Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ category

A Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

September 5, 2011

On Saturday my fiance and I decided to go to Portsmouth, New Hampshire– a supposedly cool city just an hour’s drive from Boston. We got there around noon, walked around for a few minutes and then stopped at the River House for lunch. Although the restaurant’s on the water, we decided to eat inside because it was so hot out. The highlight of the meal was certainly the seafood chowder, which is shown in this picture.

It contained lobster, scallops, shrimp, clams and haddock, and was so so good. I guess that’s no surprise considering it won first place awards at the 2009/2010 Portsmouth Chowder Festival. The above picture also shows my fiance’s tasty lobster roll and hand cut potato chips. I had a lobster Lorraine quiche with a house salad.

Everything was fantastic! And they even gave us a free bowl of chowder (sort of an accident, but we gladly accepted)! After lunch we got some coffee at Breaking New Grounds in Market Square. We vowed to return later in the day (they had tons of delicious-looking pastries and gelato), and we did. Look at these gelato flavor combinations we came up with.

Hazelnut chocolate and strawberry chocolate

It would have been nice to sit outside of the coffee shop and people watch, but alas it was too hot. These photos will give you a feel for Market Square:

We walked around for a while, went shopping and saw some cool things.

A mural

A bridge going up

A fountain

A church

A quaint restaurant nestled in a back alley

Frogs doing yoga

Nice streets like this one

A physic studio

I got a couple of shirts for super-cheap in this consignment shop.

And we discovered a beautiful garden area.

My fiance in the garden area

Me in the garden area

Turns out this area is called Prescott Park. It’s right near an old cemetery, with gravestones dating to the 17th century.

It’s not far from the water either.

On our way back to the car we came across the Oracle House, one of Portsmouth’s oldest homes (circa 1702).

And the Liberty Pole, a flagpole commemorating our freedom from British rule. At this location in 1766 colonists hung a banner reading “Liberty, Property and No Stamp” to protest King George’s Stamp Act (it imposed taxes on newspapers, stationary and documents).

We saw this just before leaving. It pretty much sums up our experience in Portsmouth.

“I’m ba-ack!”

August 20, 2011

Wow, I’ve been MIA the last few weeks. Not that many people noticed, but I feel weird not having blogged for so long. So here I am, bright and early on a Saturday, ready to share my experiences from the last few weeks.

A few weekends ago I met up with some college roommates in Ocean City, Maryland, and we had a blast relaxing at the beach, going out for dinner and drinks and catching up. Here’s a picture of us at Liquid Assets, a bistro and package store with an awesome menu.

We started off the evening with martinis, shared a decadent cheese plate and enjoyed our delicious main courses. I got garlic chicken with roasted tomatoes, onions, fingerling potatoes, Benton’s bacon, spinach and herbs. One of my friends ordered the open faced slow braised Carolina pork BBQ with chipotle coleslaw and thick cut fries, and the other two got seared scallops risotto with roasted garlic and shallots, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and grana padano.

My garlic roasted chicken

The pork BBQ

The seared scallops risotto

The weekend following our Ocean City Extravaganza was a busy one as well. Jim and I hosted some friends, went to a Red Sox game and attended a two-day marriage prep class. The Red Sox game was a blast — thanks to our friend, Candace, we managed to get second-row seats!

Our view of the park

Unfortunately, the Red Sox did not win this game (and what’s worse is they lost to the Yankees), but we still had a great time. We enjoyed watching Dustin Pedroia do his little hop move before fielding the ball, making fun of Candace for her “crush” on Josh Reddick (I put crush in quotes because the rest of us sort of invented it) and going out after the game.

The marriage prep class was quite an experience. Due to a friend’s recommendation, we attended the one at the Espousal Retreat House in Waltham (completing a “Pre-Cana” marriage course is a requirement for a Catholic wedding, which we’re having). We showed up on Saturday to discover that 75 other couples in the greater Boston area were doing the same thing. Apparently, this was a record number. We spent the next couple of days together, listening to married couples share their marriage experiences and insights, receiving advice from a priest who’s worked with hundreds of married couples and discussing different aspects of marriage with out significant other.

