Wednesday, June 19, 2024

A weekly notebook about dining options during the Covid-19 shutdown, with a focus on quality and ease of pickup and delivery. Remember, the people serving up the food are part of the front line; keep it in mind when tipping.

Sick of turkey? I’ve got nearly two gallons of turkey soup in the fridge, but if you’re craving comfort with a side of zing there’s a few old favorites out there – one with new digs – to bite into. 

The Smoke Shop


The Smoke Shop has opened a new outpost on Holyoke Street in Harvard Square. (Photo: Tom Meek)

The Smoke Shop opened a few years back in Kendall Square and has opened additional fronts in the Seaport, over at Assembly Row and most recently on Holyoke Street in Harvard Square, in what used to be Sandrine’s. The menu’s the same at all locations, and for me the best is the Ultimate Fried Catfish Sandwich, a healthy fillet deep-fried crisp on the outside, but flaky and tender when you bite in. It’s housed in an airy bun and topped with sweet butter pickles and a delicately accenting tartar sauce. (Takeout, eat alfresco or dine at a distanced table.)

The Smoke Shop (Various locations)




A fried chicken dinner at Redbones in 2019. (Photo: Anna X. via Yelp)

Over at old standby Redbones in Somerville’s Davis Square, the individual fried chicken breasts are moist and delicious fried in a light batter you can order spicy or regular. I usually get one of each. Don’t want them fried? The casing comes off easily, and what’s left is tender, white succulence. The breast come with a thick gravy that’s satisfying enough in its own right but not necessary for enjoyment; I always get a side of the BBQ Baked Beans. Not vegetarian mind you, but sweet and hearty and addictive – and while the pit beans at the Smoke Shop are good too, these are usually my impetus for placing an order. The other thing on the menu I often relish is the Buffalo fried shrimp, which are pure decadent deliciousness. Since the pandemic hit, the wood-grilled chicken wings have disappeared, and they were solid pleasers: large, plump, juicy wings with a flight of sweet, mild and hot dipping sauces. There’s still the traditional Buffalo wings, but these were practically a novelty. (There’s seamless distanced pickup for takeout.)

Redbones (55 Chester St., Davis Square, Somerville)


The Little Blue Bakery


The Little Blue Bakery food truck sets up in the Alewife neighborhood. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Also if you happen to be in the Alewife area for lunch, the The Little Blue Bakery food truck is your spot for a North Caroline pulled pork or grilled chicken breast sandwich, both on a light, moist bun. The cute, shack-styled trailer perched on Cambridge Park Drive near the Summer Shack has pivoted from breakfast to lunch catering. (Great for a fast grab and go Wednesday through Friday, weather permitting.) Look for a change to “Blue Bistro,” too.

The Little Blue Bakery (30 Cambridge Park Drive, Alewife)