Archive for the ‘Sammiches’ Category

Commonwealth – Wiggling Into Multiple Mealtimes

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Restaurants usually come to occupy a certain space within ourselves – we file the place away in our gullet and food funnels within our brain (yes, that is a term from the field of neuroscience). You know, there is that part of us that wants:

…this type of food

…at that time of day

…with those people

…and for that price tag.

Let me illustrate.

  • Olecito: A quick meal when I have cash in my pocket, a long ride ahead of me, and a hankering for pork and spices on my tongue.
  • Bronwyn: Beers and pretzels with friends any night, weekend dinner with anyone, or the Bronburger…alone.
  • A4: Friday night dinner, good red wine and a movie with me’lady – meow.
  • Ribelle: When I know my schedule 3 weeks ahead of time, I want to be guaranteed a memorable meal, and I just got paid a boatload of $$$
  • Simon’s: Triple medium cubano latte. Every single Friday.

Commonwealth is starting to wiggle its way into my subconscious in a way that has them coming top of mind at multiple mealtimes.

For example:

Sunday Brunch: With a spacious, chill, sunny vibe and a wicked fun menu filled with sinful fat-laden things and good coffee – there is not much more to think about when considering Commonwealth for an 11:30am double meal.

ORDER THIS: “Ginormous Sticky Bun with Crispy Bacon” – Serves 4, but can easily be eaten by a single hung-over glutton.

ORDER THIS: “The Dirty Jersey” – Yeah, it’s a ham, egg, ‘n cheese sandwich…but on steroids. Super delicate bun, baller ham, gooey egg, and pimpin’ queso. Homefries on the side are actually amazing.

Weekday Lunch:  Starting at about 12:15 every weekday, a small army of tech geeks, high-powered consultants, pharma phriends, and INTP software engineers descend upon the luncheonettes and café cars of Kendall Square for their midday intake. Without disclosing which one of those suspects I am, I have found myself flocking here with the rest of the crowd for some lunching.

ORDER THIS: “Pork Belly Banh Mi” – A respectable take on the epic BLT sandwich from the East.

Oh, and I’ll have you know that I do eat my veggies in addition to large quantities of pig and carbs.

That’s right folks – Commonwealth has just the thing for you on that front too. Think spinach and strawberry salad, lush green salad with watermelon radish, asparagus and faro, and a beet/goat cheese salad with pistachio pesto and dill. Bounty of the earth.

Randomly, they also have an insanely good oatmeal raisin cookie. So they also occupy the “snack time” part of my brain too.

So – if you have empty spaces in your meal schedule – I’d recommend you hit up Commonwealth, stat.

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.

Amsterdam Falafel Shop – A Red Light District for Chickpeas

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie Says: Cosi-Cosi









Anyone who has been to Amsterdam and ventured outside the famed red light district will tell you that there is much more to this beautiful city than x-rated window shopping…great food, a beautiful riverboat tour, one of the skinniest buildings in the world, and lots of Van Gogh (best enjoyed after a few space cakes).

Similarly, there is much more to the world of falafel than Amsterdam Falafel Shop – but for an area starved for good fried chickpeas it’s a start.

AFS is a falafel shop with roots in Washington, DC that has decided to branch out and open a shop in the area where most future presidents get their Harvard degree and where most future diplomats pick up a few classes at the Fletcher School. Might as well feed your future leaders well as they feed their brains, right?

Here’s how the assembly-line format at AFS works:

  1. Order your falafel sandwich or falafel plate
  2. Load up on a wide assortment of toppings that include: pickled everything, cucumber + tomato, tahini, cabbage, hummus, yogurt sauce, spicy red stuff, etc.
  3. Devour

The falafel sandwich is pretty good, but I’ve had much better elsewhere. I take issue with the hard, crunchy, and slightly dry variety they are serving here. The toppings really save the day along with the pillow-soft pitas that they serve the falafel with. But the main event is a bit lackluster.

Amsterdam also boasts fries with a variety of interesting dipping sauces. Again, the fries are seriously lacking but are saved by an especially good curried ketchup dipping sauce.

So it appears a trend is surfacing here – AFS dresses-up their fare pretty well but misses the mark on the main events.

Like a tourist making a beeline for the red light district, AFS needs a better map of falafelville. But until better eats in this genre hit the area, I’m sticking with my Chickpea Fritter from Clover Food Lab.

