Boondocks, Berkley, MA

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ray In the small town of Berkeley is a hidden gem, Boondocks, 18 N Main St, Berkley, MA. Mike and I visited here way back when we started doing this blog, and it was time for a revisit. Oh what a great idea! This is a slightly different restaurant in that it is not just a breakfast place, catering to the breakfast and lunch crowd on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and open for dinner Thursday, through Saturday. The picture of our meals do not do justice to the plate. Picture the platter your Thanksgiving turkey is served on and then you have an idea of the size. And as you can see my Portuguese omelet filled the plate. Let’s start with the coffee, New England Coffee which has become a favorite of ours. Although Boondocks does not grind it’s own beans this was a very good cup, better than average, and the cup itself was a great size. My omelet had just the right proportion of green peppers, and onions, and the quantity of ground chourico was more than the total of the other ingredients. Home fries were really special. Perfectly cooked and seasoned nicely with butter and other seasonings which may have included the grease from the chourico ( better than bacon in my opinion ). Service was quick, several offers of refills on coffee and our waitress was very pleasant. Coffee, 8; Home fries, 9; meal, 9; overall, 8.9. Definitely in my top five this year.

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mike A blast from the past! Back to the Boondocks in Berkeley! And I’m glad we went back. Whenever we review a new place it is just a snapshot of the moment. Good or bad we understand the meal only represents what we just ate and might be different tomorrow or the next day. We really liked the Boondocks the first time through so I was looking forward to seeing if it warranted our earlier praise. First impression was the menu has taken on a millennial vibe. Non-traditional stuff with unique combinations from which to choose. I opted for the butternut squash and goat cheese omelette. (Goat cheese?!) Coffee first. Pretty good, to be honest, with refills offered frequently. I liked the smoothness. It had a mild taste and even though I like a bolder flavor this was nice. The omelette was awesome! The sweetness of the butternut squash paired well with the tanginess of the goat cheese. Each bite was an amazing burst of flavor. Very, very nice. Liked the homefries, too. Very well cooked with light seasoning. A bit of salt was all that was needed to bring the homefries to well above average. Coffee 8, homefries, 8, with the omelette a 9.5 A solid 8.2 for the Boondocks. Nice!

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Riverside Cafe, Wareham, MA

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mikeToday we traveled two New Bedfords (sounds better than 89 Seekonks) to Wareham to visit the Riverside Diner, 189 Main Street. Ray had asked Kilian and I to check this place out while we were on vacation. We did. Twice. Kilian and I knew weeks ago the Riverside would not be in the running for the 2019 top spot so why bring Ray here? Attend. The Riverside is one of those places where people from all across the societal spectrum rub elbows. Welcoming without pretense. And the decor is like a diner decor shop exploded…with wicked colorful tablecloths! Service was very good and we were drinking our coffee soon after seating ourselves “anywhere you want”. Coffee was just ok, average diner fair, and, as Ray mentioned while tasting his cup, we can differentiate between fresh ground and packaged coffee. There’s a big difference. Still. Frequent refills were welcome. My unusual came with absolutely the best sausage I have ever enjoyed at breakfast. Huge, almost bratwurst size, and perfectly, perfectly cooked…very juicy, very nicely spiced. Nice! Nice! Eggs are eggs. The homefries, alas, were a deep fried dissapointment. Lots of small, overcrisp pieces that even ketchup (yes, for the first time ever, I resorted to ketchup) did not help. But! a big plus for the Riverside was that we were allowed a choice of substitutes because we didn’t order toast. The fruit cup was a nice touch. Much appreciated. So, I’ll give the coffee a 6 and the homefries a 3.5 but, and here’s another first, the sausage get a 10! Yikes! Overall a 6.6 (I will eat here again, next year, while on vacation. Portions are large, I like the atmosphere and I’ve had other breakfasts here…the blueberry pancakes are awesome!)

 

 

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ray Yesterday we had the longest road trip since JJ’s in Brockton. Mike’s choice was the Riverside Café in Wareham. It was a nice long ride with baseball, football, and many other problems solved. The Riverside Café is in downtown Wareham, or what one might consider downtown. It has a very local flavor, and a full house. There were a few specials but I stuck with a chourico omelet with peppers and onions, plus home fries. Since I did not order toast the waitress gave me a choice of having a fruit cup which is always nice. Coffee was New England Coffee but not house ground. It was passable diner coffee, not great not bad. My omelet was very good. I commented to Mike that it reminded me of how my mother made an omelet, using chourico grease in the pan. I could see the delicious grease on the bottom of the plate. The omelet was really very good and I cleaned it up. You may have noticed that I have not spoken of the home fries. Awful! Just plain awful. They were deep fried, which can be good sometimes, but these were burnt, and hard as a rock. Picking around my plate I came across one lone potato that was not dipped in the fryer. It looked like a potato! It tasted like a potato! It was the best part of the entire home fry portion. Maybe we should stick closer to home. Coffee, 6.5; home fries, 2; meal 7; overall, 5

