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Chowhound "bum steers"

Bob MacAdoo Jul 26, 2011 02:51 PM

I saw this phrase in the Barking Crab thread and it made me chuckle.

Then it made me think.

Have I ever gotten a CH bum steer?

Have I ever given a CH bum steer?

In this spirit, my horror stories and my mea culpas. Feel free to play!

CH "bum steers" that I experienced:

Zalek's, Wakefield. All of the gushing in '07 led me to three medicore meals and two-and-a-half hours of my life wasted (waiting for the food or takeout.) At least I can say I went down swinging.

Grille Zone. Short-lived burger joint near BU West. Yuck.

Copia. Anthony Caturano's ill-conceived and even worse executed 'steakhouse.' Thanks, but I'll stick to the amazing Prezza.

Famous Dave's, Saugus. Still quite can't get the taste of that faux 'que out of my mouth. Bleeechh.

Gitlo's. Apparently, I missed the window of goodness and got nothing but meh.

My "bum steers"

Pressed Sandwiches. Depressing how fast that place went down hill. Makes me wonder, was it ever any good?

Hot Off The Press. Defunct place in Charlestown Navy Yard - Really, not worth the trip due to inconsistency and often cold interiors of pressed sammys.

(BTW, two bad pressed sandwich places = don't ever take ole Bob's advice on pressed sandwiches!)

Blue's Diner, Melrose. When you are wrong, you are wrong! boy was I wrong!! Another shuttered eatery, another bad rec by me, especially for dinner. Ashen burgers and weeping grilled cheese do not a diner make.

Grand Canal - $12 for a unappetizing BBQ chix & bacon wrap? I'm sorry that I ever mentioned the place.

-----
Zaleks
21 Princess St, Wakefield, MA 01880

The Barking Crab
88 Sleeper Street, Boston, MA 02210

Prezza
24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

Grille Zone
1022 Commonwealth Ave, Newton Center, MA

Pressed Sandwiches
2 Oliver St, Boston, MA 02109

Grand Canal
57 Canal St, Boston, MA 02114

  1. opinionatedchef Oct 5, 2011 01:45 PM

    Miracle of science was a bum steer for us last wk. Guac had nothing in it, no spark; just avocado does not a great guac make. Burger was o.k. noth special. Such a limited boring menu. but lord knows it has a big CH fanbase.

    1. c
      catsmeow Oct 2, 2011 06:05 PM

      Yesterday, I finally got to the Fat Cat in Quincy for their highly recommended Mac and Cheese. It was horrible. It was so dry without any sauce. The only sign of cheese was a few sprinkles of parmesan cheese on a few slices of tomato that was a garnish on it. My friend's crab Mac and cheese was the same dry pile of macaroni. The table next to us also got Mac and cheese and it looked nice and gooey. We mentioned it to the waitress and the manager came over to us. He apologized and said that sometimes they leave it in the oven tfriends'. Evidently, this has happened before. He gave us containers of "sauce" to take home to put in our leftovers(almost all of both orders were left to take home). When I got home, I put the sauce on it and heated it up. It was like lots of bits of garlic with a little sauce. I think we were given a very garlicky Alfredo type sauce. It still didn't look like what they got at the table next to us. He did offer us 2 comped desserts but it was very disappointing. We went there for the mac and cheese not for the dessert.

      -----
      Fat Cat
      24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

      3 Replies
      1. re: catsmeow
        p
        Pegmeister Oct 3, 2011 04:47 AM

        Guess I was one of those that gave you the bum steer on the Fat Cat. I've always loved their lobster mac & cheese. That said, it's been awhile since I've been and I've seen a few other posts in which people weren't happy. I know Neil reads this site, so I'm sure he's listening and will address the problem. Don't rule them out yet.

        -----
        Fat Cat
        24 Chestnut St, Quincy, MA 02169

        1. re: Pegmeister
          c
          catsmeow Oct 3, 2011 05:06 PM

          Pegmeister, is the sauce usually cheesey or very garlicky? Thanks

          1. re: catsmeow
            p
            Pegmeister Oct 4, 2011 04:58 AM

            Sauce is not generally garlicky. He uses a blend of cheeses including bleu so it's very rich. I've had times when it's been too thin, but still a nice cheese flavor. The owner is most often on the premises, so it does surprise me to hear complaints about his signature dish. I do know that he reads chowhound so I'm sure he'll take the criticism to heart and make adjustments.

      2. tatsu Sep 2, 2011 09:23 AM

        As mentioned in another post, CK' Shanghai. Total bummer for me. Surprisingly it got reviewed in the Phoenix by Nadeau, he gave it a thumbs up basically.

        I went for lunch so my opinion should be discounted, but I think the current CK is far outstripping his reputation at this point. Not that any one cares or even remembers.

        2 Replies
        1. re: tatsu
          k
          Klunco Sep 2, 2011 09:29 AM

          This was a bum steer for me as well. My mom lives in metro-west and I dragged her here once and then went with a couple of friends another time and I kept thinking, "Really? And then asking why Chow, why?"

          1. re: tatsu
            barleywino Sep 2, 2011 09:56 AM

            CK used to have a great rice wine fish filet but it is no longer any good there. their small selection of weekend dimsum (mostly Northern style, such as fried cruller w/ salty soy milk) is not bad if you're in the neighborhood. but their soup dumplings have no soup to speak of.

          2. phelana Aug 16, 2011 04:49 PM

            Erbaluce was my one and only CH bum steer

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

            1. opinionatedchef Aug 15, 2011 10:23 PM

              SARAY Turkish restnt. in Allston. I bought a coupon based on CH recs and we used it tonight. I don't think I've ever complained on CH about pricing except for Oishii II some years ago, and until tonight I have never felt gypped in an ethnic restnt. But Saray was overpriced/entree portions were v. chintzy, and the food not well prepared(salmon grossly overcooked; items unseasoned or drowning in yoghurt sauce. ) Go to Istanbul'lu or Oleana instead.

              -----
              Oleana
              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

              7 Replies
              1. re: opinionatedchef
                Infomaniac Aug 16, 2011 04:07 AM

                Would this be complaining about price?

                "is this a misprint- TEN dollars for a side of potatoes??? as in P o t a t o e s ??"
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/792715

                Hamersley's sides are the same price as Maxwell's 148 in Natick which you recently wrote about again, but didn't mention any side dishes. Maybe you didn't order any because they were to expensive.

                -----
                Maxwells 148
                148 East Central Street, Natick, MA 01760

                1. re: Infomaniac
                  opinionatedchef Aug 16, 2011 02:36 PM

                  you know, one of the cool things about maxwells 148 is that he gives you starch or veggies on your plate, in a sufficient amount, that you don't need sides.He charges TEN DOLLARS for a side of potatoes? no wayyyy. it was interesting; we had eaten at 80 Lincoln the night before and had also ordered foie torchon and scallops; while we really enjoyed 80 lincoln, the portions were far more generous (by about 1/3-1/2) at Maxwells and the Maxwell's torchon blew the 80 Lincoln one out of the water in quality, prep and flavor>> deep rosey pink marsala-poached richness w/ excellent fig compote.i wanted to have a tub of it all to myself.

                  (i meant that i don't complain about price in reviews of places I have been. oishii II and saray are now the exceptions.won't return to either.)

                  1. re: opinionatedchef
                    d
                    Duster17 Aug 17, 2011 05:55 AM

                    I'm confused -- do you mean 51 Lincoln or 80 Thoreau?

                    -----
                    51 Lincoln
                    51 Lincoln Street, Newton, MA 02461

                    1. re: Duster17
                      opinionatedchef Aug 17, 2011 10:41 AM

                      ha. 80 thoreau. th you.

                  2. re: Infomaniac
                    opinionatedchef Aug 16, 2011 04:13 PM

                    OMG maniac!! you are RIIIIGHTTTTT!! TENDOLLARS for mashed potatoes at maxwells!! mea culpa. please forgive me.

                    On the other hand, what IS the world coming to? sixteen dollars for a foie torchon v.s. ten dollars for mashed potatoes. somebody HAS to put these chefs in line. i'm sure that one could easily retort (maybe maxwell himself) that he can only offer foie at 16 because he offers mashed pota. at 10. to which i would reply. "find another way; this way is just too degeuelasse/offputting".

