Archive for July, 2011

Thelonious Monkfish – Miles Davis of Jelly Roll Mortons

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

http://theloniousmonkfish.com/central/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends
Came here with a Buddy Bolden to try some good fresh fish and thoroughly enjoyed Miles Davis of tasty inventive Jelly Roll Morton’s and  awesome uni with quail egg, hamachi sashimi, spicy tuna, and more…I was feeling Fats Waller after more rolls than I could Count Basie though lack of liquor (like a good Sapporo) did not make me Dizzy Gillespie.

Definitely a Duke Ellington or Earl Hines of sushi in the Cambridge scene and hits tier two in the sushi hierarchy. Good spot for the Fela Kuti’s or Chick Correa’s and a nice Artie Shaw spot with a cool name like Thelonious Monkfish (but none on the menu).

CBC – A Tall Tale

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

http://cambridgebrewing.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

I can rarely resist being anywhere near the Kendall Square area and purchasing a growler of the CBC’s Tall Tale Pale Ale.

It’s almost muscle memory at this point, however that failed this weekend when I actually sprained my ankle running through the rain to make my obligatory purchase here that night.

I hobbled around all weekend but the forced laying on the couch afforded me the perfect opportunity to sit and enjoy a few really good pints of Tall Tale, described by CBC as follows:

“Big and bold, our Pale Ale distinguishes itself by its huge, fresh hop aroma and flavor. A combination of Cascade and Centennial hops, both in the kettle and during an extensive dry-hopped conditioning time, gives this beer its nectarious flavor.”
OG: 1.058   FG: 1.013   ABV: 5.7%

Totally worth the ace bandage…

Clover Food Lab – A Brave New Lunch

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

http://www.cloverfoodlab.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

The Clover Lab serves food from the future.

Enter a white modern space. If you thought this was the type of spot where you just walk up to a counter and place your order you were wrong bee-atch.

A futuristic server with an iPhone greets you in front of a plasma-menu and asks if you’ve been there before. You say no, and she giggles. You then banter and joke around about what the best menu items are before settling on the Chickpea Fritter, rosemary fries and a cool rhubarb drink.

Your order is taken via Apple genius and beamed over to the kitchen. Your receipt is emailed to your gmail account. You’re then told to hang out and wait for each piece of your order to appear on the counters in front of you. Very exciting.

You’ll find the fritter delightful (recommend adding a little hot pepper from the condiment station), and the rosemary fries cooked to perfection and packed with whole mini-spears of fried rosemary sprinkled throughout. Amazing. You’ll think: Did I just eat vegetarian? Can’t be…

You will leave wanting to come back and try the BBQ Seitan and a fresh beer as you step back out into 2011.

Thanks for showing us what it will be like Clover. Can I join the occult via iPhone as well? Where do I download the app? Thanks.

 

Duckfat – The Brand for Foodies

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

http://duckfat.com/

Location: Portland, ME

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man, I’ve been dying to review a spot called Duckfat forever. I mean, from a consumer perspective, what’s not to like about this brand? Slap this name on anything and I’ll buy it. Marketeers out there, consider the following billion-dollar sellers:

  • Duckfat Body Wash (from P&G): Smell like a duck. Mustafa can handle the ads.
  • Duckfat Car Wax: Pimp your ride with duck wax. Ladies will follow the scent.
  • Duckfat Luxury Handbags: Gucci F*ck off. Nothing spells style like the rich goodness of duck…

The list could go on and on…but here we’re talking about a spot up in Portland by this name that serves, among other greatness, Maine potato fries cooked up in Duckfat. My experience here is summarized by the following deep poem constructed using the fridge-magnet fun in front of us:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the duckfat make any diff. on the fries? You might ask…First of all, the technique on these babies is amazing Belgian-style double-fried perfection. The fries are uniquely rich and flavorful which you will notice along with a duck-like fullness in your stomach upon completion. Order the aioli for dipping.

Beyond amazing duckfat fries, consider their Tahitian vanilla gelato shake that subs milk with crème anglaise. Pure Genius. As if that wasn’t enough, add a couple Marshall Wharf Tug Pale Ale (Belfast, ME)  and you’ve come close to the most positive version of the afterlife imaginable.

My love for the Duckfat brand was so pronounced after our meal here that I tried convincing our server to talk to the owner about opening a location right here in Boston. I think we settled on the Harvard Sq. area as the best location. Look for them here someday, and thank Nick when you have your first encounter with the duck. Peace.

Micucci Grocery Store – New England’s Best Slice

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

http://www.yelp.com/biz/micucci-grocery-store-portland

Location: Portland, ME

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

 

Bold statement, I know. Read on to find out why I worked up the balls to make it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza. The lifeblood of American families, one of Italy’s best gifts to this part of the world, countless variations, etc etc. Let’s just say this planet would not be the same without it.

