Deluxe Town Diner – Brunch Interlude

October 17th, 2013

Location: Watertown, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Quick brunch interlude here folks – thought that Deluxe Town Diner over in Dub-town deserved a real solid shout out from one of Boston’s least known food bloggers.

THE FACTS: Open from 7AM erry day. Breakfast served all day. Get there early for weekend brunch. Phone: (617) 926-8400

COMPARE TO: High quality, low-key brunch joints. Think Renee’s (Somerville) and Luna (Cambridge).

EAT THIS: Deluxe Flapjacks with Blueberries. Side of Sausage. Cup of Joe. U-S-A.

You Now Have a Plan This Saturday Morning


Kirkland Tap & Trotter – KTT & Me

October 12th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

Dude – I had the craziest dream last night.

The Grill.

I was wandering through a corner of Somerville one Fall night and caught a glimpse of a restaurant through the fog. It had a sign with a steak knife, a fork, and a fireball.

I pushed through the doors and stepped inside.

There was a wood-fired grill (complete with adjustable cranks) powering the kitchen.

A familiar chef was inspecting the dishes as they made their way out to a floor of hungry Somervillains.

– It was Tony Maws. –

I wondered – what’s going on at Craigie on Main? Is the place burning down?  Squid tentacles, pig’s heads, snouts and trotters flying everywhere?

It appeared Chef Maws had grabbed a few of those trotters out ‘da air and planted them in a few recipes the next town over.

There were a bunch of bizzaro versions of people I know sitting at the tables. I took a seat at one of them and grabbed a menu.

The FOOD list looked like this:

We ordered. There were seasonal baller mushrooms on the menu and a new burger variation. A flurry of plates started arriving from smiling servers in flannel shirts. A Left Hand Milk Stout from the tap arrived in front of me. Under the dim lights, we ate these things:

Three Large Sardines.

Rare to find in many restaurants, KT&T grilled up three lull fishies for me. They arrive incredibly moist and flavorful despite a light hand on the seasonings…

Here's Lookin' At You, Kid.

Roasted Root Veggies.

In my dreamy haze I thought that the Trotter was only a meat-lovers palace. Turns out that wood-fired grill does amazing things to vegetables. The root veggies we ordered were scantily dressed and delightful – just like the imaginary babe beside me.

Matsutake Mushrooms.

Oh, and did we mention that our “mushroom guy” sent us some baller matsutake mushrooms today? Boom! A truly humbling and slightly spiritual experience took place as I savored the rare act of eating wood-fired fungi over a nutty pesto.


The Burger.

As if things couldn’t get better – a burger arrived. It was a simple enough affair from the outside – poppy bun, provolone, horseradish cream, and a few thin slices of tater on the side. But that patented meat-wizardry that Chef Maws brings to the kitchen was definitely present in every bite of this tender, well-constructed patty from heaven.







Choucroute Garni.

The meats kept rolling in – next we had a slab of pork belly, two types of sausage, and kraut along with a trio of house-made mustards.

Skate Wing.

The meal finally devolved into a hearty bowl of fish and clams with beans and smoked tomatoes.

There were cheers, beer spilling, laughs, and huzzahs all around as my REM-friends and I devoured our meal.

As with most dreams, in retrospect it moved quite quickly.

Next we move into one of those fast-frame camera shots where I speed-up and slow-down walking my way out of the restaurant (you know, that film effect that they used to show in every episode of cribs).

Fog clears. I awake.

Not sure if it was all real or not. But I will be adding a new burger to my Top 10. I’ve got a new joint where I’d love to call myself a reg’lar. I can smell the wood fire already.

A4 – High 5

September 20th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

Seems I blinked and Area Four multiplied several times over.

The popular coffee shop-cum-pizza spot-cum-antipasto bar-cum-gastropub that ambitiously took on so much has given birth to triplets with more singular interests. The Area Four “family” now brings chow right to your jowl via food truck, hot dog cart, and a neighborhood restaurant that serves *GASP* primarily pizza!

The newest member of the family is A4, an operation serving a similar menu of pies to papa Four along with a nice selection of salads and options marked “NOT PIZZA.”

