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.
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.

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.
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

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

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.
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

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

Friday, April 2, 2010

Blue Shirt--Veggie friendly vibe and smoothies to boot

Seems that Dave’s Fresh Pasta has some competition in Davis Square. Before we thought Dave's was the only joint to get a sandwich in Davis, but Blue Shirt blew us away. Starving after a long Sunday walk basking in the first warm rays of spring sunshine, the Palateers were ready to get their sandwich eating on. Right off the main strip of Davis Square, Blue Shirt has been a staple of the Davis/Tufts community for as long as we Palateers can remember. After ordering, we considered eating in the spacious seating area, but the sun beckoned us after months of dismal rain, snow, and cold.

Blue Shirt met our trifecta policy for a happening lunch spot: Healthy options galore, creative combinations and smoothies. We indulged in all. We were very indecisive about what to order, and spent at least 15 minutes debating the options, despite our imminent hunger pains. We decided that due to Blue Shirt’s veggie-friendly, granola-crunching, hemp-clothing vibe, that we would go strictly veg.

Our first sandwich was the Lili’s Lunch ($5.95). A warm toasted, stuffed to the brim, falling out of the sourdough bread onto our jeans, Panini. The avocado really won us over, but the flavors of the swiss, cucumbers, tomato, lettuce, sprouts, sun dried tomato spread melded together into a gooey, wonderful, fill me up, thank you sir I’ll have another, Panini happiness.

Yea for Avocado
Our second sandwich exceeded the first on the official Palateer yummer scale. The Little Italy (5.95) was a perfect balance of balsamic vinaigrette, basil, tomato, provolone, and red peppers served on focaccia. It was wonderfully large, and had to be separately wrapped in two aluminum foil packages to go.
Little Italy--Our favorite
To top it all off, we indulged in a smoothie. Although we considered, the sending our taste buds to cloud nine Peanut Butter Delight, we decided to stick to the healthy and enjoy a Hawaiian song smoothie ($4). It did not disappoint and we felt effervescent after slurping back the mango, pineapple, bananas, strawberry-guava juice, and sorbet.
Smoothie--Half drunk of course
Blue Shirt - well worth a day of walking from Boston to Somerville in the sun.

Blue Shirt Cafe
424 Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02144
(617) 629-7641

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Dosa Factory--Cheap, good dosas in central square

Throw a can of beans and you will hit a Indian restaurant in Cambridge. Nothing wrong with this, its partly what gives Cambridge its flair, but for the most part, all the Indian food is from the same region, specifically, Punjabi, Northern India. Considering the size and scope and diversity of the subcontinent, you can imagine that they roll differently down in the warmer regions. Imagine the differences between deep south delicacies (biscuits and grazy) and New England favorites (baked cod and clam chowder), or Beijing food (dumplings) vs Hong Kong (dim sum). While northern Indian food tends to have more meat (ie chicken, fish), is heavier and creamier, the south is lighter, spicier and more veg.

Ergo, we generally prefer southern Indian food, and envied other cities that had a wider selection. No longer must we travel far distances to get our spice on. Shalimars in their infinite business acumen, saw the strategic necessity to fill this niche, and we are all the beneficiaries. Now, we need to be specific, we're not talking about Shalimar's the restaurant, we're talking about the actual store across the street, and its tiny cafe in the back, called the Dosa Factory. Shalimar's in Central Square is a pretty awesome store in general, offering a vast array of specialty spices, all ready made Indian meals, and an impressive selection of bollywood movies and music.

They've always had a small cafe in the back which served street food (think Panni Puri, Vada Pav, Pav Bhaji), but in recent months, they expanded this little shop to include a larger menu and more seating. The menu at the Dosa Factory is heavy on the south Indian foods including dosas, idli and uttapam.

We began with a sweet mango lassi, done just right, which satiated our thirst and prepped our bellies for the gargantuan dosas to come. Our two tantalizing main courses were a uttapam and a masala dosa.

