Tag Archives: Review

Review: Dante’s Restaurant

            I used to go here back in the day when it was known as Bread and Pasta for take out.  Located on the top of Shrewsbury St away from most of the other restaurants, Dante’s stands out among the competition.  It combines for me the closeness of a good Italian kitchen with the attention to detail of the more upscale restaurants.  My wife and I had come here a few years back on one of our first dates and I decided to come back recently for her birthday.  It was a Wednesday evening around 7:30 and we were the only patrons in the dinning room.

            Honestly, the menu struck me as a bit pricey for Italian food, but by the end of our meal we were both extremely satisfied with the value.  The Caesar salad was excellent and could have served two. The dressing was not overpowering and the croutons were crisp.  My wife ordered the Dante’s haddock and I ordered the blackened salmon with strawberry salsa.  Each dish is served with fresh julienne vegetables and a starch of the day.  This day the starch was oven roasted potatoes which were mashed and pan fried with garlic, butter, and spinach.  My mouth begins to water as I write that sentence.

            The presentation of the entrees is pleasing on wide square plates which provide ample room for the each of the portions of the main dish to stand out.  The blackened salmon with strawberry salsa was delicious, however I couldn’t help but wish it had a little more of a kick to it.  The haddock was in a word… extraordinary.  Generously covered in a buttery lobster sauce the haddock maintained a slightly seared exterior which complimented the creaminess of the sauce perfectly.  I had two bites from my wife’s plate and I feel I will be craving it until I return to have a plate of my own.

            What was a very good meal became truly great with the finale of a homemade (yes, they make their deserts in house) baked tart with fresh fruit.  My first thought upon its arrival was “I wish I had a camera”.  The tart steamed with aroma as only freshly baked puff pastry can do.  Upon a first bite my second thought was “I wish I had ordered a second one for myself”.  It’s a desert’s true mission to make someone who is completely full feel like they have never eaten before.  The forks of my wife and I sparred more than once as we each sought another bite.

            My wife was transported back to the flavors of her childhood in her father’s bakery.  A greater compliment I cannot imagine.  I would personally like to thank the staff at Dante’s for a truly memorable meal!

Review: Into the Wild (A Novel by John Krakauer)

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth…”  Henry David Thoreau

 

This book evoked among the book club members opinions as diverse as the Alaskan landscape itself.  The northern wilderness which the subject of the novel, Chris McCandless entered was a land of extremes; extremes that were mirrored in the personality of a young man who in the early 1990’s left his family and former life behind to go on a journey of self discovery.  Motivated by a need to escape the life planned out for him by his parents, Chris’ journey led him into the isolation of the sub-arctic tundra in an attempt to find within himself a place from where he could begin to build the foundation of his life on his own terms. 

            The novel and the novel’s hero were seen as both brave and naive; tragic and pitiful; heroic and self-centered.  The life and accidental death of Chris McCandless trace out in human form the transformation of American culture itself.  From our past as revolutionary frontiersmen to our future as global powers, America itself has constantly searched for identity amongst change.  For a young man driven by his ideals of morality, self-sufficiency, and truth; Alaska presented him with a land, which in physical form represented the shadow side of his personality, with which he choose to dwell and understand before choosing to return to society with its charms, comforts, and pleasures.

            Tragically he did not return from his journey, yet his struggle presents us with an account of the deep-seated human needs which young people will always struggle with as they make their way out from the wilds of youth and into society.

 

Chris McCandless

Chris McCandless

Review: The Living Earth

The Living Earth is a local health and well-being minded grocery store as well as cafe.    Although Worcester does not have a Whole Foods it does have The Living Earth.  While you may not be able to get quite the same level of smug satisfaction for all to see from shopping at the Living Earth (LE) as you would at Whole Foods (WF), you get something almost as valuable… health.  
    Located on the corner of Park Ave and Chandler St next to a Hess gas station, the LE lacks that culturally sanitized feeling you get from a WF.  Granted, I have only shopped there as a specialty store since the prices are comparable to a WF; but I do realize that the extra cost is part and parcel of breaking out of the grip of macro agro-business.

