Tag Archives: pet peeves

Trident Booksellers & Cafe: Shallow End of the Pool

13 Sep

Newbury Street often reminds us of a high school cafeteria: while inhabited by a number of widely disparate groups, they stick to their own clearly defined turf. Hipsters rule the west end, starting at the Otherside, mingling with the tourists at Urban Outfitters and extending up to around the area of Espresso Royale.  The opposite end belongs to the rich– they shop at Chanel, Burberry and Louis Boston, brunch at Stephanie’s, then get a $75 blowout at Enzo’s. Somewhere in the middle of all this, Trident Booksellers & Cafe stands as a just-hip-enough neutral zone, where these two groups (and everyone else in between) can mix and mingle over breakfast, beers, and hard-to-find ‘zines.   On a recent weekday afternoon, we enjoyed the late summer sun on the patio and played a round of our favorite Newbury Street people-watching game, “Gay or European?” while noshing on the Trident fries and a plate of nachos:


  • Appearance: ( 8 )Deliciously melty, mottled cheese with a sprinkling of spicy  chopped green…something.  A few tomatoes peek through.  Salsa and sour cream (not pictured) arrived on the side.  Sadly, a bit of char brought them down a few points.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (5) Good cheese, decent chips, but not much else stood out.  There were some very spicy peppers hidden in the midst which caused a minor crisis, as the waiter had neglected to bring our beverages.  Overall, these just weren’t that good or memorable.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (5) The idea of layering clearly never crossed the chef’s mind. One solid layer of cheese on top of several layers of chips does not a good nacho make. Adding insult to injury, most of the chips on the bottom were broken into pieces too tiny to be at all helpful in scooping up stray toppings. After exhausting all of the tasty bits, we were left with a depressingly full, boring plate.


  • Price:(7)  $7, which wasn’t too bad. We didn’t finish them, only because we really didn’t want to. We don’t, however, appreciate that adding chicken would have brought them up to $12. That had better be some damn fine chicken….
  • Overall: 25.  The Trident is a great indie treasure on Newbury Street, and much of their menu looks delicious and inventive. It’s a shame that they went the boring, generic route with these nachos. They should do everyone a favor (and heed the Border Cafe, for once) and just take them off the menu.

Classics Revisited: Sunset Grill & Tap

16 Jul

photoNacho Patrol has found that when you want to start a spirited debate among a group of Bostonians, don’t bring up up politics, abortion or sports teams; just let it be known that you run a nacho blog and that Sunset is ranked #3.  Little inspires such shock and affront as a bold dismissal of what is colloquially thought of as the best nacho destination in town.  Now, we are nothing if not cocky about our superior nachowledge, and we generally do our best to spread The Gospel Of The Pour House amongst the plebians.  But the constant criticism has gotten us a little down of late, and a kernel of doubt is growing: could we have been wrong?  In the interest of a little follow-up to one of our seminal reviews (and indulging in some admittedly top-tier nachos), we returned once more to Sunset Grill & Tap, with an open mind and some new reviewers in tow.  On this trip, we learned from our previous experience and made two changes to our order: we elected for the chicken chili in lieu of barbecued pork, and made sure that the salsa and sour cream were on the side.

  • Appearance: (Originally: 9) Not nearly as monochromatic as they appear in this photo.  However, lettuce on the top has morphed into one of our major pet peeves, so we are going to take off one point. ( 8 )
  • Quality of Ingredients: (Originally: 9) While we had hoped to steer clear of flavor cohesion problems with the chicken chili, it was disappointingly bland and sweet.  Other than that, the rest of the ingredients were top-notch.  The guacamole was excellent, and we barely bothered with the salsa due to all of the flavor already in the plate. The chips seemed less cardiovascularly damaging this time, which was welcome.  However, either due to their structural integrity or the way they were handled during the composition, a significant number of chips were broken in the bottom of the nachos, in small enough pieces to render them rather unusable as topping-delivery vehicles. This, combined with the lame chili, constitutes for us fundamental design flaw, and we are once again going to knock off a point. ( 8 ).
  • Distribution of Toppings:  (Originally: 7) Nearly every review of these nachos, written or oral, formal or anecdotal, mentions the encasement of the topping of choice within a near-impenetrable fortress of chips and melted cheese.  We had a large quibble with this last time, but on these nachos it was not so pronounced.  Perhaps the more viscous chili was easier to extract; perhaps the chef was feeling frisky that evening.  Whatever the case, our previous difficulties with the hidden topping seemed like nothing more than a bad dream… plus two! (9).
  • Price: (Original: 10).  Maybe raised up to $13?  Still, hard to beat (10).
  • Overall: Still 35/40.  We thought long and hard about these nachos, their strengths and weaknesses, how they had changed and how they had remained the same.  Yet in the end, we came to the same conclusion: an excellent nacho, good enough for podium-placement.

Now, if only we had spent this much brain power on our SAT’s….

White Horse Tavern: No-Trick Pony

27 Jun

Eight months in, nacho reviewing has become too easy.  After so many plates of nachos, we could throw out scores and type up reviews under general anesthesia.  We need an extra challenge; we need an added dimension of mental exertion.  On a recent Wednesday, we also need justification for going to Allston’s White Horse Tavern.  Conclusion?  We need bar trivia!

Yes, going incognito as team Probiotic Blueberry Yoga, the Nacho Patrol multi-tasked through a stellar game of pub trivia and sampled some nachos just for the heck of it.

photo 2

  • Appearance: (5) Almost as boring as our trivia jockey.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (3) While we aren’t opposed to vegetarian chili, we are opposed to blandness; so far, we have not found a meatless chili that can measure up in flavor to more carnivorous variations. After a few bites, we came to a consensus and liberally salted the entire plate, which helped the overall flavor some. In the beginning, we had trouble finding the cheese on these nachos; but after some digging we unearthed a find– several chips plastered together with a thick coat of melted cheese. Thrilled, we pulled them apart and eagerly ingested. And like a herd of stampeding mustangs, with one taste the memories hit us: the kitchens, back yards, cafeterias and summer camps of our youth, rendered in vivid detail out of semi-congealed grilled cheese sandwiches. Could it be? No, it couldn’t possibly. Or could it?? They couldn’t. They simply wouldn’t! But they did. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, White Horse Tavern committed a sin so vile, so horrific, that it was heretofore unfathomable: AMERICAN CHEESE.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (6) Kraft singles, by their very nature, do not contribute to an even cheese distribution. There were a few 3″x3″ patches of solid cheese coating , but no overall coverage. The chili was moderately well dispersed but there was not enough of it, nor did it provide adequate moisture. Adding insult to injury was our newest pet peeve: wax paper lining the plate.  And, for the umpteenth time, the salsa and sour cream on top were a real drag.
  • Price: (7) $9, which would have been $11 if we had wanted guacamole.
  • Overall: 21/40.  We have to come back (we won $20 of bar credit), but we will NOT be spending it on the nachos!