Archive for the ‘Boston Area – Somerville’ Category

La Brasa – Sauce me. 

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Space: La Brasa is a modern newish restaurant hidden in an unlikely corner of East Somerville on Broadway.  I suck at describing interior design and would never aspire to write for Dwell Magazine, but let’s call the inside of La Brasa rustic and wood-toned with a sort-of modern farmhouse vibe. Open kitchen with a large wood-burning stove.

Why Eat Here, You Ask?

  • Helmed and operated by Daniel Bojorquez and Frank McClelland,  who are both heavy culinary hitters from the famed L’Espalier. Bojorquez respectably spends ample time in his own kitchen, and was proudly cooking up dishes on a Saturday night.
  • The menu does fusion with style while not being pretentious. You’ll find everything from moles to Thai sauces on things like fried chicken and roasted carrots. The influences draw from Central and South America, Southeast Asia, France, and… Georgia?

Signature Moves: The sauces. Really the stand-out of every dish on the menu. Rich and complex moles, a funky escargot sauce on fried chicken that was actually good, a mustard-seed and tomato-based sauce on a razor clam dish – all excellent and I couldn’t even tell you everything that went into them. I have much ‘spect for those chefs who can nail the sauce game because this is one of the hardest aspects of cooking to pull off well in my opinion. In other liquids, the wine list is also stellar.

Complaint Department:

  • When is the “small plates” trend going to fade away?
  • Though plating and food art doesn’t really get to me, others may not love the layout of some of the dishes here.

Pics (For the 90% of Readers Who Look Here First, I Give You  an iPhone Photo Shoot):



Fried Chicken.

Fried Chicken.

Carrots w/ Mole.

Carrots w/ Mole.

Razor Clams.

Razor Clams.

Beer Reflection – Aeronaut Brewing

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

www.aeronautbrewing.comphoto (33)

Location: Somerville, MA (It’s hard to find, click here for a map)

The Foodie: Recommends

That’s right people – Somerville has a new craft brewery. Joining the ranks of hyper-local operations such as Slumbrew, Night Shift, and Idle Hands – Aeronaut Brewing opened this summer in a humongo warehouse on Tyler Street.

photo (34)What’s cool about this news is that Aeronaut not only brings us quality craft beer, but also a hip little tasting bar and a regular schedule of fun events to boot.

The Beer: From what I can tell, these guys are focusing on lower-octane brews such as table beers and session ales ranging from 4 – 5% alcohol. This is somewhat of a disappointment for me – a passionate beer snob who greatly enjoys my Belgian trappiste ales and American Double IPAs. I tend to find that session beers lack flavor and come off a little flat and flabby.

Nonetheless, Aeronaut does manage to pack a decent amount of taste into their lighter beers, and they churn out a tasty Brown Ale and Stout that pack a little more punch in the alcohol department.

The beers that I’ve seen on draft in the Aeronaut Tasting room include:

  • A Session With Doctor Nandu (4.5%) – A session American Pale Ale
  • Armadillo (4%) – A hoppy “table beer”
  • Saison of the Western Ghats (4.7%) – A low-alcohol saison that has decent flavor
  • Lark and Linnet (5%) – American Brown Ale
  • Imperial Stout (8%) – Nice stout with a classic chocolate, smoke, and coffee notes

I’ve so far been impressed by the quality of the stout and brown ale, but found the saison to be lagging behind its Belgian counterparts.

All of the above-mentioned brews are available in growler, flight, and pint formats.

photo (1)

The tasting bar and the space are perhaps the two contributions that I am most excited about, especially given the sweet lineup of events that Aeronaut has on tap. See a sampling of upcoming shindigs below:

  • Thursday August 14

Taco Party Truck, BEER RELEASE: berlinerweiss & biere de garde.

  • Friday August 15

Pennypacker’s Truck, BEER RELEASE: imperial IPA

  • Saturday August 16




  • Wednesday August 20

Aeronaut meets Journeyman

  • Saturday September 20

Octoberfest…with special guest Blue Ribbon BBQ

So in this week’s Beer Reflection, I salute Aeronaut for creating a hip new drinking space, planning some cool events, and mixing up a few delicious beers…I’m still waiting for that baller IPA though guys!

