Friday, July 23, 2010

Steves Greek Restaurant--Loads of Ladies and seafood

It could have been ladies night for all we knew at Steve’s Greek Restaurant because the night we stopped in for dinner it was packed to the brim with table loads of women. We were in a sea of X-chromosome - us and one solitary 60 year old man with a napkin tucked underneath his chin enjoying a full bottle of rosé by himself. That guy rocked.

Steve’s diner provides one of the few respites from the high price cuisine on Newbury street. You can get yourself a full delicious breakfast for less than $10 - truly unheard of amongst its peers. We’ve been going to Steve’s for a long time especially for their lunch specials and brunches. But be prepared on Sunday mornings, the place can get packed.

Where did all the Greek diners go? After My Big Fat Greek Wedding, one would think that they would be back in vogue. But unfortunately Steve’s is the only true Greek diner that we can think of in Back Bay, South End, Kenmore and Fenway region. What’s not to love about a Greek diner’s big wholesome portions of filling food and many veggie options? We have already demonstrated time and time again on this blog that we are BIG fans of the diner business model.

Usually we go for breakfast, but this particular evening, we were looking for dinner. Sitting amongst the sea of ladies, we noticed the two females to our right enjoying some tasty looking seafood. We decided to skip the moussakka and spinach pie (also delicious options), in favor of the fried cod and the broiled scallops.

The scallops were done to perfection. Not overdone and melt in your mouth with a bit of butter, lemon juice and salt. The fried cod was tasty and hit the spot. Usually we don’t go for fried fish but we were craving variety.
Succulent
Both entrees were served with a bottomless basket of pita bread as wells a fresh Greek salad, rice pilaf with tomato sauce on top, and boiled vegetables.
Fried Fishy
We recommend following the herds of ladies who know how to dine in style for less on Newbury Street straight to Steve's for a bite on a Friday night.

Steve's Greek Restaurant
316 Newbury Street, Boston
(617) 267-1817

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Osushi--Sushi on the wild side

Badaboom! O Sushi. The summer is upon Boston at last. Consequently, the Palateers have been spending more time outside then doing our real job of reviewing restaurants. Can you blame us? A nice sunny day is better spent as a picnic out in the Commons avoiding the foul balls of baseball players. Be careful where you lay your blanket.

But we recently had a meal that suited our summer spirits. Sushi really is a summer food: light, portable and cold. We find that our one issue with sushi, and this is admittedly a self-criticism, was that whenever we went out for raw fish we always got the same boring combinations (ie Salmon, Yellow Fin and Tuna). In short, we weren't living true to our adventurous claims of fame. We made it our mission to change all of that at Osushi.

Nestled in the great internal maze of the Copley/Prudential mall, the restaurant provided ample opportunities for creative dining. Under appetizers we were intrigued by the miruhimo(fresh clams with mustard sauce) and the sushi rolls had such name poppers as Godzilla Maki.

Unfortunately, many of these options were well beyond much of our price range (hey, eating adventurously comes at a price) so we reneged and ended up getting edamame ($4) for an appetizer so we could go a little crazy later on. The edamame wasn't bad, but it did take a really long time to get to us. We think they just forgot us.
Now hold onto our seats because we went hog wild for the rolls. Our first adventurous roll was the vegetable tempura ($8). A potpourri of fried carrots, yams, asparagus, yamagoou, cucumber and avocado all served on a avocado soy puree. It was delish.
Angle 1 (Tempura on left and Oyster on right)
The real deal of the meal was the fried oyster maki ($16). Fried oyster mixed with mango and spicy sauce, we kid you not, it tasted just like a mcdonalds happy meal hamburgers. In short, they were darn good. We don't often have fried oysters in our sushi, but I think we have just become converts.
Angle 2
Osushi, with its hip metro chic décor, is well worth a second visit for more adventure.

Osushi
10 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 266-2788

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Davide--Grazie and Prego

What differentiates Davide from every other North End restaurant? This is the question that was lingering in our minds. Was it the service? The food? It was not the location. Off the beaten path (i.e. two blocks off Hanover street) and right across the street from the harbor, you could walk by its subterranean entrance and not even know it's there. When we went, which was a non-weekend night, it was not crowded and we had the full attention of the waiter.

We liked the service. It was Italian, almost exaggerated Italian. Every one of our “Thank you's” was met with a prompt “Prego”. When ordering, we were specifically told that we had to order in Italian, as in the language. None of this bothered us, we found it quite entertaining. The décor could have been ripped right from a godfather movie with a whole collection of faux marble David busts in every corner and very fitting exposed brick walls. The very comfortable booths seem fitting locations for the the planning and scheming of the family. We see why they would come considering the great fresh baked bread and olive oil.

