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Interesting development in a divey Allston bar

Was dragged to what had been one of Allston's scariest bars recently. The Avenue used to smell like vomit, had a claw game with porn for prizes, 15 cent wings and dollar drafts. Now it is not Menton or even Deep Ellum now but... New owners/managers, fresh ground burgers 4 oz each, In and Out style including an Animal style burger (was awesome. waitress did not know what cuts or % fat beef they were grinding, but it is ground daily). Titan Great divide, six point bengali tiger, pretty things, racer 5, avery white rascal, a weyerbacher, dog fish and stone option ALL ON DRAFT for $6 or less, with proper glasses. 30 taps 25 of them good. Rest of the food menu is Allston pub food aside from the bacon maple ketchup that comes with the sweet potato tots and the quesadilla which had slow cooked pulled chicken, fresh made pico and a side of escabeche!.

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Deep Ellum Bar
477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

 
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  1. What did that place used to be in the 80's?

    26 Replies
    1. re: C. Hamster

      I've always ignored this space. But it was Roggie's on the Avenue before it was The Avenue.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      1. re: C. Hamster

        It was Arbuckle's in the mid-80s, and real dive called Hoarty Brothers @ 1980-81

        1. re: anatinc

          I actually liked it when it was Arbuckles.....not good food or anything, but I lived around the corner and the bartenders were really good to us.....long time ago though!

          1. re: devilham

            Hasn't pretty much EVERYONE lived around the corner from this location at one point or another?

            Glad it's turning into something worthwhile - although is this the gentrificaiton of Allston now? Do college kids get forced further out, Watertown and Newton?

            1. re: Reverend30

              I wouldn't call it gentrification, but as people here have been saying, over the last five years or so a lot of folks who don't live here have finally twigged that Allston is not the pestilent student ghetto they'd always heard it was. Most of the restaurants that have opened in the Allston Village and Union Square areas over the last several years -- Yoma, Deep Ellum, Jo Jo Taipei, Garlic N Lemons, Unique, Ariana, Azama Grill, Punjab Palace...even Kelly's and Pizzeria Regina! -- have not been expressly targeted at the student demographic, and most of them have thrived.

              (Admittedly, the pestilent-student-ghetto aspect does exist to some extent, but honestly, I blame greedy absentee landlords and near-criminal rental companies for it -- although that's another rant for another place -- and it's not nearly as all-encompassing as you might think. Of the 18 or so houses in my immediate neighborhood, 3 or 4 have students, with the remainder occupied by families or older, non-student renters, and this is within the infamous Brighton-Ave-to-the-railyard part of town.)

              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                I can say that even though I have been to most of the chowish places in Allston, and though the chow map in my mind tells me the neighborhood beats or at least rivals almost any other hood around, it is severely tainted in my mind because of the 2nd neighborhood overlaying it. I of course lived on Linden St. just as everyone who spends more then ten years here has. I was younger and but a fool as to the ways of eating then. It happened to be when the Model opened (95? 97? its all a blur) so most of whats chowish now was not around. I have read Jenny and Allstonian and the rest rave about the places to eat here but when the discussion starts amongst friends and family as to where to get dinner Allston always gets vetoed by someone over complaints of drunk kids being everywhere and parking issues. Anyone with cartography skills care to create a Allston chow map with only chowish places marked?

                1. re: KilgoreTrout

                  Are you talking about some kind of mid-90s change of ownership at the Model? I thought it had been around since at least the 50s, when locals pronounced it moe-DELLS.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    Perhaps. I don't remember for sure, thought it opened then, but I was just of drinking age, thought I might want to be a hipster and remember thinking "this is exactly what me and my friends are looking for. A place that only us cool 23 year olds who know better then everyone else can hang out and display our art work." Don't actually remember if it was new then or a rehab job.

                  2. re: KilgoreTrout

                    The Model Cafe has been owned & operated by one family since 1932. The original clientele were factory workers at Ryerson Steel, the Dorothy Muriel bakery, and other small factories nearby. When the current owners' dad died in 1995 his twin sons went after the 20-something market.

                    http://www.wickedlocal.com/allston/ne...

                    Not much in the way of cartography skills needed for an an Allston chow map: just walk along Brighton Avenue from Packard's Corner to Union Square, or Harvard Avenue from Commonwealth Avenue to Cambridge Street. The chowish places outnumber the bad ones. Do some board searches for past threads.

