Newton

Destination Chestnut Hill

Wegmans

Chestnut Hill just had the best. weekend. ever.

Look, anytime you have a construction sign warning of Sunday afternoon traffic for a new grocery store, then you know things are going something special.

Let’s not leave it at just a new area Wegman’s opening up so close to town. Having been around the Chestnut Hill strip pretty regularly since 2002, it’s been a pretty remarkable change. What was once a destination for a nightmarish traffic run past Brookline, a small mall and a not-so-modern Bloomingdale’s, Chestnut Hill has reimagined itself to stay ahead of the pace and potential perceptions of the Newton borough.

The abandoned Atrium Mall has been redistributed across open-area spots like the Wegman’s Market area, the refreshed strip malls on the north side of Boylston and, most notably, the Street. Look no further than a sparkling City Sports that replaced the old one facing the lake; the Shake Shack that took over where a Rugged Bear once stood; and a Lux Cinema upscaling the old AMC joint that once stood on that same The Street.

Eat the Street Week

It never was fine dining, really, there either – but that’s also changed. Sure, the Capital Grille has long stood on Rte. 9, but that was about it. Now it has plenty of competition, and not just in the form of Cheesecake Factory and another Legal’s. One of the more interesting ones to come in there was an alternate steakhouse combo from the folks at Del Frisco’s, known as The Grille. At a media dinner earlier this month, the others around the table and I discussed how the different concept (as opposed to the Double Eagle version down in Seaport) offers a very different atmosphere and less-traditional steakhouse menu while still getting right what it needs to – that is, of course, the steak.

Chestnut Hill Del Frisco's Grille

The cuts of meat certainly hit the spot, but that’s not what grabbed our attention the most. It was the Tuna Tartare tacos, the VIP cocktail and the pretty incredible Cheesesteak Egg Rolls – not exactly the creamed spinach and mashed potatoes that you’ll get at a white-tablecloth joint, but sometimes exactly what you want to mix up the traditional Steak Night.

Naturally, it fits into this new version of Chestnut Hill, too, which like abandoned white tablecloths has shed some of its stuffy image to be a little more hip with expansion. Whether it’s Wegman’s, Shake Shack or the Grille that gets you out there, it may not be the CH you remember.

Newton, We Love Drinks

Why We Need Hopsters – And Need it Downtown

A series of circumstances brought me and fellow editor Jarret out to Newton Corner over the weekend, and rather than just turn around, we decided to finally poke our head into Hopsters. If that pungent hop smell isn’t for you, this probably isn’t your spot – but if you like beer and the idea of being that close to the brewing process, there’s something there.

The 10 taps or so across the bar weren’t uncommon, and the menu had similarities to many other gastropub/cheese board establishments. Perhaps it was the bright lights from outside, the semi-suburban setting or just the live kettle and bottling action being undertaken by fellow patrons, but there is something different about Hopsters…and it’s time we get that a little closer into town.

The closest I can get to hands on interactivity at a bar in Boston is an overpriced stir fry at Fire n’ Ice, and while there are definitely bars with more in-depth beer lists, those come with a little more frills and/or plaid. I love many of those places, just as much, but at a certain point, I can retire most of them since they generally look the same and I’ve already picked a favorite. In my opinion, there’s really nothing like Hopsters for the beer drinking crowd in Boston, and that’s as refreshing as the first Kölsch of the summer.

Allston, Newton, Politics and News

Opening Number: 27 paces

Who’s excited for “BC’s Not in Boston” hand wringing!!1!!11!?1!ELEVEN

The headline and tone of this morning’s Globe article about the location of Mayor Elect Marty Walsh’s inauguration – set for, GASP, Boston College’s Conte Forum – is seemingly questioning the validity of the actual town border for determining what is and what isn’t Boston. Hell, the URL of the article is “inauguration-ceremony-mayor-elect-martin-walsh-squeaks-boston-border”.

Of course, the article begrudgingly points out that the January 6th event is being held in a location that maintains a 27-pace distance from the town line of Newton. “But it’s mailing address is Chestnut Hill,” reminds the second paragraph of the story.

Instead of worrying about where in Boston the event will be – and, again, this building is in Boston, mind you – look at why: it can be inside, accommodate nearly 9,000 people, comes with lots of parking since classes aren’t back yet and, most importantly, offers something significant to Walsh. While a state rep, Walsh completed his bachelor’s attending the College of Advancing Studies at BC in the evenings. Lest I turn this too much into a commercial, those all seem like perfectly valid reasons.

The Globe isn’t the first, and given how noted Boston Twitters and Media were all aflutter when the announcement was made early in December (my defense was equally scoffed, thanks Annear), this will probably be a story through the first week of the year. Of course, why cover the actual inauguration if we can gin up a little more hate at BC’s way?

Just think of the positive: no downtown traffic on the first Monday back to work for many folks. Save your hate for the Beanpot.

Newton, Transportation and the T

Opening Number: 2πR

oval of death

Sorry to bring geometry into your Tuesday. I truly am.

Above you, you see the “Circle of Death” (neé “Rumble at the Ramada”), the famed intersections of Washington, Centre St and Exit 17 of the Massachusetts Turnpike.

The nickname is cute, except we have one slight problem – it’s certainly a circuit but it’s far from actually a circle. “Oval of Death” has no ring to it.

Of course, that got me to thinking about the profession of left turn taking, and just how big the Oval happens to be. If you lay down the Newton Circle next to New Hampshire Speedway, here’s your size comparison (at the same scale, according to Google Maps):

oval vs laconia

One lap on the Oval of Death will work out to be approximately .58 miles (or just about a kilometer, if you’re into that sort of thing). Your map, courtesy of RunKeeper’s route tool:

mileage oval of death

Now, we aren’t talking about reliving the Sylvania 300 on the Circle of Death (300 laps would be 174 miles, for what it’s worth), so why not something different. When the weather warms up, who’s in with me for the Circle of Death 10 Miler? 17.25 laps around, lots of car dodging for funsies. We Love Beantown will consider* sponsoring neon t-shirts and your Healthcare.gov premium for participation.

*We Love Beantown does not recommend doing this activity or, at least, is certainly not paying your premium.