December 13th, 2004

Frank's Steak House

For some bizarre reason I dreamed of prime rib. I get food cravings all the time but dreaming about particular foods is unusual.

Well, why fight my unconscious? bedfull_o_books wanted beef also, so off we went.

Frank's Steak House
2310 Massachusetts Avenue
North Cambridge, MA 02140
tel: +1.617.661.0666
T: Davis
M-Sa 1530-2200, Su 1030-2200

Frank's says it's Boston's oldest steak house, established 1938. It's best been described as a suburban style steak house which happened to be on Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge instead of out around 128. Speaker Tip O'Neill used to eat here, and it really is a piece of the old North Cambridge/West Somerville, before the Red Line came, and before the neighborhood changed to what it is today.

For us, one of the great advantages is that it's walking distance from Davis Square.

The steaks are fine. They're not what you'd get downtown at some expensive carvery, but they don't cost anywhere near as much, either. The prime rib, which we both got on this visit, comes in two sizes: $16.95 for a regular portion and $19.95 for a king cut. I got the king cut on the theory that I would have leftovers. As it turned out, although there was a large bone attached to the cut, it fed me for three meals.

Side dishes mostly stay out of the way; two are included with your main dish. You can choose soup, salad, vegetable, potato, or rice. The salad was mostly iceberg but fresh; the broccoli were reasonably well cooked without being overcooked.

There's a full, well-patronized bar. It looks like there's a regular after-work crowd. At times it becomes a piano bar.

Obviously we had no room left for dessert.

Frank's fills the "neighborhood steak house" niche quite well.

Nyhavn Færgekro

Nyhavn Færgekro (Nyhavn Ferry Inn) is famous for its lunchtime sildebord (all-herring buffet). Kind of a cliche, I guess, and everyone knows about the place, but I like herring, and I was hungry.

Nyhavn Færgekro
Nyhavn 5
1051 København K.
tel: +
fax: +
email:, (in Danish)
Daily: 0900-0100, kitchen open 1130 - 2330
(last visit: fall 2001)

Nyhavn has been a bit of a yuppified dockside bar and restaurant row for a good generation now, having left its rather raffish past behind. Nonetheless it's a picturesque place to have lunch, even on a cold wet day. Nyhavn Færgekro's decor is what you'd expect in this kind of neighborhood: a hearty, sailor's inn, cleaned up and made respectable, with solid wooden beams overhead.

The sildebord (Kr. 89, $16.11), is a pretty good deal for a buffet lunch in Copenhagen, which is probably why the place gets written up far and wide. And, truth be told, it hadn't occurred to me there'd be this many ways to make herring. It's good herring, too: herring marinated in various sauces, including sour cream cream, wine, and mustard; rollmops; smoked herring; pickled herring; salt herring. Really there were more ways than I could easily identify. Some of them were a bit salty for my taste but most of them made great eating. It was nice to be able to try a small bit to see what I liked, then go back for more.

The herring are displayed in a large spread in the middle of the dining room. There's plenty of rye bread and potatoes to go with it, which are particularly good with some of the saltier options.

If you can't face this much herring there are other options. For one thing, the inn's well-stocked bar has an extensive selection of home-made aquavits. As I didn't particularly want to drink my way under the table I passed on this, and had water instead. But there are also some Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches), though I'd personally go to an actual smørrebrød place for a wider selection. Dinner includes some multi-course options, including salmon or steak, at Kr.285 ($52) including dessert.

Since I had the buffet, service wasn't much more than showing me the table and refilling my water glass, but still polite and efficient, as you'd expect in Denmark.

I left full and happy, having eating more herring in one sitting than I usually eat in a good season. I wouldn't eat there everyday but it's nice to visit once in a while.