Restaurants & Bars

Boston Area

Anthem, near North Station, Boston

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Restaurants & Bars 2

Anthem, near North Station, Boston

Limster | Dec 13, 2003 12:17 AM

In short -- great appetizers and dessert, poor main courses.

Cornmeal crunchy calamari was very cleverly piqued by judicious use of pepperocini (reminds me of the excellent version I had once at Truc under Phil Wang) and a bright mango (or papaya?) salsa. Picky eaters might notice that the salsa cooled the calamari somewhat, and might have been better on the side for a hot and cold contrast, but it's really not a big deal.

Thin slices of meaty portabello made for a great mushroom "carpaccio" that combined well with roasted tomatoes, crispy croutons, nice shavings of pecorino cheese and frisee with a nice hint of bitter.

A four cheese fondue with cubes of bread drizzled with olive oil and toasted in the oven was eaten with gumption, rather popular with our boisterous group. (I admit that I would have been just as satisfied with hard stale bread, as well as a bit of wine in the fondue.)

A bite of corn-sweet hush puppies from the next plate came across as merely ok, but bear in mind I just had some standard-setting ones in Alabama not so long ago.

Fried shrimp po-boy was quite decent, pop-corn-like shrimp, fresh-tasting, the spicy bufflao sauce somewhat thin, the tartare sauce a thick reasonable rendition. Ordinary if slightly limp fries. Excellent, seemingly Portuguese pickles (cauliflower, cucumber, carrots) spiced with mustard seeds (and perhaps cumin?).

Chicken fried steak was skimpy, the pieces small, the batter more a thin floury dusting of a cutlet than the heartier "chicken-fried" crust I prefer. Fairly good white gravy.

Buddies complained about the over-cooked burger and its sweet light bun. A mushroom toast was left largely uneatened by another pal. Other friends seemed quite satisfied with the fried cod.

Fried twinkles were very enjoyable, drawing out some serious fork action from the table. Thin crispy coating, warm soft cakiness, and huge amounts of business-meaning whipped cream, in addition the white twinkie cream centres. Generous scatter of berries a good fruity contrast to the general heavy cream indulgence.

Excellent friendly waitress that handled our large group efficiently. Only lapse came from the kitchen that delayed the burgers while everything else was out.

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