                    There are some good places on Cambridge Street between Union Square and Harvard Avenue, as well - YoMa is right across from Twin Donuts (technically it's actually on North Beacon Street - a few blocks further out North Beacon there's also the Pakistani restaurant Darbar.) Along Cambridge Street for real there's Deep Ellum, Cafe Brazil (well past its prime but still decent enough) and the Regina's that's opened in the former Sports Depot space - it doesn't hold a candle to the original Regina on Thacher Street, but is by far the best pizza in the immediate neighborhood.

                    1. re: Allstonian

                      And really, the "there's no parking!" situation is as overblown as the "drunk students everywhere!" situation. (Yeah, if you're at the corner of Harvard and Brighton at midnight on a weekend, there will in fact be drunk students everywhere, but ask yourself how often that's likely to happen.)

                      Along with the city lot behind Blanchards (which to be fair is often parked up, because it seems to be the first one everyone tries), there's tons of metered spaces surrounding the Harvard/Comm Ave intersection, and more on Alcorn, Gardner, Malvern and Ashford streets surrounding the BU softball field and the Star Market parking lot. And frankly, scofflaws can park in the Star parking lot with impunity since they removed its ticketing gates. That does leave the Union Square area underserved with parking spaces, but there's ample parking within three or four blocks of nearly all the worthwhile restaurants elsewhere in Allston, and that brief stroll after dinner will help you digest.

                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                        erm, the Stop & Shop parking lot, park discreetly and walk down Everett or up Beacon. Not busted yet, knock wood.

                      2. re: Allstonian

                        Back in the mid 70's (ouch) during periods of unemployment, I frequented the Model cafe because it was cheaper than staying home to cook. I believe I lived on their chicken croquets at around $0.85 (for two with mystery gravy - they weren't much good but filling and their was a kaleidoscope of people there most of the time) plus a Budweiser for under a buck. Livin' large ...

                      3. re: KilgoreTrout

                        For chowish on the "upscale" side, have you tried Petit Robert Bistro at 1414 Comm Ave? (between Allston and Warren). I just ate there for restaurant week and was very pleased! Especially with the fact that I can now walk to an "upscale" restaurant from my house in Allston. I do not like Deep Ellum so not including that as upscale. Hmm, now that I think about it, I'll call Cafe Brazil, which I can also walk to and has cloth tablecloths, upscale for Allston.

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                        Petit Robert Bistro
                        468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

                        Cafe Brazil
                        421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                        Deep Ellum Bar
                        477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                        1. re: mmocpi

                          If cloth tablecloths are your primary criterion, there are certainly far more "upscale" places in Allston than you claim.

                          Cafe Brazil--which I love--is a cozy neighborhood spot, not what I would consider "upscale" at all.

                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                            "primary criterion" Don't be silly/insulting.

                            For Allston, I'd call CB upscale. Got any examples of your own?

                            1. re: mmocpi

                              If Cafe Brazil is upscale, then so are Saray (pity the food sucks now, though), Jo Jo Taipei, Punjab Palace, Ariana, Myung Dong, Shanghai Gate, Carlo's...heck, even the Regina in the old Sports Depot would count!

                              I think your belittling "for Allston" is the silly and insulting phrase, frankly.

                              -----
                              Shanghai Gate
                              204 Harvard Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                              Cafe Brazil
                              421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                              JoJo Tai Pei Restaurant
                              103 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                              Punjab Palace
                              109 Brighton Ave, Boston, MA 02134

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                Well you don't know me and my Allston pride if you'd think I'd ever belittle my chosen home -- lived here for decades, love it all and appreciate the beauty that is wonderful food in a non-upscale, low priced alternative. you're kinda missing my point of finding a restaurant week menu in Allston.

                                Anyhow, thanks for your suggestions, all of which I've been to, not all I would agree with you :) I have a fondness for Cafe Brazil and its owner since I've been going there since it opened - still enjoy it.

                                -----
                                Cafe Brazil
                                421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                1. re: mmocpi

                                  I suspect that Allstonian and I have you at least equaled on neighborhood pride, which is why I found your initial post so puzzling: given that Restaurant Week is pretty much a jive hustle, I just think it's important to celebrate that we have restaurants on the level of Chez Jacky/Jacky's Table/PRB in our neighborhood year-round, not just for a couple weeks in August. I apologize that I misunderstood you, but I admit it: I guess I don't understand what you were trying to say. That's undoubtedly my fault, not yours.

                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                    "Restaurant Week is pretty much a jive hustle" is going into my screenplay, which I hope to have many scenes like the opening diner scene in Reservoir Dogs ("Mr. Pink, he don't tip.") Because, you know, it's twenty years on, and even the gangsters are food geeks now.