Personally – I love this stuff in all its forms, deriving the same pleasure from a gourmet slice as a greasy triangle from a Greek-owned sub shop. Just God’s gift to man is all.

I’ve come to appreciate spots like Upper Crust, Cambridge One, Pinocchio’s, and Leone’s in my local ‘hood, but never did I expect to find the best of the best hidden on a quiet side street in Portland, Maine.

At the repeated suggestion of a dear friend, we decided to hit Micucci on a recent visit. Here’s how ordering a slice at this place works:

  • Enter, then navigate through shelves and freezers housing premium Italian goods
  • Pass the wine section, bang a left up the stairs into an area with industrial-sized packaging of tomatoes, anchovies, pasta, and more.
  • Hit another left into the back room and look for the “rack.” They place slices on paper plates just sitting there for the taking. You wonder: “Do I pay now or later?” or “Can I just take a slice without some angry woman coming at me with a rolling pin?” Forget your worries and grab as many pieces as you like to enjoy. Figure out the rest later.
  • Reference the delectable image above to see what you’ll be in for.

I could devote another 1000+ words to the flavor packed into this morsel of goodness. I do not know exactly how they do it, but here’s my take on how this ended up being New England’s best piece of pizza after just one slice:

  • The first element you notice is that the dough/bread is this amazingly bubbly, soft, chewy, heavenly creation somewhere between focaccia and an orgasm.
  • Second, you feel this perfectly-balanced sauce that is on the sweeter side pop inside your mouth and burst with tomato-y flavor accented with oregano and spices.
  • Third – the final element in the trifecta of greatness in pizza – the blend of cheese stretches through  your palate and ties everything together with a loving touch.

Beyond that – the secrets of why this slice makes the top of the list are hidden in the salty mists blowing off the Atlantic into Portland and over the Maine-iacs who call this place home.

Believe you me – Micucci in itself is worth a 2 hr. drive up to Portland from Boston.  Don’t think it will be worth it? Take another look at the pic above.

East Coast Grill – Three Facts

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

http://eastcoastgrill.net/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Three things you might not know about East Coast Grill:

  1. Julia Child used to order a sausage with her oysters when she ate here. Hence the name “French Connection” for this dish on the menu.
  2. The grilled white pepper crusted tuna is the signature dish here – and rightly so. Order it medium rare and just enjoy dipping succulent perfect slices in aged soy and a dose of wasabi. Beautiful to the last bite and a generous portion.
  3. These guys have one of the most enthusiastic and energetic staffs in town. It’s like Trader Joe’s crew members on ecstasy, in a good way.

How have I lived in the area for so long and not yet sampled the dinner here? Brunch is a real treat, but another daily meal took me to a whole ‘nother level. East Coast Grill is officially one of the best eats in Cambridge and what really makes them stand out is that this is just an overall FUN place to be.

I always have a blast eating the awesome food here. They keep it coming after 25 years and for that they deserve much props.

Meadhall – Beer Haven for the White Collar Warrior

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

http://themeadhall.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first heard of Meadhall I pictured some form of cavernous medieval castle filled with long wooden tables packed with fur-clad warriors carrying names like Olav and Kroog being served liter mugs of beer and mead by chesty large women.

In reality – a cavernous multi-level beer emporium in Kendall Square erected by a former Wall Street exec  serving an awe-inspiring selection of brews on tap to local fun-seeking yuppies.

In either format – I would have enjoyed myself.

The beer spread here is very tasteful and legit with a heavy skew towards IPA’s and Belgian styles however in my mind that is not at all a bad thing.

Sampling of beers available on tap here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Pretty Things – Jack D’Or
  • Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale  (rare treat and must-order for any visit here)
  • Mojo IPA
  • Bear Republic – Racer 5
  • Dark Horse – Crooked Tree IPA

Even the hard-core aficionado will discover something new – and don’t be bashful to ask the bar staff for samples or background on anything that piques your interest…they all seem to know the beers very well and will have an opinion on each one. They’ll spout off facts about how the beers are purchased (the owners prefers to buy direct from manufacturer to guarantee freshness) or even offer you a tour of their keg room (though I’ve yet to take them up on that offer).

Combining a heavy sampling of pints and a few gastro-licious nibbles is the best way to enjoy Mead hall. Order foods like:

  • House-made pork rinds – delightfully snap, crackles and pops with porky goodness and offers a little spice to boot.
  • Bratwurst – or was it another German-themed sausage? Either way, this thing is damn tasty and nicely cooked.
  • Mussels – served out-of-the-shell in a fragrant broth and buttery toasted bread spears.

Their burger left me somewhat wanton for flavor, and I was not immediately drawn to other menu items, so Meadhall will likely serve as one of my go-to spots for beer-snobbery rather than gastro-immersion.

