Archive for category Pub

Celebrating Wareham Oysters at Stonebridge Bistro

Stonebridge 061As part of this year’s Wareham Oyster Festival week, we had the opportunity to spend some time in the kitchen of the Stonebridge Bar and Grill with chef/owner Justin Hadley.

Hadley, who has run this kitchen for a dozen years, has gained a widespread reputation for creativity, while recognizing that diners value food that is consistent, fresh, and a great value. It’s an unusual combination for a restaurant that also offers an idyllic waterfront view, with a deck perched over the Stonebridge Marina in Onset.

On the night of our visit, Hadley was experimenting with an oyster special that displayed his special twist on the classic Rockefeller treatment.

He opened a pair of oysters and sat them, bowl side down, in a bed of kosher salt.  “It infuses a little flavor, maybe, and keeps them upright,” he noted.

On these, he placed some chunks of bleu cheese, the element which kept this from being a true Rockefeller recipe, but which added a rich earthiness which clearly enhanced the original.

He then added a layer of scallions sautéed with spinach. While we were surprised at the tangle of scallion, Justin said many oysters Rockefeller recipes call for it in lieu of chopped onion or shallot.

Then came a generous, course crumble of cooked bacon.

Finally, Hadley hauled out a tray of a toasted panko concoction and insisted that we sample a pinch, then another. We could imagine eating this stuff by the buttery fistful from a cardboard tub at the movies, it was that good. The crumbs were mixed with butter, parmesan, butter, a hint of red pepper, and butter.  He topped each oyster with the crumbs, then put them in the convection oven for five minutes.

The result was rich, bright, cheesy, salty, and crunchy – all of the characteristics of a perfect bar snack.  He served the pair of oysters on a bed of organic baby spinach with two grilled half lemon quarters

The Stonebridge Bistro’s specials were part of the second annual Wareham Oyster Festival.  A week of culinary and educational offerings centered around the oyster culminate annually in a street fair on the first Sunday in May on Main Street.

For more information about the Wareham Oyster Festival, visit

The Stonebridge Bistro is located at Five East Boulevard in Onset; visit for information.

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Martinis, Plymouth

2015-04-07 21.22.27We went to Martinis because we had one of those Living Social coupons and it was about to expire.  We’d heard that they had pretty good food, and on Tuesday nights, live jazz. But it was really about the $15 coupon value we were soon to lose, so we were delighted when Martinis turned out to be a great dining experience, one chock-full of pleasant surprises.

First surprise: the restaurant was packed on a Tuesday night, with all eyes on a stage at the back of the long, narrow space.  We were led to a high-top near the windows on Main Streeet by the same Jimmy who’d taken our call earlier and told us the kitchen was serving until 10. A young server, who turned out to be his daughter, Meg, brought us menus, then returned promptly to take our drink order. No waiting here, despite the crowd. We were treated like regulars.

Thinking that one should order a martini in an establishment called Martinis, The Big Dog chose a tiramisu concoction ($12) that was very sweet. Surprise Number Two came later, when we learned that the name comes not from the increasingly tarted-up classic beverage, but rather from the name of the restaurant in “It’s A Wonderful Life.” Gina selected a Carnivor cabernet ($8).

The menu offers all kinds of interesting items, which can be good and bad. Often, what sounds like a good idea is actually not good at all.  We decided to start with something called a Boursin Cheese Artichoke ($10), described as a “long-stemmed artichoke stuffed with house boursin cheese, baked with panko crumbs and aged balsamic drizzle.” It was heavenly.  A baby artichoke was sliced in half, piled with a delicious boursin, and made crunchy with a layer of crumbs. Yes, it was a small portion for the price, but if that’s your standard for food, may we suggest the whopper junior with fries? We could see Surprise Number Three shaping up: excellent, creative food in a space entirely dominated by a bar.

The Big Dog called for a Sunflower Salad ($8), a fresh little plate of what others might call a Greek salad, whose twist was a sunflower oil vinaigrette and a scattering of sunflower seeds, along with some arugula mixed with the usual Greek components.

