Archive for the ‘Bars’ Category
Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)
The Foodie: Recommends
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:
- 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.
- 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.
Location: Cambridge, MA (See on Map)
The Foodie: Recommends
Here on Nick The Foodie Boston, my meals are typically the main form of entertainment that I speak of. When dining out at Metro Boston restaurants, the small plates or appetizers serve as my opening act, the main plates my main show, the dessert the encore.
But this time, my compatriots, things are different. I actually will write about something other than food.
Oh no I di-int. Yes I did. I spent an incredibly fun night at the new Sinclair restaurant and show venue in Harvard Square. The Sinclair sports a good-sized “Kitchen” and an intimate space for concerts. Here’s a snapshot of upcoming shows that look worth attending (and aren’t sold out yet):
- Kishi Bashi
- Patrick Watson
- The King Kahn & BBQ Show
We saw the very first comedy show here and were cracking up the entire time – I haven’t laughed this much since Seinfeld, Something About Mary, It’s Always Sunny, Billy Madison, and the Chappelle Show…speaking of which – the main comedy act of the night was Neil Brennan – Dave’s co-creator for the show and co-writer on the stoner classic Half Baked. Brennan’s opener was a local act named Jenny Zigrino – who is a legitimate rising talent and one of funniest female comedians I’ve ever seen.
So there you have it – I led a review with a subject other than food. I’m sweaty, my hands are clammy, and I’m a bit light-headed. I’ve gotta throw some grub in here to revive myself.
So the Sinclair concert venue is housed through a separate entrance than the restaurant. The Sinclair Kitchen exists to feed hungry adventure-seekers prior to their music and entertainment next door. And they do a pretty good job at that. The menu delivers a solid lineup of pre-show supper items, including:
- The Sinclair Burger – Thick patty, soft bun, watercress, basil aioli (nice touch), and secret sauce – could just make my Top 10 list of 2013, we shall see.
- Steamed Mussels – with red curry and lychee (trust me, it works)
- Pastrami’d Pork Belly Sliders – a gut and artery coagulant that is no doubt tasty
- Crispy Fried Oysters
- Shellfish Gumbo – with crispy rice and Andouille saucisse
- Grilled Octopus – gigante beans and chorizo
- Kale Salad – golden raisins, parsnips, sunflower seeds
- Roasted Local Beets – honey, thyme, hazelnuts, goat cheese mousse.
We sampled the roasted local beets, burger, and mussels and were quite pleased with all three. Though the Sinclair offers a pretty “safe” menu of time-tested, tried-and-true recipes and loses innovation points for things like Gianonne Farms Chicken, Steak Frites, and a Veggie Burger – they do pull all these things off with quality and a bit of style and flair.
So don’t expect something you’ve never seen before on the menu – but DO expect a well-executed and tasty munch pit before your mosh pit.
TIP: Ask your server to snag you some tix while eating if you plan to see a show after dinner and they’ll oblige.
Alcohol flows freely at both the restaurant and show venue, which is cool. Beer selection is, again, safe (think Harpoon, Miller Lite, ‘Gansett) but with a little flair (Pretty Things Jack D’Or).
So there you have it – good reliable food and good solid shows. Two doors. One roof. The Sinclair.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
That dimly-lit neighborhood bar that everyone loves now offers outdoor drinking. Game on.
This is just one of those local places where you’re likely to meet people from everywhere but wonder how people from everywhere end up there. Too far from any T-stop for citizens of SoChuck (South of the Charles) to venture – Atwood’s tends to be packed with drinkers from NoChuck and their associates from afar who own a car or walk from nearby.
After a few encounters with this approachable, chill, laid-back spot it has quickly risen to become one of my preferred places to meet-and-drink in town. They feature live bluegrass and Americana some nights, a spacious outdoor wood-toned patio, local brews and good cheer.
Things have seemed to “click” when I’ve been here. The right company, the right number of pints, the right conversations, people laugh at my jokes etc. You know – the right balance. Minimal social awkwardness and multiple good connections. Not too crowded and not crickets.
Atwood’s offers a modest yet respectable beer lineup – last time I was here they were pouring Pretty Things American Darling and a zany green-tea-hefe-crossbreed concoction from the nocturnal brewing operation over at Night Shift Brewing
With the end of this scorching summer in sight and cooler weather on the horizon – I think I know where I’ll be spending my Saturday afternoons outside the next few weeks. See you there.