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Harvard Square Oktoberfest 2011 @ Grendel’s Den

8 Oct

Many of you know that Joe and I honeymooned in Germany. In fact, while we were in Munich, we stayed very very close to the Oktoberfest grounds on the Theresienwiese. When it’s not being used as a large gathering for drinking copious amounts of beer and eating lots of pretzels, usually there is a carnival going on or some kind of huge flea market.

Every year, Harvard Sq celebrates Oktoberfest with a huge party, complete with parade and music in the form of Honk Fest.

We had a front row seat of all the parade festivities because during every Oktoberfest, we always get lunch at Grendel’s. They are one of the only restaurants that serve actual German Oktoberfest beers. Which makes me a very happy girl.

Unfortunately they don’t sell full liters but Joe and I both had a half liter of Paulaner Oktoberfest. Paulaner isn’t actually my favorite of the big six Munich beers (the other five being Hofbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Spaten, Franziskaner, and my favorite and totally hard to find on draft in the US, Augustiner), but the Oktoberfest brew was still very very good.

We always start off with the pretzels and whole grain mustard. I prefer the pretzels here over the ones they have at Jacob Wirth’s, they are perfectly doughy with a good exterior.

Also served with the pretzels is Obatzda, which is a popular German cheese concoction composed of Camembert, butter, and other spices. It is a very pungent dish, so it’s something not to be taken lightly.

I went with the traditional bratwurst sandwich served with whole grain mustard and sauerkraut. The brat was grilled perfectly and the sauerkraut was pickled just the way I like it. It was served with some boring chips, so I filled myself up with the pretzels instead.

Joe went with the schweinebraten, which is pork with mashed potatoes and red cabbage. This was definitely Americanized, as the entire dish seemed to be braised in the same pot. It still tasted good, but was definitely NOT 100% German.

It’s Oktoberfest, right? Which means that we must have a second beer. I went with the Weihenstephaner Festbier, which was definitely more carbonated than the Paulaner. It did have a very crisp flavor, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as…

The Kostritzer Schwartzbier, which is a black lager. I had this lovely brew in Munich and it was one of my favorites of the entire trip. It has a really smooth taste, and if you don’t like aftertaste with your beer, you will DEFINITELY like this one.

And now I’m craving beer. Must remedy that.

I’m really pleased at how much larger and better Harvard Square Oktoberfest has become. It still has a long way to go (PLEASE sell more ACTUAL German beers and not just Harpoon and Sam Adams? Not that I have a problem with that…) but we definitely enjoy making our annual pilgrimage.

Grendel's Den on Urbanspoon

Blogger Dinner At Audobon Circle

16 Sep

Last week I had the fantastic opportunity to check out Audubon Circle with a group of amazing bloggers. Audubon Circle is located in the St. Mary’s section of the Brookline/Boston line and I was very excited to try their full menu, as I had only been there one time before with Megan & Kathy and we only sampled the appetizers and beer (they do pitchers! Of GOOD beer!)

For some reason I was not in the mood for any of the beers they had (*Gasp!*) so I went with the acrb tea party – which was tea infused vodka with mint, lemonade & lime. When I get a mixed drink, I always prefer that I DON’T taste the alcohol and this one delivered. I also enjoyed the mint flavor as well.

We decided to go about the menu family style, so we ordered a bunch of appetizers and entrees and shared everything. Like good food bloggers do. I recommended the white bean dip because when I came before, I absolutely devoured this dip. It was smooth and creamy and the accompanying bread was soft and chewy. Yes please.

I’m pretty much never going to say no to a cheese plate, and when this baby landed right in front of me, it was hard to not take it and run. The red pepper jelly that they serve with their cheese plate is A-MAZING. Please, someone give me a vat of that and I am a happy girl. There were 3 cheeses that we tried, one soft, semi soft and hard cheese, which I liked.

I really enjoyed the tomato and burrata salad, served with crispy slices of cucumber, balsamic vinaigrette and some micro greens. Audubon Circle uses fresh, local and in season ingredients as the inspiration for their menu, and the heirloom tomatoes in this salad were full of juiciness and flavor. The creamy burrata was also a nice touch.

