The Other Critics

Aragosta Lacks Gusto; Max Brenner Is More Sour Than Sweet

• Devra First had once hoped that Aragosta would be a “tiny taste of Nantucket in the city.” In a fuller review, though, she finds the food “less than ideal.” Here, first courses are stronger than entrees. Large pieces of tuna are undercooked, fisherman’s stew is assaulted by “wan” saffron, and fra diavlo lacks devilish bite. In short: The patio might be an “urban idyll,” but a pretty setting won’t compensate for flavor-challenged food. [Globe]

• Mat Schaffer has few kind words for Max Brenner’s amusement parkish chocolate emporium. Here, even onion rings come with a “ramekin of chocolate ranch dressing.” So perhaps it’s not shocking that the food is “dishearteningly dismal.” “Cold” waffle fries (dusted with cocoa powder), mac n cheese is “tepid,” and “less-than-hot” fish tacos are encumbered by a “leathery” tortilla. Not shockingly, “dessert is a better bet.” [Herald]

• Bella English hails the “best stuffed French toast known to mankind,” a delight of fig and brie, at Roslindale’s Sugar & Baking Co. & Restaurant. Other bonuses: housebaked breads and strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry preserves. Almond macaroons are “ethereal.” Best news of all: Soon they’ll serve dinner. [Globe]

• Annabelle’s in Hyde Park receives one lonesome star from Robert Nadeau, who thinks a good chef might be “in there somewhere,” thanks to infrequent flashes of inventiveness. Sadly, “much of the food is simply bland”; even the decaf coffee is “weak.” For what it’s worth, an An arugula salad “would please any yuppie who came in, with a generous portion of underdressed greens, bits of orange sections, craisins, goat cheese, and onions.” Those yuppies and their craisins! Desserts are better, but really, it’s worth it only if you find yourself near Cleary Square … “which most of us aren’t very often.”

• Jaho Coffee and Tea, now with a South End tentacle of the Salem mothership, strives to make caffeine-consumption “relaxing.” Practiced in the art of “beverage chemistry,” owner Anil Mezini offers beverages that are “brewed pour-over, press, siphon, or Chemex-style.” Sandwiches served on homemade foccacia are a treat; just beware heavy-handed mayo application on “La’Chicken Salad.” [Phoenix]

• MC Slim JB, who admits that his food-writing gig isn’t always “sous-vide sunshine and foie gras lollipops,” visits Bondir and counts his blessings. At this cozy nook, handmade burrata is a “superb specimen” and Mallard duck breast juxtaposes “crisp-skinned breast with crunchy little clouds of fried kale.” The result is “unpretentious, small, yet powerful.” [Stuff]

Aragosta Lacks Gusto; Max Brenner Is More Sour Than Sweet