England dining >>> Best New England dining
Best of New England 2002-2003
Our first "Best-Worst" column drew tremendous response.
This time, we will focus on just the "best" in New
England. We are always looking for reader's feedback, so if you
agree or disagree with some of the selections below or would
like to add your own, please Write us!
New! Read our visitor feedback!
Best seafood: Dolphin Seafood Natick,
Mass. -- Natick, a commercial Boston suburb not near the ocean,
isn't exactly your quaint New England coastal town bursting with
great seafood restaurants and fine views. Somehow, the Dolphin
Seafood restaurant landed here and what a catch it is, offering
perhaps the best -- and most plentiful -- seafood in New England.
We've been to many renowned Maine seafood establishments that
can't even hold a candle to the fresh, incredibly delicious seafood
served at this gem in the suburbs.
Best steak: Barker Tavern, Scituate,
Mass. It's not a steak house, just a fine restaurant that does
everything right -- most notably steak. The elitist steak houses
in Boston and Providence might claim superiority, but the Barker
Tavern rises above them all. Try the fabulous filet mignon, and
you'll fully understand our reasoning.
Best romantic spot: Kennebunk Inn,
Kennebunk, Maine. This quaint inn built in 1799 has a wonderfully
understated dining room with dim lighting, soft tones, candlelight
and an old world atmosphere that makes you want to hold hands
through the night and gaze into each other's eyes. The food is
that spectacular, too, with innovative seafood, vegetable, and
Best view: The Sea and Surf, York Beach,
Maine. Clear views of the expansive, stunning New England Long
Sand Beach (Atlantic Ocean) and the famed Nubble Lighthouse make
for some incredible views. The food is well above average; stick
with the seafood specials.
Best neighborhood restaurant: The Newbridge
Cafe, Chelsea, Mass. No one will ever top the Newbridge. The
steak tips have to be sampled to be believed.
Best pizza: Sicilia's, Providence,
R.I. It takes about as long as Providence rush hour traffic to
get your order, but there's a reason: everything is fresh here,
whether it's the unparalleled thin crust or scrumptious thick
pizza. Located in the Italian flavored Federal Hill section,
Sicilia's stand out against some noteworthy competition.
Best Italian restaurant: Al Dente,
Boston. Perhaps the best representation of Italian food in Boston's
North End, Al Dente lives up to its "authentic Italian cuisine"
billing. Drawing from from all regions of Italy, the chef has
a mastery of concocting incredibly fresh Italian fare. A must
when visiting New England.
Best eclectic fare: Darby's, Belfast,
Maine. From Pad Thai to Mexican fare to great crab cakes, Darby's
covers all bases in a funky, old storefront, given life by excellent
food and Grateful Dead type waitresses.
Best surprise: The Colonel's Restuarant.
Located behind its really good bakery, this hidden dining room
offers lobster and other seafood dishes as good as any in Maine.
Save some room for the excellent moon pies when exiting to the
Best representation of New England:
Longfellow's Wayside Inn. Quaint, lovely and historical, the
Wayside Inn has waitresses dressed in colonial outfits. The Yankee
fare is outstanding, the home is a great representation of New
England colonial architecture, and the grounds are shaded and
village green-like. The overall experience is pure New England.
If you want to fall in love with New England. come here.
Best diner: Tilt'n Diner, Tilton, N.H.
Someone in this retro 50s diner knows how to make real macaroni
and cheese. Enough said.
Best breakfast: Parker's Maple Barn,
Mason, N.H.: The Parker's special pulls out all the stops with
eggs, pancakes, hash browns, bacon, etc. Its cholesterol levels
are higher than the surrounding mountains, but it's also irresistable.
The charming maple barn atmosphere makes the food that much better.
Best lunch: Vello's, Westwood, Mass.
Finally, a lunch place that doesn't skimp, gives you flexbility
on how you want the sandwiches prepared, and boasts help that
actually cares about their work. Everything is delicious. We
can't wait to try their breakfast and soon to be expanded dinner
Best mid-priced restaurant: Ivanhoe,
West Springfield, Mass. The atmosphere is casual, but the decor
is quite elegant with its split level, chandeliered dining room.
All steak, seafood and chicken dishes are done consistently well.
The waitstaff is highly professional. The desserts never disappoint.
Might we add that they have a humongous salad bar with just about
every food known to humankind?
Best "fun": Spruce Pond Creamery,
Franklin, Mass. Organic pizzas and salads that are delicious.
The ice cream selection is enormous and of great homemade quality.
Multi-colored fan lights, a super friendly owner, a pond view
(Spruce Pond, we assume) and some great classic rock playing
in the background make this a great place to meet friends or
take out the children.
Best clam chowder: Cape Neddick Lobster
Pound, Cape Neddick, Maine: Wonderful tangy flavor and plenty
of clams in a semi thick base.. It's not a classic Maine clam
chowder, but its taste makes it a stand out.
Best brunch: Colonial Inn, Concord,
Mass. You won't find any lukewarm, Swanson's TV dinner-like food
here. This is the anti -watery eggs, anti-overcooked bacon place.
Instead you will be introduced to breakfast foods cooked perfectly,
fresh fruit ,and chicken and seafood dinners, expertly prepared.
Henry David Thoreau used to live in the Annex of this charming
inn. Even he would have liked the food here, although that silly
isolationist would have probably demanded delivery service to
Best place to stop on a rainy night:
The Beef Barn, North Smithfield, R.I. Relaxed, phony barn with
a very nice waitstaff and truly great hamburgers and fries..
It's a very comfortable, warm place, perhaps a notch above a
coffee shop/diner setting. The kids will love it.
Best Thai restaurant: Sweet Chili's,
Arlington, Mass. Everything is fresh here except the waitstaff.
Some Thai restaurants have recently rested upon their laurels.
That's not the case with Sweet Chili's which continues to offer
the best representations of vegetables, meat and seafood.
Best Chinese restaurant: Jade Garden,
Arlington, Mass. It's friendly, the food is excellent, and the
atmopshere free of MSG, gaudy water fountains, Tiki Gods and
paper mache dragons that plague so many Chinese restaurants.
Best lobster: The Docksider, Northeast
Harbor, Maine. Brought in fresh every day, this is the "Real
McCoy" in a Downeast seaside setting.
Best expensive meal: Silk's, Tyngsboro,
Mass. In this small town resides perhaps the best French restaurant
in New England. The atmosphere is set within a sophisticated
estate setting, the service is very friendly and knowledgeable,
and the French food...Go there as soon as you can. If you don't
have an impending special event, make one up so you can sample
Best cheap meal: The Stockpot, Portsmouth,
N.H. Great sandwiches, excellent light dinners and a nice river
view highlight this high quality casual dining spot.
Best Greek food: Demo's, Watertown,
Mass. You don't go for the atmosphere. You go for the delicious
baked lamb, rice pilaf and other great Greek offerings at this
long time favorite with a stellar reputation.
Best deli: Rein's, Vernon, Conn. The
closest to New York deli quality that you'll find in New England.
Great matzoh soup and wisecracking waitresses add to the authenticity.
Do you have a favorite
or least favorite? Write
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