Dog Like, I Like. Lark & Linnet.

Dog Like, I Like. Lark & Linnet.

Sarma – Defying Definition.

Friday, July 4th, 2014

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Sarma = “wrapped; enveloped; rolled up; a bundle of food that is bite sized and served as a meze. An embrace.”

Also: A third restaurant by Ana Sortun (Oleana, Sofra), this time in partnership with her Chef de Cuisine at Oleana, Cassie Piuma.

Meyhane = A traditional restaurant or bar typical of Iran, Turkey and the Balkans. It combines copious booze with meze plates. “Meyhane” literally means, “wine house.”

Crab & Red Lentil Kibbeh = An interesting take on the meat torpedoes that come to mind when I think of Kibbeh. This time, India meets Middle East meets Maryland. A lightly crispy cake of delicate crab and lentil swims in a fragrant coconut curry and is crowned by a refreshing green papaya slaw and zhoug, which is Israeli hot sauce. Perfection.

India, Turkey, and Maryland

Lamb Souvlakia = Tender skewers of shish-kebab style lamb over gigante beans, olive and dill. Refined and absolutely delicious.

Shish Up

Feta Cheese Gnocchi = Fresh gnocchi oozing with warm feta and topped with VIP mushrooms and peas. All of which is engulfed in a tomato-based broth with metaxa (Greek brandy). Though I don’t like the way both the Greek and Italian footballing teams play the beautiful game, combining the culinary traditions of both these great countries is gorgeous.

Greek Pasta

Kunefe = A dessert-worthy sweet cheese pastry topped with citrus, saffron honey, and pistachio accompanied by a delightfully refreshing salad of crinkled cress, golden and red beets and orange supremes.


Passed Plates = An ingenious way to do the nightly specials. Servers will periodically present heartier meze plates to your table throughout the meal which, should you choose to accept them, are tallied on a little card that is placed on your table. I found these plates to be more gratuitous than uniquely special, and decided that they would be better enjoyed as bar snacks should one choose to eat dinner around Sarma’s spacious bar area. I selected a fried soft-shell crab plate (because I couldn’t resist). Though tasty, it didn’t exactly mesh with the meze-theme of the menu.

Loukamades with Halva Caramel Topping = And then comes dessert. Just ‘cause. Ricotta munchkins made up of hot, moist fried dough. Drenched in halva caramel. Cue the Marvin Gaye and Barry White.

Order this now.

Sarma is a place that requires a panoply of definitions to begin to define, and even then I can’t do justice to the experience of dining there.  At the end of the day, you’ll just have to put down the dictionary and opt for experiential learning.

Foodie out.

Pennypackers Porchetta Is Pure Poetry. Period.

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA, Design Center (Boston Seaport), and Roaming Elsewhere

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Following-up my last post on large quantities of meat between two slices of bread, I bring you Pennypackers, home of the best sandwich I’ve eaten around Boston all f*ing year.

A few definitions here to get you started:

Pennypackers: An establishment committed to bringing you mostly sandwiches through a variety of delivery mechanisms:

  1. A perma-truck stationed at the Design Center at the Xsection of Tide St. and Northern Ave. in South Boston (seaport area). Open M-F 10:30 – 3PM.
  2. A roaming truck that serves other parts of Boston – maybe even your neighborhood street corner.
  3. A brick-and-mortar locale in Magoun Sq. Somerville with a few tables and a large ass kitchen.

Porchetta: An Italian culinary tradition, porchetta is a skin-on slab of pork belly wrapped around a trimmed center-cut pork loin and seasoned with herbs, fennel, and citrus. Done properly, the process of creating this masterpiece is a time-consuming endeavor that requires primary assembly before resting 1-2 days in a fridge, and then slow-roasting in the oven. So good I plan to name my first-born child after it.

Now, let me describe to you the combination of both items described above. What you read below is not a poem, it is just centered for emphasis. The poetry is all in the food my friends.

I'm Naming My Baby Girl Porchetta Jean

Pennypackers served you a Porchetta sandwich in Magoun Square.

