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Legal Oysteria in Charlestown: Review

21 Jul wpid-20140717_180941.jpg

After Olives made its grand departure from Charlestown, we were interested to see what would become of the space. It is a great location and a place like Olives was needed in the area. We were excited to hear that Legal Sea Foods was going to be opening up an oysteria in the space and would be serving Italian seafood. After months of renovation, Legal Oysteria officially opened on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

wpid-20140717_180941.jpgStud Muffin and I decided to check it out on Friday night for dinner. We were warmly greeted by several hostesses and we put our name in for a table. There was about a 30 minute wait, which was fine as we wanted to get a drink. Instead of getting a buzzer to tell us when our table was ready, we gave them our cell phone number and they text us when it was ready. I haven’t seen that in Boston yet, but thought that was a cool feature.

For drinks, I got a class of Sauvignon Blanc and SM got a Jack’s Abbey beer. As we waited for our table and enjoyed our drinks, we also enjoyed some people watching. We noticed that there were almost as many employees in the restaurant as there were patrons. I know it is likely because it was only the third day of being open, but it was a bit overwhelming and it just made it seem a lot more crowded than it needed to be. The bar was packed with people grabbing a drink after work and every table was full. We sat down to dinner within 20 to 25 minutes of putting in our name.

The menu has some great options for seafood lovers and those not so keen. It is broken up into Apps, Small Plates, Salads and Soups, Entrees and Sides (entrees are served a la carte). We decided to try some of the small plates including the Salt Cod Crostini (delicious, though very salty), Chickpea & Shrimp Fritters (with a spicy, bacon aoili dipping sauce – this was my favorite) & Ricotta Fritters (these were little fried balls of ricotta cheese served with a spicy honey dipping sauce. It was sinful, we saved them for dessert they were so delicious). We also shared a Sopressata pizza, which was stracciatella, banana peppers, spicy red sauce.

All in all, we had a good experience. The server was cheery, knowledgeable and attentive. The atmosphere was good, still as loud as Olives was, but the fist-pumping music he used to play is no longer blaring. We are glad to see a new neighborhood restaurant and we’ll definitely be back. They have valet parking available, but there is typically plenty of two-hour parking spots available around the neighborhood.

Follow Legal Sea Foods on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review: Ribelle Brookline

17 Jul Sesame Buns

I have heard about Ribelle for some time now, but just haven’t had an opportunity to get to Brookline, until now. Stud Muffin and I joined my sister (@amkline) and our bro-in-law for a night out. While driving around looking for a parking space, we were able to avoid all of the rain, and as we were eating dinner, were treated to a nice sunset.

Now onto the food. We started off with an amazing glass of pinot noir, but it was a glass of white wine, and it was amazing. I would go back just for a bottle of it. Stud Muffin had a cocktail, which I am pretty sure added a good amount of hair to his already hairified chest. We perused the menu and thought about doing the 5-course pasta tasting menu, but opted to just get a bunch of dishes and share them all.

 

We started off with Sicilian Semolina Bread with caponata and pinenuts; Sesame Buns with panelle, calabrian chili mayo and arugula;  Broccoli with fontina, onion and pistachio; and Quail with kohlrabi, maitake, squid ink breadcrumbs. My favorite starter was the Sesame bun and the semolina bread. The sesame bun was like a slider and had a fritter of sorts in the middle, but what made this dish was the chili mayo. I am a fan of aiolis and spiced up mayos… Fisher you can stop barfing now. The Semolina Bread was served with caponata, which was a vegetable, eggplant mixture and it was served with amazing garlic bread.

 

Our main meals were: Rigatoni with octopus, fennel, smoked tomato; Lamb Neck with green chili, favas, hazelnuts; and 2 dishes of Pappardelle with bolognese, kale, pork rinds. The boys took good care of the Lamb Neck and Rigatoni and my sister and I handled the Papparadelle, though we did share a bit. I was told the Lamb Neck was really delicious, cooked well and had really good flavors. Stud Muffin said the rigatoni was more smokey than any other flavor and was expecting it to be more seafood-y with the octopus. He still ate all of it, so it must have been good, but not sure he would get the same thing again. The Pappardelle was delicious. I wanted to eat the entire thing, but I couldn’t. The healthy portion of pasta was cooked perfectly and the bolognese was to die for. I have had this type of dish at 62 in Salem and I have always said it is the best around, but this one at Ribelle may rival it. I would like to do a taste test.