Next up was the marinated skirt steak with chimicurri and mango and corn slaw. This was a “meh” in my book. The flavors were nice, but it was a very forgettable dish.

The vegetarian dumplings were also a big hit and had such a pretty presentation. I also enjoyed the sauce that was served alongside the dumplings.

At this point it was time to switch to entrees. the pappardelle bolognese with pecorino romano and garlic toast was my favorite entree of the night. Long flat noodles coated in a delicious bolognese sauce and the garlic toast was covered with LOTS of cheese and was soft and gooey. I forgot to ask if the pasta was made in house, but it certainly tasted like it!

The BBQ shredded chicken with potato salad, house made biscuits and bread and butter pickles was probably my least favorite entree we tried. Not that it wasn’t good, because it was! The biscuits were full of delicious butter flavor, and how can I say no to bread and butter pickles? I can’t. I did not like Audubon Circle’s potato salad. The potatoes were too hard for my liking, I like the potatoes in my salad to be slightly soft, and these were not. The sauce was also not very flavorful.

We also tried the lobster roll, served with chips and slaw. The lobster roll was tasty, but it definitely had more mayo than I personally liked, but the slaw served along side made up for the roll’s shortcomings.

I love me a good ham and cheese sandwich, and Audubon Circle’s version certainly did not disappoint. Made with rosemary ham and muenster cheese, the mustard served on the side made for some nice dipping. I most certainly had seconds of this dish.

Another favorite of mine was the pork schnitzel served with arugula and pickled onion. You can’t really see it in this picture, but the schnitzel was incredibly thin with a perfect brown crust. I was instantly transported back to Germany (well, besides the arugula part). I told the husband about this dish and he was asking me when we were going to visit Audubon Circle.

Another forgettable dish in my book was the salmon served with sweet corn succotash and heirloom tomato. Maybe I’m just over salmon but this dish was pretty mediocre considering I don’t remember much of what it tasted like. I remember liking the succotash, so that’s a plus?


Audubon Circle only has one dessert on its menu, and for good reason, it’s fan-freaking-tastic. Chevre cheesecake with an oreo crumb. In case you’ve forgotten, chevre is goat cheese. And it’s amazing. I’ve never had a goat cheese based cheesecake, but I obviously need to get in the loop, because it is super creamy without being heavy. I hate heavy cheesecakes (I’m looking at YOU Cheesecake Factory!) but this was pretty much the perfect ending to a great meal.

It’s easy to forget Audubon Circle. It’s located in the middle of St. Mary’s and Kenmore, next to a bike shop, but believe me when I say, Audubon Circle is worth the visit!

Audubon Circle Restaurant Bar on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: Dinner at Audubon Circle was provided to me free of charge. I was not asked to review Audubon Circle, so all opinions stated in this review are my own. 

Boston Brunchers at Local 149

12 Sep

I have to admit, I don’t make the trek out to South Boston very often. For some reason I think it is so far away, even though it is a hop skip and a jump away from my work, and a relatively easy bus trip from Copley. But I still have only been to a handful of places in Southie, such as American Provisions, K.O. Catering & Pie, and now, Local 149.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Boston Brunchers at Local 149 last weekend. From the moment you walk into Local 149, you know that you are in for a special time. I wouldn’t be lying if I told you this was my favorite Boston Brunchers event EVER, and I’m about to tell you why.

First off, I was really digging the decor of Local 149. From the colored seltzer bottles, to the funky paintings, to the high top tables surrounding the bar, I already loved Local 149.

And then they started putting CRAZY stuff on the table.

Yeah. It’s a freaking COCONUT. With a pretty umbrella. And you know what was IN that pretty coconut with the pretty umbrella?

Rum.

Oh, there may have been some coconut water in there, maybe some other stuff, but yeah, there was rum in it. And it was delicious.

I mean, clearly Megan was enjoying it.

