Friday, December 30, 2011

Seven Offbeat Food and Restaurant Stories from 2011

With the end of 2011 approaching, a number of end-of-year lists are making the rounds, including a few from this blog and our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants). Most of the lists that we have created are pretty straightforward, including best restaurants, best dishes, etc., but we would like to end with one final list that focuses on the odd and the unusual. So without further ado, here is a recap of some of the strangest food and restaurant stories of 2011:

1) 400-Pound Crucolo Cheese to Make Its Way Through Concord
Yes, the town of Concord celebrated the arrival of a huge piece of cheese to its community in December, complete with a parade through the business district. The cheese finished its journey through town at--where else?--a cheese shop.

2) Thelonious Monkfish Opens in Cambridge
There's nothing strange about this new Asian fusion restaurant in Central Square, that is, except for its name, which plays upon the name of a famous jazz pianist (and a delicious seafood item). The restaurant opened in February.

3) New Study: Boston Is the Drunkest City in America
Perhaps not such a surprise to those who happen to be walking around Allston or Faneuil Hall at 2:00 in the morning, this recent study from The Daily Beast is nonetheless a bit of an eye opener, considering how our fair city beat out such big drinking places as Milwaukee and New Orleans. But as a few people have said over the past day or so, we're #1 (for better or worse).

4) Ninety Nine Restaurant in Billerica Creates 3,999-Pound Plate of Nachos
Back to enormous portions of food for a moment--yes, the Ninety Nine actually put out a plate of nachos that weighed two tons earlier this fall, and some of the figures were staggering (825 pounds of Monterey jack and cheddar cheeses, 199 pounds of jalapeno peppers, 8 pounds of chopped cilantro, etc.). The creation of this monstrous dish was for a good cause, helping to raise money for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

5) British Pub Batters The Black Rose's Record for Largest Serving of Fish and Chips
Sticking to this topic for just a big longer, The Black Rose in downtown Boston was sad to see its fish and chips record go down the tubes, as a pub in North Yorkshire) created a plate of fish and chips that came in at just over 100 pounds (smashing the Black Rose's old record of 78 pounds). One mouthwatering(?) fact about the British dish--the piece of halibut was dipped in more than four gallons of batter.

6) Ben and Jerry's Produces Schweddy Balls Ice Cream
Perhaps not the most appealing name for a dessert treat, Ben and Jerry's newest ice cream flavor nevertheless did very well when it was first released, that is, when it could be found. Turns out that some markets decided not to carry the flavor apparently because of its name, which stems from a famous 1998 Saturday Night Live skit.

7) 12 Years Later, a Back Bay Restaurant Remains Unopened
It can indeed take a long time to open a restaurant, but 12 years? That seems almost Big Dig-like, and some people (including at least one politician) are apparently getting tired of the whole thing. So will Saratoga restaurant ever open in the Back Bay? We will just have to (continue to) wait and see.

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J.J. Mulligan's in Braintree Is Closing; Southside Tavern in Quincy to Take Over Space

A restaurant and bar in South Braintree Square is getting ready to close its doors, and a watering hole in neighboring Quincy is planning to open a new place in the spot.

An email sent to us by one of our readers indicates that J.J. Mulligan's on Washington Street is shutting down over the coming days, with a possible closing at the end of business hours on New Year's Eve. A recent Braintree Board of License Commissioners page confirms that Mulligan's is closing, and that (as our emailer states) the folks behind the Southside Tavern on Liberty Street in South Quincy are looking to take over the spot, though it is not known what the name of the new place will be at this point in time. (Southside Tavern is petitioning for a transfer of Mulligan's common victualler, alcohol, and entertainment licenses.)

[March 28, 2012 update: Based on an email from one of our readers (and confirmed via the restaurant's Facebook page), the new Southside Tavern in Braintree is now open.]

The address for the soon-to-close J.J. Mulligan's (and new restaurant and bar from the Southside Tavern people) is 941 Washington Street, Braintree, MA, 02184.

The PDF file of the Braintree Board of License Commissioners page can be found at the link below:

http://braintreema.gov/townclerk/documents/BdofLicCommCorrectedDec272011_000.pdf

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some Other Boston-Area Restaurant Lists for 2011

Earlier this month, our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants) came out with its Best Hidden Restaurants in the Boston Area for 2011 list. And it is just one of a number of restaurant/food lists to be published, with others coming from area food writers, newspapers, magazines, and websites. Some of the lists that we find particularly interesting are below:

The 2011 Devil's Dining Awards
Once again, Boston-based food writer and restaurant critic MC Slim JB has put out an entertaining and informative article that contains such quirky categories as "Annoying Industry PR Buzzphrase of the Year," "Charles Bukowski Award for Entertaining Literary Drunkenness," and "Manny Pacquiao Award for Disputable Championship." As always, MC's list is a nice alternative to the more traditional end-of-year lists and is a great read for those who love satire.

11 favorite dishes of 2011: the year's best in Boston and beyond
Boston Globe food writer Devra First has created a terrific list here that includes dishes from both popular and lesser-known spots in the area. Included are the clam chowder from the Island Creek Oyster Bar in Boston's Kenmore Square, the beef tournedos from Catalyst in Cambridge's Kendall Square, the gnocchi from 80 Thoreau in Concord, and much more.

Year In Eater: Eater Boston
The wonderful Eater site expanded into Boston this year, and the Boston section recently put out a series of end-of-year articles based on surveys of friends, people in the restaurant industry, bloggers, and more. Categories here include Surprises, 2011 in One Word, Best Neighborhood, Top Newcomers, and Best Standbys, with such folks as Devra First, MC Slim JB, Tom O'Keefe (BostonTweet), Penny and Ed Cherubino (BostonZest), and yours truly being surveyed.

The Passionate Foodie -- 2011: Favorite Restaurants
Known in part for his extensive knowledge of wine and sake, The Passionate Foodie is also a food writer and restaurant reviewer. And for 2011, he has picked some favorite dining spots in the Boston area and beyond, including favorite overall restaurant, favorite suburban restaurant, favorite pizza chain, favorite underappreciated restaurant, favorite donuts, and favorite fried seafood.

