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Apr 11, 2013 05:50 PM

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

Had the good fortune to snag the only unreserved table at 5PM today(!) I was really hoping to have a repeat of the phenomenal shaved whey- cured foie gras, but that was gone. This menu has a LOT of new items. Except for the Fish and Chips, Moxie wings, and the Wicked Small Caesar,I don't think I saw any items from the 370 posts thread begun in July 2011.
Highlights tonight:
- Bluefish w/ Labne and Carrot Jam
It's interesting when a dish is revelatory but not because it is complex or sophisticated. This bluefish was like that for me because I saw how special was the combination of rich meaty bluefish with creamy tart labne. I usually just bake my bluefish w/ a red wine dijon vinaigrette but from now on I'm going to include labne with that.Yay!
- Skate Wing with an Italian Andouille stuffing and butter, on a bed of sauteed leeks with chard. Sister to the classic cod with chorizo pairing, this lovely silky white fish is accented with considerable punch. While I have always prepared my skate 'off the bone', this was sauteed 'on the bone' , and it holds together much better that way. The top and bottom layer of fish separates so easily from the central 'wing' of cartilage, that I'm going to prepare it that way in the future.
- Chicken under a brick with fig and ricotta and a stellar side of roasted marinated parsnips with cumin spiced chard and walnuts.
- A fascinating flavor punch of beet and ginger sorbet

They've had their first Pastry Chef for a little while now: Jake, from Clearflour and other.
He will serve both Strip T's and their new spot in Brookline when it is up and running.
Jake seems an adventurous chef so I am looking forward to the day when (I hope) the brownies and choc. cake take a dive and his innovative talents are seen through the whole dessert menu.

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  1. Went to strip T's last Sat-

    I'd highlight that the crust is excellent on the bluefish. One of the best prepared cooked fish I've had in a while. Also, just a note for others, the amount of carrot jam and labne is tiny- you can get a bit with each bite but this is very much a dish about the fish with a bit of accent.

    last saturday they had a snail with polenta special that was rocking. polenta was a mix of white and yellow corn, and done to a soupy consistency- i'd never had polenta quite like that, but but Broccoli rabe put in some nice bitterness and crunch for balance (some chopped up, crisped ham never hurt any dish either).

    The skate is awesome- only thing i'd add is that this not a spanish/coarse style chorizo, its creamy to the point of having a rillette consistency.

    Veal breast- barley, hay yogurt, pistachio. Exceedingly earthy dish- something in the barley gave it a smoky taste, though this may also have been a bit of psychological trickery because the veal is quite pink in color (which makes me think smoked meat). The breast itself is great, nice layer of fat that makes it reminiscent of the few times i've had lamb belly- bit more chew, less decadence than pork belly. I feel like (and others are welcome to confirm/say this is not new) that oats are popping up increasingly as the starch to pair with red meats; I'm definitely a fan of this combo.

    We also got a wicked small caesar (nothing new, but the gf loves her some caesar, and this is a fine rendition) as well as the sauteed cabbage with maple and cheddar. I'd seen that side before but hadn't ordered. It is delicious- the maple balances out the acidic/fermenty notes of the cabbage really nicely, and the cheddar crackers are a fun way to add some crunch, and umami depth, to a vegetable side. ftr, the maple is basically syrup, with a pool leftover at the end... we may have just mixed it up with the remaining crackers/croutons from caesar to sop it up........


    lemon steamed cake with ginger, beet sorbet- I'm sure i'm missing a component here, for which i apologize (there's a crunch element as well that i can't quite remember). This is a light, herbaceous dessert (no shock given the ingredients, i'm aware) that comes off as a really sophisticated version of a lemon tart. This was my second time ordering it, I'm a fan.

    'memories of a candy bar' the main component was a white cake with some chocolate chips (and apologies if i'm forgetting a more exotic ingredient), which was impressively dense and moist. this was a theme from all the desserts, every cake we had was really well executed, nothing dry. It was paired with a thick chocolate spread that had thai basil, and black sesame meringue. The last was my favorite component- this was meringue like on a meringue pie, moist, fluffy, and great to spread on the cake.

    We also grabbed a mocha cake (the gf wanted something more chocolatey), and while it is, as we were warned, of the 'old strip t's', they apparently have been tweaking the recipe, and it fell in line with the rest as being a well made, if less complex, moist, dense, cake.

