Category Archives: Top end

Brunch in Central Square

I’ve been meaning to write up a post on brunches for awhile now. A is a big fan of brunch, so even though I’m not really into it (given the limited vegetarian options) we’ve checked out a lot of different places. Here’s a quick run-down of some places worth mentioning (in approximate order of preference).

At the top of the list for A (and not far from the top of my list either) is Tosci’s in Central Square (899 Main St.), yes the ice cream place. Although brunch is a small operation mostly focused on sandwiches, eggs, and pastries, the food is solid and they always have some version of pancakes for me which are actually some of the most enjoyable I’ve had as they’re not too heavy. The wait is generally not long because (for now) it’s still a lesser-known secret, although be forewarned that on holiday weekends brunch usually isn’t served. Also, although I don’t think I’ve mentioned it already, Tosci’s is by far my favorite ice cream place in Boston. Or anywhere for that matter. Here’s an interesting post about some of their more-unique flavors, from their website.

Next up, and just down the street, is Craigie on Main (853 Main Street). Craigie is much more of the complete brunch, and although it has a high standard, the two times we’ve been the presentation was a bit better than the actual food which didn’t quite achieve greatness. We both really appreciate its move to Central Square, and A finally made it over there for dinner and it was apparently just as good as we had hoped (although he went without me the jerk and I still haven’t been yet. 😦 So sad.) It gets crowded, but they take reservations.

Onto the second tier. Among the places that are perfectly serviceable but not really standouts is Plough & Stars (912 Mass Ave., between Harvard and Central Squares). We actually just checked it out for the first time last week, and although they didn’t have much in the way of vegetarian/vegan options the food was still pretty good.

Another place we checked out recently is S&S in Inman Square (1334 Cambridge St.). This place really feels like a well-oiled institution, and in that sense reminded me of Katz’s Deli in New York. The food is hearty; the waitresses are diner efficient; and the place is huge.

Cafe Luna (403 Mass Ave.), just up the street from Tosci’s, is another viable brunch alternative. They always seem to be packed when we walk by, and in the summer there were a lot of people sitting at the tables outside. The couple of times I’ve been they had musicians on Sundays, which made the small space even more cramped. I’m not a fan of live music for brunch, but it’s a nice alternative and I appreciate that its popularity keeps Tosci’s from getting crowded, haha. 😉

Brookline Lunch (in Central, 9 Brookline St., a few steps away from The Middle East) is kind of dark inside and definitely on the slower, greasier side of food life, but it’s another viable brunch alternative.

At the bottom of the barrel of course there’s the afore-mentioned Miracle of Service (i.e. Miracle of Science). I’m also going to have to include Sunny’s Diner (7 Landsdowne St.). Although W has praised them on several occasions, the two times A and I tried to go we waited for more than 10 minutes without any acknowledgement that we were ever going to get even a coffee so we just gave up and left. Although brunch is a leisurely meal, there’s a difference between leisurely and complete lack of service, particularly when a place isn’t even busy.

And to wrap up, some places where the food is edible but why go there when you can go somewhere much better are Mass Avenue Restaurant (906 Mass Ave.), a greasy-spoon-type eatery, and Zoe’s (1105 Mass Ave.), which is less greasy and definitely better overall, but still hasn’t been worth a second trip for us. Both are in between Harvard and Central.

Looking over the lists of brunch places in Cambridge there are still a lot of places I haven’t been or haven’t been in a long time, so at some point I may make a sequel to this post. Reader, beware …

Another overloaded restaurant post: Sorellina, Great Bay, Cuchi Cuchi

For a belated V-day dinner, the bf and I hit up Sorellina (1 Huntington Ave) which is right behind ye olde Boston Public Library. It seems like in Boston restaurants have gotten worse and worse, so much so that whenever we make the effort to go out we’re always reminded of why we avoid eating out. A had had a good time at the bar previously, and although the ambience was good in the dining room and the service was impeccable (which in Boston is no small thing), we found the food to be quite unremarkable. I started with the beets and had the mushroom fettuccini, the latter of which was indeed nice and mushroomy but unfortunately completely drenched in butter. Also had a side of “truffled fries with parmigiano” which were good but salty. A had a simple salad, but his pork (a special) was in his words “bland, overcooked, dry, and tasteless.” But the service is good! Which makes it all worthwhile. Ha ha. Their official website is here.

Sorellina forms quite a contrast to Great Bay (500 Commonwealth Ave in Kenmore Square) which has subpar food and mediocre service. Great Bay is a prime example of a place that has really, really gone downhill. A and I used to go fairly regularly because of a friend who was a regular there (note “was”), but apparently in recent times they’ve dumbed down the menu, presumably in their attempts to appeal to the Red Sox crowd. The chef has changed and we know for a fact that some of their best staff have also quit in disgust. I hadn’t realized the place had changed so drastically, so when I went a couple of weeks ago it was quite an unpleasant surprise. The food ranged from uninteresting to downright mediocre with a notable lack of vegetarian offerings even compared to their previous menus, but the service was even worse: our server thew down the cutlery without any regard for where it was being placed; she wandered away in the middle of bringing out our entrees to attend to another table; and in general did her best to make us feel she could care less about our dining experience. So stay away, all.

I wish I could end on a happier note, but no. A and I had been to Cuchi Cuchi (795 Main St, near Tosci’s, i.e. between Central and Kendall) once before, and I didn’t remember a thing about it. So when we were hard up for a place to eat out nearby we checked it out again. Cuchi Cuchi bills itself not as a place for “tapas” per se, but instead they offer up “small international plates”. We ordered six plates for three people which was a decent amount, and the food was okay, albeit unremarkable in and of itself. But the main problem is that the food is way overpriced for what it is; this is a case of a restaurant with misguided beliefs about the quality of their food. The ambience was irritatingly campy, with all the female waitstaff in hats and feathers and flapper-type or similarly silly dresses. But apparently from the reviews on Yelp we’re in the minority there in our opinion. I suppose it’s a presentation that would only work in Cambridge if at all, and as a place to grab a snack and a drink with a friend from out of town it would be a decent option; but as a place for sit-down dining it’s definitely not a place we’d go back to.

We’ve gotten way behind on the restaurant scene and I still cling to the hope that we’ll find someplace we’re completely impressed with. Stay tuned …