                  3. re: opinionatedchef
                    Allstonian Aug 16, 2011 07:37 AM

                    Yep - I'll 'fess up as having provided bum steers on Saray.

                    In my own defense, I will say that the couple of meals we had in late 2007 and early 2008, when they had first opened, were indeed quite good.

                    We had another dinner there some time later that wasn't so great, and I failed to post about it and have continued to recommend Saray among the many great restaurants in Allston. I shouldn't have done so. Like OC, I bought a coupon earlier this year and had an absolutely terrible dinner there in May - stale bread, only passable food, and while my portion was fine my DC's was, frankly, mingy. We won't be back, and I won't recommend them again.

                    1. re: Allstonian
                      MC Slim JB Aug 16, 2011 11:56 AM

                      Bummer about Saray. I really liked them when they opened, too. Haven't been back in a while.

                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                  4. viperlush Aug 4, 2011 04:58 AM

                    I don't think that I have given out any on the Boston Board (I haven't been as active as I was in Baltimore). Maybe Maria's? Usually my favorite bakery in the North End, but I've been a couple times when the cookies have been stale and the store doesn't appear as not as clean and pretty as Modern.

                    Received I would have to say the Blue Room's Brunch. When we went a couple summers ago the hot food was cold and dry. The dessert/pastry table looked messy (but that could have been because of the woman standing there touching and picking through everything). And the service was lacking. All which would have been understanding if it was towards the end of service, but we went to their first seating @ 11.

                    And I guess we have lucked out with our experience at ECG. Because of reading posts on Chowhound we have mainly eaten brunch there and have really enjoyed our meals. Price wise, amount of food, and flavors. And we get there @ opening to avoid the line. If I judged it by the one dinner that we ate at the bar I would probably feel different.

                    But I have to say without Chowhound I wouldn't know not to be intimidated by the lines @ Paramount, not to waste my time in the lines @ Mikes, that Green Street does Taco Nights, and the next time we are craving lobster rolls Alive and Kicking is legit and to give them a try.

                    -----
                    The Blue Room
                    Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: viperlush
                      jgg13 Aug 4, 2011 06:32 AM

                      I was similarly underwhelmed by the brunch at the blue room

                    2. opinionatedchef Aug 3, 2011 09:57 PM

                      I was just reminded of this place by another thread on it -that has recent activity. Tacos Mexico in Framingham. Best tacos in MA? yiiiikes. these fans need to get into boston more. La Verdad, El Centro,Howling Wolf in Salem- all of them have it all over Tacos Mexico. I completely understand making do when you're in the foodie hinterlands, but calling this the best tacos in MA. is just a mistake.

                      -----
                      La Verdad
                      1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215

                      Tacos Mexico
                      144 Waverly St, Framingham, MA 01702

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                        Allstonian Aug 4, 2011 07:52 AM

                        I'm confused. Have you been there more than the one time you described on the other thread? Your comments there were mixed, it's true (although you seem to have stopped in on a miserable evening, and you said that you thought the young man running the place single-handed was not the usual chef/owner.) Still, you said "the pastor and discada fillings were both very full flavored and delicious," said "Nice find framhound; thanks for all the info," and made this comment to Area Man: "[Y]ou're lucky to be nearby w/ that discada."
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7696...

                        Were you disappointed by later visits?

                      2. CocoDan Aug 3, 2011 10:34 AM

                        It's like reading the Opinion section in the Sunday Globe. It's an opinion! Advise is worth exactly what you pay for it.
                        Enjoy,
                        CocoDan

                        1. n
                          nightsky Aug 2, 2011 08:59 PM

                          Jasmine Bistro. This place used to get a lot of praise, but I haven't seen it mentioned in a while. Food was ok the one time i went, but the overall experience was just surreal. Not in a good way.

                          Taranta. I've been twice, want to like it, but it seems like much of the north end: overrated and a bit pricey for what you get. I love the idea of peruvian/sicilian, but instead of a fusion that could be really creative, it seems like you have to pick one or the other, and you can find better versions elsewhere. For the people who love it, what is it that brings you back?

                          Both places involved very long waits. I can understand if some dishes require some extra prep/cook time, but if it's over 20 minutes, i think diners should be warned.

                          -----
                          Jasmine Bistro
                          412 Market St, Brighton, MA 02135

                          1. Boston_Otter Jul 29, 2011 07:39 AM

                            The only two I can think of are Chez Henri and Guru. Neither was actually bad, just disappointing given the massive hype; the Indian at Guru was fine, but about on par with frozen Indian from Trader Joes, frankly. And the much-hyped Cubano at Chez Henri was indeed a decent sandwich, but paled next to the ones at Dave's Fresh Pasta, which were cheaper, tastier, and had a thousand times less attitude attached.

                            I have to admit over-hyping the sandwiches at the late Good Food Cafe. I declared their veggie sandwich the "best sandwich in Boston", and at that exact moment in time, it might've seemed that way to me. But they went downhill very quickly, stopped using their fresh-baked bread (which was 90% of the reason their sandwiches were so good), and I gave up on the place after several terrible meals.

                            8 Replies
                            1. re: Boston_Otter
                              b
                              Berheenia Aug 1, 2011 03:26 AM

                              I've often wondered how good the famous cubano at Chez Henri really is but can't deal with the hassle of getting the elusive seats at the bar.. Our go to cubano is from the Montrose Spa, which is almost next door to CH..

                              -----
                              Chez Henri
                              1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              Montrose Spa
                              1646 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

                              1. re: Berheenia
                                Boston_Otter Aug 1, 2011 05:09 AM

                                That's kind of what I'm talking about, yeah. When I went, they offered to seat me in the dining room. I said I'd prefer to sit at the bar and get the bar menu. They then suggested I sit in the dining room and order from the bar menu, which I thought was a fine idea. But when I ordered the cubano, my server sighed. "Is that all you want? You could have sat at the bar." He rolled his eyes.

                                1. re: Berheenia
                                  StriperGuy Aug 1, 2011 06:49 AM

                                  I've eaten Cuban sandwiches in NYC, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Puerto Rico...

                                  Though a little on the gourmet side, the Chez Henri version really is awesome.

                                  -----
                                  Chez Henri
                                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    MC Slim JB Aug 1, 2011 09:18 AM

                                    Cubanos are also one of the few good reasons to visit Tampa. They add salami to theirs: freaky but good. They also claim to have invented them.

                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                  2. re: Berheenia
                                    chickendhansak Aug 1, 2011 09:42 AM

                                    I recently discovered the Montrose Spa Cuban and agree it is good, though I think Dave's Fresh Pasta's is better. The CH one seems richer and greasier than both the Montrose and Dave's.

                                    So that little stretch of Mass Ave had been a Bermuda/Cuba Triangle in recent times, given the short-lived Cuban on Cambridge Common's menu. I thought that was funny enough but didn't realise there was another competing and long-established Cuban in the very same spot.

                                    -----
                                    Cambridge Common
                                    1667 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                    Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                    81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                    Montrose Spa
                                    1646 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

                                    1. re: chickendhansak
                                      opinionatedchef Aug 2, 2011 10:29 PM

                                      i completely agree with you. I seriously don't think you can get a better cubano than the one at dave's . surprisingly tremendous.

                                      -----
                                      Dave's Fresh Pasta
                                      81 Holland St, Somerville, MA 02144

                                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                                        Boston_Otter Aug 3, 2011 04:43 AM

                                        I do have to say, though, that while their cubano is excellent in the store, it's worth heading to Davis Square's ArtBeat festival to get one grilled over coal. That takes it to another level. No wonder that they sell out before lunchtime.

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          chickendhansak Aug 3, 2011 10:26 AM

                                          Actually I'm not saying I don't like the one at CH. But it's a different beast to the others I've had, of which Dave's is the best. I haven't been to the place in JP (El Oriental de Cuba?) to compare, either. (I don't profess expertise on this subject by any means.)