It cost you $8.

Though Penny packs different accouterments around their porchetta-wich from time-to-time, this beast of a sandwich was served to YOU between two super-soft slices of soft Italian ciabatta-style bread. You had yours with pickled fennel.

The look on your face during the first oral encounter with this sandwich must have been comparable to the heroin addict’s expression after shooting up that next dose.

[Eyes rolling back into their sockets, mouth agape, body slouching back]

You continue to devour the sandwich, finding all sorts of treasures buried between the ciabatta and fennel: succulent morsels of melt-in-your mouth seasoned pork meat, crunchy bits of pork skin, and the odd chunk of delightful pork fat.

Soon you are finished. It feels sad. You promise yourself that you will return.

You salute the chefs and wish them well in their endeavors.

Walking out the door, you told yourself this was the best sandwich you’d eaten around Boston all year. You were right.

Kirkland Tap & Trotter – KTT & Me

Saturday, October 12th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

Dude – I had the craziest dream last night.

The Grill.

I was wandering through a corner of Somerville one Fall night and caught a glimpse of a restaurant through the fog. It had a sign with a steak knife, a fork, and a fireball.

I pushed through the doors and stepped inside.

There was a wood-fired grill (complete with adjustable cranks) powering the kitchen.

A familiar chef was inspecting the dishes as they made their way out to a floor of hungry Somervillains.

— It was Tony Maws. —

I wondered – what’s going on at Craigie on Main? Is the place burning down?  Squid tentacles, pig’s heads, snouts and trotters flying everywhere?

It appeared Chef Maws had grabbed a few of those trotters out ‘da air and planted them in a few recipes the next town over.

There were a bunch of bizzaro versions of people I know sitting at the tables. I took a seat at one of them and grabbed a menu.

The FOOD list looked like this:

We ordered. There were seasonal baller mushrooms on the menu and a new burger variation. A flurry of plates started arriving from smiling servers in flannel shirts. A Left Hand Milk Stout from the tap arrived in front of me. Under the dim lights, we ate these things:

Three Large Sardines.

Rare to find in many restaurants, KT&T grilled up three lull fishies for me. They arrive incredibly moist and flavorful despite a light hand on the seasonings…

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid.

Roasted Root Veggies.

In my dreamy haze I thought that the Trotter was only a meat-lovers palace. Turns out that wood-fired grill does amazing things to vegetables. The root veggies we ordered were scantily dressed and delightful – just like the imaginary babe beside me.

Matsutake Mushrooms.

Oh, and did we mention that our “mushroom guy” sent us some baller matsutake mushrooms today? Boom! A truly humbling and slightly spiritual experience took place as I savored the rare act of eating wood-fired fungi over a nutty pesto.


The Burger.

As if things couldn’t get better – a burger arrived. It was a simple enough affair from the outside – poppy bun, provolone, horseradish cream, and a few thin slices of tater on the side. But that patented meat-wizardry that Chef Maws brings to the kitchen was definitely present in every bite of this tender, well-constructed patty from heaven.







Choucroute Garni.

The meats kept rolling in – next we had a slab of pork belly, two types of sausage, and kraut along with a trio of house-made mustards.

Skate Wing.

The meal finally devolved into a hearty bowl of fish and clams with beans and smoked tomatoes.

There were cheers, beer spilling, laughs, and huzzahs all around as my REM-friends and I devoured our meal.

As with most dreams, in retrospect it moved quite quickly.

Next we move into one of those fast-frame camera shots where I speed-up and slow-down walking my way out of the restaurant (you know, that film effect that they used to show in every episode of cribs).

Fog clears. I awake.

Not sure if it was all real or not. But I will be adding a new burger to my Top 10. I’ve got a new joint where I’d love to call myself a reg’lar. I can smell the wood fire already.

A4 – High 5

Friday, September 20th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Seems I blinked and Area Four multiplied several times over.

The popular coffee shop-cum-pizza spot-cum-antipasto bar-cum-gastropub that ambitiously took on so much has given birth to triplets with more singular interests. The Area Four “family” now brings chow right to your jowl via food truck, hot dog cart, and a neighborhood restaurant that serves *GASP* primarily pizza!

