Amuse-Bouche: McCurdy’s Junction House

When the novelty of dining halls wears off, McCurdy’s Junction House comes pretty close to Mom’s home cooking. Located in a cottage at Ives and Wickenden, it’s a down-home charm, with creaky antique chairs, kitschy wall hangings, and a ditsy floral design along the walls. An artificial fireplace and scrawled-on chalkboards are in perfect keeping with the theme.

It’s also distinctive for its seasonally rotating menu. For winter, it’s appropriately laden with hearty fare like stews, chowders, open-faced sandwiches with Thanksgiving-style turkey or meatloaf, and latkes. The spring/summer menu will be unveiled in coming weeks, but here’s one idea: spring salad with golden beets, cherry tomatoes, Gorgonzola, and lemon. Check McCurdy’s Facebook for daily specials before you saunter over.

The best things on the menu are the simplest. Beef stew has a dark gravy full of braised beef, peas, and carrots. Guinness beer (yes, you read that right) makes the whole thing magical; that it’s served atop mashed potatoes is even better. It’s a lumberjack kind of meal. Steak tips, Junction House Nachos, and Sam Adams-battered fish and chips (only on weekends, plus Wednesdays during Lent) are similarly homey. All sandwiches come with addictive salt-and-pepper fries, and while they could use a little something more than meat and cheese–why not grilled seasonal veggies?–at $7.75, they’re tasty, tasty sustenance. Nothing on the menu tops $12.95.

But McCurdy’s also cooks with a bit of imagination. Paella is studded with shrimp, chourico sausage, chicken, cannellini beans, and veggies. Bartlett pears are halved, roasted, and topped with Gorgonzola, raisins, and walnuts. There was plenty pear, but the dish lacked enough spice and cheese to balance its cloying sweetness. Sweet potato polenta was bland and spongy, and the accompanying links of maple chicken sausage helped with flavor and texture but were scrawny. Veg-friendly options, such as acorn squash cornucopia stuffed with caramelized apple, portabella, and walnuts, are substantial and not your usual vegetarian cop-outs.

McCurdy’s bills itself as primarily a take-out joint, which is convenient for those of us who want to chow down in bed while watching Parks & Recreation, but it gets awkward when you take advantage of BYOB, dine in, and get food in Styrofoam containers. Especially now that they’re considering adding outdoor seating, investing in real dishes would be a good idea.

High: AMAZINGLY AFFORDABLE! The paella ($12.95) is the priciest thing on the menu; most things you’d possibly covet are under the $10 mark. Match this with good quality, eccentric atmosphere, and a constantly updated menu, and you have a restaurant with tons of potential to become an old favorite.

Low: Some offerings, like polenta or baked pears, are pretty mediocre. If we go to a restaurant for a home-cooked meal, we want something better than what we could actually cook at home. Inventive items set the menu apart, but McCurdy’s should do a bit more perfecting to bring it on par with the other staples.

Bottom line: McCurdy’s gets it right when it keeps things simple. Unbeatable prices, generous portions, and Guinness-infused beef stew will nourish your soul almost as much as Mom could.

2 Comments

  1. Hello and thank you for coming in and grabing some take out from us. Just wanted to clarify that our food has been served to our in house guests on biodegradeble plates for the past couple of months. We have never once used any styrofoam, at all. Perhaps this information came from one of our Yelp reviewers who was mistaken as well.
    In the past few months we have been planning to convert to plated food and full service dining, so those opposed to our casual take/out counter service set up can look forward to a more relaxing BYOB experience.
    The grilled veggie sandwich is a great suggestion, we have served that as a special with fresh mozzerella and balsamic reduction numerous times and it will win a spot on our Spring and Summer Menu. Vegetarian visitors could also try our Portabello Open Face Sandwich.
    We are sorry to hear that you didn’t like the pears or polenta as they are two of our very popular dishes. We would like to invite you back for an eat in experience at McCurdy’s to sample some of the items on our Spring Menu, which comes out April 14th.

  2. p.s. – Forgot to mention that only one of our sandwiches come with salt and pepper fries, the others come with items such as tarragon carrots, whole berry cranberry sauce, home made mashed potatoes, or our seasonal vegetable of the day.

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