For dessert, we tried the olive oil ice cream and the chocolate cake. I was intrigued by the olive oil ice cream, but only took a few bites. The olive oil was a little over powering. The chocolate cake was delicious.

The atmosphere was cool and hip. The menus were clipped to cut outs from wine boxes. There is also a long farm-style table in the middle where several parties sat together, with the bar on one side and then other tables on the periphery. All in all, it was a great experience and I would definitely recommend this to try out.

If you are interested in following them on social channels check them out @RibelleBKline on Twitter, @RibelleBKline on Instagram, Ribelle Facebook and G+. Beware: their posts will make you hungry. 

Toro, Toro, Where for Art Though Toro?

13 Nov

It’s in the South End and it is delicious. Stud Muffin and I went to Toro with my sister and her hubby a few weeks ago and obviously it left an impression because I am still thinking about it.

Seven words: Maiz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija. Just listen to this description: Grilled corn with alioli, lime, espellette pepper and aged cheese. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this corn on the cob truly was. I had heard about it before from people, but was always like, “yeah, right, it is just corn on the cob. how good could that be?” Boy, was I in for a pleasant surprise and from that first bite, I decided that I will try not to doubt those who explain good eats to me.

Heavenly corn. Photo cred: Instagram: Toro, NYC

Heavenly corn. Photo cred: Instagram: Toro, NYC

The word tapas makes me smile because I know that I get to eat a little bit of a lot of things, and that is exactly what we did. We had dates filled with marcona almonds and cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in ham; we had Tortilla Espanola (egg, potato and onion omelet with alioli); crispy pork belly; olives; and the guys had bone marrow. There was so much good food and I did try it all, but personal opinion, bone marrow is supposed to stay in the bone. 

If you are looking for a great place to try some great new food, I definitely recommend Toro. Disclaimer, warning, whatever you’d like to call it: THERE WILL BE A WAIT. We went on a Saturday at 6:15 p.m., we weren’t seated until 8:10 p.m. The service was great and the atmosphere was young and loud.

Good news for those not in Boston, Toro just opened up a location in New York at 85 10th Ave. 

Check them out on Facebook and Twitter or on Instagram (NY location).

And if you go to the location in Boston, for goodness sake, invite me!

Stud Muffin and me before we were full.

Stud Muffin and me before we were full. Photo cred: AMK

Mooo… The Restaurant

24 Oct

For Stud Muffin’s birthday last night, we dined with the cows at Mooo. Just kidding, there were no cows, well except for those that were on the customer’s plates. Even though I’m not a consumer of the cow, Stud Muffin is and I wanted to treat him to a scrumptious dinner. Mooo is located in Beacon Hill near the State House.

We had an earlier reservation, so it wasn’t too crowded when we got there, but by the time we left, the place was full. We sat towards the back at a table for two, with chairs that were a little Alice in Wonderland-esque, and I loved them.

I started off with a cocktail that was cidery and cinnomany and delicious and SM had a Booker’s on the rocks. I really wanted to order the $14,000 bottle of champagne that was on the menu, but SM wouldn’t let me. We thought about ordering an appetizer, but opted out, but they sounded delicious. Thank goodness we didn’t because we were brought rolls that were served in a mini cast-iron skillet with sea salt on top and butter. SO GOOD. For my entree I had the scallops on a sweet potato mashed puree with mushrooms. I was a proud member of the clean-plate club. SM had a 18 oz Rib-eye with the Mooo sauce, but he said his steak was so good that he didn’t even need the sauce. We also had to order some veggies (to feel healthy) and I HAD to have the crispy tots… can I just say one word, UNBELIEVABLE! It was basically fried bacon mashed potatoes. I can’t even start to explain how amazing those things were. I am 100% certain that we will go back at some point just for those tots! I LOVE TOTS.

Here’s the birthday boy with his entree… he’s very happy and excited to dig in!

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We were so full that we couldn’t even stomach dessert, however for his birthday our waiter brought over a ‘Happy Birthday’ in chocolate on a plate with two chocolate covered marshmallows with a candle for SM to blow out. It was very nice of them.

Overall, we had a great experience and we absolutely recommend this place to anyone who is looking for a good steak in Boston.

We give Mooo, 5 out of 5 Mooos!

Check out Mooo on Twitter, it’s some great food porn.

 

Brunch. It’s What I Love.

9 Nov

I love a good brunch. Sometimes, I would much rather go to a good brunch than a nice dinner. I think it’s because I can have both sweet & savory! I mean give me some pancakes, bacon and put a fork in me, I’m done.