M&M New York System, East Providence

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rayPlans A and B were a real bust this morning. We’ve never had our first two choices be not just closed but no longer in business! Wow, it is just a good thing that I had a plan C, M&M New York System on Waterman Ave. East Providence. Yes it is a hot weiner place, but it was a recommendation from a friend, and when all you have left in the alphabet is a plan C, you go with it. Mike and I had tried another hot weiner place for breakfast, also in East Providence, not a quarter of a mile away and it was not very good. Our coffee was New England Coffee, but they do not grind their own and the taste difference was noticeable. It was a good, average cup of coffee. Really tiny cups, though. Looked like servings for the kiddie table. I guess the cook looked at Mike and got confused. My theory is. “When in doubt go Western omelet”, and mine was ok. A little flat and on the dry side but I ate every bit of it so it was definitely tasty. Now the home fries were excellent!! They were buttery and very well cooked. Not overly seasoned but just very good, and healthy, serving of home fries. M&M may not be the best diner we have had but for a plan C, I’d give it a try. On another foodie note, I have come here for their hot wieners and they are terrific.!!! Coffee, 5; home fries, 8; meal 5; overall 6.5

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mikeSometimes I don’t know where to begin. I mean, I love the guy, but I’ve been led to closed places before, many, many times, so you’d think I’d be used to it by now. Today’s adventure began with a switch in drivers. Usually, the person choosing the restaurant chauffeurs but Ray dropped his cute little Prius to be serviced (I think that’s Toyota talk for “re-wound”) so I drove. And drove and drove. We started near his dealership, to the former Mike’s which was closed. Plan B. Headed to Rhode Island to check out the new ownership at a restaurant that was, wait for it, closed! We then continued our quest to a weiner place. We’ve had bad luck with breakfast at a place that serves weiners. But not today! M&Ms was worth the trip! The coffee was very nice and several notches above average and even though the mugs were small refills were offered frequently. My unusual was also very good. The sausage were the kind I like, with a little spice, and though they were a bit overdone still very tasty. Nice! The homefries really surprised! Wasn’t expecting such good, flavorful homefries. Very nice buttery flavor and well cooked with mild spices…ate them right up! Very nice! A shout out to Mike Salois for recommending this place. And another shout out to the cook/waiter/counter person who was attentive and personable and efficient! It’s really nice to feel a place wants and appreciates you business. Coffee an 8 with the homefries an 8.5 and the meal an 8 for an overall of 8.2! Very nice!

Tia Maria’s, New Bedford

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mikeI think we need a new unit of measurement. As Ray and I venture further afield to review restaurants the “Seekonk” just won’t suffice. We visited New Bedford, a first, and that’s a whole lot of Seekonks away. So, I propose the “New Bedford” as the new standard of WTF (Wow That’s Far) distance measuring. We’ll see.
Yesterday we traveled one New Bedford to…New Bedford! and visited Tia Maria’s at 42 N.Water St. GPS wasn’t working but we knew we were in the right neighborhood when we pulled into a side street to look at Google Maps or ask directions. I was keying it in when Ray pointed directly across the street and said, “There it is!” That’s why I keep him around. Nice neighborhood! Cobblestone roads. 19th century kind of vibe with architecture. Great view down one street of the harbor. Really nice! And inside the restaurant was more of the same. Coffee was served quickly and breakfast arrived within moments of ordering…I believe the fastest we’ve ever been served. Coffee was good, not great: Jim’s organic, house blend. It was mild but didn’t impress. Coffee had been ordered before we opened our menus and we noticed they served several varieties. My second cup was a dark roast which was much more bold and to my liking. I had the Fresco omelette; artichokes, red peppers, spinach and feta. I really enjoyed this omelette! The only downside was a paucity (look it up) of spinach. Plenty of everything else, not much green. Still, overall, a winner. However, our review rests on three element and the homefries were a disappointment. We’ve learned that deep fried can work so we approach that style of cooking with an open mind. But it seemed that to make up for the lack of flavor (griddle cooked homefries can absorb the taste of butter or grease or, our favorite, chourico drippings, yum) the cook used salts. Lots of salt. Way too much salt. I left a large portion. I just couldn’t eat the homefries. Oh well. So, I’ll give the two blends of coffee a 7.5 on the strength of the dark roast, the omelette an 8 which would be more except for the spinach and the homefries a 4 because if the salt. A 6.1