A smattering of mouthwatering menu items to whet your palate:

  • Margherita pizza simply but beautifully adorned with tomato, mozz, pecorino and basil
  • Pizza of fennel sausage and pickled banana peppers with mozz, pecorino, and parley
  • Wellfleet cherrystone and bacon pizza with clam sauce, pecorino, hot pepper and parsley
  • Heirloom tomato and watermelon Greek salad (seasonal option)
  • Seasonal veggies, mixed greens, almonds, pecorino and lemon vinaigrette

It appears that the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree in terms of the quality of the pizza here. A4 sports a pimpin’ new oven that churns out some lovely circles of heaven that definitely rival dad.

I particularly enjoyed the margherita actually – so simple yet mouthwateringly juicy and flavorful with everything coming together just right. Huzzah!

Beyond the solids, A4 offers a neat and tidy little beer and wine menu with decent options.

Here’s a few poorly conceived pics to give you a sense for the place. Unfortunately I think restaurants are getting savvy on the whole iPhone phenom and have started deliberately dimming lights to discourage flash photography.


Somervillains are gettin’ it all these days: low-key pizza joints from Area Four, upscale German fare from the team behind T.W. Food, a hotly-anticipated follow-up from Tony Maws – sky’s the limit.

So head on over to the cute youngest sibling in the Four Family to get mostly pizza cooked up with the same gastronomic genes.

Tasty Burger – The Back-to-School Burger

September 2nd, 2013

Location: Cambridge, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

I’m loving the retro-burger movement.

There have been many valiant efforts in recent years to deliver the promise of the quick-service burger joint without the side effects of McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, and the other usual suspects. You may be familiar with some of the following symptoms after past experiences with said perpetrators:

  • Diabetes
  • Fast-Food Hangover
  • Slothfulness and general malaise
  • Muffin top
  • Wicked and sinful thoughts

One of the best-known examples of the retro-burger movement is Shake Shack, which failed to really wow me based on sampling the goods sold at their new Chestnut Hill location.

Tasty Burger, however, definitely drilled a sustainable, high-quality, hormone-free, responsibly-sourced mouthful of retro-burger directly into my soul.

Walking out the door after eating my Tasty Burger, I felt like I had just wrapped-up a swell date spent making out with my steady girl three-years my junior at the drive-thru neighborhood burger-and-fountain-soda place in our small town of Plainville, Indiana.


Tasty Burger is a local burger joint with three locations in Harvard Square, Fenway, and Southie.  The enterprise responsible for this grand establishment is the Franklin Restaurant Group, which runs both Citizen Public House and the Franklin Café – two other beloved local restaurants.


Tasty Burger features a selection of retro-burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs curiously called “shafts”, sides, shakes and draft beers. Burgers are made from a 1/3 lb. of certified all-natural beef derived from cows that were never, ever, ever fed growth-hormones or antibiotics.

The signature burger here is called the “Big Tasty” and consists of a classic beef patty, cheese, diced onions and pickles, tomato and ‘tasty sauce’ which is the standard mix of ketchup, mayo and secrets.

You can also choose from a wide variety of other burger variations such as the Spicy Jalapeno, BBQ Onion, Kahuna Burger (complete with pineapple, grilled red onion, and teriyaki), and, yes, Veggie and Turkey Burgers too.

What differentiates us here at Tasty Burger from the pack? Besides our delicious selection of burgers, sandwiches and snacks, we offer a full selection of dank beers on tap including Left Hand Milk Stout, Brooklyn Lager, Ommegang Belgian IPA, and Lagunitas IPA. We also may be the ONLY thing open in the greater Boston area until 4AM.

Come on down today, tonight, or tomorrow morning!


The Big Tasty burger sends forth a perfect mouth-feel that combines the following:

  • Plentiful melty cheese
  • Tender, juicy, well-seasoned thin-ish burger patty
  • Salty kick of onion and pickle
  • Flavorful punch of special sauce
  • Cool massage of tomato and lettuce
  • Soft caress of pillow-y seeded burger bun

The Big Tasty


One burger not enough? Try the Sack of 5 deal that will get you five hamburgers for $20 bucks.

