Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

BosGuy reviews 224 Boston Street Restaurant

224 Boston Restaurant, Dorchester diningI was sad when I heard that the building housing the popular Dorchester neighborhood restaurant, 224 Boston (a.k.a. 224) was up for sale. I assumed 224, which has been serving meals since the 1980s would close, but rumor has it that the longtime owner, Kevin Tyo, found a buyer who wants to continue with business as usual when they take over the property next month.

Venture out of downtown and enjoy a n’hood gem like 224

Saturday night I decided to head over and grab dinner at 224. Chalk it up to nostalgia. Even though it has been several years since last visiting, everything looks the same, 80s music plays nonstop, unpretentious patrons from the neighborhood crowd this tiny restaurant and small bar. Sitting at the bar I was greeted by a friendly bartender who had no idea how to pronounce an “R”, moments later I heard the woman next to me describe her meal as, “Wicked”. The gentrification of the South End means that wicked is no longer used in the traditional Boston sense like this woman used it to express her satisfaction with her dinner. That combined with the thick Boston accents surrounding me made me realize how much Boston has changed and how much I miss places like 224, which use to be far more common in the South End (anyone remember Pho Republique, Geoffrey’s, Le Gamin, Claremont Cafe, etc…)

dorchester dining

224’s Fork & Knife Caesar is $9 and large enough to share

Prices at 224 remain reasonable with main plates ranging from $19-$24. The full menu is large with plenty of starters, salads, sandwiches and flatbreads (which by the way are even more affordable). I started with a big glass of a California Cabernet and the “Fork and Knife Caesar”, which is topped with fried anchovies  and an anchovy-laden dressing, that I thoroughly enjoyed and devoured despite being large enough to share.

dorchester dining

224’s Prosciutto and Fig Flatbread is $12 and large enough to be a meal

When I was looking over the menu, the friendly bartender told me he really likes the Prosciutto and Fig Flatbread. Since I had been eyeing it, I figured I would try it. I’ll be candid, Stella’s braised short rib and fig flatbread remains my favorite, but 224 serves a satisfying flatbread and at roughly 30% less it shows how affordable dining can be if you venture out of the downtown neighborhoods.

224 is not fine dining and there are similar plates in other restaurants that may be better, like the fig flatbread, but the charm of this place cannot be topped and the comfort food that has been coming out of their kitchen for nearly 40 years impressive. If I lived closer to 224 I would be there several times a week. If you’ve never been or if it has been several years, do yourself a favor and go visit this Dorchester gem. They are open for dinner 7-days a week.

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.

224 Boston Street Restaurant
224 Boston Street (Dorchester)
(508) 265-1217

Restaurant review Aquitaine Boston

French, FranceFew restaurants have been operating in the South End as long as Aquitaine, which briefly closed in the winter of 2016 to remodel the 20 year old space. If you have not visited since they reopened, make it a point to stop by.

The most notable changes include a private dining section in the space formerly occupied by the tiny wine bar, moving the redesigned 11-seat pewter bar to the left of the newly monogrammed floor entrance and replacing the black and burgundy color scheme with French oak paneling and brass antique lighting. The redesign also modernized Aquitaine’s kitchen, which I am happy to say continues to crank-out good French cuisine.

south end dining

Brussels Sprouts Lyonnaise

Sergio started his meal with escargot but sadly the dim lighting which adds to the dining experience makes it a challenge to photograph using an iPhone (despite however much Apple claims how wonderful their camera is) so sadly no photo of Sergio’s starter. However, I started with the Brussels Sprouts Lyonnaise ($15) which also includes kale, a poached egg and a warm bacon vinaigrette. The key to this dish is the poached egg which was perfectly cooked so the yolk coated the greens and complemented the salty flavoring of the vinaigrette.

south end restaurant, aquitaine group

Parisian Gnocchi Fricassee

On this most recent visit Sergio ordered the Parisian Gnocchi Fricassee ($26), which includes braised rabbit, summer squash and tomatoes.  The gnocchi was soft and absorbed much of the flavors imparted by the rabbit and broth. Sergio gave the plate mixed reviews, which I think was partly due to the rabbit which I don’t think he is 100% comfortable eating. Sergio prefers white meat so I give him bonus points for venturing outside his typical dining preferences (it is a testament to how much he loves gnocchi).

south end dining, aquitaine restaurant group

Pan Roasted Duck Breast

I opted for Aquitaine’s Pan Roasted Rohen Duck Breast ($30) which is served over swiss chard and a bigarade sauce (a brown sauce flavored with the juice and grated rind of oranges) and sprinkled with pistachios. This is a very hearty meal and one perfectly suited for the fall months. The duck was prepared perfectly, enhancing the rich flavors from my first plate, creating a savory one-two punch.