                                  3. Bob MacAdoo Jul 28, 2011 07:37 AM

                                    Wow, looks like all the posts referring to a much-missed voice on the board have vanished ... a pity ... I'm glad this thread is generating some lively discussion, but I'm curious why more people are not copping to giving out bum steers. Nobody can bat .1000, correct?

                                    Inre the Villa Mexico, I'd forgot that I was not impressed with that rec.

                                    Inre Cantina La Mex, formerly Taqueria La Mex, I guess that could be considered another BS by me. That said, I've long qualified my rec/love for that joint by saying the only safe dishes are the pork tacos, the chili rellenos and the tamals. Everything else is 'meh' or worse IMHO. That said, those three dishes continued to deliver. Just last week, I did a take out pork tacos which was to die for, perfect handmade double-stack corn wrap filled with greasy carnitas (they throw the roast pork on the grill before they make the taco) covered with fresh pico di gallo and some habenero sauce. Nothing fancy, just yummy.

                                    -----
                                    Villa Mexico
                                    296 Cambridge St, Boston, MA 02114

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Bob MacAdoo
                                      Small Plates Jul 28, 2011 11:57 AM

                                      Really good - we had them after the farmers market a few weeks ago. Gonna' say it was not only the best pork taco I've ever had, but probably the best taco.

                                      1. re: Bob MacAdoo
                                        j
                                        Jenny Ondioline Jul 28, 2011 04:01 PM

                                        Here's a bum steer I gave: for ages, whenever requests for afternoon tea came around, I would recommend the Park Plaza almost reflexively, in particular mentioning the welcoming service. The last time we were there -- and it will indeed be the last -- the service went past indifferent and verged on actively hostile. So I did feel bad about all the times I had previously recommended them.

                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                          lipoff Jul 28, 2011 08:45 PM

                                          I've only been to the Park Plaza for tea tasting with Cynthia Gold, the tea sommelier. And she provides lovely service, and is incredibly knowledgable. I don't know about their ordinary teas, but the tastings are no more expensive than their regular tea service, but you have to call in advance and they're not always available. I would certainly recommend it!

                                          1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                            Allstonian Jul 29, 2011 06:00 AM

                                            You don't mean the Park Plaza, you mean the Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons.

                                        2. l
                                          LeoLioness Jul 27, 2011 01:17 PM

                                          It certainly could have been a case of bad ordering, but I recall a meal at Changsho (near Porter Square) so awful that every time I see it subsequently recommended I want to sit on my fingers lest I type NO.

                                          -----
                                          Changsho
                                          1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                          14 Replies
                                          1. re: LeoLioness
                                            Allstonian Jul 27, 2011 01:33 PM

                                            Fair enough, but I don't think I've ever seen much love for Changsho on this board, except in threads looking for old-school Americanized Chinese food or a dressy room.

                                            1. re: Allstonian
                                              MC Slim JB Jul 27, 2011 01:34 PM

                                              And free parking: don't forget the free parking. It's like gold on that stretch between Harvard and Porter.

                                              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                              1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                Allstonian Jul 27, 2011 01:40 PM

                                                Oh, yeah. Don't drive, so that part never crosses my mind.

                                                1. re: Allstonian
                                                  MC Slim JB Jul 27, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                  I rarely drive when I'm dining out, either, but I have to believe that free parking is the only reason the Red Fez remains in business. Either that, or it's really a restaurant in name only.

                                                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                  -----
                                                  Red Fez
                                                  49 Peck St, Providence, RI 02903

                                                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                    b
                                                    Bellachefa Jul 27, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                    my husbands family still mourns the original Red Fez

                                                    1. re: Bellachefa
                                                      MC Slim JB Jul 27, 2011 01:59 PM

                                                      I don't remember the original Fez, though I too know people who do, and fondly. What I remember is the revived Fez being pretty good and reliable for several years, and now it's just insultingly bad in every way imaginable. Always empty, still open every night.

                                                      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                        m
                                                        misscucina Jul 27, 2011 05:40 PM

                                                        Erbaluce. Not the worst place I've been, but a waste of a birthday meal. :) CH totally overhyped and overrated the food. Plus, no one mentioned the room was also hideously ugly. Still looks like the bar that it used to be.

                                                        Bergamot was 1,000 times better in every way and even Prezza did just about everything right.

                                                        -----
                                                        Prezza
                                                        24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

                                                        Erbaluce
                                                        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                        1. re: misscucina
                                                          chickendhansak Aug 1, 2011 11:23 AM

                                                          Didn't like Erbaluce either. The constant theme, here and elsewhere, is that it's distinctive for its chef's commitment to light preparation, not heavy on butter and oil. I had a risotto that was swimming in oil. Saffron-infused oil, I grant you, but greasy nonetheless. Most other aspects of the experience disappointed me as well, including the room and the vibe, and the terrible music they were playing. The whole experience was just so bland and stiff.

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

                                                          1. re: chickendhansak
                                                            g
                                                            Gabatta Aug 1, 2011 12:01 PM

                                                            I agree with this one. I have previously posted about sub par experiences at Erbulace. Bad room, uneven service and timing from the kitchen and bar, blistering halitosis from our waiter on one visit. The food isn't consistently good enough to make up for all of this. We had one good meal there, then two terrible experiences. It is off the list.

                                                            1. re: Gabatta
                                                              d
                                                              Duster17 Aug 1, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                              I feel I was a victim of bum steer syndrome when I went to Erbaluce for my birthday last year after reading the rave reviews here. The room felt so uncomfortable and I can't even remember the food we had. Will not go back.

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

                                                              1. re: Gabatta
                                                                nsenada Aug 24, 2011 11:32 AM

                                                                Maybe the halitosis was part of some funky flavor palette?

                                                  2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                    CocoDan Jul 28, 2011 06:31 AM

                                                    MC, You know I love free parking. Don't underestimate the power of free parking. Automatically makes the meal taste better. Ha! Ha! Did I say I love free parking?
                                                    Available almost nowhere in the City.
                                                    CocoDan

                                                  3. re: Allstonian
                                                    u
                                                    Uncle Yabai Jul 27, 2011 09:42 PM

                                                    Changsho was good between 1977 and 1987, but not later. So it has been a while.

                                                    -----
                                                    Changsho
                                                    1712 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                                  4. re: LeoLioness
                                                    Boston_Otter Jul 29, 2011 07:34 AM

                                                    I've had a couple of mediocre things there (pretty much anything on their buffet), but I've also had easily the best Americanized Chinese food in Boston there.

                                                  5. d
                                                    dulce de leche Jul 27, 2011 12:45 PM

                                                    I don't think my family will ever let me live down Vinny's at Night. Mean to us when they weren't ignoring us (one of two tables seated), oily burnt garlic pasta, overpriced. The kids were like "why are we eating bad food in a basement?" I concede it may be *possible* to have a positive experience there, because it seems so popular on this board, but I would never go again.

                                                    I'm sorry for all those I've sent to Cantina la Mexicana in Union Sq. When it first opened as a bigger place, they had a great bartending team, the food was pretty good, etc. The last time I went, the food was barely passable, the server was bad enough we almost wondered if it was performance art.

                                                    1. t
                                                      teezeetoo Jul 27, 2011 12:21 PM

                                                      I've often gotten good leads, but it does depend on whether your taste matches the posters. I note above that several people list erbaluce and gran gusto as "duds" and I love the first and like the second. Cognac Bistro is my neighborhood go to bistro, neither grand nor expensive, but always warm and reliable, and Family restaurant is one of my favorite "cheap eats." So, what some call a bum steer may remain the delight of others. on the other hand, cafe vanille is just plain lousy.

                                                      -----
                                                      Cognac Bistro
                                                      455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                                      1. galangatron Jul 27, 2011 09:37 AM

                                                        gitlo's
                                                        angela's
                                                        santarpio's
                                                        mehak
                                                        brookline family restaurant
                                                        guru the caterer
                                                        baraka cafe

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: galangatron
                                                          g
                                                          gourmaniac Jul 27, 2011 10:29 AM

                                                          I like this thread.

                                                          BS taken: agree on Guru the Caterer and I've tried both locations
                                                          Cognac Bistro but i think this is my issue of fair to middlin' food that I can make better at home.
                                                          BS given: I recall a rec on a Thai place in Oak Square (Sweet Pepper?) that was a bomb. I was so pleased to finally have a flavor beyond pepperoni in my old neighborhood that I got carried away.