Sofra – A Slice of the Middle East in Eastern Mass

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends








In a court of food, a raw-yer (get it?) could argue that Ana Sortun is the chef to most successfully bring Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine to Eastern Massachusetts and the North Atlantic.

So a few years ago when I discovered she had opened a bakery and café in a remote corner of Cambridge to build off the success of Oleana I was particularly jazzed.

I’ve been over here several times and never left disappointed – they manage to squeeze fistfuls of culinary delights into a small space. Think amazing falafel and shawarma, a slew of baked goods, spices for purchase, and even fresh eggs (presumably from the farm that Sortun and family runs).

A recent trip here brought joy upon joy in the form of Turkish coffee, a little sausage and broccoli rabe sandwich, a nice quiche-like pastry and the ever-famous egg shakshouka (find out about that one on your own).

Sortun offers you all this and more in a well-designed (yet tiny) space. Sofra is best enjoyed in the following formats:

  • Order a sandwich for take-out. Sip a Turkish coffee while you wait.
  • Bring a slew of pastries home to gorge upon
  • Come with a small crew and hover over people to grab a seat for weekend breakfast
  • Experience Sofra in warmer weather and chill in a small space for outdoor seating

In any form of edible excursion here however – you will be found guilty of gluttony.

Eat on,

Nick the Foodie.


2nd Street Cafe – Nostalgia, Grinder Monologues, and Secret Food Tracks

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

 Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Long live the neighborhood restaurant.

Remember when it all had that home cooked feel to it?

Remember when they used to whip up specials based on the inspiration of the day?

Remember when you could walk in and say “the usual?”

Remember when you could say “hook me up with something special” and they’d throw a dish together for you on a whim?

Remember that thing called service? Sure, I know that between healthcare, the airlines, and Comcast, we’ve nearly forgotten the meaning of the word.

Here at 2nd Street Anthony and his team are keepin’ the dream alive by feeding all locals within a 10 block radius for breakfast and lunch M-F with a stellar lineup of fresh sammies and daily specials to boot.

Think grilled chicken with pesto, tomato and fresh mozz; a grilled cubano complete with roast pork loin, ham, swiss, and all the trimmings; curried chicken salad, and my personal favorite: MOM’S MEATBALL GRINDER.

[Cue Brief Grinder Monologue] – Wow. Holy shit. This hoagie is one of those “available ‘till it runs out type deals”…a marvelous combination of tender-as-hell meatballs in a light airy tomato sauce and loads of melted provolone. Wrapped up in tinfoil you joyfully cling to it on the walk back to your officle and then silently devour it accepting no corporate fire drill as a legitimate-enough emergency to break  the deliciousness of each passing moment. See below:


We’re back. Sorry about that. I get a little heated every time the grinder comes up. Back to good food and service.  The bottom line of it is that if you work within the reach of 2nd Street be sure to escape from the daily grind with a friendly grinder from the kind folks here.


Secret Food Track:

Remember Green Day? Remember Dookie? Remember how your level of cool was defined by your knowledge of the secret track? Here at Nick the Foodie, we remember, and we’re hitting you with a bonus track in case you missed the hip boat in 7th Grade.

I received a personalized cooking lesson from Anthony, the culinary mastermind behind the 2nd Street operation. He spent a good solid afternoon teaching me some killer technique in the kitchen and led our service of 20 ravenous other foodies with an orgasmic menu consisting of the following:

  • Carbonnade a la Flamande (an amazing braised beef stew) with Chimay and Short Rib
  • Baked squash rounds with triple crème brie, caramelized onions and chiffonade of sage
  • Grill-toasted baguette with prosciutto and fig preserve
  • Grilled squid salad with spicy vinaigrette
  • Grilled asparagus and mashies

Anthony is a good chum and real professional gent to work beside in the kitchen. I learned a ton from him and his background and can say with insider knowledge that the man behind the magic at 2nd Street is going to treat you right.

Long live the neighborhood restaurant and the good people keeping them alive.

Darwins – Survival of the Tastiest

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends







Sandwich shops are like mammals – you either eat, or you get eaten.

…and Darwins has been high up on the food chain for several years now feeding much of Cambridge during breakfast and lunch hours. They’re pimpin’ some great sammies coined and inspired by local streets and squares, such as:

  • The Inman (Burritos Eggis) – Breakfast Burrito. You know,  beans, eggs, salsa…if that carnitas roll-up wasn’t enough for you the night before – this guy will satisfy your craving.
  • The Felton (yuppieus sammicha) – Eggs scrambled, spinach, swiss, bacon. A delightfully sinful and refined breakfast creation.
  • The Irving (Genus pastramius) – Slaw, Swiss, Russian dressing, and pastrami. A hearty handful of pleasure.

