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  1. Distance: 0.04mi
  2. Distance: 0.06mi
  3. Distance: 0.11mi
  4. Distance: 0.86mi
  1. Distance: 0.04mi
  2. Distance: 0.06mi
  3. Distance: 0.11mi
  4. Distance: 0.86mi
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Nearby points of interest

  1. Distance: 0.04mi
  2. Distance: 0.06mi
  3. Distance: 0.11mi
  4. Distance: 0.86mi
  1. Distance: 0.04mi
  2. Distance: 0.06mi
  3. Distance: 0.11mi
  4. Distance: 0.86mi

About The Center Cafe

A converted commuter rail stop with the friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere of a neighborhood hideaway serving terrific American Cuisine. This family run gem has a lot of cooking talent, a varied menu, good wine list and craft cocktails.

1027 Great Plain Ave
Needham, MA 02492
View Larger Map

Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
American, Seafood, Steak

Hours of Operation:


Dinner Only:

Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 5:00pm - 9:00pm

Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 9:30pm


Closed Mondays


Summer Hours may vary.

Cross Street:
Needham Bank/Eaton Square Pedestrian Walkway

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(781) 455-8800

Website:
http://www.thecentercafe.com/

Entertainment:
We offer musical entertainment for special events.

Parking Details:
There are two, free parking lots adjacent to the restaurant: one across the train tracks from our front door and a municipal lot in in back of the restaurant.

Public Transit:
We are on the commuter rail line at Needham Center Station.

Executive Chef:
Vanessa Cortesi

Private Party Contact:
Steve Waller: (781) 455-8800

Additional:
Beer, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Non-Smoking, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

The Center Cafe Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.5

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.6

service

4.5

ambience

4.5

value

4.5

Noise

Quiet

90% would recommend it to a friend

Neighborhood Gem (4)
Good for a Date (3)
Good for Birthdays (2)
See All
Casual (2)
Creative Cuisine (2)
Fit for Foodies (2)
Local Ingredients (2)
Special Occasion (2)
Good for Anniversaries (1)
Authentic (1)
Worth the Drive (1)
Kid-friendly (1)
Comfort Food (1)
Cozy (1)
Fun (1)
Handcrafted Cocktails (1)
Healthy (1)
Notable Wine List (1)
Pre/post Theatre (1)
Business Meals (1)
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269 reviews
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 (New England)·Dined on August 19, 2017

Food and service were good. Ambiance fair. Did not have several of the wines listed. Would go back and would recommend.

Tags: Good for a Date
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service5
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on July 28, 2017

They are closing so it really doesn't mean crap. They sold the place it will now be a bar

Tags: Worth the Drive, Fun
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience5
service4
value4

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on July 22, 2017

So nice and friendly. Food is always great. I have eaten there six times. Have brought friends who also loved it.

Tags: Creative Cuisine, Authentic, Cozy, Casual, Kid-friendly, Special Occasion, Good for a Date, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for Birthdays, Neighborhood Gem, Pre/post Theatre
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on July 20, 2017

Our meal was tasty and well prepared. The people who served us were pleasant and friendly. Although we were not in a hurry, the service was very slow. We had a long wait to order and a longer delay to receive our meals. We did not see anyone for a long time after we had finished dining, except for a wait person who was spending a lengthy time across the room in a deep conversation with another table. Despite these complaints, I would return.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Neighborhood Gem, Creative Cuisine, Business Meals, Good for a Date, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service3
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on July 15, 2017

Had a fantastic dinner with my wife and college age daughter. This is a wonderful, family owned restaurant with excellent food a culinary would enjoy! Owner provides great advice, fantastic service and recommendations and made our meal fantastic! We will definitely be back again and come here on a more regular basis. Bravo!

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Kid-friendly, Cozy, Good for a Date
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service5
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on July 8, 2017

Great food & drinks! Very welcoming restaurant owned and managed by a family that makes you feel like part of their family when dining.

Great customizable drinks, wonderful apps - esp the crispy ribs! The food is always full of flavor and plenty too. Recommend the perfectly prepared creme brûlée!

Tags: Notable Wine List, Quick Bite, Good for Birthdays, Local Ingredients, Healthy, Creative Cuisine, Worth the Drive, Fit for Foodies, Authentic, Casual, Handcrafted Cocktails, Neighborhood Gem, Seasonal, Comfort Food, Good for a Date, Bar Seating, Cozy, Quiet Conversation
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (San Francisco)·Dined on June 18, 2017

Very friendly owner and waiting staff
Good food
Will return

Tags: Cozy, Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on June 3, 2017

Prices are high, especially for the starter salads

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value3

vip
 (Miami)·Dined on May 21, 2017

We all enjoyed our meals, very nice staff and very attentive 👍

Tags: Cozy, Fit for Foodies, Good for a Date, Special Occasion, Bar Seating
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service4
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on May 13, 2017

The food is always good, and the staff remembers and welcomes us. A very pleasant place to have dinner. We have been going since they first opened.