Gina ordered the roasted Statler chicken breast ($16), a classic preparation accompanied by a tasty sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes, and baby carrots (real youngsters, not those giant carrots pared into pellets on a lathe). It was very good.  For that price, one would expect a far more ordinary dish.

The Big Dog’s entree was “bistro meatloaf” ($17). It was ground veal wrapped with bacon and topped with a tomato-y sauce and smoked cheddar. It too was served atop mashed potatoes and carrots.

Surprise Number Four?  Host Jimmy returned a bit later and confided that the very nice jazz music was not your average has-beens, but rather the quartet who ordinarily supports a classic crooner who these days spends his time with a singer named Lady Gaga. Their artistry was an excellent compliment to the outstanding food.

We believe downtown Plymouth is one of the coolest places in southeastern Massachusetts, and once again were not disappointed.

Martinis Bar and Grill
50 Court Street, Plymouth

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Brew Fish, Marion

hummingbirdBrew Fish opened at the site of the former Wave early last summer and we’ve made about a gazillion visits there since, each time fervently hoping that the restaurant would deliver the across-the-board good dining experience we know they can. We were consistently thwarted:  delicious food but inattentive service, bad food but we were treated like royalty, sometimes the food and service were both just plain weird.

Our recent lunch with our friends Lee and Carl seemed like a perfect time to stop waiting and just do it. Carl is facing the worst kind of health problems.  We’ve only known him for a few years and feel cheated that we didn’t have longer together, but we’re sure that even folks who have known him their whole lives feel the same way.  We know that he is a musician and a windsurfer and that he worked as a letter carrier in Lakeville, MA, where everyone on his route knows and loves him.  He explained what we were doing wrong with our hummingbird feeder and his fix resulted in a whole flock (see one above) invading our back yard, to our delight.

And he’s made us look a little differently at the notion of procrastination.

So we were bound and determined to tell about our experience at Brew Fish this time. And that visit was the best we’ve had.

Our friends started with cranberry juice, while Gina ordered a Bonterra organic cabernet ($9) and the Big Dog chose a Moby D from nearby Buzzards Bay Brewery ($5). Brew Fish’s emphasis on local beer and wine is a real selling point in our book, and we’ve found that indecision among those seated at the bar is frequently rewarded with a slew of complimentary samples.  Also flights are available for trying the ever changing seasonal taps.

So now let us tell you about the house soup, because it freaks us out every time we go there, and this time Gina ordered it.  It’s a steamy concoction of clams, chourico, potatoes, kale, and vegetables in a creamy broth.  Sounds delicious, doesn’t it?  It is!  Gina ordered a crock ($6) and loved it.

But on the menu it’s called “ch’ale” and billed as a combination of chowder and kale soup.  Yuck!  This poor soup definitely needs an agent.

Anyhow, Gina partnered her soup with a side Caesar salad ($5) and was delighted that when she asked server Colleen to hold the parmesan hunks that so frequently mar a perfectly good plate of romaine and delicious dressing, it actually happened.

The Big Dog ordered a chicken parmesan sandwich ($12).  It was a bit dry (“over cooked”) despite a slather of marinara sauce and melted cheese, but it was also enough for six people.  He swapped out the fries for a side salad without any drama.

Lee ordered a spinach salad ($11), and got a beautiful blend of fresh baby spinach topped with bacon bits, goat cheese, red onion, and red pepper, drizzled as promised with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Carl’s Brew Fish Cheeseburger ($10) was piled high with lettuce, tomato, pickle, and onion, and served with a heap of pale but crispy seasoned fries.

The folks who own Brew Fish did an outstanding job of renovating the Wave space.  The interior is sleek and urban, and on a previous visit, the bartender showed us how she can control subtle neon backlights behind the rough-hewn bar and around the tray ceiling.

During our visit with Lee and Carl we sat in one of the comfortable booths that surround the open dining area.  We usually sit at the bar, where the comfy seats are among the restaurant’s great features.

The Wave was an interesting place that attracted grizzled locals, sparkly students, and families, and it appears that Brew Fish is pulling the same mixed crowd. We wish the owners well and look forward to the day when we can say with confidence that they have worked out all the kinks.