Any restaurant that has a good charcuterie plate is a winner in my book. I wish I could tell you the deliciousness that was on this plate, but I can’t. It’s ok though, because it is continuously rotating, so you may not get the same thing each time you go. All I know, is that it was a wonderful start to the many items we were going to try that afternoon.

I’m going to tell you right now that I am not a Bloody Mary fan. Maybe it’s the horseradish. I don’t know. THIS Bloody Mary, on the other hand, was OUT OF THIS WORLD. Is the point of a Bloody Mary that you don’t taste the alcohol? Because it just tasted like sweet tomato goodness. I also swear I tasted oyster or clam juice, and I’m ok with that. I may have drank all of it.

Oysters aren’t considered aphrodisiacs for nothing. These Cotuit Oysters were briny and super fresh. The squeeze of lemon and additional of raspberry puree added a sweet note that again makes Local 149 different. I have a soft spot for Wellfleet Oysters, but these oysters were damn tasty.

Now it was time to get down to business. You really can’t get much more comfort food than chicken and waffles. But when they are made with rosemary butter and caramel sherry syrup and blueberries, comfort food becomes elegant. The chicken had just the right amount of crunch without being greasy, and the delicious syrup melded perfectly into the soft waffle.

Almost everything at Local 149 is made in house. From the pickles, to the bacon, to the sausage. I believe these beauties were a lamb sausage, and they were spectacular. They were served with a delicious house made chili sauce. I like it. I like it a lot.

It was a good thing they gave us so much food, because they also gave us A LOT to drink. Drink #3 if you are keeping count was a Mimosa made with prosecco, freshly squeezed OJ and Pomegranate juice. This was a lovely spin on a mimosa, and I’m pretty sure I will be adding pomegranate juice to all the mimosas I make from now on. I’m just fancy like that.

The next course was on of my (many) favorite. Breakfast pizza. But not just ANY breakfast pizza. A breakfast pizza with quail eggs, baby arugula, cherrywood bacon, and spicy creame fraiche. The added bonus of the different seeds on the edge of the pizza gave it that extra bit of crunch. I had 2 pieces. And I was very close to having 2 more. Put an egg on a pizza and I will be your friend for LIFE. True story.

The next sweet course was one of the most creative plates of the afternoon. Brioche french toast. Soaked in espresso martini. Oh, but it’s crunchy when you bite into it. Yeah, that’s the cinnamon Life cereal that it’s encrusted in.

WHAT?!?!

Yeah, that’s right. I’m pretty sure I’m going to try to recreate this amazingness at home. Crunchy on the outside, moist and soft on the inside. The white chocolate cigarette and whipped cream didn’t hurt. Oh yeah, and the THREE different kinds of bacon that were available to try. Marry me Local 149?

It was about at this time when the bellies of the Boston Brunchers were starting to protest. But we still had 2 more dishes to try. And 2 more drinks. Oh, what is a girl to do. This beauty right here is a peach and mint sangria, and was my favorite drink of the day. It was refreshing, and I loved being able to taste the mint. It was a nice break in between waiting for the food.

Our second to last course was the Lobster MacMuffin with Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese, on a homemade English Muffin. Um, McDonalds? You should be taking copious notes here, because this was a most amazing dish. I’m mesmerized on how TALL the eggs are. HOW DO THEY DO THAT?!?!!?! The eggs were fluffy and moist, with bits of lobster scattered throughout. I decided to skip the potatoes that were served with it.

Our last course was Yorkshire Pudding, with a housemade chicken sausage, homemade gravy and poached eggs. Probably my favorite savory dish of the day (with the breakfast pizza coming close behind). The Yorkshire Pudding was perfect, and slathering on the gravy and eggs and sausage was so amazing, I had 3 bites, even though my stomach was protesting muchly.

Obviously a sweet ending was needed, so we received a small portion of their Five Dollar Milkshake, a chocolate malted milkshake that was so smooth and so chocolatey, I almost asked for seconds. Almost.

I was completely and utterly BLOWN AWAY by the amazingness of Local 149. The service was phenomenal, and you could tell they were excited about the food they were making and serving. There aren’t many places I would go out of my way to go to, but I would most certainly go out of my way to come back to Local 149. You will NOT be disappointed.

