Archive for the ‘Bakeries’ Category

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...


City Snapshot – Portland, ME

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The best New England food town north of the ‘Bean, the ‘Bridge, and the ‘Ville is undoubtedly Portland, Maine.

Once a homely fishing town and a well-kept secret, this city has in recent years been outed as a real Foodie destination. So yeah, I’ve been there a few times.

This snapshot points you to a gathering of my flava faves and a couple poseurs to stay away from.


First, the Faves:

Browse the gallery below for some snapshots of  goodness devoured at said eateries:

Now, here are a couple Flops:

  • J’s Oyster | Yeah, I know Bourdain came here, but it’s overcrowded and mediocre
  • Bresca | Overpriced for what you eat, and there’s better food in town | Read My Review

With the busy summer season behind us and the Fall air blowing in, you might want to consider a weekend getaway to this eaters paradise to gorge on all of the above.

So, how does the fair city of Portland do it, you ask? Are their chefs better? Their kitchens more pimped out? Their eaters more discriminating? Their ingredients fresher?

The answer, my friends, washes up on shore with each Maine baby born from the salt of the Atlantic ocean.

Tatte – Finally, the Right Way to Say “Tart”

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Much to the chagrin of places like Woburn High, this place is actually pronounced Tah-tuh.

But damn can they bake. After opening right smack in Kendall Square on Third Street in early May, these guys have been packed to the brims with pharma jocks, medical device bandits, MIT babes, start-up engineers, and latte-carrying yuppies.

Business has been good. And Tatte deserves it. With a pimped-out line-up of sweet and savory, crusty and creamy, chocolatey and buttery, cheesy and meaty, green and soupy – the menu here features the following:

  • Fresh baguettes
  • Croissants
  • Brioche
  • Quiches (cherry tomato ‘n feta, potato ‘n thyme, zucchini ‘n mozz)
  • Soups (sweet pea, tomato basil bisque, mushroom)
  • Sammiches (think mozz, tomato, basil and pesto on toasted foccacia and pan roasted meatballs and san marzana ‘matoes on baguette with provolone)
  • Salads (vegetarians will delight in a full array of salads that come herby and green, loaded with ancient grains, or classically spinach and feta)
  • A Legit Breakfast Spread (brekkie sandwiches, muesli, bread baskets galore, shakshuka, and other assortments worthy of the Sunday Brunching crowd)

There are no pictures of these items in this review because the snapshots I took did not do them justice. On top of all this, Tatte tips their hat to nearly all my favorite food havens in Europe:

  • The shop looks unmistakably French and customers are greeted with a hearty “bonjour” from the full selection croissants, brioche, and baguettes behind the pastry window
  • The sandwiches, bread items, and full Illy Coffee setup scream “Viva l’Italia!”
  • The name Tatte conjures up images of an apron-and-rolling-pin-wielding-stocky-German-woman plus they serve Schnitzel for lunch

There is a fine patina of Eastern Europe and Mediterreania here as well with your eggplant purees, tahini, and yogurts.

Oh, and any bakery would be incomplete with a big slice of Americana – yes, they have a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich.

I guess Tatte really does speak Baaaston after all…But I am glad that they bow to European technique.

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.


3 Little Figs – Once Upon Some Thyme…

Monday, January 16th, 2012

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends








I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll pull a mean espresso shot while placing an amazing pastry on your table.

A new little cottage with walls made of muffins, a roof made of scones, and a door made of spinach pies is luring hansel and gretels off highland ave. for amazing baked goods and legit coffee. You’ll have to leave a trail of pebbles to find your way back to a subway station from their location, but it’s totally worth the hike.

For one, 3 Little Figs produces a fig and pear scone that tastes like something Snow White would have worked up if she owned a bakery. The thing is so good I wouldn’t be surprised if seven dwarfs were hidden in the back room churning butter and manning the kitchen.

In fact, their tiny location is charming enough that it looks like Snow White may have done the decorating (with a little help from goldilocks and little red of course).

And this little gem cooks up more than just little baked “beauties” – they’ve also got some “beast” on their menu – rock the egg and feta sandwich, have them slip prosciutto in there, and break a curse while getting a food buzz.

All fairy tales aside – this new bakery justifies all the hype they’ve received and is a nice addition to the ‘ville.  Spend a morning meal here and live happily ever after.

Eataly – Nick Communicates from the Pasta Rings of Hell

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Location: New York, NY

The Foodie: Recommends

Kids – In one of our previous installments from the foodie, we talked about visions of a glorious afterlife lush with lobster rolls. But if I go down below dear friends, I’m going for gluttony.

…and if there’s one place that may have just put me over the edge from a severe epicure to an outright glutton, it was probably Eataly. I’ll now proceed to tell you why this devilish enterprise created by celebrity chefs with last names like Batali and Bastianich pushed me into the fiery depths (of a brick oven).


  • WARNING: Ingenious Store Layout Meant to Trap Foodies. Enter at your own risk and prepare for the prospect of never leaving. Be assaulted by a diverse range of fresh fruits and veggies, some of which you may have never seen before (can you say witch finger grapes?). Hit a huge circular room where you’ll be encircled by bread, antipasti and wine. Just try to resist at this point. Explore a little further and you’ll see Il Pesce restaurant serving amazing fruit of the sea, a selection of rare Italian and imported bottled beers for purchase,  a butcher shop, pizza and pasta eateries, and a breath-taking selection of dried pastas, jarred goods, and, yes, more wines.
  • DANGER: Rooftop Biergarterrini Called Birreria Will Be Your Last Glimpse of Heaven. If you ever leave the first floor, make it to level 15 to sample the excellent beer and wine selection and hearty fare on the rooftop restaurant Birreria. Prepare to eat Italian-style sausages you may not have heard of before in German fashion complete with fresh bread and ‘kraute. Sip on amazing local beers like Captain Lawrence Liquid Gold. Holy shit that brew was good. But wait, there are also cask beers brewed in-house by a collab-o of brewers including meisters from Dogfish Head.  Sample from an impressive selection of salumi, formaggi and more. Your head will be spinning.
  • ATTENTION: They Have Every Meal Covered So Don’t Think You Can Weasel Out After Dinner. As if all that wasn’t enough people, there’s also a coffee bar and gelateria back down on floor uno that will keep you caffeinated enough to stick around and continue your gluttonous ways. You may be enticed to combine these two elements into the ultimate Italian treat: Affogato.

That concludes my final communication from my (donut) ring of hell…my “phone call” so to speak…with the rest of the gluttons down here. I see Yelpers, Homer Simpson, and Julia Child down here people. Don’t think you’re safe too.

Enter Eataly if you’re the kind of person who thinks that limbo isn’t living dangerously enough.

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.