The prices are a bit high at Davide, so come with a full wallet. For our appetizer, we got the Involtini di Melanzane translated as rolled eggplant stuffed with goat cheese and ricotta in plum tomato sauce ($12). We really liked this dish. Think of a strip of fried eggplant delicately cut from the prized portion of an eggplant parmesan then wrapped around melting goat cheese, with a nice big slice of Parmesan cheese on top.
Eggplant
The main course only got better. The Anitra al Porto, pan seared breast of duck in a port wine fig sauce ($28) was sweet and scrumptious. The tender sliced morsels were smothered in a sweet sauce served with a fried triangle of polenta and several roasted asparagus.
Scrooge Mc'Yum
Our second entree was not as memorable as the first. The chicken breast with artichokes in a mustard sauce was just ok ($22). The artichokes were delicious but the chicken was a bit overcooked.
Chicken chicken me like chicken
A little pricey for our normal tastes, we highly recommend you keep your eyes open for any groupons.

Davide Restaurant
326 Commercial Street
Boston, MA‎
(617) 227-5745‎

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Il Panino Express - Satisfying your pizza fix

Meandering down Hanover Street, the scents of hot pasta and sweet canolis wafting through the air, it is impossible not to stop for pizza. We've heard those who live and work in the North End fulfill their pizza cravings at least once a day. It is as though the street itself beckons even the most steely-willed passerby into sampling a fresh, gooey pizza pie.

The Palateers, out with friends for a wine tasting at the Wine Bottega, found their stomachs rumbling with pizza cravings after sipping the final red sample. The merry, wine glass-clinking, pasta twirling atmospheres of the open air restaurants pulled them in for a bite.

Il Panino Express is North End pizza at its simplest. The menu is classic Italian with very reasonable prices for pizza ($10.95-$12.95 for a pie), pasta ($9.95-$10.95), and paninis ($6.95). The service is anything but the over-friendly, Prego repeating of Davide; it’s more of a make-your-order-at-the-counter-and-get-out-of-the-way-for-the-next-customer-type. Be prepared to carry your own hot tray to your table but don’t worry about a tip. Which suited us just fine this night.

Al Funghi - get your mushroom on

For six people, we ordered the Margarita pie ($10.95) with fresh plum tomato, mozzarella and basil and the Al Funghi ($12.95) with plum tomato, mozzarella and practically an entire container of mushrooms. Starving, we devoured the pies, which proved to be just a little too much for the six of us. The pizza was just greasy enough in a melt in your mouth kind of way, although the crust was a little burnt on both pies. We hardly noticed as the pizza disappeared almost as fast as it arrived on our table in true Express form.

Margarita - classic cheese without the frills

Il Panino Express – crisp around the edges but perfect for satisfying your pizza fix in the North End.

Trattoria il Panino Express
227 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113
617-720-5720

Friday, April 23, 2010

b. good burger--All about the peoples

We totally dug our recent visit to b.good burger. Opposed to the big burger chains, we especially liked that b.good emphasizes the people that make the food. We are firm believers that Food=Love and that if the person assembling your sandwich is miserable, you will suffer as well (this is why we always get indigestion when visiting certain mega franchise burger swills). B.Good is all about the peoples and they take special care to remind you of this.

So b.good has a system for the burger eating process. First, you choose what type of burger you want from four choices: Beef, turkey, veggie and chicken breast. Kudos to b.good for sourcing local beef and house grinding both the turkey and meat and making their own veggie burgers. After choosing the base, you then needed to decide upon the style. Should we go for the El Guapo — bacon, homemade jalapeno ranch, lettuce, tomato, onion, or the seasonal special—the Guacho— chimichurri, pickled onions, provolone, lettuce, tomato?

We love structured choices like these because it makes you feel empowered without ruining your meal. Other restaurants, give you unlimited choices which is often times too overwhelming. For example, there are certain burrito places that allow you to put what ever you want inside your tortilla. What ends happening is you get a gut bursting mess of vegetables, ingredients, toppings and flavor combinations that have no right being in the same mouth as one another. It is good to have choices but too many choices can leave you with a stomachache.