Celebrating 2011 in dining, all over the place
Robert Nadeau of the Boston Phoenix has written an end-of-year article that perhaps rivals MC Slim JB's in the quirkiness category. Here you will find his more straightforward picks for best restaurants of 2011 as well as best specific dishes, but you will also find such offbeat categories as "Best Cliche Restaurant," "Major Weird, but Worth It," "Meandering Path to Glory," and "(Buzz-) Killer App."

Best of Boston 2011: Restaurants and Food
One of the area's most well-known "Best Of" lists, Boston Magazine's series of articles on best restaurants and food seems to cover it all. Here you will find everything from "Best Deli" to "Best Cheese Shop" to "Best New Restaurant" to "Best Tasting Menu" to "Best Cookie" and so much more.

Boston's 11 Hottest New Restaurants of 2011
The blog section of Zagat has included photos and descriptions of a handful of hot new restaurants in the Boston area for this year. Included are such places as Sweet Cheeks in Boston's Fenway neighborhood, Storyville in the Back Bay, Trade on the waterfront, Wahlburgers in Hingham, and Area Four in Kendall Square.

If you have any other favorite "Best of 2011" lists for restaurants and food in the Boston area, please post links to them in the comments section below. Have a Happy New Year!

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New Study: Boston Is the Drunkest City in America

The Daily Beast has just come out with their list of America's drunkest cities, and guess which city sits at the very top of the list?

According to The Daily Beast's second annual poll, Boston came in at number 1 out of 25 cities mentioned, with 15.5 drinks consumed each month by the average Bostonian, 7.4 percent of all folks in the city being classified as heavy drinkers, and 20.1 percent being seen as binge drinkers. The data for the survey comes from the market-research firm Experian Simmons, which looked at drinking habits of people in more than 200 cities across the United States, as well as information from the Centers for Disease Control.

Other New England cities on the Daily Beast list include Springfield, MA, which came in at number 2, Burlington, VT (number 11), and Providence, RI (number 21).

For a complete list of cities on the list, please go to The Daily Beast link below:

America's Drunkest Cities of 2011, From Las Vegas to Boston

Thanks to The Boston Globe and Grub Street Boston for bringing this to our attention.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Few of the Biggest Stories of 2011

We are only a few days away from the end of 2011, and looking back, there were certainly a number of big stories centering on the Boston-area restaurant scene. A few of the most popular stories can be found below, in no particular order:

1) The Otherside Cafe's Roller Coaster Ride
In November, it was reported that The Otherside Cafe in Boston's Back Bay would likely be closing to make way for a furniture chain. Well, the deal apparently fell through, so the eatery appears to be safe in its present home once again.
Links:
Update: The Otherside Cafe in Boston's Back Bay Is NOT Closing
The Back Bay's Otherside Cafe and Island Hopper to be Replaced by Room and Board

2) Wegmans Comes to Massachusetts
For a long time, it seemed like this highly-regarded supermarket chain based in Upstate New York would never expand to Massachusetts, but then came the announcement that it would be opening in Northborough. And then another announcement about one coming to Burlington. And then another about it coming to Chestnut Hill. And Westwood? Well, that is still a great big unknown.
Links:
Wegmans Market Planning to Open in Burlington
Wegmans Market to Open in Newton's Chestnut Hill Square
Wegmans Market Is Opening in Northborough

3) Kelly's Roast Beef Closes One of Its Locations
To many, the ever-popular Kelly's Roast Beef would not seem the type of place to close one of its restaurants, but it indeed shuttered its Allston location in December, after only a year and a half in business. (The Allston shop apparently did not meet the sales needed to keep the restaurant going.)
Links:
Kelly's Roast Beef in Allston Is Closing

4) Farewell, Gargoyles
Speaking of closings, Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville, which was one of the most well-known restaurants in the entire Boston-area, shut down this fall after being in business for about 15 years, shocking many who frequented this New American spot in Davis Square. The catering side of Gargoyles is still in operation, but the dining spot is gone, to be replaced by a Mexican restaurant.
Links:
Gargoyles on the Square in Somerville Is Closing

5) Farewell, Rocca
Perhaps as big a deal as the closing of Gargoyles, an upscale South End restaurant called Rocca also shut down, with their closing happening at the beginning of the year. Tiffani Faison of Rocca has since moved on, opening a new spot called Sweet Cheeks in the Fenway section of the city.
Links:
Rocca in Boston's South End Has Closed

6) Here Come the Food Trucks!
The food truck trend really exploded in the Boston area over the past year, with the city of Boston setting up 15 new permanent sites over the summer for trucks in several neighborhoods. There was something for everyone among the food trucks, including grilled cheese, BBQ, coffee, seafood, vegetarian dishes, and more.
Links:
Food Truck Sites in Boston

7) Celebrity Burgers
A new burger restaurant opened on the South Shore this fall, with chef and restaurateur Paul Wahlberg (Bridgeman's, Alma Nove) behind the Hingham spot. But it also turns out that the two more "famous" Wahlberg brothers (Mark and Donnie) were behind Wahlburgers as well, making this a true family affair.
Links:
Paul, Mark, and Donnie Wahlberg Are Opening Wahlburgers in Hingham

8) Is it Curtains for Anthony's Pier 4?
The last big story to be mentioned here is a rather sad one, especially for those who tend to be sentimental about old-school Boston restaurants. Yes, Anthony's Pier 4 is losing its waterfront home after nearly 50 years in business, as a housing and retail complex will be built on the site. There has been talk of Anthony's moving to a new location nearby, but nothing has been confirmed, and it honestly doesn't look good at this point.
Links:
Anthony's Pier 4 in Boston to Close; May Reopen in New Spot

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Grass Fed Burger Bar to Open in Jamaica Plain

Last month we mentioned a rumor about a burger bar possibly coming to Jamaica Plain, and now this has been confirmed, as the owner of another JP restaurant will be opening a place called Grass Fed.

