornmeal hushpuppies.

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                        All Star Sandwich Bar
                        1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                        1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1. re: CarolinaGirl06
                          jgg13 RE: CarolinaGirl06 Jun 13, 2011 11:54 AM

                          we finally made it out there this weekend and it was definitely my favorite in terms of local bbq options - granted one could take that to be damning with faint praise, but it is what it is :) we'll be back, that's for sure.

                    2. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                      l
                      LeoLioness RE: Ricardo Malocchio Jun 9, 2011 11:28 AM

                      Same. I still go sometimes but I've long given up on ordering any meat except the sausage, which I do think is really tasty. I usually get the fried catfish or buffalo shrimp and some sides and call it a day.

                      1. re: LeoLioness
                        s
                        southie_chick RE: LeoLioness Jun 9, 2011 07:24 PM

                        Gotta agree with you on the sausage - had the sage & onion sausage there on Tuesday & it was outstanding. It seemed that the sausage had more smoke flavor to it than the ribs (St. Louis) had. And, they do have corn pudding, which is probably my favorite thing there.

                        1. re: southie_chick
                          f
                          FoodDabbler RE: southie_chick Jun 10, 2011 07:53 AM

                          I've been a big fan of their sausage over the years: the casing had a crisp snap and the filling was reliably superb, but I had a rather bland one there this week, encased in a soft covering. I'm hoping this was a one-time aberration.

                      2. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                        Boston_Otter RE: Ricardo Malocchio Jun 9, 2011 12:03 PM

                        You should. They started selling baby back ribs as a dinner special last year, and they're the best ribs on the menu, in my opinion. They also do a nice catfish.

                        1. re: Boston_Otter
                          e
                          emannths RE: Boston_Otter Jun 9, 2011 12:07 PM

                          Are the ribs smoky? Like LStaff, that's the main issue I have with their meats.

                        2. re: Ricardo Malocchio
                          Niblet RE: Ricardo Malocchio Jun 13, 2011 10:01 AM

                          I'm surprised you feel comfortable voicing an opinion if you haven't been there in over a decade.

                          For my part I go there for very specific cravings: beer, catfish fingers, buffalo shrimp, dirty rice, collards, and potlikker soup when they have it. And I like the atmosphere.

                          1. re: Niblet
                            yumyum RE: Niblet Jun 13, 2011 10:08 AM

                            Hear hear nibs! Things can change!

                            I was in the "anti-Redbones camp" for a long time, after giving it several tries in the mid-90s and as recently as 3 years ago when I literally threw out my plate of burnt ends and brisket because it gave me the creeps.

                            But last year, I went back and had ribs and I found them totally up to snuff -- friends had the regular ribs, I had the baby backs, and we all enjoyed our food. The only controversial dish was a side of mac n cheese, that one person proclaimed baby food. I actually really enjoyed it, but then I like Kraft out of a box too.

                            1. re: yumyum
                              j
                              Jenny Ondioline RE: yumyum Jun 13, 2011 10:11 AM

                              After years of mediocrity, I've found quite a bit of improvement at Redbones over the last year or so. It's no longer a last resort for me.

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                              Redbones
                              55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                jgg13 RE: Jenny Ondioline Jun 13, 2011 11:53 AM

                                I remember hearing it was under new ownership, which in turn was taking over from a previously 'under new ownership' - or at least something along those lines.

                                I know the "it's gotten a lot better in recent years" is a pretty common meme for redbones, at least.

                                1. re: jgg13
                                  j
                                  Jenny Ondioline RE: jgg13 Jun 13, 2011 03:41 PM

                                  Yeah, it's still nowhere near what I would call great, and I'm sure the marked decline of Blue Ribbon lately is a factor in my opinion as well, but it's genuinely not awful anymore.

                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                    jgg13 RE: Jenny Ondioline Jun 13, 2011 06:59 PM

                                    I haven't had the Q there in ages, so can't really say. I tend to stick with the jerk beef, which ranges from pleasantly spicy to nuclear in a good way.

                        3. l
                          LStaff RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 11:41 AM

                          As far as the smoked meats are considered, mostly it just seems slow cooked and not so much slow smoked, but some things do come out smoky somewhat consistently like the sausage (although is always dry) and the beef ribs. Less consistently, the brisket. I've had pork ribs at Redbones at some of their parties/events that rival any boston area bbq, but whenever I order them myself, just whitish/gray meat with no smoke flavor. Pulled pork is variable too, but mostly just porky flavored with little impact from rub/smoke.

