Posted tagged ‘Restaurant’

If you don’t mind feeling like a hippy, check out the delicious Life Alive cafe in Cambridge

January 14, 2011

It’s a new restaurant based off the one in Lowell. The menu calls the joint an “urban oasis and organic cafe.” You walk inside and one of the first things you notice is stacks of fresh produce (e.g. ginger, celery, carrots) behind the counter. You see this and know you’ll be eating healthy. Then you notice the list of smoothies. They are pretty expensive ($5.99 apiece), so I was a little hesitant to get one. I ended up caving and getting the “Love Alive” smoothie (blueberry, strawberry, banana, date, and almond milk). It was quite good, though I’m not so sure it’s worth the price.

Half of my smoothie (my friend had the other half)

I arrived there around 1 p.m. yesterday, and the line to order was very long. Basically you order at the counter, take a number, and are brought your food (just like the delicious Cafe Mangal in Wellesley!). As I waited, I scanned the decor and trinkets around me. A string of white lights framed a large and inviting window in the middle of the room. I also observed lots of green plants, a row of books you can read as you dine (if you get into a book you can put down a $5 deposit and borrow it), and an arrangement of teas. The teas are in little containers; you’re free to open the containers and smell the tea before ordering.

I ordered “The Seeker,” a salad with lemon garlic hummus, chopped cashews, granny applies, cucumbers, shredded carrots, spring greens, and ginger nama shoyu sauce. The dish comes in three forms: a bowl for $7.97, a wrap for $8.50, and a demi for $5.75). I got the bowl.

My friend Katie got “The Sufi Poet,” which is a salad with red-lentil hummus, cranberries, cashews, cucumber, granny apples, shredded carrots, spring greens, and balsamic vinaigrette. She just got the demi because her appetite was smaller. I must confess I initially thought the idea of hummus in salad is strange, but it went so well with the more subtle-tasting ingredients (e.g. the spring greens and cucumber). The lemon garlic hummus added just the right amount of “ooomph.” I also loved the texture of the chopped cashews.

Everything was fresh and oh-so-healthy-tasting, and it was the perfect amount of food. I will surely go back. We sat on the bottom level of the two-floor restaurant. It really doesn’t feel like a restaurant, but rather a cozy and colorful family room belonging to young artists. There are lots of nooks and crannies for sitting with your friends, as well as a play area for the youngins. Check out this little cove we snagged:

I look forward to trying some of their other menu items. They sell grilled tortilla wraps (like “The Seductress,” which boasts hard-boiled egg, broccoli, dark greens, shredded carrots and beets, garlic, yeast, and a whole wheat tortilla); “simple snacks” (like “The Crunchy Hippy,” which contains maple almond granola, dried fruit, almond milk, and maple syrup); and rice-based dishes (like “The Goddess,” which features ginger nama shoyu sauce, carrots, beets, broccoli, dark greens, tofu, and short-grain brown rice). You can also get sides for 50 cents to $3 apiece, like sesame stix, sun-dried tomato, and quinoa, as well as “jubilant juices,” like “Hive Alive” (a mixture of lemon, apple, honey, and pure water).

Another neat touch I must mention is they have a water dispenser with glasses both upstairs and downstairs (this is important to me because I normally drink tap water). Though they serve tea, I don’t think they serve coffee.

Pretty good experience at Met Back Bay

November 16, 2010

Met Back Bay is located on Newbury Street in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood

Last week my boyfriend and I dined at Met Back Bay for our two-and-a-quarter-year anniversary. We didn’t realize the restaurant had only been open for a couple of weeks. Our waiter was EXTREMELY knowledgeable about the wine list and food options.

We didn’t want to spend a ton on wine so we settled for a 2008 Napa Valley Chappellet red (specifically the Mountain Cuvee). It was a mixture of several grapes, and oh so smooth. Our waiter was a sommelier, and very apt at helping us choose the appropriate bottle. Within a minute of sitting down at the table we were served complimentary bread sticks with cheese. The cheese, which sort of tasted like a fancy version of cheese whiz, was served in a cute see-through jar. This was a nice touch.

The waiter also helped us decide on our main courses. I ordered the Long Island brick duck with foie gras and spiced crusted sugar pumpkin, and my boyfriend ordered the Lobster Fra Diavolo (lobster with hollow spaghetti). Our food was very good, especially my duck and his lobster. The duck was moist but not greasy (I find that duck meat is often greasy). I think the waiter said the duck was cooked with some sort of citrus juice.