The newest member of the family is A4, an operation serving a similar menu of pies to papa Four along with a nice selection of salads and options marked “NOT PIZZA.”

A smattering of mouthwatering menu items to whet your palate:

  • Margherita pizza simply but beautifully adorned with tomato, mozz, pecorino and basil
  • Pizza of fennel sausage and pickled banana peppers with mozz, pecorino, and parley
  • Wellfleet cherrystone and bacon pizza with clam sauce, pecorino, hot pepper and parsley
  • Heirloom tomato and watermelon Greek salad (seasonal option)
  • Seasonal veggies, mixed greens, almonds, pecorino and lemon vinaigrette

It appears that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in terms of the quality of the pizza here. A4 sports a pimpin’ new oven that churns out some lovely circles of heaven that definitely rival dad.

I particularly enjoyed the margherita actually – so simple yet mouthwateringly juicy and flavorful with everything coming together just right. Huzzah!

Beyond the solids, A4 offers a neat and tidy little beer and wine menu with decent options.

Here’s a few poorly conceived pics to give you a sense for the place. Unfortunately I think restaurants are getting savvy on the whole iPhone phenom and have started deliberately dimming lights to discourage flash photography.


Somervillains are gettin’ it all these days: low-key pizza joints from Area Four, upscale German fare from the team behind T.W. Food, a hotly-anticipated follow-up from Tony Maws – sky’s the limit.

So head on over to the cute youngest sibling in the Four Family to get mostly pizza cooked up with the same gastronomic genes.

Union Square Donuts – Join the Revolution

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

Something has been slowly brewing in the donut world these last few years…and I don’t mean coffee (hardy har har).

What used to be a cheap fried lump of dough from an international chain of fast-food restaurants has morphed into something different. Much different.

Indeed, things have changed since the “Time to Make the Donuts” days (at least for those readers who remember the 1980’s). 

  • Higher-end restaurants started serving delightful fresh donuts, fancily dubbed “beignets” or going by another alias
  • Places like the Donut Plant in NYC started specializing in the heart-clogging little snacks and treating them with the creativity and quality that they truly deserve. Vanilla bean and blackberry jam-filled square donuts, anyone?
  • Something called the “Cronut” was invented by Dominique Ansel and promptly went as viral as Gangnam Style. A hybrid pastry that combines the DNA of a croissant and a donut, this creation has practically revolutionized the donut industry overnight.

Hard to believe, but the food world is apparently larger than New York City. Union Square Donuts has been among those blazing the trail for the donut revolution a few states north. With flavors like maple-bacon, honey almond, cherry hibiscus, and sea-salted bourbon caramel, their roundies are bound to make you happy.

The glazes are flavorful without being overpowering and really add a gourmet swagger to a humble food. The honey on that honey almond is something special and will transport you to a wild grassy field in the prairie sunshine. The sea-salted bourbon caramel will give you a balanced dose of all three of those wonderful things while you picture yourself on a porch swing during a Kentucky sunset. The dough is light and airy and is surely the product of some tightly-guarded recipe refined to perfection.

The maple bacon is, well, the maple bacon. The rest you will have to experience for yourself.

Oh It's On...


Bronwyn – A Faint Whiff of Meaty Air from O’er the German Alps

Sunday, July 21st, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

The Boston area has always been seriously underrepresented in the category of German and Eastern European cooking.


Up to this point, Jacob Wirth and Café Polonia have been the only establishments raising flags lined with wurst, bier, und kraute from the kitchens of our fine town.

A new era is upon us, dear friends, with the opening of Bronwyn.

There has been a lot of noise and chatter in the cyber-sphere about this restaurant from many months before opening until now – As your indubitable Boston seer of signs and reader of food riddles, allow me to clear the air and give you a real, true opinion from one foodmensch to another.

