Welcome to The Buzz, a new feature where we look at what the Internet is saying about brand new restaurants. It’s too early for a review, but when has that ever stopped anyone?
We first mentioned Vlora on May 22. Back in those heady days, we expected that the Back Bay Albanian restaurant to open sometime in June. Instead, Vlora opened its doors on September 2. We’ve been eagerly anticipating its arrival: Albanian food is a fascinating hybrid of Italian, Greek, and Turkish culinary traditions and definitely a new sort of restaurant for the Hub. Early reviews have been decidedly mixed. Let’s take a closer look.
The Good: Yelper C.C. very much enjoyed his/her visit, calling the experience “refreshingly good” and the service “pleasant and delightful.” Chowhound’s k206 also enjoyed Vlora: “It was good - though I will say that while the appetizers were really, really good, the entrees weren’t quite as good. But it’s all relative! The entrees were good, but I thought the small plates/appetizers were the standout. … The wine list is really interesting, with lots of unusual things at reasonable price points. And the staff was great - helpful and funny, and quick with recommendations. … Entrees were a little pricey for everyday (for me, at least!), but I could definitely see myself going back for small plates and wine on a fairly regular basis. Glad it’s open.”
The Bad: Yelper Kathleen P. appreciated the simple food, but found the service lacking: “Our waitress was less than eager to serve us. She treated us as an inconvenience. … Although there were some good aspects of the restaurant, I have no desire to return. I can get an unenthusiastic waitress at Friendly’s.” Burn! Furthermore, there seems to be a burgeoning Chowhound early backlash (a frontlash) against the restaurant. In a classic Chowhound moment, BostonZest opines that “The menu looks as if they are trying to please convention attendees, tourists and shoppers not Chowhounds.” C. Hamster agrees: “Fairly expensive and not exactly that interesting in a space that has hosted a succession of failed restaurants.”
The Small Plates: The small plates are universally singled out as praiseworthy. The watermelon and feta appetizer in particular seems noteworthy. As C.C. says “We put our taste buds to work and bite after bite we could not decide whether to love or hate it. It was salty then it was sweet, it was creamy then it was crunchy, it was oily then it was juicy. It was an interesting dish up for a good debate.” Chowhounders, meanwhile, seem to have no such reservations, calling the dish “wonderful” and “really good.”
[Photo: Albtour Guide]