Took advantage of a day off after New Year's and got lunch specials at Taiwan Cafe with a friend who goes to Chinatown less than I do. He loved it. We split the spicy beef w/ poblano peppers (I think) and littlenecks w/ basil and black bean sauce. Very tasty, both had stars but weren't particularly spicy, $6 each. With rice and soup of the day (not sure what it was actually), it was more than enough but he ordered some pan fried ravioli which we were told would take 20 min. They came 2/3 way thru and I really didn't need them but ate a couple. They were fresh, hot, big and I think we got 8 for $5.50, but I wish we'd gotten another dish instead (they sell 3 specials for $17). Service was very good if brusque.
Returned to Gallia on Washington St. in the South End for the 2nd time and had an enjoyable meal. It's a very nice room across from the park, was busier than I'd seen it and the bar is definitely a hang out. They should do something with that side room, make a lounge or something which the south end doesn't have. In any case, decent bread basket w/ olive oil to start. I had roast RI sea bass which I loved, crispy salty exterior. It was served with more broth than I like tho, w/ roast little potatos and some veggies ($21). My friend got the seafood risotto w/ saffron which tasted a little Rice-a-Roni like to me but he liked it ($23). And nice sized pieces of shrimp, scallop and lobster in there. Dessert was chocolate grand marnier cake w/ some date semifreddo for $9. A large portion but not the best I've ever had. Pleasant service and good if not knocking my socks off.
Solas in the Lenox Hotel on Boylston is a fairly typical Irish pub. Cozy space, familiar menu w/ something for everone, altho no fried calamari which I was in the mood for. Ended up with a tasty portobello/roasted red pepper/mozarella panini w/ a mountain of decent fries ($9). My friend got an IPA and beef stew which he gets a lot at places like that ($11). He liked it, not one of my favorites. Service was nice from an over-perfumed Irish waitress.
Stopped by L, the new version of Cafe Louis (so under-dressed for their opening party but a last minute invitation at work on a day when you're dressed for 20 degrees wasn't good). Not sure if they'd expanded before changing names but there's additional space by the bar area. Hors d'oeuvres were on the advertised Asian side of things. Will be curious to try it for real at some point. Needed something sweet after and got a wonderful cookie at Pizza oggi in Hyde Sq., JP. Coffee flavored with choc. chips, big, soft, one of the best I've had lately ($1.25). I wish this place was more of a real restaurant.