Archive for the ‘Mac ‘N Cheese’ Category

Merrill & Co. – For Your Next Dining Spree

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

www.merrillandcoboston.com

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Thinking that this was some new retail clothing chain selling hearty American outdoor-wear (sounds like it should be, right?), I came into Merrill & Co. looking for sturdy shorts but came out with my stomach stuffed full rather than my cargo pockets.

The South End spot, which opened in March, is a bit of a collab-o between the restaurant group behind Bin 26, Lala Rohk, and JM Curley and talent from the latter of the three joints.

Their funky menu spans Asian-influences, American comfort classics and fruits de mer. The offerings are organized as follows:

  • Raw Bar – oysters, shrimp, and ceviche
  • “Jump Offs” – bar snacks
  • “Lil’ Guys” – plates designed for sharing but many large enough to be enjoyed by one hungry Northeastern student. Largest section of the menu, so I guess that playing nice with your food is encouraged here.
  • “Big Boys” – even a Tufts frat boy couldn’t handle something like a “Big Ass Bone-In Ribeye” with lardo and beef butter on his own. These guys are meant for splitting.

Let me lay it down for you in more detail – retail style.

AISLE ONE

We started the meal off with a nice dish of artichokes, king trumpet mushrooms, and queso fresco. Very rustic flavor and an inventive dish. Plus One for Merrill.

AISLE TWO

Next, we moved on to the octopus with kimchi, pimento, and burnt onion. The tentacle was cooked well with the right mix of tenderness, seasoning, and char. The ‘pus went better with the sauce of pimento/onion than the pickled stuff, which was more of a palate cleanser. Overall, a well-conceived dish. Another point for Merrill.

AISLE THREE

The classic progression of a refined French meal: artichokes, octopus, then mac et fromage. Merrill’s take on a classic dish included a light and airy parmesan-cheddar sauce over some nice little elbows and bread crumbs. Refreshing to not have a mac ‘n cheese that hit my gullet like a ton of bricks. In the end though, I was hoping for a little more flavor from this bad boy – maybe some funkier cheese like Gruyere and some added kick from some chives? Minus a point for Merrill.

Mac Attack

AISLE FOUR

Awwwwwwww yeah. Sliders. Juicy frickin’ sliders. Special sauce. Pickles. Melty Cheese. Delicious. Perfection. Making the Top 10 Burgers in Boston List this year. I’m certain. The guys here must have ripped a page out of the JM Curley burger handbook (currently the #3 burger in the area by my count) with this one. A home run for Merrill & the whole damn company.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHECK OUT

Finally, the drink spread here is pretty decent too – I sipped a tasty Devotion Belgian Pale from Lost Abbey (CA). Though not my thang – they also have a large selection of sherry.

This was a fun night of shopping for my tongue, teeth, nose, and innards. We all enjoyed the meal. Though the menu is a little helter-skelter without really hitting on a core theme, the food coming out of the kitchen is quite respectable and worthy of your time and money.

 – ESPECIALLY THE SLIDERS!!! – 

Tupelo – Southern Roots Planted in a Northern City

Monday, July 15th, 2013

http://tupelo02139.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Like Northeastern college kids pre-gaming on a Saturday night, New Englanders have always been into southern comfort.

For as long as I can remember, restaurants in the Boston area have been pounding out grits, smoking BBQ, and mixing up gumbos trying to introduce a little drawl into the dining scene around here.

Some have tried (and in my opinion) failed, while the successful few have lived on as beloved neighborhood staples that inspire the hearts and minds of local occupants.

Tupelo is one of the latter, y’all.

Over the years I’ve had my fair share of dry and burnt fried chicken, bland attempts at roasted trout from out the ‘crick, and bad deep-fried things of all sorts (with the gut to prove it).

But one brave pastry chef-cum-genius, the owner behind Petsi Pies, decided a few years ago to open a spot that proudly served the food of ‘Nawlins and the deep south with an eye for authenticity and quality.

This is a review of her flagship Cajun-seasoned enterprise a few years into operation.

HINT: Oh, it’s still on in the Tupelo kitchen.

They’ve kept the core menu items basically the same, but added some twists over time along with nightly specials that’ll make you want to say “I wish I was born in the Bayou.”

Here’s a run-down of some of my favorite dishes here:

  • Pan-fried catfish – a well-seasoned cut of meow-steak over creamy grits and accompaniments that I’ve ordered many a time and always enjoyed thoroughly
  • Fried oysters – the perfect snack to enjoy with an Abita brew while waiting for them to clear your table and seat you.
  • Pork belly corn-dog – Dear arteries, I’m sorry for accelerating the process through which you will eventually clog up and writhe in pain, however, the organ further south in my abdomen (belly) and taste buds up north schemed with my brain to order this amazing creation. My taste buds said that the slab of pork belly was ever-so-tender on the inside and coated with sweet, soft goodness on the outside with a l’ull kick added by some nice spicy aioli. My stomach willingly received the calorie-laden treat and broke down the glutens and proteins with glee. Yes, it’s true, one Guy Fieri was right when he dubbed this bad boy a “Perfect Storm” on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Corn Dog of the Future...