                                                          1. re: galangatron
                                                            Delhiwala Aug 1, 2011 12:43 PM

                                                            I totally agree that Santarpios is a bum steer. Mediocre pizza and lamb kebabs. To say that it is as good as or better than Pizzeria Regina on Thatcher Street is simply not true.

                                                            1. re: Delhiwala
                                                              t
                                                              T.Clark Aug 2, 2011 09:31 PM

                                                              To me Regina is a bum steer in itself. Recommending "Regina's on Thatcher Only" to tourists is like breathing air on this board. Best Roman style pizza Boston may have? Maybe. But in the greater picture of pizza in America, let alone New England, Regina's stands on it's history more than it stands on quality. Wouldn't even crack the top 20 in the U.S.

                                                              1. re: T.Clark
                                                                t
                                                                treb Aug 3, 2011 09:07 AM

                                                                Agree about Regina's not making a top 20 in the US. However, within the confines of the BOS CH board it is one of the better za places, especially if you know what to order.

                                                          2. l
                                                            lergnom Jul 27, 2011 08:35 AM

                                                            I have eaten at many places discussed and know I disagree with a number of other posters so I'm careful about my expectations. That said, I've never liked El Pelon's fish anything much; it's tasteless, has no meaningful consistency and comes covered in too much gunk that obscures whatever taste might exist.

                                                            I find my disagreements come in a few repeated flavors. Putting aside consistency:

                                                            1. People like fried food and I think it's mostly just fried flour stuck on something. Fried scallops are almost always a waste of shellfish and most fried clams are hunks of breading that sometimes have a clammish flavor. Very rarely do places fry lightly and I think the trend has been toward harder not lighter frying. I used to be able to get reasonable soft fried calamari but now the standard seems to be hard fried. Even tempura around here is getting a harder crust. Tastes are moving away from mine. And away from healthy. I think fried food should be served in a small enough portion that it remains hot.

                                                            2. Sweetness. Lots of people like sweetened food, particularly sweetened Asian foods. That's not my taste. It seems restaurants know they can attract the American palate by loading up with sugar. Though much of my family is from NC, I can't really abide the sickening sweet BBQ soaked in sauce that is often done around here. It's not North v. South: upstate NY has BBQ that's light years better.

                                                            3. What I call the "authentic ethnic snob." Some people insist it just can't be good because it isn't made exactly like it is in x country. We're not in that country. They complain about details that matter only to them; they're the food equivalent of the language police insisting you pronounced that word wrong.

                                                            This all said, the biggest problem with food in Boston is consistency and that I blame on the general lack of a food culture in the US and certainly in this area. Restaurants here have improved a lot, but they haven't yet - if they ever will - learned how consistency is the essence of making food. It's kind of disheartening to realize that given the vast numbers of culinary school ads on tv. So much of the food experience in the US is oriented toward processing, by which I mean they perform cooking processes and plating processes like in a factory shop and don't understand the true depth of what food means.

                                                            -----
                                                            El Pelon
                                                            2197 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, MA 02135

                                                            3 Replies
                                                            1. re: lergnom
                                                              l
                                                              LStaff Jul 27, 2011 10:56 AM

                                                              Absolutely love point #3. What's is "authentic" anyway? - as if their is some written code that should not be violated. Even in the countries that people claim are the source of authenticity, things are done differently depending on region/city/place/cook. Like when people make claims of "traditional", one only needs to look at a different time period to see different traditions.

                                                              1. re: LStaff
                                                                MC Slim JB Jul 27, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                                I really like the word "traditional", which doesn't carry the loaded cultural bias of "ethnic" and doesn't ascribe authority to the user the way "authentic" does.

                                                                I try to use it the way J. Gold does, meaning "food as it is cooked in the native country, or by ex-pats cooking here for other ex-pats", as opposed to versions of the food that have been adapted for non-native ingredients and tastes.

                                                                To me, that doesn't mean there's only one true version: obviously, every cuisine has many variants based on regions, dietary and sub-cultural preferences, home cooking vs. restaurant cooking vs. street-food cooking, etc.

                                                                I have to confess, I am one of those "snobs" when it comes to many traditional cuisines. But I am being honest when I say I like S&I better than at suburban curry-from-a-can Thai joints, or Taqueria Jalisco better than Temazcal, or New Shanghai better than Golden Temple. But I don't think I'm an absolutist, either: there's room in my heart for both Mary Chung and Sichuan Gourmet.

                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                  Science Chick Jul 27, 2011 11:35 AM

                                                                  Nicely said, MC!

                                                            2. w
                                                              winedude Jul 27, 2011 08:19 AM

                                                              I would say that what I love about CH (as opposed to, say, Yelp), is that the odds of getting a bum steer are very, very small. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three real disappointments: Franklin Cafe, Erbaluce and Gran Gusto. My meals at each place were just OK, but after the reviews here I was expecting much more, and I haven't been back to any of them.

                                                              -----
                                                              Gran Gusto
                                                              90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                                              Erbaluce
                                                              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                              17 Replies
                                                              1. re: winedude
                                                                Science Chick Jul 27, 2011 09:34 AM

                                                                Oh yeah, I should have included Gran Gusto on my "received" list. I thought the pizza was soggy and awful!

                                                                -----
                                                                Gran Gusto
                                                                90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                                                1. re: Science Chick
                                                                  t
                                                                  Taralli Jul 27, 2011 09:50 AM

                                                                  Our Margherita pizza was just fine.

                                                                2. re: winedude
                                                                  Mike5966 Jul 27, 2011 09:43 AM

                                                                  +1 on Franklin Cafe. As much as I hate to be a person who says it, "I really wanted to like this place..." I still like going there for drinks.

                                                                  1. re: winedude
                                                                    n
                                                                    Novasmurf Jul 27, 2011 12:12 PM

                                                                    I second the bum steer of Erbaluce. We had a dreadful dinner there last year. Pasta and meats not cooked properly, bizarre flavors that did not work at all, and awful service. I was really disappointed after reading such good reviews.

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

                                                                    1. re: Novasmurf
                                                                      s
                                                                      Spike Jul 27, 2011 01:19 PM

                                                                      Ditto Erbaluce.

                                                                      And Scups in the Harbor was ehhh to me too...dumpy place...food was just ok...

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

                                                                      1. re: Spike
                                                                        MC Slim JB Jul 27, 2011 01:27 PM

                                                                        "Bum" clearly is in the eye of the beholder. I had another astonishing meal at Erbaluce recently, have never had anything that I thought was less than terrific there. But I have friends whom I've steered there and did not love it. A couple of them listened to my urging to give it a second shot, and have turned around on it.

                                                                        I think I've given plenty of recommendations here that don't have the benefit of a recent visit, and when I went back later, I went, "Uh-oh." For instance, I've long recommended Il Capriccio here, but found it had declined pretty steeply when I went back a couple of years ago. Same thing for Pigalle: I had long recommended it here, but my last couple of visits were very disappointing.

                                                                        I'm trying harder not to recommend places I haven't been back to in the last six months or so. Even the great ones go downhill eventually.

                                                                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                        -----
                                                                        Pigalle
                                                                        75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                        Il Capriccio
                                                                        888 Main St., Waltham, MA 02453

                                                                        Erbaluce
                                                                        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                          Bob Dobalina Jul 27, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                                          As to Il Capriccio, it may merit another return visit if you haven't been in a couple of years - had a 30 person function there this past fall, and the food was great all the way around. Not sure how it compares to your past experiences, of course....

                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                            d
                                                                            DoubleMan Jul 27, 2011 06:59 PM

                                                                            How is Pigalle still surviving? Is it loyal regulars; people coming in to town for a show and looking for nearby non-asian restaurants with decent Zagat scores; some combination of the two making it easy to fill such a small place; or something else? I just don't get it. The food and service are fine, but with the $14-23 apps and $29-44 entrees, the value is terrible.

                                                                            Pigalle is one of those places (Radius is another) that makes me wonder whether it has really gone downhill or if its early-2000s style of food is just dated. I suspect it's both, but I won't be going back to really find out.