                          They still make a pretty good catfish sandwich though which I get a craving for every once in a while - but with the beer prices bordering on ridiculous (even The Public House and Lord Hobo have better prices on most US made craft beers) these days, my Redbones visits are nearly non-existent after years of being a twice a week patron.

                          1. enhF94 RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 12:14 PM

                            Sadly, I usually find RedBones' food underseasoned across the board. I really want to like the fried oysters and hushpuppies, but no.

                            1. hungry_ghost RE: maillard Jun 9, 2011 12:49 PM

                              I'm in the beggars-can't-be-choosers camp. There are few options for BBQ in town, and Redbones has a fun room and good beer on tap. We went this week and I had passable St. Louis ribs, they won't win any competitions, but they're better than no ribs at all!

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                              Redbones
                              55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                              23 Replies
                              1. re: hungry_ghost
                                e
                                emannths RE: hungry_ghost Jun 9, 2011 12:51 PM

                                Just 3 miles up the road is Blue Ribbon BBQ. BBQ-wise, they're vastly superior. Room and beer...not so much.

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                                Blue Ribbon BBQ
                                910 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                                1. re: emannths
                                  StriperGuy RE: emannths Jun 9, 2011 01:08 PM

                                  Yes. WAY better cue. And a subtle brown bag resolves the other dilemna.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    m
                                    Madrid RE: StriperGuy Jun 9, 2011 02:59 PM

                                    love the subtle brown bag. old southern tradition, brown bagging.

                                  2. re: emannths
                                    g
                                    Gabatta RE: emannths Jun 9, 2011 02:01 PM

                                    Vastly superior? I have to disagree with that. People have reported better experiences at the West Newton location. However the quality and consistency at the Arlington shop has definitely fallen way off IMO. While neither compare with Carolina or St. Louis que (or any other bbq mecca so can we please stop comparing and lamenting?), my preference is for Redbones over Blue Ribbon. The West Netwon BR location isn't as convenient for me, but I will try it again at some point.

                                    1. re: Gabatta
                                      Boston_Otter RE: Gabatta Jun 9, 2011 02:26 PM

                                      I very much agree with Gabatta here. My first experience with the Arlington Blue Ribbon was nearly revelatory -- it was so superior to Redbones. But it's strangely fallen in quality each time I've gone. The last time I got their pulled pork, it was marred with chunks of gristle and fat, and was undercooked; the ribs were dry and flavorless. Way under par.

                                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                                        j
                                        Jenny Ondioline RE: Boston_Otter Jun 9, 2011 02:43 PM

                                        Redbones has at long last started serving chopped brisket (subtly and importantly different from burnt ends), which earns them points from this native Texan who had bemoaned ever finding this delicacy from home hereabouts. And it's pretty good, too.

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                                        Redbones
                                        55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                          Boston_Otter RE: Jenny Ondioline Jun 9, 2011 03:08 PM

                                          Whoa, awesome news. They must be brand new -- not on the online menu yet. Are they served as a sandwich?

                                          1. re: Boston_Otter
                                            j
                                            Jenny Ondioline RE: Boston_Otter Jun 9, 2011 03:39 PM

                                            Yeah, sandwich or platter.

                                            1. re: Boston_Otter
                                              l
                                              LStaff RE: Boston_Otter Jun 10, 2011 06:10 AM

                                              They have always had a chopped brisket sandwich on the menu - but in a jerk sauce - sometimes pleasantly spicy, sometimes face meltingly hot.

                                        2. re: Gabatta
                                          hondodog RE: Gabatta Jun 9, 2011 07:11 PM

                                          Sadly, both Blue Ribbon and Redbones disappoint. Blue Ribbon's consistency is, as others have noted, poor and the food is just too dang dry. I feel like I'm eating slightly flavored cheesecloth when I go there. Redbones has the advantage of a much better beer selection, real seating and a place where hanging out for more than 15 extra minutes can be pleasant.

                                          My background is via Oakland, CA which, for the most part, serves derivative Texas-style BBQ. Wish I had some Doug's right about now...

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                                          Redbones
                                          55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                          1. re: hondodog
                                            StriperGuy RE: hondodog Jun 10, 2011 06:38 AM

                                            In all fairness I have not been to BR in 6 months or so, and since they went to a central commissary I have noticed quality issues as well. It would suck if they really have taken a permanent hit.

