Archive for August, 2011

Bergamot – So, You Come Here Often?

Monday, August 29th, 2011

http://bergamotrestaurant.com/aboutbergamot.htm

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

 

Dear Bergamot,

For a while, I watched you from afar and was too shy to come over and say hello.

Finally, I worked up the balls to satisfy my unrequited love and found that my boldness paid off.

You seated me right by the window in a romantic table and threw mad culinary game at me. Your pick-up lines:

 

  • An amazing bottle of French blanc from your stellar wine menu categorized by “Seashore, Citrus, and Stones,” “Forest, field and stream,” and “Garden and Orchard.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • A house-made charcuterie plate that involved hand-made sausage, lardo, house-cured meats, and a potpourri of flavors that nearly knocked me out of my seat
  • Acadian redfish seared to perfection and served over beautiful fresh veggies and salsa verde.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, a gratis dessert for this special occasion that was a light, airy, fruity mousse with fresh berries that was enough to have me coming back for a second date. It seems we were meant to be.

I threw some game back to learn a little more about you and found out about your bar menu that includes your “lobster melt,” grilled lamb merguez and your griddled burger. You move fast.

Call me.

Love,

Nick the Foodie

Boston Burger Company – A Flavor Inferno

Saturday, August 27th, 2011

http://bostonburgerco.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Dude, Iron Chef Michael Symon gave this spot big props for the Hot Mess burger on the Rachel Ray Show.

That means – Boston Burger is worth a second try, the wait is at least an hour most nights, and Alton Brown should be analyzing it. The real deal.

Before you read on, check the link:

http://www.rachaelrayshow.com/show/segments/view/rachs-battle-best-burger/

After a dismal first try from Nick the Foodie (pretty big deal in the food world yet he hasn’t blown up yet), these guys earn a second chance at my share of stomach – and they definitely succeed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Inferno Burger that brought just the right amount of heat and flavor without being overbearing. The burger was cooked beautifully and succulent-y medium rare, and had a nice combo of melty cheese, spicy sauce, and toasted bun. I inhaled this thing well before my guests.

Bravo BBC – after a rocky start to our relationship – you earn a spot on the Top 10 in Boston. Keep it up.

Area Four – Shhhh….

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

http://www.areafour.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, a place that Cambridge eat-a-holics can have all to themselves. That spot that requires a culinary code name or pass phrase softly murmured between sips of Saison.

Every foodie worth their high-end sea salt would of course be talking about Area 4 – a place for food nerds on the turf of science nerds.

As the former, I must admit I’ve frequented this spot since it hit my food-dar and enjoyed every moment of each experience.

Walk with me for a moment here….

Delightful mussels in fragrant broth…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oddly phallic but delicious house-made meat on milk bun…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pizza, pizza, pizza. Rock the Clam and Bacon and sample from puttanesca, fennel sausage, and mushroom/fontina-stacked pies with a light, fluffy crust.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of that and more washed down with stellar beers like Jack D’Or, Harpoon 100 Barrel Series, and a bias towards other locally-brewed beauties.

Though I’ve only sampled the fare here on Friday nights with groups of friends, the adjoining café supposedly serves-up some bomb lattes – making Area Four theoretically possible to live in from opening to closing while satisfying every taste bud across all your daily meals.

The best part is – nobody knows it yet. That’s right, you and your fellow food geeks or science jocks could be enjoying Area Four this Friday without long lines and love every minute of it.

So what are you waiting for – the password is…shhhh…

Bresca – The Enron of Eateries [Closed R.I.P.]

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

http://www.restaurantbresca.com/

Location: Portland, ME

The Foodie: Does Not Recommend

OK, I hate to be the whistle-blower.

Bresca is now closed (Noted posted on 9/3/14)

We’re not talking shady accounting at Enron here but there is some questionable stuff going on in the kitchen at Bresca…

Don’t get me wrong, they are serving up some technically well-executed food here that is certainly tasty. Highlights for us were the escargots and the honey-glazed duck with roman trading spices over soft mascarpone polenta. The pasta with crab, basil, mint, chive, evoo and citrus was nice as well.

But the food is not cooked as well as the books.

For the overall cost of our meal here, we found the portions rather small, and the dishes lacking a bit in overall flavor. I mean, wouldn’t it have been nice to have a generous hunk of crab in our pasta? Or couldn’t we have gotten more gusto out of our chorizo and gorgonzola stuffed dates?