                                                                            -----
                                                                            Pigalle
                                                                            75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                            1. re: DoubleMan
                                                                              e
                                                                              emannths Jul 28, 2011 05:32 AM

                                                                              Pigalle may not be surviving as much as you may think. They offered a $25-for-$50 groupon recently.

                                                                              -----
                                                                              Pigalle
                                                                              75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                              1. re: DoubleMan
                                                                                MC Slim JB Jul 28, 2011 08:29 AM

                                                                                My disappointments at Pigalle and Radius have been less failures of conception than execution. But I agree: both are now terrible values.

                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                -----
                                                                                Pigalle
                                                                                75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                  opinionatedchef Jul 28, 2011 11:09 AM

                                                                                  agreed for sure.

                                                                              2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                opinionatedchef Jul 28, 2011 11:13 AM

                                                                                hmmm, i just remembered- Falafel Corner in Harv Sq. Not again. no nooo.

                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                  f
                                                                                  FoonFan Aug 16, 2011 06:40 AM

                                                                                  I think the issue with Erbaluce is that the flavor palette is very unconventional, sometimes bordering on a bit weird. I love it - it works for me - it's so not same old same old. But I could understand that it wouldn't work for everyone.

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

                                                                                  1. re: FoonFan
                                                                                    StriperGuy Aug 16, 2011 07:09 AM

                                                                                    I don't mind unusual flavor palate. I've been 4 times. Had superb food twice and just plain poor execution twice. That batting average is not good enough for me.

                                                                              3. re: Novasmurf
                                                                                StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 04:05 PM

                                                                                I've had very good meals at Erbaluce and very lame ones (once solo with my SO who is Italian). I won't go any more unless I am with friends of the house.

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

                                                                              4. re: winedude
                                                                                c
                                                                                Cachetes Jul 27, 2011 07:57 PM

                                                                                Erbaluce was the one that came to mind for me also. Admittedly we only went once, but except for my husband's clam app, (can't remember specifics), each of the dishes seemed unbalanced in some way. And the service was sub-par. We don't get the pleasure of eating out a lot, so I doubt we'll gamble on it again any time soon.

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

                                                                                1. re: winedude
                                                                                  viperlush Aug 4, 2011 04:45 AM

                                                                                  I'd also put Gran Gusto on my received list, except that the rest of my party loved their meals and still talk about them. I like I just ordered wrong.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Gran Gusto
                                                                                  90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

                                                                                2. t
                                                                                  three of us Jul 27, 2011 08:15 AM

                                                                                  Bum steers rec'd: No. 9 park, Kathmandu Spice (mentioned above), whatever Pongal in Billerica was before.

                                                                                  Bum steers given: Lobster Pool. Major red-face. Raved about it and the food was worse than chain restaurant mediocrity. When they are on, it's great. Not consistent, though.

                                                                                  -----
                                                                                  Lobster Pool
                                                                                  329 Granite St, Rockport, MA 01966

                                                                                  Kathmandu Spice
                                                                                  166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: three of us
                                                                                    greygarious Jul 27, 2011 12:10 PM

                                                                                    You mean Masalaa? It was all southern Indian, vegetarian, which is not what most Westerners think of as Indian food. The Pongal features dishes from all regions of India, although the owners, and the sister restaurant in Bangalore, are southern.

                                                                                    1. re: greygarious
                                                                                      t
                                                                                      three of us Jul 27, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                                      Yes, Masalaa! We went for Sunday lunch and I have never been so ignored and rudely treated! I would rather be asked to leave, that they don't want to serve us (whatever the reason). I was the one who lobbied to go there and felt very badly for my table. So, it wasn't the regional variance in Indian cooking -- they were just jerks.

                                                                                    2. re: three of us
                                                                                      a
                                                                                      aregularjoe Jul 31, 2011 12:52 PM

                                                                                      What was your issue with No 9 park?

                                                                                      1. re: aregularjoe
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        three of us Aug 1, 2011 01:16 PM

                                                                                        My steak was not cooked to order (med/rare) and it was brought back well done with all kinds of crud sticking to it, like it fell into the bin where the stuff they clean off the grill goes. I told the waiter that the steak was not acceptable and I would like another one cooked fresh. He told me it would take up to 30 minutes. Husband's steak was okay but not a great cut. Sides were unimpressive. This was a splurge dinner for us so that added to our disappointment.

                                                                                        1. re: three of us
                                                                                          a
                                                                                          aregularjoe Aug 1, 2011 01:37 PM

                                                                                          WOW. I have never had anything but top quality ingredients, perfect preparation and bend over backwards service in 6 visits over the last 2 years. Once or twice the dishes were not exactly to my taste, but always top quality ingredients executed flawlessly.

                                                                                          Would you tell me when you went? Was it recent? I have not been there in the last 6 months.

                                                                                          1. re: aregularjoe
                                                                                            t
                                                                                            three of us Aug 3, 2011 08:25 AM

                                                                                            It was a couple years ago, at least. We were so happy to go out for a special dinner and my steak was like getting doused in ice water -- I was that stunned.

                                                                                    3. Science Chick Jul 27, 2011 08:08 AM

                                                                                      Bum steers I received:
                                                                                      Gitlo's
                                                                                      Antico Forno

                                                                                      Bum steers I gave:
                                                                                      Nancy Changs's in Worcester

                                                                                      -----
                                                                                      Antico Forno
                                                                                      93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                      Nancy Chang Restaurant
                                                                                      372 Chandler St, Worcester, MA 01602

                                                                                      11 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                        h
                                                                                        hargau Jul 27, 2011 08:32 AM

                                                                                        oh yea i forgot about Antico Forno, definitely a bum steer..

                                                                                        -----
                                                                                        Antico Forno
                                                                                        93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                        1. re: hargau
                                                                                          l
                                                                                          lescaret Jul 27, 2011 10:53 AM

                                                                                          Indeed. Went to Antico Forno with high expectations and was completely disappointed. Truly mediocre food, and terrible service.

                                                                                          -----
                                                                                          Antico Forno
                                                                                          93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                        2. re: Science Chick
                                                                                          t
                                                                                          treb Jul 27, 2011 10:44 AM

                                                                                          2nd Antico, there may be a few brick oven dishes that are good but, overall the place is meh. Also, Santarpio's up on rt 1, aweful.

                                                                                          1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                            p
                                                                                            Pegmeister Jul 27, 2011 10:54 AM

                                                                                            Okay, I'm one of the guilty ones giving a bum steer on Antico Forno, but I still love their chicken parm!

                                                                                            -----
                                                                                            Antico Forno
                                                                                            93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                            1. re: Pegmeister
                                                                                              j
                                                                                              Jenny Ondioline Jul 27, 2011 02:02 PM

                                                                                              Whenever I recommend Antico Forno, I'm always very careful to say, "Only go there for lunch and only get the lamb sandwich." There have certainly been times when folks here have given a place qualified recommendations but I've forgotten the qualifiers and accordingly ordered incorrectly.

                                                                                              But to this day, I still don't understand what the appeal of Scup's was supposed to be. My food was horrible (the much-vaunted millionaire's bacon was mediocre bacon overcooked and then covered in dry brown sugar and pepper) and I found the room actively repellent.

                                                                                              Something I've fairly recently learned to take into account when recommending restaurants that are in my own neighborhood -- say, Packards Corner to Union Square Allston to Coolidge Corner -- is whether or not I would actually travel to this restaurant if it were in, say, Jamaica Plain or Inman Square. That gives me a better idea of how strong my recommendation actually is.

                                                                                              -----
                                                                                              Antico Forno
                                                                                              93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                opinionatedchef Jul 28, 2011 11:06 AM

                                                                                                THAT is an excellent suggestion for all CHs.It should be added to the 'read this first' .

                                                                                                1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                  galangatron Jul 28, 2011 04:44 PM

                                                                                                  totally forgot about scup's. good one

                                                                                                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                                                                    almansa Jul 28, 2011 06:26 PM

                                                                                                    I've only been once, and it was for lunch. I only had the ribolita, and it was fantastic.