                                            At one point 2+ years ago they consistently produced world class bbq. Makes me sad.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              l
                                              LStaff RE: StriperGuy Jun 10, 2011 07:40 AM

                                              I've been going about once a month for the last couple of years and haven't noticed a decline in recent months overall (although any single visit can result is a subpar meal just like any bbq joint in the area) - I usually get a pulled pork sandwich or burrito and a lone bone. Ribs have made a comeback in the last year or so - but still not guite as good as the Arlington location before the smokers were moved out. Pulled pork has been consistent with mid level smokiness. Haven't had the brisket in a while, but that was always inconsistent.

                                              Went to the open house at the commissary at the beginning of the summer and everything was about the same level as what I have experienced lately - good, sometimes bordering on great.

                                              1. re: LStaff
                                                StriperGuy RE: LStaff Jun 10, 2011 08:13 AM

                                                I'm a rib guy myself and they have really suffered the last 2-3 times I had them.

                                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                                  c
                                                  CookieLee RE: StriperGuy Jun 13, 2011 06:41 AM

                                                  Back when ESG first opened, we loved their ribs. Then, they changed the recipe, and we didn't care for them. Also a fan of Redbones back in the '90's. We gave up on them when we discovered BR in Newton. We gave Redbones another chance recently, and still found the food to be bland.

                                                  However, I'm now totally spoiled by BT's in Sturbridge! They are excellent!

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                                                  Redbones
                                                  55 Chester St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                          2. re: Gabatta
                                            g
                                            Gabatta RE: Gabatta Jun 13, 2011 10:21 AM

                                            We got take out from Blue Ribbon last night for the first time in awhile just to make sure we weren't missing something. A quick rundown of the food:

                                            - Ribs: Dry and fatty was the only way I can describe them (Give me Redbones St. Louis or Baby Back any day.
                                            - Pulled Pork: Surprisingly lacking in flavor and yes gristly (again, give me Redbones)
                                            - Whole BBQ Chicken: A bit dry, but OK overall flavor (Redbones does a much juicer and tastier bird)
                                            - Beans: Clumpy with way too much bbq sauce (I don't care for the flavorless beans at - Redbones either, so draw there)
                                            - Black Eyed Corn: 80% corn / 20% beans. Most were left over and dumped down the disposal.
                                            - Green Beans: Soggy mess of straight from the can green beans. Vivid childhood flashbacks to mom's sub par cooking. Gag...
                                            Cornbread: Dry but decent flavor

                                            We won't be going back to BR any time soon. I still prefer M&M over both these places and need to get to Blackstrap.

                                            1. re: Gabatta
                                              Boston_Otter RE: Gabatta Jun 13, 2011 11:12 AM

                                              Was this the Arlington or Newton location? Your descriptions pretty accurately match my most recent experiences with their take-out, sadly.

                                              1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                g
                                                Gabatta RE: Boston_Otter Jun 13, 2011 12:16 PM

                                                Arlington

                                              2. re: Gabatta
                                                StriperGuy RE: Gabatta Jun 13, 2011 12:39 PM

                                                Boy that's sad. I was meaning to go on a "RB Update" run, but not sure I have it in me. Refresh my memory, were you ever a fan?

                                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                                  g
                                                  Gabatta RE: StriperGuy Jun 13, 2011 12:41 PM

                                                  BR used to be our go to place (2x monthly) for local BBQ take out when we first moved across the river. It is a bummer for sure.

                                                  1. re: Gabatta
                                                    StriperGuy RE: Gabatta Jun 13, 2011 01:17 PM

                                                    Yah me too. Dang if a former fan (I was rabid) feels that way, I think you just saved me some from eating some lame chow.

                                                    Tempted to draft a group "letter of concern" to the owners.

                                                    So sad.

                                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                                      opinionatedchef RE: StriperGuy Jun 13, 2011 07:38 PM

                                                      stripes,they have a 'contact us' for feedback on their website. I sent them a link to this thread.

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                        StriperGuy RE: opinionatedchef Jun 14, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                        NICE.

                                                2. re: Gabatta
                                                  l
                                                  LStaff RE: Gabatta Jun 14, 2011 12:40 PM

                                                  I checked out the Arlington location of Blue Ribbon at lunch today and ordered my usual, pulled pork sandwich and a lone bone (actually two bones usually).

