Archive for August, 2012

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.

Union Square Farmers Market – Party On.

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

http://unionsquaremain.org/food/farmers-market/

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

New England farm-fresh wares can now be found in the ‘Ville year-round. Party on Wayne.

All dorky dated 90′s movie references aside, the Union Square Farmers Market is a serious affair for those who have an heirloom-tomato-shaped heart, like myself.

From June 2nd through November 17th, the intersection of Washington Street, Somerville Ave, and Mother Earth is bumping with bounty from 9AM to 1PM. Curious what you might be filling your recycled-plastic-bottle-bag with? Read on:

  • Cranberry beans
  • Lettuces of all kinds
  • Radishes
  • Chioggia beets
  • Carrots
  • Blueberries
  • Ground cherries
  • Corn on the cob
  • Ribeye steaks
  • Breakfast sausages
  • Scallops
  • Flowers
  • Fresh Basil
  • Chicken of the wood mushrooms
  • Heirloom tomatoes
  • Artisan bread
  • Fresh locally-crafted cheeses
  • Chocolate
  • Jams and spreads
  • The meaning of life

The list could go on and on. A leisurely stroll through the food tents on a Saturday morning with a Bloc 11 latte in hand is one piece of summer’villain illin’ fun that I always look forward to.

The size, selection, and vibe at the Union Market makes this my favorite slice of farm charm in town. The only thing they’re missing is a little Grey Poupon.

Park – Do They Have a Drive-Thru Beer and Shrimp Window?

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

www.parkcambridge.com/

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie Say: Cosi-Cosi

Like a blind date, a cult, or that new sub-prime mortgage – Park was promising at first but ended in tears.

Little too dramatic? Let me walk you through my mixed experience at the reincarnation of Redline – now a restaurant and bar in the gastropub mold (hasn’t that model been tapped out yet?)

The signs all pointed towards culinary bliss:

  • Positive reviews from the Globe
  • 4-stars on Yelp
  • Hip-looking location – the kind of place where you’d expect good food to live
  • Decent crowd on a Friday night

Let’s start out with the positives of my dining experience here, shall we?

  • Beer-snob worthy brew menu (think Pretty Things, Titan IPA from CO, Left Hand Milk Stout also from CO, and Spaten Lager)
  • An entire page of whiskeys and other spirits
  • A nice complimentary cheese and crispy flatbread cracker presentation at the start of the meal
  • Salt and Pepper Shrimp. Holy shit. This was the best thing we ate at Park and had us riding high into the entrée round. Nicely-cooked shrimp atop Napa cabbage and bathed in a zingy jalapeno/salt/cilantro essence – had me wanting to sing “Shoop, shoop bay doop.”

Salt 'N Peppa

What happened between the four bullets above and our main plates I’ll never know…did the “A” team chef finish her shift? Did we just order WAY wrong? Was it something we said?

Here’s what went down:

  • I ordered the grilled Lamb Belly over summer succotash and Madeira. Sounded a little risky but I thought the upside could be heavenly if Park brought their top game to the kitchen. My risky investment ultimately turned out like a Facebook share. They made a mockery of the succotash by overdoing the fennel, and managed to kill a nicely-grilled lamb belly with an overtly bitter sauce that lacked anything resembling good flavor. Nobody in the kitchen had ever tasted this dish.
  • My dining chum ordered the Roasted Half Chicken – something a little easier for the kitchen to handle than lamb belly. Somehow our bird was a little overcooked, lacked flavor, and was perched atop an ill-conceived panzanella salad (cucumber/tomato/balsamic-soaked bread chunks).

The Suspect

My overall assessment is that you should gladly park yourself at Park for beers and maybe a few snacks – but find another lot before moving on to the main dishes. Sadly the fate of many other g-pubs in town (think Saloon, Foundry on Elm, etc).

Like that new sales job promising millions once you “move up the pyramid” – Park’s entrée menu might just have your friends laughing at you.

Atwood’s Tavern – Locally Brewed and No ‘Tude

Monday, August 13th, 2012

www.atwoodstavern.com

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

 

 

 

 

 

 

That dimly-lit neighborhood bar that everyone loves now offers outdoor drinking. Game on.

This is just one of those local places where you’re likely to meet people from everywhere but wonder how people from everywhere end up there. Too far from any T-stop for citizens of SoChuck (South of the Charles) to venture – Atwood’s tends to be packed with drinkers from NoChuck and their associates from afar who own a car or walk from nearby.

After a few encounters with this approachable, chill, laid-back spot it has quickly risen to become one of my preferred places to meet-and-drink in town. They feature live bluegrass and Americana some nights, a spacious outdoor wood-toned patio, local brews and good cheer.

Things have seemed to “click” when I’ve been here. The right company, the right number of pints, the right conversations, people laugh at my jokes etc. You know – the right balance. Minimal social awkwardness and multiple good connections. Not too crowded and not crickets.

Atwood’s offers a modest yet respectable beer lineup – last time I was here they were pouring Pretty Things American Darling  and a zany green-tea-hefe-crossbreed concoction from the nocturnal brewing operation over at Night Shift Brewing

With the end of this scorching summer in sight and cooler weather on the horizon – I think I know where I’ll be spending my Saturday afternoons outside the next few weeks. See you there.