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POPPA B'S 1100 Blue Hill Ave., Dorchester. 617-825-0700. Poppa B's serves soul food that is uncommonly delicious, and everyone from neighborhood residents to politicians to clergy comes here for classics such as fried chicken and ribs with collards, macaroni and cheese, and candied yams. Don't miss the fried whiting and smothered chicken at this family-run, community-oriented restaurant. The food should feel sinfully heavy, with butter taking a starring role, but it tastes surprisingly light. Still, a post-meal nap will seem appealing.
BENATTI 1128 Cambridge St., Cambridge. 617-492-6300. Benatti brings upscale Italian food to an area known for Portuguese and Brazilian restaurants. Things could get ugly in soccer season, but it's worth it for perfect porcini risotto, tortelloni in a sauce of walnuts and heady aged balsamic from Modena, well-turned entrees, and desserts far better than anyone disillusioned by the average restaurant dolci has hope to expect.
GREZZO 69 Prince St., Boston. 857-362-7288. Grezzo has an Italian name - it means "raw" - and its menu includes pasta of a sort: papaya pappardelle; gnocchi made from nuts and dressed with "creamy rawmesan," a faux cheese sauce made from more nuts. But that's about all Grezzo has in common with its North End surroundings. This raw-food restaurant (it's also vegan and largely organic) serves dishes that center on fruits, vegetables, nuts, sprouts, and seaweed, a diet adherents claim brings substantial benefits for health and well-being. The dishes look good too, and often taste that way. Grezzo appealingly and sophisticatedly packages a lifestyle.
BANQ 1375 Washington St., Boston. 617-451-0077. Menu descriptions of Banq's Asian-influenced French food make the mouth water, full of intriguing ingredients and combinations: tea-smoked quail and date cigar with a pea tendril Caesar, almond tamarind shot. Fire-charred sirloin with smoked cha choy, cilantro and taro pave, caramelized lotus seed, creamy chanterelle sauce. Is this not food poetry? But as vivid as the dishes sound, in practice they are often muted. France does the talking while India, Japan, and Thailand whisper in its ear. Much of Banq's food is delicious, in a surprisingly classic vein.
LOBBY BAR & KITCHEN 131 Broad St., Boston. 617-261-5353. Lobby continues the storied tradition of the after-work drink. The tiny, stylish spot is a nice place to have one. But the order in which the descriptors "bar" and "kitchen" surround Lobby's ampersand is no accident. It is one first, secondarily the next. The dinner menu offers the likes of roasted Cornish hen and pretzel-crusted tuna, but simpler dishes - beet salad, barbecue beef skewers - are the way to go.