The Espousal Retreat House in Waltham

In fact, they had each us one us complete forms devoted to specific topics, and then discuss our answers privately with our fiance (or fiancee). Topics ranged from finances to goals to religion. It was helpful to discuss those taboo topics you always try to avoid but really should confront. My fiance and I learned a few things about one another, but were pretty happy must of the subjects we’d already addressed (and were familiar with the other person’s perspective on).

The big theme of the weekend was: COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR SPOUSE. Even if you have an issue with another person (say, a friend of the family), you should always be willing to discuss your concerns with your husband or wife. Because you are a team and that person is there to help you out. They will feel validated knowing you trust them with your thoughts, and you’ll end up with a constant source of support and encouragement.

Last weekend my fiance and I headed to Syracuse, NY to take care of more wedding planning. We met with our priest for the first time, picked out the church readings and decided on the layout of the reception space. Also, my fiance designed wedding programs using his fine-tuned Excel skills. I was so proud of him. I had spent hours trying to figure out how to format Microsoft Word properly for a program. And then he goes ahead and whips up an awesome, perfectly formatted program on Excel in no time! I really think he should market his wedding program making skills!

Not only have I been so busy the last few weekends, but it seems like nearly every weeknight I’ve had some event to celebrate. For example, it was my sister’s 29th birthday on Wednesday (we had an awesome tapas meal at Solea in Waltham), my friend Bridget’s going away dinner on Tuesday, and my 3-year anniversary on August 10.

I love this card my fiance gave me for our anniversary

Finally, I feel like I can relax. I was so tired from all the recent happenings last night, that I went to bed at 8:30 (yup, on a Friday night). But now it’s 7 a.m. on a Saturday, I’ve already had my coffee and Stella D’oro almond toasts, and I’m feeling good! I’m really looking forward to this weekend — my only plan is to attend the Futures at Fenway doubleheader. Actually, I have one other plan as well: to celebrate my fiance’s acceptance into his graduate school program of choice! He’ll be attending Northeastern for political science starting in three weeks– yeah!!!

Thanks, Ocean City for the Seafood Skins

August 2, 2011

I sampled this in Ocean City, Maryland this past weekend (at BJ’s On The Water). It’s called Seafood Skins and basically it’s potato skins topped with seafood salad (shrimp, scallops and crab) and cheddar cheese. Sort of a heart attack on a plate, but wow was it good.

Eat at Casa Romero in the Back Bay…

July 27, 2011

…or else! It’s so freakin’ amazing. My fiance and I had dinner there the other night, and let me tell you I couldn’t get enough of my entree. But let me back up a bit. We started off with drinks and some complimentary salsa and chips.

My sangria

Chips and salsa

Those were good, though nothing particularly amazing. The guacamole was also fine.

But let me tell you, my entree really knocked my socks off. I had sauteed pork tenderloin tips with tomatillos, cilantro, potatoes and roasted poblana peppers. The pork was so tender and flavorful, the potatoes were so cute all chopped up into tiny pieces (and delicious), and the tartness of the tomatillos really complemented the savory pork.

I was so thankful to have leftovers today for lunch!

My fiance ordered enchiladas with pulled chicken, mole poblano sauce, cheese and Mexican creme fraiche. He said they were some of the best enchiladas he’s ever had. My initial thought upon trying a bite was “Wow, this is nice and chocolate-y!”

Both dishes were served with delicious rice and beans.

Appetizers range from $6.50 to $11.50, and entrees range from $16 to $28.25. If this in in your price range, and you’re craving Mexican, make sure you stop here. The waitstaff was so friendly (they even gave me extra rice and beans for my to-go container without me asking), and the decor is beautiful/colorful. Enjoy!

Keeping my eyes open

June 12, 2011

I like to keep my eyes open for cool art. Here are a couple recent examples:

This old Life Savers ad is in the women’s bathroom of The Old Salt Restaurant in Hampton, New Hampshire (it says Life Savers are “a good rule to follow after eating drinking or smoking”). I went there last Sunday in celebration of my fiance’s parents’ wedding anniversary. They enjoy going to this restaurant, and we actually went there once together last year. Their specialty is seafood (I had a salad with fresh succulent crabmeat)!

