Atmosphere: American dishes with a few continental overtones. Very friendly.
Price Range: Appetizers: $1.10 for a cup of soup to $2.75 for stuffed mushrooms. Entrees from $5.15 to $12.
Hours: Open seven days week from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.
Credit Cards: American Express, Master Charge, Visa.
Special Facilities: Booster chairs and high chairs; children's menu; no special aids for the handicapped; parking lot.
Reservations: Not accepted.
At the end of a day of chopping wood, plowing the spring garden or preparing for the Boston Marathon, Tom Weston's restaruant is a good place to go. It is cozy, warm, friendly, and dinner portions are enormous.
Our family went the Monday after the big March snow. We arrived early but the restaurant, in the K-Mart Plaza in Annandale, was already busy. Attractive stained glass partitions brighten the wood paneling and beams and divide the salad bar from the dinners. Although the room is divided, unfortunately there is no nonsmoking section.
The menu lists a large selection of seafood and beef as well as veal, liver spaghetti and fried chicken. All dinner entrees include a choice of two vegetables and a beverage. The emphasis is on seafood. In fact the only appetizers listed were seafood.
Among the appetizers we tried were oysters on the half shell ($2.75), New England clam chowder ($1.10) and mushrooms stuffed with crab ($2.75). Our waitress promptly brought the mushrooms and chowder but explained that the oysters were being shucked by a slow shucker. After a long wait the oysters arrived. They were fresh but gritty with flecks of shell in them.
The cup of chowder was hot, thick and full of minced clams -- a very filling starter. The five mushrooms were piled high with well seasoned fresh crab. The crab was delicious, but what a shame to put it in canned mushrooms.
For people who love good salad bars with fresh greens and a variety of fresh garnishes, Tom Weston's is not the place. The salad bowl held only pale and slightly rusted iceberg lettuce. The onions had a strong odor and taste. The cucumbers looked as if they had been mugged recently, and none of the cherry tomatoes looked within a week of being cherry in color.
The star of the salad bar was the blue cheese dressing, which was light, creamy, and full of chunks of cheese. The other dressings we tried -- Russian, Italian, and Caesar -- tasted bottled and too salty.
The salad bar included bean relish, corn relish and a variety of breads and butter.
My husband and I had chosen the specials of the night, beef burgundy with rice ($6.25) and fresh flounder stuffed with crab imperial ($7.95). Both were mammoth portions and piping hot.
The flounder was properly cooked, fresh, flaky and moist. The crabmeat filling was generous, well seasoned but not too spicy, so that it complemented but did not overwhelm the flounder. However, this crabmeat and the crabmeat in the mushroom appetizer had been poorly picked.
The beef burgundy was a tasty dish abundant in tender bite-size morsels of beef. I was delighted to find wild rice mixed with the rice. A side order of onion rings was either overcooked or previously frozen as the onions were mushy and tasteless.
My 10-year-old daughter was pleased with her veal cutlet ($2.70) from the children's menu. The cutlet was crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. However the gravy on her meat was bland. The accompanying french fries were excellent -- great big steak fries, crisp, hot, light, not greasy or soggy.
Also on the children's menu are spaghetti, ground steak, veal cutlet, rib steak, top round, fried chicken and fried shrimp. All of these are $2.70 except the rib steak, which is $3.80.
The sliced top round ($6.50) ordered by my son, was tasty under its blanket of tasteless gravy. And the extra large baked potato with sour cream proved to be more than he could finish.
By dessert time we had eaten so much we decided to share cheesecake and pecan pie ($1.25 each). We appreciated the suggestion by our waitress that the pie be served heated with whipped cream. This was probably a great improvement for the pie, whose pecans were less than fresh. The cheesecake was marvelous -- creamy, cold rich and needed no topping Other dessert choices were ice cream and sherbert.
The service at Tom Weston's was wonderful. Our waitress, I found out, has been at the restaurant for eight years. A pot of cold coffee was cheerfully and quickly replaced. We noticed other diners who already knew her, and she remembered them.
We also found this friendliness reflected in others. At a table on one side of us, a lady hearing my husband needed a pen loaned him one.As we were leaving another woman kindly alerted my daughter to her purse left lying on the seat. With such a friendly atomosphere, it's easy to see why Tom Weston's has been a favorite of Annandale residents for many years.
And we received good value for our money. Our meal for four, including three appetizers, two desserts, soft drink refills, and tip was $39.