So whether you get your thrills from medieval manors or from the truly “frothy” spoils of wall-street career-switchers – hit Meadhall today.

Lord Hobo – Good Beer, Good Burgers and Literary Wit

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

http://lordhobo.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Lord Hobo – a classic oxymoron understood by the droves of Cantabrigian academics who appreciate their literary phenomena along with a good beer.

This sleek, dark gastropub opened to much fanfare and high expectations as the successor of B-Side lounge, and I have to say it’s a welcome addition to the local scene.

It’s as if the B-Side stopped hanging out with the retro-indie punk gang it was a member of, went to college and studied abroad in Europe, saw a few Coldplay concerts, quit the late nights and white powders, and bought a few polo shirts – but still kept some of its edgy side.

THE BEER: Here you’ll find an absolutely insane selection of great beers on tap – think Sint Bernadus, Bear Republic, Allagash, and Synebrychoff – proclaimed as the best porter in the world and brewed in Finland. A selection for snobby beer lovers indeed. I was happy.

THE FOOD: Higher-end comfort foods typical of a gastropub menu – charcuterie plates, mussels, meat pie, chips, etc. I’ve sampled the “true shepherd’s pie” – a monstrous lamb meat creation that was tasty but far too large to eat in one sitting. I’ve tried the burger – a juicy beauty topped with aged Irish cheddar and sandwiched between two slices of peppered challah. The chips are pretty respectable and they serve up some different specials such as fried BBQ sweetbreads (FYI this is a gland in a cow’s neck not a ‘bread’ in case you were wondering).

So, the B-side’s preppy cultured beer-loving cousin is a good time. The beer menu here is welcome, however I leave wanting a little more from the food.

Ultimately this place is best enjoyed off-hours over a vigorous sampling of beers. Pick at the brew-paired appetizers and take hefty bites out of their burger. Prost!

Publick House – I Died and Went to Beer Heaven

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

http://eatgoodfooddrinkbetterbeer.com/publickhouse/

Location: Brookline, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

NICK’S VITALS THROUGHOUT VISIT TO PUBLICK HOUSE:

First few sips of Saison Dupont (6.5%) from draft:

Heart Rate EKG: ,__,|,__,|,__,|,__,|,__,|,__,|,__,|,__,
Pulse: 70 Beats per Minute (BPM) [60-100 Normal Range]
Respiratory Rate: 16 breaths per minute [12-20 Normal Range]

After glass of Achel Brune (8%), rare to find in the US, one of the six great trappiste ales:

Heart Rate EKG ,_,|,_,|,_:-)_,|,_,|,_*,_,*_,|,_,|,_,!,_,|,_,|,_,| ,
Pulse: 90 BPM
Respiratory Rate: 20 breaths per minute

After glass of Sint Bernardus Quadrupel (10%)

Heart Rate EKG ,|,|,|,|,|,|,__________________________
Pulse: 30BPM
Respiratory Rate: 5 breaths per minute

When they revived me and I came to, I proclaimed Publick House the best bar for beer lovers in Boston. Then I had another Belgian brew.

Craigie on Main – A Culinary Game-Changer

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

www.craigieonmain.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Dude, Craigie is like the Michael Jordan of the Boston food scene. Or Michel Jordain, in the French tradition.

They are what Tiger Woods (pre-scandalous) is to the golfing world, what Jack Nicholson has been the acting world, what Jimena Navarrete is to beauty pageants world-wide,  what Justin Bieber is to tweens everywhere….

Before you think that I’m some cyber-creep, let me gain some cred with a stellar review of the food spread over at C.O.M.

Craigie nailed it with an amazing V-day weekend dinner. Cue dish breakdown:

POTAGE OF JERUSALEM ARTICHOKE WITH CONFIT OF VERMONT CABRI.  Upon inquiring I learned that cabri was baby goat. Vegetarians shudder and run away. Man this dish pushed my taste buds to new heights. The mini-goat was incredibly tasty and reminiscent of duck confit swimming in a beautiful broth.

CHAR-GRILLED OCTOPUS WITH CHORIZO LOVE. Every time I’ve had octopus it’s been fairly bland and chewy. Craigie served up something that was nothing like all other sea-dwelling suction creations I’ve tasted before. It had such a nice soft meaty flavor that complimented the grilled char and spiciness of the chorizo perfectly. Beautiful.

NO B.S. COTE DE BOEUF. Dry-aged grass-fed bone-in ribeye the size of my head. Carved on our plates and served with oxtail ragout, tsimmes (oy vay) and steamed spinach. If I choked mid-bite, my life would have been complete.

We climaxed with valrhona hot chocolate…what better touch?

This review need not do more for a place that enjoys a five-star rating ratio envied by the world, but what the hell – all the celebs love that extra autograph. Never gets old, especially when we’re talking baby goat.