Change is Good

When we moved to West Roxbury (from Back Bay) five years ago, we went through a restaurant withdrawal period. We were very disappointed in the lack of good food and culture… and we couldn’t even use Dining In anymore; our only take options for delivery were Chinese food or pizza.

My how things have changed. We still cannot get Dining In for this area (annoying), and our delivery options are still somewhat limited — though we can now get Indian food and sushi. What has changed the most is the choice of local restaurants.

I had to laugh a few weeks ago while reading our little local paper The West Roxbury Bulletin. In a letter to the editor, one old-timer was complaining incessantly about how all the new real estate in W. Rox was being snatched up by restaurants. This person’s comment was “who wants or needs more restaurants???” ME and all my food-loving friends… that’s who! West Roxbury has historically been a very old school, Irish-Catholic, kind of town. To me, it’s very refreshing (and highly desirable) to see an influx of working professionals of mixed race, gender and sexual orientation. Ahhh… culture, finally!

On the restaurant scene, we have had numerous editions. It all began when West on Centre showed up, taking over a long-time dive bar location. Same owners, new facade and menu. West serves casual American food and has a menu that adjusts to the seasons. We have eaten here several times and have always had a good experience… without and with our son. They have two different menus (plus a children’s menu), one for the dining room side, one for the bar side — which has a great little seating area next to a fireplace. One of my favorite things about West is that you can order a flight of wines with your meal. I love that!

Next came the Spring Street Cafe. Finally, a breakfast place with parking. While we generally have good food at this place, the service stinks. The wait staff can be downright rude at times. We once brought our Starbucks cups in with us and they told us we had to either throw them out or put them in our car! I know you want us to buy your coffee… but wouldn’t you rather keep us happy? They are very kid-friendly, but we don’t go there often due to our bad experiences with the staff. They do serve lunch and dinner, which I have heard is decent, but we have not tried either.

There was a bit of time between when these first two places opened and when the influx of more restaurants began. Since then, we have gotten Vintage — a “classic American grill” that has an in-city steakhouse feel. I have been there twice and had great meals both times. Surprisingly, for a more mid to high-end kind-of-place, they are also very kid-friendly. They have a great wine list (including flights), a nice brunch and an impressive dinner menu.

As mentioned in previous posts, we also now have Masona Grill… Latin fare at it’s finest — with a fun Jazz night every Thursday and a collaborative monthly wine tasting with Blanchard’s Wine & Spirits, and Comella’s, home of “the mess”. Both worth a trip out to the ‘burbs.

On Centre Street alone, we’ve seen the edition of Himalayan Bistro, fine Indian and Nepali cuisine… some of the best in the area (and they also deliver). The Real Deal deli and it’s sister shop Sugar, an amazing bakery that serves the one and only “Bramble”. A sugar cookie with a raspberry filling, supposedly born and bread in West Roxbury. The Real Deal has the best sandwiches going and just published their new fall menu earlier this month. My person favorite is The Sicilian (for $5.49), fresh mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, basil, oregano, olive oil & a balsamic glaze. Mmmmm…. If you haven’t been to either of these places, they are both a must visit.

Also on Centre is Phuket, “a twist on Thai”. Hands-down the best Thai food not only in the area, but perhaps in all of Boston. They had a few bumps when they first opened, and the service tends to be on the slow side, but the food is really great if you like Thai. They don’t appear to have a website yet, but the link I provided gives a review by adamg of Universal Hub from about a year ago (when they were still pretty new). For some more recent reviews, check out Yelp. We’ve been a few times and did try it once with our son Chance. I don’t think we’ll bring him back again. They restaurant was fine with him being there, but it’s a small space and on the quiet side. They also do not have many kid-friendly food items and most of the meals are very spicy (even when asking for “mild”).

So five years — NINE new restaurants (plus a Starbucks!). Not to mention the new editions in Roslindale… but that’s a whole different post!

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