Tuition costs got you down? Try the Starvin’ Student deal: one hamburger or cheeseburger, a can of beer, and fries for 10 bucks.


Tasty Burger is mighty good. I will be adding the Big Tasty to my Top 10 Burgers in Boston List (stay tuned for the latest rev. later this year).

Students, I hope you’ve enjoyed this pre-reading for the Fall semester. Long-live the retro-burger and wishing you much fun and success in the academic year ahead.

Foodie Survival Kit – East Texas

August 27th, 2013

Sure, I know it’s hard to believe, but someday you will venture outside of Boston.

Helpfully, I offer a series of posts devoted to enabling you to eat well in such far-away places as Gary, IN, Fresno, CA, and now – East Texas.

Close your eyes and imagine yourself about two hours east of Dallas in the town of Tyler, TX. Here, you will encounter an abnormally high proportion of fast food chains and will find it near impossible to lay your hands on some vegetables.

Indeed, in my experience, some of the most abundant food options available include donuts, TexMex, cheap Chinese food, and burgers slid across a drive-thru window.

Thank sweet baby Jesus for that B-B-Q.

Tyler has it – and it’s mighty fine too.

Gimme some ribs, some beans, ‘n some slaw

Ain’t nothin’ better, ‘cept of course my maw.

A few things you should know about BBQ in this part of Texas:

  1. They love their ribs and do those the best
  2. Sauces are a little sweet, not spicy, and NEVER vinegar-based
  3. Everybody feels VERY strongly about which ‘cue is best, and each individual will give you a different opinion

After sampling many of the most-raved-about spots in these parts – here is where to get your BBQ-on in E.T.:

Stanley’s Famous Pit Bar-B-Q

Definitely my personal favorite in the area, Stanley’s made the List of Top 50 BBQ Joints in TX published by Texas Monthly Magazine. Rightly so. Their ribs are a square tie with Country Tavern (see below) for the best I’ve ever had, but overall these guys bring better game to the table.

The ribs – ooohhhh the ribs. Tender, well-seasoned, quality pork meat that when slathered in one of their excellent sauces blew my Yankee mind.

Their other meats (especially the sausage) are commendable, and their potato salad and slaw were divine things that left me craving more rather than tasteless add-ons that are better left untouched.

Best Ribs Eva

Country Tavern

Country Tavern is located about 20 minutes further east than Tyler – and well worth the extra drive. It is basically a long red house off the main road. One enters into the dimly-lit interior, saunters up to the bar, orders a beer, and eats only one thing – the ribs. The seasoning and smoke flavor on these bad boys was a step above Stanley’s, but overall I’d  say the two are different but equal in my mind.

Hickory Fare

I came to Texas seeking, craving, and dreaming about brisket. I didn’t find a lot of the stuff in the Eastern part of the state…and when I did – it failed to wow me. But Hickory Fare was the one bright spot in this quest. They served me up a monstrous beef brisket sandwich that was oohh-so-tender, ripe with that hickory flavor, and flavorful to the last bite. They also earn points for their look – check-it:

Beer Reflection – The Alchemist

August 18th, 2013

Deep in the foothills of Vermont, a small brewery is dutifully churning out one of the best IPAs in the country. Truth.

The Alchemist focuses on brewing “just one beer perfectly – Heady Topper, an American Double IPA.”

I was jittery, clammy-handed and excited to try the beer that currently rates #1 on Beer Advocate’s list of top 250 brews.

On my first tasting, I rebelliously ignored the explicit instructions to “Drink from the can” and poured the frothy golden liquid into:

Drink from the can!

…a glass *GASP*

  • The first thing I noticed was a flood of delightful hoppy aromas wafting onto my olfactory receptors and staying a while to host a rager.
  • I’m not enough of a beer connoisseur to dissect the proprietary blend of exact hops, but the aromas smacked of citrus, grapefruit, spice, and sunshine. It was good.
  • The first sip revealed the trademark, signature move of the Heady Topper:
    Maddeningly awesome hop aromas with a less-hoppy but smooth and flavorful mouthfeel and a crisp, refreshing finish.
  • Upon tasting cans number 2 through 4, I did follow instructions and consume from the can. I do agree that adherence to the directions preserves some of those beautiful smells, but you’ll definitely survive and still enjoy a very good beer by pouring Heady Topper into a glass.