    Last notes: service, as always, was fun and friendly; I hope they can keep that vibe when they open up their second bigger space.

    Overall experience made me with I were going there more often.

    I've been really happy that the menu is updated frequently online now, one thing to note, however, is that the dessert section has not been updated for some time and does not reflect what was on the menu the night we went.

    Photos (which I hope are *appetizing* not *offputting*, per other thread ;) represent all but sides, and memories of a candybar.

    16 Replies
    1. re: valcfield

      Picture of memories of a candy bar, found it. (also, apologies if there's a way to add the photo to the original post, could not for the life of me figure it out.

      1. re: valcfield

        I believe your only opportunity to add a photo is prior to posting it for the very first time. You can edit the title and text for a while afterward, but not add photos.

        1. re: MC Slim JB

          Ah, ok. I'll make sure to be more careful next time I decide to add photos to a post. Appreciate the response!

        2. re: valcfield

          I have to be honest, I'm not jazzed by this.

          One thing I love about Strip-T's is that they broke from the 'New American' fine-dining mold and went more in the Momofuku direction: simple, hearty, unpretentious dishes with innovative, interesting flavors and unique ideas: a plate of amazing locally-harvested roasted mushrooms, Moxie wings, oxtail-romaine salad. Deserts and dishes like 'memories of a candy bar' are playful, but are more in the Alinea / WD-50 / Blue Ink vein. Little bits of deconstructed dishes with smears of sauce on a plate arranged delicately, with a precocious name... not sure if that really fits Strip-Ts.

        3. re: valcfield

          There is absolutely nothing wrong with that mocha cake, which is outstanding. I'm sorry to hear they're going in the pretentious desserts direction: that's never a good thing, and I concur with Boston Otter that it doesn't bode well.

          1. re: Jenny Ondioline

            i certainly have no problem with disliking some of the tacks of modernist cuisine, and do myself tend to prefer food that feels more substantial.

            but i do think there's a difference between being playful, or whimsical, or simply not adhering to traditional flavor profiles, from being 'pretentious', and to the extent that my description made that seem appropriate, i apologize.

            as already noted, both cakes were, moist, substantial, and quite in line with what i would think are conventional desserts. The flavors they were paired with were certainly out of the ordinary, but nothing about it suffered from preciousness or feeling like it was done for the sake of doing it as opposed to for the sake of flavor.

            in any event, of course you're welcome to dislike a style of dessert, or this particular one, but i wanted to say i think you'd be missing out to dismiss either the steamed cake or memories of a candy bar out of hand.

            also, @boston_otter, to be admittedly nitpicky on facts, the comparison to momofuku is an odd one- i think your description of the savory courses is apt, but the first dessert i can remember having at ssam, back in early 2010, was their malted chocolate/quark ice cream/beet sorbet dessert... which had powders, meringue, and smears... if anything, that's quite similar to the desserts here.

            1. re: valcfield

              valc, your CH presence is new to me, but I have to say I am wicked happy to read your well observed and articulate posts.
              Whoever suggested 'pretentious' for a Strip T's dessert- clearly has not SEEN it. They are the opposite of pretentious. If anything, they look like somebody's been playing in the sandbox.
              While the only thing on that 'candy bar' dish that had my taste buds grinning- was the caramelized white choco, puffed rice sesame 'brittle', it was enough of a revelation to make my whole night, so I don't regret it. I felt ditto for My Love's dish of brick chicken . He loved the chicken; it did nothing for me, BUT the accompanying pickled and roasted parsnips, kale and walnuts(with cumin, coriander and anise)- was the best side I may have ever eaten (along with, lucky me, the artichoke and leek fricassee on the Lamb Board at Sycamore last week.) Taste Revelations are so rare; they keep me high for weeks, as the other food memories fade away.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Much appreciated! I certainly could see where the concern came from, which is why i wanted to clarify... like i said, certainly ok not to like those desserts (the gf may have pushed most of them both on me which was a-ok in my book)... but at least when i'm recommending a dish i do want to my best to accurately represent it.

                We all take pride in our work, and just as I'd hate to have my own product misrepresented, I'd hate to think I didn't do someone else's product justice :)

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  I'm only basing my "modernist/deconstructed desert" comment on the photos, descriptions, and names posted here; it's true that I haven't eaten them in person.

