NOON HILL GRILL
My relationship with food is a never-ending battle between what I should eat and what I want to eat. I should eat more salads. I want to eat more burgers.
In that battle, Noon Hill Grill is my personal DMZ. It’s the place where “should’' and “want’' peaceably coexist.
Located next to the railroad tracks in downtown Medfield, Noon Hill Grill is the kind of companionable gathering spot every town needs, as a cornerstone of local identity and as a hedge against the flavorlessness (so to speak) that plagues many suburban centers.
A core strength of this casual restaurant, which features a dining room on one side of the building and a bar with high tables on the other, is its versatility. It’s the culinary equivalent of one-stop shopping. I’ve had dinner at Noon Hill Grill with my wife, just the two of us; we’ve had Sunday brunch with our kids; and I’ve been known to have a beer with a friend while watching the Celtics on the bar’s TV.
My palate is very basic, so white-tablecloth restaurants are wasted on me. And pizza joints? If they are the magnet, I am the metal. That way lies dietary doom. But at Noon Hill Grill, I can split the difference.
When I order my favorite, the Twisted Cobb salad topped with grilled chicken, I can congratulate myself on eating healthy. Just look at all these greens and avocado and roasted corn and tomatoes! And, um, bacon, and eggs, and, oh, yeah, blue cheese, and I really should put this vinaigrette to use … OK, I might be undermining my case here. But I’m eating a salad, people. For dinner, not just as a prelude to dinner.
Of course, it’s never long till my inner carnivore starts to growl: “Hey, what about me?’' At such times, I turn hungrily to another favorite: the Medfield Tracks Burger. It’s what I think of as football food, a collision of flavors — burger, cheddar cheese, bacon, Cajun mayo, onion straws, lettuce, tomato, onions — that goes perfectly with those collisions on the field.
As for the impact of the pandemic, general manager Brandy Beaudette told me that: “It’s definitely been different, but we still have a ton of support.” In fact, Beaudette noted, Noon Hill Grill has been attracting customers from farther away than it did before, due to the closure of many other establishments.
Whether you’re traveling from near or far, be sure to try the Chef’s Cheesecake, which comes in different flavors depending on the night. On a recent visit, mine was salted caramel, in a dauntingly large portion. But I devoured every bit of it, because when it comes to the relationship between cheesecake and me, “want’' is firmly in charge — and to hell with “should.”
Noon Hill Grill, 530 Main St., Medfield, 508-359-9155, www.noonhillgrill.com. Appetizers $10-$15, entrees $16-$23, desserts $8-$10.
DON AUCOIN, theater critic
This Nepalese restaurant in West Cambridge’s Huron Village lets you specify the spiciness of your items on a 1-10 scale. One of our party chose 5. The other has (let us say) an Irish palette. Given the option, he’d have picked 0.
There are six varieties of mo mos (dumplings). Both of us being vegetarians, we passed on the wild boar (!). Instead, we had the vegetable, good, and the paneer and spinach, even better. The firmness of the cheese was just right. That was also true of Mr. Irish Palette’s entrée, eggplant basil paneer — and the helping was ample enough to provide the next day’s lunch.
The menu has many meat and fish choices, and a wide range of vegetarian dishes. Our other appetizer, choilla, is traditionally a meat dish. This one was made with wonderfully sauced sweet potato and served with texturally contrasting puffed rice. The other entrée we had was a jack fruit curry, replete with perfectly cooked vegetables (no mushiness, thank you very much). The sauce hummed with a delicious balance of spices and heat.
There are two soups. The gundruk is described as a healing homeopathic, and at least one of us would happily eat it every day. She also found the lentil soup warmly spiced and tasty.
We ordered both desserts: kheer, the traditional Indian rice pudding, and blueberry haluwa, a variant of halva. The texture was very pleasing, as was the gratifyingly subtle sweetness.
You go to Base Crave for the food. The welcoming atmosphere is a bonus. The people are extremely nice. They’re also good at their jobs: Takeout is packaged and presented with care.
Base Crave, 344 Huron Ave., Cambridge, 617-945-1485, www.basecrave.com. Appetizers and soups $7-$15; entrees $16-$28; desserts $6-$9.
MARK FEENEY, arts writer and movies editor