For our structured choice number 1, we got the turkey burger ala the Adopted Luke— mushrooms, caramelized onions, swiss and homemade bbq ($6.29). This was seriously the best turkey burger we have ever eaten. Too bad we had to split it. While most turkey burgers are dry and overcooked, this one was moist and delightfully flavorful. When combined with fixin's of the luke, it was definitely the best choice.
Cool Hand Burger
Our segundo choice was the veggie burger—West Side style with avocado, cilantro, tomato, homemade chipotle salsa ($6.29). Although it was good, it was not the best veggie burger we have ever had and several better options sprang to mind. We heard that they recently changed their veggie burger recipe, so this may be a reason.
Not Bad Veggie Burger
The one real downside of our meal was the drink. When we saw that they had homemade mint tea, we were like, “that sounds awesome.” But it was so sweet that we threw it out. We generally feel iced tea should be served sin sugar because it is a nice alternative to sugar water (ie soda). But the meal was redeemed by the sweet potato fries, which were not fries, but baked chunks of freshly sliced Carolina sweets.
Sweet Caroline Potato Lovin'
A good Boston based burger joint will always get a Palateers seal of approval.

b.good Burger
137 Mass Ave
Boston, MA 02115-2606
617-236-5480

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mike's City Diner—Breakfast Brawlin'

Heads recovering from a cold and spinning a bit from Nyquil, we needed some TLC and food with flavor because basically we couldn't smell anything let alone taste, food. We needed flavors that popped, something greasy, a good diner experience. We wanted to relive one of our favorites from Maine—the diner of all diners—the fat turkey of diners: Moody's. We think Mikes City Diner came reasonably close to matching our expectations.

Buried way in the South End, we found the aroma of blooming Bradford pear trees queasy and weren't sure if we would have an appetite. Like all good diners, there was a line when we arrived. We waited. And waited. It was one of those awful types of lines that doesn't ever move. We gazed intently at people who were near done, mentally willing them to remove themselves so we could snag their tables.

While waiting, two counter seats opened up, but being Bostonians, we figured that we let the people in front of us sit down, but then, charging in from no where, two gargantuan beefy people swooped right in taking the counter seats. We were like, “Hey, hold up. There is a line” And they were like, “Counter space is free for all” and we were like “Well we were kind of waiting” and we were ready to brawl for counter space on a Sunday morning, when everyone was hungover, but then two nice diners right next to us got up and offered their seats, and we were like “Oh, thanks” and all was forgotten. And that is the story of how the Palateers won the battle for breakfast.

Our waitress was wicked cool. She had an incredible six sense for empty coffee mugs that needed filling. The first thing we ordered was the hash and eggs ($7.50), because the nice people who gave us their seats said the hash was homemade. Eggs over easy and with hash browns and toast, it was indeed good homemade hash.
Our second dish was the phenomenally priced two eggs, toast and bacon ($5.05). We made the mistake of ordering the grits (against the recommendation of waitress who insisted that we should have gotten the home fries). We guess that grits are just one of those things that taste better south of the Mason Dixon line.

Priced how we like it—cheap—and good American size portions, with a lot of New England character, Mike's City Diner was the medicine we needed to cure our colds.

Mike's City Diner
1714 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118-3307
(617) 267-9393

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Columbos Cafe--Big City Italian down on Main Street Hyannis

Something is brewin’ down on the cape. Some us of Palateers remember the day when the food selection down on Main Street Hyannis wasn’t as uppity as the big wig Bostonians. Must be what nstar is puttin’ in the water, which is making everyone act a little crazy. Either way, we were surprised to find Columbo’s chillin’ down not far from where the old Spiritus pizza used to be. What caught our attention is that Columbo’s seems like a place more fittin’ for the big city, but it was surprisingly busy when we showed up on Saturday. So we guess, they must be doing something right.

When we arrived, we beelined it for the dessert display. Wowzers, we were two tiramisu, one chocolate mouse and a jumbo lobster tail away from ruining our dinner. But we refrained, making solemn promises to save our indulgence for the finale.

We were seated and soon had epileptic flashes from the flat screen television right behind us, reflecting all forms of madness off the menu before us. Maybe it was meant to distract us from the pricey entrees. Before ordering, we did have reservations about the price; however, our doubts were unfounded.

The quality of the meal far surpassed our expectations. Our salads were top of the line good. Some of them were a meal unto themselves. You should have seen our eyes pop when they presented us with the Antipasto Salad ($14.95). A heaping pile of different salami, rolled up cheeses, grilled and fresh veggies, olives, hot peppers, on a beautiful bed of lettuce. It was a good way to start the meal.
Antipasto
With roasted red peppers, gorgonzola, candied pecans and cranberries, the spinach salad was equally delish (8.95).
Spinach Salad
Then came the pizzas. We especially enjoyed the grilled vegetable pizza (12.95). Just like the antipasto it was overfilled with a medley of peppers, garlic and onions. With mounds of basil, pesto and goat cheese, it was simply enjoyable. The margarita pizza was also top notch (13.95).
Veggie Goat Cheese

Margarita
At the end of the meal, we were so stuffed we broke our solemn vow and had to skip dessert, but don’t worry, we promised to return.

Colombo's Cafe & Pastries
544 Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601-5408
(508) 790-5700