                2. re: valcfield

                  Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm still eager to try it, despite the name/photos that sort of make me want to roll my eyes :) I brought up Momofuku because of the chef's connection to Ssam Bar, and because the deserts there under Christina Tosi have been fun, playful and surprising while still hearty and substantial -- like the crack pie, the cereal milks, etc. No smears to be found :)

                  1. re: Boston_Otter

                    hehe well glad you'd still try it! I will say I hope the donut theme makes a reappareance at some point too, i did *love* the blueberry lemon donut (if i'm remember correctly) as well as that apple donut with the insane amount of cheese grated on top. but i'm a sucker for the ole apple cheese combo

                    1. re: valcfield

                      The brioche donut is back with a rhubarb compote variation.

                    2. re: Boston_Otter

                      > I brought up Momofuku because of the chef's connection to Ssam Bar, and because the deserts there under Christina Tosi have been fun, playful and surprising while still hearty and substantial -- like the crack pie, the cereal milks, etc. No smears to be found :)

                      That's not exactly correct. Tosi was the head of pastry at Ssam and Noodle Bar first, then Ko, and Milk Bar wasn't added to the mix ~2 years later. The cakes, pies, cookies, cake balls, etc. you're referring to didn't really exist as products as part of the Momofuku Milk Bar name until Dec 2009.

                      Tosi came on board to Momofuku in the fall of 2007 and instituted a "real" dessert program at Ssam Bar, which had previously only been serving ice cream mochi for dessert. It was a big deal when she came on!

                      Her plated desserts at Momo have often used a deconstructed approach; Tosi came to Momofuku from WD-50, after all.

                      My favorite Tosi dessert of all time is a deconstructed PB&J with saltines, maybe 2nd to the Amish cheddar shortcake served with whipped cream infused with ham (that nobody else but us seemed to like). It doesn't surprise me that a Momofuku alum would go in a similar direction with their pastry program.

                      Examples of Tosi's deconstructed desserts pre-Milk Bar:

                3. re: valcfield

                  valc, didn't know if you saw this piece on chef Tim and some of his tools and essential house-made components. He talks about that spicy sausage in item #7:


                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                    I had seen that article but did not recall it explaining how he made it! Also a big fan of this piece with some great chefs asking tech questions when Nathan Myrhvold was in town for the harvard food and science lectures:


                    1. re: valcfield

                      thanks so much for that, val. Ironically it comes on the same day I discovered that Rich Chudy, whose Boston Burger Blog I admire, writes for the same Boston mag blog . His column Man Food , which he's been doing the last 1 1/2 yrs, is well done but i am so embarassed to say I just discovered it. Looks like I have a lot of reading-through-the-archive to do!

                4. We went for lunch (first time for lunch) on a whim last Saturday (about 2:30) the place was still busy, but we got seated right away. I hadn't had the amazing grilled Romaine lettuce with braised oxtail and egg since my first dinner there and had to order it. Still a phenomenal dish. I also had to have the lunch only burger (excellent with very good fries), and the wife had the Pho sandwich. I tasted it and it was really good, though I only got one bite as my wife really loved it. We decided that since we live so close that lunch has to be on our radar more often. I need to try the eggplant Bahn Mi next!

                  9 Replies
                  1. re: kimfair1

                    EXCellent decision! I forgot to mention in the OP that many of the Dinner original favs are on the current lunch menu: burger, eggplant banh mi, fried chicken hailing a cab, oxtail/grilled romaine etc.

                    1. re: kimfair1

                      The eggplant banh mi is excellent, a really brilliant sandwich.

                      I went for lunch today and tried the fried cauliflower sandwich, which sounded almost healthy: cauliflower and broccoli rabe with fresh bell pepper slivers. It's delicious, but it's astoundingly heavy, dripping with garlic butter and melted cheese and grease. Easily the richest, butteriest, greasiest thing I've had there.

                      1. re: Boston_Otter

                        I like Strip T's, but haven't had anything there I would describe as healthy. I was there today as well and enjoyed the roast beef sandwich with horseradish and Moxie sauce.

                        1. re: Gabatta

                          Speaking of unhealth-i-ly delicious... When I ordered the Moxie wings the server described them as confit then grilled. I can't think of a less healthy way to cook them. First time having them, and they were tasty as hell.

