Do not feel underwhelmed by the no-frills, divey ambience as you set foot into Strip T’s. It stands amidst the most unassuming façade of a one-story former greasy spoon in Watertown. It used to serve average-Joe sandwiches and sodas over-the-counter, but lucky for us foodies, the new generation has come and transformed it into a diners’ paradise.
A family business, Strip T’s is now run by Tim Maslow, a Momofuku Ssam Bar alum who has brought with him Asian techniques and a bag of culinary tricks. At lunch, the likes of Caesar salads and Reubens still dot the menu, albeit more imaginative versions. The dinner fare, which changes regularly, looks like it came straight from a hip Brooklyn bistro.
Take for example Moxie wings. The Lowell-invented herbaceous soda is spun into a barbecue glaze with an obvious hint of brown sugar and Chinese five-spice. Maslow chars the wings so religiously that the smoky coating caramelizes and becomes sticky, while the chicken oozes with juiciness. Fingers were licked clean.
The pasta de jour was chestnut pasta alfredo. Coated with seasoned panko and thick creamy sauce, the nutty noodle twirls just right. It is blissfully creamy and packs enough shrimp and pancetta to go beyond the norm.
Best dishes of the night were a tie between the daily special, sautéed razor clams with chili jam broth, crispy shallot and red grapes, and the grilled prime skirt steak. Thanks to Maslow’s stint with David Chang, the clams experienced a major Asian overhaul, lending the harmony of flavors from lime, chili and grapes.
The skirt steak was essentially the late-night brekkie we all secretly desire: perfect sunny-side-up egg, tangy emerald-green tomatillo salsa, crispy beef bacon, silky-smooth refried beans and a darn-good piece of steak. When all of those things are done right, what more can you ask for?
When the dessert came, I was blown away. A yeasty and fluffy brioche donut was loaded with vanilla cream and glazed with sassy orange icing. The seaweed-like tarragon chips were an unlikely accompaniment to a dessert, but they worked well with the dish.
Sitting on a leather upholstered bar stool did change the perception of fine dining a bit. One lesson has been learned though: good food might come from the least suspected place of all. Be it Watertown, or the shaggy-looking gastronomic gem called Strip T’s.
Address: 93 School St, Watertown, MA 02472
Hours of Operation: Mon-Thu 11 am – 4 pm, 5 pm – 10 pm; Fri 11 am – 4 pm, 5 pm – 10.30 pm; Sat 11.30 am – 4 pm, 5 pm – 10.30 pm
Phone number: (617) 923-4330