by Danielle Svetcov
What kind of diner changes its specials twice a day, serves cabernet sauvignon
and San Pellegrino, and still keeps white bread and American cheese on hand for
a crispy grilled cheese sandwich? A diner anamoly. Victoria Dining, in Boston's
meat-packing district, is just that, with a menu that rotates depending on what
arrives fresh from nearby butchers and fishmongers. For 48 years, locals have
flocked to this "diner" (it feels like a train car inside, but it ain't one)
for American classics like pot roast ($7.95), chicken cacciatore ($8.95), and
Boston schrod ($9.95). Even the schrod is done right: flaky, moist, and
finished with a light butter and bread-crumb topping. No tartar sauce needed.
And portions are so huge that side vegetables like squash purée (sweet
and excellent), mashed potatoes (bland), and steak fries (perfect) often arrive
in separate bowls. Victoria is not for the calorie conscious, however: pastrami
sandwiches ($5) come with fat on, and much of the food is fried, albeit to
perfect crispness. The desserts in the pie case behind the counter are also too
good to skip, especially the bread pudding ($2.25), with a chewy top layer and
soggy raisin bottom. It's strange, though, sitting in the mauve vinyl booths,
staring at the Alice-esque waitresses in white turtlenecks, you'll swear
this is a quintessential diner. And then the hazelnut coffee arrives.
Victoria Dining, located at 1024 Mass Ave, near Boston City Hospital, is
open Sunday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to midnight, and on Friday and
Saturday from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. Call 442-5965.