Friday, January 30, 2009

Damariscotta River Grill

The Damariscotta River Grill (DRG) provides a refreshing spark of creativity from their impressive food menu.  Best for dinner with friends, DRG makes those cold nights tolerable with exotic New England cuisine.  Exotic? New England? Yea, we just went there.  The Palateers spent a good fifteen minutes reading through all the different dinner options and took time imagining how the various flavor combinations would dance together. 

The scallops, submerged in a ginger pear cream, were cooked to perfection.  Bathing in the rich sauce, the sweet scallops were happily content. The complimentary bread acted as a suitable sponge. A special for the evening was macadamia nut encrusted salmon, with an orange sage bruere. Oh fish lovers rejoice, you will find bliss with this dish.  Tender yet crispy, the fresh pink salmon seemed to melt in our mouth.

Another fish option is the pan-seared tuna and the unbelievable panko coated tempura shrimp.  Yummers.  We will certainly return to try the other options that ranged from rack of lamb, duck confitte and Meyer’s sirloin.

The wine menu was well paired with the extensive meal options and we enjoyed our bottle of Sauvignon Blanc; despite, our servers complete ignorance of any of the wines.  Atmosphere was bright and welcome, with lots of space between tables. The average dish goes for $20 and bottles of wine for $24. This gem has proved that hardy Mainers can also be sophisticated diners.  

Damariscotta River Grill
Main Street
Damariscotta, ME 04543
297.563.2992
www.damariscottarivergrill.com

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Cappy’s Chowder House

If you are a fan of a thick, creamy, true New England Chowder, avoid Cappy’s Chowder House. The Palateers, both New Englanders, like to think that they know a thing or two about good chowder. That’s why, when we sampled this watered down, small and over priced ($8) excuse for a chowder, we considered requesting a refund.

Cappy’s is a tourist trap from head to toe. One look at the chachke-covered walls, from the giant moose head to the plastic lobsters, spoke as if Cappy’s was trying to compensate for something (overpriced unsatisfying food?).


Yargh! Theres some bad chowdah!

The beer and drink menus were reasonable. We liked the selection of native Maine brews and felt that the prices were well matched. Shipyard beer company was represented and we enjoyed a thick dark winter lager, Prelude. Also, try the local ginger beer if you want a mid-afternoon kick.

If a restaurant claims to have amazing chowder, they better live up to expectations, otherwise you are deluding unknowledgeable tourists who have never had a New England Chowdah. Shape up or ship out Cappy’s!!!

Cappy's Chowder House
1 Main St 
Camden, ME 
207.236.2254
cappyschowder.com

Monday, January 26, 2009

Moody's Diner

Breakfast, lunch and dinner, and especially dessert, Moody’s Diner, located in quaint Waldoboro Maine, is a landmark for any passing traveler. From its humble beginnings as a lunch wagon for truckers, the fame of Moody’s is well acknowledged amongst midcoast denizens, and in recent years, like a growing yeast, its popularity has spread to the far regions of the globe.  On the Great Wall, the Giza pyramids and Eiffel tower don’t be surprised if you find a fanatical Mainer sporting a Moody’s tee.

For a diner that has attracted the same regulars for X years, it is no surprise that the Palateers enjoyed their meal.  Breakfast was simple, hardy and delicious.  Fluffy native blueberry pancakes drizzled with syrup, griddled buttery bran muffins smothered in strawberry jam, an overflowing omelet stuffed with peppers, onions and chedderwurst sausage, not to mention the unlimited cups of coffee, made the morning. 


Lunch and dinner offer blue-plate specials that include Yankee pot-roast, mac ‘n cheese, and fresh caught fish and chips.  All accompanied with hot golden biscuits.  While dinner will always leave you over satiated, one can’t depart without indulging in a homemade slice of pie (doesn’t matter the kind, they are all delicious).


Service is friendly and tinged with a dollop of Maine plain spoken no-nonsense New England values. Be prepared for an opinionated albeit entertaining gossip session if you sit at the counter.  Heavy on the belly but easy on the wallet, Moody’s receives five golden forks for its prices.  Eat cheap but well, and know that the red light sign is always a beacon for comfort on Route 1.    

Moody's Diner
1885 Atlantic Hwy,
Waldoboro, ME
207.832.7785
moodysdiner.com/

Friday, January 23, 2009

Men Tei Noodle Shop

Rare like fresh abalones in February, is to find truly authentic Boston Japanese cuisine (we are not referring to salmon sashmi and chicken terriyaki). The Palateers crave the madness of eating that is Iron Chef.  We salivate at the mention of shark fin soup, accompanied with pig intestines and roast quail eggs.  For this reason, one of the Palateers was curious when they tested Men Tei Noodle Shop in Backbay.     

Men Tei Noodle Shop is an authentic Japanese noodle shop. We dug the interior and especially enjoyed the big balled, high rolling Tanukis which adorned the walls.

However, the lunch did not start well.  Upon sitting down, the server promptly dropped a full cup of ice water onto the Palateer's mother's lap (Fox Pass! or as the French prefer, Faux Pas).  The service missed the mark on several occasions including forgetting to bring our tea and ill-advice on dish selection.  