The uttapam was big, round and filling (6.95). Think of it as an Indian pancake with a bit of zing. It was very flavorful especially when dipped in the sambar (tomato soup) and coconut chutney.
The real highlight of the meal was the masala dosa (7.95) and in this area, it exceeded our expectations. Its exactly how we remembered it in Mumbai, with all the punch, character and aroma that we wanted. The honking crepe was completely chowed down.
Dosa Time
Since we went the first time, we have also been back to try the Pav Bhaji (6.95), very good, and the spinach and mozzarella dosa. We recommend the masala dosa if it is your first time.

For the price, quality and convenient location, Dosa Factory is now one of our new favorites.

Dosa Factory
571 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 868-3672

Monday, March 8, 2010

Restaurant Velazquez—Two nights in a row

Bury your feet in the sand – yes, the warm sand – and watch the setting sun drown in the sea. Listen to the moans of the wooden fishing boats, creaking and nudging each other before you, jostling for a free space. El mar is no more than five feet away and you can hear it lapping against the silky sand. This is a good dining experience.

Grab your flip flops and open up your Sol (lime and salt preferred) to Isla de Mujeres. What better place than Velazquez Restaurant, where you can take in the unbeatable sunset and the water, literally at your feet, while feasting on some of the freshest seafood the Palateers have had the joy to consume. After some select Palateers restaurant experiences (always the good ones), we pledge that we will immediately return the next night, in order to relive the magic. We rarely follow through, except for this restaurant.

Velazquez is located on the impossibly thin Isla de Mujeres, off the coast of Cancun. Take care when crossing the street, the retired middle aged Minnesota man, with a lobster colored face and matching round belly driving the golf cart straight at you, is likely inebriated. If you can make it across alive, then you are in for a treat.

Velazquez specializes in the dining delicacies of the deep sea. Fish, shrimp, lobsters, squids and crabs are the prominent categories. You can also take in a sampling of the many fine island beverages, mostly encompassing tequila inspired concoctions and your standard 2 for 1 cervezas. The waitstaff is entertainment to itself as it plays a nightly round of musical chairs, fitting impossibly sized groups of newcomers into ever changing patterns of plastic tables and chairs.

Fills the stomach while you wait
One thing you should prepare for is the long wait for your food. Maybe this is why they supply you with a delicious pre-dinner sampling of crispy tortilla chips and salsa-adorned guacamole, which is inevitably finished long before your dinner arrives. This would also be a fine time to enjoy a margarita, as we did our first night. The heavy-hitting tequila-laden right hook cocktail gave a good buzz and was far superior to the light sugary mojito we had our second night.
Too Sugary Mojitos
Although all the entree options are tempting, the filete of fish meal is inolvidable – unforgettable - and most reasonably priced. Served grilled, with garlic sauce, or fried, this fish meal will leave you wanting to come back a second night. The pescado was fresh and savory, especially when infused with a dash of lime. We enjoyed creating small tacos from the never ending supply of fresh tortillas, and the other side dishes, included a small salad, beans, rice, hot peppers, and five french fries.
If we came back two nights in a row for the same meal, we think you'll enjoy Velazquez for at least one.

Velazquez Restaurant
Isla de Mujeres, Mexico

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Cafe Andrade--Taste of Veracruz

A short hop from the bustling circus which is the main drag of Playa Del Carmen, complete with clowns and exotic large beasts (namely over weight Mid-westerners), you will find a welcome respite from the overpriced and irritatingly Americanized comida of the fair that lines the strip.

The best part of Cafe Andrade is that you will be treated how everyone else is treated. None of the silly English pandering and “Almost Free” catcalls from the Mexican carnies lining the streets, trying to pinch away your hard earned pesos. Here, you will be greeted with simple Buenos “time of day” and promptly seated. Your Spanish will get a nice workout, but if in desperation, you can always turn to the English menu.

Cafe Andrade is comida de Veracruz (meaning the place, not the true cross). Veracruz, that lovely gulf of Mexico port town, is well worth a visit if you ever get a chance. But if not, you can get a taste here. The menu has all the classic favorites. Spicy red picadas, green salsa laden gordas and classic menu del dia. But most importantly it has the lechero. Oh, Lechero, how we crave thee. For luchador fans, the Lechero is the nacho libre of coffees. It could easily give a flying suplex to the cappuccino.

