Twenty-five years ago you could count the number of good restaurants in Dorchester on the fingers of one hand (even if you had broken two fingers). Today it would take both hands and a foot…more likely two feet. The first of these transforming restaurants was 224 Boston Street, which initiated the slow but steady progress that turned Dorchester into a destination for good food. It must have been more than 25 years ago that 224 first opened for business, and they’ve only gotten better (and more expensive, unfortunately). Last night Barbara and I happened to be in the neighborhood (the northern edge of Dorchester, next to the Polish Triangle), and we hadn’t been to 224 in a while, so we decided to have dinner there. We were not disappointed. I started with an excellent tomato bisque, followed by yummy New Zealand rack of lamb (cooked on the rare side of medium-rare, as I like it), accompanied by a tart-but-sweet sauce, haricot verts cooked just right, and a potato-ricotta croquette that was better than it had any right to be. I gave into temptation and then had home-made Boston cream pie for dessert; it was delicious, but it added far too many carbs to the entire dinner!
A review on Gayot includes some pointed and accurate comments on the restaurant and its neighborhood:
Beyond Newbury Street and what the tourists see of the North End lies the real Boston, where folks work and have families and live in triple-deckers and, increasingly, skip the pubs in favor of neighborhood eateries like Dorchester’s 224 Boston Street. It’s a microcosm of area diversity: old, young, gay and straight, émigrés and dyed-in-the-wool locals. The décor in many ways reflects the crowd—no two lamps or sconces look alike, the tableware is vintage yard-sale mix-and-match, and local artists provide the paintings. The menu, however, is all of a piece—a smart, yet accessible, piece. Everyone’s favorites are here—burgers, meatloaf, swordfish, roast chicken—and they’re all generally treated with care…
Oh…I observed in my opening paragraph above that now there are many good restaurants in Dorchester. Here are a few, in no particular order:
- 224 Boston Street, as described above.
- Ashmont Grill, our go-to place where everybody knows our name and everything is just right.
- Tavolo, their sister restaurant, for interesting Italian food.
- Van Shabu, fine Japanese/Chinese food with an emphasis on hot pot.
- Sea Breeze, our inexpensive but excellent local place around the corner.
- dBar, which still serves excellent food but is now too noisy.
- Blarney Stone, a former Irish bar turned first-rate restaurant, but it’s even noisier than dBar and it’s covered with 97 annoying televisions (more or less).
- Harp & Bard, another former Irish bar, which we haven’t been to recently but we would go again, if only for their reasonably priced twin lobsters.
- Ester, which we’ve been to only once but where we shall return.
- Freeport Tavern, not as old-fashioned as it used to be, but still not particularly exciting.
- Shanti, a Bangladeshi restaurant that we haven’t been to in ages.
- Bred, known for original burgers, but we’ve never been there.
- Cesaria…never been there either, but it has a good rep.
- Savin Bar and Kitchen, not my style.
- Dot2Dot, which I recently commented on.
- several Vietnamese restaurants, which would probably be good if I liked the cuisine.
Sorry for the lack of links, but Google is your friend.