I was surprised to discover that the foie gras was actually very sweet. It tasted like it had been mixed with maple syrup or something similar. This actually worked out really well, however, as it effectively complemented the savory duck and neutral-tasting pumpkin. All in all I was pleased! And so was my boyfriend. He asked the table next to us how their lobster New England pot pie was. They gave us the thumbs up, though they said it was too much to finish in one sitting. We certainly didn’t have that problem!

One negative thing was our cheesy flaky crescent rolls didn’t arrive until we were done with dinner. They were supposed to be the appetizer! The manager came out to apologize, and our waiter apologized numerous times. He clearly felt bad about the situation. They said there had been some sort of miscommunication and they are still working out the restaurant’s kinks. The rolls were really tasty, albeit a tad greasy.

For dessert we had coffee and apple cider donuts with vanilla ice cream. Once again, I wasn’t doing my body any favors, but the dessert was certainly yummy!

Overall we liked the restaurant’s decor, which included cushy red chairs, red padded walls, and a lovely bay window overlooking Newbury Street. We were lucky to score a booth right up against the bay window. We also liked the dark wood beams above us. According to my boyfriend, they “sort of gives it (the room) a traditional New England appeal.”

Being my journalistic self, I asked him to give another quote about the decor. He said: “They sure could use some art on these walls.” I personally liked the art-free walls, thinking they contributed to the room’s modern and clean-cut feel. But he thought a couple of small works of art would have done some good.

Here’s the dinner menu in case you’re interested in checking out this restaurant. I didn’t take any photos because my camera is broken:-(.

A lackluster experience at Slainte Pub in Baltimore’s Fells Point

November 9, 2010

A picture of Fells Point, the neighborhood Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant is located in

During my Washington D.C./Baltimore trip a couple of weekends ago, my friends and I went to the Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant in Fells Point (Baltimore) to have lunch and watch some pro football.

Unfortunately, our experience wasn’t that great. We ordered spinach artichoke dip with baguettes for our appetizer. There were very few baguette slices so we ran out after a couple of minutes. I asked for another baguette and it took more than 20 minutes to arrive (so the dip was no longer warm). I had to mention something to the waitress several times and she kept giving an excuse.

The restaurant wasn’t even that busy for a football Sunday. For my main course I got corned beef, cabbage and potatoes.

My food

It was very bland. I know the Irish aren’t exactly known for their flavorful cuisine, but usually corned beef is at least a little tastier. I feel like the brine-curing process lends itself to yummy goodness. And provided the meat is scrumptious, the potatoes and cabbage can taste rather plain. So hopefully they’ll work on the meat!

The other disappointing thing was related to football. When we arrived, we asked our waitress to put the Buffalo Bills game on one of the TVs (our group included a Bills fan). We were the only ones in the room so she gladly turned it on. About a half-hour later, the room was pretty full of people. One of the groups asked the same waitress to turn the same TV over to another game. She went ahead and did so for them.

When she came over to our table we told her we were disappointed she had changed the game when we had been the first ones in the room. She said she had completely forgotten we wanted to watch the Bills game, and was very sorry. But instead of changing the TV back to the game, she kept it on the game the other table wanted. That was too bad.

At least the restaurant had a cool view of the water:

Here are a few other pictures I took of Fells Point:

This was out for Halloween. It's pretty cool-- all the Fells Point shops and restaurants give candy out to children on Halloween.

I like how this looks.

Dogs get the royal treatment in Fell's Point.

What happens if I don't eat them (don't get me wrong-- I love mussels!)?

Cute!

Pictures from the Jon Stewart rally

November 1, 2010

I wasn’t particular interested in attending the rally, but I did so because my boyfriend expressed an interest. Plus, it was a great opportunity to see two friends who live in the Washington D.C. area. So we went. Well, it was kind of a disaster for the first half. We, like thousands of other people, figured we could just hop on the subway an hour and a half before the rally was scheduled to start. Bad idea. We first arrived at the College Park metro stop. There was nowhere to park and a line encircling the lot numerous times.

A group of people waiting in line at the College Park metro stop

We decided to try out the Greenbelt metro stop instead. This is the first stop on the green line so we figured it’d have emptier trains and consequently shorter lines. Well before determining the crowd’s size we had to find a parking spot. There were none left at the metro stop, so we went to a nearby Marriott to see if we could pay for a spot. The guy inside told us that because we asked, he would allow us to park in a corner of the lot for free. But when we tried to do so, we were told by a security guard we couldn’t. We went back inside to tell the original guy what had happened. He told us he was sorry, but that he had to change his mind.

We ended up parking about a mile and a half from the Greenbelt stop at a Giant grocery store. This is my friend and her husband walking toward the metro ahead of us:

Once we got to the Greenbelt stop we realized this crowd was no smaller than the one at the College Park stop. The endless line resembled the long line of Zeds waiting to get haircuts (just one hair on each head) in Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.”