As for Lee and Carl, they’ve also introduced us to a whole brew of cool music over the few years, and we’ve made plans to join them to see a show at the Narrows Center for the Performing Arts in Fall River this weekend.

Brew Fish
210 Spring Street, Marion

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42 Degrees North, Manomet

IMG_20140710_215322_077Hooray!  Gina and the Big Dog have sniffed out yet another great place to dine in our area.

We arrived at 42 Degrees North, on Route 3A in Plymouth, on a warm summer evening to find the snazzy outdoor bar packed with patrons.  We spotted a couple of seats but found them marked with cell phones, the new universal symbol for “I’m still here.”  So we trudged indoors to the empty bar and nearly empty restaurant, and were glad we did.  There, we got the full attention of our affable bartender, Brooke, and learned lots of things.

For example, 42 Degrees North is part of a family of restaurants that include two more located further up the South Shore area than we typically venture.  They have a fishmonger who delivers a catch of the day and the kitchen is never sure what it’s going to be.  They change their menu seasonally, and what we had before us was pretty new.

And very impressive.

The Big Dog spotted oysters on the menu and Brooke sped off to learn that they were, in fact, the product of our friends at Big Rock Oysters in Harwich.  He ordered four ($2.50 apiece) and liked them a lot — they were meaty and characteristically briny, and were served with cocktail sauce and an interesting citrusy mignonette.

The wedge salad ($8.95) caught our eye and we split it. A hunk of iceberg came draped with two slabs of bacon in an odd presentation that tasted better than it looked.  It came with a quartered tomato and more bleu cheese dressing than any two people should ever eat at one sitting.

Gina ordered the paella ($21.95), which is an excellent choice for people having trouble making a decision.  A big bowl of rice, yellow with saffron and rich with little chunks of tasso ham, was loaded with steamed clams and mussels, just-cooked scallops, peas, peppers, and perfect little shrimp without the annoying tail shells that restaurants so often leave on. It was a hearty and tasty dish.

The Big Dog ordered the grilled lamb sirloin (also $21.95, which is about the average for the 18 very diverse entrees). The lamb was cut into pieces and served with a demiglace and a rosemary branch. He ordered it medium well and concluded that medium would have worked for this preparation, but enjoyed it.

The lamb was served with a side of quinoa laced with goat cheese that was good enough to try replicating in The Dog House some day. The crunchy little quinoas were bathed in a goat cheese sauce, with some asparagus and portabello mushrooms tucked inside.

To our dismay, we found ourselves faced with a very appealing dessert menu and were forced to endure the bread pudding ($6.95).  Brooke told us that dollop of ice cream was house-made cinnamon, and that alone would be enough to bring us back to 42 Degrees North. We rarely order dessert (yes, you’ve heard that before) and this enormous, delicious, and creative dish will be difficult to top. No perfunctory BJ’s cheesecake here — the desserts are definitely given plenty of attention in the kitchen.

Throughout the evening, Gina sipped a Clayhouse cabernet sauvignon, and the Big Dog chose a Josh cab (each $9 per glass). When there’s a good selection of wines, we typically try each other’s and often make a trade, but not so this time — we each preferred the wine we had ordered.

This dinner was more expensive than our norm (about $70 plus wine and tip), and despite the large volume of food we brought home no leftovers. But the high quality food, excellent service, and attractive surroundings made it feel like a great value, and we highly recommend 42 Degrees North.

42 Degrees North
690 State Road, Manomet

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The Pour Farm Tavern, New Bedford

2014-06-29 16.53.02We loved our lunch at the Pour Farm Tavern.

We realize that at night, when the restaurant is likely more focused on music or beer, dining may be less of a priority.  But on a Sunday afternoon, we were treated to one of the best meals we’ve had in New Bedford.

The Big Dog tried a couple of samples eagerly offered by our bartender, Donna, from among approximately one billion beer choices, and ended up with a Green Flash IPA draft ($6).  Gina’s cabernet, conversely, was from the Walmart of wine ($5.50) and unremarkable.