Over the past few years of living in Boston, I have come across some pretty fantastic brunch joints. So here goes a list of my faves and why I love them so:

The Neighborhood in Union Square- Why I love it: It is small, but it is mighty (and cheap). The food is quality and it is just a good breakfast. Favorite meal: Bacon and cheese omelet, toast and homefries

S&S in Inman Square – Why I love it: Great food, fun people (fun in that sarcastic, Masshole type of way), cheap prices, good mimosas… Favorite meal: Stuffed Croissant – Hot croissant filled with scrambled eggs served with home fries and fresh fruit

Masa in South End or Woburn – Why I love it: Fantastic food, great drinks, and they also have a great deal for brunch – $7.95 for two dish meal. You can also order off of a fuller menu, but the food is good no matter what menu you choose to go with.

Biltmore Grill in Newton- Why I love it: 3 words: chicken and waffles. Really, that is all I really need to say about this one. It’s a great atmosphere and has some really fun monthly events. I have yet to get to one of those, but it’s on the list of things to do.

What are your favorite brunch spots in Boston? I obviously haven’t been to all of them, so I would love any and all suggestions!

-kteb

Olives is Back!

4 May

Soon after I moved to Charlestown, Todd English’s Olives suffered from a grease fire and was closed for more than a year. My sis and bro-in-law loved the place and were devastated when they heard it may not re-open. However, after several months of construction, Olives is back!

Thanks to Eater Boston for the image

We stopped by on Wednesday night to check it out and we were surprised and thrilled to find out that they were still in the “soft opening” phase, which meant free food. We only had to pay for the booze. And booze we did, I had a nice malbec and wish I paid attention to the brand because it was really good. Stud Muffin had Ommegang, which he discovered last year at the Life is Good Festival and anytime he sees it on the beer list, he gets it. On the topic of booze, the bar is huge and probably seats about 40, maybe more, people. My favorite part, they have gold fish aquariums built into the bar (don’t worry, they don’t serve sushi).

As for the food, there was no menu, the kitchen just made dishes and pushed them out to the tables. We received six dishes – ranging from flatbreads to appetizers to main courses and then dessert. They were sample sizes of menu items, and we only saw about a 1/4 of the menu. Below is a rundown of the dishes we tried:

Pizza flatbread – roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese served on focaccia bread

Beef carpaccio served over mixed greens with chive aioli

Fried mussels

Filet mignon over truffle sweet potato fries

Fresh carrot risotto with goat cheese and peas

Truffle oil mac and cheese with peas

Mini cupcakes – chocolate with a salted-maple frosting and a vanilla cupcake with a chocolate mousse frosting

All of the dishes were pretty darn good and I can see why my sis and bro-in-law were so upset when Olives was closed. Mr. English himself was there in the kitchen working hard to make sure every dish was perfect.

We are very excited to see that Olives is back and that there is another great dining option in Charlestown. Since there was no menu, I can’t say what the regular prices will look like, but from the old menu, which I was told about 50 percent of it will be new, it looks to be in the $20-$30 range for entrees.

We are looking forward to going back and experiencing the full menu. Seeing as it is only about 200 yards from my house, I have a feeling it will be a pretty regular spot for us.

AND if you decide to go, I better get a phone call letting me know you are in the area.

-kteb

Quest for the Best (BB)Q.

16 Apr

Newsflash: I’m from South Carolina.

Newsflash: I like pork – more specifically, pulled pork and BBQ.

Newsflash: I’m not an expert (though sometimes I annoyingly act like it).

Those aren’t really newsflashes are they? Maybe not, but it needed to be said. Since I moved to Boston, I have been on the quest for the best BBQ in town. Now, I know what you might say, “Have you been to Redbones?” The answer is yes. Then you’d say, “Well that is the best, isn’t it?” And I would say, “Meh. It’s decent, but not the best.”

In the South, BBQ is a buffet, where for $10-$12 you can eat as much BBQ and fixins’ as your little (or big) belly can handle. (This may also have a direct correlation to the obesity problem in America. But that is besides the point.) In the South, when you say, “Let’s go get BBQ,” you know they are talking pulled pork – and this says it the best

The No. 1 thing you need to know about Carolina BBQ is this: it is the other white meat (aka Pork). Carolinians stress that BBQ beef is just that; but “BBQ Pork” is redundant. BBQ is Pork! More specifically, BBQ is pulled (or shredded, or chopped, or sliced) pork that has been low and slow roasted and served with a sauce that varies depending on personal taste and somewhat on geography.