Or wouldn’t it have been nice if:

  • The bread on our table was from Standard Baking and not Whole Foods?
  • The pasta was home-made and not dried?

I mean shit – how can I trust that the ‘local’ honey in our app was for real? Who knows if our evoo was legit or from Trader Joe’s?

Over and over at Bresca – stuff that sounded heavenly on paper ended up falling flat on our taste buds.

Like corporate scandals, Bresca looked too good to be true.

Green Street – The Shy Girl with an Edge

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

http://greenstreetgrill.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Green Street is the shy girl hiding in the corner who turns out to be a real freak.

She doesn’t flaunt her stuff, hanging out behind the cheerleaders of eating and drinking chilling on either side of Mass. Ave.

You hang out with her once or twice and discover she’s got so much below the unassuming surface…one of the best spots for cocktails on either side of the Charles – no question the most inventive drinks at the best prices with true pros behind the bar. Try a divine black velvet with stout and cava. Try the Jacques Minot – only mixed drink I’ve ever seen with Calvados. Or peruse their bible-thick menu for more options.

You get under the covers to try the food and find out this woman is more than you can handle. Their double cheeseburger with quality bacon, russian dressing, pickles, and cole slaw makes the Top Ten Burgers in Boston list, and she leaves you begging for more – baked mac n’ cheese, mussels – what a tease.

Like a librarian with a hyperactive libido, Green Street plays by the books but is much crazier than she looks.

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?

Island Creek Oyster Bar – From Farmer to Foodie

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

http://islandcreekoysterbar.com/

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Island Creek, lovingly referred to as ICOB, rekindled my love affair with oysters.

I once was quoted saying that Neptune Oyster was set up as oyster foreplay. If Neptune is foreplay, Island Creek is shucking.

I crack myself up. But seriously dear reader, I made out with several creatures from the sea here and loved every minute of it.

Let’s pause and recognize the fact that this restaurant marries a culinary dream team (of Lineage and Eastern Standard fame) with a local producer of excellent goods. Man that is something beautiful that we need to see more of.

ICOB delivers amazingly fresh oysters from Island Creek, New England, and all over as well as outstandingly executed cooked-food in a superbly classy setting.

Cue food blurb:

We were seated in front of the ‘oyster-wall’ that is decorated with protruding crates filled with real oyster shells and enjoyed a dozen of nature’s finest…a little Cape Cod action, a little Duxbury, and a huge mofo from Maine that was absolutely the most interesting-tasting oyster I’ve ever sucked down. Amazing. I had a craving for fish ‘n chips and enjoyed their take with lightly-battered cod atop fries and house-made malt vinegar. superb. I had a bit of my buddy’s lobster dish and it nearly knocked me out of my seat. I salivated for other menu options, and heavily enjoyed the Duvel green and specially brewed High ‘n Mighty offering that I gulped down throughout the meal.

All the while I took in the amazingly cool atmosphere at this place. Instantly became one of my fav. spots around and I’ll be back for more…oyster shucking. Yum.

New Food of the Moment – Cranberry Beans

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Just when you thought you knew it all, you trawl through a farmers market and discover something new. Today, it was cranberry beans. The delightfully hippie hue to these bad boys immediately caught my eye. Our local MA farmer said they go well in stews and soups.

We found that when opened, the beans themselves are white with pink swirls throughout. Sort of a lovechild conceived between a Tuscan white bean and a kidney bean. Scandalous. When cooked, the beans lose their pinky swirls and turn more of a cool tan color.

Recommended dish: We brought water, carrot, shallot, garlic, and herbs de provence to a simmer for 30 minutes with the cranberry beans. While that was happening, we sauteed cousa squash and Japanese eggplant in EVOO and shallot. We then removed the beans along with scraps of carrot, shallot and garlic and mixed that with our other veg along with some fresh heirloom tomatoes and parsley. Squeeze some lemon and crack a little pepper atop all that and you’ve got a dish made in heaven folks.

You thought this blog was just about eating other people’s food? Try again.

Bondir – The Name’s…

Saturday, August 6th, 2011

http://www.bondircambridge.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

It says something about today’s restaurant landscape when menus change so often that daily blog posts can update you on the menu. This is a beautiful thing for foodies, and I’m pumped.

This was such a good meal I’m gonna lay this down with a dish play-by-play like none other. From our May 6th blog post, here are the dishes we sampled. Before we begin, I should add that all dishes are available in full and half portions, which is why we were able to take on such a nice sampling.