                                                                                                  2. re: Pegmeister
                                                                                                    BostonZest Jul 29, 2011 06:32 AM

                                                                                                    I also recommend Antico Forno but ONLY for the mussels while waiting for Neptune. I think sometimes Bun Steers come from selective reading and differences in taste as well as declining quality at restaurants.

                                                                                                    Penny
                                                                                                    http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Antico Forno
                                                                                                    93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                                  3. re: Science Chick
                                                                                                    m
                                                                                                    mkfisher Jul 27, 2011 11:31 AM

                                                                                                    Antico Forno is the single worst meal the wife and I have ever had in the North End

                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                    Antico Forno
                                                                                                    93 Salem Street, Boston, MA 02113

                                                                                                    1. re: Science Chick
                                                                                                      s
                                                                                                      sallyt Aug 4, 2011 08:41 AM

                                                                                                      I have to say that I had lunch there recently, and had an AMAZING risotto. So, not always a bum steer - depending on what you order. My daughter's pizza was meh, but she's 5, and loves almost any cheese pizza.

                                                                                                    2. g
                                                                                                      Guinness02122 Jul 27, 2011 06:10 AM

                                                                                                      Panaficio and Cafe Vanille on Charles Street.

                                                                                                      Panaficio for the service mostly (glacially slow) and unspectacular food.

                                                                                                      Cafe Vanille for the Au Bon Pain quality pastries.

                                                                                                      Those are two bum steers I can think of off the top of my head.

                                                                                                      On the flip side, I have yet to be disappointed in The Paramount, decent value for good food. I really liked the pulled pork sandwich I had there.

                                                                                                      32 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                        StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 06:28 AM

                                                                                                        Cafe Vanille is just plain pathetic. I've post thusly several times.

                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                          g
                                                                                                          Guinness02122 Jul 27, 2011 09:42 AM

                                                                                                          I wonder why they got Best of Boston pastry shop

                                                                                                          1. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                            yumyum Jul 27, 2011 09:47 AM

                                                                                                            I thought the Best of Boston awards this year were particularly lame.

                                                                                                            Some that jumped out at me were Foundry (Neighborhood eats / Davis) Mooo (steakhouse) Sunset (Beer selection ... yes they have a ton of beers but the new beer places like Hobo and Meadhall strike me as more worthy...)

                                                                                                            Not quite sure what happened here as I usually don't scoff quite as much at the winners.

                                                                                                            1. re: yumyum
                                                                                                              g
                                                                                                              Guinness02122 Jul 27, 2011 10:21 AM

                                                                                                              Beer seems to be treated better at places like Deep Ellum, Lord Hobo and the like. I haven't been a fan of Sunset in years, and I'm starting to sour on Yard House.

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

                                                                                                              Lord Hobo
                                                                                                              92 Hampshire St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                                                                                                              1. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                                p
                                                                                                                Parsnipity Jul 28, 2011 07:07 PM

                                                                                                                I would actually count Deep Ellum among my very few bum steers. Had terrible food there (salad that was way past prime and should never have left kitchen, among other complaints), haven't been back.

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

                                                                                                                1. re: Parsnipity
                                                                                                                  g
                                                                                                                  Guinness02122 Jul 29, 2011 05:21 AM

                                                                                                                  Very true. Bad food, good beer. Sort of the same situation with The Publick House. I would expect low quality food at Deep Ellum, but there's the famous mac-n-cheese varieties at at The Publick House. Why it's famous, I don't know. The one with sausage I tried was nasty.

                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                  Publick House
                                                                                                                  1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                                                                                                  Deep Ellum Bar
                                                                                                                  477 Cambridge St, Allston, MA 02134

                                                                                                                  1. re: Parsnipity
                                                                                                                    Allstonian Jul 29, 2011 06:02 AM

                                                                                                                    Parsnipity - how recently? The food when they first opened was indeed bad - overambitious and overpriced at that - but I've been pretty happy with the things I've had in the past couple of years (admittedly sticking to bar bites like the deviled eggs and the pretzels.)

                                                                                                                    1. re: Allstonian
                                                                                                                      k
                                                                                                                      kimfair1 Jul 29, 2011 06:51 AM

                                                                                                                      Yeah, we went when they first opened, and the food was nothing special. We went on a Groupon last year, and both the deviled eggs and charcuterie plate were quite good, and our snadwiches were also excellent.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Allstonian
                                                                                                                        p
                                                                                                                        Parsnipity Jul 29, 2011 10:22 AM

                                                                                                                        True, it was a while back- maybe 3 years. But as someone up-thread commented, expectations and distance to travel all have to be considered, and for me, I know I won't make the trip back over from Somerville. Too many good other options.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Parsnipity
                                                                                                                          k
                                                                                                                          kimfair1 Jul 29, 2011 11:07 AM

                                                                                                                          Yeah, that makes sense. I can walk there, so it made sense for me to re-try it after my initial disappointment.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Parsnipity
                                                                                                                            l
                                                                                                                            LStaff Jul 29, 2011 12:54 PM

                                                                                                                            LOL @ travel distance between Somerville and Allston effecting one's opinions of where to eat.

                                                                                                                            1. re: LStaff
                                                                                                                              Allstonian Jul 29, 2011 01:22 PM

                                                                                                                              LOL all you want - it's a fair point, especially for those of us who use public transportation. I can't think of any part of Somerville that doesn't require at least one change to get to from Allston (green line to red line, at best), and there are parts of Somerville like Union Square that are accessible only by bus. I'm far from bus-phobic, but if getting from point A to point B takes a full hour each way - not at all improbable - I can totally see that Parsnipity would be annoyed at going so far for a bad meal.

                                                                                                                              1. re: Allstonian
                                                                                                                                MC Slim JB Jul 29, 2011 01:52 PM

                                                                                                                                I'm sorry to admit that as much as I love Highland Kitchen, its relative remoteness via public transport means I go far less often than I might, particularly as there is often an unpredictable wait at the far end. It's not a very Chowish thing to cop to, I know.

                                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                -----
                                                                                                                                Highland Kitchen
                                                                                                                                150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                                                                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                  Canadian Tuxedo Jul 29, 2011 04:34 PM

                                                                                                                                  Perhaps not "Chowish," but realistic.

                                                                                                                                  This was the general point I was attempting to get at in our previous back-and-forth about the practicality of people with dinner reservations in Central Sq. going for cocktails pre-dinner in "Kendall." A short walk of over ten minutes is still occasionally not comfortable in terms of dining plans...there are issues with parking or public transit in addition to the potential walk that usually means most people (even Chow-leaning) will not consider cocktails at Hungry Mother is much of an option pre-Craigie (regardless of potential waits...and whoever thought that Green St. Grill was farther from Craigie than HM...check Google Maps...).

                                                                                                                                  -----
                                                                                                                                  Hungry Mother
                                                                                                                                  Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                                                                    MC Slim JB Jul 29, 2011 04:53 PM

                                                                                                                                    Um, by my Google mapping, Green Street is 0.3 mi on foot from Craigie, Hungry Mother is 0.6 mi. That does place Hungry Mother just beyond the ten-minute-walk radius I usually circumscribe when I'm making recommendations for a pre-dinner cocktail stop.

                                                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                    -----
                                                                                                                                    Hungry Mother
                                                                                                                                    Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Canadian Tuxedo
                                                                                                                                      c
                                                                                                                                      cambridgedoctpr Jul 31, 2011 12:31 PM

                                                                                                                                      craigie has the reputation of good cocktail; is there a need to go somewhere before craigie?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                        LeoLioness Jul 31, 2011 12:59 PM

                                                                                                                                        The bar at Craigie is generally packed, having a drink there isn't always possible.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                                          c
                                                                                                                                          cambridgedoctpr Aug 17, 2011 07:10 AM

                                                                                                                                          is it no possible to have a cocktail at one's table? I have never tried as i rarely drink cocktails.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                                                            MC Slim JB Aug 17, 2011 10:35 AM

                                                                                                                                            Craigie will certainly serve you cocktails anywhere in the restaurant. I believe LL's point is that the bar is so constantly jammed that dropping by just for a drink is rarely an easy option.

