Archive for December, 2011
I see lots of food peeps rolling out their top picks for 2011 as they look back on eating through the last 365, but not many folks talking about their aspirations for the year ahead. Well, as your fearless eater continues to blaze new culinary trails – I present to you my “Resolution Restaurants” for Twenty Twelve.
These spots have either been around forever and just escaped my reach, or they’re relatively new establishments that are hot on the food scene. Either way, the dishes promise to be tasty. So here it is -16 places that will tickle your c-spot starting 1/1/12.
- Casa B | Yelp – 5 Stars | A new tapas joint in Union Square brings new spice to Somer-villains
- Journeyman | Yelp – 4 Stars | A coterie of chef “friends” have apparently been killing it since opening.
- Sportello | Yelp – 4 Stars | As the Barbara Lynch empire expands, so does the list of her restos that I’ve got to try.
- Marliave | Yelp – 4 Stars | A downtown mainstay and “hidden gem” with a great, diverse menu.
- Oishii | Yelp – 4 Stars | Routinely raved about for authentic sushi and my top sushi-spot-to-sample next year.
- Fuji at Kendall | Yelp – 4 Stars | New upscale sushi joint in Kendall that I’ve walked by for months watching take shape.
- Tasca | Yelp – 4 Stars | This local tapas treasure in Brighton (of all places) has hit my food-dar several times.
- Vee Vee | Yelp – 4 Stars | The food at this Jamaica Plain establishment is supposed to be as cool as the name.
- Radius | Yelp – 4 Stars | Burger. Burger. Burger. Will it make the Top 10 in Boston?
- Menton | Yelp – 4 1/2 Stars | Yes, Barbara again. When I’m in the mood to spend $100 on a prix fixe.
- The Gallows | Yelp – 4 Stars | One of the last remaining Gastropubs I’ve yet to try in the city.
- Gaslight Brasserie Du Coin | Yelp – 4 Stars | An enormously popular French spot that’s been on my list.
- Union Bar & Grille | Yelp – 4 Stars | Lots of good meat on the menu. Comfort meets haute cuisine. I’m sold.
- KO Pies | Yelp – 4 1/2 Stars | Australian Meat Pies and Sausages in Southie? Yes please!
- Santarpio’s | Yelp – 4 Stars | Ok, I’ve seen enough “Best Pizza in Boston” ads to finally trek to “Eastie” for a feastie
- Hammersley’s Bistro | Yelp – 4 Stars | A high-end south-end bistro beloved to Bostonians
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Strongly Recommends
Don’t come here.
I’m about to tell you why this is one of the best restaurants in the Boston area, and why I really don’t want you chumming it up in what is going to be “my” spot.
I knew TW FOOD existed for years and drive frequently through the Huron Village ‘hood, yet I’ve never been quite able to figure out where the hell this place was. Far from a real foodie neighborhood and any form of public transportation, they fell off my food-dar over the years. Lazily cruising through town the other day, I noticed the understated sign and food front which prompted me to immediately shout “eureka” and make rezzo’s for dinner and brunch in the same weekend.
We arrived for a later dinner on Friday night and immediately felt at home and cozy in the modern, small, classy interior. Before I continue, know that the menu here presents some of the most inventive, taste-bud kinkiness in town. I now break down my meal for you, play-by-play:
- Charcuterie with pork rillettes, five-spice chicken liver mousse, and house paté
- Veal. Veal. Veal. A thin escalope over what was, in the words of Gordon Ramsey [cue accent] “the most amazing, succulent” braised veal with hints of vanilla and smooth creaminess that had my fork coming back for more and more. Essentially I’d describe it as gourmet veal popcorn. Meat lovers out there, take note. On the side there were really moist small potatoes and crispy kale that rounded out the dish nicely.
- A dessert called “Scotch and Cigars.” Hands-down the most inventive dessert I’ve had anywhere. Tobacco ice cream, beignets, and scotch chocolate sauce. I swear if I had just closed my eyes and eaten this plate – I would have had the sensation that I was actually having a fine cigar and glass of good scotch while enjoying high-end doughnuts dipped in rich-as-hell chocolate-y goodness.
I’d describe the plating and portions here as more minimalist, and every bite was just packed with amazing flavor. On to Sunday Brunch highlights:
- Beef brisket hash with poached eggs – totally refined, delicate, beautiful.
- House-make kielbasa. ‘Nuff said.
- A scrambled egg ‘cocktail’ (see pic) that produced one of the most delicate scrambles I’ve ever tasted. Their secret is cooking the eggs on real low heat and adding extra yolk during the process. Yeaaaah, nuh nuh nuh nuh.
- Oh yeah, and head chef Tim Wiechmann plays a mean jazz guitar with a three-piece jazz band during the brunch hours. Redonculous.
Finally, a little history lesson for y’all. If you thought that this spot looked a little Ten Tables-esque, that’s because the head chef hails from that other amazing Boston resto. Chef Tim Wiechmann (hence the TW) got hitched to fellow Ten Tables colleague Bronwyn (cool name) and then went off to launch their own start-up – and this one is poised for a major IPO (Incredibly Plated Obsessions).
So dear friends – don’t eat here. I want this to be the ‘great local spot’ I tell out-of-town-chums I’m taking them to, the place I take my de-lovely to eat on our anniversary, the jazz brunch I hit with beer buddies after a night of many pints.
