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Diners Drive-Ins and Dives: Kelly’s Diner lives up to the hype

I must admit: I love Diners Drive-ins and Dives. I watch with a sort of sick fascination, the same mixture of awe and disgust that might accompany a viewing of Hoarders or some other mildly grotesque program. Until recently, the restaurants featured on the show seemed fantastical, over-the-top establishments that only exist in Guy Fieri’s frost-tipped exuberance. As a pescatarian, I haven’t really been interested in going to Boston Burger Company. But did you know that there is another Triple D restaurant within walking distance of Tufts? Little did I realize that Kelly’s Diner, in all its Food Network fame, is just down the block from Soundbites and Ball Square Café! On one freakishly warm, winter Saturday morning, my friends and I strolled passed the long lines outside the better-known brunch establishments and took a chance on Kelly’s. Though it too was quite crowded, we got seats at the counter pretty quickly.

Kelly's Diner

Source: thebell.us

At first glance, Kelly’s seems promising. As you approach, you realize that Kelly’s is housed in a huge, metal dining car from the 1950’s. According to their website, it was disassembled and shipped all the way from Delaware! The interior, as well as the exterior, screams old-fashioned diner. Metal counter tops, backless stools, bright turquoise seats, and a jukebox to transport patrons to a time in which inexpensive diners abounded and were places of congregation – or so I’m told. Perhaps Kelly’s fulfills an unrealistic diner fantasy of mine, a nostalgia for something that I never actually experienced. Regardless, I quickly became enamored of Kelly’s inviting, comfortable vibe.

Kelly’s meets the good-diner criteria not only in terms of decor, but also (and equally if not more importantly) in terms of food: cheap, huge portions, and DELICIOUS. My friends and I split French toast with fruit ($6.50), chocolate chip-strawberry pancakes ($8), and an omelet with mushrooms and cheddar ($7). Those would be relatively average prices if the dishes were individually sized, but they could feed a small army. The plates were twice the size of my head and came absolutely loaded with food. We could have easily split two dishes between the three of us, and we barely made a dent in three. The food wasn’t anything fancy but was very well done, which was expected and refreshing. The eggs and all their accouterments were flavorful and not too salty (and the cheese was perfectly oozy). The pancakes were exactly what chocolate chip strawberry pancakes ought to be – fluffy, tangy, and sweet. Our collective favorite was the French toast – it was rich but not too dense, eggy but not overwhelmingly so, and even good the next day!

Guy’s review was on point: if you’re looking for some serious weekend (or weekday) brunch that won’t break the bank, give Kelly’s a shot.

-Alison Sikowitz

Sei Bar

There is a time when one happily eats one’s words. For me, it was the time when I entered Sei Bar and was immediately floored. That was the night of Valentine’s Day, which the head waitress later said was one of their busiest nights of the year (the other contenders being Christmas and New Year’s). Read more

Sláinte Mhaith on St. Patrick’s Day – The Tasty Tufts Holiday Guide

Bostonians certainly do not skimp on the celebrations during St. Patrick’s Day, but when the parades and questionable beverages are done and consumed, the other major part of the day is often overlooked – the food! Before it became associated with day drinking and excessive consumption of food dyes, St. Patrick’s Day was an important day of celebration for the Irish and their diaspora with a rich culinary heritage all of its own. Whether you want to round out a day out in Boston with a taste of the old country, or spice up your celebration at home, here’s our guide to the history, culture, and cuisine of this special day, as well as some of my (doubly Irish-American) family’s ways of carrying on the festivities (or at least the leftovers) beyond the 17th. Read more

Snappy Ramen: Davis Square’s new noodle joint that’s definitely worth a try

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Snappy Ramen

The sign on the door declares, “No Sushi,” anticipating the confusion of customers who cannot get out of their minds, the alliteration of “SNAPPY SUSHI.”

Snappy Ramen, which evolved out of Snappy Sushi, has been selling ramen and fusion foods at 420 Highland Avenue since August 2013.

Once you walk through the door, past the large Japanese characters for ramen (らーめん) on clear windows, you enter a world of steamy, savory scents.

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The restaurant, which has another outlet on Newbury Street, has seats for up to twenty people. Six can be seated at the bar, where one can watch chefs craft bowls of ramen on the other side. Another twelve sit around a large wooden table, where napkins, water jugs and pleasing decorations make for a pleasantly comfortable shared space.

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You will be given a slip of paper, on which you can indicate what you want, and in what quantities. The menu is simple and straightforward, and does its best to explain what sometimes can only be understood with the tongue. Thorough descriptions of each bowl guide you through the seven main ramen options, which are divided into two categories : Assari Tonkotsu, and Kotteri Tonkotsu.

