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Nov 24, 2013 08:54 AM

Chowhound red herrings

I can't remember the name of a similar thread - the one that discussed places that chowhounds have recommended, only to find that the place is not worthy of the praise.

I am going to call myself out on a couple of places that I have recommended in the past:

Pescatore, Somerville:

When this place started out, it was a great addition, a consistently very good Italian place with underrated seafood. Take-out pizza was also excellent. Lately, the pizza has been average at best, seemingly lacking in the quality of ingredients, quantity of ingredients and there has been an uptick in price. Last night, we dined in and things just were not up to snuff. Two orders of arancini were served on a napkin to soak up the grease and were cold on the inside, the little bits of cheese in the center were whole and unmelted. Sent a second order back for fixing and they were warmer, but overall, it had (to me) a pre-packaged sort of taste - the arancini were too perfectly round and similar in appearance to be house-made, which is disappointing. The seafood amalfi, which I have had on several occasions, was ... ok ... the fusilli was fine, a decent amount of seafood (one lobster claw, one big scallop, three shrimp) but the sauce was very bland and at $22, not a good value for what it once was. Wife's papardelle with mushrooms was ... ok ... both entrees needed salt. There were some pluses - they accommodated us with friends and two young kids in tow on a Saturday at last minute, shots of Limoncello at the end - but overall, just not worthy of the high praise I once heaped on it.

Erbaluce, Boston:

I want to like the chef and I want to like his food, but my last visit was flawed, although I could see the chef clearly supervising in the kitchen. First, appetizer of razor clams was gritty. For dinner, I had a fish (mormora) which was explained as cooked with the skin AND scales on - scales are cooked and take on a crunchy, popcorn-like texture. Ok, sounds great - like eating the shells on salt-and-pepper shrimp - I'm in - except a good number of the scales were not cooked properly, and so were inedible. The ones that were properly cooked were very crunchy, which was a little unusual - not entirely to my taste - not sure having a mouthful of crunch along with fish was a good concept to begin with, but there was clearly part of the fish were the technique was not executed properly. Finally, dessert was a roasted peach cobbler sort of thing that was....ok...but just bland, lacking the sweetness you would expect from in-season fruit (this was back in the summer). Wife's meal was great - the well-regarded panna cotta well received - housemade pasta was excellent. But look, this is a place that does not deign to put up ANY menu on its website and the decor and the room is stark - consequently it claims that these ancillary items are not necessarily because the focus is on stellar cuisine, but it's just not to that level - and friends who we try to convince to go - notice this. We'll go back (although not as often if they would just post a menu - it's not that hard and it's a little bit of arrogance that causes this, which is disappointing, because I find the chef to be very likable.) So all in all, I will hesitate to recommend Erbaluce.

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  1. Vinny's at Night- great idea, want to love the buffet, seems like the ultimate underground chowhound find. The times I've been, the stuff on the buffet is kind of greasy and lukewarm, not seasoned correctly, and tastes like the food at an off-Broadway rendition of Tony & Tina's Wedding from 1993.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Parsnipity

      Vinny's has gone downhill since the Globe review and the expansion. The table used to be my favorite thing to eat in Boston. Same thing with Pescatore - never as good since the expansion to the back patio. Not a valid correlation, but I wonder.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        Vinny's stopped serving the warm antipasto table early this year. I think the groupon attempt hurt them.

        1. re: treb

          whatever did it, they are hurt.

          1. re: Madrid

            I had never been until this year and have gone a few times since then. I'm not raving, but it's been perfectly good for what it is. Maybe I missed the glory days; no antipasto table when I've been there. I was interested in going back to try the rabbit dish.

    2. Oh- Bob- if I remember correctly you were thinking of "Chowhound Bum Steers."

      1 Reply
      1. re: Parsnipity

        Bum steers - that's it! Though mine is more of a downhill alert. Bum steers was about those places that were never good to begin with, is my memory.

      2. Bummer about Erbaluce.

        Our office moved the other day and I look right at the place out my window.

        I've never been. Will probably try it at some point but will avoid unscaled fish...

        1. I had great meals at both Via Matta and Russell House in the past, however both those places had fallen way off on my last visits.

          I also had a few very inconsistent meals at Bergamot and am now hesitant to recommend it, though I'll try it again at some point.

          1. I'm likely the only local Chowhounder to have experienced excellent cocktails but subpar and inconsistent food at Eastern Standard.

            4 Replies
            1. re: C. Hamster

              Hmm, I don't know. I've eaten at Eastern Standard quite a bit over the past 7 - 8 years and while I've found the food to be pretty consistently cooked for the most part, they have a serious salt problem. I've had completely unsalted food and nearly inedible salty food there. Not really acceptable at those prices in my opinion. I did see that they have a new chef, not sure if that will changes things at all.

              1. re: C. Hamster

                I can't take it as far as your "subpar and inconsistent," but I certainly find Eastern Standard dull, corporate and not-worth-revisiting.

                1. re: enhF94

                  man, i thought i was the only one. thx,e.

                  also, completely agree w/ others re:via matta, pescatore,vinny's.

                2. re: C. Hamster

                  "Inconsistent?" Very much so. "Subpar?" Not always, in my experience. (Which I guess defines "inconsistent." Is it really possible for a place to be both?) I've had some very good dishes there. And I've had utter crap. I recall a seared foie gras that was grainy like tapioca... Ugh.