This photo of a dog in Fenway Park (in the red Ted Williams seat!) is on display at the South End Buttery. I wanted to try it out a few weeks ago, and since then have gotten yummy coffee there on several occasions. My fiance ordered a burrito there on Friday, and although he liked it the waiter handed it to him on a steaming hot plate. I didn’t think that was too nice!

Scholars Bistro in Boston has good food and service

May 2, 2011

At least that was my experience on Saturday evening with a bunch of friends. Scholars American Bistro and Cocktail Lounge just recently opened at 25 School St. in Boston near the Park Street T stop. Their wine is a little pricey (you can’t get a glass for less than $7), but I suppose that’s often the case in downtown Boston.

They have some unusual items on their menu, which I appreciated. Those dishes include rabbit fritters, braised beef tongue sliders, lasagna cupcakes, apple cider pork belly, and prosciutto pizza. I didn’t have the biggest appetite, so I just went with the mussels appetizer.

My mussels

From my experience, it’s kinda hard to screw mussels up. But the smoked salt, tarragon, and roasted tomato sauce made the meal tastier than your average mussels plate. Plus, they provide plenty of bread to dip in the sauce. My fiance had Tuscan flatbread pizza, which included sun-dried tomato, pesto, goat cheese, and red sauce.

My fiance's Tuscan flatbread pizza

He was quite a fan. Another friend of ours, who adores hummus, ordered the Za’atar flatbread pizza. That one’s made up of pine nuts, goats cheese, hummus, and labneh (Middle Eastern yogurt cheese). For an appetizer, another friend ordered some raw oysters. She let me have one, which is always a ton of fun.

Me slurping down the oyster

While staff didn’t seem 100 percent sure of the menu (that’s understandable as the restaurant just opened), they were nonetheless attentive. At one point, there were three waitresses serving us drinks and asking how things were going. When we first arrived (around 6 p.m.), we were practically the only diners in the whole place. But around 8 p.m. or so, things started picking up.

I think this would be a neat place to go for an after-dinner drink or two. Upstairs there’s a billiards room, comfy chairs, and dim lighting. It’s the perfect environment for enjoying one of their many creative cocktails. Beer fans will be glad to know they have 15-plus brews on tap. I will surely return to this awesome restaurant/bistro/lounge!

This chopstick company could use a copy editor

May 1, 2011

While out at the new Scholars Bistro in Boston last night, we noticed this funny language:

A week of wedding planning

April 21, 2011

The "ladies room" of the Wellington House

Since Wednesday my fiance and I have been in Syracuse, taking care of wedding business. Here’s what we’ve done:

  • We met with the florist. We are having Nino Gagliano of the Backyard Garden Florist do our flowers. He’s so nice and accommodating. We arrived at our appointment with several ideas of what we wanted, which made things easy. When we showed Nino our pictures (I found them online), he immediately knew which flowers were in each arrangement. Based on our preferences and his advice, he helped us pick out the perfect flowers and color combinations. We will be using a mixture of white roses, calla lillies, green hydrangeas, snapdragons, stock flowers, and hypernicum berries.
  • We checked out the rehearsal dinner venue. My fiance’s parents are hosting the rehearsal dinner at the Wellington House in Fayetteville. Wow, what a unique and charming abode! Built in the early-1920s, the home is split up into themed rooms. For example, there’s a “wicker room,” “men’s lounge,” and “bride’s room.” Thomas Thomas, the current owner, has filled the residence with furniture and antiques he’s purchased from local auctions. The estate includes a garden and a bar area, both of which we’ll be using for the rehearsal dinner (we’ll actually have free reign of the whole property).
  • We discussed some wedding details over a delicious dinner. My fiance’s parents were in town for a couple of days as well, so my family (my dad, mom, brother and I) went out to dinner with them and my fiance. We dined at the Brewster Inn, a wonderful bed and breakfast overlooking Cazenovia Lake. Not only was the view lovely, but dinner was amazing. Almost everyone had something different. I had the pan seared tournedos of beef (it came with chantilly potatoes, asparagus, and burgundy cream sauce), and my fiance indulged in the pork tenderloin au poivre (it was served with chantilly potatoes, asparagus, and a green peppercorn cream sauce).
  • We met with the baker. Connie Decker of The Chocolate Truffle will be making our wedding cake. I can’t find her website, but here’s a newspaper article about her. She’s been in business for more than 20 years, so she seems to really knows her stuff. We were a little disappointed she doesn’t do cake tastings (to help you figure out what cake flavor and filling to choose), but were willing to sacrifice that perk for her expertise. We decided on a chocolate cake with white frosting and raspberry filling. White roses, green hydrangeas, stock flowers, and hunter green leaves will decorate the cake.

