Archive for October, 2011

Trina’s Starlite Lounge – Bring Dollars for Dogs

Saturday, October 29th, 2011

http://trinastarlitelounge.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In a few words: No, it’s not a strip club.

Though it looks possible from the outside, Trina’s Starlite Lounge is not filled with pole-dancers and dollar bills.

Instead, it’s a hot dog fest. In a good way guys. We’re talking about the following:

  • Best corn dog in Boston. Hands-down. Amazingly-fluffy “corn,” all-beef beautiful dog. Nothing bad at all to say about this bad boy.
  • Dog of the day: Last time I was here, it was an amazing dog stuffed inside a puff pastry and topped with legit grain mustard.

Beyond the dogs, they’ve got a mac ‘n cheese that is made with love and ends up being about as good as a lap dance. I don’t know how they do it, but American Cheese, cream, huge pasta shells and crumbled Ritz crackers never tasted so decadent. One of the best mac’s in the region folks. Straight-up.

Come to Trina’s to eat devilishly. Gorge on hot dogs, eat a heart-attack “mac,” enjoy legit micro-brews, and live life.

I’d share pictures, but it was too dark inside. Ha.

Hungry Mother – Oui-Haw!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

http://www.hungrymothercambridge.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Can a right-bank Parisian and a BBQ meat and potatoes American southerner get along?

In the world of people, probably not likely.  In the world of food – let’s just say oui-haw.

Hungry Mother combines the flavor, taste and spirit of two amazing culinary traditions and melds them perfectly and elegantly into a complete dining adventure. Reserve ahead as if you’re eating on the champs-elysées, eat like you’re at a Texas road side smokehouse, and still feel refined in the process.

My most recent meal here combined the flavors of both sides of the pond. Let’s take a quick stroll down Rue de Eatoli and I’ll give you a picture of the experience – hold hands?

 

 

Boiled salted peanuts and Brasserie La Rulles “La Grande 10” Belgian IPA. Both incredibly rare treats. Trust me on the boiled peanuts. Couldn’t stop eating them and were vaguely reminiscent of those salted edamame beans you love so much. La Rulles IPA was a 10% ABV bad-ass Belgian beer that knocked my socks off (and made the walk home interesting)

Crab and greens over fried green tomatoes. Sounded much more elegant as described on the menu, however I loved this dish and felt the flavor profile, presentation and technique really demonstrated how well Hungry Mother marries the Frenchman and Southern Belle.

Local Catch “En Papillote” – Amazingly succulent, perfectly cooked white fresh local fish cooked with maitake mushrooms, fingerlings, leek, kale, and a soy sherry beurre blanc. A forgasm wrapped in paper and cooked in its own juices.

If you love French food, you’ll like Hungry Mother. If you just enjoy yerself a good fish po’boy, you’ll also like Hungry Mother. The world of food unites us once again.

A tout a l’ho’down.

Hi Rise Bread Company – The Sun Also Rises on Mass Ave

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

http://hi-risebread.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In a few words: Hi-Rise takes on the café thang with legit coffee at a new location

Store Front

Counter & Ordering Area

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh it’s on Starbucks.

The makers of Boston’s best baguette, slammin’ challah, bomb brioche and baller sandwiches have decided to add espresso to their resumé.

After shutting the doors on their Harvard location (was never a huge fan of that one anyway), Hi-Rise has set up shop in a new ‘hood with a different formula than their Concord Ave digs. Here, they’re focusing more on espresso drinks and a chill café vibe.

Some things you’ll notice that are different than the Huron Village operation:

Chicken Cubano - Yum

  • Fewer Sandwiches. Though I was slightly bummed not to see my “Andi’s Loose Knit Crew” sammich here, I was quite pleased with my grilled chicken cubano (ham, pickles, cheese, and special sauce on Concord). They’ve brought over some of the killer breakfast sandwiches to this locale as well (like the Hi-Riser). Finally, my eyes also lit up with intrigue at a gourmet bahn-mi inspired creation that includes paté, ham, veggies, and sauce. Can’t wait to sample that one.
  • Very respectable espresso drinks. La Marzocco espresso machine? Check. Good beans? Check. Hipster indie-styled baristas? Check.  Good latte? Check. The technique behind the coffee bar here is pretty amazing and Hi-Rise is bringing in the big guns of local roasters with excellent stuff from Barismo  right in nearby Arlington. I’d definitely put the coffee here somewhere around Crema and Bloc 11 based on quality.