                                                  The ribs were as described above - dry and fatty - the meat on the bone section was dry, and somewhat chewy, but more fatty than usual on the tip section. Almost no smoke ring, gray colored meat and very little smoke flavor. The rib itself might be the culprit here, as they seemed less meaty than recent visits - no meat on top of the bone, only the sides, with a good chunk of fat on the top side of the ribs near the tip. Hard to judge from just one rack, but confirms the same experience as Gabatta. Dissapointing as the ribs were coming back into form in the last year or so - hopefully its just short term supply issue.

                                                  The pulled pork on the other hand was in the A/A- range with plenty of smoky flavor, tender meat, but some chunks of bark that might be considered chewy, but no fatty or gristly pieces (I checked under the bun). Better than anything I've had at Redbones, and I used to like Redbones PP more than BR Arlington when they used to chop the pork.

                                                  Cole Slaw - exactly how its always been. I add a little vinegar sauce to doctor it up and give a tangy balance.

                                                  Green beans - exactly how they have always been. I'm a fan of them - tender for sure, but still had a little "bite" left -more like slow cooked soulfood than sauteed "heir coverts" at an upscale rest. I like the spicy sausage they put in them and the vinegar sauce. If they are from a can, I'd like to know who makes them, because they hold their shape very well - even after "overcooking".

                                                  Need to revisit the ribs again in a few weeks to see if its just a quality of supply issue, but I am thinking reports of Blue Ribbon's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

                                          3. s
                                            Spike RE: maillard Jun 11, 2011 10:19 AM

                                            Not too much of a surprise...their cornbread in their bread baskets is always disappointing to me too...I always want it to taste like corn with a bir of a crunchy crust, but what I get is something that has the texture of cornbread but just tastes a bit salty with nearly zero corn flavor :-P

                                            1. f
                                              FoodDabbler RE: maillard Jun 13, 2011 03:38 PM

                                              Although the food can be uneven, I'm a Redbones loyalist to the, well, bone. Here's why:

                                              It was a dark and stormy night. It was winter. An icy rain was lashing the streets. My wife was negotiating her way home with difficulty on slippery roads. She stopped at Redbones for takeout, ordering the usual: ribs, sausage, pulled pork, greens, beans, and dirty rice. She also asked for a slice of sweet potato pie. When she got home we opened the bag of food and found no pie. We called Redbones, intending only that they should make a note of the omission so that we could get credit the next time. No, they said, they would not do that. The error was theirs and they had to rectify it that very night. They would deliver us our pie. That's nuts we said, even though the pie had none, it's treacherous driving out there, and it's a dark and stormy night. But they were unmoved. Half an hour later a cab pulled up at our door. Out of it emerged a box and an envelope. The box contained an entire sweet potato pie. The envelope contained a note of apology and a certificate for a complimentary dinner for two.

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

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                maillard RE: FoodDabbler Jun 13, 2011 03:42 PM

                                                What a great story. I will say, though the hushpuppies make me sad, the service always makes me extremely happy. They have incredibly friendly staff who consistently go the extra mile to make customers happy.

                                                1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                  hondodog RE: FoodDabbler Jun 13, 2011 05:31 PM

                                                  Woof. What a great way to create a customer-for-life.

                                                  1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                    Mike5966 RE: FoodDabbler Jun 13, 2011 07:33 PM

                                                    I am moved, both by your writing style and the content.

                                                    1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                      Boston_Otter RE: FoodDabbler Jun 14, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                      You nailed it. Places like Redbones demonstrate how awesome customer service makes up for nearly anything else. They genuinely want to make things right for you, and go out of their way to do so. I don't know any other BBQ joint in the area (or restaurant, for that matter) who'll cheerfully let you sample any of their beers before buying, for example.

                                                      1. re: Boston_Otter
                                                        l
                                                        LStaff RE: Boston_Otter Jun 14, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                        Most craft beer bars -in this city and around the country that I have been to - will let you sample the beers on tap before deciding. With craft beer prices the way they are today, I probably wouldn't order a beer without a sample first to make sure its in good shape or if its something I might be interested in but have no experience with the brand.

                                                    2. opinionatedchef RE: maillard Jun 13, 2011 07:35 PM

                                                      had great ones again today at All Star Sandwich Bar; just needed a ton of salt -and butter of course!

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                                                      All Star Sandwich Bar
                                                      1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

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