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                              2. re: mmocpi

                                (oops, replied in wrong spot)

                                -----
                                Cafe Brazil
                                421 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                    2. re: devilham

                      When I lived around the corner (on lovely Royce Road), it was called DE Blakely's. I spent an inordinate amount of time and money there. Oh to be young and stupid again!

                      1. re: kimfair1

                        Yes. It was Blakely's just before it was Arbuckle's.

                        Here's more than y'all probably wanted to know: As Arbuckle's it was owned/managed by a pair of women, Barbara Ready and Ellen Rothstein, along with Mickey Ready (Barbara's ex). Prior to that they owned the Marshall House, the joint near Fanueil Hall and the Union Oyster House. Bumpy start, but when they rewrote the menu and chose to make huge burgers with lots of different toppings the schtick; plus big, 20oz. drafts (nothing fancier than Bass Ale) for short money,and 16oz. margharitas (all of this was about as fancy as Allston got in the mid-late eighties), the place was JAMMED with students Thurs-Sat. and Sun. brunch. I think I worked at least 125 Sunday doubles behind the bar in 3 yrs. Fun times though.

                        1. re: kimfair1

                          I worked at D.E. Blakely's briefly in 1984 and saw Doug Flutie's miracle pass to beat Miami. the food was pretty good as the Eggs Benedict featured real hollandaise sauce.

                          I am a veggie and the salads were always fresh.

                          People tend to forget how many times the bar has been raised in the last 25 years.

                        2. re: devilham

                          Really? I tended bar there steadily, 5-days/week, from '86-'89. Likely I poured you many of whatever it was you were drinking. And unless there was a bartender there you couldn't stand (there weren't many of us!), I guess I was one of the bartenders who was "really good" to you. :)
                          I hope you were "really good" to us in return. ;)

                          1. re: hollowleg

                            I hope I was too, but it was a long time ago, and can't remember if I was a good tipper back then (I hope I at least fairly tipped.....yes, lets go with that!). At the time the guy at the bar was in his twenties, really friendly....we were not college kids, more a bunch of dropouts and rock and rollers, the type that usually wouldn't frequent a sports bar, but the bartender just didn't play those games...was always friendly and remembered me and my crew....it was cool.....and the beer was SUPER cheap!

                            1. re: devilham

                              Well, then that _had_ to be me. My counterpart was in his late 40s at the time and other than the two of us the few remaining shifts were filled in with waitresses and younger folks hoping to get a better gig. We had a ton of fun there. Since we only had a 1:00 license though, it meant everyone had to scram to Our House, Great Scott, or Play it Again Sam's to keep the party going until 2. I remember quite a few of the regulars (not always names, but faces), especially the ones who weren't students. I'll bet if you give me a few more clues, like describing a few more of the people you travelled with, I could narrow it down! Did you ever come on Sunday for brunch or football games?

                              -----
                              Our House
                              1277 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                    3. Sounds like they are in mourning over on Yelp. But thanks for the tip!

                      21 Replies
                      1. re: chickendhansak

                        Anything that makes Yelpers mourn is potentially interesting, and I'm also intrigued by the concept of sweet potato tots.

                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                          Indeed, you can count me amongst those interested.

                        2. re: chickendhansak

                          That's an object lesson in being wary of any given random Yelper's reviews, which is of course applicable to any amateur review site. It's useful to read the other reviews written by the folks who are bemoaning the disappearance of the old version of The Avenue.

                          Having done that, I'm not feeling like I missed out on the old Avenue, whose chief virtue appears to have been $2 drafts, the cost of which was presumably subsidized by never paying to clean the place.

                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                            I can say that the old Avenue really did smell badly and was full of loud fratty a-holes . While I am pleased with this change, the more fresh ground burgers in town the better, I assume that when the students return it will be a lunch only place for me as even last night it trended towards mid 20somethings (as opposed to the early 20s who return home for the summer). That being said, the beer list may not be the single largest or best but it has the highest % of good beers out of total list. Props for trying to be chowish in that hood

                            1. re: KilgoreTrout

                              "That hood," if you mean this area of Allston, is about the most chowish part of Boston!

                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                I know all about Jo Jo and Shanghai, garlic etc... But as for "American" food, or pub fare what is there aside from Deep Ellum? Great Scott, Tavern in the Sq and the Sunset don't really strike me as chowish. Its almost as though there are 2 neighborhoods in the geographic space of one.

                                -----
                                Deep Ellum Bar
                                477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                1. re: KilgoreTrout

                                  Ah. I didn't realize you were using that strict a definition of chowish. It sounded like you were saying there was no food worth eating in the neighborhood.

