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Silvertone -- really?

Hey Boston 'hounds! I'm in your lovely city fairly regularly for work and always have enjoyable dinners when I'm there. But this week, I let my client (also from out of town, but there regularly) pick dinner, and he wanted to go to Silvertone. He described it as "really cheap, with great drinks and great food". After seeing the menu, I was leery, but figured that this was one of those places that makes great comfort food (which I love). The four of us ordered 6 apps (the first 6 after the soups section), and 3 mains to share (mac and cheese, shepherd's pie, spaghetti bolognese).

I'm sad to say that this was the worst meal I've had in a long time. The apps were just "meh" (the mussels were cold, the wings were soggy, the calamari was ok). But the mains were truly awful. The mac cheese was disgusting -- if there was real cheese anywhere in that sauce, I would be truly surprised. It tasted of plastic, seriously. The only saving grace were the crispy bits of bacon on top. The shepherd's pie was also horrible -- watery mashed potatoes over flavorless, soupy ground beef with a few frozen peas thrown in. Ugh. The spaghetti was the best of the three mains and that is damning with faint praise.

3 of us had a a couple of bites of each dish and just stopped. My client that picked the place was happily eating away. After a really humorous discussion, he had the sudden insight that he has no taste in food. Really! He said "wow, I just realized that I've never eaten at a restaurant that I didn't like!" So that explains how we ended up at Silvertone. :o) But I came here and did a search and was surprised to see Silvertone recommended frequently to people looking for restaurants near the theater. Is its only redeeming quality it's proximity to the theater? Did we just totally order the wrong things? Or am I missing some other quality that the locals like?

I should probably mention that service was perfunctory at best. Oh, and the glass of sauvignon blanc I first ordered tasted like vinegar. The bottle of zin we got next was much better. I will say that I did appreciate the low markup on their bottles. $59 for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot...whee!

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  1. Food used to be better, maybe they've slipped a notch or three.

    1. Silvertone used to have great food. The mac and cheese was one of the best in the area, filled with cheddar cheesy goodness and topped with crisp panko crumbs. Other favorites of mine included the spinach salad (with these amazing fried capers, shaved hard boiled eggs, red onion and bacon bits), burger, fries and meatloaf.

      But, I haven't been in a few years and went there with a friend for lunch during the summer. And, it was AWFUL. Traumatizing so. The memory of that mac and cheese still fills me with bitterness. It's now a tasteless, mushy glop. So disappointing. The spinach salad was beyond overdressed so it was another gloppy mess.

      I don't know what happened, whether chefs changed, quality control went down, resting on their oldish laurels, lack of professional pride or a combo of any of the above. But, I know I won't re-visit them anytime soon.

      3 Replies
      1. re: beetlebug

        Oh whew, I'm glad it wasn't just me who thought the mac and cheese was an insult to mac and cheese. Plastic cheese on mushy pasta. Horrid. I would happily take Kraft mac n' cheese over this glop any day.

        1. re: TorontoJo

          No, my dining companion was also upset (we used to meet at Silvertone for lunch on a regular basis), and another friend ate there around the same time period. She was also displeased with the mac and cheese.

          And, I had blocked it from my memory and now I'm all bitter over that bad lunch again. Plus, now I want really great mac and cheese. Thanks a lot. ;-)

          1. re: beetlebug

            Oh no, I was working off very old information, and ordered the mac and cheese... bland, excessively gooey, and drenched in a Velveeta-like substance. Blech.

            Anyway, it was my first time there, and it's still a fun place with good music and atmosphere. The BLT and green salad were good, and such a huge amount of food that it didn't matter that the mac and cheese was terrible.

      2. I will admit to being a Silvertone apologist (and also a Jeff Green in the Perkins deal apologist, for those Celtics fans out there), but I consider it kind of an "it is what it is" kind of spot. And that definition, for me, is that it is a comfortable local spot with solid/affordable comfort food and a great bar staff (I prefer to sit at the bar most places I go, depending on numbers in my party of course). I have enjoyed the wings and calamari on numerous occasions, so it is unfortunate that they were not good for you. I will be honest and say that the items I trend towards as far as entrees are the tuna melt, steak tips and the meatloaf. The mac and cheese I have liked in the past, but haven't ordered it much lately, and the shepards pie is not really my thing, so I can't comment on that dish. All of this being said, I don't believe Silvertone to be a "wow" type of place, but it appears it fell well below that mark and wasn't even serviceable for you. I enjoy Silvertone for what it is and I am sorry your experience was not good.