We started with the falafel salad ($7.95). We received an oversized square plate with a dollop of hummus in one corner, a pile of chopped tomatoes in another, crisp and tasty sliced falafal pieces in a third, and in the fourth corner, the world’s most delicious creamy cucumber and dill dressing. Amid it all were giant hunks of hearty mixed greens, topped with a couple of pita triangles.  The Big Dog turned his share into little sandwiches, bravely trying the falafel, which he’s disliked in the past.  He liked this version.

For lunch, the Big Dog ordered the special whose announcement on a sidewalk sandwich board drew us there in the first place: a lobster BLT ($15.95). Framed within grilled sourdough bread, topped with artisanal greens, the yummy sandwich came with sweet potato fries.

Gina turned to the regular menu and selected the BBQ Sampler (a steal at $15).  It included a half rack of baby back ribs, a little bowl of pulled pork, slabs of beef brisket, and tasty cole slaw.  Remnants of the huge portion was just as delicious the next day.

During our Sunday afternoon visit, the small but eclectic crowd that included a fisherman, a college student with her parents, and a handful of 20-somethings, was charmed by or servers’ equally eclectic jukebox selections, recorded long before anyone but Gina and the Dog were born.

The Pour Farm Tavern includes an outdoor dining area in a spacious and shady alley.  Inside, the decor is definitely 1970s Dorm Room, right down to the Led Zeppelin posters and vaguely foreign flags. We’re pretty sure no one goes there for the decor, and we suspect that few go for the food.  But that’s a mistake — the food is delicious, and you’re certain to enjoy it.

The Pour Farm Tavern
780 Purchase Street, New Bedford




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Aroma Tavern and Grill, Manomet

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If you find yourself on State Road (Route 3A) in the Manomet section of Plymouth, we recommend making a stop at Aroma Tavern and Grill.  The food is good, prices are reasonable, service is friendly, the atmosphere is comfortable, the selection is broad, and the staff accommodated special requests.

You can’t ask for much more than that from a pub nestled into a suburban strip mall.  Yes, you can ask for a slightly less kitchy decor.  You can ask for sea scallops on your scallop roll, instead of bay scallops. You can ask for the restaurant to reduce the number of special menus — we had four menus apiece, and that was silly.  That’s really the best we can do for criticism.  In fact, we liked the place so much that after a recent lunch in the dining room with friends, we went back inside to check out the bar, which is where we would normally dine.

Inspired by N., who was enjoying a Cranberry Flower Martini ($8.50) when we arrived, the Big Dog ordered a Raspberry Truffle Martini ($10).  Good enough to order two, but not necessarily a good lunch accompaniment.  Spotting an Argento Malbec ($7), Gina didn’t have to think twice.  T. had a Blue Moon beer ($4.50 for a 16-ounce draft).

Feeling assaulted by all those menus, we decided to start with a couple of intriguing-sounding appetizers from among the regular lunch selections.  Potato-crusted calamari ($9), served with orange chipotle mayonnaise, and lobster mac and cheese ($13), served in a little crock, were possibly our best choices of the day.  Both were delicious and there was plenty to share.  As server Karen promised, the potato flour made the calamari batter airy without a potato-y taste.  Nearly every bite of the mac and cheese contained a piece of lobster.

The Big Dog chose a “Power Lunch” from menu #3, a selection of soup-salad-sandwich arrangements for $10.  His choices were the aforementioned scallop roll, which he found disappointing because of the bay scallops, a good little caesar salad, and a very good bowl of chowder.

Although the roasted beet and goat cheese salad craze has abated, Gina still orders them whenever she sees them, and this one ($8) was good, with thick slices of beets.  She added a lobster roll ($12), which was kind of chewy (but seriously, isn’t lobster always kind of chewy?).  The dish ordinarily comes with fries, but Gina requested a substitution and chose a baked potato from among the starches, then disruptively asked for an order of good sauteed vegetables instead, and both the vegetables (mostly cauliflower and zucchini) and the potato arrived, with none of your irritating “upcharges.”  Lest you think we’re total pigs, we brought most of the sides home.

N and T ordered London broil ($14) and steak tips ($15) and approved of each, saying that they had been cooked properly rare as they requested.