Local 149 on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: Brunch at Local 149 was provided to us at no charge. As always, all opinions are my own and in no way were influenced by the restaurant.

Lil’ Vinny’s Restaurant – Somerville

7 Sep

I don’t get out to Somerville nearly as much as I’d like to. I mean, for one, it’s really far away, and certain areas of Somerville aren’t even accessible via the red line. Which means I have to take 2 buses and a train to get to Somerville. And I don’t have a car, which is sad. I really like Somerville, almost as much as I like Brighton. Almost.

When Renee from Eat.Live.Blog & Boston Brunchers sent out an invite for a blogger dinner at Lil Vinny’s Restaurant in Magoun Sq in Somerville, I immediately was in, location be damned.

Lil’ Vinny’s is about a 15 minute walk or a 3 minute bus ride from Davis Sq in Somerville. It’s very intimate on the inside, with less than 20 tables as well as a small bar.

They don’t have any beers on tap and none of the bottles spoke to me, so I settled on a glass of German Riesling. It went deliciously well with the warm and soft bread that was served with some olive oil.

Our first course was a traditional caesar salad that was served with thick slabs of Parmesan cheese. There was a little too much dressing for my liking, but it had a wonderful creaminess and there was a hint of anchovies that I love. The croutons were crispy and buttery, just how I like them.

Our second course was mussels served with fresh tomatoes, banana peppers in an amazing broth. Seriously, I could have just drank this broth. The mixture of the tomatoes with the banana pepper juice and the mussels made it just a little bit spicy. The mussels were cooked perfectly.

The third course was my least favorite. A chicken and tortellini pesto with sundried tomatoes and spinach. After the chunks of fresh tomato in the mussel dish, many of us were disappointed with the sundried tomatoes. It’s peak tomato season people! Use them up! The chicken was dry and the dish totally would have been better without it. The tortellini was also nothing to write home about.

At around the 4th course, many of us started to wavier. I sadly ended up leaving almost half of every plate I had because I was afraid of how many more courses we were going to get! The eggplant parmesan that was generously served with cheese and stuffed with spinach was a perfect size. The cheese was gooey and there were lovely brown spots throughout. The meal was certainly going back to being amazing.

Our 5th course was by far my favorite, as well as many other bloggers. It was a veal bolognese with homemade fusilli. Many of us wrapped this meal up because we didn’t want ANY of it to go to waste. My husband ended up having it the day after and commented on how amazing it was. The sauce soaked the past beautifully and the meat was tender and juicy.

For dessert, we were served a vanilla bean panna cotta with candied lemon peels and a caramel sauce. This was the perfect ending. I really didn’t want to have any kind of chocolate dessert (*gasp*) so I was ecstatic when this was placed in front of me. The panna cotta was incredibly creamy and you could certainly see and taste the vanilla bean. The caramel sauce balanced nicely and I really enjoyed the candied lemon.

Honestly, I can’t see myself coming back here anytime soon because I live so far away, but, if you DO live in Somerville, you must head down to Lil’ Vinny’s. You will NOT be sorry!

Lil Vinny's Ristorante on Urbanspoon

Disclaimer: Dinner at Lil’ Vinny’s Restaurant was provided to me free of charge, however all opinions are my own.

Blondie’s Burgers – Provincetown

31 Aug

During our last stay at Cape Cod, we spent Saturday hanging out with friends in Provincetown (P-Town, for those not in the know). It’s become a tradition for a group of us to pick a weekend usually late in the summer to take the ferry to P-Town from Boston early in the morning and take the last one home. The past 2 years Hubs and I have taken it as an opportunity to spend the entire weekend there.

Last year, we ate lunch at Burger Queen, and I wasn’t too impressed with it. So this year we decided to have a late lunch at Blondie’s Burgers.

The yellow building certainly catches your attention, especially when it tells you what you can find inside.

Blondie’s, you had me at Creamy Dreamy Thick Shakes.

