Monday, April 2, 2012

Boston and Worcester: Lost Love Returns

My second favorite diner* is back from the dead. Hallelujah!

(* - My favorite is Bishop's 4th Street Diner in Newport, Rhode Island.)

The latest regime at Yankee Diner (23 Worcester Rd (Rt 20) 508-248-7370), twenty minutes southwest of Worcester, is deftly keeping hope alive. Prepare for majesty:

Corned beef hash: vinegary, hardy, spiritually immersive, slightly feral (in a good way).
Hash browns: oniony, texturally miraculous
Egg over easy: fine.

Strawberry shortcake: I'm pretty sure this was the best thing I've eaten this year (and I just came back from a week in New Orleans). Fairly generic biscuit, heated on the griddle. Strawberries pulled out of marination in the back of some distant cooler. Cream hand-whipped to order. The whole was extra more-than-sum-of-parts-ish. I.e.: magic. Devastation was complete.

Yankee Diner remains a great, great hang in a super old-school railroad-style diner. Such nice people (both staff and clientele). I've stolen these two photos from their web site:



Hound can't live from breakfast alone. Thus, lunch. Vaughn Tan's find-of-a-lifetime is the superb Sri Lankan Biryani Park (105 Broadway (Rt99), Malden, MA; 781-397-1307). This place healed a different heartbreak. Dakshin, specializing in Tamil food, closed years ago in Framingham, and it was the absolute bomb. But Biryani Park has depths all its own. The photos tell the tale:



This lamb roti kotthu had crunchy bits of toasted paratha strewn in, reminiscent of Turkish Iskender kebab.

Here's everything we ordered:


Go quickly, as this place may not be long for this world. Prices are not cheap, in spite of the dreary nabe and people's preconception of South Asian as cheap eats. For food this good (and rare), the price is a bargain...but I'm not sure locals will forgive the sticker shock (you'll pay $30 - $40/person if you order generously, as you must).

I've been ordering kringles (big circular Scandinavian pastries that are something like a flakey multi-layered coffee cake) from Racine, WI for years. But I did not know, until this trip, that kringles lurk in the Boston 'burbs. Danish Pastry House, clean, well-lit, and friendly, has branches in Medford (330 Boston Ave; 781-396-8999) and Watertown (205 Arlington St; 617-926-2747). I checked out the Medford location, and enjoyed my kringle. Not as good as Racine, but Vaughn says it was an off day:


Speaking of Scandinavian bakers, back in Worcester, I ate my way through a pile of unrecognizable little Swedish doodads at venerable Crown Bakery (133 Gold Star Blvd; 508-852-0746). I think that's the way to go, ordering-wise: little cookies and twisties and stuff. This is no artisanal mecca, it's an nth-generation Swedish-American joint where corners have come to be cut, and larger, more ambitious items appear sort of flat. My booty was wolfed down post haste, but this one blurry relic (impressive looking, and yummy enough, but containing no discernible butter) remains:


Sorry to bury the lede, but one of the last cuisines I've never tried is quietly offered in a sensational-looking Kenyan place in an outer stretch of Worcester. Safari Cafe (215 Chandler St; 508-799-7989) has a great vibe, but they are, alas, closed Mondays. Also in Worcester: fantastic One Love Cafe (800 Main St; 508-753-8663), which I love for Jamaican. Lots more good stuff in Worcester, too (check out this epic Boston Globe chowhounding piece by Joe Yonan from back in 2005).

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

you deserve all the respect that you have earned for you taste and knowledge of food.

but that egg is not over-easy, it's over-cooked. You should explore the world of fried eggs that are not burnt, you may never go back.

respect. over-and-out.

Jim Leff said...

Fact of the matter is the hash and hash towns were so dazzling that I had no unstimulated neurons left with which to process the egg. Hence the strangely void descriptor I evasively assigned it.

The egg could have had sawdust all over it and I'd still have eaten it with bug-eyed rapture. In fact, I'm mildly suspicious of you, in spite of the grace with which you've extended this rebuke, for even pointing this out. DO YOU SEE THAT HASH? DO YOU SEE THOSE SPUDS? Yeah? Yeah?? Then HOW CAN YOU QUIBBLE OVER EGG DONENESS AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!?

Anonymous said...

don't be suspicious, it's just, well, moses done been to the mountain.

that hash does look great (though there is a quibble about serving hash (has potatoes) with potatoes (also has potatoes) but I would never be so churlish. however, i would like the barely poached gooey goodness right on top and dripping down.

the taters, definitely look better than what's available elsewhere...to you. why, if i didn't already effortlessy make the best home fries in the world, i might dash off to get those. (and since it's not hard to do, perhaps i'll write it up, i don't believe in secrets)

but i quibbles over the eggs cuz i love the purity of the egg taste, in all forms except overcooked. i'm one of those people who chastises anybody who thinks an omelet means it has stuff in it, cuz it's really the particular style of cooking that uncovers those facets of an egg you can get no other way, and i don't want anything added in my omelet because the flavor of the egg is so delicate, the only thing it can stand up to is... butter.

ovum and out.

Jim Leff said...

"there is a quibble about serving hash (has potatoes) with potatoes (also has potatoes)"
--------------

We are, clearly, on very different wavelengths.

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