Diane's isn't quite the best Boston experience
By Matthew Gray
Advertiser Restaurant Critic
Although the clam chowder ($6.50 in a small round hollowed loaf of sourdough bread, $3.25 for a small cup the white Boston style, naturally) is quite good, it's a far cry from what your taste buds may recall from chowders gone by.æIt's flavorful, as I said, but it's thin, not creamy, with a peppery essence. Fresh clams are used in the chowder and contribute to the fine taste, but it's really more of a clam soup with milk in it. Bread was not served with the chowder on either of my two visits here.
The pupu are a mixed bag.æThe scallops wrapped in bacon ($8.99) were swimming in the honey-mustard sauce.æIt would be better to serve the sauce on the side. The stuffed clams casino ($8.99) use tiny Manila clams instead of the larger eastern quahogs or cherrystones. They had a moistened cracker topping, again with a piece of bacon on top.æThe blackened scallops ($10.99) are tasty but overpriced for only five smallish pieces.
Diane's makes no effort whatsoever to present the food with eye appeal. The pupu are served on a small plate. Boom, smack in the center of the table. No side plates were offered and all is garnish-free. It's during these moments that you think that a simple piece of parsley could go a long way.
Forget about dressing up here. Shorts and slippers will suffice. Plastic forks, spoons and knives await you.
The captain's catch seafood platter ($21.99 deep-fried, $23.99 broiled, baked or blackened) combines haddock, clams, clam strips, scallops, shrimp, onion rings and cole slaw. It's a fine collection of ingredients, but it didn't remind me of the delicious fried seafood platters I had as a child in New England. The coating wasn't crisp and crunchy as it should have been.æThe shrimp scampi-style ($14.50) was served over way too much pasta and tasted too winey, not buttery or garlicky enough.
My friend Michael really enjoyed the swordfish ($10.99). It comes baked, broiled or blackened (as do the haddock, scallops, ahi and shrimp). The lazy man's lobster pie ($24.99), the priciest item on the menu, was basically lobster meat tossed with cracker crumbs (same ones used on the stuffed clam pupu). It was dry and not at all what I had hoped for, which was a potpie or crock-filled item. This was merely spooned on to the plate. No fanfare at all for this dish. Onion rings are homemade, but on both visits arrived at our table without their batter staying on, making them greasy. The seafood primavera ($17.99) is a very popular dish here, quite successful at a recent food festival. It's composed of shrimp, scallops, crab, fish and veggies in a cream sauce over pasta.
Although I'm not recommending it for a dinner destination, Diane's may be a worthwhile stop for lunch. You can get sandwiches (served with fries, onion rings or rice) such as a bay scallop roll or crab roll ($6.99), shrimp roll or clam roll ($7.99), or a lobster roll ($8.99).æThey also do a pastrami sandwich ($7.99), steak and cheese ($7.50) and a fish sandwich ($6.50).
At this writing, Diane's was gearing up to begin breakfast service. Call ahead if you intend to start your day here.
Owner/chef Diane Agabides is an accommodating hostess. She's the kind of person you hope will do well. Perhaps with some attention to detail, presentation and service, Diane's may one day give us a true Boston seafood experience.
E-mail ChefMatthew@LoveLife.com with comments.