Profiteroles

We opted to splurge and order profiteroles for dessert, which are served as a trio coated with a healthy dollop of thick chocolate and filled with a creamy vanilla ice cream. While I sipped what remained of my wine, Sergio thoroughly enjoyed this dessert, which he split with a friend who joined us for dinner.

Aquitaine remains a solid dining option in a neighborhood that has more than its share of restaurants. Twenty-plus years later the service at Aquitaine remains consistently excellent and the food continues to tempt. Aquitaine is open seven days a week for dinner. Lunch is offered Monday – Friday and brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

Aquitaine Boston
529 Tremont Street  || (617) 424-8577
aquitaineboston.com

Restaurant review: Spoke Wine Bar

Located less than a five minute walk from the heart of Davis Square, Spoke Wine Bar first opened in 2013 but closed in 2016 before reopening under new management this spring with Eric Frier (Toro, Coppa, Ribelle) and Daniel Rodriguez (Uni, Clio) in the kitchen.

The restaurant serves “New American small plates”, and when I visited in August the menu was divided into three categories small, cold and hot with prices ranging from $5 – $23. My friend and I opted to sit at the bar which runs nearly the entire length of the restaurant and we were served by a friendly bartender who’s name unfortunately I never caught otherwise I’d be sure to give him a shout out for the excellent service we received.

We ordered four plates: one small, one cold and two hot plates to share, starting with smoked butter bean dip with sourdough bread ($8, shown above left) and the burrata served on a kohlrabi pesto with green strawberries and hazelnut ($15, shown above right).  The smoked bean dip was really delicious with the thickly sliced sourdough but the burrata plate was disappointing. When we cut into the cheese it failed to ooze into the bowl and neither of us enjoyed the flavor of the cabbage-pesto. To our server’s credit when he realized we didn’t care for the plate he immediately took it back and offered to deduct it from our tab.

Quinoa RisottoFortunately, our two hot plates were very satisfying, starting with the quinoa risotto ($16) shown above with summer vegetables and a ricotta salata. I was really surprised by how much I liked this plate and think the creative combination of flavors and complementing textures made this an excellent choice. Following the risotto the striped bass ($23) with mushrooms, kholrabi and big, leafy mustard greens, which added a dramatic pop of color along with flavor was another personal favorite.

spoke wine bar, davis square diningAlthough we were both satisfied after the three plates we dined on we were easily influenced to take a look at their dessert menu and quickly selected the rum crémeux ($10). It seems like crémeux are on many restaurant dessert menus, but for those unfamiliar with the name, think of a dense, creamy mousse almost the consistency of a pudding. This chocolate dessert was a decadent end to a delicious dinner and despite being small, was a great plate to share.

Spoke Wine Bar, Somerville dining, davis square
I really enjoyed my dinner at Spoke Winebar. The staff was friendly and more than competent, the menu was very creative and the space comfortable and pleasing to visit. Even though one of the plates wasn’t to our liking, I feel like I need to give bonus points to the staff for the way they responded. When a restaurant takes risks by combining different ingredients and flavors you have to respect the kitchen’s creativity. If we had a similar reaction to several plates, my opinion would probably change but everything else was so pleasing it is hard to fault the restaurant, considering how creative their entire menu is.

I wish the new ownership much success at Spoke Wine Bar and if you were to find yourself in Davis Square would certainly recommend this as an option. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday (closed Sunday and Monday).

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.

Spoke Wine Bar
89 Holland Street (Davis Square)
(508) 718-9463

Restaurant review: Lulu’s Allston

Source: Lulu’s Allston Facebook Page

Recently I visited the Allston/Brighton neighborhoods of Boston to spend an evening with my friend Evan. Allston is a vibrant neighborhood that many students and 20-somethings call home. Tourists who visit Boston are unlikely to venture into Allston/Brighton but it is an easy T or Uber ride, and I was glad my friend had invited me to have dinner in his neighborhood.

Lulu’s is located on Cambridge Street in Allston and is a fairly large space with a decent size bar and a recently opened back patio. Televisions hang around the the restaurant, which both Evan and I noticed preoccupied the attention of most of the 20-something patrons who come to this place for its comfort food and reasonable prices. The menu is filled with classic American food served in large portions that are not in the least calorie conscious – dieters stay away.