According to Eater Boston, a post on the Ten Tables Twitter page states that Grass Fed will be moving into the former Bon Savor space on Centre Street (in the same block as Ten Tables), with an expected opening date of February 1. This rumor started back in late November during a Boston Globe food chat, as it was mentioned that Krista Kranyak--the owner of Ten Tables--was planning to open a burger bar within the Bon Savor space (Bon Savor closed its doors a couple of weeks after the chat).

This will be the fourth restaurant opened by Krista Kranyak, who has two other locations of Ten Tables in Cambridge and Provincetown.

[January 4, 2012 update: A bit more information on Grass Fed--according to their Facebook page, the restaurant will be featuring grass-fed beef burgers ground fresh daily as well as salads, sandwiches, fish burgers, and veggie burgers.]

[March 27, 2012 update: According to their Facebook page, Grass Fed is officially opening tomorrow (Wednesday, March 28) at 11:00 AM.]

The address for this upcoming burger bar in Jamaica Plain will be: Grass Fed, 605 Centre Street, Boston, MA, 02130.

[Earlier articles on this:]
Bon Savor in Jamaica Plain Has Closed
The Rumor Mill: Michael Schlow, Ten Tables, Jamie Bissonnette, and More

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pho 29 Replaces Viet Grill in Canton

A Vietnamese restaurant has opened in one of Boston's southern suburbs, and the eatery has moved into the space where another Vietnamese dining spot had been.

According to a poster on Chowhound, Pho 29 is now open on Washington Street in Canton, taking over the former Viet Grill spot. The poster mentions that the owner of the Viet Grill, which closed over the summer, is helping out the owner of Pho 29, and that the spot has been renovated to give it more space and a brighter overall feel.

Currently, there does not appear to be a website for Pho 29, and no menu can be found for the place online.

The address for this new Vietnamese restaurant in Canton is: Pho 29, 645 Washington Street, Canton, MA, 02021.

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Zinga Frozen Yogurt Opens in Boston's Kenmore Square

A new frozen yogurt place has just opened within the Hotel Commonwealth in Boston's Kenmore Square neighborhood.

According to Adam's Hospitality and Tourism Industry Blog, Zinga opens today, making this the first location of the frozen yogurt franchise group, which is based in Fairfax, VA. A check on the Zinga Facebook page mentions that the new spot opened at noon, with "opening day" flavors including Dreamy Dark Chocolate, Olde Fashion Candy Cane, Pacific Coast Tart, Pomegranate Energy, Strawberry, Cookies & Cream, Birthday Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Cafe au Lait, Dulce de Leche, Vanilla Bean, and Valencia Orange Sorbet.

The address for this new frozen yogurt spot in Kenmore Square is: Zinga, 508 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02115. The phone number is (857) 263-8496. And their website can be found at http://www.zingafroyo.com (Their Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/ZingaKenmoreSquareBoston)

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Wayland Winter Farmers' Market to Start January 7, 2012

Another winter farmers' market is on the way to the Boston area, with this one being in a western suburb of the city.

According to the Russell's Garden Center website, the Wayland Winter Farmers' Market will be open at the center (which is on Route 20) starting on Saturday, January 7, 2012, and will be open every Saturday until March 10. The indoor market will include such items as cheese, cornmeal, eggs, greens, herbs, honey, maple products, meat, mushrooms, root vegetables, and yarn. In addition, the farmers' market will also feature items from specialty food vendors (pasta, jams, gelato, hummus, coffee, baked goods, etc.) Seating will be available within the Russell's Garden Center's greenhouse.

The Wayland Winter Farmers' Market will be open from 10:00 AM until 2:00 PM each Saturday.

For more information, please go to the Russell's Garden Center link below:

http://www.russellsgardencenter.com/wayland_winter_mkt.html

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Copacabana to Replace Garden of Eat-In Pizzeria in North Cambridge

A new Latin American restaurant is opening in North Cambridge, and it will be replacing a pizzeria that opened earlier this year.

Based on information from a City of Cambridge License Commission General Hearing and a poster on Yelp, Copacabana is planning to open in the space where Garden of Eat-In Pizzeria has been since this past winter. The City of Cambridge page mentions that the 20-seat Copacabana will be looking to serve food and non-alcoholic beverages, and it plans to be open daily for lunch and dinner, while the Yelp poster mentions that the new spot will be a Brazilian eatery.

Garden of Eat-In Pizzeria, which replaced the Good Food Cafe, has featured Italian food, pizzas, and sandwiches during the several months of its existence.

[January 4, 2012 update: Copacabana is now open.]

The address for the new Copacabana in North Cambridge is: Copacabana, 2378 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02140.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Bright Horizons to Move into Former Marino's Space in North Cambridge

Five years ago, a popular Italian dining spot in North Cambridge shut its doors for good, and the building has remained empty ever since. Now it appears that a new business will be opening up in the space--but it won't be a restaurant.

A sign posted on the storefront of the former Marino's spot on Mass. Ave. indicates that the Watertown-based child-care provider Bright Horizons will be moving into the space, with a planned opening sometime in the spring of 2012. Marino's closed down at the beginning of 2007 after being in business for more than 15 years, with the 7,000-foot space being looked at by various businesses (including Bourbon Coffee, which has since opened in Porter Square), but remaining vacant to this day. The restaurant featured a mix of Northern Italian and Southern Italian cuisine in an upscale but casual setting.

The address for the former Marino's space is 2465 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA, 02140.

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Highlights for the Week Ending December 23, 2011

A few more stories centering on the Boston-area restaurant scene came out over the past week, including a local restaurant chain helping members of the armed forces, a lounge and club closing in the Fort Point section of Boston, and a Back Bay restaurant getting a second life. In addition, our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants) had a featured review of a bar pizza spot south of Boston as well as a slideshow of restaurants in scenic areas and a photo of Irish bread from a breakfast spot just south of the city.