  • Crawfish etouffee – A more recent add’y to the menu, this deep rich stew is jumping with the slightly meatier, smaller cousin of the shrimp. This dish is complex, spicy, and a joy to eat.

Remember those things you kept as pets in 4th grade science block?

  • Cajun gumbo – Have I mentioned that Tupelo is best enjoyed with an appetite? If your pork belly corn-dog appetizer isn’t enough, the etouffee and gumbo will offer generous bowls of goodness that will warm your soul. Tupelo’s gumbo includes pulled chicken, Andouille sausage, and okra.
  • Desserts – This is one joint where you will not want to skip the sweets…the post-dinner treats here usually feature goods from Petsi Pies and local ice-creameries.

For my money, Southern-inspired food doesn’t get much better than this in the metro Beantown arena.

So as freshmen hammer down shots of  SoCo in their dorm rooms across the river, I’m digging in to my version of down-home comfort – at Tupelo.

M3 – Meat ‘N Hurting Sides

Friday, August 31st, 2012

http://imwithmeat.com/home.html

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie Say: Cosi-Cosi

All signs pointed to glee – comfort Southern fare, tested restaurant owner, Davis locale, an aeronautical name suggesting meat missiles are on the horizon…but in reality “Meat ‘n Three Sides” was a mixed bag y’all.

The Foodie hates dishing out criticism, but in the spirit of providing a clean and honest review, I owe it to my following to keep you eating well.

Do you want the good news first or the bad news first? I’ll break it down so you can skip ahead to what you want to hear:

THE GOOD NEWS:

  • Nice Concept. On a certain level, what’s not to like about a laid-back atmosphere, friendly servers, a large menu of rare and obscure beers served primarily in can format, and loads of gut-growing savory Southern grub being slung out ‘da kitchen? These guys have everything except the twang. They also cleverly constructed all table surfaces and bathroom walls to be chalk-friendly.
  • A Few Decent to Tasty Dishes. As you’ll find out, you gotta order skillfully here to enjoy your eating experience. Some plates that will make ‘yer belly say “gurgle gurgle yum yum” include: Fried Maine cheese curds, shrimp ‘n grits, anything pickled (they have a thing for pickling), and mac ‘n cheese. That’s about all I would seriously order.

Shrimp 'n Grits

THE BAD NEWS:

  • Many Mediocre to Pretty Bad Dishes. The real bad news about M3 is that their menu is weighted more heavily towards cement-heavy cooking; ill-conceived concoctions, and “just Ok” food that is done better at places like Tupelo, Highland Kitchen, and Blue Ribbon BBQ.  Such dishes include the rainbow trout (flavorless), fried chicken (sooooo dry), watermelon salad (lips puckering with vinegar overdose), fried catfish (overly breaded), oyster po’boy (a po’ attempt at a classic sammich) and duck fat burger (sounded good but had my buddy looking pretty ill with fullness all night – like he swallowed a cinder-block).
  • Trying Too Hard and Going Over-the-Top. Sure, consumers are a fickle bunch. You really have to try hard to catch people’s attention. But fried fluffernutter? A burger cooked in duckfat and topped with bacon? A mini-hen served with a beer can shoved up its butt? Cornmeal fried frog legs? Such heavy-handedness had even I, an unabashed meat eater who feasted on applewood-smoked-bacon-wrapped-rabbit-loin-skewers” in celebration of a movie involving kids brutally murdering each other while roasting squirrel in the woods, saying “Arrêt.

Cinder-Block

So there it is, Billy Bob. The true story. The real deal. In the end The Foodie recommends hitting M3 for some late night fried cheese curds and beers or a day-drinking snack. Also give the brunch a shot (haven’t ventured into that territory yet).

But – buyer beware when it comes to dinner.

Trina’s Starlite Lounge – Bring Dollars for Dogs

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

http://trinastarlitelounge.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In a few words: No, it’s not a strip club.

Though it looks possible from the outside, Trina’s Starlite Lounge is not filled with pole-dancers and dollar bills.

Instead, it’s a hot dog fest. In a good way guys. We’re talking about the following:

  • Best corn dog in Boston. Hands-down. Amazingly-fluffy “corn,” all-beef beautiful dog. Nothing bad at all to say about this bad boy.
  • Dog of the day: Last time I was here, it was an amazing dog stuffed inside a puff pastry and topped with legit grain mustard.

Beyond the dogs, they’ve got a mac ‘n cheese that is made with love and ends up being about as good as a lap dance. I don’t know how they do it, but American Cheese, cream, huge pasta shells and crumbled Ritz crackers never tasted so decadent. One of the best mac’s in the region folks. Straight-up.

Come to Trina’s to eat devilishly. Gorge on hot dogs, eat a heart-attack “mac,” enjoy legit micro-brews, and live life.

I’d share pictures, but it was too dark inside. Ha.