‘Papi’s Grille’ Opens In Boston, Crushed By Critic

For athletes awash in money and in the twilight of their careers, opening a steakhouse is a rather conventional way to start earning money outside the sport. This is usually a good thing; if you’re ever in Chicago and have about $200 to blow, for example, take a friend to Iron Mike’s Steakhouse and admire the loose connection the restaurant has with Mike Ditka and football while you eat one of the best steaks of your life.

Papi's Grille Mahi Mahi
(”Overcooked and served with Dominican rice, which turns out to be water-logged grains studded with bland black beans and corn kernels, unripe chunks of pineapple and mango, and pieces of asparagus stalks.” MMMMMM!)

But the food has to be good, otherwise it’s a big fat FAIL. Hey, speaking of big fat failure, David Ortiz! Big Papi opened up his own steakhouse - “Papi’s Grille” - in Boston recently, and the BOSTON GLOBE sent a food critic to try it. Considering the food put in front of her, said critic is lucky to be alive.

Along with the horrifying caption on the dish shown above, here’s a list of all the negative comments from the review. None of these are taken out of context or in any other way meant to mislead:

  • generic - a midrange steakhouse in Applebee’s style architecture, a bead in a chain of similar establishments on Route 9
  • not a sports bar or baseball shrine
  • Where are the bats? The jerseys? The fun?
  • this menu lacks zest
  • it may take more than a name change to make Big Papi’s Grille a success. Better food would be a start.
  • Shrimp ceviche seems more like shrimp cocktail. The shrimp have no discernible citrus flavor. They’re accompanied by a salsa of seemingly canned mandarin orange slices and very unripe pineapple chunks
  • Beef and chicken skewers are blah in flavor and very dry. […] these go well with nothing.
  • overcooked on a bun that could be from a Stop & Shop bin. It’s topped with two measly chunks of avocado, a little cheese, and a smidgen of pico de gallo. It’s pretty sad - even the pickle is limp.
  • has the texture of a grocery store baguette filled with vanilla ice cream; all the chocolate sauce in the world couldn’t redeem it
  • On a recent night featuring two games, the bar area at Big Papi’s Grille is nearly deserted

And la piece de f**k you:

  • If Tom Brady were to put his name on a restaurant, you can bet it wouldn’t have vinyl tablecloths.

Ouch. We do wonder if the critic would have held her tongue if Papi hadn’t spent most of the year trying to play his way out of the lineup. But foodies are notoriously fickle, and considering the last little dig, we get the feeling that Papi in his prime would have only drawn stronger rebukes for opening such an awful little restaurant.

In Ortiz’s defense, since someone’s got to stick up for the guy, the steaks are very well received, and we imagine that we’d walk away happy from the meal if we went there for, say, a porterhouse. But somebody with Ortiz’s joie de vivre - or whatever the Spanish version of that phrase is - deserves to have his name on a restaurant with at least a better chance of success than he does at the plate anymore.