We tried waiting for a few minutes to see how fast the line would move. Meanwhile, we chatted with a couple from Delaware behind us. They were starting to regret their decision to come to this stop. As we realized the line was not moving much at all, my friend came up with a plan. She works at the National Institute of Health, and has a reserved parking spot there. She realized we could park in the spot, and then hop on the subway right there. We had to get back to our car first, however, so we hailed a cab. He pretty much ripped us off, but it was worth it.

Inside the cab

We parked the car at the NIH, and got on the escalator bringing us down to the subway. Check out its size!:

There was practically no one in the subway– it was pretty crazy! We got tickets, and caught a train right away.

Me and my boyfriend riding the subway

When we got to the rally, it was super-crowded obviously. We couldn’t get too far up, but we got to see lots of interesting and funny signs. Here are a few:

The guy who made this sign wanted to take a picture of me holding it.

The best sign

There were people of all ages at the rally:

I like this shot I took from atop my boyfriend’s shoulders:

It was sooooooooo hard finding a place to eat following the rally. We must have stopped at 10 or so places, only to be told each time the wait was an hour or so. We finally found a place, the Haad Thai Restaurant, with a somewhat shorter wait. We did get seated fairly quickly, and our appetizers (We had Pinky, which is shrimp rolls served with sweet and sour sauce, and Hoy Jaw, which is minced chicken and crab cakes served with spicy, sweet and sour sauce) arrived promptly. Our main meals, however, took awhile. Oh well, they were delicious (I had Beef Pad Z-U, which is beef with wide rice noodles, Chinese broccoli, and egg).

My married friends (both medical doctors!) at dinner

One thing that surprised me about Washington D.C. is that the subway trains are few and far between. On Saturday night around 9:30 (mind you it wasn’t just any Saturday night– it was Halloween, the night of the Jon Stewart rally, and the night of Howard University’s homecoming), we had wait 20 minutes for a train. And we were at the popular Foggy Bottom (George Washington University) stop. It made me appreciate Boston’s frequent trains!

  • Peek Gai
  • Peek GaiChicken wings stuffed with crabmeat and mushroom served with sweet & sour sauce

I love Christopher’s in Porter Square

September 3, 2010

christopher's restaurant in Cambridge

Isn’t the outside portion of Christopher’s Restaurant & Bar so cute?

Inside is nice, too. There’s nothing better than getting a seat on one of the bar stools (don’t worry Mom, I only have a drink or too) on a blustery, winter night. The wooden bar area and nearby fireplace make you feel nice and cozy. The bartenders are very friendly, and the clientele is laid-back.

I’ve had quite a few of their menu items. For appetizers, I prefer the spinach and artichoke dip and southwestern tofu dip. For dinner, I like their sirloin tips and chicken piccata. I’m not so much a fan of the stir fry (not too tasty) or spinach and artichoke burrito (I didn’t like the combination of spinach, artichokes, goat cheese, cheddar and mozzarella, red sauce, vegetarian black beans, mango slaw, greens and pico de gallo– call me crazy since it sounds good on paper!).

For dessert I loooovvvvee their chocolate mousse. One time I went there for an after-dinner snack and had that with a glass of their Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile (best wine there). It was the perfect match! I also like their caramel apple granny pie.

For you beer lovers, they have an extensive list of beers on tap (including nine weekly specials).

This post makes it sound like I go out to eat all the time. That’s not really the case– it’s just that my boyfriend used to live right near Christopher’s so that’s where we went when we didn’t feel like cooking.

Discovering my new neighborhood

August 30, 2010

I took a little walk around my new Somerville apartment last night.

I liked these train tracks under the bridge on Cedar Street:

I saw quite a few young people playing basketball at the corner of Cedar and Broadway streets:

I saw this Revolutionary flag at the city’s Fire Prevention Bureau:

I saw construction (seems to be happening all the time in Somerville):

I saw Lil Vinny’s Ristorante:

And then I ate there! Here’s a pic of my tomato and basil haddock with veggies and mashed potato:

The fish’s sauce was divine! I don’t exactly know what was in it (maybe some white wine?) because the menu only mentioned tomato and basil (there had to have been more). I’m so happy I have leftovers for today!

What a great compliment!!!

June 21, 2010

So, I have a part-time job at a local restaurant. The other night one of our customers, as I was pouring him some water, asked me if I was in school. Technically I am, because I am taking a (technical writing) course at UMass Lowell.

I said, “Yes, I am.” And then he went, “Oh, are you in high school?”

Oh my gosh!!! How happy that made me!!! But also, how outrageous his comment seemed to me. I definitely don’t feel like I look like I’m in high school. But I’ll take what I can get.

