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Clarke’s (Faneuil Hall): Come For The Ladies Room, Stay For The Nachos

18 Jun

Nothing tastes better after a crushing bar trivia defeat than a steaming plate of nachos. This week, we’re stuffing our faces at Clarke’s in Faneuil Hall.

Before we begin the review, we need to make a brief statement regarding the Clarke’s Boston website. Presenting possibly the most awkward and/or brilliant marketing move we’ve seen in awhile, the website proudly proclaims itself “the” bar in Boston to meet people. And how does a  Faneuil Hall bar achieve a favorable balance between the genders? By proclaiming via prominent website banner they have the largest and cleanest ladies rooms in Boston! Clarke’s, you have our attention…We did a hasty Google search and discovered that no one has formally reviewed this statement, so you’ve read it here first:

According to one Nacho Patroller, the ladies room wasn’t anything to write home about, though the stalls were large enough that you didn’t have crawl over the toilet to close the door (ladies, you know what we mean). One of our guest patrollers also commented that the bathrooms appeared clean, but thanks to the dark colored tile, could be secretly filthy. We would post a picture, but we didn’t want to be “those girls” taking photos in the ladies room. So, we suppose a guarded “well done” is deserved. But this isn’t Bathroom Patrol (add that to the list of blogs to write after we’ve eaten all the nachos in Boston). On to the ‘chos.

  • Appearance: (8) It was generally agreed at our table that these nachos were some variation of “b-e-a-utiful” or “ha-uuuuge.” While the presentation was on the sloppy side, the mouthwatering display of cheddar cheese, grilled chicken, jalepenos, fresh tomatoes and green onions, and multicolor chips left us ready to dig in.
  • Distribution: (9) At first glance, we thought distribution would be a problem. Typically when we see that much cheese atop a plate of nachos, it means that there won’t be much left in the under-layers. This was absolutely not a problem here: the cheese was layered all the way to the bottom, with just enough crispy chips left unsoaked to use for dipping. These nachos had both chicken and cheese. Our one complaint is that the scant quantity of chili was hidden in the middle, requiring a bit of excavation.
  • Quality: (6.1) Good flavors on the whole, but nothing to get us excited. The chicken was moist, but not especially flavorful. Chili was generic, but tasted homemade. Salsa was great!
  • Price: (7.1) We toyed with the idea of getting the $25 nacho platter, but we’re glad we stuck with the well portioned $12 plate. The smaller size was enough for an appetizer for four people. $10 would have been a more reasonable price, so we assume that extra $2 went to the Faneuil Hall Atmosphere Fund.
  • Overall: 30.2/40

A strong showing from a bar we all but discounted because it happened to be down the street from Hong Kong Faneuil Hall. Just when we’d all but written off Faneuil Hall…

Yard House: Want Some Nachos With That Beer?

2 Jun

You know what Boston needs more of? Establishments where ordering your beer in a comically large novelty glass is a viable option. So when the Yard House (henceforth to be read as “Yaaaaahhd House”) arrived in Fenway, we were jazzed.  The world’s largest menu? Check.  Full two pages of beers?  Double check.  And the ability to order beers by distance instead of volume? Sign us up!  Adding to the excitement, the night that we attended was “Harpoon Rare Beer Night”, allowing us to sample all sorts of magical concoctions that we hope will soon make it to bars on a regular basis (Bacon Bock, anyone?). To pad our beer we ordered the Yard House chicken nachos, with spicy pinto beans, cheddar, jack, red & green sauce, tomato, cilantro, onions, guacamole and sour cream.

  • Appearance:  (8) First off, what is it with chain restaurants and flat nachos?  See Pizzeria Uno. Very pretty, with lots of nice colors. We were a little perplexed by the ~3 blue corn chips that we saw on the plate– were those intentional or did they sneak in from somewhere else in the kitchen?  And, #thingswenormallyaskduringlobsternight, what is that green stuff?
  • Quality of Ingredients: (8) The green stuff turned out to be green chile sauce, which was quite tasty and something we haven’t seen on nachos in a while. We greatly enjoyed the pinto beans, and found the chunks of chicken to be rather well seasoned and not too dry. While it tasted OK, the guac was definitely not homemade.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) Flat nachos have their benefits, including a generally equitable distribution of toppings. These were no exception, and the full coverage was also aided by the viscous chile sauces and saucy pinto beans.  However, these nachos deteriorated quickly upon reaching the table.  You know how on some lucky occasions the nachos arrive at your table with sizzling and boiling cheese? This was not one of those times. The cheese was on its way to congealing when we got them and continued on that path.  The chips on the bottom, and those exposed to a lot of chile sauce, turned quite floppy. Perhaps Yard House should look into the Vito’s Tavern black bean scaffolding approach to distribution?
  • Price: (7) $11 and easily demolished by two as a reasonable dinner.
  • Overall: 30/40. Another solid addition to the Fenway nacho roster.  We would highly recommend a visit, if not for the nachos, to gawk at the massive menu and epic beer list.

Playa Azul in San Francisco, CA: Wish They All Could Be California Cho’s…

28 May

Big news in Nacho Patrol land!

  1. Founding Patroller SmAsh recently got hitched to a lovely gentleman, who among many other wonderful qualities, was fully behind them serving a Mexican buffet at their wedding. This led to:
  2. The first reunion of the entire founding Nacho Patrollers in several years, in:
  3. California, our 11th state to nacho review in!

Seeing as we were in one of the most famous seafood cities in the world, San Francisco, we went in search of something that has long intrigued us: seafood nachos.  We found them at Playa Azul, a lovely, inexpensive Mexican joint on Mission Street.  We highly recommend this place if you are looking for fresh Mexican seafood, but must warn anyone with a fear of mariachi bands to stay far away. The “Nachos Playa Azul”, which you can order by the half-dozen or dozen (a first), come with beans, cheese, crab ceviche, shrimp, sour cream and avocado.

  • Appearance: (9) Now those are some loaded chips!  Each one resembled a miniature pizza slice, with a layer of melted cheese and the toppings piled high. The pink shrimp, gooey melted cheese, and verdant salad/avocado center presented a stunning sight.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (10) The seafood was the main feature here, and it was excellent.  The shrimp were well cooked and the crab ceviche was delicious. We, who hate lettuce on nachos, even loved the greens in the middle, which were a combination of arugula and spinach and very lightly dressed.
  • Distribution of Toppings:  (9) While one could not complain about naked chips here, we did wish that the avocado had already been stacked on the chips, instead of in the center where we had to apply it ourselves.
  • Price: (8) At $17.49 for a dozen (that’s $1.46 per chip for those of you playing along at home), these are a  worthwhile splurge.
  • Overall: 36/40.  These are some of the best, most interesting specialty nachos we’ve ever had.  Between this and the amazing nachos at Peso’s Kitchen in Seattle, we have to wonder– are we on the wrong coast??