Below are links to these and other items from the past week:

Boston Restaurant Talk

Our Articles Can Now Be Shared on LinkedIn

Uno to Deliver 10,000 pizzas to U.S. Troops

Blue Wave in Boston's Fort Point Channel Neighborhood to Close

Sara Ross of Kickass Cupcakes Joins the Boston Herald Blog Team

Update: The Otherside Cafe in Boston's Back Bay Is NOT Closing

Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Featured Review: Spencer's Pizza in Abington, MA

Slideshow: Ten New England Restaurants in Scenic Locations

Photo: Christmas Gingerbread Person from Ginger Betty's in Quincy, MA

Updated Review: Thirsty Scholar Pub, Somerville, MA

Photo: Soda Bread from McKay's in Quincy, MA

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Moo Shu Jew Is Coming to Hei La Moon in Boston's Chinatown December 24, 2011

A restaurant in Chinatown that is known for its dim sum is going to be the site of an unusual food and comedy event this weekend.

According to The Boston Globe and Eater Boston, Moo Shu Jew will be held at Hei La Moon on Beach Street in Chinatown tomorrow (Saturday, December 24) from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM, with the event featuring a five-course Chinese dinner along with entertainment from several comedians doing stand-up routines. Cory Kahaney of Last Comic Standing will be taking part in Moo Shu Jew, as will Jim David of Comedy Central, Ross Bennett of Blue Collar Comedy, and Ophira Eisenberg of the non-profit storytelling group The Moth.

Tickets to Moo Shu Jew cost $65 in advance or $70 at the door ($40 for "young adults" under 39) and can be purchased at the event website: http://www.newcenterboston.org/index.php/programs/current_upcoming/category/performance/moo_shu_jew

For more information on this event, please go to the Boston Globe and Eater Boston links below.

[Boston Globe]
Moo Shu Jew

[Eater Boston]
Moo Shu Jew; New Wine Regulations

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Video: A Bacon Christmas Tree

Just in time for the holidays, the folks behind the Epic Meal Time website have come up with a Christmas tree made out of...bacon.

The tree, which can be seen in the video below, is made up of more than 2,000 strips of bacon, along with chicken nuggets (as strings of "lights," or perhaps tinsel) and cheeseburger ornaments. The total calorie count (if eaten) is well over 200,000, with more than 40,000 grams of fat.

Here is the video (thanks to Foodbeast for bringing this to our attention, by the way):

[UPDATE: The video has apparently been taken off of YouTube. Our apologies for this.]

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Our Articles Can Now Be Shared on LinkedIn

To help make it easier to share our blog articles with others, we started adding both a Twitter "Share" button and a Facebook "Like" button to the bottom of each post awhile back. And now there is a new way to share stories with your friends, namely via a LinkedIn button.

If you look at the bottom of this page (as well as pages from earlier this week), you will notice the new "Share" button (labeled "in share") to the right of the Twitter and Facebook buttons. For those of you who are members of LinkedIn, click the button and when the popup window comes up, add a comment about the article, then click "Share." The article will then be posted on your LinkedIn page.

Thanks to all of you who have shared our articles with your friends via Twitter and Facebook, and also a big thanks to those of you who start sharing on LinkedIn as well. And if you would like to join us on Twitter or Facebook, please follow the links below.

To follow us on Twitter, please go to this link:

Twitter Page for Hiddenboston

And to become a Facebook fan of Boston Restaurant Talk and Boston's Hidden Restaurants, please go to this link:

Boston's Hidden Restaurants Facebook Page

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Uno to Deliver 10,000 pizzas to U.S. Troops

A Boston-based restaurant chain that features deep-dish pizza is teaming up with a non-profit organization to help our troops in Central Asia.

According to The Boston Globe, Uno Restaurant Holdings and Pizzas 4 Patriots are setting up a "$5 for $50" fundraiser that allows diners to buy coupon books for $5 and get back $50 in coupons. The funds that are raised will help send 10,000 pizzas to members of the armed forces who are stationed in Afghanistan, with the pies being delivered on Super Bowl Sunday (February 5, 2012). The Globe mentions that coupon books will be available at Uno locations until the end of December. (For locations of the restaurant chain, please go to their website at http://www.unos.com/)

The Globe article can be found at the link below:

UNO to send 10k pizzas to troops

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Blue Wave in Boston's Fort Point Channel Neighborhood to Close

A restaurant, bar, and nightclub in Boston's Fort Point neighborhood is getting ready to close its doors for good.

According to a poster on the Chowhound site (and confirmed by The Fab Empire), the Blue Wave on Congress Street is shutting down at the end of business hours tomorrow, with The Fab Empire mentioning that a two-part farewell party is happening there tonight and tomorrow night. The Blue Wave has been a place to go for pub grub and cocktails over the past several years, along with music played by DJs, with items such as nachos, chicken wings, pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and steak tips on their menu.

The address for this soon-to-close restaurant and club in the Fort Point neighborhood is: Blue Wave, 343 Congress Street, Boston, MA, 02210.

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China King Taking Over Rainbow Cafe Space in Boston's Chinatown

It looks like a new Chinese restaurant is looking to open in the Chinatown section of Boston, moving into the space where another Chinese spot has been for a number of years.

According to a post within the EveryBlock Boston site, China King has received a business license to open on Beach Street (at the corner of Oxford Street), taking over the spot where the Rainbow Cafe has been. No other details have been given about China King, and calls placed to the Rainbow Cafe indicate that their phone is no longer in service, so it appears that that restaurant is now closed.

[January 3, 2012 update: Based on a post on the Chowhound site, there now seems to be confirmation that the Rainbow Cafe has definitely closed, and the space is apparently being renovated for the upcoming China King.]

[March 5, 2012 update: Posters on the Chowhound site report that China King is now open.]

[March 9, 2012 update: Confirming what the poster at the end of this article says, CBH Communications reports that the new China King restaurant is owned by the same folks behind the original King Fung Garden, a landmark restaurant that was on Kneeland Street from 1995 to 2008 (the owners currently run a second King Fung Garden on Route 9 in Brookline). China King is going to be serving the same dishes that the original King Fung Garden served, including steamed pork buns, rice cake with pork and pickled cabbage, sweet pickled jellyfish, salt and pepper fried squid, and Peking duck.]

