Chowder Craves: A More Interesting Appetizer

All right, enough already. Chowder certainly has a soft spot for comfort foods, but eventually, one tires of the same old, same old. And I’m not just talking about mac-and-cheese or meatloaf entrees.

No, lately we’re starting to wonder what’s up with all the uninspired appetizers, salads, and bar menus.

Maybe it’s the winter doldrums setting in—me getting cranky, chefs having to cook sans fresh, local vegetables—but I can’t seem to open a menu without seeing the same old stuff. The most common? Sliders (Kobe or otherwise), truffle fries, beet salad, tuna tartare, beef carpaccio, steamed mussels, fried calamari, and—a newer addition to the fallback-menu-item lineup—arancini. Really, is there nothing else to eat?

Lest my crankiness seem unfounded, this morning I took a random survey of menus, some trendy, some less so, and at least one of these tired apps showed up on every one. Let’s play a game, shall we? Points awarded for each of these staple apps served. Listed in the order I pulled them up:

Union (3 points)
Pops (1 point)
Grill 23 (2 points)
Stella (4 points)
28 Degrees (3 points)
The Fireplace (2 points)
Marliave (Downstairs) (4 points)
Max and Dylan’s (3, with extra credit for the whole slider menu)
Rocca (3 points)
The Savant Project (1 point)
Stephanie’s on Newbury (3 points)
Bonfire (2 points)
Vox Populi (3 points)

And, just because:
The Cheesecake Factory (3)

Now, I don’t mean to rag on our city’s chefs; Boston’s got more than its fair share of talent. But guys, can we please stop with the sliders? And, for Pete’s sake, the beets?

Readers, who do you think has the best light bites in town? What uncommonly good, unconventional starters should everyone run out and try? ‘Cause right now I’m feeling a bit, er, unappetized.