Anyway, in response to his question I looked him in the face and said “Actually, no. I’m 29.” Then, I paused.

He started apologizing. He was like, “Oh my, I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I was so off with your age.”

I told him not to worry at all. I said that was a huge compliment he gave me. Then I started explaining to him how I was going back to school to get my technical writing certificate after working for several years as a journalist.

I told him how I had a couple of part-time jobs in the meantime, etc., etc., etc. We had a nice conversation, and afterward I was still ecstatic he had thought I was I was so young!!!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/jvk/5403270

South End birthday outing

June 11, 2010

Last night my boyfriend took me out to the South End for my 29th birthday. Here are some pictures:

It was sprinkling at first.

Nice brick sidewalks

Vespas are my dream vehicle.

View of downtown

Boyfriend in front of outdoor cafe seating

Cool stairs

We each had a drink at the Union Bar and Grille on Washington Street. I had an “it’s about time,” which consists of gin, a thyme infusion, citrus, and champagne. It was amazing! He had a “union smash,” which had bourbon, mint, citrus and ginger beer. He liked his, too!

For dinner we went to the Gaslight Brasserie, a French restaurant on Harrison Avenue. The meal started off with a perfect baguette (very crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside) with creamy butter.

For an appetizer we had fried artichokes “a la greque” (don’t ask me what was in the sauce but it kind of tasted like a high-end tarter sauce). So yummy! For dinner I had choucroute (my favorite French dish!), and he had the roasted salmon filet with garlic braised escarole and a vinaigrette of lemon confit.

Both of our meals were delicious. His was significantly smaller than mine so he got a side of mushrooms. In case you are wondering, my choucroute included baked apples, potatoes, sauerkraut, two types of sausages, and two types of pork. It was in an amazing white wine sauce.

We had two carafes of ’07 Reserve St. Martin (Languedoc region of France) Cabernet Sauvignon, For dessert I had a slice of apple and caramel cake with cider maple sauce, and he had a molten chocolate cake with “creme chantilly” (whipped cream). Both were “incroyable” (incredible).

Then he had a cappuccino and I had an espresso. Wow, we ate like kings (or a king and queen in this case). What a wonderful birthday dinner!

And my bf game me two awesome gifts: a copy of my favorite movie “Le Fabuleux Destin D’Amelie Poulain” that actually works in the U.S. (I got my other version in France and it doesn’t work with U.S. DVD players), and a bag of chocolate Madeleines (they’re my favorite breakfast food…perfect for dunking in coffee!).

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Two awesome restaurants: one in Saugus and one in Framingham

January 18, 2010

I checked out two new restaurants this past weekend: The Pushcart in Saugus and the British Beer Company in Framingham. The Pushcart is actually a new restaurant, while the British Beer Company is just new to me.

Both had excellent food. At The Pushcart I ordered veal and eggplant Parmesan, and also sampled fried cheese, and ravioli in a sun-dried tomato sauce. At the British Beer Company I had haddock in a cracker crust, fingerling potatoes and a squash and zucchini medley.

I also had a Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale with my fish. Delish!

The cool thing about The Pushcart is it was originally located in the North End, and is named after the pushcarts poor restaurateurs used to sell their food from.

That location closed years ago, and it just opened back up in Saugus.

What I love about the British Beer Company is the restaurant’s British feel. It has dark brown wood, a giant rectangular bar that seats 35 guests, and italicized quotes around the ceiling.

Here’s one of the best quotes: “Bessie Braddock: ‘Sir, you are drunk.’ Churchill: ‘Madam, you are ugly. In the morning, I shall be sober.’”

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Check out my new restaurant, Cafe Mangal in Wellesley

January 10, 2010

Last week I started a part-time waitressing job at Café Mangal, a Turkish/Mediterannean restaurant in Wellesley, Massachusetts. I advise you to check it out. Popular dishes include grilled red snapper with saffron rice and tomato sauce, chicken saute Milanese, and Australian rack of lamb. Lunches there are pretty casual, while dinners are fairly formal.

The family-run restaurant is small and intimate, and other nice touches include dim lighting, romantic music and a free cucumber, tomato, olive oil, green pepper and parsley appetizer served with bread. Of course the food is also also delicious.

Chef Mehmet Ozargun graduated from Johnson & Wales University in 2005, and has worked at several prominent restaurants in Turkey. His family in Turkey has worked in the hospitality industry since the 1800s, in bakeries, restaurants and spring water bottling and distribution.

Cafe Mangal has received a high Zagat rating the last three years, and local residents have voted it the best place to either eat lunch or dinner in Wellesley the last four years.

Image from http://www.flickr.com/photos/wizardhere/2359497519

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