The address for the new new China King in Chinatown is: China King, 60 Beach Street, Boston, MA, 02111.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sara Ross of Kickass Cupcakes Joins the Boston Herald Blog Team

Last month, we told you that three well-known people within the Boston restaurant scene started blogging for The Boston Herald. Add a fourth to that list, as the owner of a popular cupcake shop in Somerville has just joined the team.

According to her Facebook page, Sara Ross of Kickass Cupcakes on Highland Avenue is now writing for the Herald's Forklift blog. Her first post was published today, and the topic is making "cuptails" (cupcakes topped off with alcohol). A link to the article can be found below.

"Cuptails" by Sara Ross

In November, Roger Berkowitz (Legal Sea Foods CEO/president), Lydia Shire (chef/co-owner of Scampo and culinary director at Towne Stove and Spirits), and Domingo-Martin Barreres (master mixologist at Market by Jean-Georges) also signed on to Forklift, joining other bloggers such as Kerry Byrne, Mary Ann Esposito, Sara Gaynes, and Laura Raposa.

Our earlier article on the Herald's Forklift blog:

Roger Berkowitz, Lydia Shire, Domingo-Martin Barreres to Blog for the Boston Herald

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Update: The Otherside Cafe in Boston's Back Bay Is NOT Closing

Last month, we reported that a couple of Back Bay restaurants were due to close because a furniture chain was planning to take over the block in which they reside. Now, it appears that the deal fell through and at least one of the eateries will be staying.

According to their Facebook page, The Otherside Cafe on Newbury Street will not be closing after all, because "the building we rent kicked us out before they had made the deal to replace, and then failed to make the deal." The deal had involved bringing Room & Board, a Minnesota-based chain of stores that focuses on furniture and home accessories, to the block where Newbury Street and Mass. Ave. meet, with The Otherside Cafe and Island Hoppper being forced to close/move. It is not known at this time whether Island Hopper will remain open--more updates will be coming, so keep checking back.

The address for The Otherside Cafe is 407 Newbury Street, Boston, MA, 02115. Their website can be found at http://www.theothersidecafe.com/

Our earlier article on this:

The Back Bay's Otherside Cafe and Island Hopper to be Replaced by Room and Board

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Owners of Napper Tandy's in Norwood to Open a New Irish Pub in Roslindale

Last month, we reported that Robyn's Bar and Grill in Roslindale closed its doors, and now it looks like the folks behind an Irish pub in Norwood will be opening another pub within the former Robyn's space.

According to the West Roxbury Transcript and Wicked Local, the owners of Napper Tandy's on Day Street in Norwood are hoping to open a "neighborhood Irish pub" on Washington Street where Robyn's had been for about four years. The article mentions that the proposed pub, which does not yet have a name, is not quite a done deal yet, though the husband-and-wife team behind it have apparently completed the licensing process with the city of Boston and have the contract to purchase the space, which is at the northern edge of Roslindale Village.

[March 16, 2012 update: Eater Boston reports that the name of the new pub coming to Roslindale will also be Napper Tandy's, and it may be opening in the next five or six weeks.]

[June 28, 2012 update: According to a poster on the Hiddenboston Twitter page, Napper Tandy's apparently opened last night, with only the front room being open, and a small menu for now.]

The address for this new Irish pub is 4195 Washington Street, Roslindale, MA, 02131. The website for Napper Tandy's in Norwood can be found at http://www.nappertandysnorwood.com/

For more on this story, please go to the West Roxbury Transcript/Wicked Local link below.

Roslindale may get Irish pub

And our earlier story on the closing of Robyn's Bar and Grill:

Robyn's Bar and Grill in Roslindale Has Closed

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Highlights for the Week Ending December 16, 2011

Several more stories focusing on the Boston-area restaurant scene came out over the past week, including the closing of a casual South End restaurant, an oceanfront restaurant being put up for sale, and an OpenTable list of best 2011 restaurants including two Boston spots. In addition, our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants) had a transcript of a recent online discussion, an updated list of December closings/openings in the Boston area, and a photo of a dish from a Winchester diner.

Below are links to these and other items from the past week:

Boston Restaurant Talk

Don Ricardo's in Boston's South End Has Closed; Vejigante To Move In

Beachfire Restaurant and Bar in Hull Closes, Goes Up for Sale

Backbar opens in Somerville's Union Square

Georgetown Cupcake Is Coming to Boston's Back Bay

OpenTable's Picks for Top 100 Restaurants of 2011 Include Two Boston Restaurants

Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Transcript of Online Discussion: Various Holiday-Related Topics

December Closings/Openings (So Far)

Photo: Roasted Artichoke Hearts from Jonathan's in Ogunquit, ME

A List of Our 2011 Food Discussion Participants

Photo: Pork Chops from the Swanton Street Diner in Winchester, MA

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Daddy Jones to Replace Lil Vinny's in Somerville

An Italian restaurant in Somerville that has been in business for more than a decade is shutting its doors, and a new eating and drinking establishment is going to be moving into its space.

According to The Somerville Journal and Wicked Local, it looks like Lil Vinny's Ristorante in Magoun Square is closing for good, possibly making way for a retro bar called Daddy Jones, which will be a 1980s or 1990s-style spot that features small bites and possibly movie nights. (The person behind Daddy Jones may be coming from nightclub owners The Lyons Group, according to the article.) Lil Vinny's first opened on Medford Street about 12 years ago, featuring mostly Southern Italian fare, including such dishes as chicken pomodoro, ziti and meatballs, spinach ravioli, beef bracciola, and veal parmigiana.

Lil Vinny's has been featured on our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants), with a link to the review being below:

http://www.hiddenboston.com/LilVinnys.html

[February 8, 2012 update: According to Grub Street Boston, Lil Vinny's will close its doors for good after business hours on Saturday, February 11.]

[April 24, 2012 update: Based on a Licensing Commission page from the city of Somerville, it appears that Daddy Jones is moving ahead with its plans to open in the former Lil Vinny's spot, as a note within the page mentions that Daddy Jones is "requesting approval for a Pledge of License to East Cambridge Savings Bank."]