The menu is a healthy size, where you can chose from a hand full of burgers, hot dogs, fries, and of course delicious shakes.

After a bit, we decided to split a Slushie instead because we wanted to save room for dessert somewhere else. Sadly, the slushie was just a mixture of orange soda and ice, blended in a blender. While it was tasty, at around $3.50, you are better off skipping it and heading straight for the shakes.

I managed to sneak a sip of my mother in laws friend’s chocolate shake, and my fears of it being to heavy were thrown out of the window. Just the right amount of chocolate, ice cream, and milk shakey goodness. Will definitely be getting one of these next time!

For my main meal, I went with the burger special of the day, which was a Greek inspired burger consisting of 2 patties, sauteed onions, feta cheese, tomatoes, and mushrooms.

I truly love burgers like this, with the extra small patties. They just seem to exude more juiciness than thicker burgers. They don’t have to cook as long, so they don’t get a rubbery exterior that thicker burgers get. Blondie’s gets it right by sticking most of the ingredients in the middle of the burger, and the feta cheese melted nicely into the burger.

We decided to share an order of their hand cut french fries, and we generously slathered them in malted vinegar. Other options include your standard ketchup, as well as mustard, salt, pepper and cumin. I saved a small handful of fries and doused them with cumin, as I love the stuff, but Hubby sadly does not.

These fries were excellent, crispy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside. I particularly enjoyed the darker fries, as you can see 1 or 2 pictures above. Once we added a little extra salt to them, they were perfection.

Joe loves to get hot dogs for some reason (especially at burger centric places. I don’t really understand it). I didn’t manage to snap a picture of it but we got his with sauerkraut and mustard, and he looked like a happy camper munching on his hot dog.

Blondie’s was definitely a huge step up from Burger Queen and you are better off getting your burger fill at Blondie’s, where the smiles are brighter, the burgers are better, and the shakes are creamier.

Blondie's Burgers on Urbanspoon

OM Restaurant with Boston Brunchers

27 Aug

This past Saturday I had the FANTASTIC opportunity to dine with some fabulous Boston Brunchers for Brunch at OM Restaurant.

I have to admit, while I’ve certainly walked by OM many a times in my forays in Harvard Square, I never really considered dining there, nevermind eating brunch there. I actually didn’t even know they served brunch! Learn something knew everyday.

While we didn’t get to sit outside we did sit on the second floor right next to the windows which provided 1) ample light (they know their food bloggers!) and 2) provided a great view of Winthrop Square on the edge of Harvard Square.

I was immediately impressed with the brunch menu. Small, but it provided both breakfast (sweet and savory) and lunch thrown in. Everything on the menu looked great, and I really liked the Asian touches the menu had to offer.

We started off with a Lychee Bellini. I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to go back to boring Peach or Orange Bellini’s because this was delicious! The lychee was wonderfully thick with small bits of lychee mixed with the champagne. It was a wonderful start to the meal.

The sweeter side of the menu looked absolutely to die for, but we all didn’t really want to have all that sweetness. Luckily our server understood our needs and we were able to sample the delicious chocolate and banana stuffed french toast served with maple syrup. The bread was nicely eggy, and the chocolate was amazing. I actually didn’t taste any bananas in the french toast, so I don’t know what was up with that.

We also decided to share an order of the Lemon Buttermilk Pancake which was served with the most amazing orange honey butter. I seriously just wanted an entire bowl of that butter. I generously slathered it all over my pancake quarter and ate it happily.

What made this pancake extra special was the lemon curd surprise found on the inside. I don’t know how on Earth they did this, but they managed to sandwich this amazing curd into the middle of the pancake. Slightly tangy and slightly sweet, it complimented the pancake perfectly. My only gripe with this dish? At $9.00, you only get 1 pancake. 1 Pancake!!! At least give me 2 pancakes!

