Archive for the ‘Brunch’ Category

Commonwealth – Wiggling Into Multiple Mealtimes

Friday, April 18th, 2014

http://commonwealthcambridge.com/

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.

Deluxe Town Diner – Brunch Interlude

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

http://deluxetowndiner.com

Location: Watertown, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Quick brunch interlude here folks – thought that Deluxe Town Diner over in Dub-town deserved a real solid shout out from one of Boston’s least known food bloggers.

THE FACTS: Open from 7AM erry day. Breakfast served all day. Get there early for weekend brunch. Phone: (617) 926-8400

COMPARE TO: High quality, low-key brunch joints. Think Renee’s (Somerville) and Luna (Cambridge).

EAT THIS: Deluxe Flapjacks with Blueberries. Side of Sausage. Cup of Joe. U-S-A.

You Now Have a Plan This Saturday Morning

 

Union Square Donuts – Join the Revolution

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

https://www.facebook.com/UnionSquareDonuts

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...

 

L’Espalier – Armies of Amuses, A Whole Duck, Desserts in Chocolate Vessels, and Tea Sommeliers

Monday, April 8th, 2013

www.lespalier.com

Location: Boston, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

At long last – I managed to eat at L’Espalier. A culinary pilgrimage for Boston area food lovers, one of the best high-end French restaurants in town, and a time-honoured etablissement of fine dining in this great city.

As we boarded the elevator up to the restaurant (complete with well-upholstered sitting chair), I couldn’t help but wonder – does this place live up to all the hype?

Up until now, I had only heard mention of L’Espalier through hushed whispers and quick glances…Mark took Sally-Joe there to propose, the sales team at XYZ Corp. gathered here to celebrate that big multi-million-dollar deal, Jay-Z took P-Diddy, Beyonce, and the entourage here to pop open Moet & Cristal…OK that last one was a lie (or was it?).

You enter into a sitting room and are greeted by a glass-encased spread of pungent cheeses just begging for you to slather them on a baguette and pair them with a fine bottle of bublay. Sadly, we skipped ahead and went straight to our table to get the party started.

Then, happily, a bottle of very good champagne was ordered and an assortment of little amuses were scattered across our table – and they did not stop. A veritable panoply of small treats kept arriving – both sweet and savory. A refreshing shot of hibiscus, mini-French macarons, and a delightful bite-sized éclair filled with gooey cheese were among the lineup.

None of these items were ordered, but the kitchen generously festooned our eating space with them throughout the meal…quite a treat.

And the foodstuffs we did order, pray tell? I thought you’d never ask.

I, feeling particularly carnivorous this particular evening – decided to basically devour an entire duck…roasted Hudson Valley foie gras with citrus, mushrooms and other goodies I can’t remember commenced the quack quack Armageddon, followed by the whole roasted duck for two – carved at a separate table and served with beluga lentils, spiced jus and celery root puree. A rhubarb soufflé was presented to the side of our dish as well. Bomb-diggidity.

Duck, Duck Baby

Before you peg me for some sort of glutton – I did share the whole duck with another meat-lover and still got a generous helping of bird.

The others in my dining party feasted on things like:

  • Beef tenderloin with short rib, bone marrow custard, Jerusalem artichoke and spring garlic.
  • Slow poached and roasted guinea hen with black truffle-turnip “risotto”, pear puree, and foie gras jus
  • Seared sea scallops with braised pork jowl, little clams, English peas and roasted garlic
  • Salad of Fresh lettuces that incorporated some crazy flavors of ice cream
  • Some seared leek with cauliflower, egg, peas and sauces that looked lovely and was ordered off of – get this – a full vegetarian menu. Take note, herbivores.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dessert was a whole separate event in itself and well worth ordering here. The Bananas Foster with caramel pots de crème was a really unique treat – the server literally cracked open a (presumably) white chocolate tube on the plate, sending a river of warm caramel flooding the ice cream and honey roasted pecans that lurked below. Jiho’s chocolate banana macadamia bread pudding similarly involved the ‘cracking’ of a chocolate vessel to expose the goodness that lay within – inventive and tantalizing.

Before I close this review I should mention the service. We ate here on a Monday night and the place was practically empty – consequently we had a small army of servers attending to us. A well-spoken commander-in-chief deftly articulated the menu items as if rehearsed for hours, while separate representatives filled water, consulted on wines, served the plates, cleared the plates, and fanned away unpleasant odors with a napkin (sorry, guys…my bad…must have been the foie).

A delightfully upscale dining experience that does indeed live up to the hype. Save up your pesos and hit L’Espalier the next time you want your dinner to say ‘I’m one of a kind.’

For the Ulta-Curious: Other Things About L’Espalier:

  • If you are rich enough to just ‘swing by’ here for an impromptu meal and find the place crowded, you can eat in the salon to enjoy caviar, oysters, cheese flights and small bites.
  • This place actually has their own Tea Sommelier! Come for the Saturday and Sunday tea times to enjoy awesome food paired with some fine featured tea selections…or just sample the tea alone for only $15 bucks.
  • As mentioned before – L’Espalier does indeed have a vegetarian menu…just ask and you shall receive at this type of real classy joint.

–Fin–

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.

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.

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

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

http://www.tattecookies.com

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.

Darwins – Survival of the Tastiest

Sunday, November 13th, 2011

http://www.darwinsltd.com/

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.

The Independent – Donuts are Patriotic

Friday, October 7th, 2011

http://www.theindo.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Very appropriate of a New England food joint to be patriotic enough to call itself the Independent. Right in Union Square, this bar-cum-bistro-cum-resto serves up weekend brunches that are not overly packed and feature home-made donuts (see below). Other dishes range from OK to croque madame and this spot is a nice alternative to your regular brunching locales. Bring the whole posse and think of Paul Revere as you devour a revolutionary beignet:

 

Neighborhood Restaurant – It’s Always A Beautiful Day…

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

http://www.theneighborhoodrestaurant.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be my best cream of wheat ever?

Could you be my locally-made spicy Portuguese linguica?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood,

A neighborly day for a beauty of an outdoor eating space under the cover of real grape vines.

Would you be my rice and beans with eggs sunny-side?

Could you be my bottomless cup of Joe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.

I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you (and I do).

So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day.

Since we’re together we might as well say:

Would you be my huge gut-busting brunch?

Could you be my hour-long wait?

Won’t you be my neighbor?

Won’t you please,

Won’t you please?

Please won’t you be my neighbor?