[October 23, 2012 update: UrbanDaddy reports that Daddy Jones is planning to open a week from Thursday (November 1, 2012). It looks like the new spot will focus on Greek-style dishes and classic drinks, with the retro atmosphere including the showing of 1980s sitcoms on the flat-screens.]

[November 1, 2012 update: Eater Boston confirms that Daddy Jones opens at 5:00 PM today.]

The address for the upcoming Daddy Jones is 525 Medford Street, Somerville, MA 02145.

For more on this story, please go to the Somerville Journal/Wicked Local link below:

Daddy Jones to Replace Lil Vinny's in Somerville

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Don Ricardo's in Boston's South End Has Closed; Vejigantes To Move In

photo of Don Ricardo's, Boston, MAA Brazilian and Peruvian restaurant in the South End of Boston has decided to close its doors, and a Puerto Rican eatery will be moving into its space. According to Eater Boston, Don Ricardo's on West Dedham Street closed last weekend after being in business for about eight years (Botucatu had been in the space previously, and before that, Buteco II). The article mentions that a new spot called Vejigantes will be replacing Don Ricardo's, though no specific opening date has been given.

[June 6, 2012 update: Vejigantes appears to be close to opening, as the restaurant just received a business license to operate, according to a post on the EveryBlock Boston site.]

[July 13, 2012 update: Thrillist Boston is reporting that Vejigantes is planning to have a soft opening next Tuesday (July 17). The article also mentions that the couple behind the new restaurant are the owners of  Merengue in Roxbury.]

Don Ricardo's was known as a low-key, casual, and reasonably-priced eatery that was a decent alternative to some of the more trendy and higher-priced restaurants nearby. The menu offered a mix of Peruvian and Brazilian dishes, as well as some Mexican and Spanish items. Our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants) had featured Don Ricardo's within the website, with the review being at the following link:

http://www.hiddenboston.com/DonRicardos.html

The address for the now-closed Don Ricardo's (and upcoming Vejigantes) is 57 West Dedham Street, Boston, MA, 02118.

For more on this story, please go to the Eater Boston link below.

Don Ricardo's Closes, Vejigante to Take Its Place

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Morton's Steakhouse Acquired by Landry's

A Chicago-based group of high-end steakhouses with two locations in Boston has been acquired by a Houston-based company that operates a number of restaurant chains.

According to Nation's Restaurant News, the owner of Landry's Inc., has purchased the 77-unit Morton's Restaurant Group Inc., for a price of approximately $116.6 million. The article states that the board at Morton's unanimously approved the sale of the chain and are encouraging shareholders to agree to the tender offer. Landry's owner mentions that plans are in the works for Morton's plans to introduce new items on the menu, though no specifics have been given.

Morton's first started out in Chicago in 1978, eventually expanding to include locations in about half of the states in the country, with a few others being in Canada, Mexico, and Asia. Currently, locations of the steakhouse chain can be found in the Back Bay of Boston and in the Seaport District, with other New England locations being in Hartford, Ct, and Stamford, CT.

Landry's, which opened its first restaurant (Landry's Seafood House Restaurant in Kety, TX) in 1980, is the parent company of an array of restaurants and restaurant chains, including the Rainforest Cafe, Muer Seafood Restaurants, and The Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.

For more information on this story, please go to the Nation's Restaurant News link below.

Landry's to buy Morton’s for $116.6M

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5 Corners Kitchen in Marblehead Plans to Reopen in Spring, Is Asking for Help

A Marblehead restaurant that was heavily damaged in a fire this summer is planning to reopen in a few months, but is also asking for help from diners.

According to The Marblehead Reporter and Wicked Local, 5 Corners Kitchen on School Street is looking to open in the spring of 2012, but needs to raise money in order to cover the amount beyond what insurance covered, which apparently wasn't enough for them to reopen. The restaurant is offering gift certificates, with gifts given to customers in return, and for those who purchase gift certificates between $500 and $1,000, they will receive 10% back as well as a 5 Corners Kitchen hat and a pass to the grand re-opening, which will only be open to people who buy gift certificates in this price range.

5 Corners Kitchen first opened in May of 2010, bringing to this North Shore community a place to get moderately-priced New American dishes made using locally-sourced foods. The restaurant was hit by a two-alarm fire in July, forcing the place to close for repairs and reconstruction.

[March 19, 2012 update: The Marblehead Reporter states that not only will 5 Corners Kitchen be reopening, but it will also be expanding, taking over the space next door where an ice cream shop used to be. The article mentions that the restaurant should be opening sometime in June.]

[August 2, 2012 update: According to a poster on the Chowhound site, Five Corners Kitchen in Marblehead is now open in their expanded space.]

The address for this restaurant in Marblehead is: 5 Corners Kitchen, 2 School Street, Marblehead, MA, 01945. Their website can be found at http://www.5cornerskitchen.com/

For more information on this story, please go to the Marblehead Reporter/Wicked Local link below.

Marblehead residents can help 5 Corners re-open

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Beachfire Restaurant and Bar in Hull Closes, Goes Up for Sale

A South Shore restaurant and bar known in part for its spectacular water views has closed its doors and is now up for sale.

According to a couple of articles in the Hull Times, the Beachfire Restaurant and Bar in Hull abruptly closed last month, with the owner citing personal health issues, and now it has been reported that the Nantasket Beach establishment has been put on the market for $1.5 million. the Beachfire first opened in mid-2010, taking over the space where the Ocean Club formerly resided. Much like the Ocean Club, the Beachfire featured seafood and pub grub as well as live entertainment.

One of the articles in the Hull Times indicates that the sale would include all equipment as well as the liquor license (subject to state transfer), and the Beachfire owner would be willing to help the new owner with training, if necessary.

The address for this now-closed restaurant and bar at Nantasket Beach in Hull is: Beachfire Restaurant and Bar, 42 State Park Road, Hull, MA 02045.

For more information on this story, please go to the two PDF pages from the Hull Times below.

Owner's health issues shutter BeachFire anew

Owner puts BeachFire on the market for $1.5M

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Limey's Pub Opens in Norwood

An English pub in Framingham has just opened a second location, with this one being southwest of Boston.