Yummers
The food picked up some of the slack.  The rich and salty noodle dishes whether accompanied with pork or beef, were tremendously appreciated.  However, the vegetable rice curry was a Godzilla sized catastrophe. The $7 dish was nothing more than canned carrots and peas on overcooked rice doused in a Ninja Turtles consistency goo.  The serving of shu mai was miniscule.  

Yuckers
Overall, Men Tei Noodle Shop is a mediocre noodle shop that gets the job done if you are craving a bowl of soup. Brush up on your Japanese or kidnap a Berklee exchange student to help order house specialties*. 

*The Palateers only endorse kidnapping if it results in a improved eating experience.

Men Tei Noodle Shop
66 Hereford St.
Boston Ma   
617.425.0066

Monday, January 19, 2009

Jacob Wirth

Mel was banging away at his piano and the crowd was loving it. He was in the middle of leading a rousing rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and as the lyrics rippled through the large room, diners echoed by banging their beer steins on the old worn tables while swaying their free arms to the beat.   After the last ‘Glory Glory Hallelujah’, the impatient diners were quick to begin shouting numbers from blue faded songbooks.  In the end, Mel makes the decision to go with page 201 “Cecilia” by Simon and Garfunkel. There is a whimper of dismay, but after he hits the first chord, voices rise high and join in unison.


On this cold, below 0, Friday night, Bostonians were seeking refuge from the winter.  They huddled closely around Mel’s piano, finding warmth from the music, company and alcohol. Nearby diners enjoyed platters of sauerkraut (white and red), large grilled bratwurst and soft flavorful pretzels with spicy mustard.  Others found comfort in the overstuffed sandwiches.  Reubens, packed with warm heaps of corn beef and sauerkraut, nestled in a bed of crispy fries. The real Germans amongst the shivering, defrosting bodies ate spaetzle with dill butter sauce and wiener schnitzel.


Still shaking off the chill, eyes were frozen on the beer menu (which equaled in size the food menu).  Tongues watered at the mention of the cold brews that warm the soul.  Punchy IPAs with hops that wallop the taste buds into submission, golden lagers that tempt and seduce you into a second round and a plethora of German styles ranging from smoked ales to dark thick porters.

True Bostonians know that braving the cold of the long winter can bring as much joy as any summer night. Outsiders denigrate the New England frost, but they don’t know that the key to enjoying the winter is simple: Good beer, fine food and sing alongs with Mel on Friday nights at Jacob Wirth. Raise your beer up high and feel the strength of the New England spirit.

  
Jacob Wirth Restaurant‎
31 Stuart St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 338-8586
jacobwirth.com


Friday, January 16, 2009

Finale

Chocolate Lava 
Melting Coffee Gelato 
Flowing on My Plate   

Favorite Dessert 
Spongy Firm Tiramisu 
Savor Every Bite   

Artfully Crafted 
Virtuoso skill and shape 
Art in my stomach   

Red wine aplenty 
Cakes, pies, ice cream, much much more
Overwhelm senses   

An invitation
To revel in chocolate
Sugar surrounds me

A dance for tastebuds
Exploding sweet waterfalls
Pure deliciousness    

Dessert for Dinner?
Eat sweet; Stomach is happy 
Perfect Finale

Finale‎
30 Dunster St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 441-9797‎
finaledesserts.com


Saturday, January 10, 2009

India Castle

What sets apart a quality Indian restaurant? Indian cuisine, for the better, has become a staple of the eclectic Boston palate. Woe be the day, when there was only one choice for Indian—usually Northern. The subcontinent is an overflowing Tsunami of flavors that jolts to life our bland western palates. Masala (Spice) is Tikhe (good), and Indian Castle provides all the key ingredients for a mouth-watering Indian meal.

So roll up your sleeves, wash your hands and prepare to get messy Indian style[1]. In true Asian tradition, the best way to enjoy India Castle is in a large group with multiple dishes. To begin, there are the wonderful Chaat appetizers such as pakoras, samosas and papads (complimentary with an assortment of sweet, tangy and spicy sauces).



It is deceptively easy to over order at India Castle. For a party of four, we ordered three dishes and still had leftovers. India Castle specializes in North Indian style, but also gives a decent shout out to its South Indian counterparts with such fine feats as Idli Sambar, Dosas and Uttapam. Besides Roti (flat bread), we decided to order two North Indian staples Aloo Chole (Potato and chickpeas infused with in a tomato sauce) and Saag Paneer (chunks of cheese in a spinach puree). Both dishes transcended expectations.

However, truly amazing, is that you can order off menu. If it’s not on the menu, fear not. One of the Palateers was craving a Bhindi Masala (Spicy stir-fried Okra), and although not on the menu, the chef was happy to accommodate (even though Okra is not in season!). Additionally, the Palateers recommend impressing your server by ordering mango pickle, but be prepared as this is an alien taste, which is one part sour, one part tangy and ten parts authentically Indian. Finish off your dining experience with a Raitha (yogurt mixed with chopped vegetables) to balance the palate.


India Castle has a full bar and serves wonderfully large steins of Kingfisher beer (the only beer that shares its name with an airline). Entrees range from $10 to 15. The setting is perfect for parties of four and it never gets so loud that you cannot enjoy a conversation. Fear not the Masala and experience some flair from the subcontinent.


[1] The Palateers recommend the traditional manner of eating Indian with your hands. You get more flavor…really.





India Castle Restaurant & Bar
928 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 864-8100