Unfortunately, the only way to access this beautiful beer is by visiting the brewery in Waterbury from Monday thru Saturday between 11am and 7pm, or by getting the stuff at a handful of restaurants, bars and retail alcohol vendors scattered throughout upstate Vermont.

So IS Heady Topper truly the best beer in the country? In this beer snob’s opinion, I’d say it definitely ranks up there among my favorite IPA’s in the US of A, which include:

Curious whether the Topper tops your “best beers” list? It’s totally worth the trip up to Waterbury to try the experience for yourself.

Union Square Donuts – Join the Revolution

August 15th, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

Something has been slowly brewing in the donut world these last few years…and I don’t mean coffee (hardy har har).

What used to be a cheap fried lump of dough from an international chain of fast-food restaurants has morphed into something different. Much different.

Indeed, things have changed since the “Time to Make the Donuts” days (at least for those readers who remember the 1980’s). 

  • Higher-end restaurants started serving delightful fresh donuts, fancily dubbed “beignets” or going by another alias
  • Places like the Donut Plant in NYC started specializing in the heart-clogging little snacks and treating them with the creativity and quality that they truly deserve. Vanilla bean and blackberry jam-filled square donuts, anyone?
  • Something called the “Cronut” was invented by Dominique Ansel and promptly went as viral as Gangnam Style. A hybrid pastry that combines the DNA of a croissant and a donut, this creation has practically revolutionized the donut industry overnight.

Hard to believe, but the food world is apparently larger than New York City. Union Square Donuts has been among those blazing the trail for the donut revolution a few states north. With flavors like maple-bacon, honey almond, cherry hibiscus, and sea-salted bourbon caramel, their roundies are bound to make you happy.

The glazes are flavorful without being overpowering and really add a gourmet swagger to a humble food. The honey on that honey almond is something special and will transport you to a wild grassy field in the prairie sunshine. The sea-salted bourbon caramel will give you a balanced dose of all three of those wonderful things while you picture yourself on a porch swing during a Kentucky sunset. The dough is light and airy and is surely the product of some tightly-guarded recipe refined to perfection.

The maple bacon is, well, the maple bacon. The rest you will have to experience for yourself.

Oh It's On...


JnJ Turo-Turo: A Little East, A Little West, and Lots of Pig

August 8th, 2013

Location: Quincy, MA

The Foodie: Recommends

I knew next to nothing about Filipino food up until a few weeks ago when I strolled in the door of JNJTT…but I was pretty sure that it involved a little east, a little west, and lots of pig. I was proven right.


  • Lumpiang Shanghai – We started our meal with a plate of little fried eggrolls stuffed with a mixture of porky goodness.
  • Bagoong – Ahhh, nothing says “I’m nowhere near America” than fermented shrimp paste. This stuff was placed in a separate little pot and I was told to use it sparingly. Note to self: Don’t apply fermented shrimp paste directly to bare tongue. Eaten alone, bagoong is a bit strong, but when mixed into other dishes it adds a nice salty sea breeze to any dinner.
  • Kare Kare – Arguably my favorite dish, this was tender pork served in a peanut broth with bok choy. With a splash of bagoong, Kare Kare left an indelible mark on my food memory that can be recalled on demand.

Pork, Cabbage, Peanut, Shrimp, Love.


  • Halo Halo – I’ve heard tales of lots of Spanish and other more western influences in Filipino cooking, but we didn’t actually encounter much of that in the savory portion of our meal. That is, until we were served a funky amalgamation for dessert that combined purple ice cream with shaved ice, evaporated milk and chunks of fruits, sweet potato, and jelly beans maybe? Whatever it was, I loved it. Halo Halo, which means “mix” in Tagalog, looks like the leftovers from a deadly food fight in Candyland, but was one of the best foreign sweets I’ve devoured in recent memory.


