Archive for the ‘Drinks’ category

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.

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Sound Bites Restaurant: Good food, cozy ambiance, great service

December 19, 2010

My boyfriend and I stopped by Sound Bites Restaurant (in Somerville’s Ball Square area) yesterday for dinner. He started off with a draft beer, and I ordered sangria.

My sangria

The restaurant, which is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and noon to 11 p.m. on Sunday, has a full bar. It’s thoroughly decorated for Christmas, making you feel right at home. We were the only customers at one point, but that may have been because we ate so early (around 5 p.m.).

I ordered the Mid-East Combo Plate #1. For this dish you choose three of the following: falafel, hoummous (commonly spelled hummus), mujadra (includes lentils, caramelized onions, rice and yogurt sauce), baba ghanough (mashed eggplant with various seasonings), grape leaves, sauteed cauliflower, and tabbouli. I ordered mujadra, grape leaves, and baba ghanough. It came with a salad and yummy olives (and was just $9.99!).

They accompany the meal with warm pita bread.

It was quite good. My boyfriend had shrimp scampi. While my meal was good, his was fantastic. I don’t know what they put in that sauce, but it really made the meal.

The kind waiter gave us a free plate of fruit afterward. What a nice touch! All the fruit was fresh and tasty.

I will definitely be going back there!

The Foundry in Somerville (Davis Square): Good food, packed-together customers

October 26, 2010

My leftover half chicken, fingerling potatoes and kale from the Foundry

My boyfriend and I checked out this new joint on Sunday evening. He was happy because they have about 25 beers on tap. I was happy because Sunday’s special is a “$5 glass of wine.” I ordered the roasted half chicken with local fingerlings (potatoes) and kale, and he asked for the steak frites (French fries) with shallots and garlic herb butter.

As we waited for our meals to arrive, we took in the jovial environment around us. The large restaurant was packed with people smiling, enjoying their drinks and dinner, and engaged in spirited conversation. This was nice. We especially liked observing a horseshoe-shaped table in the middle of the restaurant. The large family was clearly relishing their meals and awesome location.

Unfortunately, we were crammed in between two other tables of two. I normally wouldn’t mind this, but the guys right next to us were pretty loud. As they dramatically gushed about the girls they thought were attractive, their simple-minded families back home, and the politics associated with their Tufts PhD program, I wished we had been placed elsewhere. But we had to deal with the cards we were dealt (I guess I shouldn’t complain too much– in the end we got to eat like a king and queen).

We sympathized with our waitress, who said she was on the last leg of her double shift. But we were impressed with her enthusiasm and dedication to serving us well. She brought me a steak knife for my chicken in case I needed it. That was a thoughtful touch (maybe she accidentally brought out two steak knives for our table, but I’ll interpret her gesture as a kind action on her behalf).

Our meals, if you could not already surmise, were fantastic. I actually slightly preferred my boyfriend’s steak to my chicken. The menu said it was a “flatiron” steak, which my Internet research indicates has a rich chuck flavor. Apparently it’s also second only to filet mignon in tenderness. I definitely found that the steak was both richly flavored and tender. It went quite well with the shallots and garlic herb butter. My chicken was good (not amazing), but the potatoes and kale were extremely tasty. Luckily, there was so much food I got to take leftovers home. I enjoyed them for lunch the next day.

I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a good meal. The food is a little pricey (my meal was $18 and my boyfriend’s meal was $19), but if you don’t get appetizers, desserts, or alcohol, you can certainly limit the cost somewhat. Oh yeah, I forgot to add that country-style French bread with butter was given to us while we waited for our meals. And at the end of our dinner we had Lavazza coffee, which never disappoint.

Kelly’s Diner in Somerville has good food, not-so-good service

October 1, 2010

Kelly's Diner in Somerville

At least that was my experience. I went there on Saturday for breakfast, and had a tasty grilled bagel (grilled bagels are amazing!) with cream cheese, yummy ham, potatoes, orange juice and coffee. Everything was scrumptious but our waitress was kind of out of it. Maybe she was having a bad day, but still.

One of the first things she asked us is if she had makeup on her nose. She had all this blue eyeshadow and glitter around her eyes, so I think she was afraid it had spread to other parts of her face. We told her she was in the clear, because she was. We ordered coffee and orange juice and got it without a problem.

Ordering our food was a little more difficult. She didn’t seem to know the menu and had to ask us a few time to repeat our orders. That was fine– I’d rather she take her time getting it right than us getting the wrong thing. We ended up getting our food pretty promptly so that was good, too.

But after that she didn’t seem to remember we were there. I asked her for water, and she said she’s bring one. She totally didn’t, however, and was instead talking to the elderly gentleman next to us (we were seated at the counter) about her aspirations of owning a hair salon. She said that her dad supported the idea, too, as he could then retire.

I though it was good she was making small talk with customers, but not at the expense of my thirst! I was dying for that glass of water. I tried to catch her attention but she was in another world. Each time she walked by us she was looking in another direction. Basically she just seemed out of it. Maybe she had had a rough night or something.

The one moment I was looking the other way, she came by and refilled my coffee mug to the brim. I looked over and she was already gone. This is actually a pet peeve of mine– servers who top off your coffee without asking your permission. I only wanted one cup, and it was perfectly flavored with sugar. By giving me more coffee she not only wasted coffee, but upset the beverage’s balance of coffee and sugar. I had to add more sugar, which meant sugar was also wasted.

One other thing I noticed was she was continuously adjusting her undergarments. But at least the food was good! And it’s cool the restaurant is inside one of the largest dining cars every manufactured in the 1950s.

What flattering waiters at China Moon in Stoneham

September 16, 2010

I had a bite to eat there the other night, and couldn’t help but notice our waiter’s continual stream of compliments.

For example, while looking at our IDs he told us (my boyfriend and I) we look much, much younger  than we actually are. In fact, he said it was hard to believe we were both 29.

Later on he goes to my boyfriend “Your girlfriend…she’s very pretty…That must be tough…with the competition and everything.” (He said the last part in a joking manner).

It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a waiter so visibly suck up to me/whoever I’m with. Then again, maybe he was just genuinely being nice.

Either way, we gave him a good tip. That was especially the case due to the low cost of our meal.

It was like $14 (without tip) for a large chicken and veggie dish (we shared this), rice, a glass of wine (wine was just $3.75!), a beer, bread and butter, and pineapple slices and fortune cookies for dessert (we were given the dessert for free).

The food was tasty so it clearly was a great value! And an ego boost, haha!

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/dr_television/2208219702

This wine was really good

September 13, 2010

Swedish Hill Winery's 2008 Cayuga White

I got it during a wine tour of the Finger Lakes (in upstate New York) earlier this summer. It was perfectly crispy, semi-dry, and citrusy. The wine was actually developed by Cornell University at the the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, N.Y.¬† No wonder it’s so good– smart people made it!

The Finger Lakes are mostly known for their white wines, though I also really liked Swedish Hill’s red Marechal Foch (shoot, I forget what year). It was sooo smooth. Winery staff told me one reason was because it had aged in stainless steel tanks. I then started noticing that all my favorite reds had aged in stainless steel tanks. This doesn’t sound as impressive as oak barrels but oh well!

I look forward to soon trying a muscat I also picked up at the Swedish Hill Winery (I guess this was my favorite winery!). I’ll let you know how that goes!

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.