                                  1. re: KilgoreTrout

                                    I'm honestly curious about what neighborhood combines the best of all worlds. Allston has Deep Ellum and a host of inexpensive, ethnic restaurants that most neighborhoods lack.

                                    So what neighborhood compares in that regard and has an ample number of pub fare destinations as well?

                                    -----
                                    Deep Ellum Bar
                                    477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                    1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                      Union Square in Somerville might be a micro-Allston. The Independent, Precinct, PA's Lounge, Bull McCabe's, Macchu Picchu (both versions), couple of worthy coffee shops and markets in Sherman and Bloc 11, hipster breakfast place (Neighborhood Restaurant), some reasonable Mexican action (Taqueria/Cantina La Mexicana / El Potro), couple of Brazilian bakeries and butchers, an Asian market, and a whole host of cheap Indian/Chinese/Korean/Japanese food action. And that Journeyman place.

                                      -----
                                      Bloc 11 Cafe
                                      11 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                                      El Potro
                                      61 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143

                                      1. re: chickendhansak

                                        I lived down in that neck of the woods about 15 years ago and while I wouldn't call the Sunset chowish, for someone just out of the college at the time it was still a decent place. Cutting edge? No. But competently executed for what it was. Sounds like Deep Ellum may have taken it's place as the best pub in the area.

                                        The Sil, the Model, were dives but certainly not dangerous like some make the neighborhood out to be. I am envious of the area today though, as the variety is a lot better and more upscale.

                                        I do agree though that during the school year it gets overrun and summers are much nicer.

                                        -----
                                        Deep Ellum Bar
                                        477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                        1. re: Msample

                                          The Allston of today is barely recognizable from the Allston of 15 years ago. It's really flowered in the last 3-5 years. Sunset these days is where you go to get roofied by popped-collar douchebags dipped from head to toe in Axe. If that place, Big City and the White Horse were destroyed in a gasline explosion at midnight on a Friday during the school year, I'm not sure anyone would weep too long.

                                          Deep Ellum very cleverly went out of its way to not appeal to the student demographic. A lot of folks hereabouts claimed that was a mistake, that they would never last without Guinness on tap and $2 PBR and KILLER MARGZ BRAH!!!!1!!, but here they are, thriving.

                                          -----
                                          Deep Ellum Bar
                                          477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                          Big City
                                          138 Brighton Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                            Truer words have not been spoken. As a resident of Allston/Brighton from 1981 to present, the changes in the neighborhood are staggering. And it wasn't until this post that I remembered just how awful the White Horse is. We ordered nachos and two burgers the one time I ate there, burgers took nearly 45 minutes to arrive, followed nearly 40 minutes later by the saddest looking nachos ever. They had obviously spent the past hour plus under a heat lamp, and the cheese was all brown and hard. The waitess dropped them off at the table, and started to leave, when I told her that A. an appetizer comes BEFORE your entrees, and B. since these were obviously old and gross, I didn't want them, nor would I be paying for them (had to have that argument with the manager when the bill came WITH the nachos still on it). NEVER again!

                                            1. re: kimfair1

                                              There was also at least one major chow loss:

                                              Ducky Wok was my all time favorite Vietnamese place, now long gone.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy

                                                Both Vietnamese and a certain delicious style of Chinese that was heavily HK influenced but unique as far as I can remember.

                                            2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                              Definitely. Most of my Allston time was spent around 99-02 or so, with a non-drinking burst in the early 90s (underage). It's really amazing how much htat area has changed. If it wasn't so full of students I'd actually go there regularly :)

                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                Stay away from those three above-named places and you'll be fine.

                                              2. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                "Sunset these days is where you go to get roofied by popped-collar douchebags dipped from head to toe in Axe."

                                                One of the best lines I recall ever reading on this board!

                                            3. re: chickendhansak

                                              I lived in Union Sq back when the first Elephant Walk opened. It was so wonderful. Shame, it's a shadow of its former self.

                                              Now I live on the Allston border, well within walking distance to all the great new restaurants. Over the last few yrs, there has been a reining in of the students, reflected in the thriving restaurant scene. The schools have built more dorms. During the housing bubble, more landlords sold off units, at least in my area.

                                              -----
                                              Elephant Walk
                                              2067 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                    2. re: MC Slim JB

                                      I would argue one should can take the object lesson of being wary of (Boston) Chowhound reviews that suggest destinations for pre or post drinks or desert due to their "chowiness" that are not actually within most people's comfort zones in terms of distance.

                                      And I say that in defense of Yelpers while never having posted one review on Yelp in my life...I'm assuming you are including Chowhound in the category of "amateur site?"