                                                                                                                                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                              c
                                                                                                                                              cambridgedoctpr Aug 17, 2011 10:40 AM

                                                                                                                                              if you return to the post by Canadian Tuxedo, you will see that he was asking where to go for a drink pre-Craigie. That said, i agree with your point that Craigie's bar is busy.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                                                                                                                                MC Slim JB Aug 17, 2011 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                                                I think it's definitely easier to stop by for a drink at Craigie if you're actually planning on dining there. And it's a great bar program, a much better option for a serious drink than most nearby places. It's just almost never a comfortable place to enjoy a cocktail for its own sake. Close to the end of service is when I've had the best luck on that score.

                                                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                    2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                      LeoLioness Jul 31, 2011 12:57 PM

                                                                                                                                      Totally realistic. HK is a walk for me, so going once a week (or more!) is completely reasonable for me. Conversley, it takes about an hour to get to Allston and frankly, the Green Line during rush hour (especially on Sox home game nights) sucks it, so it's a lot less realalistic to go there on a whim.

                                                                                                                                      That said, smartphone apps for MBTA bus routes are a godsend. Still, even though Highland Kitchen is accessible by the 88 and 90 buses, it can also mean a 30 minute wait for those buses, which can be a drag.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: LeoLioness
                                                                                                                                        StriperGuy Jul 31, 2011 01:57 PM

                                                                                                                                        Highland Kitchen is good, but in my book not quite a destination. There is no WAY I would spent an hour + on the T to dine there.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Highland Kitchen
                                                                                                                                        150 Highland Ave, Somerville, MA 02143

                                                                                                                                    3. re: Allstonian
                                                                                                                                      l
                                                                                                                                      LeoLioness Jul 31, 2011 01:02 PM

                                                                                                                                      Agrwwd. No different than people avoiding a place based on lack of parking...

                                                                                                                                    4. re: LStaff
                                                                                                                                      jgg13 Aug 1, 2011 06:40 AM

                                                                                                                                      It can be quite a hike, and then throw in that there are similar options likely in between point A and point B. There are all sorts of places I don't go to because they're "too far" - granted someone out in the burbs wouldn't view it that way but there are a lot of places in the city where said person in teh burbs could actually get there faster than I as they're driving directly there.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: jgg13
                                                                                                                                        l
                                                                                                                                        LStaff Aug 1, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                                        I guess all about your frame of reference and enthusiasm for the food on the other end. I would drive an hour for food I like without blinking an eye - but I would probably pair it up with some other activity or food stop as well.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: LStaff
                                                                                                                                          jgg13 Aug 3, 2011 08:43 AM

                                                                                                                                          The problem is that the bit where there are similar choices in between. There are all sorts of places around here that I like but not so much more than other choices that are between the two points. Deep Ellum is a good example for me, which is why I chimed in. It's a bit of a PITA for me to get to, and seating can also be a challenge. It blows coordinating a handful of people over there only to find out that it's jam packed. That's not to say that I never go to DE, but they certainly lose a lot of money from me that they otherwise would get because of their location.

                                                                                                                                          Mind you, I've traveled all over the country just to get a particular dish (haven't yet done that internationally) so it's not as if I won't travel for food/drink, but it has to be *worth it* and DE simply doesn't separate itself form the rest of the pack enough to be worth the hassle of travel + being shoulder to shoulder with hipsters.

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

                                                                                                                            2. re: yumyum
                                                                                                                              hotoynoodle Aug 1, 2011 07:56 AM

                                                                                                                              from the magazine? the "awards" are ad-driven, and have almost nothing to do with food or service quality. near to worthless if you're deciding to try a place.

                                                                                                                            3. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                                              StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 04:02 PM

                                                                                                                              Cause Boston Magazine SUX. SRSLY Cafe Vanille's pastries taste like Crayons.

                                                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                opinionatedchef Jul 28, 2011 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                                when you are in form, you come up with the BEST analogies. :-}

                                                                                                                                1. re: opinionatedchef
                                                                                                                                  c
                                                                                                                                  cambridgedoctpr Aug 17, 2011 02:36 PM

                                                                                                                                  striper is aways in form; he is just much more sensitive about service than i am. if the food is good; i am a happy camper.

                                                                                                                                2. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                  heathermb Aug 16, 2011 09:48 AM

                                                                                                                                  Stripey, sometimes your posts make me wish there was a "like" button here!

                                                                                                                          2. barleywino Jul 26, 2011 11:25 PM

                                                                                                                            Qingdao garden

                                                                                                                            Fuloon

                                                                                                                            East by northeast

                                                                                                                            Wangs fast food

                                                                                                                            Gourmet dumpling house

                                                                                                                            East coast grill

                                                                                                                            Taiwan cafe

                                                                                                                            IL casale

                                                                                                                            Essex seafood

                                                                                                                            Tuscan grill

                                                                                                                            Toraya

                                                                                                                            Zoe's

                                                                                                                            Santarpios

                                                                                                                            Not claiming every dish at these places is bad, but they didn't live up to the raves for me

                                                                                                                            10 Replies
                                                                                                                            1. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                              h
                                                                                                                              hargau Jul 27, 2011 03:39 AM

                                                                                                                              I will agree with Barley on Essex Seafood and East Coast Grill. You wont find me returning to either of those places. Im surprised about Fuloon on the list, I thought Fuloon was excellent foodwise. One of the better chowhound steers i have had.

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

                                                                                                                              Essex Seafood
                                                                                                                              143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                                                                                                                              1. re: hargau
                                                                                                                                barleywino Jul 27, 2011 03:47 AM

                                                                                                                                perhaps we ordered different dishes at Fuloon... our group was steering away from the spicier dishes so may have missed some of their stronger ones

                                                                                                                                1. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                  h
                                                                                                                                  hargau Jul 27, 2011 06:43 AM

                                                                                                                                  yea we ordered almost all spicy dishes but we did also order the Wok Baked Beef which wasnt spicy and excellent and i think a noodle dish too. We had 1 person in the large group that didnt eat spicy food..

                                                                                                                                  1. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                    u
                                                                                                                                    Uncle Yabai Jul 27, 2011 08:14 PM

                                                                                                                                    That's why it was a bum steer! Har har har.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Uncle Yabai
                                                                                                                                      barleywino Jul 28, 2011 06:54 AM

                                                                                                                                      i have a beef with that restaurant!

                                                                                                                                    2. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                      opinionatedchef Jul 28, 2011 11:01 AM

                                                                                                                                      bw, i too had major raised eyebrows at fuloon (and e x ne). just curious- what DID you have? the wok baked beef usually is enough to win over anyone (but not, i suppose, if accompanied by enough other meh dishes).I will add that we are not really into the repetetive 'same hot treatment' (chili oil, chile flakes etc) on the many dishes there, we have tried alot of things that were not ordered again, so it is possible to be disappointed there.
                                                                                                                                      and e x ne - we have had disappointing things, but love it overall. so sorry you had bad time there.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                    g
                                                                                                                                    Gabatta Jul 27, 2011 06:00 AM

                                                                                                                                    Strong 2nd on Qindao garden. I find it totally average.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Gabatta
                                                                                                                                      Luther Jul 27, 2011 06:37 AM

                                                                                                                                      It's below-average, unless you include all of the crappy takeout places in Boston in your calculation.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: barleywino
                                                                                                                                      lipoff Jul 28, 2011 10:39 AM

                                                                                                                                      Wow, I don't know what to say. I haven't been to Il Casale, Essex Seafood, or the Tuscan Grill, and I don't like Gourmet Dumpling House, but every other one you mentioned I like a lot, and have repeatedly recommended on this board --- particularly Fuloon and Wang's. So sorry if you feel I steered you wrong, but those are still among my favorite restaurants. What Chinese restaurants do you like?

                                                                                                                                      What I really like about Chowhound is that most posters write with enough context and description that even if their tastes are different than mine, I can tell from their descriptions what I'm likely to enjoy. I'm also happy to take a chance, and if I don't end up liking it then at least I've learned that for myself.