        I will also admit to not going to Silvertone nearly as much these days since JM Curley opened down the street...

        1. I was dragged to this place years ago by a similarly non-discerning soul, and feel I can do little but apologize to you on behalf of the city of Boston. Redeeming qualities? None that I could see. None at all.

          I appreciate your attempt to find a silver lining, but even $60 for freakin' yellow label Veuve is robbery. That shit is industrial plonk, the critter wine of Champagne.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

            Now wait a sec--

            Say what you will about the food, but the one thing Silvertone absolutely has going for it, the thing the sets it apart and keeps me coming back, are the scarcely-higher-than-retail wine mark ups. Veuve yellow label retails for $50, which makes Silvertone's price pretty much the best you're going to find anywhere (and, agreed, $50 is also too much to spend on this wine). And the list is well put together--lots in the $30s and $40s, with a few well chosen splurges (Didier Dageneau Silex for $120!).

            For food, I consistently enjoy the roast chicken (including a few weeks ago). Moist, covered in herbs and garlic, well-served by the super salty fries and dressed greens.

          2. have been going to silvertone since the beginning and i don't know that i have ever eaten anything besides the burger or the roast chicken, lol. b/f gets the steak tips. have never been disappointed.

            josh marks wine up about $10 or so over his cost. one of the lowest in the city. wbg selections do suck, but 1/2 bottles are a bargain. martinis are mostly $10. bar staff full of serious veteran pros. have only eaten in the dining room a handful of times. waitstaff has always been efficient, if not overly friendly. if i turned my station 5-6 times a night, dunno how chatty i'd be either.

            that being said, last time i was there, on a thursday around 6:00, the place was FULL OF FAMILIES. toddlers, even. all apparently heading out to war horse down the street. i will not be back til that show is gone.

            am sorry some of you had bad times. this has not happened to me.

            1. I spent a good part of my 20's going to Silvertone. It used to be one of my favorite spots in the city, but I have to agree that the quality of food has gone down over the last year or so. I had the Mac & Cheese a couple of nights ago and it was awful and did not resemble the mac & cheese that I remember. I'm also sad they took the cold peanut noodles appetizer off the menu. I still go there for the wings (MUST get sauce on side or they are way too soggy) and the Jerk Chicken. The Jerk is still one of my favorite dishes. Served with fried plantains and rice with tabasco butter. The drinks and barstaff are still some of the best around. One more comment about the menu is that the prices are extemely low (probably why there are so many families there as one commenter noted). Maybe they don't want to raise the food prices, and in turn the quality of ingredients has suffered. I'd rather see them raise prices a doller or two and keep the quality high. I still have a soft spot for Silvertone and will continue to support them, but I hope they can bring back the quality bar food I remember.

              1. I guess I'd have to concur that Silvertone's food has lost a step lately, based on a couple of recent meals. Still really like it for what it is, especially as a place for very solid cocktails and an exceptional place to drink wine by the bottle for dirt cheap. Worth noting they were ahead of the now-ubiquitous comfort food trend by a good 15 years. There's better food in the neighborhood at the same price level now -- jm Curley leaps to mind -- but it still works as a crowd-pleaser, a relative value. Never-flagging staff hospitality counts in my book, too.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                1 Reply
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  as somebody who doesn't work 9-5, silvertone remains a solid daytime alternative for me. while i like jm curley's, they offer a very limited menu between 2-5:30 and their wine selection is a big fat yawn. many other places around aren't open at all before 5ish. i had hopes for scholar's but the bartending there, at least at this off-hour time, was really rough.

                  silvertone also remains completely unpretentious about itself, while some of the newer kids on the streets seem to be a bit too hoity-toity about it all. as an industry lifer, i can find much of the super-seriousness off-putting.

                2. That's always been my experience. It's one of those places (another that comes to mind is Trina's) that gets a ton of love, especially from industry folks, but that just isn't that good.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: DoubleMan

                    At least Silvertone WAS good back in the day. Trina's has pretty much been a disappointment from the word go (cocktails and food).

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      Yeah, Silvertone did that comfort thing before many, but seems like they hit a pause button about five years ago while the surrounding scene has gotten better.

                      I will never understand the love for Trina's. I hear bartenders I really like talk with such admiration and love for that place. There must be a secret handshake or something to get into the "real" Trina's because the one I've gone to is pretty terrible.

                      1. re: Gabatta

                        Silvertone was EXCELLENT in the day. Their bolognese was as good as anything in the North End, and to this day they still have the best bang for the buck wine list.