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Cheap eats

‘Whole’ concept goes awry

(Michele Mcdonald for The Boston Globe)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / September 2, 2009

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Nourish, a new venture in Lexington Center opened by Framingham restaurateurs Karen and Kevin Masterson, is in a space formerly occupied by a Not Your Average Joe’s franchise. The motto of Nourish is “Eat Well - Live Well’’ and the menu says this: “At nourish we believe that eating whole foods made fresh daily plays an important role in good health.’’ The menu also lists its farming sources, which include the celebrated beef from River Rock Farm in Brimfield.

This is an especially good time to open a place that’s price- and quality-conscious, a spot in a town full of baby strollers and families happy with healthy meals and vegetarian entrees. Items are reasonably priced (a River Rock burger is $10.50), and there are lots of familiar dishes, such as jumbo wings (8 for $8.59), stir-fry of seasonal vegetables with organic brown rice ($10.25), and chicken Caesar salad ($9.95).

Those wings (above), from Springer Mountain Farms, slow smoked and basted with BBQ sauce (you can get them with hot sauce, too), are plump and delicious. The Mastersons own Big Fresh Cafe and Tennessee’s Real BBQ - Real Fast, both in Framingham, which might account for the succulent wings.

A black bean dip and a spicy carrot dip (one dip for $5.95; two for $8.95; three for $11.95) both have lots of flavor. Alaskan cod cakes ($6.95), drizzled with a mayo sauce and accompanied by a fresh little salad, have the too-flat but appealing consistency of a homemade version. All these things are thoughtfully made.

And then, everything is off. Somewhere between the concept and the execution, the promise of fresh daily, and the local purveyors, something goes awry.

The River Rock burger is small, tough, and woefully overcooked, presented in a cold bun. It comes with mushy slaw. A Caesar doesn’t arrive with chicken as ordered, the waitress apologizes and quickly brings the chicken. Stone cold. Teriyaki stir-fry is drowning in sauce (it tastes sweet and bottled), so it’s hard to tell anything about the vegetables or brown rice. Tempeh ($10.95), surrounded with delicious kale and caramelized onions, is covered with an overly sweet and domineering maple molasses sauce. Wild Alaskan salmon ($11.95 and $15.95) comes with very good jasmine rice and a nice succotash, but the salmon has no flavor.

Carrot cake with Richardson’s wonderful vanilla ice cream ($5.95) is homely but good. A cookie tray ($3.50) includes perfect shortbread cookies your grandmother might have made.

There’s a reason there are not more cheap places serving top-quality food. It’s hard to pull off at that price point. I’m rooting for a place like this to succeed. Someone call the benign version of Gordon Ramsay to come in and make the transition from farm to table a little smoother.

NOURISH

1727 Massachusetts Ave.,

Lexington Center, 781-674-2400. All major credit cards,

wheelchair accessible.

Prices Appetizers and salads $5.95-$9.95; entrees $9.25-$17.95; desserts $3.50-$4.95.

Hours Sun noon-9; Mon-Thurs 11 a.m.-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 11-11.

Liquor Full license.

May we suggest Black bean dip; spicy carrot dip; chicken wings; Caesar salad.

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