Stay away. Mine. All Mine.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
A second date with Bergamot at the berga-bar yields one of the Top 10 burgers in Boston. After hearing rumors in trains and whispers in corridors and seeing messages passed between meat lovers – I knew it was time to sample the fabled Berga-Burger.
No joke – I actually had Bergamot’s bar menu (they only serve this piece of art at the bar) sitting on my night table for a few months – a regular reminder that a heavenly hunk of ground meat was waiting not far away.
We patiently waited at the bar while sipping from a few local brews as the kitchen griddled up our creations – IF YOU READ ANY PART OF THIS REVIEW CHECK BELOW:
The Bergamot Burger, or “Berga Burgah” as dubbed by Nick the Foodie, is a thinner (not ball-shaped) patty formed from brisket and bone marrow with melted Vermont cheddar, marinated red onion, and an outstanding ‘tomato-bacon aioli’ on a hearty milk bun. The juiciness and flavor of this burger astounded me – the marrow adding a richness and sense of comfort that married well with the aioli. A true masterpiece and one I’m proud to add to the ongoing and ever-evolving Top 10 Burgers in Boston List.
The Foodie: Recommends
The only thing going up my nose at this truck was the wafting scent of lobster chowder and a mini lobster slider packed into a tiny soft brioche bun in the afternoon sun.
The guy in the truck told us these guys are open from something around 10am to 10pm most days of the week – he was new, so don’t quote me…but rest assured I’ll be hitting the ‘yard for more lobster rolls and perhaps some grilled cheese from lobsta love’s rolling nearby compatriot Grilled Cheese Nation.
The beauty about food trucks is the mystique, the “limited time only” mantra that has also made pop-up restos so successful. I see much more in store for the food truck trend, especially with a gourmet touch detailing these vehicles…
Perhaps you’re stranded on a businazz trip in a strange city. You may be meeting your new in-laws in a foreign land. Or you could be taking a ‘mandatory’ family vacation to a food desert.
This “Foodie Survival” series is designed to equip the discerning grub snob with edible (and even destination-worthy) eats from all over. With a focus on second, third, or even fourth-tier cities – you’ll never get stuck at a Micky-D’s again.
Our first installment is Fresno, California. Just a few hours away from San Francisco but one would think it moon-pies away from being a natural food haven. It’s actually got some real gems which I’ll outline for you below:
TRELIO| 559.297.0783 | http://www.treliorestaurant.com/
Run by two brothers who are insanely serious about good local food, Trelio is technically in nearby Clovis but just a 15-minute jaunt from downtown Fresno.
You’ll find the food here very well executed and inventive. Pimp a phyllo wrapped goat brie with pistachio butter, central valley figs and aged balsamic. Get pumped by one of the best, thickest, juiciest bone-in pork chops you’ve ever noshed on over brussels ‘n bacon and cipollini onions.
Wash all that down with a beautiful west coast pinot and that’ll cure your jet lag from that eastern state you arrived from. Highly recommended…
LA ELEGANTE | (559) 497-5844 | Too small for a website
Whilst speaking with the head chef at Trelio at the end of the aforementioned meal, I asked for his reco on the best authentic Mexican cuisine in the area (having felt overwhelmed by the selection found on Yelp and nearly every street corner in the area). Without hesitation, he said – with a slight accent, a tilt of the head, and a sparkle in the eye: “La Elegante.” The Gypsy Kings rendition of Hotel California started playing in the background as he spoke and I immediately knew there was something special here…
Next day, we drove out to the sketchiness that is Kern St. in the “Chinatown” district of Fresno. Several minutes, four Mexican shops, two mean stares, and a request for 89 cents later, we finally found La Elegante. The food here was beyond words and hands-down the tastiest no-frills homemade Mexican food this Bostonian gringo has ever tasted. Amazing soft tortillas stuffed with really flavorful carnitas and accompanied by beautiful rice and beans. Everything from this spot looked amazing.
Word to the wise – I only recommend coming to this neighborhood in broad daylight. But the food is too good to pass up.
On our final day in town, we decided to hit this much-lauded Armenian joint. You first think: “Armenian food in Fresno? Boy, you be playin.’ “ But oh was my shish kebab the most wonderfully-seasoned lamb over fragrant rice and veggies. Simple. Delicious. Cheap.
At the end of the day, Fresno greatly surprised me with the food it offered. You’ll do much better going with smaller no-frills joints than seeking-out something upscale. But for that one nice dinner while you’re in town – Trelio is not far away.
Hope these suggestions fill your inner foodie with glee on the next boondoggle.
Location: Cambridge, MA
The Foodie: Recommends
As the molecules in Kendall Square continue to bounce around in MIT labs, more kitchen science joins ivy league engineering.
If you thought Area Four was the only sexy food lady for science jocks in the area, you were wrong. On the other side of Technology Square, Catalyst is causing reactions under lab smocks as well.
The interior is like Buddha-bar-meets-Clockwork-Orange-meets-Yoga-studio-meets-Iron-Chef. Check it out.
We were seated for a Friday night dinner and I was pleasantly surprised by the culinary chemistry going on at this locale.
- Beginning: Crispy Quail, black mission fig, greens and “berry jam.” Exciting and flawlessly prepared
- Middle: Honey-glazed duck, turnip, bok choy, and water chestnuts
- End: Little hard liquor, little taste of modern-inspired dezzy
Catalyst is bringing forth an uber-modern dining experience with decent food right smack in one of the hottest eating areas on this side of the Charles. I would still hit Blue Room, Oleana, Hungry Mother, and other faves first, but add these guys to your list of Kendall food artists.