While there were a couple of items that caught my eye, I ultimately went with the Duck Confit hash, which was served with 2 eggs any style (I copied Kathy and went poached) served with a Spicy Tomato Sauce. A couple things about this dish. The eggs were cooked PERFECTLY so when I stuck my fork in the yolk, it blessedly split open and covered the potatoes and the duck. Can you say Heaven? Second, the spicy tomato sauce? I’ll take an entire VAT of that please. It had just the right amount of kick to it and it added a perfect amount of flavor to the dish. There was also a generous amount of duck confit that literally melted in my mouth. I loved everything about this dish.

I was able to snag a few bites of Megan’s Biscuit, Egg, & Ham dish which was served with some of the best home fries EVAH. I’m really a hash brown kind of gal, and I always prefer if there is only the home fries option, that the potatoes are on the smaller side. I can’t stand huge chunks of potatoes. But that’s a rant for another day. Let’s concentrate on these babies. Perfectly seasoned, crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside. Yeah, these were good. And the biscuit? It lovingly sandwiched some delicious eggs, cured ham, and the most unbelievable tomato jam I’ve tasted. Out.Of.This.World. The ham was so-so for me, it was definitely a little more salty than I would have liked. The biscuit was VERY heavy on the butter, dare I say maybe too much butter? It definitely had the flakiness of a great biscuit and it melted in my mouth, but I could tell there was nothing healthy about THAT biscuit.

While there were some minor misses, brunch at OM Restaurant was most definitely a home run. I would love to come back to try some of the other brunch items, and I’m also curious to return for dinner. A great time had by all, hanging with some fabulous bloggers and eating some delicious food. Definitely check out brunch at OM if you find yourself in Harvard Square!

Disclaimer: Brunch at OM Restaurant was provided at no cost to me (besides tip!) but all opinions are my own and were in no way influenced by the fact that it was free. It was really that good.

OM Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

Breakfast at Eat @ Adrian’s

23 Aug

Two weekends ago Joe and I spent a long weekend at the Cape again. We spent that Saturday in P-Town (Provincetown for those who don’t know) with a group of friends, but Sunday was a day of spending time together and relaxing.

When I heard that the guys over at EAT Boston were taking over Adrian’s restaurant in Truro, I knew that I wanted to visit. We decided to have breakfast there on Sunday morning.

The breakfast menu was very simple, and the focus was on local, quality ingredients. The menu was small but contained a lot of interesting menu options.

We were able to sit on the back porch on this particularly balmy Sunday, and the view was not too shabby. Adrian’s is pretty much on the Truro/Provincetown line so if you walk out toward the edge of the property you can see all of P-Town in its glory.

The coffee brewed at Adrian’s is specially blended for the restaurant from locally roasted Beanstock coffee. It was strong and very flavorful. I may have had a little too much coffee.

As an appetizer so to speak, we decided to share a generously portioned slice of sour cream coffee cake. Served warm, it was moist and slightly tangy, and the ribbon of nuts and cinnamon melted in your mouth. The perfect start to breakfast.

Joe went with the cranberry pancakes served with real maple syrup and orange butter. As you can see, they did not skimp at all with the cranberries, which provided a nice tartness that went well with the citrus of the butter. Doused in maple syrup, it’s hard to mess something like this up.

For my meal, I went with the Swiss Eggs, which were two eggs poached on top of an English Muffin with a Romano cream sauce that was kicked up with a little cayenne pepper. Basically eggs benedict without the hollandaise and meat. It was also 1000x better than traditional eggs benedict. The eggs were perfectly poached, and the cream sauce complimented the eggs perfectly. Even though I love eggs benedict (poached eggs more like it) I’m usually not a huge fan of hollandaise. If the same goes for you, then I would highly recommend getting an order of Swiss eggs.

It’s ok though, I still got my meat portion in. Obviously when I see linguica on the menu, I cannot turn it down. This linguica was perfectly grilled, and was mild but still flavorful. They know what they are doing.

Sadly, the folks at EAT are only at Adrian’s for the remainder of the summer, so if you want to sample the delectable breakfast, lunch or dinner menu, you need to do it soon! Hopefully it is such a success that they will come back next summer ::fingers crossed:: If you find yourself in Truro in the next couple of weeks, make sure you check out Adrian’s!

Adrian's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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