We ordered “Dos Lecheros” for a reasonable 24 pesos (about $1.80) a piece. We wanted the menu del dia, but alas, we came to early (fair warning hungry traveler, it only begins at 1:30pm). Instead, we settled for the chilaquiles. This dish could best be described as nachos. A big bowl of fried tortilaa chips, smothered in salsa and cheese. Adorned with strips of chicken and crema. For 60 pesos, it was just okay. Not very inspiring but very filling.

We also got a Torta Malletes (45 pesos). It was a open sandwich covered with refried beans and melted cheese, serve with a very nice spicy salsa.

Torta Malletes
Take advantage of the great 13:1 exchange rate and get a taste of Veracruz en Playa de Carmen.

Cafe Andrade

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Stephanie's on Newbury—A Valentines Special

Yes, Valentines Day is a made up holiday. We all know it, but we all play along. Isn't it a bit ridiculous to have an entire holiday devoted to love, where one is expected to buy chocolates, roses, sappy cards and the occasional adult fun toy? Not to mention, the holiday completely ignores all the Platonic notions of eros and instead focuses exclusively on the happy meal packaged convenient product for couples. But don't think for a second that because we are cynical about this card company contrived spectacle that we can ignore our dutiful responsibilities.

Anyways, it was a Sunday night on a long weekend, and we were planning to go out to eat anyways. V-Day just meant we had to make a reservation weeks in advance. Our destination por amor, was Stephanie's on Newbury and baby, it was Valentines Day epicenter.

We entered the comfortably warm, well lit yet dimmed, restaurant to find droves of couples - by our estimates, over 90% of the restaurant - fulfilling their Aphroditic rights. We sank into large comfortable squishy chairs and found a veritable expanse of white table cloth between us. We were really far apart, and although we found this disconcerting, there were assuredly awkward adjacent couples who found the divide comforting. It was amusing to look at the rows upon rows of couples facing each other in varying levels of rapport. Many were engaged in pleasant well worn banter, practiced over several years of domiciliary. Others were young mismatched love birds, spending this night together to stave off the possibility of being alone.

Good thing there was a good bread basket, otherwise some might not have anything to talk about. Stephanie's has one of the best bread baskets we have ever seen. A lovely hodgepodge of pumpernickel and sourdough rolls, raisin scones and crackers. Although our friendly server tried to guide us towards several expensive fixe meal V-day specials, we decided to forgo pomp and circumstance in favor of more modestly priced fare.

The menu had a trove of interesting options. Aromatic tempting appetizers such as the baked brie, artichoke dipping sauce and buffalo wings. As well as hearty entrees such as thanksgiving sandwiches, mac n' cheese and shepard's pie. Stephanie's provides the types of classy comfort foods that bring you right back to mom's Sunday night dinners.

Ordinarily priding ourselves on adventurous dining, we turned this night to the classic chicken pot pie. Our first response was: man! this is a puny pie, but then we took a bite and realized it was heavier than a Metallica concert. Creamy, with big chunks of chicken, peas, carrots and potatoes. That magnificent aforementioned bread bowl helped to soup up every last bite.

One Heavy Pie
Trying to balance our passion with practicality and health concerns, we opted for a goat cheese beet salad as a counterweight. A gloriously large array of beets, goat cheese, asparagus, chickpeas, walnuts, caramelized onions, tomatoes, spinach and drizzled with an unnoticeable dressing--as if it even needed dressing. We couldn't even finish this gargantuan salad.
Gargantuan Salad
Romance in the air and the sweet tinge of cheap perfume taunting our nostrils, we retreated into the bitter Boston night with warm hearts and full bellies.

Stephanie's on Newbury
190 Newbury St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 236-0990‎

Monday, February 15, 2010

Zoe's Restaurant--Where the Palateers go marching in?

Roll out of bed ye sleepy heads, tis sunday, when the dieties feast. Time for brunch, time to munch on greasy spoon specials: three egg omelets, thick frappes and burgers. All good. But where will we stagger to devour such delights? We march to Cambridge while singing breakfast ballads and meal melodies. Can you hear it hungry reader?Join us for a wild morning of debrunchery.

Hark thee angels to thy destination of Zoe's Restaurant. Where snacking saints and munching monks find theirs alms, with payment of course. Note the subterranean hall, with colorful pews. The restaurant is Greek and American. If you choose Greek, you can eat moussaka. If you choose American, you can eat a burger. We ate moussaka and a burger.

