Tag Archives: Restaurant Review

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. 

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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

Getting in Touch with my Portuguese side at Atasca

28 Jul

Atasca is probably one of my favorite restaurants ever. Considering that I live in Brighton, and Atasca is located in Kendall Sq, it’s not the most convenient for me. So the fact that I’ve been there about 10 times or so shows how much I love this place.

My Mama was born on the island of Terceira in the Azores, a group of islands about 1500km off the coast of Portugal. The last time I went I was probably 3 or 4 years old, but I still have memories of spending time with my grandparents at their huge stone mansion (in my eyes) and sitting on a huge ledge watching the parades go by. And eating amazing food. I hope to one day go back (very very soon).

Eating at Atasca brings me back to those times. I’ve brought my mother here many times in the past as well and she loves it. The inside is decorated with colorful plates, paintings, even a little guitar which my mom remarked to me one time that she used to own one just like that.

This particular time that we went, we finally were able to snag a seat outside. My profuse apologies for not taking a picture but it is beautiful. Shaded by grape vines, and decorated with tomato, thyme and rosemary plants, it’s difficult to think you are steps away from huge corporate buildings.

Whenever I come to Atasca I always need to have a glass (or carafe) of Sangria. With a refreshing fruity taste, I could drink this all night. They also include a nice offering of fruit with your Sangria.

Each table starts out with some delicious olives that are served with bread and olive oil (pictured below). I LOVE olives. I pretend they are like popcorn I eat them so much. Atasca always managed to have a slightly different assortment every time we come, and they are always equally delicious.

The bread is moist and tender, with a good crust, and the olive oil with garlic is out of this world. I could come here for just the bread alone and I would be happy.

For our appetizer this time around we went with Grilled Sardines with roasted peppers (Sardinhas Grelhadas). These aren’t your sardines that come in a can, no they aren’t. My Mama used to go to a Portuguese market in Hudson and would buy a dozen sardines exactly like these and bake them up nice and pretty. My favorite part is the tail, it’s nice and crispy and packs quite the crunch. These were cooked perfectly, and the cool peppers contrasted nicely with the grilled fish.

For my husband’s main meal, he went with Sauteed pork loin with clams, paprika, garlic and cilantro with cubed fried potatoes (Carne de porco a alentejana). I snuck a bite from him and it was amazing. The paprika was really pronounced (in a good way) and the clams were cooked perfectly. I’m slightly (read, very) obsessed with their potatoes. They are usually sliced thinly and fried to perfection. I don’t know what kind of seasoning they use, but it’s amazing.

For my meal, I went with the Cataplana, which is clams, mussels and shrimp, steamed in a copper steamer (the cataplana), with onions, red peppers, procuitto and linguica served with jasmine rice. The broth soaked up the rice beautifully, and the shellfish was in abundance. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. This ranks as one of the top dished I’ve had at Atasca.

I think over our many visits to to Atasca, we’ve managed to eat almost every dessert. From the sweet rice pudding (Arroz Doce) to the creamy custard tart (Pasteis de Nata) you really can’t go wrong with their desserts. This time around we went with the indulgent Chocolate mousse. This mousse was dense and intensely chocolatey, but not in a way that settled heavily in your stomach. It was the perfect ending to a great meal.

If you find yourself in Kendall Sq, make sure to pay a visit to Atasca.

Atasca on Urbanspoon

Wagamama @ the Pru

13 Jul

A few weeks ago, I was invited by Rachel over at Boston Food Blogs to sample some new menu items that Wagamama was unveiling. Now, if you read this blog at all, you know that I’ve shared my experience about Wagamama, but who am I to turn down free food and a chance to mingle with some wonderful food bloggers?

This was my first time visiting the Prudential center location and I have to say, they did a good job! They have a few tables outside in the arcade which makes for some good people watching and they have bench style tables throughout plus a nice view of the open kitchen.

We started out with the chicken dumplings. I love me some chicken dumplings, and this was a great start to the meal. Lightly fried with good flavors.

Next came some chili calamari. I really liked Wagamama’s version of fried calamari and that they used long strands of calamari instead of rings. The batter was light and airy, not heavy and greasy like other fried calamari. It was served with a sweet chili, garlic and cilantro sauce that was just the right amount of spicy.

What else do I say about edamame other than I can eat an entire truck load of these in one sitting. I heart edamame.

