Archive for the ‘Boston – FiDi’ Category

Trade – Lost in Transit

Wednesday, June 5th, 2013

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie Say: Cosi-Cosi

There are some things that you just really WANT to love in life. That first report card in 3rd grade, your freshman year roommate, that date you scored through…

Trade Restaurant was one of those things. Like a giddy eight-year-old – I scurried home to share my exciting news with the world when I first found out that the legendary Jody Adams was opening a sophomore restaurant following the ever-solid Rialto in the Charles Hotel.

I eagerly anticipated the opening, peering from a nearby street corner with binocs every so often to check upon their progress.

— Then the day finally came when they opened. —

But like the report card with straight S minuses, the roommate with a drum set, and the date who stood you up in the rain – my first meal was unfortunately a let down.

The burger was small and dry and lacked in flavor…such a shame. Definitely a far cry from the coveted Top 10 list. The only other thing I remember about the meal was my Pretty Things Jack D’Or – which is always like a comforting blanky at any restaurant experience.

Determined to give Trade a second go before the review, I returned recently to see if anything had changed. I ordered a lovely-sounding local burrata dish that fell a little flat for me – c’mon can’t we do better than grilled baguette and a little chutney on the side?

Ok, but I've had better

But then came the flatbread with lamb sausage, eggplant, manchego, peppers and garlic. Boom! The one bright spot that saved the day. Very inventive mix of ingredients that came together nicely and great quality bread churned out from a legit oven.


In the end, Trade is an inconsistent affair leaving this foodie teary-eyed and whimpering. The flatbreads appear to be the saving grace though, and I’d say this restaurant is best enjoyed at the bar with some fresh pies and booze.

Maybe the problem is an overzealous menu ranging from Asian to Italian to South American to Middle Eastern to straight-up Amuuurican.

We need to rein it in a little bit here guys – I got lost somewhere in my trip around the world. In the words of the Italians, I say this dining experience is cosi-cosi.

Food Truck Throwdown – Boston v. NYC

Sunday, October 14th, 2012

People can take their conversations, work, school, families and friends with them anywhere these days – the food truck revolution makes it easier than ever to take your meals with you anywhere too.

Last night on the greenway, a ring of mobile eateries encircled thousands of gastro-enthusiasts hungry for tacos, sliders, and all manner of portable munchies. I was one of those enthusiasts.

You’ll hear all kinds of analysis from food writers in the area, but here’s my take of the action along with a few “NTF Awards” for best of the best.

The Scene

14 Trucks – 7 from Bawston, 7 from New Yawk. Serving from late morning to 9PM at Dewey Square on the Greenway. T-shirts sold as shwag. Mobile diners voted for  NYC or BOS by dropping some cash into a bucket for each town. Cash donations went to Food Banks from each respective city – classy.

The Grub Gallery:

The NTF Food Truck Throwdown Awards:

  • Best Overall Food Mei Mei Food Truck

As the night went on, it became clear that the longest lines were not necessarily indicative of the best grub. Mei Mei had a more modest queue but was slinging some incredible eats. We kept coming back to Mei Mei for more as the night went on…and when we thought they had run out of goods – they unveiled a ‘secret’ late night menu. They reeled us in with their signature “Double Awesome Sandwich” which was an amazing scallion pancake wrapped around cheddar cheese, an Asian-leaning pesto, and slow poached then fried eggs. We came back for frickin’ awesome stir-fried noodles with beef, amaranth, and ginger and fried Chinese crullers. Baller inventive Chinese cuisine.

  • Longest LineWafels & Dinges

This NYC favorite was serving up Belgian wafels served a thousand different ways. Need I say more? Though we did not brave the line to enjoy one of their European Pancakes, they definitely deserve some props for exposing nearly 10,000 Americans to what a real wafel should taste like.

  • Best Taco – Staff Meal

Tacos are a popular food truck item. So it says something to be serving up the best. Compared to Big D’s  Grub (an NYC truck serving up Asian-Latin fusion fare), Staff Meal packed more flavor into their Mexican pancakes with a chorizo and wild mushroom offering.

  • Coolest Truck – The Munchie Mobile

A bright purple truck with glowing green eyes? How could you miss it?

  • Best Fusion Dish – Bon Me Hot Dog

Food Trucks are about fusion. We saw all kinds of influences weaved together throughout the night – Latin-Asian, Asian-American, Latin-American…a true testament to global citizens of the world. Bon Me was handing out hot dogs slathered with spicy mayo, carrots, daikon, and cilantro. Topped with sriracha, I was pleased. Good thing these guys are opening a brick and mortar location in Kendall this January!

  • Most Underwhelming Food – Bian Dang

These guys were the first to run out of food which made my tummy mad. When they surprised us with a steamed pork bun after announcing all the supplies were spent – it came up real short.

  • Friendliest Staff – Mei Mei Again!

Serving countless members of the general public from a cramped truck can crush the spirit of even the most well-intentioned food service professional. Mei Mei held it together with ease.

Who Won? Boston or New York?

Who cares? This event brought together so much goodness it doesn’t matter. It hit all the key values of the Gen Y’er: lots of choice and diversity, local “sustainable” cooking, supporting small business, a social purpose component, reasonable prices, and good food. This event was a good way to support the Food Trucks of Boston and the Big Apple while showing many a good time on a Saturday night. My only hope is that the mobile eating trend continues and that there will be more such events in the years to come.