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While Kotteri is “rich and velvety” compared to the “light and milky” Assari, both are still denser and more flavorful than what I’m used to. The first time I went there, I got the Spicy Miso Kotteri from the latter category; last night, I tried the Eggs Benedict Assari from the former. I left feeling stuffed, like I needed to lie down on that strong, tan table. Perhaps their noodle portions are very generous, or their soup is too rich a challenge for my tummy. That said, it is to the credit of Snappy Ramen that I felt compelled to take one more bite, to scoop up a little more salty soup, until there was barely anything left. I breathed a little satisfied sigh of relief that this was Snappy Ramen and not Snappy Udon.

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If you’re not really hungry, or not in the mood for ramen broth made from scratch over 4-6 hours, Snappy Ramen also sells steamed buns for $7 a pair, or $4 individually. These steamed buns make up 20% of Snappy Ramen’s menu. There are only two types of steamed buns you can get, and nobody in Snappy Ramen, which was completely packed with a line of 6 people, ordered anything but ramen. This is not a place where you will be stumped with a deluge of categories and choices. However, it is not always an easy decision between “Kotteri…with spicy miso, Berkshire pork belly kakuni, steamed cabbage, wood cut mushrooms, and nitamago boiled egg” and “Assari…with onsen soft egg, smoked bacon, wasabi mayo, grated Parmigiano, baby arugula, and truffle oil”. Both sound equally tasteful, and both are delectable.

It all boils down to what kind of a ramen eater you are, and this will only be clear when you put that spoon into your mouth.

So I’m not a ramen person, and I feel that one should have different bowls of ramen at multiple restaurants before deciding that for oneself. Sapporo Ramen, Yume Wo Katare and Snappy Ramen all have their own style of ramen, and adoration for one doesn’t necessarily exclude one’s love for another (which is good news for all ramen shops in the area). What does this mean? If you don’t like the good dishes at a particular restaurant, it’s not that they don’t make good ramen, it’s that their good ramen doesn’t cater to your taste. You can rest assured that the quality of their ingredients is fresh, and the combination of ingredients is delightful and balanced, albeit on the richer and saltier side. But that’s what ramen is, so take my stuffed satiety with a pinch of salt. Besides, some hot sake at $6 ~ $9 should help wash that hearty bowl down.

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Snappy Ramen’s prices range from $9 ~ $14, where add-ons like abura-age tofu skin and jalapeño come at $1 ~ $2 each. With $9 Wednesdays, where any ramen is $9, there is yet another reason to have this traditional ramen with an indisputable feel of fusion.

Ambiance: A-

Service: B+

Food (taste): A-

Food (presentation): B+

Price: $14/person

Overall: A-

-Min Yi Tan

Grocery store openings: 2014 and beyond

Clothing shopping or grocery shopping? It’s a choice between “sales” and free samples, hours in dressing rooms or a quick trip to the market and the remaining time spent in bed. Either way you’re in your underwear, but only one of those situations involves a delicious snack. In my opinion, the decision is clear. To my fellow grocery enthusiasts and those simply looking to expand their produce horizons, keep an eye out for these exciting new options, which are slated to open within a year. Read more

Beeting Expectations: Surprising and Delicious Ways to Use Beets

Few vegetables are harder-put than the humble beta vulgaris. Many people seem to have been put off these homely roots in their formative years, and even as adults old prejudices or lame excuses about cooking times or staining properties keep us away. For shame, because beets are some of the finest cold-weather gems, both in terms of their nutritional quality and flavor. Uniquely imbued with their own class of antioxidant phytonutrients, beets are rich in B vitamins and manganese. Additionally, for better or worse, red beets are fantastic sources of natural reddish-purple pigment. Shredded or mashed, beets also make a fantastic addition to baked goods, supplying moisture and an earthy sweetness that is delicious on its own or in conjuction with other earthy flavors like chocolate and coffee. So regardless of whether you enjoy them on their own or include them in your favorite foods, don’t give up on beets. Here are a myriad of traditional and more unusual ways to include these phenomenal superfoods in your diet. Read more

Greek Corner Restaurant: Deserved Hype?

Whether it’s with Netflix, projectfreetv.com or actually watched on the day and time that the show airs on the television, every student and/or workingman/woman tries to stay caught up on his or her favorite television series. While I love the drama and not-so-realness of reality television more than the next person, my guiltiest television pleasures are derived from any one of the multitude of food shows. Cooking shows and competitions will always hold a special place in my heart (and stomach), but no cooking show gets my mouth salivating more than Diners Drive Ins and Dives.

Read more

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