Tag Archives: Red Line

Phoenix Landing: We Nix Returning

1 Mar

Leap Day, a once-every-four-years occasion, found us engaging in a once-in-a-lifetime-is-enough activity, nachos at the Phoenix Landing.  Given our previous limited experiences with this bar, all we knew going in was that 1) the drinks are strong and 2) around 1am the dance floor starts to feel like you’re in a sweaty washing machine.  So when we showed up for Geeks Who Drink trivia and saw these on the menu, we assumed…the nachos must be great, right?

  • Appearance: (6) Nothing too exciting going on here.  Fresh jalapenos were the only item to catch the eye.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (5) The chef surely didn’t tax himself much, beyond using a can opener. The chili bore a striking resemblance to taco beef, or, according to one reviewer, Manwich. While the chips were decidedly from a bag, they were thicker and saltier than your average Tostito. The one non-packaged item on the nachos was the diced tomato in the salsa…or so we think.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (5) Early on it was apparent that there would be distribution issues. Many of the underlying chips were broken, and there was not nearly enough cheese, nor was it evenly dispersed. Even the landslide of chili/Manwich was hard to get in one’s mouth due to the broken chips, and a lack of flatware due to our flustered waiter.
  • Price: (6) At $10, standard.
  • Overall: 22/40. Best leave the Phoenix Landing to what it does best– Guinness pints and Euro Football, and Midweek Techno.
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Newtowne Grille: But the Chips are From Oldtowne

31 May

We’ve lived less than three blocks from Newtowne Grille for nine months now, and since we’re not townies or college students, we’ve so far elected not to go in. We’re past the days that we need a $12 pitcher of beer and a $4 pizza…okay, that’s a big fat lie. But when Christopher’s is marginally closer and 1000% better, we just can’t be accountable for never going. Given the sorry state of the nachos, we might be completely justified.

  • Appearance: (5)  The photo here does this particular plate too much justice, but trust us, the tomatoes were wan and the cheese pre-congealed. The chili looked delicious, but god damnit there was lettuce! Cue a very passionate out-loud groan.
  • Quality: (2) We don’t even know where to begin. First of all, we liked the chili. The chunks of meat were ample and not of the ground-beef variety. The extent of our compliments need to end there, because the only other part of these nachos that didn’t make us cry was the lettuce (and black olives! -ed). That should tell you a lot about the quality. The chips were absolutely the stalest we have ever encountered.  Our Guest Correspondent Tim described them as cardboard, which is probably as apt a metaphor as we can give you to describe the stale, soft, and salty foundation of our chos. Normally when you bite into a chip you expect a bright crunching sound. When you bit in to these chips, it sounds a little bit like shattering safety glass. We wondered aloud, what happened to these?  Had someone accidentally left a bag of chips open since last summer and then tried to make nachos with them?? Louder groan!
  • Distribution: (5) The cheese was cold even before it got to our table, making it very hard for it properly coat the chips. The chili was ladled with a heavy hand but unfortunately, only on the very top of the chips, leaving many naked below.  This worked to our advantage as it was easier to spoon off and avoid the abominable chips, but that really doesn’t deserve extra points!
  • Price: (5.5) At $10, why not just pay a dollar more and go for the $11 pitcher-of-PBR-and-pizza deal, and save yourself the jaw-numbing, soul-crushing apocalypse that is these nachos?? Really.  Save yourself.
  • Overall: 17.5/40.

Here’s a question: how long do these nachos have to go un-ordered before Newtowne takes them off the menu? Three months? Six? We, say, however long as it takes.  People of the world, unite! Boycott this disaster!  Down with stale chips!  Viva la PBR and pizza instead!

Orleans: Idaho Nachos; or White Trash-os, Part Deux

9 Apr

We should have know what we were getting ourselves into when our waiter at Orleans (Davis Square) actually cautioned us that the Idaho Nachos came with an American cheese spread rather than traditional queso sauce. Usually we only expect puffer fish to come with a disclaimer, but apparently Orleans thinks these nachos are just as deadly. Probably because they have the nutritional information.

Awhile back, we invented the life-shortening sodium spree known as The White Trash-os. Using Fritos, hot dogs, pork & beans, and jarred queso sauce, we assassinated our arteries while bringing back those oh-so-pleasant memories of family trips to the Ozarks. Orleans’ “Idaho Nachos” might be the slightly higher class version of those (and we really mean only slightly): potato chips, soaked with “an American cheese spread,” and drizzled with bacon bits, tomatoes, and green onions.

  • Appearance: (8) Low-end never looked so haute cuisine!  Beautifully plated in a large bowl with colorful confetti of garnishes, these caught us off guard with their loveliness.
  • Quality of toppings: (3.5) We can’t legally give a score over 4 for any dish that has “an American cheese spread,” though since we were expecting it, the whole experience seemed marginally better. While we kind of like the understated quality of the sauce, it wasn’t strong enough to be the main feature of the dish and we really needed some other element to pump up the flavors and give us an experience other than salty. The bacon added a kick–a nice kick of carbon, as it was completely overcooked. All of that processed goodness left us fighting for the spare tomatoes and green onions on the plate. The real problem here, however, was the chips which were initially stale tasting and toward the end soggy and greasy. Not a good progression!
  • Distribution of toppings: (6) Cheese sauce has notoriously good distribution, starting out on the top layer and slowly soaking its way to the bottom to fully coat everything. But even that couldn’t help the sad lack of toppings or central focus.
  • Price: (9) Ah, Somerville…Leave the Boston/Cambridge area, and suddenly, a plate of nachos costs $8. What a cheesy, greasy steal!
  • Overall: 26.5/40

We appreciate a restaurant that will take a risk on a specialty nacho, but we probably won’t order these again. Idaho Nachos or Irish Nachos are a great idea, but this particular plate just wasn’t inspired. Give us one more strong ingredient that compliments the cheese sauce rather than puts it front-and-center, and we’ll talk again.