Post-pandemic disappointments (or is it too soon?)

We’re not out of the pandemic woods yet, and I’m still masked in most places – and still not eating indoors in restaurants – but eating establishments are reopening and I tentatively propose that we start commenting on them honestly again. Many of us have been pulling our punches because we understood how hard it was for restaurants to survive over the last eighteen months, but perhaps, as we ease back to normalcy, we should ease back to the more judgemental angels of our nature. I understand that you may disagree.

In that spirit (possibly mean-) let me give a shout-out to Greek Corner in Cambridge (on Mass Ave). They’ve been a favorite across two boards, Chowhound and this one, for years, especially for their lamb sandwich. We’ve liked it, too, although not always as ecstatically as others. We took one out today, and it was terrible – cold, short on lamb, and with none of the smoky char of the past. The spanakopita was cold as well, the grape leaves stringy, the feta dry, and the taramasalata neon-pink and rancid. This must rank down there with one of the worst Greek meals we’ve ever had.

Less awful, but equally disappointing, was a meal from Guru the Caterer last Thursday. Guru didn’t ever serve the most exciting Indian food in town (for a separate discussion, there really isn’t any exciting Indian food in Beantown), but it was always freshly cooked (hey, there were always those huge pots on low stoves being stirred with paddles behind the counter), and their different dishes had distinct tastes, although they were always careful not to overdo the taste. But our Thursday dinner was pretty sub-mediocre. Both lamb and chicken were stringy. The lamb, to its credit, had gotten itself cooked in the curry in which it came, but the chicken had had itself boiled elsewhere, and had then jumped into its sauce at the last minute. It was the chicken pakodas, however, that made the food memorable. Huge chunks of already-cooked chicken tikka (the bright red was a giveaway) had been dipped into a thick besan batter, then deep fried. Some things are better twice-cooked – not chicken. I was only able to grimly chew through a quarter of a pakoda, before I tossed it.

Not to be only a sourpuss, the housemade Guru pickle is as good as ever. Indian pickles are still an underappreciated part of world cuisine – but that’s a whole other story.


I’ve never understood the love for Greek Corner. But I lived very close to Greektown in Chicago for 4 years and hung out with 2nd generation Greeks who showed me the way. And then I went to Greece twice and I was spoiled.

We used to live right around the corner from Guru and also had food from Guru before Pushpind (the owner at the time…does he still own the place) had a permanent spot and was just delivering tiffin boxes to MIT and Harvard folks. It was good back then (~12 years ago?). Am I remembering correctly? Anyway, I’ve not been back.


I’m going to suggest it’s too soon to judge harshly.

Getting ingredients is still a gamble, and staff shortages make it all but impossible to live up to pristine expectations.

Go. Support local restaurants. Take care of the people who showed up.


Not to engage in a prolonged discussion, and I do recognize that there will be different points of view on this, but there are restaurants doing an excellent job under the sane circumstances as those doing an awful one. Limited menus, limited hours, etc., are all a result of external factors. Serving cold food, off food, etc., are more problematic.

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I think for me if a restaurant used to serve 8/10 food that’s 7/10 or 6/10, i will just chalk it up as a pandemic anomaly. If its 2/10, then its probably fair game. If there is a 45 minute wait instead of the usual 15, then i’d say its staff shortage issue.

Now if that restaurant is doing brisk business and if the food is terrible, then its also fair game.


I think that, if your restaurants are only starting to open up again, then it’s probably a bit too soon to be overly critical in public. You need to support your local favourites.

Here in most of the UK, restrictions on restaurants were removed in June and business is now continuing unfettered by Covid (in spite of us having an infection rate double that of America and death rates three times that of our major European neighbours). Since then, we have been to 42 places. About half of them were known to us and were visited fairly regularly pre-Covid. The other half were in places where we ate on a couple of “week away” breaks elsewhere in the country. In the first weeks, I was happy to give places some latitude, although to be fair, the vast majority seemed to have no need of it. Now, everywhere seems to be operating as though Covid had never happened (which is a worrying issue in itself). Restaurant staffing has taken a double whammy of Covid and Brexit and there are significant staff shortages both back and front of house. But, again, most places we’ve been to seem to be managing somehow.

Give them a bit of kindness, folks. Unless it’s really awful - in which case slam them, they don’t deserve to survive.


I agree, John. Everyone has been through so much, both personally and professionally, that I just can’t ask people to be at a place that I am not in.

I’m lucky…I’m healthy as are all my closest (and many of my circle have survived having had it)…and I’m not okay or “back to normal”. I can’t expect others (many of whom aren’t as fortunate as I have been) to hold to standard that I cannot meet myself.


Greek Corner has gone steadily downhill for awhile, I think. The last time I went there was maybe three years ago (maybe longer? time has little meaning anymore) and it was pretty mediocre. It really was pretty good awhile back, but seems to have lost it somewhere along the way.

I’ve always been relatively satisfied at Guru, but haven’t been there for awhile. Too bad if it’s hit the skids.

And yeah, I think it’s fine to give honest reviews at this point. If a place can’t deliver the goods, that’s valuable info.


If we’re not here for honest discussion, why are we here at all?

We’ve supported our regular places financially both when they were open and closed over the past 18 months. Coming out (?) of this pandemic, the restaurant landscape has changed permanently and there are real headwinds (staffing). However, almost all small (and many larger) businesses face similar challenges.

I am seeing some places make an earnest effort to serve great food and support the communities that support them. However, I am also seeing what feels like some places might be taking advantage of the situation. Whether it be unnecessarily inflated prices, smaller portions or hidden fees. My money isn’t limitless and I will spend it at the places giving me good food and a fair value. Many restaurants are struggling, but some (e.g. those that are focusing on takeout) are thriving.

