June 28th, 2010

Sturbridge, Ma – roundup

I have always said that Sturbridge is a culinary wasteland; bridge takes me there several times a year and the choices are the Admiral TJ O’Brien (Steve’s favorite), Napoli Pizza (Jeff’s favorite) or Subway (no one’s favorite, but it’s fast). But as I rolled in to town for the annual summer tournament I noticed a handful of new places.


BT’s Smokehouse, Sturbridge


It’s always a good sign when you can see a smoker in a BBQ joint. Dr. Marc and I had a sampling of their meats: pulled pork, brisket and a beef rib as well as collards, cornbread and mac and cheese for our sides.


The pulled pork was fine, but the brisket was better – tender with good smoke flavor. Even better still was the beef rib. It was dinosaur sized and delicious; meaty with just the right amount of chew. The collards were vinegar based (not my preference) and the cornbread was muffin like (not my preference, either). The mac and cheese was respectable. I will most certainly be back for the beef ribs next tournament.




Bocado, Worcester


My friend Kim invited us to try her favorite tapas bar in Worcester, so 7 of us valiantly fought the Friday rush hour traffic and went to Bocado. I liked that the restaurant offers a menu for 2, 4 and 6-8, allowing for choice of tapas. Despite the fact there was 7 of us, we followed our waiter’s advice and ordered the menu for 4. It includes: 4 from the charcuteria y queso section, 10 tapas, a choice of paella and churros and flan for dessert.


We had:


1)      Fried goat cheese with honey & almonds – This was good – crispy and not too oily.

2)      Chef’s selection of cheese – a good but uninteresting Mexican feta

3)      Chef’s selection of meat – chicken liver pate. Again, good, but I like mine so much more.

4)      Salad with chopped lettuce, red onion, hearts of palm, tomato, avocado, manchego

5)      Salad with chick peas, field greens, roasted peppers, carrot, spanish onion & shaved cheese

6)      Berenjena asada – a terrine of roasted eggplant, tomato and capers. I thought this was quite good, almost like a eggplant lasagna, sans pasta

7)      Pork loin with figs & bleu cheese – not a favorite at the table.

8)      Chicken & vegetable fritters with red tortilla crust & honey aioli – I thought the chicken had good flavor, but was on the dry side.

9)      Pan roasted yellowfin tuna with roasted garlic sauce, mixed vegetables, chick peas – I was never going to like this dish as the tuna was cooked through and I like my tuna swimming down my throat.

10)  Slow roasted duck leg with apricot-pistachio glaze – My favorite dish of the night, the duck was tender and the sweetness of the apricot was balanced.

11)  Mozzarella stuffed crispy rice balls with basil aioli – yeah, that’s right, we basically ordered arancini. Good, but uninteresting.

12)  Mini shrimp & parmesan burgers with hot cherry pepper sauce – Another favorite at the table. I think I like Ming Tsai’s shrimp burger better.

13)  We chose the paella de carne and it was a mountain of rice, chicken, pork loin, veal sausage, duck confit, peppers & onions, spiced onion rings. Dr. Marc felt there was too much meat, and wished that we had gone with the classic, which has meat and seafood. I really liked the paella and liked it even more when I had the leftovers the next morning for breakfast.

14)  Flan – It has a really nice creamy, thick and smooth texture.

15)  Churros – I felt they were under done – a little doughy on the inside. I appreciated the chocolate dipping sauce.


All in all, I was quite pleased with the meal. The service was good and bill was quite reasonable. Our waiter made some decent suggestions and managed to get us out in time to fight more traffic to get back in time for the evening session. Good suggestion, Kim and Robin!


Word of advice, if you tell someone you are going to a tapas bar in Worcester, articulate clearly. Otherwise they may think you are going to have gentlemen’s evening at the Fuzzy Grape.




Thai Place, Sturbridge


The uber-original name says it all. It was so mundane I hardly feel it’s worth the effort of writing about. Amongst the dishes the four of us ordered I sampled a variety of appetizers (crab Rangoon, spring rolls, chicken satay, beef satay, fried shrimp), a noodle soup, pad Thai, almond chicken and a shrimp dish. Nothing was awful, nothing was stellar. Hey, I’m in Sturbridge eating Thai, what did I expect?