  • Crispy Pata – Nothing says “man food” more than a hefty stack of fried pig piled over a large exposed bone. Garnish? – Nah dog. Side? – Fuggetaboutit. Just dip your tender and toothsome pork pieces into a dish of oniony soy and eat. In other testosterone news, crispy pata is a whole pig leg boiled with spices and then fried. Between this dish, our pork eggrolls, and our porky peanut stew, I think it’s safe to say that if there’s one thing that the good people inhabiting the 7,000+ islands making up the nation of the Philippines have in common – they all seem to cherish their snouts and trotters.

Man Food.

Santarpio’s – Yah Dude, the Pizza is Really that Dahn Good

August 1st, 2013

The Santarpio's Pie

Location: East Boston, MA

The Foodie: Strongly Recommends

I’m actually pretty ashamed that I claim to run a Boston-themed food blog and have never tried Santarpio’s….until now, dear readers – until now.

Indeed, Santarpio’s has to rank up there among the most Bostonian things about Boston…such as:

  • The Sawx/Fenway Pahk
  • Mayah Menino
  • The “T”
  • Fanieul Hall
  • The Chah-les
  • Aerosmith
  • The Marathawn

It took me well over 100 years to get my ass over to Eastie and order a few slices since these guys opened in 1903.

I think the main reason that kept me away was the fear of long, winding hoards of people and the maddening maze of Red, Green, and Blue subway switches to get over to a station appropriately named “Maverick” given the fact that it is so seemingly removed from the rest of the city.

Turns out that by car, it ain’t that big a deal. Parking was plentiful, and there was no line at all at 6pm on a summer Saturday eve.

Stepping inside, the place looks like the kind of spot where they would have found Whitey Bulger holed up – basically just simple wooden booths, a bar, dim lighting, and an intimidating large guy manning the door.

But I don’t want to spend too much time setting the stage for what was without question the best traditional, “pizza-parlor-style” slices to be found in Boston.

Upon reflection, I was having difficulty classifying the style of pie that Santarpio’s serves…but stumbled upon a great article on “Slice” – a cyber-column hosted by the Serious Eats family of websites.

Amongst a long list pizza styles found across the US of A, “pizza-parlor” was defined by Serious Eats writer Adam Kuban as:

“any place that has been opened since the ’50s, still has the same family running it, and hasn’t really changed much since then”

Well, given the fact that Santarpio’s has been open since the ‘00s and is family-owned, I’d say they basically fit this description.


Yup. We ordered a “half ‘n half” pie that was split between plain cheese and homemade sausage and garlic. Here is a slice centerfold:

Uhhhhhhh, Nah Nah Nah Na

  • The first thing you notice is that this has gotta be one of the juiciest slices of pizza ever created. The first bite you take literally catapults wave after wave of oozy, cheezy, tomatoe-y goodness forcibly upon every single taste follicle within one’s mouth.
  • The next thing you notice is that the ingredients are pretty damn good quality – the cheese, tomatoes, dough, and oil employed in the creation of this pizza have gotta be of a certain caliber to pack such flavor.
  • Speaking of the dough…the crust is this delightful chewy-crunchy texture and has to be some of the best I’ve ever had.
  • The sausage slice has the same ability to launch flavor missiles at close range onto your taste buds.
  • Those from the New York/New Jersey area – easily the snobbiest bunch when it comes to pizza – will give Santarpio’s the props they deserve. To prove it, I took a Jersey girl here for verification. It was so good, she gained 5 pounds in one sitting, folks. Definitely her favorite slice in Boston.
  • As mentioned previously, the type of pizza is traditional in that they are not touting gourmet flatbread or Neapolitan-style with thin slices of mozz. This is a family-owned, local spot that is Italian-American in technique and could best be described as ‘pizza-parlor’ in design.

When you encounter moments in life that can change your entire worldview, you need to pay attention. I’ve been talking some smack lately about the pizza scene in Boston, and a trip to Santarpio’s was exactly what I needed to shatter my preconceived notions and conditioned responses.

Thank you, Santarpios – you’ve made me a better man, and a better Bostonian.

Bronwyn – A Faint Whiff of Meaty Air from O’er the German Alps

July 21st, 2013

Location: Somerville, MA (See on Map)

The Foodie: Recommends

The Boston area has always been seriously underrepresented in the category of German and Eastern European cooking.


