Boston: Strip-T's Faux Phõ

Let's Eat by Kitty Kaufman

logo Strip-T's sits in a storefront on School Street in Watertown. For a small place, they get big press. Someone, maybe them, writes: "Creative, all-day menu, wine & beer served in a casual setting with a coffee-shop vibe." It's accurate.

We get the last table in the window of a small dining room where every seat is taken. Our menus come clipped to a small piece of cardboard. Lan picks the Bergerac Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot and I have the Domaine Dyckerhoff Reuilly Sauvignon Blanc. We love the wine.

Our appetizer is chestnut farfalle: pickled onions, squash, radish, cheese and pumpkin seeds in brown butter sauce and it's big enough for two; we love it. Creaminess is pairing with seeds and radish crunch. Alas, our server is not engaged.

Lan opts for "NYC's phõ real" with grilled chicken, thai basil, chili sauce and avocado. We're curious: what does Manhattan do to a Vietnamese staple? Are we ready? We are and out comes a chicken sandwich. We look at each other. What did we order? This is what you ordered, he says. (Sunny and Annie in their East Village deli put it up as a roast beef sandwich reminiscent of phõ.) After, Lan says: "Weren't you expecting soup?" I'm expecting soup but what I really wanted to know about the phõ is, would Lan think it's authentic?

I never eat meatball subs but I had a bite of one somewhere else that was the best thing on the table. I want to see how they do it here. It's on crusty bread with meatballs that are, well, crunchy. Lan says, let's split, so we exchange halves. After a bite she says, "Your meatballs are a little overdone." I think hockey pucks but maybe not.

The man I meet on our way in who's apparently the owner, so friendly, is watching everything. Is this usual? Lan goes down the stairs to the bathroom: scary. Upstairs, there are signs are everywhere: "We're not happy until you're not happy." "Complaints will be heard the second Tuesday of next week." "We welcome criticism from those who demonstrate the ability to do a better job."

lost guy It's a Friday lunch two months later. I order roast beef with cucumber and horseradish with a hold on the moxie sauce. (Watch out for moxie sauce.) My server, Connie, and all the lunch servers, are charming. If only the chef didn't think meat that comes out fine needs garlic mayo to make it finer. It does not. Maybe that's a clue. Maybe it's creative? The chef knows better? He must.


Strip-T's Restaurant
93 School St
Watertown, MA 02472
617. 923. 4330

© February 4, 2015 Kitty Kaufman is a writer in Boston. Lan Dennie is an Epicurean good sport. See more of their food adventures at Corporate Edge and on Twitter
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