    La Marzocco + Barismo = Love

  • Fewer fresh-baked goods. You’ll still be able to buy one of those orgasmic baguettes here and a variety of other loaves but don’t expect to find all the same stuff as the Hi Rise original.
  • Little more space. If you’ve been squeezed into the corner of a colonial-era room at the Harvard location, or basically sat on someone’s lap at the huge communal table at the Concord Ave spot, you may be pleased by the outdoor seating, standing room bar-style eating at the windows, and cozy café nook area to post up with your laptop for a few hours.

In the end I’m pumped to have these guys in the area given I don’t make it out to Huron Village as much as I’d like. I think what I’m going to do is hit Hi-Rise Mass Ave up for breakfast/brew, but still frequent the flagship locale when I’m on the lookout for stuff like a brioche and to-die-for sammies. I suggest you do the same, dear reader.

In the meantime, Starbucks will definitely feel the heat from another local café that makes better coffee than they do. Anti-corporate coffee types out there, take joy.

Wellfleet Oyster Fest – Ich Liebe Dich

Monday, October 17th, 2011

 Wellfleet Oyster Fest (Oct. 15-16)

http://www.wellfleetoysterfest.org/

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Oyster Love - $9 the 1/2 doz.

Raw Oyster Boat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Watch out Munich, salty Cape Cod has something going on that your little celebration called Oktoberfest cannot match.

Sure, you’ve got chesty dirndln-wearing beer maidens, world-class beer and sausages, but you don’t have:

The Oyster Crowd

  • Wellfleet oysters overflowing into the streets served by the producers themselves from a multitude of makeshift raw bars.
  • All manner of crustacean-inspired treats from fried clam cakes to New England clam chowder to fritters.
  • A rare special brew from Sam Adam’s called Oyster Stout – only unveiled at this occasion since it may be a turn-off out of context for the average beer snob.
  • BBC (Berkshire Brewing Company) selling off the season’s latest brews such as a delightful classic Oktoberfest and a refreshing, crisp, Harvest Lager.
  • An oyster-shucking contest that spans two days and features local shuckers from all over
  • All manner of local artisan crafty-work and live music (think bluegrass, Cape Cod indie rock)

In fact, after sucking down more oysters than I could count along with a few of the aforementioned beers and sitting in the sun-drenched vine-covered outdoor terrace at Winslow Tavern (the Hofbrauhaus of Oysterfest), I realized that Wellfleet really has created something special here.

BBC Harvest Brew

 

Winslow Tavern OysterGaarten

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the play-by-play of our day at the ‘Fest:

Wellfleet's Finest

11:00AM

We arrived early and just barely snagged walking-distance parking. By the time we hit Wellfleet center, the festival was already bumping and packed with oysterfesters.

11:30AM

Our first action was buying a half-dozen raw oysters at the paltry cost of $9 – which was the standard price set by every raw bar oyster-slinger at the festival. Amazing.

12:00PM

We then navigated the crowds to scope out some of the goods and festival tents, scarfed-down some fried clam cakes from Harmon’s then made our way to the central tent near the main stage for, of course, some beer.

Oyster Stout

1:00PM

The alcohol spread at the festival featured delicious Sam Adams “Oyster Stout” for $6 and wine from the nearby Truro Vineyards. Oyster Stout was a deep dark dry stout brewed using oysters and possibly the best tasting brew I’ve had from Sammy A. I grabbed an oyster brew and enjoyed the musical vibes emanating from center stage while wandering to scope out more oysters. In the process, I chanced upon a grilled baked oyster with spinach and cheese and some other goodness…totally different yet amazing.

1:30PM

By the early afternoon the bulk of the crowds had arrived and the penguin-shuffle became the only way to get through the streets, so we hit Winslow Tavern where they had their own little party going down, which featured bloody-mary’s, BBC beers, live music, and awesome seafood. We chilled at Winslow in the sun for what became a long time and enjoyed the respite from the masses.