                          1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                            Huh, I was underwhelmed by the Moxie wings myself. Had them last week and can think of a dozen wing preps I prefer, including versions at Buff's, Shangri-La, and Golden Garden.

                            1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                              I liked the wings, but they're a rare Strip-T's dish I probably wouldn't order again.


                            2. re: Gabatta

                              Oh, I totally agree. But there's also a difference between eating something decadent and awesome like the Moxie wings (or the oxtail salad, or the gravy fries...) and something so fatty and over-the-top that you'll swear to never eat it again and warn your friends about it :)

                              1. re: Boston_Otter

                                To me, they are a different dish than Buffs wings, which I also enjoy. If I were meeting up with old friends and wanted to have a couple of beers while licking honey-hot sauce off my fingers, I would go to Buffs. If I wanted to try something unique and see a chef cook a traditional dish in a new way, I would order Moxie Wings.

                                1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                                  Guess I just did not feel that any real Moxie flavor came through and did not really add anything to the wings. Just tasted sweet and gooey.

                        2. Just had a killer coconut macaroon likely made by the new pastry chef. Awesome with a slight hint of orange.

                          1. I feel like I might be the only person to ever have had a bad experience at Strip T's. :( I've only been once, because it's tricky to get to for me, and I don't know that I'll bother trying to get back.

                            I got the tofu eggplant banh mi and it was pretty gross. I think part of the problem was that they were out of the usual bread. My fault, I guess, I should've changed my order, but I love tofu, eggplant, and vietnamese food, and just really wanted to try it. They served it on this greasy grilled whole grain bread. So the whole thing was just this soggy, greasy, awful mess. Service was also not great, though not terrible.

                            12 Replies
                            1. re: maillard

                              I have to say that our one experience there, while overall excellent as a meal, was marred by mediocre service, and since we can only get there by Zipcar and the price point is at the high end of our dining-out budget, I doubt we'll go again.

                              1. re: Allstonian

                                For future reference, Strip-T's can be reached by two MBTA bus lines: the #70 from Central Square, Cambridge to Waltham (which runs along Arsenal street and stops about 0.2 miles from Strip-T's) and the #71 from Harvard Square, Cambridge to Watertown Square (which runs along Mt. Auburn Street and stops about 0.3 miles from Strip-T's). It's not necessary to rent a Zipcar to get there.

                                1. re: owades

                                  You are right. Although...2 buses each way with potential waits of up to 20 minutes for connections on the way home after dinner. (I'm very familiar with getting from Watertown/Belmont to Allston in the evening on the 71 or 73, and it was not uncommon for the trip to take nearly 90 minutes.) That's a big investment of time for a spendy meal with iffy service.

                                2. re: Allstonian

                                  When was your visit that had poor service? When they first made the transition (Summer 2011?), the original wait staff stayed on, and the service was pretty comical at first. They hired a new service manager mid-Fall of 2011 and the service improved dramatically. The difference between our visits in August of 2011 and November of 2011 was night and day, and the service has been fine to great every time we've been since.

                                  1. re: VintageMolly

                                    May 4, 2012, so well after the full changeover.

                                    What was so irritating about the bad service is that the tables on either side of us were both getting fully schmoozed by various members of the wait staff while we were being fully ignored. It was particularly irritating to have our original waitress whisk away our plates without even giving me a second to point out the rather serious flaw with my meal, which was that the fries served with my burger had been sitting in the pass so long that they were stone cold and inedible. I mean, she literally walked away with the plates *while* I was trying to tell her there was a problem.

                                    You would think the fact that every other dish had been practically licked clean and maybe two of the fries had been eaten would attest to the idea of "hey, maybe something was wrong with the fries and I should try to engage with the customer long enough to find out if everything was okay." It was very hard not to feel rather specifically dissed.

                                3. re: maillard

                                  You're not alone, Maillard. I've had some standout chow at Strip-T's, but last week I had a truly mediocre turkey reuben at lunch. Kind of like a very ordinary grilled cheese sandwich with some deli turkey added. The "house everything" condiments were barely present. And for $10, it was on the small side. Like the old joke goes, not only was the food not very good, there wasn't enough of it.