We also ordered the buffalo chicken sandwich. It had some nice zing.The spicy sauce went well with the crispy chicken strips. It came as a wrap with crisp lettuce and chunks of fresh tomato. Instead of regular fries, we of course had the sweet potato.

Spicy Chicken Wrap
We also ordered the Zoe's burger. It was interesting. The egg wasn't yoky, which is how we wished it was. That part was disappointing. But the burger was still very good – rye bread, no pastrami, spinach, feta, tomato and onions and a burger. It was big, large and filling.

Big burger, but no runny yoke
We really wanted to explore the unknown so we went for the moussaka. What's a moussaka, you ask, inquisitive reader? A moussaka is layers of eggplant and ground beef topped with a rich béchamel cream sauce. Served with rice and green beans. It will sock you to the floor. It was savory.


Zoes restaurant in Cambridge – where the Palateers go marching in.

Zoe's Restaurant
1105 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138-5220
(617) 495-0055
Cambridge Restaurant Review

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tupelo--A little taste of the south

One of the Palateers visited Tupelo this past summer, and raved about the Southern hospitality. So they dragged the other one over for a taste of some Southern flavors.

First thing we realized about Tupelo is it is a popping place – as in 40 minutes to an hour wait on a Saturday night. And no reservations. Forewarning for any late evening diner. This speaks volumes about the quality of the cuisine, and how fast word spreads, as it opened this past summer.

Inside had a cozy decor, with murals of hot New Orleans nights, multitudes of Elvis drawings, and water served in jars. The back room is perfect for waiting, as we initially did, until we fortunately caught two seats at the bar. People were everywhere: servers, customers waiting for tables glass of wine in hand, and the cooks in plain view at the back. We have a theory that if you order a bottle of wine, they seat you in 5 minutes. We saw it happen.

Going early is important as we found out the hard way. 6pm on a Tuesday would probably have been a little better than 8pm on a Saturday. We were sad to learn that they ran out of the complimentary corn bread and two of the entrees – including one we wanted, the catfish. These facts dampened our spirits until the food arrived.

Tupelo only serves wine and beer, but has a good variety of different beers, including Duvel and some type of chocolate stout. And, as any good Southern restaurant should have, root beer in a bottle. We were sitting at the bar, so we didn't get the full waitstaff experience. The bartender seemed nice but extremely busy.

The food was mighty scrumptious, and came with three types of hot sauce. Our first entree was the BBQ'd half chicken ($16). This slow roasted, extremely filling chicken fell right off the bone and was finger-lickin' good. The shredded maple autumn squash complimented the chicken well and was sweet and chewy. Served with a load of dressing and a few greens. The advertised sweet onion pickle was unnoticeable.

Finger lickin good
Our second dish was a Cajun gumbo ($12). This big mixing bowl was filled with pulled chicken, rice, green peppers, onions, and our personal favorites, Andouille sausage and okra. The first bite helped clean out the sinuses, and we didn't look back after that until we saw bottom.

If we ever find ourselves stranded in Mississippi or Louisiana, our expectations our high after Tupelo.

1193 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 868-0004
Cambridge Restaurant Review

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ashmont Grill—The Sequel

Let it be known that the Palateers always stay true to our promises. We hadn't forgotten our delicious brunch back in May 2009 at the Ashmont Grill or our vow to return. As can be deduced from the last review, we were not to be disappointed. The more one visits a particular place in ones lifetime, the more one learns and appreciates it. The same stands true for restaurants.

On our second visit, we enjoyed the lovely small subtleties of Ashmont's ambiance—particularly the chicken themed paintings on the wall. Also, just as it is the go-to spot for brunch, it is also the prime evening lounge destination for local residents (They even had dancing on New Years!).

But of course, what stole our attention was the food. Be prepared, we ordered more than we usually do. For a salad, we had the spinach, goat cheese and beet salad special. It was delicious, though it isn't very hard to mess up. This particular salad seems to be all the rage these days, however, Ashmont distinguished itself by the subtle substitution of hazelnuts instead of the typical walnuts.