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ray Weird road trip to New Bedford. Neither of us had our GPS working but we knew the general location. Mike stops on a side street and checks his map, says it’s about two miles. He pulls out, and I look to the side and see….the restaurant was right there, Tia Marias. Like a friend of mine always says, “A blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes.” This is a quaint little place right near the waterfront section of New Bedford. Lots of local items on the walls and a comfortable atmosphere. Coffee was a brand we had not tried before, Jim’s. The first word that came to mind after having the first taste was bold. I let the coffee settle a bit then another sip, and thought, blend. Now I’m not a big fan of blended coffee, but this was ok, maybe a little strong for my taste, but the thing about it is that they do grind the coffee beans on site, and with that you do not get the bite, or aftertaste, of coffee. Very nice menu with lots of choices. I had the Portuguese omelet with chourico, peppers an onions. Excellent omelet, well prepared and they do use real chourico which has a nice spicy taste. A very nice addition was a little custard pastry which was delicious.  Now for the home fries. You see in the picture a good size serving of potatoes. Well if I took a picture after I was finished you would see almost all of them still on the plate. First off they were deep fried. This is a turn off for me. Home fries on the flattop are flavored with whatever the chef chooses. Butter, bacon grease, chourico or linguica, or with a spice blend. These were only salty! I mean REALLY salty. I could feel my blood pressure rising. Coffee, 6; home fries, 2; meal 7; Overall, 5

Al Mac’s, Fall River

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ray This is one of the very first breakfast places that Mike and I visited and you can look back early on and read our reviews from “the day”. I saw, a few months ago that Al Mac’s, a Fall River tradition, was reopening under new ownership and wanted to wait a little while to let them get things right. So this morning Mike and I ventured back to Fall River. Most of the tables were taken which is a good sign, although there were no customers at the counter. I’ve found that regular customers often choose the counter to interact with the fry chef or the staff, none here, hmmm. The menu was somewhat different. There were no traditional omelet choices only a build your own option with lots of choices of veggies, cheese, and meat. I had a chourico omelet with onions and provolone and the obligatory home fries. The coffee was New England coffee which Al Mac’s grinds on site, and we have found that this is always a great coffee when prepared this way, no exception today. Great cup. My omelet was terrific. Nice and fluffy, not over cooked, with the ingredients well dispersed throughout the mixture. Home fries were yummy. Lots of chourico grease as the base, love that flavor, and all of the potatoes were perfectly cooked. The waiter was pleasant but a little slow coffee refills, and never came to pick up the credit card, I had to bring it to the cashier, who then had to wait for the waiter…This was a very good experience with this mainstay in Fall River restaurants. Coffee, 9; Home fries, 8; meal 8; Overall 8.5

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mikeWhat is it about a place that makes you return again and again. For us it’s breakfast. But that’s what makes returning to Al Mac’s an oddity…we really didn’t like the two other times we reviewed it. Seriously, how many chances do they get? Three, if you’re keeping up with this. Well, for me, that’s one time too many. We returned because of new management. Why not. And the coffee was top notch. Fresh ground and bold flavor. Very nice. The homefries were really, really good. They were most likely fried up with chourico drippings. Yum! But my omelette was very dissapointing. One of my favorite choices in Fall River us a cacoila omelet. I’ve only ever seen them in the city or across the river in Somerset. They are amazing! The spiciness, the juiciness…wow! That was all missing. My omelette was way overcooked. Overcooked anything sucks. The dryness and blech taste of the egg overpowered everything. I couldn’t even tell is the cacoila was any good. I showed Ray how the egg part was remarkably like a pizza crust. A mistake by the chef, maybe, but it really brought down what had promised to be an excellent meal. Coffee 8, homefries 8.5 and the omelette a 3. Overall 6.2