3:00PM

After Winslow, we made our way back to center stage to check the oyster shucking contest. Man I’ve never seen someone shuck 24 oysters in under 3 minutes…incredible. I had to try another oyster stout, and then we sampled a few more oysters (thicker this time, grown in deeper waters) before heading out early to beat the crowds.

I left with a good buzz, a belly full of some of the best oysters anywhere, and a T-shirt that said “The Joy of Shucking…and what a joy it all was.

Peace, Love, and Oysters,

Nick the Foodie

 

The Salty Pig – Homage to Pig

Friday, October 14th, 2011

http://thesaltypig.com/

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

In a few words: Pork, pork, and more pork. Homage to Pig. Come hungry.

Man, it’s been a while since I got so pumped about a restaurant based solely on the name.

Might as well call the place “The Truffle Cottage,” or “The Rare Ribeye,” or “The Crispy Duck.” Marvelous.

Once I was able to get past the name and onto the menu,  we sampled the following lineup of “salty pig part”goodness:

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Beer: Pretty Things Magnifico (obvi)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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First Eats: Personalized charcuterie board. They’ll basically let you customize your block of meat and cheese by picking from a wide selection of offerings. We settled on a local VT cheddar and a euro fromage (believe it was a Robiola) as well as something called porchetta, which is essentially the fast roadster of ham products.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Second Eats: Wood grilled pizza. A creation called the Tony Rocco that was house-made spicy sausage, onion, tomato, ricotta and mozz. Heavenly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Third Eats:  Pork belly. Nicely crispy, very succulent. Great dish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, this culinary homage to porky is really a great addition to the downtown scene. In the end, the food was fairly solid and I’ll be returning to their spacious laid-back slaughterhouse shortly.

Bloc 11 – Passed Dr. Nick’s Formula for Good Coffee-ology

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

http://bloc11.com/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

I’ve been around the coffee block in the Boston area and gotta say this spot has been on my “Top Three Latte” list for quite some time. Below you’ll find all the coffee shop essentials as broken down using Dr. Nick the Foodie’s patented methodology for evaluating caffeine beans:

BEANS: Intelligentsia 

These roasters are out of Chicago (I think) and really have some have some tasty coffee, not to mention really stylish orange bags and a well-branded product. We all know that good beans are at the heart of good coffee, even though water (or milk) makes up the bulk of what you’re drinking.

ESPRESSO MACHINE: La Marzocco

I have pretty much scientifically proven a correlation between excellent espresso and this make of espresso Machine, made in Florence. Literally ALL of my “Top 3” joints own one of these bad boys, and Bloc 11 is no exception.

BARISTA STAFF: Earthy-crunchy, alternative, indie, cool (whatever that means)

There must be a style guide somewhere or some official “vogue” for baristas because the good ones seem to all follow the same fashion advice. Beyond a laser-focus on their trade, the best of baristas look the look. Walk out the door if you see a polo shirt on your coffee jock.

LATTE-OMETER: Velvety-smooth look, brown of the espresso nicely rising to the top, patterned milk-foam

My standard of comparison across coffee shops is really their latte. Involves the right mix of art, science and technique to get the milk and espresso just right.  The good lattes look something like the one from Bloc 11 pictured below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The other notable fact about this bloc of Somerville (though it doesn’t have a bearing on the taste of the latte) is that they really strive to be carbon neutral – think bio-degradable everything, green power sources, and composting. Size-wise they’re also one of the most spacious coffee hang-outs around with plenty of seats inside and a small courtyard with room in the open air as well.

Fitting that they’re housed in the former space of a bank too – ‘cause the coffee really is money.

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:

 

B&G Oysters – There Are Lobster Rolls in Heaven

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

http://bandgoysters.com/ 

Location: Boston, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Lord, if I go tomorrow, take me to an immaculate oyster bar in the sky. Let there be good fresh oysters from Wellfleet, Duxbury, Maine, and the West Coast. Let there be a nice selection of white wines that include an amazing Sancerre not to mention some baller beers. Let there be prompt service, friendly smiles, and a classy- upscale-neighborhood-but-not-snobby-and-still-chill vibe.

