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A wooden bowl filled with Cajun-seasoned seafood
Surprisingly fun: wearing a bib and gloves to dive into a bowl of spicy, messy seafood while drinking blue cocktails
Rachel Leah Blumenthal for Eater

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The Biggest Dining Surprises of 2017: The Restaurant Boom Continues (and More)

Here’s what local food writers were not expecting this year

As is Eater’s annual tradition, we’re closing out 2017 by surveying local food writers (including our own staff and contributors) on various restaurant-related topics, and we’re publishing their responses in these final days of the year. Readers, please feel free to chime in with your own thoughts in the comment section below.

Keep an eye on the Year in Eater archive page for other stories in this series.

Today’s next question: What was the biggest dining surprise of 2017? (See the 2016 responses here.)

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MC Slim JB, restaurant critic for The Improper Bostonian:

“I had very high expectations of Terra, the fanciest of the restaurants at Eataly Boston, as it had poached both the general manager and executive chef from BISq, a place I’d raved about in The Improper in 2015. But it stunned me with its inconsistency on every front: food, bartending, service. Even if Mario Batali hadn’t turned out to be one of the industry’s poster boys for obnoxious sexual misconduct this year, Terra would have gotten the same raspberry I gave it in The Improper. Bafflingly, insultingly underwhelming.”

Marc Hurwitz, founder of Boston's Hidden Restaurants and Boston Restaurant Talk, restaurant critic for Dig Boston, and more:

“That the restaurant boom continues. I've been predicting a crash for several years now, and much like my predictions of, well, nearly everything else in life, I've been way off on this.”

Sam Hiersteiner, contributor to the Boston Globe and more:

“That there weren't high profile closings or major dust-ups in Boston's food scene this year, save a tiny few.”

Dana Hatic, associate editor of Eater Boston:

“Several newcomers filled Boston's dining world with culinary wizardry. Standouts include Cafe du Pays, which taps into some French-Canadian magic, and Momi Nonmi, which culls intriguing bits of both Japanese and Hawaiian cuisine.”

Alex Wilking, contributor to Eater Boston:

“The rise, return, and now, rebrand of East Coast Grill has definitely been an emotional roller coaster. That, or the recent news that Sam Adams is the new official beer sponsor of the Red Sox.”

Rachel Leah Blumenthal, editor of Eater Boston:

“The Purr Cat Cafe social media drama leading up to its opening was pretty surprising, to say the least. And at one meal this year, I was caught off-guard by a very minuscule $8 latke at a restaurant that shall remain nameless.

On a more positive note, I was pleasantly surprised by a number of excellent dining experiences in unexpected places. Upperwest, for one. I wasn’t surprised, exactly, as I’d heard plenty of good things already, but walking into the back door of a United American Veterans post and heading down to the basement doesn’t necessarily set up expectations for the wonderfully cozy restaurant within. Whatever pasta is on the menu, get it. I was also thrilled to find high school students doing really great work at the student-run restaurant within Somerville High School.

And then there were the surprises that simply brought a smile to my face, like the arrival of the end-of-meal cotton candy at Lolita or the existence of a restaurant where I can drink a silly bright blue cocktail that has boozy Swedish Fish in it while putting on a bib and gloves and digging into a bowl of ultra-spicy seafood. Looking at you, Shaking Crab.”

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1 Cedar St, Cambridge, MA 02140 (617) 714-5734 Visit Website

Shaking Crab (Cambridge)

1815 Massachusetts Avenue, , MA 02140 (857) 259-6147 Visit Website


100 State Street, , SC 29169 (803) 791-3443 Visit Website

Momi Nonmi

1128 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 945-7328 Visit Website


800 Boylston St., Boston, MA Visit Website

Purr Cat Cafe

167 Chestnut Hill Ave, Brighton, MA 02135 (857) 205-8593 Visit Website

East Coast Grill

1271 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139 617-714-4662 Visit Website

Café du Pays

233 Cardinal Medeiros Avenue, , MA 02141 (617) 314-7297 Visit Website


1071 Cambridge Street, , MA 02139 (617) 714-3693 Visit Website
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