WATERTOWN — There’s been a lot of buzz online about Strip T’s, a popular lunch and dinner spot on School Street opened in 1986 by Paul Maslow. The place has undergone some major changes over the past several months. Son Tim Maslow, 27, who trained at the French Culinary Institute and worked in a celebrated New York kitchen for over five years, began working with his dad last year and quietly revamped the dinner menu to much acclaim. Until two weeks ago, the lunch menu remained relatively untouched.
This is no longer the case. Two weeks ago, after a brief closing to spruce up the interior, and add a dishwasher and stainless steel to the kitchen, Strip T’s reopened with a new lunch menu. Those looking for tuna melts, grilled cheese, burritos, or steak tips — standbys of the little place for two decades — will find a much smaller, and much different, menu. Grilled cheese is gone, the burritos finito, and the tuna melted away.
“Most of what’s on the new menu was created for the new menu [but] a few of the things actually came off the dinner menu,” says the elder Maslow. Lunch patrons will find the same miso-laced Strip T’s burger and popular Japanese eggplant banh mi that are offered at night, along with a host of new sandwiches. A roast beef sandwich is accompanied by cucumber, horseradish, and Moxie sauce (the sticky and excellent Moxie wings from the evening menu are also available at lunch), and the “NY pho real” gussies up grilled chicken with Thai basil, bean sprouts, and avocado. Sandwiches like pork sausage with provolone and broccoli rabe, and its vegetarian counterpart with fried cauliflower, creatively repurpose items from dinner.
Some longtime customers are less than thrilled with the changes. Says Paul Maslow, “the problem is it’s impossible to make every single person happy in a restaurant.” In the last couple of weeks, local blogs were busy in the days following the lunch menu change, as some unhappy regulars — Strip T’s is within walking distance of Watertown Arsenal — turned to social media to air their grievances. Paul Maslow responded personally to the criticism on Facebook, letting detractors know that he supports his son “100%.”
On a recent visit, a table of regulars from Brighton dressed in business clothes were surprised by the new items. All bemoaned the lack of soup, and one specifically mentioned that he was disappointed by the absence of grilled cheese. Though they said they were happy with their lunch, they were reluctant to give their full names after concluding that they’ll be back, but “time will tell how often.”
Server Laurie Greenberg, who’s been at the restaurant for more than three years, was skeptical at first, but now fully embraces the changes. “I think it’s definitely for the better,” she says, “and I did have some anxiety about it.”
One group benefiting from the new lunch is Boston-area restaurant workers who do night shifts and aren’t able to sample the younger Maslow’s dinner menu. “I came here because a lot of industry people have been raving about dinner,” says Young Won of Malden, who works at The Hawthorne. “I’m really excited.”
Both Maslows, as well as chef de cuisine Jared Forman, who worked with Tim Maslow at David Chang’s Momofuku Ssam Bar, are confident that the new lunch menu can win anybody over. Father and son do feel compassion for the regulars disappointed by the switch, but they note the abundance of other area spots that serve more standard lunch fare.
And besides, wonders the dad, “Since when is it a bad thing to upgrade your quality?”
Strip T’s, 93 School St., Watertown,