                                      1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                        Yes, I include Chowhound in that. The basic idea is, "Don't take restaurant advice from someone whose tastes you know little about." What good is a rave from someone whose favorite restaurant might be The Cheesecake Factory? Unless you're satisfied with lowest-common-denominator recommendations, taking advice from complete strangers online is not the most effective way to get good results.

                                        I have an informal trust model I use to rate posters based on a few critiera: apparent depth of knowledge on a locale or topic (Boston or whatever board they're posting on), shared sensibilities (we tend to like/dislike the same places/things), specialized expertise where relevant, (e.g., itaunas's peerless knowledge of Lusophone cuisines), "chowishness" (open-mindedness, adventurousness, range, food nerdiness, imperviousness to "influencers", etc.), and lack of bias (esp. freedom from industry ties). Vivid writing never hurts.

                                        It takes work to identify trustworthy amateurs, but I find it's worth it. I rarely get bum steers online anymore.

                                        (And when someone says "walking distance", I generally limit my recs to within about half a mile, a ten minute walk. Admittedly, that might be a notion of proximity favored only by folks who don't drive everywhere.)

                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          Thanks for the interesting reply. I got defensive because many dump on Yelp on this board while I feel there is a good deal of group think here.

                                          I tend to to trust Chowhound for a newish place or one with few reviews elsewhere (in town). Yelp I consider a good resource given enough reviews that "friends of the establishment" are unlikely to have swayed the ratings. In other words, a lot of good votes will influence me to take a chance while a ton of bad will probably lead me to skip a place (this really is useful out of town in cities where Chowhound is lacking but I'm trying to figure out what bars and restaurants to take a chance on).

                                          Maybe not the wisdom of the crowd, but at least the canary in the mine.

                                          The walking comment was obviously prompted by another thread where we disagreed about getting drinks near the Kendall Theater before Craigie On Main, but I've also always been amused by the regular advice on this board to get pre-dinner drinks at Drink if the restaurant was anywhere within Boston's city limits...but just my opinion.

                                    1. Okay, while I haven't been there for years, I can't imagine that the place degraded into one of "Allston's scariest bars."

                                      Not a "chowhound" kinda place, but did it really get worse than the Model, the Silly, or even Our House (when it was still open)?

                                      In their Roggie's days it wasn't a horrible place for some decent bar food and a beer. I have fond memories of their house salad dressing from many years ago...

                                      -----
                                      Our House
                                      1277 Commonwealth Ave, Allston, MA 02134

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                        I was not a regular by any means. I think you could say that the Sil may have been technically dirtier and divier. But the Avenue was dirty while serving food in addition to not actually trying to be a dive. It just got so dirty that it became a dive.

                                        1. re: KilgoreTrout

                                          Thanks. And too bad. I was young and didn't have the most developed of tastes, but when I lived around the corner the Avenue was a decent destination for decent bar food. I haven't been there in well more than five years, but it sounds like it took a serious nose dive (interesting in a business sense when the a lot of the surrounding neighborhood picked up their game...).

                                        2. re: Canadian Tuxedo

                                          While not scary, I did get roofied there about 5 years ago. I was with my now wife and a bunch of friends at a big table up front. The wife and I got up from the table, then came back and switched seats/beer glasses without thinking. I went home after that drink and proceeded to black out that night (I only had 2 Miller Lights all evening, so it was not alcohol induced). They were clearly planning on putting them in my wifes drink, and when we switched seats they got me instead.

                                            1. re: Allstonian

                                              I probably should have clarified that it wasn't my friends who roofied me. There were some other shady looking guys lingering off to the side. I assume they did it when my friends weren't paying attention

                                              1. re: mkfisher

                                                Ah. That possibility crossed my mind, but it didn't make sense if the two of you were part of a large group at a table - did they think that if they roofied her they could somehow separate her from the crowd?

                                                What do I know? I'm old, and clearly I don't understand how this works as a tactic...

                                        3. Of course this is good news in the grand scheme of things, but, man...I spent many a night at the Avenue back when it had $1 domestic drafts and 20 cent wings...especially fun on Football sundays. We'd all get trashed and eat our fill, watch 6 hours of football, and then get a check for like $19. Ahh...good times. Even back then, we knew to tip like royalty for that privilege, but even with a 75% tip it was still dirt cheap.

                                          Yes, this kind of place has little appeal for the kind of eaters and drinkers we are now, but I certainly have many a fond memory of the Avenue. Always avoided it on Friday and Saturday nights however.

                                          1. Student ghetto? The Harvard ave section of Allston has always had unique stores. Over the years it has had some pretty nice clubs.