A weekend of bumming around Somerville yielded some modest chow surprises in some places I'd partly or wholly written off. My perspective didn't exactly do a 180 on any of these places, but at least on a per-item basis, I've definitely revised my opinions upwards:
* Sandwiches at Danish Pastry House - pretty darn good, even pre-made. I got to taste a very good chicken salad with dried cranberries and a simple, but stellar turkey and swiss. The key here is DPH's homemade bread. The sesame roll for the turkey sandwich was particularly awesome. I've never disliked this place per se, but I have found myself underwhelmed by about 60% of the sweets; they all look so beautiful that the all-to-frequently bland flavor makes the letdown all the more acute. The breads, on the other hand, are consistently delicious, not just fresh and high quality, but also a pleasant change of pace from the French-inspired loaves available at most places around town. Side note: didn't get to try them, but they now serve good-looking fresh crepes.
* Fresh-baked butter croissants at Mr. Crepe - I don't know who their supplier is, but Mr. Crepe seems to be getting unproofed croissants and baking them on-premises. Was walking to grab a coffee at Diesel and the aroma hit me and dragged me in. No idea how these would hold up after standing around for even a few hours, but straight out of the oven, these things were all-city-class good. I've read (and participated in) threads here about "best croissant in Boston", and the thing I think needs to be remembered is that a good croissant is like a good Neapolitan pizza: if you're not eating it straight out of the oven, you've already missed out on half the fun.
* Yuppie-hippie-healthy stuff from Snappy Sushi - first things first, the "fancy rolls" sucked. I don't care that they're Americanized, but I do care that the flavor combinations are icky and ill-conceived. Having said that, there was some legitimate chow to be had here. Ironically, the more conventional sushi items seemed to work better on the brown rice: I thought the futomaki was actually bolstered by the wholesomeness of the brown rice, and I genuinely loved the eel and avocado maki. The big winner, however, was an outstanding ika sansai appetizer, tender, sweet, and delicious. Very good smokey tea as well. My advice on this place: don't think of it as a Toraya/Blue Fin competitor, don't even think of it as sushi (yes, I realize "sushi" is right in the name), but look at it as its own, quirky, healthy thing. I for one will be back, at least from time to time.
* Kickass Cupcakes - the cake itself is still a little dry, and $2.75/ass-kicking is still insane. But the icing and fillings have gone from good to great. My favorite of the day was a green monster cupcake, which had a tasty caramel center and an outrageously good icing made with a generous amount of Sam Adams stout. The people working there seemed less harried and more friendly than I remembered. Sometime when I've had a sufficiently punishing workout at the gym beforehand, I'd like to return with a cardiologist in tow and sample a made-to-order deep-fried cupcake, which looked and smelled beyond amazing.