Up to this point, Jacob Wirth and Café Polonia have been the only establishments raising flags lined with wurst, bier, und kraute from the kitchens of our fine town.

A new era is upon us, dear friends, with the opening of Bronwyn.

There has been a lot of noise and chatter in the cyber-sphere about this restaurant from many months before opening until now – As your indubitable Boston seer of signs and reader of food riddles, allow me to clear the air and give you a real, true opinion from one foodmensch to another.

A casual search of the world wide web will bring you to idle rumblings from the masses and should not be trusted in the case of Bronwyn:

  • Under the ad for liposuction on the Yelp page for this restaurant, anonymous phantoms will bitch about how this place doesn’t compare to Ronnarong (formerly housed in this space…a weird place and a travesty for Thai cooking) or Machu Picchu (any Peruvian would scoff in disgust). They may also complain about wooden benches, the weather and other non-food-related minutia, when they should really be concerned about their own lack of food knowledge, taste, and ability to handle any form of discomfort.

Let’s also set-aside the fact that we are not in Germany for a second here. We all know that authenticity cannot be matched outside of the source nation due to differences in well water, the air, terroir and hundreds of years of tradition.

  • If you have tasted currywurst and ketchup from street vendors in Berlin, noshed on those delightful little Nurnberger sausages (my personal favorite), or gulped down a Weisswurst in a Munich biergarten…you cannot hope to match those experiences abroad.

Ahhh, now we can talk about how one of Boston’s best chefs, Tim Weichmann (of T.W. Food Fame), and his wife (after whom Bronwyn is named) have created a place that respectfully pays homage to a certain region of cooking while adding a dose of their own creativity.


Seated in Bronwyn’s delightful little outdoor Biergarten, my compatriots and I sampled a nice selection of sausages and other treats while enjoying beverages like Bear Republic Czech Pilsner and Erdinger Hefe.

I will start with a dissection of the “Giant Wurst Platter” that was indeed a seven-sausage meat fest. Observe:

Here is my wurst-breakdown:

  • Zungenblutwurst – A tasty blood sausage made with pork, tongue, and roasted pears. For the real mann.
  • Lemon Weisswurst – Bronwyn does an excellent rendition of one of my favorite Bavarian treats. This delicate light-colored sausage of veal, pork, and herbs is tricky to cook but Bronwyn pulled it off well.
  • Currywurst – Definitely not exactly to specification of this Berlin staple, but a delight to eat nonetheless. As the name suggests, this sausage is made with a little curry, veal, and pork.
  • Spicy Bierwurst – Though I’ve never tried this variety in Germany, the bierwurst here kind of tastes like a milder chorizo and was cut more like liverwurst in a thick round patty form.
  • Krauterwurst – A very juicy, herby little wurst made with chicken, pork, kohlrabi and beefsteak tomato
  • Kielbasa – A much different version than the spicy Polish creation that I’m used to, Bronwyn’s Kielbasa is a mighty fine and unique chunk of pork with garlic, coriander, marjoram, and farm greens poached in cream. Shazzam!
  • Bockwurst – Probably my least favorite sausage on the plate, the bockwurst came off a little dry and bland for my liking. But with 6 out of 7 sausages striking my fancy, I was pleased.

All of the above Bronwyn sausages were hand-cased and tenderly cared for. Our sausage pile was served over sauerkraut along with roasted potatoes and a refreshing little cucumber-dill gurken salad.

Beyond the wurst, we pulled apart one decent Bretzel and dipped that bad boy in a nice spicy little house-made mustard, and ordered a traditional Swiss dish called Rosti which was quite different than what you would get across the pond but was lovingly cooked together with beet, potato, arugula, radish, and chevre.








Bronwyn is not T.W. Food in that the owners have definitely created a unique identity that sets this spot apart from their upscale contemporary American hotspot in nearby Cambridge.  It is also not a substitute for eating in Deutschland. But it is one mighty-fine swag at good quality German and Eastern European cuisine in a city badly in need of this style of cooking.

ENJOY BRONWYN FOR: Steins of lager in the biergarten, sausage-fests, sharing with friends, schnitzel, rosti, pretzels, and a faint whiff of fresh air from the Bavarian Alps.