Tag Archives: Outdoor eating

Charlie’s Beer Garden: When it Rains Bad Nachos, it Pours

18 Jul

Final Jeopardy: Where in Boston can you both drink Harpoon Rasberry UFO on tap in the outdoors AND wait in the world’s longest line for the world’s dirtiest bathroom?  Why, at Charlie’s Beer Garden in Harvard Square, of course!  Run by the fine folks behind Charlie’s Kitchen right next door, the beer garden is a godsend during the summer, when alfresco drinking opportunities are few and far between.  We love the burgers here, and were very excited when nachos made a debut on their summer menu.  Do they earn their place in the permanent rotation?  Let’s find out!

  • Appearance: (6) Flat, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Decidedly cheesy to the naked eye, which is decidedly a good thing.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (5) Decent chips, though definitely not homemade.  The guacamole was gluey enough to be decidedly from a bag, but still appreciated.  The cheese was quite melty and delicious.  And then….we come to the chili.  At first bite it seemed innocently tasty.  Kidney beans and meatball-sized chunks of ground beef were pleasant surprised. But then, we realized that something with the chili was terribly, terribly wrong.  It didn’t seem at all more watery than usual, but for some bizarre reason any chip that touched it became immediately soaked.  And not soaked in a good way, with a thick, flavorful gravy– more like sodden.
  • Distribution of Toppings:  (4) While there were significant amounts of cheese and chili,  because of the aforementioned chili situation, this in the end rendered the topping-covered chips nearly inedible.   We picked at the edge and used forks to whittle away at the toppings, but in the end, we were left with this sizeable inedible remainder:

Now that’s just depressing.

  • Price: (2) We can’t remember how much they cost and they aren’t listed on the online menu.  Whatever it was, they weren’t worth it.
  • Overall:17/40.  Looks like the Otherside Cafe has some competition for the worst nachos served to you in the company of fixed-gear bike riding hipsters.

It was fitting, nay, even poetic that after these soggy nachos, God saw fit to open up the skies for a surprise downpour and soak them even more.

Charley’s Eating and Drinking Saloon: Rime of the Ancient Westerner

8 Jul

Scenic Newbury Street. Now that summer has descended upon us, we love settling down in one of the fine outdoor restaurant patios that line Boston’s famous shopping district and basking in the cool breeze of car exhaust. Charley’s has been on our sights for years now, and in preparation for relocation to Somerville, we thought it time to close the book on some of our long-standing nacho holdouts. We were impressed by the chic, yet casual atmosphere at Charley’s, and though the drink list was a little pricy, we had no problem finding an appropriate beverage to keep at bay the subtle heat still lingering at sundown.

  • Appearance: (9) Quite colorful and cheesy, with a lovely dab of guacamole on top and a ramekin of salsa on the side.  We couldn’t wait to dig in!
  • Quality of Ingredients: (6.4) In our first bites, we detected a distinct, puzzling flavor in the cheese.  Slightly off, slightly processed…could it be the dreaded American Cheese Menace?? We nibbled and pondered and conferred with our waitress, who assured us that it was actually monterey jack.  If it indeed was, then it was Industrial Monterey Jack Cheese Product #5 (TM), for it left us with a distinct reminiscence for elementary school cafeterias.  Furthermore, the guacamole was INCREDIBLY salty, so much so that it absolutely had to have been a mistake by the chef. Though we loved the chili, tomatoes, green onions, and salsa, we couldn’t get past the burning aura of salty guac which devastated everything it touched.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (8) Though we weren’t wild about the cheese, there was a lot of it, and if there is one universe rule of Nacho Patrolling, it is that lots of cheese somehow makes even the worst cheese better. There was also a healthy (or unhealthy, depending on how you look at it) glob of chili, and a well-proportioned quantity of the fresh stuff (tomatoes and green onions). We would have, however, liked the cheese to have spent a little more time on the chips and slightly less melting to the plate. And the salsa was good enough that it could have been distributed on top rather than relegated to a too-small-for-dipping ramekin.
  • Price: (8) At $9.75 with chili, these are a solid investment in your fat rolls. May we recommend the sangria as a pleasant refreshment to counteract the salt lick guac.
  • Overall: 31.4/40

The Red Parrot in Hull, MA: Been There, Overdone That

5 Aug

0805091604bNachos are everywhere, you just have to look for them.  While on a daycation on Nantasket Beach in Hull, MA (motto: come for the placid water, leave because of the biting flies), a lone reviewer went for a beer in the out-of-doors and came away stuffed to the gills with nachos.  For nacho patrolling is more than a job, it’s a lifestyle; and you can never get away from that.

The Red Parrot is a multi-level bar/restaurant right on the beach with a lovely, if plastic-laden (chairs, tables, utensils, cups, etc.)  roof deck that overlooks the ocean.  Don’t let the Corona umbrellas fool you– they actually have a semi-decent, if small, draft list.  On this particular Wednesday afternoon, the crowd consisted of about 50% bikers, the rest made up of townie barflies, tourists, and the odd South Shore bro.  They all shared one thing in common though: an affinity for seriously questionable body art.  The highlight had to be a 10-inch tall, full-color, detailed representation of none other than everyone’s old friend, Captain Morgan. Classy.  But yarr, enough chit chat, there be nachos to be had!

  • Appearance: (6) Haphazard, colorful, with a large vat of guacamole on the side.  On closer inspection,however, it became clear that much of the range of color was due to various shades of char.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (4) God, I hope that the cook got distracted or something and that that they don’t normally leave nachos in the broiler this long, because these were burnt to a crisp!  It was worse than anything we had ever seen before.  The red chips were turned dark brown, the white were turned purple…it was a crime against nature.  Some of the cheese was so crisp that it was mistaken for chips!  The salsa was standard and the chili was pretty generic.  The guacamole, to which all the hopes for these nachos were soon pinned, upon further examination turned out to be woefully stringy.
  • Distribution of Toppings:  (4) When the cheese is crisp enough to masquerade as a chip, then it isn’t serving it’s purpose within the nachos.  There was also not nearly enough chili to make up for the lack of moisture.  The salsa on top invaded everything, unfortunately.  And the chips themselves were abnormally large, making proper distribution (not to mention consumption!) a bit too difficult.
  • Price: (5) At $10, plus one extra for guac, the small would definitely be enough for two people.  Too bad they sucked so much that it would be hard to con someone else into eating them…
  • Overall: 19/40.  You’re way better off just getting some fried clams and fro-yo up the road…