Tags: Disabled Access, Authentic, Neighborhood Gem, Pre/post Theatre
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
 (New England)·Dined on May 12, 2017

Food and service were excellent! The staff is extremely knowledgeable and friendly.

Tags: Quick Bite, Special Occasion, Good for Birthdays, Neighborhood Gem, Cozy
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on May 12, 2017

Triple crown Worst service ever bad food ambiance stinks no parking. Probably the worst experience I have had in a restaurant ever.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food1
ambience1
service1
value1

 
·Dined on May 12, 2017

Fantastic as always! Food was great, great service and the owners are wonderful!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on May 6, 2017

This is an interesting place. The owners are very, very quirky, and at first glance, rude. Then somehow, they make you feel like family! Even hugs as we left! Go in with an open mind, have a glass of wine straight away, before the rude hostess (and owner) can upset you too much. The food is quite good, and somehow it all comes together.

Tags: Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience3
service4
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on May 5, 2017

Highly disappointed. Food took way too long and our son's fish had gone bad (very fishy taste). I expected a completely different experience and will not be returning anytime soon.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food1
ambience2
service3
value1

vip
 (New England)·Dined on April 27, 2017

Great people who own it. Friendly and good is good.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Handcrafted Cocktails, Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (New York Area)·Dined on April 7, 2017

Wonderful as always

Tags: Casual
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on April 1, 2017

We had a decent meal, and were glad to be at a table in the back, which was less noisy. The wait staff are extraordinarily friendly, and quite talkative, so that made things more interesting. This is a fine place for simple comfort food. The selection wasn't extensive, and I wish there were more appetizers or things made without butter. I don't do beef, so maybe those dishes didn't have butter. Although our waitress and waiter said they'd be available anytime we needed them, they both forgot to check on us for periods of time.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service3
value4

 
 (Philadelphia)·Dined on March 30, 2017

A great neighborhood place to eat. The owners are personable and the wait staff professional with a good send of humor.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Good for Anniversaries, Good for a Date, Comfort Food, Handcrafted Cocktails, Quiet Conversation, Casual, Sunday Lunch
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on March 25, 2017

This is a tough one. We had heard a lot about this place and were excited to try it. Basically, seems like they were having staffing issues--wait staff being sharp with each other, the host/owner being sharp with the wait staff and the kitchen. Long wait for everything: water, bread, order taking, food to arrive. No share plates were brought even though we were sharing, no steak knives (butter knife for the steak?) water was not refilled, no one checked on us or explained about the delay. Wait staff said something to manager like, "you can yell at me, but I still can't fix it." Food when it arrived, was solid, unassuming decently prepared food. The only saving grace was that this is clearly one of those places where people know each other and are very friendly. The couple seated next to us were clearly regulars, who went on and on about how nice the owners are and how great the food is and how they come there at least once or twice a week. They were fun. Unfortunately, our overall experience was not fun. This may have been a one-off and the owner did explain that their chef had broken his leg, but really, it wasn't the food, it was everything else. If I can convince my family to give it another try, we'll do that, but the main fun was hearing about Needham history from the other customers seated near us.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service1
value3

 
 (New England)·Dined on March 24, 2017

Great experience consistent with our prior visit. Great local spot!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on March 4, 2017

Always have a great time. Steve, Karen and Sandy are the best

Tags: Romantic, Cozy, Business Meals, Special Occasion, Paleo Friendly, Outstanding Value, Fun, Good for Birthdays, Handcrafted Cocktails, Creative Cuisine, Fit for Foodies, Good for Anniversaries, Worth the Drive, Neighborhood Gem, Bar Seating
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on March 3, 2017

We wanted a nearby restaurant with a good menu and cozy atmosphere. The reviews all indicated that Center Cafe was a neighborhood gem but our experience exceeded expectations. The warm and generous proprietor, Steve, also happens to be a fellow Boutbon enthusiast. When he learned of our mutual affection, we engaged in a great conversation about Bourbon today and his extensive selection. He also insisted on giving us some tasters of his favorites. We had a delicious meal, delightful service and an informative discussion. We will DEFINITELY be back.

Tags: Cozy, Neighborhood Gem, Comfort Food, Handcrafted Cocktails
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service4
value4

 
 (New York Area)·Dined on February 17, 2017

Our favorite restaurant in Metro West. Everyone and everything always meets our expectations.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Cleveland)·Dined on February 14, 2017

It truly is a great restaurant

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on February 11, 2017

Wonderful gem in the old Needham train station. Very welcoming and personable treatment from the husband & wife owners, children and other family members working as the chefs and bartender.

Food was cooked to perfection, the crispy ribs were awesome, cocktails were perfect, steak temperature was exact, the creme brûlée was excellent - cool custard and warm crunchy torched sugar top!