                                                                                                                                      Also, I find it incredible that so many people seem to have not enjoyed Erbaluce. I count it as one of the handful of Boston's top restaurants (on par with Craigie on Main, Oleana, Troquet, etc.) that are just a notch below the ultra-luxes (Menton, O Ya, L'Espalier, and Clio) overall (and lower on price too!)

                                                                                                                                      -----
                                                                                                                                      L'Espalier
                                                                                                                                      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                                                                                                                                      O Ya
                                                                                                                                      9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                                                                                      Essex Seafood
                                                                                                                                      143 Eastern Ave, Essex, MA 01929

                                                                                                                                      Tuscan Grill
                                                                                                                                      361 Moody Street, Waltham, MA 02453

                                                                                                                                      Gourmet Dumpling House
                                                                                                                                      52 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                                                                                                                                      Troquet
                                                                                                                                      140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                                                                                      Oleana
                                                                                                                                      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                                      Craigie on Main
                                                                                                                                      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                                                                                                      Erbaluce
                                                                                                                                      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                                                                                                                      1. re: lipoff
                                                                                                                                        barleywino Jul 28, 2011 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                                        There is no right or wrong, of course, just different tastes, or different experiences on different days. Some local Chinese restaurants i like are Mulan, Chung Xing Yuan (weekend brunch), Jo Jo Taipei, Shanghai Gate, New Shanghai (some dishes, mainly the spicier ones), Szechuan Gourmet, Peach Farm, Best Little Restaurant, Hong Kong eatery, New Golden Gate (some dishes), Winsor...Went to Fuloon a couple times, ordered the Wok baked beef (have had this dish in Shanghai where it blew me away, possibly the best beef I've ever had, but the execution at Fuloon that day fell short), duck, braised pork shoulder (ti pang), can't remember what else, some of the CH favorites except for the spicier ones). What was disappointing was to bring an extended family group there, telling them how much people on CH loved this place, and then leave somewhat embarrassed that it didn't quite live up to expectations. But going to the restaurant is the only way to find out these things, of course. I do agree that consistency is often the issue. I have for example recommended Quik Pik BBQ in the past, but sometimes when I go, the crispy pork is not very good, while other times it has been amazing. Still trying to figure out when the best time to go is.

                                                                                                                                        Sometimes I think reviewers like to "help restaurants out" whom they think are small, new, or struggling to gain a niche, and slant their reviews accordingly. I'm more of the school of "natural selection", that restaurants with good food just need honest reviews, not one sided reviews, which may help the restaurants out but at the expense of other hounds.

                                                                                                                                    3. l
                                                                                                                                      LStaff Jul 26, 2011 07:53 PM

                                                                                                                                      Uncle Pete's bbq - didn't get to it until after they moved, and maybe I hit it on the wrong day, but a sampler of the bbq meats were all dry and dense with similar soy influenced sweet sauce on everything.

                                                                                                                                      Kathmandu Spice buffet - I thought only a couple of the dishes were decently edible but nothing special - the rest could have come out of a freezer at a supermarket for all I know.

                                                                                                                                      Batting avg. of using recs on CH have been pretty good when traveling to other areas over the years - at least better than making random choices myself.

                                                                                                                                      One rec that I gave here that I regret was the Clam King in Manchester, NH based on a string of good fried clams and scallops - then I ran into a string of badly prepared food and service. Never even redeemed the gift certificate they gave me when I complained the last time I stopped in.

                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: LStaff
                                                                                                                                        t
                                                                                                                                        three of us Jul 27, 2011 08:11 AM

                                                                                                                                        2nd the bum steer on Kathmandu Spice buffet. Tepid food in taste and temp. Like leftovers that were in the fridge too long.

                                                                                                                                        -----
                                                                                                                                        Kathmandu Spice
                                                                                                                                        166 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02474

                                                                                                                                        1. re: three of us
                                                                                                                                          StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 04:01 PM

                                                                                                                                          Wow, totally disagree.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: LStaff
                                                                                                                                          d
                                                                                                                                          debidokun Jul 28, 2011 09:44 AM

                                                                                                                                          The key was you did not go until after they moved. It was much better in East Boston than in Revere!

                                                                                                                                        3. MC Slim JB Jul 26, 2011 07:45 PM

                                                                                                                                          To be fair, I recall the downhill alert on Gitlo's being posted pretty promptly after Deng Laing's departure.

                                                                                                                                          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                            opinionatedchef Jul 26, 2011 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                                            hmm, that's odd. i usually do a really thorough CH search before going to a new place; maybe i went there before the alert, or maybe i missed it.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                                                                                                              PaulB Jul 29, 2011 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                                              That's my recollection as well. While I made fun of the CH hype on Gitlo's I went early on and had some dishes that were excellent. Palates and opinions differ, Gitlo's aside I'm not sure I buy the bum steer characterization of the OP.

                                                                                                                                              I think most everyone on Boston CH loves food and wants to share good info with the group. In so doing they may romanticize a restaurant (particularly a new or otherwise undiscovered spot) or describe it in such glowing terms that it's unlikely any meal could live up to the expectation created. Personally I can't leave those expectations at the door, they were the primary reason for my visit after all.

                                                                                                                                              The need of certain posters to put a restaurant in either the "BEST EVAR" or "Avoid at all costs" ends of the spectrum is also responsible for driving the hype IMO.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: PaulB
                                                                                                                                                MC Slim JB Jul 29, 2011 06:55 AM

                                                                                                                                                I have a tactic that I've found helps me avoid disappointment in any experience -- movies, theater, music, restaurants -- where critics both amateur and professional influence my decision to go. Once I've read enough to say "Yeah, I wanna try that", I stop reading others' opinions until I've gone and experienced it for myself. It's too easy to read a string of raves that individually wouldn't set my expectations too high, but collectively do.

                                                                                                                                                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                            2. opinionatedchef Jul 26, 2011 07:36 PM

                                                                                                                                              ditto your experience w/ gitlo's. lucky for us all, the space, now a kabob place, puts out excellent food.

                                                                                                                                              1. tatsu Jul 26, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                Great thread. Takes guts to say when you're wrong. :) I sometimes think my own enthusiasm for the newest find can be a bit overboard in due time, but I cant' think of any places where I would retract my approval or over-rated it completely. I'm also pretty loyal to the places I like as well, perhaps too much to be completely objective. But no one really is.

                                                                                                                                                I'm pretty good at sniffing out recs that will disappoint me, thankfully. I guess I know myself and my tastes. All in all, good intel here, which is why we put up with the moderator abuse, lol.

                                                                                                                                                1. Luther Jul 26, 2011 05:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                  Grill Zone was the ish, bring that place back (preferably with the unsustainably low prices)

                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Luther
                                                                                                                                                    b
                                                                                                                                                    Bellachefa Jul 26, 2011 06:01 PM

                                                                                                                                                    Still a fan of Aquitaine SE, I suggested someone do a brunch at AquDedham. A few weeks later I had brunch there and it was horrible. Thankfully, the posters event wasn't scheduled yet.

                                                                                                                                                  2. MC Slim JB Jul 26, 2011 05:26 PM

                                                                                                                                                    I can't think of any bum steers recently, but I don't rely on consensus, rather a handful of posters whom I've come to trust.

                                                                                                                                                    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                                                                                                                                                    1. h
                                                                                                                                                      hyde Jul 26, 2011 04:36 PM

                                                                                                                                                      i was completely dumbfounded when encountering the attitude at neptune oyster in the north end. after the raves on this board, the entire house staff seemed to treat me as if i had come in with shit on my shoe and was there to make their life miserable. never mind that one can spend 200usd without really trying. let the tourists have it , im going over to courthouse...

                                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                      1. re: hyde
                                                                                                                                                        StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 06:25 AM

                                                                                                                                                        Me too. Will never dine there again. Horrible treatment by the owner himself.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                                          g
                                                                                                                                                          Guinness02122 Jul 27, 2011 09:38 AM

                                                                                                                                                          Is that the arrogant obnoxious bartender?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                                                                            StriperGuy Jul 27, 2011 04:00 PM

                                                                                                                                                            Dark hair, average height average build, and yes, sometimes tends bar.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                                                                              p
                                                                                                                                                              phatchris Jul 27, 2011 06:03 PM

                                                                                                                                                              Looks like Peter Brady

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