An email sent to us by one of our readers indicates that Limey's Pub is now open on Washington Street in Norwood, taking over the space where Martini's used to be. A check on Facebook shows that the new Limey's Pub has a bar and a fireplace within the space, and it is open for lunch and dinner daily. The Framingham location features a mix of British fare and American comfort food such as chip butty (basically a French fry or "chips" sandwich), nachos, a fish wrap, chili, burgers, chicken curry, shepherd's pie, fish and chips, and chicken wings, so expect to see such items at the new location.

The original Limey's Pub in Framingham first opened in the fall of 2010, taking over the space on Concord Street where the Chinese restaurant Sampan had been.

The address for this new restaurant and pub in Norwood is: Limey's Pub, 659 Washington Street, Norwood, MA, 02062.

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Midami in Arlington Has Closed

It looks like an Asian restaurant in Arlington Center has closed its doors.

Over the past few weeks, several checks on Midami on Mass. Ave. have indicated no activity going on within the space, and now (according to one of our readers as well as a poster on Chowhound), a "For Sale" sign has been displayed in the window and the restaurant's website is no longer in operation.

Midami replaced Kayuga II in the spring of 2010, about two years after Kayuga first opened. Both Kayuga and Midami featured Asian fusion cuisine, with an emphasis on Japanese fare. Prior to Kayuga was another Asian restaurant called Asiana Grille.

The address for this now-closed restaurant in Arlington Center was: Midami, 444 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington, MA 02474.

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Sal's Family Restaurant in Randolph Is Closing Today

A family-friendly restaurant in a southern suburb of Boston is closing its doors for good today after being in business for nearly four decades.

An email sent to us by one of our readers indicates that Sal's Family Restaurant in Randolph is shuttering at the end of business hours today, and a check on the restaurant's Facebook page indeed confirms this, with a note (and photo) on the page showing that the dining spot is shutting down after being in the North Main Street space for 38 years.

Sal's was a local favorite in and around Randolph over the years, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including such items as waffles, pancakes, French toast, pizza, calzones, steak tips, burgers, hot dogs, and a huge variety of hot and cold subs.

The address for Sal's is: Sal's Family Restaurant, 1151 North Main Street, Randolph, MA, 02368.

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Backbar opens in Somerville's Union Square

The folks behind a fine-dining restaurant in Somerville's Union Square neighborhood are opening a new bar behind the eatery later today, and it will be featuring craft cocktails and comfort food.

According to their website, Backbar opens in back of Journeyman on Sanborn Court at 4:00 PM, with an "opening menu" for food and drink shown on the site. The new spot will feature such drinks as whiskey cocktails, Cuba Libres, boilermakers, martinis, daiquiris, and milk punch, while food items will include a charcuterie plate, stilton cheese, foie gras, oyster shooters, spicy caramel popcorn, warm assorted olives, and ice cream.

Journeyman opened in September of 2010, attracting diners with their elegant and refined dishes that feature locally-sourced ingredients as well as their array of craft beers, wines, and spirits.

The address for Backbar (and Journeyman) is 9 Sanborn Court, Somerville, MA, 02143. The phone number for Backbar is (617) 718-0249, and their website can be found at http://www.backbarunion.com/

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A @ Time Thai Cuisine Opens in Allston

A new Thai restaurant has opened in Allston, moving into the space where another Thai spot had been.

According to Eater Boston, A @ Time Thai Cuisine is now open on Cambridge Street, taking over the former Bo Thai spot. A poster on the Chowhound site mentions that the new eatery appears to be mainly a takeout place, as there are only a couple of tables inside. The restaurant's menu includes dishes such as chicken satay, chive pancakes, pad Thai, mango fried rice, red curry, sweet chili fish, and crispy fried tofu.

A @ Time Thai Cuisine is open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, and a late lunch (opening at 2:00 PM) and dinner on Sundays.

The address for this new Thai restaurant in Allston is: A @ Time Thai Cuisine, 433 Cambridge Street, Allston, MA, 02134. The phone number is (617) 202-5840. And their website can be found at http://www.aattimedelivery.com

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Georgetown Cupcake Is Coming to Boston's Back Bay

A gourmet cupcake shop with two locations in the Washington, DC, area is going to be opening two more branches--and one will be in the heart of Boston's Back Bay.

According to Eater Boston, Georgetown Cupcake is planning to open on Newbury Street in the spring of 2012, moving into a space between the Berkeley Street and Clarendon Street intersections. The cupcake shop's website also mentions that another location will open on Mercer Street in the SoHo section of Manhattan in "Winter 2011," joining the first two locations which are in the Georgetown section of Washington and Bethesda, MD.

[June 5, 2012 update: Eater Boston is reporting that Georgetown Cupcake will open their Boston location on Saturday, June 16.]

Georgetown Cupcake features such cupcakes as chocolate ganache, red velvet, bubblegum pink, and lava fudge, along with specials that include chocolate hazelnut, key lime, honey banana, salted caramel, lemon blossom, and many more. Seasonal flavors this month include chocolate egg nog, gingerbread, and cinnamon spice.

The address for this upcoming cupcake shop in the Back Bay will be: Georgetown Cupcake, 83 Newbury Street, Boston, MA, 02116. Their website can be found at http://georgetowncupcake.com/

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Breakfast with the Gorillas Coming to the Franklin Park Zoo

Last month, we told you about the Franklin Park Zoo having a birthday party for a baby gorilla, complete with chocolate cupcakes with banana buttercream frosting. Now, another event will be taking place there that involves gorillas, and this one will focus on a continental breakfast.

According to the Zoo New England website, Breakfast with the Gorillas will be held at the zoo this Saturday (December 17) from 9:15 AM to 10:00 AM. A post from Adam's Hospitality and Tourism Industry Blog indicates that the event, which is part of Zoo New England's Breakfast with the Animals for Families educational initiative, will allow folks to gain early entry to the zoo and have breakfast in the gorilla exhibit, with staff talking about the gorillas and answering any questions that guests may have.