So, my favorite BBQ place in SC is Palmetto Pig… believe me, it is nothing fancy, but it is the best. Why? Because Palmetto  Pig has just enough options and the food is always above average. The pulled pork was always cooked perfectly, never burnt or undercooked. Another thing that makes SC BBQ stand out is the sauce. Mustard-based BBQ sauce is FAN-TASTIC to say the least and I couldn’t do without Tomato-based BBQ sauce. I never thought I was a fan of it, until I moved up here and realized that no one really has this bottle of awesome – most sauces around here are mostly, if not entirely, vinegar-based. The SC sauces, as I like to call it, sweetens up the BBQ just enough to balance out the saltiness of the pork. It’s something you have to experience to understand, I think.

This is not from Palmetto Pig, but is a fine plate of BBQ from Dukes BBQ.

This is not from Palmetto Pig, but is a fine plate of BBQ from Dukes BBQ.

So in all fairness there are a few good places in Boston that I would recommend. Additionally, my recommendations are based on the pulled pork that I have had from these different places.

Blue Ribbon BBQ – I found this place to be the most authentic of the BBQ, in terms of pulled pork. They also have fried chicken, ribs and all those other BBQ options. The pulled pork was good and they give you a heaping portion. I was beyond full by the time we left. I went to the Arlington location, but another BBQ enthusiast (and what I would consider an expert because she is from Texas) told me that I need to try the Newton location. So, I will. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Sweet Cheeks Q. – Being a huge fan of Top Chef and Tiffani Faison, I was beyond excited to try out Sweet Cheeks Q on Boylston Street in Fenway. I was pleased to be served my fancy cocktail in a mason jar. Some people may be turned off by this, but it made me feel like I was back in the South at a friend’s BBQ enjoying the summer and the sweltering heat and humidity – when really I was in Boston, in Fenway’s backyard, on a 50-something degree, cloudy day. Having been here recently, I have a lot to say…

The portions are massive – so order cautiously. Being there for the first time, I had to try a few appetizers – HUMONGOUS biscuits with honey butter. Two words – Freaking Awesome. We also had the hush puppies. Not as awesome as I was hoping. There were six of them, and they were huge. Hush puppies are supposed to be as there name intended, puppy-size, small… They also didn’t have the sweetness that southern hush puppies have. They were served with a honey mayonnaise but it didn’t do the trick.

The “trays” come with one meat and two sides – hot & cold. I got the pulled pork, mac-n-cheese and a farm salad that was pretty delicious. The pulled pork was good. It had a nice smoky flavor and was cooked pretty nicely. The sauces I was a little disappointed with. They had the NC vinegar based sauce and then they also had a jalapeno sauce that was really good, though I’m not sure it mixed well with the other sauce.

I would definitely recommend that people try it. It is a little pricey for BBQ, but that being said, we had leftovers so in reality, we had two meals. I am looking forward to going back on a nice day when the patio and doors are open – so we can smell the sewer-y sweet smells of Boston.

Other BBQ places in Boston worth trying at least once.

Red Bones – Like I said, not my absolute favorite, but they have a great beer selection and cool atmosphere.

Blackstrap BBQ – I had high hopes for this little, quirky joint in Winthrop, MA. I know, who goes to Winthrop? I do, in the name of BBQ. Anywho – this place was started up by two guys from East Coast Grill, which I love and made me think this place would be great.

So here’s the scoop… the BBQ was served in tin foil in a styrofoam box. I wouldn’t usually have a problem with this, but it made the food sort of soggy or over-damp… the pulled pork was drenched with some sort of sauce. It was a good hot sauce, though I would have liked the opportunity to choose how much and what kind of sauce I wanted. I had mac-n-cheese, which was actually really good. I also had sweet potato salad, which was ok. The cornbread was overcooked to the point of being burnt.

There was one thing that I was upset I didn’t see until we were leaving… they have BBQ fries and they sounded absolutely amazing.

Firefly BBQ – I haven’t actually been here, but had their Q at a music festival I went to last summer. It was good, but I can’t give it a fair judgement.

Does anyone have any other places I should check out? Please name them in the comments and add your thoughts on what I said up there. Like I said, I’m not an expert, so school me, if you will.

I would also not be a nice sister if I did not say that my brother Steve roasts an awesome pig!

 

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