We also got to sample some delicious drinks. I’m not really a cocktail gal (beer girl all the way) but I really enjoyed this mango sekkai which was made with freshly muddled mango, basil and lime and blended with rum. It was sweet and definitely did not taste like alcohol, which is a dangerous thing.

Glazed ribs. Fall off the bone tender. I love ordering these and I was not shy about getting seconds.

The Suribachi chicken wings were finger licking good and they packed some nice heat. Yum yum.

Before I was even half way through my first drink I was presented with this ringo martini, which is sour apple and honey boubon liqueurs with fresh squeezed apple and lime. A little too strong for my liking, but still good.

Now it was onto the main courses! First, lemongrass shrimp soba. The soba was stir fried with minced cilantro, garlic, chiles, and fresh beansprouts. The shrimps were huge! And very good.

We were told that the Chicken katsu curry is their best selling item WORLDWIDE and there’s a reason for that: it’s AMAZING. Thick curry gravy is poured over perfectly pan fried chicken cutlets. Slap on some sticky rice and you are done. Next time I come to Wagamama I know what I’m ordering.

I really liked their marinated yasai noodle salad. Chock full of yummy eggplant, mushroom and sliced zucchini, this is definitely not your run of the mill salad. The addition of crispy noodles to the top was a nice touch.

This was probably my other favorite dish, the beef cha han. The beef is marinated in shichimi (what is that? I don’t know, but it’s delicious). The stir fried rice was flavorful and filled with veggies. Approved.

I’m always a little disappointed with Wagamama’s soups, and this was no exception. The salmon was overcooked and too flaky and didn’t have any flavor at all. The broth was nice, and the noodles were passable, but it was a very forgetful dish.

You didn’t think we would leave without dessert, did you??! The coconut reika was my favorite of the 3 desserts I decided to share with Kathy, Megan & Daisy. Three scoops of coconut ice cream with a smooth mango sauce and toasted coconut, I felt like I should be on a deserted island laying in a hammock swaying in the breeze. Light and fresh.

Creme brulee cheesecake. HELLO!?!? Um, love it. Although I think they could have gotten away with torching the top a bit more. Smooth and creamy.

Chocolate cake. I mean, what is there really to say? How do you go wrong with a chocolate cake? YOU DON’T. If you do somehow make a bad chocolate cake, you should probably be thrown in prison. Fudgy and dense.

Thanks so much to Rachel and Director of Marketing Nancy Barrett for letting us sample some amazing new dishes at Wagamama. It definitely came me a new appreciation of Wagamama!

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Review: Cheeseboy

20 Jan

UPDATE: So I had NO idea when I wrote this that today is National Cheese Day! So it is quite fitting that I decided to write about CHEESE. Have a Happy National Cheese Day and make sure to get in your serving of CHEESE!

I believe truer words have never been said. Just add bacon to that equation and I’m a happy camper.

Cheeseboy opened up in South Station October 2010 and when I saw the huge poster with grilled cheese on it, well, I knew I was going to have a problem.

I would just like to point out that this place gets BUSY. Like, busy from 11:30-2PM there is always a line. People appreciate a good grilled cheese sandwich.

A few of my coworkers didn’t understand the appeal of Cheeseboy. They thought it was too much money for something you can make at home. Yes, you are correct, I said, you can make them at home. But you CAN’T make them at work. That’s the whole point!! ::sigh:: Some people just don’t get it

The menu at Cheeseboy is pretty simple. You can go for a classic, a healthy version, or anything in between. You can add meat, veggies, even change up the cheese. And they have tomato soup. Because what’s grilled cheese without tomato soup?

After they make your grill cheese they pack them in a cute little to-go box. It’s like a mini pizza box. Whenever I go I always get the combo, which includes a sandwich, small soup and a small drink. I love the classic sandwich, and I usually add bacon and tomato to it, because that’s just how I roll.

This time around I actually did order my sandwich with bacon but they forgot to add it. It’s ok, they didn’t charge me extra. The presses that they use create the perfect sandwich. Crispy on the outside, gooey and melty on the inside. It’s pretty remarkable.

Add to that the tomato soup? Foggetaboutit. I like to dunk my sandwich into the soup and leave it there for about 30 seconds so it can sop up all the deliciousness of the soup.

All in all a lunch like this costs roughly $6.00, a little more if you add more stuff to your sandwich. This is easily the best eatery in all of South Station and obviously the hoards of people that wait in line agree. Why go to McDonalds for rubbery questionable meat when you can have a delicious and FRESH grilled cheese sandwich? That’s what I thought.

Cheeseboy on Urbanspoon

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