Our round booth in the back of the restaurant, opposite a gas fire, was comfortable, but the focus here seems to be on the bright and pleasant bar, where at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon, hightop tables were already filling up with regulars. Our colleague Joan, whose family summers nearby, recommended the place, and we could easily imagine vacationers and beachgoers packing the place on a summer evening.

Aroma Tavern and Grille
739 State Road (Route 3a), Manomet

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The Bog Pub, Pocassett

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A while back, we dined with some friends at a spot on MacArthur Boulevard called Cranberry’s Restaurant.  As you can see from our review, posted here, we were kind of surprised by the casual atmosphere and service, and thought we would be less confused if we wore jeans and hoodies and sat at the bar, then called The Bog Pub.

So, here we are, wearing sweatshirts and Levis, and we’re still a little confused.

The bar is still called The Bog Pub, but apparently so is the restaurant.  Nowadays, the whole place offers six entrees and a special, and the rest of the menu consists of interesting sandwiches, soups and salads, and a section called “small plates.”  The price and complexity of these items makes them sound like tapas, but our server read us two specials and called them “appetizers.”  Turns out that the “small plates” are quite large, but the portions on them are very small. That’s not to say you’ll stop at Burger King on your way home, but you definitely won’t go waddling out with a doggie bag, either. We hate to sound school-marmish about the language, but after a while, the occasional imprecise slip-up becomes a consistent theme.

Okay, rant concluded.  Now for the review: Get what we got, and you’ll be pretty happy with The Bog Pub, or whatever it’s called.  A tapas approach, with two small plates apiece, would be a filling meal of high quality and an excellent value by any measure.

The relatively diverse wine list included something we never see in these parts: wine on tap, which bartender Courtney said keeps the wine fresher.  Gina chose a Pacific Cabernet ($8), and not only was it darned good, but it was the least expensive offering.  The Big Dog got a Lehman Shiraz ($9).  We liked our selections enough that we didn’t wish we’d tried flights, three 3-ounce pours available for $12.

After a long day, we only had the energy to share two small plates.

Gina’s pick was the pan seared duck livers ($9, shown in the terrible photo above). It was served on a bed of creamy polenta with a moat of “smoked gravy.” “Tastes smoky!” observed the Big Dog. The livers were crisp and flavorful, the polenta rich, and the tangle of microgreens intriguing. It was one of the most delicious dishes we’ve gotten in recent months.

The Big Dog selected cod croquettes.  In retrospect, we were both probably expecting something like codfish cakes, leaden and squishy.  Instead, we got a plate of fishy little poufs, crisp on the outside and moist on the inside, and yummy with the remoulade dipping sauce.


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British Beer Company, Sandwich

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British Beer Company is a “chain” of 13 pubs, mostly in southeastern Massachusetts, that seeks to replicate the experience provided by a small town pub in Great Britain. We have no first-hand experience with the original concept, but a countryside dotted with BBCs seems like a pretty good idea.  We got a look at two of BBCs restaurants on one recent night, and they’re both pleasantly warm and inviting, with decor that emphasizes rough-hewn wood… and beer.

BBC offers a very large selection of draft beers, ranging from the industrial brewery Kings of Beers that people inexplicably like so much, to obscure craft brews, including the IPA from our friends nearby at Mayflower Brewing.

We stopped first at the BBC in Manomet, a neighborhood in south Plymouth, on a Sunday night, hoping for a seat at the bar to watch the Brooklyn Nets with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet in their ultimately triumphant return to the Boston Celtics’ storied parquet floor. The bar was full and the TVs were tuned to some obscure Atlantic 10 college basketball re-run.  Fortunately, there’s another BBC right down the road, so we moved on.

Being on the Cape Cod side of the Canal, the BBC in Sandwich is far more mellow in the winter than it likely is during the summer, and probably more mellow than Plymouth is year-round.  We easily found a spot at the bar, whose only other occupants were a young couple on a first date, which we surmised because the woman’s unbearably annoying laugh would likely preclude a second encounter.

Our pleasant but brisk bartender, Sunny, offered us a taste of some fancy cabernet, but Gina opted instead for the house (Avalon, $7), in part because the sample was overpowered by the odor of chlorine in the glass. The Big Dog spotted one of those little spoons that signifies the possibility of a black and tan, and got a muddled version ($6.50).

