The statements made on this website are the personal opinions of Laura and Diane. If we feel that a restaurant visit is not up to par, please remember it is our opinion. If you disagree with us, feel free to write us at info@newenglandbites.com.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New England Bites Presents: Food Finds of 2010

Food Finds of 2010
(... and some duds, too!)


It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone. It was a great eating year for New England Bites! We found some new favorites, we found new things in some old favorites, plus, we found some new places that will never be favorites. So here is a list of our most interesting food finds of 2010.

Favorite Sandwich Find – Cosi
I love this upscale sandwich spot! Relaxing interior, unique, delicious fillings on homemade flatbreads, and warm, tasty soups. Also, the flatbread pizza is amazing!

Favorite Asian Finds – China Lake and Dartmouth Wasabi
It’s a tie between these two yummy restaurants. Both carry all your favorite Chinese foods (with Dartmouth Wasabi carrying Japanese dishes and sushi as well). But it’s the quality of the food (great at both) and the unique presentations (especially at Dartmouth) that set them above the rest. If you try Dartmouth Wasabi, end with the mochi.

Favorite Mexican Finds – Tortilla Flats and Margaritas
Laura’s favorite cuisine quest led us to these two spicy finds. Tortilla Flats is small and intimate with some unusual dishes (like buffalo burgers) amongst the familiar. Margaritas is a larger chain that definitely doesn’t have that “fast food/chain food” taste. The dishes are unique, authentic, tasty, and wonderfully displayed.

Favorite Family Restaurant Finds – Fay’s Restaurant, Blue Point Restaurant, and The Gateway Tavern
These three restaurants really stood out from the many places we visited this year. Fay’s and Blue Point have an emphasis on comfort foods, but usually with a yummy twist. You can taste the homemade goodness, quality of food, and expert care put into each dish. Gateway has an emphasis on seafood and unique appetizers. These are going to be my “to go to” places when I just want a great meal.

Favorite Ice Cream Finds – Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream and Peaceful Meadows
Mmm … ice cream! How can it taste any better? Get it at any one of these two places! Their flavors taste what their names imply with a thick, rich creaminess that only comes with a high butter-fat count. The coffee flavor at Buttonwood is the best I’ve ever had.

Favorite Burger Find – Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Good burgers, great fries, but watch out for peanuts!

Favorite Breakfast Finds – Alex’s Family Restaurant and Breakfast House, Susan’s Restaurant, and Jukebox Diner
I love going out for breakfast. It always feels like something great is going to follow! I was thrilled to expand our early morning options with these three welcoming spots. Alex’s is old school, Susan’s is homey, and Jukebox is 50’s fun. All different, but all with your tasty breakfast favorites.

Favorite Bakery Finds – Cinderella’s Bakery, Cupcake Charlie’s, The Rise Café, Bleu Squid, and Nancy’s Bakery
If you read our site regularly, you know we’re crazy about bakeries. We were thrilled to have found these five very different bakeries with their own very tasty specialties. Cinderella’s is old school basic Portuguese with fantastic breads, rolls, Malasadas (Portuguese donuts), and other Portuguese delicacies. Nancy’s is your general, all-around bakery with muffins, squares, cookies, and more. The other three specialize in gourmet cupcakes, and splendid they are! They’re delicious and fancy enough to give as a gift!

Favorite Pizza Finds – Cousin Mike’s House of Pizza and Yia Yia’s Pizza Cafe
We love pizza. What luck to find one terrific spot in our own backyard, and the other worth traveling to! Cousin Mike’s is a great neighborhood pizza joint with the usual pizza/sub menu. They are good, basic, and about five minutes from my house! Yia Yia’s is about a half hour drive for us, but well worth it. Fresh ingredients and tasty toppings are why this tiny shop brings in people from near and far.

Favorite Fun Find – Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium
Diabetics beware! Sweet tooths (teeth?) rejoice! Ben & Bill’s is a sweet lover’s dream. Handmade chocolates, candy, truffles, and fudge (oh my God … the fudge) on one side of this narrow shop, and superb homemade ice creams on the other. I want my ashes sprinkled here!

Favorite Food Memory Find – Simco
On a trip to Boston, I was regaling Laura with a childhood memory of traveling almost 50 miles with my parents to get a hot dog. It was somewhere around where we were at the moment (Mattapan). No sooner had the words left my mouth that we came upon Simco – the very place of my childhood hot dog dreams! We stopped, we bought, we ate, and they were as good as I remembered. Aaaah, sweet memories!

New Things About Old Favorites

Leddy’s Bakery: We’ve been getting our holiday pies at Leddy’s for years, but just recently, we’ve discovered their fantastic light and fluffy donuts. With a slight crisp to the outside, and a pillow-soft inside, they are hands down better than the local chains. Try the maple frosted with nuts! Also try their thick and flaky lemon squares. Not too tart or too sweet, with twice as much filling as crust, these just might be the best lemon squares I’ve ever tasted.

New Boston Bakery: This place has it all, and in a beautiful setting. Fancy pastries, morning goodies, and gourmet sandwiches abound in this tiny shop. But this year, we discovered their fantastic macaroons. These little mounds of sweetened, toasted coconut are soft, chewy, and half-dipped in chocolate. Delightful!

Gennaro’s Eatery: This – one of my all-time favorite Italian restaurants – has the biggest calzone I’ve ever seen! It’s the size of a flattened football and is served on a pizza tray. We took half home and still had plenty for everyone. Most importantly, it’s delicious.

Graham’s Hot Dogs: Besides a great Coney Island wiener, Graham’s carries a sandwich that may be unique to this area alone – a hot cheese sandwich. Not a cheese slice between bread, but a crumbly, salty cheese “spread” in a steamed burger bun. Weird, but delicious … and addictive.

2010 Disappointments

Buca di Beppo: The food was average, and the red sauce was heavy and familiar. The service was great, but the ordering system is bizarre. I don’t want my order to be a portion for three people – or cost it.

Highland Spa Restaurant: Wonderful, friendly people couldn’t make up for lackluster food.

Captain’s Place: Popular and highly recommended, this place must have been having an off day when we visited. We were surprised to be so disappointed.

Stone Bridge Restaurant: Upscale, lovely, and highly regarded, this restaurant serves an eclectic menu of mainly Greek specialties. Wish we had known that as lamb isn’t a favorite of ours. I’d check out their menu before going.

Sonic Drive-In: We traveled quite a way to get to the first Sonic in our area. We should have just gone to McDonald’s. Good drinks, though.

Four Corners Grille: The food was really good, the location is adorable, but service was a bit rude to say the least. We left quickly.

Sweet Berry Farm: How can a place be exactly the same, yet completely different than described? I don’t know, but this place was. It had everything their site claimed, but somehow it was all so much less. I was bummed.

In Memorium

Tim Hortons (local only)

So there it is – our highs, our lows, and even our in-betweens. New England Bites wishes everyone good health, some wealth, and much happiness in the coming year. Drive carefully, drink wisely, and don’t forget to support New England Bites and our close friends at Menu Joy!