Main dishes are a similar mix of predictable and above-average fare, with points going to the “old fashioned meatloaf” ($9.95). There’s no gravy, but the dish comes with a nice tomato glaze browned at the corners. The portion is almost the size of a building brick. And if that’s not enough for you, it also comes with a big scoop of skins-in mashed potatoes and grilled slices of zucchini. On the other end of the portion spectrum is the double pork chop ($14.95), which is not very thick and served on the bone, with the meat pushed up to make a handle. Fret not, big eaters: it comes with excellent mashed sweet potatoes that aren’t overly sweet, as well as a nice sauté of Vidalia onions and more grilled zucchini.
Dr. Atkins in the house? “John’s steak tip salad” ($10.95) is right out of the book, and the marinated steak tips are competitive with any in town. The salad is about the size of three of those petite dinner salads, but dressed with a thick, sweet, balsamic concoction. Chicken-and-herb dumplings ($9.95) are also good, except the dumplings are a little heavy and crumbly, like Mom’s not-her-best matzoh balls. And the herbs are nondescript. But there’s joy in a bowl of slightly starchy broth and plenty of chicken-breast meat with overcooked carrots and celery — that’s comfort food, Jack.
My only reservations concerned the calamari pomodoro ($11.95), a pasta dish with no cohesion, despite good ingredients like fresh basil leaves, roasted cloves of garlic, and plenty of squid and tomato with limp linguini. Pasta is quick, but sauces — even marinara — take a little more time to come together.
Now, about the drinks: there’s a special menu of Champagne cocktails, and another of “ ’tinis,” which have in common with actual martinis only the shape of the glass. Of the latter, a pom-tini ($7.50) had a nice paper umbrella and cute red color but no real pomegranate flavor. A “pucker-up Granny” ($7.50) had some apple flavor, but not enough to justify the apple schnapps and puréed apple that allegedly went into it. Of the Champagne drinks, a “golden girl” ($5) was a kind of mimosa with a little light cream. It looked like cloudy ale and tasted like sweetened Champagne. A “frou-frou” ($5) mixed Champagne, red grape juice, and some orange liqueur to no great effect. My own draught of Sam Adams Summer Ale ($4.50) was a little spoiled at the end of the first gulp, but was fine with food thereafter.
Desserts are not to be missed and are portioned to be shared. “The world’s greatest carrot cake” ($6) is at least a contender for the world’s largest serving of carrot cake. Flavorwise, it’s the usual enriched coconut and ginger with cream-cheese frosting. Flourless mousse cake ($6) is also about double what I expected, but fudgy and full of chocolate, so it will get finished at most tables. Chocolate-chip bread pudding ($6) may be the pick of the lot, though I like a little more custard and a sweeter sauce. The chocolate chips are irresistible, however. And blueberry crème brûlée ($6) is entirely successful, the berries making something new and special of this overly familiar dessert.
Service on a crowded weeknight was excellent, even outdoors. Our waiter was patient, knowledgeable, accurate, and had a sense of humor. The crowds have already found this place, and the prices should be no barrier to many happy returns. Whether the South End–style brunch plays in Roslindale is a question whose answer all the other restaurateurs will be waiting for.
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Robert Nadeau: RobtNadeau@aol.com.