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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Ralston’s makes conventional exceptional

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Well, Restaurant Spotlight readers, I’ve got another one for you – Ralston’s Drafthouse.

I was fishing around online to find something good to eat one day when I stumbled upon this eatery located on Mass Ave.

When I arrived, I expected the restaurant to be more upscale than it was. Don’t get me wrong. It was sophisticated but had the perfect amount of personality to make it a comfortable, unstuffy restaurant I could actually let my hair down in.

Go left and you’ll find yourself in the dining area complete with flat screens and diners of all ages. Go right and you’ll find yourself in the bar area filled with eclectic beer and wine choices.

Being that I was starved, I went to the dining area and immediately located a menu.

At one point in time appetizers used to be items that simply tied you over until your dinner arrived. Ralston’s Drafthouse’s app list truly amazed me.

Fried pumpkin ravioli drizzled with a fig, date and agave reduction; calamari; fried green tomatoes served with a chocolate barbecue reduction and raspberry sauce; and “The Flying Pig,” pork shanks flash-fried and served with various sauces. I thought, “If the apps are like this, I can’t imagine what the real food must be like!”

I perused the salads next and thought the quinoa spicy salad was a brave yet wise step in offering customers healthier options. The pomegranate balsamic salad, complete with grilled chicken, apple, Craisins and aged cheddar, seems like the perfect salad for any time of the year – refreshing for a hot summer day, but the type of filling you need to get you through a wintry afternoon.

I noticed Ralston’s had flatbreads on their menu as well. I’m not a huge fan of flatbreads, however, they did have 10 types that came in a wide variety of toppings and flavor combinations. They had everything from a pulled duck flatbread to the chicken parmesan flatbread.

I decided to go for the jugular and ordered a sandwich. The bourbon glazed pulled pork sandwich was calling my name until I saw the Holyoke sliders. The sliders consisted of two meatballs (or soy patties for the health conscious) topped with fresh mozzarella, caramelized onion and house-made marinara sauce. Each flatbread and sandwich comes with a side and I chose the fried rosemary potatoes. I also ordered a ginger ale to wash it all down. My meal (including tax) was about $12.

When my meal arrived, I couldn’t believe the fragrant aroma I smelled. The rosemary from my potatoes was pungently pleasant and a close second were the spices of my ample meatballs. All the flavors seemed to work well together and the portion size was perfect.

Both items tasted fresh and although my meal at its most basic level was a meatball sandwich and fries, I could tell that the preparation methods, ingredients and the aesthetics of the plate came from someone who cares about quality and likes to add new twists to common favorites.

Readers, you have to go to Ralston’s Drafthouse. If you don’t like your food “outside of the box” then enjoy a cold beer at the bar. But I’m telling you. With food this good and interesting, you’d be crazy not to order something.

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