JM Curley – “Say Hello to my Lille Fren”

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

The quest for the Top 10 Burgers in Boston continues – and JM Curley just made the list.

Curley, marked by a black top hat, is an approachable and understated bar/restaurant serving-up a limited but very well-executed  menu.

Any unassuming Bostonian innocently walking in here for a post-desk-jockeying-bevvy will be simply blown away with the food. I mean – Curley really is a hidden gem that I imagine hasn’t been largely discovered outside the realm of us local dining geeks and food blog dweebs.


The Burger. As unassuming as JM Curley itself, this thing is a simple affair hidden under a nice coating of melted cheddar cheese that features:

  • Nice-sized thick baller quality beef patty
  • Griddled onions
  • Nice slather of russian dressing and pickles
  • Sesame-seeded soft burger bun

But with the first bite you immediately notice something special. As if that melted coating of cheddar parted and said “Say hello to my lille fren”

  • So tantalizing juicy the savory meat liquid will practically knock your face off.
  • The Russian flair, soft bun, pickles and cheddar are a nice complement to the meat but do not overpower the true star in any way
  • The Curley Kitchen pulls this baby off without the slightest hint of pretentiousness. They stay true to what a burger really is – a comforting cuddly hunk of joy that you tuck into with glee.


Happy Birthday, Mr. President

As if the burger wasn’t enough. Curley floored me again during the appetizer round with something I had never seen before – Cast Iron Cornbread. This dish comes out served in a little mini skillet and literally must be grabbed from the oven by the servers on their way to the floor. So amazingly soft and topped with melty butter, honey and black pepper.  My head was spinning.


When Corn and Bread Get Tantric

In other news, Curley presents a respectable beer menu and features regular specials including burgers (the night we ate there they were touting a lamb burger).

Curley was so full of surprises that they rocked my worldview, changed my religious orientation, and had me questioning the meaning of life by the time I wandered back out onto Temple Place bewildered.

Hats off to you Curley, hats off.

Marliave – Boston, Under New Culinary Management

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Boston. An historic town under modern cultural management.

Sure, we’ve got lots of stuff that’s been around for over 100 years – Fenway Park, the T, the Bell in Hand Tavern, Mayor Menino, and a strange accent to name a few…but we’ve really tried to keep up with the times. We ditched an ugly raised highway in favor of a nice greenway, we finally constructed a proper modern art museum, we’re educating lots of smaaaht kids each year on the latest academia has to offer, and we are growing a solid base of world-class eateries that are following food trends on the frothing edge.

What does all this have to do with Marliave? Patience, young grasshopper.

This Boston mainstay has been around for ages and has to be one of the oldest dining locations in the city, but under the management of Grotto chef/owner Scott Herrit, they are still slingin’ some very well-executed grub that spans Italian and French-inspired dishes that are worthy of the 21st century.

Typically you’d expect that restaurant established in the 1800’s that is downtown right smack in the tourist action to be mediocre at best, but Marliave is a welcome exception to the rule.

The restaurant really is a hidden gem that had remained more rumored than real to this native for several years. I’m glad I picked up my britches and gave it a try. It’s a beautiful space with a laid-back bar area on the first floor and gorgeous intimate dining room above street level.

I’ve waited long enough – here are the menu highlights:

  • “Sunday Gravy” – pillow-y gnocchi (yes I’m a fouchebag) and delicious creamy San Marzano tomato sauce laden with tender lamb, pork and beef. Down-home comfort, upscale technique.
  • Seared scallops with pumpkin ravioli and wild mushroom risotto. Beautifully-plated, inventive combo, perfectly-cooked scallops. Terrific.
  • Chicken breast seared ‘under a brick’ over risotto with mushrooms and roasted garlic. I don’t know if it’s just clever marketing, but I typically drool over chicken under a brick. Marliave’s take on this dish was outstanding.

Other menu items that caught my eye included beef wellington, a sexy-looking burger, “Henry’s Soup” (French onion, gruyere, short rib, crouton, mouthgasm), beef carpaccio, and a nice duck confit app (coming to your iplate soon).

In the end, Marliave is a fine example of how Boston can marry old school colonial charm with new school culinary chops. Bravo.

O Ya – Straight-up Food Porn

Monday, January 2nd, 2012

Location: Boston

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

There’s every other sushi restaurant you’ve eaten at in your life, and then there’s O Ya.

Yeah, that’s right. This underground citizen food blogger just ate at a restaurant that received an unheard-of 29 Food Rating from Zagat, was named one of the Top 10 Sushi restaurants in the country by Bon Appétit, and frequently makes it into various “Best of Boston” rankings. New York Times food critic Frank Bruni himself gushed over these guys.

I’ve written in past food prose that sushi lends itself to being categorized in tiers. Well, O Ya just created their own freaking level of classification.

Given that the entire United States food rating machine has already raved about this spot since the five years after it opened, this humble critic will just describe it as food porn and let the following full-size pictures from my 16-course Omakase tasting menu tell the rest. After this I’ll have to purchase a “dot xxx” domain. Happy food lust:

View of the huge sauce line-up from the sushi bar


Fish is way more beautiful on a plate than in the sea...


Scottish salmon, spicy sesame ponzu, yuzu kosho, scallion oil


Fried kumamoto oyster + yuzu kosho aioli + squid ink bubbles = mouthgasm


Shima aji & santa barbara sea urchin, ceviche vinaigrette, cilantro


Real seared wagyu beef petit strip loin. Two words: life-changing.


Thank you. Come again.