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Boston, MA: Alison Arnett's complaints

We have a great amount of respect for Alison Arnett because she's utterly and completely honest about what she does—reviewing restaurants for the Boston Globe. It really isn't just fun, games, and food. It's work.

For 13 years, I've been getting paid to eat in restaurants - regularly and often. A dream come true, you might say. Well, yes, and then again, no. A friend once asked what the worst thing about my job was, and I answered, "Eating out." The best thing: Eating out. It's a paradox. Tasting another bite of overcooked tuna, another spoonful of sludgy pumpkin soup, another leaden bit of deep-fried calamari can feel like attaching a ball and chain to my tongue.

Sometimes I find it disheartening that service doesn't seem to get better in Boston. Styles change; there's not so much "Hi, my name is Bob, and I'll be your server" anymore. But it's still too often that you feel as if you're dining on the waiter's schedule. Order when he arrives or be prepared to suffer a painful wait for his return. Expect to have conversations interrupted, to be asked too early, "Are you still working on that?" - a phrase I hate - and, often, to have to practically strangle someone to refill a water glass or get a check at the end of the meal.

And while I'm at it, new upscale restaurants are starting to look so much alike that I walk into one and think I've already reviewed it. Eastern Standard looks like the Metropolitan Club, which looks a larger version of Union Bar and Grille and a little like the original version of Rialto. Doesn't any restaurant designer have an original thought anymore? One more wall of changing colors - 33 Restaurant & Bar, Lot 401 (in Providence), Mare - and I swear I'll throw a spoonful of your finest white bean spread at it. And though I like the looks of Stella, it's channeling Mistral. Makes one yearn for the old days when hippie chefs put up an Indian bedspread and called it decorated.

Alison Arnett, "The Secret Life of a Restaurant Critic,"
Boston Globe October 9, 2005

P.S. You can read more from Alison Arnett on her blog >>

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Brazil via Allston, MA: it starts in a bar

posted by Jamila

Me: So where do you find Brazilian food around here?
Brazilian man at bar: *huge grin* Oh! This place—Cafe Brazil—it's amazing.
Me: So what should I expect to eat at this Cafe Brazil?
Brazilian man at bar: *huge grin* You HAVE to have the pig's feet...
Me: *eyes widen*
Brazilian man at bar: Really, they are amazing.
Me: My dog...chews on those...
Brazilian man at bar: Oh no!

Regardless of my ignorance to South American cuisine, the Brazilian man I met was extremely helpful and about as enthusiastic as I when it comes to strangers and food. Coming from a true Brazilian thousands of miles from his homeland, I can only trust in the authenticity of:

Valter Vitorino (Owner) & Alex Souza (Chef); image courtesy of cafebrazilrestaurant.com

Cafe Brazil

421 Cambridge Street
Allston, Massachusetts 02134-1788
United States

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