Only regret - we didn't go there sooner to discover how wonder they are. Looking forward to returning back very soon.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on January 14, 2017

Wonderful local spot. Family business with very personal service and excellent food. Great advice on wine and bourbon with tastings that make it a novel and fun experience. Great evening every time.

Tags: Good for a Date, Good for Groups, Neighborhood Gem
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food4
ambience4
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on December 31, 2016

We ate here New Year's Eve. The food was excellent and close seating quarters afforded us the opportunity to meet our table neighbors and exchange New Year's greetings. The owner is always friendly and accessible. The kitchen and waitstaff were a bit overwhelmed by the busy-ness of the evening so service was slow but we expected that because it's a small kitchen. We'll definitely return!

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Creative Cuisine, Neighborhood Gem, Special Occasion, People Watching, Local Ingredients
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (New England)·Dined on December 31, 2016

The Center Cafe is an excellent local restaurant in Needham. We have dined there for many years. The food is always top quality, in what I would call a classic style. Portions are reasonable. It's a small and fairly intimate restaurant. The staff (and owner) are very friendly and will recognize you from your second visit onward. This is one of our favorite restaurants.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Fit for Foodies, Good for Groups, Cozy
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service5
value4

vip
 (New England)·Dined on December 28, 2016

The main reason we like this place is because it is small, quiet, and never rushed. The food is good but not really special. The menu needs a little more diversity and perhaps a few healthier choices (not covered in sauce or fried).
It is family run and the owners are always present. The husband is very social and visits with all the customers. At times I find him a bit intrusive-coming by while we are talking, and talking with us too long! Others obviously enjoy this aspect of the restaurant.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food3
ambience3
service3
value2

 
 (New England)·Dined on December 23, 2016

Extremely loud. Could not hear the person next to you. Someone's dirty wine glass was left at our table, water glass was dirty, they forgot to give us bread, and we waited forever to get our food. Veal was overbteaded, thick tough and terrible. Don't waste your time coming here, let alone trying to find the place (GARDNER St. not Great Plain Ave.)

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience1
service2
value2

 
 (New England)·Dined on December 17, 2016

Food was excellent. Tuna and cod exceptional. Great experience.

Tags: Comfort Food, Special Occasion
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (New England)·Dined on December 14, 2016

Center Cafe continually delivers excellent food. The lamb was perfectly prepared and the fish and chips arrived screamingly hot. Draft beer options include Allagash White (my favorite). Save room for the brownie sundae. Kudos to Chef Vanessa and to the welcoming atmosphere set by co-owner Steve. We'll be back!

Tags: Fun, Creative Cuisine, Authentic, Good for a Date, Romantic, Great Beer
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on December 10, 2016

Dining at the Center Cafe is like being in your friends dining room. Steve and Karen and their staff make everyone feel relaxed and comfortable. Even with being short one server due to illness, the entire staff worked together to get everything for everyone.
The bartender himself brought the bottle of wine to our table so I could taste it prior to ordering.
We had the swordfish special and duck, each entree was prepared perfectly and brought to us as soon as the dish was ready in the kitchen.
We never expect to eat and run when we choose to dine here. We plan to relax and enjoy the food and the ambiance, chatting with our neighbors at adjoining tables. No one is a stranger here.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Casual, Creative Cuisine, Good for a Date, Handcrafted Cocktails, Neighborhood Gem, Comfort Food
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on December 9, 2016

Very good restaurant! All people in my party loved what they had. Clam chowder and split pea soup were just perfect. Main courses delicious! Duck with butternut squash and sprouts was amazing! Salmon very good as well. Loved the cape code red wine. Nice dessert! We will be back!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience3
service4
value4

vip
 (Cleveland)·Dined on December 9, 2016

When we want to have dinner at a local venue this is our first choice. There's usually a special that I haven't tried yet and Sandy knows what to recommend. Karen and Steve always make us feel welcome.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Hot Spot, Late-night Find, Fun, Local Ingredients, Creative Cuisine, Casual, Quiet Conversation, Authentic, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good for a Date, Worth the Drive, Pre/post Theatre, People Watching, Special Occasion, Good for Anniversaries, Comfort Food, Neighborhood Gem, Romantic, Good for Groups, Healthy, Outstanding Value
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on December 2, 2016

Terrific! We love dining here.

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5

vip
 (Detroit)·Dined on November 25, 2016

Never disappointed!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (New England)·Dined on November 6, 2016

Steve, the owner, is a terrific host and the food was sensational.

Tags: Fit for Foodies, Worth the Drive, Quiet Conversation, Business Meals
Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food5
ambience4
service4
value5

vip
 (New England)·Dined on October 28, 2016

Based on the 4.6 star reviews my expectations were high. This restaurant is quite basic. A step up from a diner but definitely not a 4+ star experience.

Additionally, one of the servers had a pretty animated conversation with a nearby table about the upcoming election and was quite vocal expressing opinions about their preferred candidate. We went to dinner to escape the election!

Was this review useful to you?Yes·No·
food2
ambience2
service2
value2

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