The Boston Phoenix
June 10 - 17, 1999

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Mike's City Diner

A return to comfort

by Frank Habit

Among the happy signs that Washington Street in the South End truly is coming back to life: Mike's City Diner is now open for dinner. Spruced up but still unpretentious, the breakfast-and-lunch landmark is cooking nightly for a crowd of bistro refugees who delight in good plain food. Diner basics such as the hamburger ($5.45 to $6.55) and the Big Dinner (meat loaf with sides, $6.95) predominate, with occasional forays into cute salads like the Cleopatra (caesar with salmon, $7.95) and the Mark Anthony (caesar with chicken, $6.95). Most entrées, and even some appetizers, are generous enough to sate two normal appetites. The aptly named Thanksgiving Dinner ($8.95) is a foot-wide slab of roast turkey breast concealing an alpine range of stuffing, acorn squash, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce; the only things missing from the plate are your grandmother and the Macy's parade. The Fisherman's Platter ($10.95), with fresh scallops, clams, scrod, and potatoes piled to a depth of six inches, is what fried food ought to be: crunchy, savory, and free of grease.

To wash it all down, there is a very un-dinerish wine and beer list (agreeable house whites and reds are $3.50 a glass). If you can still pack in dessert, have a shot at whatever is waiting under the glass domes on the counter; we saw Boston cream pie, chocolate cake, and apple pie, but slipped blissfully into digestive comas before sampling them.

Mike's City Diner, located at 1714 Washington Street, in Boston, is open from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. (breakfast and lunch) and from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. (dinner), seven days a week. Call (617) 267-9393.

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