A casual search of the world wide web will bring you to idle rumblings from the masses and should not be trusted in the case of Bronwyn:

  • Under the ad for liposuction on the Yelp page for this restaurant, anonymous phantoms will bitch about how this place doesn’t compare to Ronnarong (formerly housed in this space…a weird place and a travesty for Thai cooking) or Machu Picchu (any Peruvian would scoff in disgust). They may also complain about wooden benches, the weather and other non-food-related minutia, when they should really be concerned about their own lack of food knowledge, taste, and ability to handle any form of discomfort.

Let’s also set-aside the fact that we are not in Germany for a second here. We all know that authenticity cannot be matched outside of the source nation due to differences in well water, the air, terroir and hundreds of years of tradition.

  • If you have tasted currywurst and ketchup from street vendors in Berlin, noshed on those delightful little Nurnberger sausages (my personal favorite), or gulped down a Weisswurst in a Munich biergarten…you cannot hope to match those experiences abroad.

Ahhh, now we can talk about how one of Boston’s best chefs, Tim Weichmann (of T.W. Food Fame), and his wife (after whom Bronwyn is named) have created a place that respectfully pays homage to a certain region of cooking while adding a dose of their own creativity.


Seated in Bronwyn’s delightful little outdoor Biergarten, my compatriots and I sampled a nice selection of sausages and other treats while enjoying beverages like Bear Republic Czech Pilsner and Erdinger Hefe.

I will start with a dissection of the “Giant Wurst Platter” that was indeed a seven-sausage meat fest. Observe:

Here is my wurst-breakdown:

  • Zungenblutwurst – A tasty blood sausage made with pork, tongue, and roasted pears. For the real mann.
  • Lemon Weisswurst – Bronwyn does an excellent rendition of one of my favorite Bavarian treats. This delicate light-colored sausage of veal, pork, and herbs is tricky to cook but Bronwyn pulled it off well.
  • Currywurst – Definitely not exactly to specification of this Berlin staple, but a delight to eat nonetheless. As the name suggests, this sausage is made with a little curry, veal, and pork.
  • Spicy Bierwurst – Though I’ve never tried this variety in Germany, the bierwurst here kind of tastes like a milder chorizo and was cut more like liverwurst in a thick round patty form.
  • Krauterwurst – A very juicy, herby little wurst made with chicken, pork, kohlrabi and beefsteak tomato
  • Kielbasa – A much different version than the spicy Polish creation that I’m used to, Bronwyn’s Kielbasa is a mighty fine and unique chunk of pork with garlic, coriander, marjoram, and farm greens poached in cream. Shazzam!
  • Bockwurst – Probably my least favorite sausage on the plate, the bockwurst came off a little dry and bland for my liking. But with 6 out of 7 sausages striking my fancy, I was pleased.

All of the above Bronwyn sausages were hand-cased and tenderly cared for. Our sausage pile was served over sauerkraut along with roasted potatoes and a refreshing little cucumber-dill gurken salad.

Beyond the wurst, we pulled apart one decent Bretzel and dipped that bad boy in a nice spicy little house-made mustard, and ordered a traditional Swiss dish called Rosti which was quite different than what you would get across the pond but was lovingly cooked together with beet, potato, arugula, radish, and chevre.








Bronwyn is not T.W. Food in that the owners have definitely created a unique identity that sets this spot apart from their upscale contemporary American hotspot in nearby Cambridge.  It is also not a substitute for eating in Deutschland. But it is one mighty-fine swag at good quality German and Eastern European cuisine in a city badly in need of this style of cooking.

ENJOY BRONWYN FOR: Steins of lager in the biergarten, sausage-fests, sharing with friends, schnitzel, rosti, pretzels, and a faint whiff of fresh air from the Bavarian Alps.

Beer Reflection – Night Shift Brewing

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

Very sporadically, I will kvell about a local brew that strikes my fancy. This time, it’s Night Shift Brewing, an operation started by a few nocturnal hausbraumeisters (or home brewers) who branched out into their own “nanobrewery” in Everett.