We started with an order of Andouille Scotch Eggs ($8.99).  We’d never had any Scotch eggs before, and the basic premise, involving soft-boiled eggs baked in a crust, made Gina squeamish.  But these were outstanding.  The Andouille sausage made for a flavorful coating, the eggs were lightly cooked but not runny, and the presentation was nice.

The Big Dog ordered a steak and ale pie ($13.99, pictured above) as his entree. It came with a sauteed zucchini and carrot medley that was delicious unless you have an irrational dislike for green summer squash, and mashed potatoes.  The crust was heavy and the Dog characterized the gravy inside the pie as “overbearing,” and the steak inside was overcooked.  But we’re both Irish enough to know that this is probably just how people in the Old Country like it.

Gina ordered a mahi mahi dish ($16.99) off the full page of “gluten friendly” offerings. While the dish was delicious — moist fish topped with a piquant mango pico, with jasmine rice and approximately seven green beans — the order was apparently so confusing that the kitchen cooked something else entirely then discarded it before starting in on the proper order.  We didn’t take note of the time and weren’t in a hurry, but the result was definitely a complimentary-dessert-grade delay, if not handwringing apology from the manager.  Here, nothing.

There was enough positive about our visit to the British Beer Company to ensure our return, not just to Sandwich but also to Plymouth.  The prices were very reasonable, portions large, food pretty good, and the atmosphere was comfortable. Maybe we just need to recalibrate our expectations before we go.

British Beer Company
46 Route 6a, Sandwich

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Not Your Average Joe’s, Dartmouth

2013-12-05 14.00.06Confession time: Gina and the Big Dog have been holding out on you.  We’ve been telling you about all these great restaurants in the Southcoast region, but not about the one near the very top of our list.

We love Not Your Average Joe’s, a small regional chain whose closest restaurant to us is on Route 6 in Dartmouth. We go there whenever we find ourselves west of New Bedford.  Or north of New Bedford.  Or near New Bedford.  We bought a Jeep from a dealership across the street, only because we could envision long delicious lunches while we waited for oil changes.

Last summer we managed to convince ourselves that Route 6 in Dartmouth was on the way to Foxborough (it is not) so we could stop for lunch on our way to the Patriots’ training camp. Let’s do a review! we exclaimed.  This is delicious! we raved.  What a wonderful spot! we enthused.

But for you… nothing. No commentary on cilantro-laced corn garnish, no photos of succulent scallops. Frankly, here’s the problem: we don’t want any more competition for a seat at the comfortable bar. But we do feel kinda bad about holding out, so here are reparations.

Not Your Average Joe’s is a wide open space, from dining room through bar area and into the kitchen. Clever Southwestern-inspired decor makes it work, and even at a crowded happy hour, conversation is comfortable. The center of the bar provides an entertaining view of the pizza prep area and wood-fired oven.

Our most recent visit was for a late lunch on a cold and drizzly day, and we were pleased to see that the menu had changed subtly with the season. Gone were the sunny avocado slices, replaced by warming butternut chunks.

With a basket of delicious chunky bread served with a peppery parmesan oil, we dove into a bottle of Clos du Bois cabernet ($30),  a bottle we like enough to buy for evenings in The Doghouse.

The Big Dog ordered a Backyard Burger ($9.99) with cheese, and yes, it tasted like something that might have come out of our Weber, but for the accoutrements — a gleaming soft bun, a sliver of pickle, a soupcon of mustard. He choose greens as an accompaniment in lieu of fries and earned an entire pint of salted caramel ice cream points, redeemed later at home. The burger was perfectly cooked and delicious.

Gina started with a Not Your Average Salad, $3,99 with entree: a melange of young greens with the unexpected addition of hunks of blue cheese and blobs of dried tomatoes in oil. Love either and you’re in heaven.  Hate both, like Gina does, and you’re still extremely happy with the remaining fresh salad.

