Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dolphin has closed ):

I need a nice, family-run, fish restaurant. I like Legal, but that is not what I mean. I mean a place that is not part of a standardized chain, for all the benefits that chains bring.

Over the past twenty years, three favorite haunts for fish have disappeared, places I patronized at least once a week, maybe more. At each of these places the staff, generally nice people with some kind of accent, recognized us and brought us our drinks without our having to order them.

The first was Captain's Wharf, near Coolidge Corner in Brookline; I think it is now a mammography clinic. The second was Village Fish, in south Brookline on Harvard Street; it decamped for the suburbs, and then turned itself into a BBQ joint.

And now the Dolphin, formerly at 1105 Mass Ave in Cambridge, is gone too. (Consolidated with its Natick location, says the sign on the darkened door, but gone to Mars as far as urban dwellers go.)

So the choices for fish seem to be Legal (excellent, but a bit soulless, and always about 40% more expensive than the Dolphin, though no better in the ingredients or cuisine); Skipjack's, which closed in Needham, and whose Clarendon Street location tends to be crowded with a mixture of Masters of the Universe and tourists; and lovely, big, pricey places like Oceanaire and Island Creek Oyster House. If anyone has better ideas (preferably not far from Brookline and with easy parking), I'd love to hear. (Daily Catch in Brookline remains, but it's very limited in both seating and menu options.)

I suspect that there are both ethnic and economic reasons for these changes. The Irish, who in Brookline survived on fish for generations, are now eating Thai food; at least there seems to be a Thai restaurant on every corner, and they are all cheap and good. And fish is costly enough (given the costs of keeping it fresh) that it's now a luxury item.

Very sad developments in the land of the cod. We're talking about Boston and Brookline here, not Lansing and Reno!

10 comments:

  1. Glad we got a last lunch in there, Harry.

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  2. Fish (esp. sushi) in Lansing is pretty good. And recall, we have access to the Great Lakes and freshwater fish.

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    1. You're right. Haven't spent much time in Lansing, but my mother was from Michigan. The fish is good at Scotty's in Ludington, and at the Lake House in Muskegon, places I have hung out waiting for ferries. Try to find places like those in Boston. There is something wrong with this picture.

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  4. How about Courthouse Seafood in East Cambridge? Fish is very fresh, and meter parking is plentiful.

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    1. Never heard of it! I'll try it. Thanks.

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  5. Yeah, give Courthouse a try. I lived a couple of doors on down the street a couple of decades ago, and was in there twice a week. If they're half as good as they used to be...

    And if Vartan is still on the corner, you can drop off your tailoring along the way. And if it's that time of year when they get their hands on fresh sardines, well, you need to be there. That's right. Need.

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  6. Don't bother with Courthouse, the restaurant. Greasy spoon. The retail fish store is good, but New Deal, two blocks away, is better.

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  7. Another sad aspect to the Dolphin's closing is there remain few eateries near Harvard Square where the noise level permits easy conversation.

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    1. You know, I was thinking the same thing. A friend and I went to Russell House yesterday, and ate downstairs. The density of people and tables seemed fine, and yet we had to lean across the table and yell at each other. Tory Row is worse. No Iruna any more either, of course, or Wursthaus, with its dark booths. Even the upscale places like Toscano and Henrietta's are not great for talking.

      Maybe this is all a plot by the Harvard administration to make it harder to hatch a conspiracy!

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