    The unfortunate reality is that the least healthy foods generally cost least, while the cost of living an organic, pesticide and chem. free lifestyle is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of people.  The irony of the LE being located in the heart of inner city Worcester is not without merit.  At least the LE is physically accessible to the inner city, if not economically within reach.
   
    I enjoy shopping at the LE occasionally for certain items because it has grown with Worcester, not in spite of it.  The patronage of a local business is as beneficial as the healthy food.  In fact, the LE is an example of an organic relationship among business, customers, and community; an important concept that has been lost among the success of larger chains such as WF.

 

Living Earth

Living Earth

Review: Nancy Chang Restaurant

            Oh Nancy!  Why must you be such a fickle B!+@#?  While actually owned and operated by a Mr. Chang; Nancy is most notably an upscale healthy alternative to the typical MSG and saturated fat laden excuse for Chinese food.  Almost as notable as the healthy food is the severe attitude problem among the staff.  I’ve pondered this many a time after eating here and as close as I can figure I really believe Mr. Chang just loves bantering with bitchy staff members.  How else do you explain feeling as if you’re bothering a hostess when calling in an order?  Why else would an otherwise good restaurant continue to hire blatantly rude staff?

            The buffet is not worth it, the food is slightly overpriced, and the service is as I said sub-par.  So why do I continue to go back?  Honestly, sometimes I just want Chinese food and besides the fast-food type places there is not much choice in the area.

            Shame on you Nancy.  Until next time…

Review: Dalat Restaurant

            While I was skeptical about the place on Park ave. next to a hello kitty store and a check cashing joint at first; I have to say that the first time I ate there I was hooked.  My mouth begins to water just thinking of the crispy fresh rolls with mint dipped in the famous peanut sauce.

            While we usually order take out, it is a comforting pleasure on a cold rainy day to enjoy a large bowl of steaming hot soup.  Vegans, carnivores, Vietnamese, and Clarkies alike continue to flock here for fresh, nutritious, flavorful food at bargain prices.

            The BBQ chicken or the beef with mushrooms and red and green peppers are both excellent choices for the more mainstream appetite.  For the more adventurous classic Vietnamese gastronomic delights abound.

 

buddha at van hanh pagoda watching over da lat

buddha at van hanh pagoda watching over da lat

Review: Nick’s

            To understand the special charm of Nick’s you have to understand a bit about the neighborhood.  Located off Kelly Square on Millbury St. in Worcester, it is tucked unobtrusively along a what can best be described as the drunken corpse of a once vibrant Polish-American neighborhood.

            While inside lives a charming old world replica complete with small stiff wooden benches which feel almost akin to a church pew.  The dark laquored wooden tables and low light contrast nicely with the bright and stunning copper ceilings.

            With some outstanding homebrews and a killer spicy mustard to go with the authentic eastern European fare; The live music is interesting as is everything about this bar.   Nick’s delivers on a dream, a step outside of time and place.  Let’s hope the rest of Millbury St. follows Nick’s rather than Vice-Versa.

 

Nick's

Nick's

Review: VIA Italian Table

            For the price I don’t think VIA is really worth the money.  Unless you have been there before and have a targeted knowledge of what is good and what to stay away from.  Unfortunately, I have to agree with some of the pervious reviews when it comes to the staff, they are let’s put it bluntly… not good.  The atmosphere is a bit strange which is not a result of the beauty of the building which is spectacular.  It rather, it a product of a hard to define lack of experience on the part of the staff and possibly the management since they are ultimately responsible.

            Sit out on the covered patio if possible, try the tomato w/ mozzarella and basil salad with a large, square, thin crust, brick oven pizza; the price is less than the other entrees and far superior.  With many other options on Shrewsbury Street for Italian food, to waste your time on entrees is a mistake.  The main dishes are overpriced, bland Italian cuisine lacking in imagination and flavor.

            For me there are just too many other options at a better value with better food to come back other than to find a place to take a group of people too large to fit in the better Italian kitchens around.

 

VIA

VIA