For an entree, Gina picked the chicken enchiladas ($11.99).  Two rolled corn tortillas arrived atop yellow rice with black beans, and under an outstanding herb-y poblano crema sprinkled with pumpkin seeds. The enchiladas were meaty and delicious throughout, but each roll’s crunchy end was particularly delightful.

The folks next to us at the bar ordered what we’re guessing was the raspberry sorbet ($6.99, like all desserts) and we apologize for not being able to take a photo of the beautiful presentation, for fear of seeming totally creepy.  Take our word for it — the dessert was surrounded by piles of fresh fruit and poufs of whipped cream and looked outstanding.

So, to summarize: the food’s okay, the atmosphere is okay, and you probably shouldn’t go here.  Especially when Gina and the Big Dog have a reason to be in Dartmouth, or anywhere near there.

Not Your Average Joe’s
61 State Road, North Dartmouth

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New World Tavern, Plymouth

DSCF1518_HDR-300x194Here in the Dog House we have a policy: If you can’t say anything nice about a restaurant, don’t write a review.

Such was the case a few years back when we visited the New World Tavern. We ordered a couple of classic pub dishes — a Middle Eastern sampler and chicken wings — and found them to be so tampered-with as to be unrecognizable, and terrible. We’ve blocked out the details, but it was something like hummus made with butternut squash instead of chick peas, garnished with peppermint sticks.  Something like that.

But during a recent visit to the Waterfront Grille in New Bedford, Brenna, our enthusiastic bartender, told us a new chef has dramatically improved the food at the New World Tavern.  The context was that we should stop by the Pillory Pub at the Plymouth waterfront sometime before it closes for the season on December 1, because she works there nights and it’s a cool spot, then head up the hill to the New World Tavern for dinner.  Her perspective was a combination of restaurant insider and Chamber of Commerce pitchperson, and we were sold.

So with no other plans for a chilly Saturday evening, we headed over to Plymouth’s waterfront. The Pub is across the street from the state park that houses the famous rock and the Mayflower II, and its expanse of open windows is probably a great vantage point for people-watching on a warm summer evening. Approaching the Pub with November winds whistling across the harbor, we were a little alarmed to see the accordion windows peeled back to expose patrons huddled in blankets.  The heat is well managed inside, though, and Brenna served up a Mayflower IPA on tap for the Big Dog and a 14 Hands cabernet for Gina.

We walked up North Street to Court Street to find the New World Tavern packed with people, but with minimal effort we slid into a tall cafe table next to six 20-somethings who were out on the town, and listened for a while to Tom Fey singing folksy music and accompanying himself on a guitar.

The beer is the star of the show here, and the New World Tavern touts its 32 beers on tap and 120 bottles.  The Big Dog chose Mayflower’s seasonal, Thanksgiving Ale, and while Kelly our server clearly thought that was a good choice, the Dog found it surprisingly more like a stout and less hoppy than his usual IPA.  Gina ordered serviceable cabernet.

The Big Dog ordered a chicken proscuitto sandwich ($12), a salty concoction served on a ciabatta roll, with the slab of proscuitto topped with asiago and a big pile of arrugula.  We liked it, and liked the crisp waffle fries that came with it.

Gina is on a quest to find the best fish tacos in New England, and wasn’t disappointed here.  Nuggets of fried fish were served with a fresh tomato salsa and topped with a tangy buttermilk sauce.  For $14 it was a fairly generous portion of three flour tortillas strung together on a skewer. The menu mentions pineapple and salsa verde, both of which, if present at all, were very subtle.  The tacos were very good.

As we ate, crowds were streaming in to see The Sleepeaters in the back room, an intimate venue with a second bar.  Up front, we could hear the band open with the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers,” but the volume didn’t preclude normal conversation.

Brenna was right about the New World Tavern, and on our way back to the car we stopped in to tell her so. The menu is weighted towards pub specialties that pair well with beer — pizzettas and burgers each have their own section — with some interesting surprises, like braised rabbit, that we’ll have to return and try.  But it was also clear that the days of freeform experimentation are gone.  The experience was enough to make us rethink our rule, to say: If you can’t say anything nice about a restaurant, give it another try.

New World Tavern
56 Main Street, Plym0uth, MA