Main Courses:
The pan roasted cod ($19) was creative and inspiring, but not that filling. The perfectly roasted fish was on a celery puree that had the consistency of hummus, but the potent zing of celery. It was served with a side of roasted fennel. To give it a dash of color, two slices of blood oranges were laid to rest on top.

Creative, but not that filling
If the fish didn't fill us up, then the bacon cheeseburger ($12) finished the job. This grass fed burger was far and away one of the best burgers we've had in Boston. Ashmont gets extra bonus points for the locally raised beef.

The Crest de Gallo pasta ($16) was twisted funky shaped pasta. Somehow, the strangely shaped pasta tasted better. The pasta was mixed with butternut squash, caramelized onions, pine nuts and finally, a dash of fresh sage, making it the ultimate in flavorful comfort food.

That is some Funky Shaped Pasta
Two other table favorites were the herb roasted half chicken ($19) and the lamb tagine ($17). The lamb was a bit too spicy, but that was the only complaint.

A Wee Bit Spicy
Now for the best part, dessert. Where could we possibly begin? We were already stuffed from the main course, but we pushed forward, and how could we not when tempted with these choices.

The exploding chocolate cake ($7) was about as good as you will find at Finale, but at half the price.

Gooey Delicious Finale Rival
Our mouths were watering by the very site of the the sticky toffee pudding ($7) served with a palmful of fresh whipped cream.

Mouth Watering
If our second visit was as good as the first, it might necessitate a third.

Oh yea, we had hot dogs again.

Ashmont Grill
555 Talbot Ave
Dorchester Ctr, MA 02124
(617) 825-4300
Boston Restaurant Review

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Cactus Club—Feliz Año Nuevo!

¡Feliz año nuevo al Cactus Club! That's right – we spent New Years at the Cactus Club, and it was popping. Our new years resolutions freshly minted, we were determined to start off 2010 in true Palateer fashion.

Cactus Club is a voluminous restaurant, which has both an anteroom bar and a backroom restaurant. It's preferable for raucous groups of friends, as was befitting for New Years. The Palateers were smushed in the back at a little table, which did much harm to our self-esteem, but gave us ample ability for people watching and eavesdropping. And man, were there some interesting characters. Besides the litany of drunken Bostonians, there was the awkwardly placed couple who ordered way too much fried food, and a salacious group of women who probably shouldn't have each started the new year off with the $20 margarita bowl (typically meant for three).

We kick started our celebration by indulging in two decadent margaritas. Upon recommendation of our server, we chose to forgo the typical strawberry frozen margarita for an explosion of blackberries ($6.50). For those connoisseurs who demand a bit more class than your run of the mill house tequila, we recommend the Horni Margarita ($8), which uses cointreau and Sauza Hornitos. For only a small price increase, you will distinguish the difference.

We had to restrain ourselves from over-indulging on the bottomless chips and surprisingly chunky salsa. It tasted homemade, which is strange because most salsas at Mexican restaurants seem to be swillish in consistency. It is always a cruel temptation when they put those chips out as your belly aches for food and fills with margarita. We did fulfill one resolution that night of eating healthier by ordering El Vegetariano ($8) (the vegetarian for you non Spanish speakers), a bright green spinach tortilla crammed with greens, feta cheese, tomatoes, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, jicama and Dijon Balsamic vinaigrette. The vinaigrette leaked out of the tortilla as we gobbled it down. Able to choose from a variety of sides, we of course went for the sweet potato fries. And they were gooood.

The Temptation of the Tortilla Chips!

The Vegetarian
We also ordered the spectacle of fajitas. For it is a spectacle – its a show when that sizzling platter emerges from the kitchen, heads turn, noses uplifted: “What is that scent? What is that sizzling in the pan?” Yes, for all attention-seekers, the fajitas are the Paris Hilton of entrees at Mexican restaurants. We went for the veggie option ($12), which was a grand mound of sizzling zucchinis, squash, tomatoes, peppers, onions, corn, and portabella mushrooms. But make sure you bring your own fajitas because it only comes with three.

The Attention Hog
A New Years feast it was, and as Auld Lang Syne rang in our ears, we knew 2010 would be a delicious new year.

939 Bolyston St.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 236-0200
Boston Restaurant Review