Tomorrow we’re finalizing the guest list with my mom; on Saturday, we’re sampling food at the reception venue. I’m especially excited for that task!

I’m in Charleston, South Carolina!

March 14, 2011

My fiance and I arrived in Charleston, South Carolina yesterday evening! We are spending five or so days here for vacation. It’s so sunny and warm (high of 75). We left Boston on Saturday morning, and headed toward Connecticut. Connecticut traffic really slowed us down (as a result of this horrific accident), but we eventually made it over the border to Westchester County, New York.

We had lunch in charming Tarrytown, which sits right beside the Hudson River. We chose the Tarry Tavern, a Main Street locale prioritizing locally grown ingredients. I wasn’t that hungry, as I had enjoyed a calzone and yogurt in the car. So I just got some acorn squash soup, which was amazing.

My fiance had a “TT Wagyu” burger that he called “one of the best burgers” he’s ever had (the meal included bacon onion jam, white cheddar, and hand-cut fries).

Before out meals arrived, they served us rolls with butter.

Here are a few photos from Tarrytown:

This phone booth was in someone's front lawn.

The Hudson River is in the distance.

From Tarrytown we headed over the Tappan Zee Bridge.

We drove through some more of New York and New Jersey; then we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge to Delaware.

We went through Delaware, Maryland and part of Virginia, before stopping in Ashland, VA. After getting prices from several hotels off the rest stop (including a somewhat sketchy hotel with a glass barrier protecting the concierge), we settled on a Quality Inn. Ruby Tuesday was right across the street, so we went there for dinner.

My fiance had lobster macaroni; he said it was rich and very good.

I had one of their tilapia specials. It included a bruschetta sauce, grilled green beans, and white cheddar mashed potatoes. I must say, Ruby Tuesday has really improved their offerings since I was in high school.

The next morning we stepped outside and it was gorgeous out (about 60 degrees and sunny). We decided to take a picture so we’d remember this moment.

We got back on I-95 and drove until Wilson, North Carolina. There, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel for lunch. We had yet another fabulous meal! My fiance had meatloaf with mashed potatoes, green beans and macaroni and cheese.

I had grilled chicken pieces with green beans and steak fries.

Our meal came with corn muffins and biscuits.

While we were in the car, we played the state license plate game (where you write down the names of all the different state license plates you see).

I fell asleep somewhere in North Carolina. Before I knew it, we were in South Carolina. My fiance and I loved the lush greenery on the side of the road.

We stopped at a McDonald’s for coffee (by the way they reacted to our request you’d think no one drinks coffee in South Carolina), and then got back on the road. Around 7 p.m. we arrived in Charleston. We drove by an industrial part of the city that wasn’t so nice. However, things improved as we got closer to downtown.

I thought we were staying at the Days Inn but my fiance completely surprised me. He had booked a room at The Anchorage Inn, an adorable bed and breakfast on Vendue Range right by the Waterfront Park.

Just so you have an idea of how cool this place is, each day they have a continental breakfast, a 4 p.m. wine and cheese, and an 8 to 11 p.m. sherry. Not bad, huh?

Panera coming to Porter Square in Cambridge

February 28, 2011

There’s this sign where the old Qdoba was located:

Qdoba closed in June of last year; the storefront was vacant until this display recently went up. I’m not sure when Panera will open, but I’m glad it’s coming. I love their chocolate croissants, free coffee refills, and sandwiches. Plus, they have free wireless Internet (providing an alternative to the somewhat-cramped Bruegger’s across the street and Porter Square Books, which also doesn’t have a ton of space for using your computer).


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