Lulu's Allston

Lulu’s Pretzels $4 || Lulu’s Cajun Tots $4

We started our dinner with orders of their Pretzels and Cajun Tots, which came out very warm served in tiny tin pales.  The munchkin shaped pretzels were served with sides of cheese and mustard.  I’m not sure what made the Tots Cajun since I didn’t taste any spices but I love tater tots so I was not disappointed. They were crispy on the outside and steamy warm and fluffy on the inside.

Our sever was vigilant about refilling our drinks, which if you are a beer drinker Lulu’s has a lot of options (about 50 is what I counted) but note they don’t have a full liquor license, rather they have a cordials liquor license. This article in the Boston Metro explains what that means. That being said it didn’t prevent Evan from enjoying his Manhattan and me from having scoffing down two lagers.

Lulu’s “Miss PIggy” Burger burger is $15

Lulu’s serves several burgers and Evan opted for the largest on the menu. The Miss Piggy Burger (as it is called) is served on texas toast, topped with pasta salad, pulled pork, bacon, bbq sauce, red onions and  served with a side of fries that are drizzled with honey mustard and sprinkled with scallions. The order is so large that it is served on a metal tray. I only swiped a few fries so I cannot comment on the burger but it looked like a heart attack on a bun. Evan ate almost everything so I assume it was very good.

Lulu’s Short Rib and Mac & Cheese $14

I opted for something equally unhealthy albeit slightly smaller, Short Rib Mac & Cheese, after our waiter suggested it was one of their most popular plates and one that the place is probably best known for serving. I enjoyed the meal but would probably try something different if I were to return to Lulu’s. The short rib was slightly dry and the cheese had pooled at the bottom of the plate rather than coating the pasta. My critique aside – in full disclosure – it didn’t stop me from eating nearly everything on my plate.

Which brings me to my overall evaluation, which I would characterize as a solid neighborhood restaurant. It knows its clientele and caters to them with affordable price points, typical American food and plenty of cold beer on tap. Lulu’s Allston is open 7-days a week, serving lunch and dinner and brunch on the weekends.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

Lulu’s Allston
421 Cambridge Street in Allston  || (617) 787-1117
lulusallston.com

Restaurant review: Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen

Tavola Hell's Kitchen, NYC PizzeriaBack in the fall of 2013 I first visited Tavola, and I enjoyed myself so much that I wrote a restaurant review. I’ve since visited Tavola a handful of times but not recently so on my last visit to New York City I opted to grab dinner there.

Tavola markets itself as an authentic Neopolitan pizzeria and pasta restaurant that operates in a space that was previously an Italian grocery store on 9th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. This restaurant is not fancy but it is cozy and cool and may be my favorite place to eat pizza in New York City. On this visit I started with a Caesar salad, which is large enough to share (but I ate all on my own).

Tavola’s large Caesar Salad is $9.75

The friendly bar staff brought the pizza right from their massive wood burning oven so I had to let it cool for a minute or two before I could eat it. I had ordered Tavola’s Margherita pizza. While I do enjoy a pizza with different toppings, my absolute favorite is a Margherita pizza. I love the combination of the cheese, sauce and dough.

NYC Pizzeria, Tavola Hell's Kitchen

Tavola’s Magherita Pizza might be the best I’ve ever had and it only costs $14.75

Despite my best intentions to get a photo before diving in, my obsession with their pizza got the better of me and it was only after I had a slice in one hand and a beer in the other that I realized I had yet to take a photo so that is why you see a missing slice, which in my mind makes it look like a Pac-Man pizza. Needless to say, Tavola still makes a killer pizza and the informal, neighborhood-like atmosphere and approachable prices for dinner make this place a personal favorite in Hell’s Kitchen.Tavola Hell's Kitchen

BosGuy Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.

Tavola in Hell’s Kitchen
488 9th Avenue  || (212) 273-1181
www.tavolahellskitchen.com

Restaurant review: South End Buttery

Back in 2005 the South End Buttery opened on the corner of Shawmut Ave and Union Park Street in the South End, replacing a tiny cafe that had previously operated in the space. In 2008 they expanded into an adjacent space to include a restaurant and bar with dinner service daily and brunch on weekends.

The Buttery currently has a great special running this month, offering 50% off their dinner menu Sunday through Wednesday, so Sergio and I decided to have dinner there last Sunday. We regularly visit the coffee shop and I enjoy their brunch but neither of us had ever been for dinner.  The menu serves classic American fare like burgers, mac and cheese and meatloaf, all reasonably priced with dishes ranging from $17-$22.