Beyond some of these reg’lar menu items, I like bringing in the hand of Foodie to craft wild beasts of my own. The favorite being my breakfast sandwich, which I’d lobby for Darwin’s to call Foodie Street:

  • Ham, eggs, grilled asparagus and melted havarti on sourdough (grandus bellyus)

Plus, they’re always bringing in some daily specials that’ll blow your mind more than Animal Planet. So if you’re looking for the cromagnon warrior of sandwich shops in the Cambridge area, hit Darwins to experience food evolution.

Hi Rise Bread Company – The Sun Also Rises on Mass Ave

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In a few words: Hi-Rise takes on the café thang with legit coffee at a new location

Store Front

Counter & Ordering Area








Oh it’s on Starbucks.

The makers of Boston’s best baguette, slammin’ challah, bomb brioche and baller sandwiches have decided to add espresso to their resumé.

After shutting the doors on their Harvard location (was never a huge fan of that one anyway), Hi-Rise has set up shop in a new ‘hood with a different formula than their Concord Ave digs. Here, they’re focusing more on espresso drinks and a chill café vibe.

Some things you’ll notice that are different than the Huron Village operation:

Chicken Cubano - Yum

  • Fewer Sandwiches. Though I was slightly bummed not to see my “Andi’s Loose Knit Crew” sammich here, I was quite pleased with my grilled chicken cubano (ham, pickles, cheese, and special sauce on Concord). They’ve brought over some of the killer breakfast sandwiches to this locale as well (like the Hi-Riser). Finally, my eyes also lit up with intrigue at a gourmet bahn-mi inspired creation that includes paté, ham, veggies, and sauce. Can’t wait to sample that one.
  • Very respectable espresso drinks. La Marzocco espresso machine? Check. Good beans? Check. Hipster indie-styled baristas? Check.  Good latte? Check. The technique behind the coffee bar here is pretty amazing and Hi-Rise is bringing in the big guns of local roasters with excellent stuff from Barismo  right in nearby Arlington. I’d definitely put the coffee here somewhere around Crema and Bloc 11 based on quality.

    La Marzocco + Barismo = Love

  • Fewer fresh-baked goods. You’ll still be able to buy one of those orgasmic baguettes here and a variety of other loaves but don’t expect to find all the same stuff as the Hi Rise original.
  • Little more space. If you’ve been squeezed into the corner of a colonial-era room at the Harvard location, or basically sat on someone’s lap at the huge communal table at the Concord Ave spot, you may be pleased by the outdoor seating, standing room bar-style eating at the windows, and cozy café nook area to post up with your laptop for a few hours.

In the end I’m pumped to have these guys in the area given I don’t make it out to Huron Village as much as I’d like. I think what I’m going to do is hit Hi-Rise Mass Ave up for breakfast/brew, but still frequent the flagship locale when I’m on the lookout for stuff like a brioche and to-die-for sammies. I suggest you do the same, dear reader.

In the meantime, Starbucks will definitely feel the heat from another local café that makes better coffee than they do. Anti-corporate coffee types out there, take joy.

Clover Food Lab – A Brave New Lunch

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

The Clover Lab serves food from the future.

Enter a white modern space. If you thought this was the type of spot where you just walk up to a counter and place your order you were wrong bee-atch.

A futuristic server with an iPhone greets you in front of a plasma-menu and asks if you’ve been there before. You say no, and she giggles. You then banter and joke around about what the best menu items are before settling on the Chickpea Fritter, rosemary fries and a cool rhubarb drink.

Your order is taken via Apple genius and beamed over to the kitchen. Your receipt is emailed to your gmail account. You’re then told to hang out and wait for each piece of your order to appear on the counters in front of you. Very exciting.

You’ll find the fritter delightful (recommend adding a little hot pepper from the condiment station), and the rosemary fries cooked to perfection and packed with whole mini-spears of fried rosemary sprinkled throughout. Amazing. You’ll think: Did I just eat vegetarian? Can’t be…

You will leave wanting to come back and try the BBQ Seitan and a fresh beer as you step back out into 2011.

Thanks for showing us what it will be like Clover. Can I join the occult via iPhone as well? Where do I download the app? Thanks.