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Mar 6, 2013 01:38 PM

The Cottage in Chestnut Hill: All show no substance

So it was "ladies who lunch" day after some shopping and this was convenient (parking, location, etc.). Great menu: lots of salads, small plates, nice sounding dishes. I think, however, that I'm going to make this a rule of thumb: if you ask a restaurant whether their Caesar salad has anchovies and they say no, leave. Every dish, so beautifully described on the menu, was lackluster. Eggplant fries with lemon aioli? No flavor whatsoever and Hellman's with lemon juice would have been more "aoili-like." Mahi fish tacos? The black beans were pretty good, the fish was fresh, the mango salsa and the jalapeno aioli might have been vanilla pudding for all the flavor it added. Portions were gigantic (happily we were sharing because none of us could have finished any one dish on our own). Room is pretty, service is pleasant. Giant menu which has managed to homogenize the taste of everything we tried. Totally forgettable.

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  1. sounds like the cheesecake factory...

    1. On the New York City board, a CHer objected when I described a restaurant (Blue Fin, in Times Square) as "un-chow-worthy," but it sounds a lot like how I would describe the Cottage: a place with absolutely no soul at all; a place that can create an appetizing sounding menu, but that turns out food that, while not affirmatively bad, is just vanilla. The comparison to Cheesecake Factory (and many other chains, for that matter) seems apt.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Blumie

        I actually did eat at a Cottage once, the one in Wellesley but it was more than four years ago. The food was ok, but I think the best description is how you phrased it, "no soul at all." Antiseptic, plastic surroundings and competent service without any soul. Nothing to arouse the senses too much while keeping it within "acceptable" boundaries for what they perceive as their client base. I feel not good and diminished after eating at such a place. Want to go to a dive bar afterwards or a farmers market or delve into roasted garlic with kimchi or something when I get home....anything to get in touch with real food.

        1. re: Blumie

          I think a good comparison for the Wellesley and Newton Cottages are the various Stephanie's restaurants in town.

          1. re: Gordough

            I must disagree. IME Stephanie's food has been very well seasoned, not $$ for what it is. Except I recall the desserts being surprisingly expensive. The feedback from my friends about the Cottage in CH has been all negative.

        2. Cheesecake Factory absolutely puts out breathtakingly tasteless food, I agree.

          But Cottage *can* be pretty good. IMO their problem is that they are consistently inconsistent, food-wise. Sometimes well done, other times exactly as you describe: large portions of interesting-sounding but maddeningly bland food. At their price point one should expect a much more consistent product.

          Service is generally very good, however

          1. I totally agree with the "soulless" moniker. But it's a restaurant in a shopping center surrounded by other soulless places. My eyes are open to that going in.

            1. Thank you for this. It looks really good "on paper" and was on my short list of places to try. Now I will avoid.