Marc P., Princeton University
Take short walk north from the intersection of Nassau Street and Chambers and you’ll pass a sketchy stairwell leading down to a small sushi restaurant called Ajihei. Though it doesn’t seat many and the line was rather long, my dinner companions and I decided to try our chances and attempt to get one of the few tables that seats more than two. After a substantial wait, we were seated and treated to piping hot mugs of green tea.
At first, Aldea and Laut seem on equal footing: barely a block separates the two, and both received one star in the 2010 New York City Michelin Guide. Last Friday night, I ate at Laut, and last Saturday, at Aldea. If the little red book’s ratings prove accurate, then one star restaurants ought to revolve around a common axis of quality. Realistically, the Michelin Guide should not be expected to produce exact parity within star groups; after all, the resolution of a one to three star system is poor, resulting in a spectrum within each class. Theoretically, however, that spectrum should not range so wildly as to render predictions of quality from a restaurant’s star(s) meaningless.
Sajan B., Boston University
Right on the Boston Harbor in the South End, near the Boston World Trade Center, Anthony’s Pier 4 has a great location. The outside of the building itself has a homey feeling and showcases the restaurant’s historical significance, since it has been around for almost 50 years. When you walk into the restaurant, the atmosphere changes. It’s obvious once you step into the building that the restaurant is upscale and elegant. The waiters dressed as sailors also intensify the fact that you are right on the harbor, looking out onto the ocean.
As most of the menu was seafood, which I happen to be allergic to, I ordered a simple Iceberg Wedge Salad. The salad was pretty great compared to the regular dining food that I eat, but the best part of it was definitely the ancho pepper dressing. My friends with me had the smoked salmon, fried calamari, and steamed clams. For dessert we ordered the strawberry cheesecake and the chocolate espresso cake. While the strawberry cheesecake was magnificent, the chocolate espresso cake was a little too rich. Just as the food was great, so was the service. Overall, compared to a typical college student meal, lunch at Anthony’s Pier 4 was a good time.
Anthony’s Pier 4
140 Northern Ave.
Boston, MA 02210
At Annisa, Columbia graduate Anita Lo serves internationally inspired food—from Japan to France—to a hip West Village crowd. After a devastating fire in 2009, Annisa reopened in April 2010 to critical acclaim. Awarded one star in the latest New York Michelin Guide, Annisa continues to dazzle foodies and their tolerant friends alike with playfully sophisticated dishes—seared foie gras with soup dumplings, pan roasted chicken with white truffle and pig feet, and miso marinated sable top Chef Lo’s greatest hits list. I asked Lo five (ish) quick questions and got five (ish) quick answers. Continue reading
Josh B., University of Virginia
Everyone loves a bit of gambling. Naturally, some gamble for the rush, while others only partake when the results are trivial. However, it seems paradoxical that so many people gamble given that “the house always wins.” Well, at Take it Away Sandwich Shop on the UVA Corner, people return because “the house always wins,”…and it’s no gamble.
Jack C., Duke University
Living on a college campus for months at a time, one quickly grows tired of the monotony of the same old dining choices. So understandably, when The Tower, Duke’s newest eatery, opened at the beginning of the school year, it was met with great excitement. For the first few weeks of its existence, The Tower was always packed during dinner. Now that the novelty has died down and The Tower has become just another of those same boring choices, I decided to compare how it stacks up to the other on-campus choices at Duke. Continue reading
Caleb P., New England Conservatory
As authentic Asian foods go in Boston, most purists would probably skip over the long list of greasy takeout joints and stir-fry deliveries catering to students looking for a quick fix. Even among the many sit-down Asian restaurants surrounding the campuses of BU and MIT, a plethora of options end up making the decision of where to eat harder, not easier. For an impressive performance in serving Vietnamese food, however, Le’s Vietnamese Cuisine in Allston serves an a satisfying and stomach-warming bowl of pho noodles for more than reasonable prices. Continue reading
Zach B., Yale University
As a break from restaurant reviewing, I decided to attend a chili cookoff, where student recipes faced off in an epic battle of tomatoes, beans, and of course well seasoned meat. Each diner paid five dollars (donated to the United Way) for an unlimited supply of chili. Out of the twenty two recipes, I particularly enjoyed a soy sauce based chili, a barbecue based chili and a traditional meat, beans and veggies chili, with a healthy kick of spice of course.
Note: This review, as the headline suggests, is based on a soft opening. Just because Lotus of Siam made certain impressions on me at the soft opening doesn’t mean you have to take them as universal truths.
Unfortunately, meeting legends in person usually leads to considerable disappointment. I rarely actually meet legends—I encounter them from afar. For example, last year I saw Uma Thurman—or a woman who looked strangely similar to Uma Thurman—walking across Columbia’s campus. This brush with celebrity failed to fulfill my variously unrealistic expectations for such a dramatic incident. I never actually met Uma (though her father Robert Thurman teaches in Columbia’s religion department, so hope springs eternal). And perhaps it’s best that I never meet celebrities. That way, all my preconceived notions of their lives and personalities can remain uncontaminated. When I heard on somewhat specious online message boards that Lotus of Siam, a Las Vegas based Thai restaurant, is widely considered the best Thai institution in the nation, I shrugged—my next visit to Las Vegas would unlikely include a special trip to a quasi-obscure Thai spot. Then, when I heard that a Lotus of Siam was opening in Cru’s old space at 24 5th Avenue, a quiver of hope ran through my gullet. An opportunity to meet a true legend, albeit one born in the nebulous realm of Internet food forums. Most importantly, visiting Lotus of Siam’s New York location would require little effort, just a few moments on OpenTable and a 30 minute trek to the location. Regrettably, Lotus of Siam barely edges out numerous other Thai restaurants I frequented in St. Louis and visited in Washington D.C.; while I have not yet dined at every Thai restaurant in America, I seriously doubt that Lotus of Siam claims the title of absolute best, especially considering its relatively narrow margin over its more mundane relatives. Continue reading
Marc P., Princeton University
At the entrance to Palmer Square from Nassau Street, right underneath the J. Crew, lies Winberie’s, a restaurant that would have us believe it’s an old Irish pub. The décor is actually rather endearing, as the old-timey pictures on the walls, dark wood furniture, and dim lighting really do show the effort taken in creating a unique and entertaining atmosphere. Some may find it overwhelming and tacky, but it didn’t bother me at all. Continue reading