Cup ‘N Saucer, Pawtucket, RI

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mikeBack to Pawtucket. Back to where it all began. Back to the Cup N Saucer. Read the first installment of this blog for the backstory, if you want, but we’ve been talking about going back and reevaluating the first year restaurants with our updated scoring system. So why not return to 267 Main St…kind of a full circle thing. First off, very cool decor. It’s done up with a kind of 50’s, 60’s sort of vibe. Very nice. Though the old style jukebox table selectors don’t work it’s neat to flip through all the old songs on the dial. Coffee! Yuck! Burned, bitter…blech! The serving urn had “New England Coffee” printed on it which is generally fine so I figure something went very wrong at the restaurant. Very disappointing! Coffee should set the tone for the meal and, unfortunately, it did.. at least with the homefries. Cup N Saucer homefries from the 80’s and 90’s are the standard by which I judge all others. Read the blog. These were poor. The potatoes were under cooked. We were served huge portions but left most on the plate. I picked through to find the smallest pieces and even some of them were a bit crunchy. (Sigh) There was some trepidation, then, when I took a bite of my Mediterranean omelet. Wow! Finally! It was very, very good! Fresh spinach and tomato with enough feta to compliment almost every bite. Now that’s an omelet! Nice! Which leaves me with an odd review. There’s no middle ground here. Coffee 4, homefries 4 but the omelet a 9. That’s a 6 if we round up. Again, you can’t go back.

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ray We started our “Back to the Future” breakfasts on Monday. There are a number of restaurants that we reviewed based on our old system, and are planning on going back to many of them again. Cup N Saucer in Pawtucket was the very first place that we went to so Mike decided it was time to revisit. The décor is really quaint and lots of memorabilia around the dining area and on the walls, but we review the coffee and food, so let me start with the coffee. Let me put it this way, neither Mike or I finished our cup, and left some in the cup. Bitter was the only taste in it. They advertised New England Coffee, and we both like that brand but this was either over cooked, or had been sitting in the carafe for a long time. I ordered the home made hash omelet with home fries. Always taste the home fries first. Ouch! Crunchy. Tried another, just the same, very under cooked. Both of us searched the plentiful potatoes for small pieces which were the only ones we found edible. Now on the good side, my omelet was great. The hash was actually home made, and nicely ground, with no big pieces of corned beef or potatoes. Great flavor. It was topped with American cheese and very nicely prepared. Unlike some restaurants that have claimed to be a three egg omelet, and give you much less, this one was very large. Two out of three did not meet our standards. Coffee, 3; home fries, 4; meal 6; overall, 4.3.

Three Sisters, Providence

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ray Three Sisters, 1074 Hope St, Providence is one of those small breakfast, lunch dinner places that caters to a lot of walk in trade, as well as take out. I’ve has this place on my list of breakfast stops for almost a year, and finally got there. The menu is right there on the giant chalkboard on the wall. They take your order and you pay, and your meal is delivered to your table, inside or al fresco! Since it is a busy street I prefer not to have carbon monoxide with my meal, we ate inside. Coffee is served in three sizes and is the terrific New Roasters Coffee that we had last week at Howies, and it was just as good. My meal was the unique one on the menu, the Southwest Omelet with home fries. Disappointing! Plentiful serving but the home fries were deep fried and too crunchy. Clumps of potatoes were stuck together. The omelet could have been much better but the ingredients were not spread out very well. My first bite had this great crunch of tortilla with cheese, egg, and pico de gallo and the swirl of sour cream which was spread over the top. Trouble was the cheese was not melted, the tortilla was only on one side of the omelet, and the egg was barely warm. That first bite almost had me, but it went downhill fast. Coffee, 9,5; home fries, 4; meal, 5; overall, 6.2.

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mikeEvery week a new place! How great is that? Three Sisters. Great location at the intersection of Blackstone and Hope. Lots to see and many, many restaurants to try within easy walking distance. Funky place with the multi-colored chalk menu on huge blackboards. Much to choose from and a bunch of stuff had a southwestern vibe going for it but they also had traditional breakfast fare so the unusual it was. Order at the counter type of place, so… Coffee was awesome! We have a new favorite brand (expensive, too, as we went to where they roast the coffee in Pawtucket, Ray will tell you, and found it to be in the $18 a pound category. Yikes!) and can definitely taste the difference when the restaurant grinds its own coffee. Homefries? Well, deep fried. Nuff said. French fries? Really good tater tots? Didn’t know what to think about them. They were fine, really, but not homefries that you would get off a flattop at a traditional dinner. (Sigh) The sausage was a treat, two large, tasty patties…big enough to overlap a hamburger bun. VAn unexpected value and treat as many places skimp on the meat. Alas, the eggs were a flop. I usually say, ” eggs are eggs” and move on but my sunnyside up eggs were not at all in a happy mood. The eggs were overdone. The edges were brown and crisp (I hate that!) and the yolks were cooked solid. What’s the use of sunnyside up eggs if you can’t break open the yolk and dip everything into its delicious goldenness? Seriously! (Deep sigh) So, mixed review. Coffee a 9, homefries a 6 and overall a 5. Just under a 7