And upon entering the “pearly” gates into oyster bar heaven, drop this plate in my arms:

The cold Maine lobster roll at B&G is well worth it’s price tag and delivers amazingly succulent lobster meat in a soft bun along with amazing tarragon fries.

It’s as if Jesus hand made it himself.

Here’s praying I make it to the bright side of the afterlife and that they don’t knock me for a diet high in meatfat.

The Best in Class – Burritos – Olecito

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

http://olecito.net/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

Few things in life are as comforting as a good burrito.

When your job sucks, when the economy is imploding, when you’re feeling down and out – there’s always a bundle of tortilla-wrapped goodness out there with your name on it.

Nick the Foodie has surveyed a broad range of the more well-known burrito joints across the [refried] Bean and would like to lay down a summary of the results for you right here:

 

  1. Olecito (Cambridge and Brookline) – The lovechild of nearby upscale Mexican eatery Olé, Olecito has been serving the best burrito in Boston for a while now. You can see that the street food progeny of Olé takes after its mother with some of the amazing flavor you get here. The standard carnitas burrito means something totally different at Olecito. The meat is perfectly cooked and seasoned, the flavors come together delightfully, and their picante sauce is out of this world good (and hot). Bring your appetite and order a baja taco to start, a carnitas burrito, and a carbonated apple beverage.
  2. El Pelon (Fenway R.I.P., now in Brighton) – The El Guapo burrito here (steak, rice, beans, lettuce, jack cheese, fried plantains, etc.) was a rising star on my burrito scene before the Fenway locale burned to the ground *tear* and is still the #2 that I’ve tasted in the Boston area. I promised to meet El Guapo again at the new location in Brighton which appears to be doing well, see here.
  3. Anna’s (Everywhere) – Anna’s will always hold a special place in my heart as this spot has fed me for at least six years. As many an anna’s-goer will tell you, it is a no-fuss burrito packed with all the standard goods. This is a solid go-to in my book and I’d highly recommend a super carnitas with gauc, beans, jalapenos, and hot sauce. For something different, try their HUGE cheesy quesadilla.   
  4. Felipe’s (Harvard Square) – I swear I’ve recognized the same members of the burrito-slinging staff at Anna’s in this place before. That might be why they are comparable. Consistency is not quite as solid here as at Anna’s so I’ll knock them down a spot but still worthwhile.
  5. Chipotle (Everywhere) – OK, I know, this is a chain. But I’m not the kind of Foodie that will only give props to local spots. Let’s admit, their burritos are tasty. My real beef though is that the creations here are so huge they’re almost over the top and you leave with that “I’m American fast-food full” feeling in your stomach.
  6. Boca Grande (Porter Square, Fenway, elsewhere) – Oh, Boca. The notorious “competition” with Anna’s, I personally find these guys to be a far leap from my lady. These days I only turn here when there’s nothing else edible around and find their burritos utterly boring. It says something that flavor-wise they fall below a national chain.

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas – The X-Rated Experience

Saturday, October 1st, 2011

http://doradotacos.com/

Location: Brookline, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

I often find myself comparing Mexican street food to sexual positions – they’re all good, but everyone has their favorite.

First, you’ve got the plain ‘ol standard burrito – the missionary position if you will. Everything so stationary, rigid, wrapped up securely.

Then you got yourself the taco, a little wilder – like she’s the fish, cabbage and baja sauce on your tortilla.

On special occasions, you might find yourself with a torta – little different, no tortilla, sort of like a burrito between two slices of toasted bread or bun. Compare to doggy-style perhaps.

But every once in a while, when the mood is just right and there’s a full moon and you’ve both downed too much wine, something crazy happens…something new and different…the preying mantis or superman or some shit like that.

Well, you’ve got yerself a Cemita my friend. That’s right – toasted sesame bun, black beans, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, chipotles en adobo, cilantro – topped with choices like house-made ground chorizo and pork loin milanesa.

So if you want that rare wild night to come whenever you please, swing by Dorado to feast upon their Cemitas. After the ravenous, sweaty, sloppy experience of eating one you’ll feel satisfied beyond belief.

And when you’ve both had yours…cool down with an aqua fresca.