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Vin Bin: Lunch Rejuvenated

Grandma'a Meatball Sandwich from the Vin Bin in Marlborough, MA (Submitted)

Have you ever been sitting at work and dreading the boring lunch you packed yourself? The thought of reheated leftover chicken, or a lazy PB&J is enough to drive you insane. Ok, that may be a bit of hyperbole, but sometimes a changeup for lunch does your psyche good. Let me introduce you to Vin Bin. I think by now it’s clear, I tend to gravitate towards small local establishments that focus on quality and customer service. The Vin Bin fits these criteria, though it hardly fits the “traditional” model of a restaurant. In fact, it may have been the wide selection of craft brewed beer, wine, and artisanal cheese that put Vin Bin on the map, but it was the cafe that stole my heart.

Salad from the Vin Bin in Marlborough, MA (Submitted)
A Seasonal Salad from the Vin Bin in Marlborough, MA (Submitted)

When you walk into the Vin Bin, you will immediately notice a large selection of beer and wine with names you may not recognize. No worries, the staff is plenty knowledgeable and will delight in helping you. Additionally, the Vin Bin hosts beer and wine tastings on a regular basis, which provide customers the chance to expand their own craft brew or vino knowledge. A full list of events can be found on the Vin Bin website, but I wanted to highlight “Burgers, Brew, and Bleus” every Thursday from 4-7 p.m. at their Southborough location. There’s nothing like some good beer and even better burgers to take you to the end of the work week.

Making the Middle East from the Vin Bin in Marlborough, MA (Submitted)
Making the Middle East from the Vin Bin in Marlborough, MA (Submitted)

The Cafe provides a wonderful selection of handcrafted sandwiches, salads, and soups. The Angry Italian comes piled high with Italian meats and cheeses, while the Korean BBQ Pork sandwich arrives doused in gochujang mayo with a spicy daikon pickle. My favorite is Grandma’s Meatball sandwich on ciabatta bread. The tomato sauce is sweet, the meatballs are well seasoned, and the ciabatta bread is perfectly toasted by the panini press. Service is quick and every sandwich is made to order.

Although Vin Bin has three locations (Southborough, Marlborough, Hopkinton), only the Southborough and Marlborough locations have a cafe. Never let a boring lunch let you down again; make your way to the Vin Bin for a great midday pick-me-up or an evening tasting event.

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Wildwood Steakhouse: Suburban Fine Dining

Roasted Spring Lamb from Wildwoods Steakhouse in Marlborough, MA

Anyone living in the Metrowest area knows that a night out usually means heading into Boston, or making your way to the “Golden Triangle” section along Rt. 9 in Framingham and Natick. The city lacks a serious convenience element, and Rt. 9 offers little more than chain restaurants and fast food. But for a nice change of pace, take a quick drive down Rt. 20 in Marlborough to Wildwood Steakhouse.

Entering the restaurant, guests are treated to a view of the wine cellar through a section of glass flooring, leaving guests desiring to know more. As you are being led to your table, you pass by the open-air kitchen, adding more intrigue and anticipation. Finally, the raw bar, with its selection of fresh oysters and littlenecks, make it clear that this isn’t going to be just another dining experience.

After greeting us, the maître d’ ushered us to our seats, introduced us to our waitress and promptly returned with fresh baked bread. For our appetizers we decided on baked spinach and artichoke dip, and a traditional steakhouse wedge salad with diced tomatoes, onions, and bacon, served with a creamy blue cheese dressing. The spinach and artichoke dip came straight from the oven still boiling around the edges. The accompanying pita chips were slighted toasted, and a wonderful vessel for the dip. The dip had chopped green and red bell peppers, which at first seemed out of place, but actually added a cool element and a sweetness that offset the saltiness of the cheese in the dip.

Honey Mustard Chicken with butternut squash ravioli, garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and crispy onions from Wildwoods Steakhouse in Marlborough, MA
Honey Mustard Chicken with butternut squash ravioli, garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and crispy onions from Wildwoods Steakhouse in Marlborough, MA

Our dinner selections included Honey Mustard Chicken with butternut squash ravioli, garlic mashed potatoes, asparagus and crispy onions. Additionally, we ordered the roasted Spring Rack of Lamb with sautéed spinach, portabella mushroom demi-glace, and garlic mashed potatoes. The chicken was tender, and the honey mustard provided a unique, yet desirable, tanginess. The butternut squash ravioli was perfectly cooked, and the filling was sweet, and balanced the savory chicken. The mashed potatoes were good, but honestly they overwhelmed the dish, and were an unnecessary element as the ravioli could stand alone. Topping off the dish were the crispy fried onion rings, which were a simple, yet satisfying finishing touch.

The highlight of the meal was the Roasted Spring Lamb, and being a steakhouse, the expectations were admittedly high. Wildwood Steakhouse did not disappoint, as the dish was cooked to perfection. The portabella mushroom demi-glace added a hearty earthiness to the dish that really worked in concert with the lamb. The sautéed spinach was a well-thought out pairing, as it provided a freshness to the dish, rather than adding another hearty component that would take away from the true star of this dish, the lamb. Lamb is difficult to master, but this dish was tender and perfectly cooked, and truly could have stood alone, but the mastery of the crew at Wildwood worked to provide pairings that simply worked.

Overall, Wildwood Steakhouse provides a true steakhouse feel at an affordable price, in a suburban setting. The extensive menu has options for all appetites, with a nice selection of seafood, “serious beef” options including great steaks and chops, and other specialty selections sure to please. The bar provides a wide range of drinks for those in the dining room, but also is a great place for a casual dinner or happy hour with friends. And don’t forget the famous “mile high” chocolate cake for dessert!