A couple of new restaurants have opened in Roslindale over the past two weeks. Neither is a chic Italian bistro, so we had to check them out.
A couple weeks ago, Cafe Apollonia, Boston's only Albanian restaurant, re-opened as a burger-and-pizza place called Boston Brickhouse (146 Belgrade Ave.; 617-327-6910). Despite the Quincy Market-ish name, it's really a neighborhood hangout - you wouldn't want to drive there from Braintree, but if you live in Roslindale or nearby, it's the sort of pleasant place you'd stop in for a beer after you get off work (full liquor license in the wood-paneled bar) or if you want an alternative to the Pleasant Cafe.
For such a small place, this restaurant has a huge menu - like 20 types of burgers, many with Boston-themed names (the woman behind us was a true local, though - she wondered aloud why there wasn't a Parke-Snow Burger). There's a similar variety of pizza choices and plenty of options for people who don't want either (but I didn't see any of the promised Albanian holdovers from Cafe Apollonia; unless maybe I missed them in the menu).
The Grande Nachos we ordered as an appetizer were piled high with all sorts of stuff; ironically, the problem was there weren't enough chips to scoop it all up with. The complimentary cheesy bread we got, though, was yummy. My ravioli was excellent; Nancy's steak was very tasty, if a bit too fatty.
Greta ordered the small meat-lover's pizza - what came out was something that looked large enough to feed all of us. The friendly manager explained the restaurant is focusing on large portions; yep! The pizza was sort of a cross between Italian and Greek-style pizza - really loaded with three kinds of sausage and salami slices. We ate it all (over two days - we took most of it home), but if you really like the Pleasant's pizza, you'll probably want to order something else.
Service was good; the manager and owner both circulated among patrons throughout the night. And when we expressed some concern about seeing the face of a guy who'd just been attacked by a mountain lion on the dining room's large-screen TV, the staff turned it off. One suggestion for the owners: Put some lights on the sign outside. From outside, the restaurant appears dark; when we drove by, at first I thought it was closed.
We'll be back. Oh, free delivery for take-out, too.
I really wanted to like Robyn's Bar and Grill at 4195 Washington St., just north of Adams Park in the Square. They smoke their own ribs (and turkey). They're kid friendly. They've got a nice looking let's-watch-the-Sox kind of bar (alas for fans of the old Happy Hour: No pool).
But our dinner there was such a comedy of errors I doubt I'll ever be able to convince Nancy and Greta to go back:
We were seated and then: Nothing. No waitress. Eventually, one of the owners, Mike Reddington, spotted us, asked if we'd been served. When we said no, he apologized (blaming the wait on both newness and the presence of two large parties) and said he'd comp us the entire meal. Nice touch! But then:
Greta's soda arrived with a rather large chip missing from the rim.
I wanted to try the ribs, but didn't want to get the full rack that was the only ribs entree listed. So I asked if I could order the half-rack appetizer, but have it served with the entrees. The waitress said certainly. It came with the appetizers - and none of the sides I'd ordered.
Nancy ordered a steak, medium rare. The waitress served her: Salmon.
Greta ordered a hamburger. "Cheeseburger?" the waitress asked. "No cheese, just a hamburger!" Greta and I answered in unison. Guess what she got?
I put 50 cents in the computer-operated jukebox. It promptly crashed.
In all the cases (except for the jukebox, which took 20 minutes to re-boot), the mistakes were quickly corrected (or in the case of the steak that wasn't, as quickly as one could be cooked); just before we left, Reddington pleaded with us to give them another try.
As for the food, the ribs were excellent (although they should really be served with either a steak knife or extra napkins), the burger was good, the steak was, well, it was large. For dessert, we got a Jimmé (Jim-EH) - a large, freshly baked chocolate-chip cookie (we were warned not to touch the little skillet it came in) topped with vanilla ice cream. Very nice, but again, I'm not expecting the family's going to want to go back. If you do go and have a good experience, by all means, post about it.