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Posted by aaron at 01:00AM, Wednesday, December 08th, 2004

A Restaurant to Avoid: Guida's Coast Cuisine, in Concord, MA

Brian had read great things about Aigo, and we were in Concord visiting his sister at dinner time, so we thought we'd check it out. We should have ordered a pizza.

[Note: I'm not sure whether the place we went is properly called Guida's Coast Cuisine, or Aigo. The place we *meant* to go is Aigo. I've since read conflicting stuff on the internets about whether they're one and the same, or Guida's moved into where Aigo used to be.]

Walking in past the construction barriers guarding us from certain doom should we fall into the excavation at the train depot, we went up a set of carpeted stairs into the deep heart of the mini mall, and were confronted by a stunningly preserved example of late 20th-Century .com-bubble suburban office decor, complete with stained patterned carpet and those decrepit upholstered conference chairs with wood frames that you sit and pick at in dull meetings, as their upholstery peels away from the wood, slowly and inevitably. I had an urge to bail out then and there, but something -- perhaps it was sheer perversity -- prevented me from dragging my companions back to the car.

The service, while neither completely inept nor rude, was pretty remarkably inexperienced and unhelpful, given the prices for the food. Our table was visited far fewer times than it should have been, and the waitstaff seemed singularly uninformed about the menu, exhibiting the suburban sneer that can only come from being a pampered teenager in a wealthy suburb, yet still finding oneself compelled to be generally pissed at life.

The food was mixed. Sarah ordered a salad, loaded with the frisee which one of our chef friends refers to as "cheapo crap to wow suburbanites." For an entree she had rubbery chicken breasts stuffed with tasteless pesto, in a jus sauce. Every meat or poultry entree on the menu was in a jus sauce. Brian and I split crabcakes (actually, only one moderately large one arrived), which were acceptable, but had a watery taste and a rubbery texture that implied they'd been frozen, poorly. They were also $14, which, for an appetizer, is expensive even by Number 9 Park standards. For my main course I ordered the duck (in jus), which was actually the highlight of the meal: a good amount of breast meat, and a leg and thigh, in a decent sauce. It was slightly heavy, but overall pretty good. Brian ordered the halibut. The server presented it as snapper (we decided it was actually striped bass), although our waiter never mentioned a substitution. It was raw on the inside. Brian decided returning it would be a waste of time. The veggie sides were limp and uninspiring.

Prices were breathtaking even by big city standards (entrees were around $25 and up). The wine list was what you'd expect from an unimpressive suburban steakhouse in central New Hampshire: overpriced and utterly, utterly uninteresting. The highlight of the decor was when the commuter rail rumbled by, the headlight of the engine shining through the grimy glass window and highlighting the many shades of elderly mauve. Given our odds -- one decent dish out of five, and two bad ones -- we can only give this recommendation: there are better, cheaper restaurants, even in the burbs.
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