Why you’ll want to try their beer:

  • It’s unique.  Night Shifters have a flair for innovative flavorings in their beers. They infuse a rye ale with agave nectar and habanero. They brew a Belgian-style IPA with coriander and cardamom. They make a saison with honeydew melon essence. There’s a wheat ale with orange blossom honey and green tea. They do a stout with chicory root, ginger, and cacao nibs.
  • It’s local. You gotta love that these are just some local beer enthusiasts working with other nearby companies like Taza Chocolate and MEM Tea Imports to make great drink.
  • It’s real. The brewers take their craft seriously and try to make drinking their creations a personal experience. They hand-write the ABV and Batch #’s on their bottles and share their story with the world.
  • It’s available. Liquor stores that carry Night Shift include Downtown Wine & Spirits, The Wine & Cheese Cask, Pemberton Farms, Cardullos, Formaggios (Cambridge) and Sav-Mor Spirits. A full list is on their website. Bars & restaurants like Puritan & Company, Spoke Wine Bar, Meadhall, Area Four, Oleana, and Redbones are pouring on draft as well. Finally, you can visit the Nightshift Tap Room M-F from 5PM – 9PM and Saturday’s from 12-5PM for tours, tastes, and tees.

I recently sampled the Trifecta (Batch #18) – A Belgian-Style Pale Ale made with vanilla beans and three Trappist yeast strains. The beer had a nice smooth flavor with some lovely Belgian fruit notes and was slightly hoppy. I didn’t really pick up on the vanilla, but it may have added a nice touch to the overall flavor.

Spoke Wine Bar – Cheers to Goodness Upon Goodness

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie:  Recommends

Neat Bar Trick

After a few weeks in which Boston has seen badness spawned by badness, I’m thinking that it’s about time for an uplifting story for a change.

Am I talking about that puppy rescued from a dumpster, free snow cones on a summer day, or motherhood and apple pie?

Close, but no cigar. I’m talking about Spoke Wine Bar.

Spoke is what you get when a solid S’ville mainstay (Dave’s Fresh Pasta) branches out into new territory with a team led by the grape pro behind their excellent booze operation.

Whereas youngsters flock to the sandwiches and raviolis at Dave’s like tweens to Bieber, the cool kids will be taking a seat at Spoke for my fave gourmet pop stars Barbera and Burrata instead.

Spoke is small and intimate as any wine bar worth their sauvignon should be, whilst eschewing the ‘tude held dear by so many of it’s cabernet-pouring compatriots.

There are two main reasons to come here:

1.     FOOD

  • Nice selection of cured meats and cheeses presented on wooden planks
  • Spreads, flatbreads, and snacks ranging from marinated olives to the more glamorous peekytoe crab crostinis.
  • A small but respectable selection of small plates and more substantial dishes categorized into vegetables, seafood, and meat (oh my).
  • Though we only sampled the charcuterie, I am drawn to the handmade cavatelli, stinging nettle vellutata (just sounds cool but no idea what it will be like other than that it contains burrata) and handmade garganelli with lamb ragu, fava, and ricotta salata.
  • So yeah, the menu leans Italiano. As well it should at any fine wine bar. As well it should.

 2.     DRINK

  • The night we arrived, Spoke was pouring six whites and five reds by the glass, as well as three wines mysteriously set aside in the “other” category. We sipped on an excellent frappato from Sicily (close to a nero d’avola)  and dolcetto (also fantastic). Whites included a muscadet, a riesling, and gruner veltliner.
  • For those who like to palm their alcohol vessels rather than daintily cling to a glass stem, Spoke offers a respectable selection of bottled beers that will probably have something good on it that you’ve never heard of before like Baxter Phantom Punch Winter Stout (Maine), Nectar Ales Nectar IPA (California), and De ‘Proef’ Brouwerij Reinaert Wild Ale (Belgium).
  • I must also say that the bar staff here is genuine, knowledgeable, fun, and a pleasure to sit across from.

I am pleased that I can now eat the Cubano sandwich at Dave’s, buy a dozen wild mushroom raviolis, then sip a few glasses a couple doors down before stumbling home.

So remember, even in the midst of badness – goodness upon goodness is still possible in and around this great city. We’ve seen all the 021.XX zip codes and beyond produce such an impressive swell of giving, solidarity, and strength following the Marathon – we should wash it all down with some good vino to boot.

Cheers, Boston – and here’s to goodness upon goodness in times ahead.