                                  1. re: maillard

                                    maillard, I sympathize entirely. The very first time we went,
                                    around 2 yrs ago, I was going because the fried baby octopus dish had been raved. Well, needless to say, whoever was manning that station that night must have been called away on some emergency because I tucked into a plate that had me looking (and feeling) like Charlie Chaplin eating that shoe in the gold rush movie. yuckOla. As I recall, I complained loudly on CH.

                                    My single piece of advice is- Send It Back. These talented folks are so overworked they just cannot make every right decision and sometimes you need to make it for them in return. In our experience, your wake up call will be appreciated and credited and replaced with your choosing.
                                    I did not follow this advice on that first visit, but I have since learned. I do hope you will try it again and be delighted.

                                    1. re: maillard

                                      This thread has almost always shown unanimous love and praise for Strip T's ever since Tim reinvented the menu- and deservedly so. It is creative,tasty and affordable. I have dined there on numerous occasions and watched as the crowds and media embraced its inventive fare and shouted its praises.This has created not only buzz but unfortunately an attitude shift that I sense by some members of the waitstaff. I now tend to go later in the afternoon when it is relatively quiet. This is not the first time I experienced this, so I found it disconcerting but still not enough to bring to Tim's attention. The dining room was half empty and my party of 4 was directed to a four top which was attended to by a member of the waitstaff who greeted us with a perfunctory greeting and a "we just got slammed for lunch". She was curt and impatient particularly when we couldn't decide definitively and immediately what we wanted to share( as they were out of several of the daily specials)-she then inquired if we were at least ready to give our drink order- we asked for a few beers to share- but her impatience continued and when water was requested, she answered- "they always come with the beer". A request to change a plate that was not clean was met with a dismissive look and perceived disdain. Yikes. I will reiterate -the food was delicious but this attitudinal shift that I have now experienced twice, needs to change or it may need at least a sitdown by the waitstaff with Tim or whoever manages this otherwise fine eating establishment.

                                      1. re: FeeFiPho

                                        Interesting, I had the exact same experience two times ago when we went. Every other time service has been fine, and last time it was great. But the waitress we had two times ago seemed to make it clear that everything we were doing, whether it was needing an extra minute to look at the menu because they were sold out of something we tried to order or asking about a prep, was annoying to her.

                                        It's funny because no matter how many hipster places I've been to in brooklyn or portland where I've been warned of this, I'd never actually experienced it until I ate in Watertown. Irony.

                                        That said, food was great, and as I said the other times we've gone service has been great.

                                        1. re: Klunco

                                          The only time I've had any service issues -- and they weren't a big deal, just sort of weird -- were my last few visits to Strip-T's.

                                          On one visit, my group decided to get one of the sandwiches and split it four ways. We mentioned this and our waitress looked really uncomfortable and said that she'd bring us a knife so that we could cut it up, but "The kitchen doesn't want anything leaving it without being perfect, and they won't cut it for you, but you can do it yourself."

                                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                                            They are insanely (in a good way) particular about plating. I was in for lunch recently (got the divine burger) and someone wanted a lentil salad that was on the specials board to go, and they wouldn't do it because it couldn't be plated properly. She ended up eating it in and it looked FANTASTIC!!

                                            1. re: GretchenS

                                              I'm all for classy plating, but when we're talking about nothing more than a sandwich on a plate, with no garnishes at all, refusing to cut a sandwich for a customer because it'd "ruin the plating" verges on insanity, yes.

                                    2. Great reviews all around.

                                      I would also point out that on a recent visit, after indicating we had no reservation, we were immediately told that it would be an x minute wait or we could have two seats at the bar near the front if that wasn't a problem - the point being that we were made to felt welcome and that every effort would be made to make a place for us.

                                      It was a pleasant and slightly surprising contrast to the reception we got days before at Puritan and Co., where we were made to feel a bit embarrassed by not having reservations and seated accordingly.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        On a related note, I heard them offer diners a table with a one hour timer on it last week. Never seen that before. The couple was also offered seats at the bar, but chose the hour long table instead. The host was professional in delivering the option, and the couple took him up on it. Good service in a non-obvious way.

                                        1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                                          There wasn't a literal timer involved, was there? That would be something new. As a walk-in, I've accepted tables at other places with the understanding that we'd have to be out by a certain time, but rarely for less than ninety minutes, and never with a draining hourglass in front of us.


                                          1. re: MC Slim JB

                                            No literal timer. Just a well delivered comment that they had to be out by 7PM to free up a reserved table.