I have commented here less, as I am eating out less. However, I have tried to continue commenting posting honestly and fairly. If I can’t count on other posters to do the same, there isn’t much value in being here. Let’s point out the places that are doing it well while being honest about our not so great experiences.


Thanks @passing_thru and @uni for your comments with which (obviously) I agree.

There’s the interesting issue of why those of us who post on these forums post at all. There are other fora (forums?) where the same six people talk to each other – they seem to view it as a private club, although they’re publicly available. But chowhound in its prime wasn’t like that, nor is HO now. While we (or, at least, I) may post primarily just because we/I like to spout off, I think we’re all aware that there’s a larger readership of this forum than postership, and we do owe these readers the respect of writing honestly. I discovered many Boston area restaurants through posts on food forums. I was grateful for the advice – and I was grateful when I was steered away from places that might disappoint. The pandemic has hurt everybody, not just restaurants, and it’s useful for people to get data points on where they should spend their limited dining dollars.

ETA: To my point above, this thread has had 7 posters and 141 readers so far.

@Harters : restaurants here have been open for a while – over a year ago they reopened for outdoor dining, and indoor dining has been possible with various restrictions – proof of vaccination in NYC right now, for example – for many months.


fooddabbler - I’d based my comments on how I’d interpreted your OP saying places “are reopening” and had assumed that meant you were at the start of the process. My apologies for misunderstanding the actual situation.

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No apologies necessary, @Harters . I wasn’t clear. As we say in America: np, mybad.

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I think the postings should continue to be honest, good or bad. If I think the bad is due to staffing, supplies, or other things the restaurant has no control over, I’ll just ignore it. There is no excuse for serving sub-par food. One thing that has had a big impact on me is the loss of lunch offerings. So many restaurants now just serve an all-day menu, so my cheapish lunches are gone.


My favorite Chinese restaurant cost me $20 more now. From $50 to $70…


Which is this favorite restaurant? (Unless you want to keep it your secret haunt.)

Don’t worry. They tell me this inflation is transitory… :roll_eyes:

We too laughed at that big one, not that “they” know from transitory?

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I won’t be one of the lurking readers and actually post! I can see both sides. Pandemic conditions are challenging enough, and then labor and supply chain issues are making it just about impossible for small business owners to make a living and deliver on the food (and value) they promised.

Can we all just agree that we be fair in our assessments and put blame where the we feel the blame should be? I’ve found most of the posts here to be quite reasonable. When we have a post that may feel harsh, we have a good community that offers the counter-perspective. I think it is fair to note where issues are impacting the meal and experience, and we should also highlight those that are making it work. I don’t naively believe that this is all just a matter of “If the owner really cares to…”. If Stop & Shop hasn’t been able to keep my favorite chips in stock for the last month, the smaller business owners aren’t going to be able keep up too.

So I’ll offer a positive and negative:

Been a fan banh mi at Banh Mi Ba Le in Quincy (originally was Lee Han sandwiches), and I stopped by this weekend for a cold cut banh mi. Still really good and satisfying, but the supply chain surge has pushed it’s sandwiches to $6 when it was $5 back in June. Still a fair price when you compare it to buying a sandwich elsewhere. I did see that they had fewer pre-prepared foods (like the summer rolls) that normally sit on the counter, but this could also be a timing issue of when I hit the store.

Now for Chili Square in Quincy - I’ve had mixed experiences since the pandemic, but it’s not the quality of food. It’s their ability to keep their takeout organized! I would caution anyone ordering over an app in particular. I received someone else’s order, and it wasn’t even close to what we had placed. I know the host/owner isn’t a native speaker, but there is also a young man who helps out if needed. If they can take the order in English or sign up for app ordering, I really hope they have a system to track orders better. If you look at recent reviews, there are lots of similar complaints from folks getting the wrong food. I don’t think this is just bad luck on my part. If you crave Chili Square, I would just suggest ordering in person, figure out a way to keep busy for 15 minutes as you wait to receive your order, rather than phone+pick up, or using a 3rd party app.


OMG, Indian pickles! I don’t think we have a restaurant that does them in the Boston area. Or do we? Years ago we were introduced to a range of house-made pickles at the long-gone Rasa Samudra restaurant, on a trip to London. Still thinking about them eons later.

Back on topic, I think it’s fair to mention dining experiences that aren’t up to par these days. We’re as supportive as we can be to the dining establishments that we visit and it helps us to know what to reasonably expect.


I haven’t been as critical of restaurants online lately. I realize almost everyone is having a hard time. Last thing I want to do is write something that’s upsetting to someone who is struggling.

If a meal is mediocre, at a restaurant where I’m not a regular, I don’t go back.

I rave about the places I like, and don’t tend to mention the mediocre ones. If I do mention a place with mediocre food, I generally describe the food as okay or decent, which is my way of saying not that great.

I’ll also clarify if I’d travel out of my way for a restaurant, so no one relies on my rave and travels a distance to try a place that’s merely pretty good for the neighbourhood.

I have been telling staff when I think they’re doing a great job, and use the message box on OpenTable , Resy, etc to send thank yous.

I was annoyed by one order, where I placed the order and paid online , it was accepted, I was told it would be ready in 10 minutes, then the restaurant telephoned me to say it would take 90 minutes (fried chicken, a side of slaw and some beans), I came back later. Very very small portion. Just 4 small pieces of chicken (equivalent amount of chicken as you’d receive with 2 pieces at Popeye’s), no fries came with it. The meal came to around $30.

I think in that situation, the restaurant should have thrown in a free appetizer or a cookie, or a coupon. I doubt I’ll go back. I used to be a regular for brunch.