Even though this meal transpired over two months ago, the dishes are steamed, seared, and roasted into my mind and taste buds in a way that should bring them to life for you in perfect clarity.

 

**Friday, May 6 Menu**

 

– 9-Grain, The Sea, Cranberry-Walnut, Spelt

Nickthefoodie commentary: When even the bread spread wows you at a restaurant, you know you’ve found something special. We gorged on wonderfully soft grain bread, a variety that really DID taste like the sea, and found the cranberry/walnut and spelt quite nice as well. The night was off to a good start.

–Braised French White Asparagus

Black Garlic, Whelks, Razor Clams, Periwinkles, Shiny Sea Oyster

Nickthefoodie commentary:  One of Boston’s Best Dishes dear reader. One of those eating experiences that opens your eyes to flavors you’ve never found before. My virgin taste of periwinkles and sea snails (the whelks) made we want to start stealing them out of sea beds, but what really elevated this dish was this smoked milk froth layered over the asparagus and shellfish – simply out of this world complex and yet so simple. A truly eye-opening dish that screamed the essences of the sea. Art.

–Hand Rolled Tagliatelle

Georgia Peas, Pea Greens, Sorrell, Fresh Ricotta

Nickthefoodie commentary: This was one of those dishes you just can’t help but order. As I read each ingredient my pants became tighter. Inappropriate I know, but I just get this way when I talk about good food. Hopefully we can still be friends.

–Scituate Cod

Roasted Golden Turnip, Wild Water Cress

Nickthefoodie commentary: Perfectly-cooked fish atop simple yet elegant accompaniments. What more to say?

–Heirloom Keener White Corn Grits

Braised Chicken, Pu-Erh Celery Branch, Fresh Chili

Nickthefoodie commentary: This is one of those dishes you need to ask questions about. “Uhhh what is pu-erh celery branch?” My best description of the experience eating this dish is that it tasted like comfort chicken soup reincarnated in solid form. Chicken was oh-so-tender and played nicely with the smooth grits and other components. Well done.

–Tangerine Dream

Génoise, Vermouth-Infused Tangerine,

Thyme-Buttermilk Ice Cream, Meringue Brulée

Nickthefoodie commentary: Simply put, one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. No joke. C’mon – thyme-buttermilk ice cream? Vermouth-infused tangerine? This bad boy was served up in a kingly goblet and just floored my culinary hopes and dreams. Amazing.

To top it all off, they finished things off with a gratis secret off-menu dessert that included goats milk ice cream and Japanese knotweed puree that had a flavor similar to rhubarb (though a little more tart).

Chef Jason Bond himself even came by to wish us well with a smile. And no, he did not say, “The name’s Bond…” but he may as well have given the fact that he served us a culinary golden-gun bullet filled with food heaven.

Neptune Oyster – God of the Sea Goes Turf

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

http://www.neptuneoyster.com

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Typically Neptune is known as the God of the sea, but who would have thought he could also wield that trident on land?

Neptune caught me a hell of a burger and spiced it up with three of his most prized fried oysters topped with garlic mayo over relish over melted cheddar over a perfectly-cooked medium rare round of high-quality beef – all sandwiched between a perfect brioche roll.

In case you were wondering, yes it does make the Top 10 Burgers in Boston List.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fruits de mer for which Neptune is named. And by that I mean the lobster roll and insane selection of fresh oysters of course.

The Maine lobster roll is kingly – starting from the $25 price tag to the generous portion of lobster to the perfectly soft roll. They serve it hot cooked in butter or classically cold in mayo.

Last but not least, oysters are obviously the main event at this place, regardless of what else you order. The whole spot is structured to serve as shellfish foreplay – from the nautical decor to large metal chillers filled with bottles of champagne – it will get you in the mood.

They place a card down on your table before you’ve even ordered drinks with the list of oysters, their homes, and market prices. Wellfleet, Duxbury, Nova Scotia, Rhode Island, and even far-off Washington State are represented. To say that these creatures are served exquisitely fresh and delicious is an understatement.

No other restaurant in the Boston area features oysters this good and this fresh and with such a plentiful selection. And I challenge any place that claims otherwise to an Iron Chef throw-down.

Unfortunately, others have figured out how good this place is. I recommend coming early at 4 or 5pm to beat the crowd (no reservations), or to hit them up on an off night or snowy day.

Earth, Sea, and Seabed – After that first bite you won’t be able to get Neptune out of your head.