South End Buttery’s cauliflower is a tasty side that costs $6

We sat downstairs in the restaurant’s partially subterranean cozy little dining room and started by sharing one of their sides, the fried cauliflower with a lemon tahini sauce. The cauliflower was served warm and was lightly salted, which went great with my beer while we chatted and waited for our dinner to arrive.

For dinner Sergio ordered the Buttery’s Chicken Parmesan which looked appealing but I did not try. I opted to have the Buttery’s burger. I had been torn between the Fish and Chips and the burger and our helpful waiter encouraged me to go with the latter.

South End Buttery’s signature bacon cheeseburger and fries is $18

The Buttery clearly likes their burgers. They often have promotions and the three options, the bacon cheeseburger, turkey burger and chickpea falafel have their own section on the menu. I hate to admit it but my burger fell flat because it was overcooked. However, I’m inclined to give The Buttery another try because I know that others have said they enjoy their burger – maybe I’ll make another dash back before the end of the month, while the burger can be had for 50% off.

Despite the overcooked burger, the fries and cauliflower were great, Sergio really enjoyed his dinner and let’s face it, the South End Buttery is so damn charming. The restaurant is open 7-days a week for dinner and serves a delicious brunch Saturday and Sunday from 9AM – 3PM.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

South End Buttery (The Restaurant)
314 Shawmut Avenue  || (617) 482-1015
southendbuttery.com

Restaurant review: Orinoco South End

After reviewing a number of more expensive restaurants in the South End, I wanted to share a recent experience I had eating lunch at Orinoco.  This tiny Venezuelan restaurant with only 30 seats has been a neighborhood favorite ever since it first opened in 2006, and its success here has allowed it to open in two other locations in Brookline Village and Harvard Square. However, it is this cozy neighborhood restaurant that is open Tuesday through Sunday where Sergio and I joined our friend, Alden, for lunch last week.

Venezuelan restaurant, Boston dining, restaurant review

The Orinico lunch menu includes “Antojitos” (little cravings), Arepas which are traditional Venezuelan corn pocket sandwiches as well as Pepitos which are Venezuelan-style sandwiches served on french bread, Empanadas, salads and a few main plates. Nearly everything on the menu is between $5 -$10 making it one of the most affordable restaurants to grab lunch in the South End.

south end restaurant, Venezuelan restaurant, Orinoco South End, restaurant review

The marinated ribs in Orinoco’s Pepito de Costillita melt in your mouth

Alden ordered for lunch the Pepito de Costillita. This is a big boneless baby-back ribs sandwich that is slow-cooked with a passion-fruit bbq sauce that is so good it will have you licking your lips after every bite. The sandwich is topped with pickled onions and vinegar coleslaw and fried plantain chips come on the side. I took a bite and can vouch that the ribs melt in your mouth.

south end restaurant, Venezuelan restaurant, Orinoco South End, restaurant review

Eating Orinoco’s Pepito de Carne is so damn good I struggle to find words to describe it

Sergio ordered the Pepito de Carne. This sandwich was also on the larger side and stacked high with toppings. The sandwich comprises sautéed flank steak, pickled onions and salsa rosa with fried plantain chips on the side. I thought this was also ridiculously flavorful, and I’d be hard pressed to say which choice was better. My only caveat should you order either sandwich would be to think about what you might wear, because they can be messy to eat and will definitely require extra napkins. I think of these as sandwiches you’d have with friends or your boyfriend / spouse – definitely a tough first date meal to enjoy.

south end restaurant, Venezuelan restaurant, Orinoco South End, restaurant review

I loved my Pepito Medianoche and would definitely order it again

I wish that my sandwich photographed as beautifully as Alden and Sergio’s, because I loved what I ordered (despite enjoying bites of my lunch mates sandwiches – strictly in the name of research for this review). However, I feel like my photograph of the Pepito Medianoche (Cuban-style) lacks the mouthwatering appeal that the other photos evoke. Although you cannot see it, this pressed sandwich which is served warm includes slow-cooked pork with pickled onions, ham, swiss cheese, salsa rosa and mustard and like the other sandwiches is also served with fried plantain chips on the side.

Orinoco disproves the adage, “you get what you pay for” because our sandwiches which ranged from $8.00 – $8.50 taste waaaaay better than a lot of meals I’ve had for twice that price. If you live in the South End and want to grab a bite at a great neighborhood restaurant I’d highly recommend checking out Orinoco – just be patient because this place fills to capacity quickly.

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.

Orinoco South End
477 Shawmut Avenue  || (617) 369-7075
orinocokitchen.com