Ticket prices to Breakfast with the Gorillas are $10 per participant and $7 for each additional participant. More information can be found at the following link (at the bottom of the page). http://www.zoonewengland.org/page.aspx?pid=354

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Tacos Lupita to Open in Gloucester

A small group of Salvadoran and Mexican restaurants that closed its Somerville location earlier this year is going to be opening a new branch, with this one being on the North Shore.

According to the GoodMorningGloucester blog, Tacos Lupita is planning to open on Washington Street in Gloucester, apparently moving into the space where Palermo's Brick Oven Pizzeria has been (based on the photo shown within the post). Once it opens, Tacos Lupita will join existing locations in Lynn, Lawrence, and Haverhill, and it will likely be offering such items as tortas, mulitas, burritos, and gorditas.

[January 30, 2012 update: According to a more recent post from Good Morning Gloucester, the new Tacos Lupita in Gloucester plans to open tomorrow (Tuesday, January 31).]

The Somerville location of Tacos Lupita closed this past May, with another Salvadoran and Mexican spot called Aguacate Verde moving in.

The address for the upcoming Tacos Lupita in Gloucester will be: Tacos Lupita, 63 Washington Street, Gloucester, MA, 01930.

The above information came from the following GoodMorningGloucester link:

Breaking Restaurant News- Tacos Lupita coming to Gloucester!!!

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OpenTable's Picks for Top 100 Restaurants of 2011 Include Two Boston Restaurants

An online restaurant reservations provider has just come out with its Diners' Choice awards for best restaurants of 2011, and two dining spots in Boston have made the list.

According to MarketWatch, OpenTable's Diners' Choice Awards for the 100 best restaurants of 2011 includes Menton in the Fort Point section of the city and o ya in the Leather District. One other Massachusetts made the list--Sonoma in Princeton--while Gracie's in Providence, RI, Bouchard Restaurant and Inn in Newport, RI, Primo in Rockland, ME, Sedgley Place in Greene, ME, and the White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, ME, were the only other New England restaurants to be included.

The OpenTable list for best restaurants of 2011 comes from more than 10 million reviews from OpenTable diners.

For a complete list of the restaurants chosen by OpenTable's diners as the best restaurants of 2011, please go to the MarketWatch and OpenTable links below.

[MarketWatch]
OpenTable Diners Pick Top 100 Restaurants of 2011

[OpenTable]
2011 Best Overall Winners - Top 100 Restaurant List

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Canton Gourmet Plans to Open in Canton

An upscale Asian restaurant is looking to open in a southern suburb of Boston, and the folks behind it run several other dining spots in and around the city.

According to the Canton Patch, Canton Gourmet is planning on opening at Cobb's Corner in Canton, taking over the space where Talbot's used to be. The article mentions that town selectmen have approved an all-alcohol license for the dining spot, though the state still needs to give its approval on the license (if it does, the next steps are a common victualler license and building permits). It appears that the owners of Canton Gourmet are apparently the same people who run Jae's in Boston's South End, Samba and Asian C in Framingham, and Gourmet Garden in Swampscott, as the Patch article states that the owners "have similar restaurants in Boston, Framingham and Swampscott."

Once it opens, expect Canton Gourmet to feature hibachi tables and a sushi bar, as well as a dining room, with Japanese and Chinese fare included on the menu.

Canton Gourmet could be open by next spring, according to the Patch.

The address for this upcoming Asian restaurant in Canton will be: Canton Gourmet, 95 Washington Street, Canton, MA, 02021.

For more on this story, please go to the Canton Patch link below.

'Upscale Asian Restaurant' Coming to Canton

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Monday, December 12, 2011

Highlights for the Week Ending December 9, 2011

A few more stories centering on the Boston-area restaurant scene came out over the past week, including a landmark Beacon Hill restaurant opening a second location, a Twitter issue concerning a restaurant employee and the CEO, and a high-end eatery moving from one part of Boston to another. In addition, our sister site (Boston's Hidden Restaurants) had a featured review of a restaurant and bar in Watertown as well as the best picks for restaurants in 2011 and a photo of cornmeal pancakes from a Cape Cod eatery.

Below are links to these and other items from the past week:

Boston Restaurant Talk

The Paramount in Boston's Beacon Hill Is Opening a Second Location in South Boston

Grillo's Pickles to Open a Pickle Shop in the Boston Area

Tasty Burger Is Coming to Davis Square in Somerville

Boloco Employee Disses Job on Twitter; Boloco CEO Tweets Her the Virtual Boot

The Palm to Move from Boston's Back Bay to the Financial District

Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Latest Review: Conley's in Watertown, MA

Best Hidden Restaurants in the Boston Area, 2011

Live Panel Discussion on Holiday Topics

The Best Reader Posts of 2011

Photo: Cornmeal Pancakes from Grumpy's in Dennis, MA

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Carroll’s to Return to Medford Square

A Medford restaurant that closed 25 years ago after being in business for more than six decades is going to be returning to the city.

According to The Medford Transcript and Wicked Local as well as the Medford Patch, Carroll's is planning to open on Main Street in Medford Square. The Transcript article mentions that the eatery, which had formerly been called Carroll's Diner (and resided in a different Main Street location across the Mystic River until closing back in 1986), has received approval from the city to add three awnings, reversing an earlier decision against the plan. Carroll's also has gained approval to place windows in the side of the structure, allowing for views of the river.

The space in which Carroll's is opening is where the Italian restaurant Il Faro used to be until closing earlier this year. Il Faro was a dining spot that our sister site had featured awhile back, with the review being at this link:

http://www.hiddenboston.com/IlFaro.html

A January opening date for Carroll's is planned, according to the article.

[May 3, 2012 update: Carroll's is now officially open for business. Thanks to a poster on the hiddenboston Twitter page for letting us know.]

The address for this new restaurant in Medford Square is: Carroll's, 101 Main Street, Medford, MA, 02155.

For more information on the opening of Carroll's, please go to the Medford Transcript/Wicked Local and Medford Patch links below:

[Medford Transcript/Wicked Local]
MEDFORD CITY COUNCIL NOTES: City distributes additional state aid

[Medford Patch]
Carroll's Plans Return to Medford

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