November 26, 2008

Dali in Somerville

Our tapas place of choice is Cuchi Cuchi in Cambridge.

After a trip to Barcelona, my mum loved the tapas, so to switch things up we thought we would give Dali a punt.

Everyone I know who has been there seems to love Dali. I wonder if they just love tapas?

We were welcomed by the maitre d who had the unenviable task of standing right by the door on a cold evening. Before she could speak, a guy (I'm guessing proprietor) whisked us away with cheesy platitudes. He would return later with phrases like "The food is wonderful isn't it?". I dislike the putting words in your mouth technique. It's what leads business owners to thinking they have a marvelous restaurant.

I'll get the one other negative out of the way - and this is purely my silliness. I wore a red shirt ... as did the waiters. I hate wearing the same clothing as the waiters!

The food was good, a wide selection of proteins including a milk soaked boar and venison sausage were highlights, plus the usual tapas staples of patatas bravas and jamón serrano. The sangria was perfect and along with my dad I finished with a tasty piece of almond cake.

All in all great food, only let down by an overbearing owner, and tables that are way too small for a group of tapas eaters - but I could say that about any tapas place!

November 22, 2008

Midwest Grill in Inman Square

Scarves, gloves and hats, with a Brazilian flair please. We walked down to Midwest Grill in Inman Square last night. Emphasis on walk. It was freezing cold out and we have my parents visiting.

Seated immediately, and told the drill ... and here it is.

You go help yourself to the hot and cold buffet and then every minute or so, a young Brazilian fella will approach your table with a huge skewer of meat. You ask what type of meat it is, and ... if you want some ... he carves a piece off and you catch/grab it with your personal pair of meat-tongs.

Anne and mum* (which identifies her as my mother - Anne's would be mom) had Corona, while my dad and I tackled a Brahma, a popular Brazilian beer.

Raised on years of buffet experience in Las Vegas, Anne took my dad up to the buffet selection. They came back with wondrous stories of pork and beans, baked banana, tender chicken, and a mountain of shoestring fries.

With my mum, I added some nicely cooked vegetables, refried beans and Brazilian stew. Back at the table and Anne and my dad already had taken some carved beef, sausage and garlic bread (yes, they even skewered the bread).

And this went on for ages. Freshly cooked meats (pork, lamb, beef, chicken, bacon on and off the bone), more beers and another trip to the buffet table.

We were stuffed, and then the waiter asked if we wanted dessert. Which we did. Polished off a combination of coconut and chocolate cakes and mousses. Very nice.

Check came to $140-ish which for "all the meat you can eat", 2 rounds of drinks and 4 desserts sounds good to me. And my dad paid.

All in all a fun place to go with a bunch of people. Go with an empty stomach, and it's probably a good idea to walk some of it off. We did just that, and it even felt a few degrees warmer on the way home.

October 26, 2008

The Elephant Walk

Having enjoyed the food at their Cambridge location a few pre-blog years ago, we gave the Boston version a shot last night.

After a long afternoon of retail we dumped the car with the valet and wandered in. No reservation meant eating at the bar, not a bad idea considering we were dressed scruffily in black like over-the-hill goths.

The menu is a choice of food influenced by French and/or Cambodia. Anne has a more cultured palate than me, but I felt intrepid so we both plumped for the tasting menu, and a plan was hatched to share the items from each course.

Our waitress was helpful and available, and after only a few minutes of conversation while sipping our Asian beers the First Course arrived.

Rouleaux I'm sure has some connotation to blood, but in this instance it is the Cambodian equiv. of the spring roll. Delicious. And the Nataing was a tasty ground pork soup. Thankfully the coconut milk didn't overpower the flavor, and the rice cakes made for great dipping.

No sooner had he put the soup spoon down, when the salads arrived. For one we went French, with a Gorgonzola and Pear salad. I picked out the cheese while Anne attacked the pears. The Cambodian Salad was a shredded affair containing chicken, carrots, cabbage and peppers. This salad was awarded with a blowhard proclamation from me of "I'd eat that for lunch every day."

For our main course we chose Khar Saiko Kroeung with Shanghai Noodles. Boneless pork ribs in a sauce that Anne found too strong, but I found to be just right. Loc Lac is cubed beef tenderloin in a light sauce over lettuce. Perfect.

So there we have it. 3 courses in probably no more than an hour. A couple of beers and a check for close to $75. Throw in a tip and a valet park, and we had change for a $100.

I'd recommend Elephant Walk to anyone who wants to taste well crafted Asian Food, and as I recall from the Cambridge site, the French cuisine is excellent too.

July 13, 2008

Tacos Lupita

Tacos Lupita was recommended to us last year. In fact we last went there on my birthday. It's not quite fine dining, but man do they do good food.

Gorditas, huaraches, mulitas, tortas, pupusa ... frankly it's all one delicious mix of tortilla, meat, cream, onion, tomato and rice.

Almost makes you want to live in Somerville ... almost.

The cooks all wear adorable hair nets, and the place was packed with everyone from hipsters to car wash guys.

Their specialty is Salvadorian cuisine, and they have some awesome looking Central American sodas.

We day-dreamed of our next trip to Mexico as we chowed down on the food.

So if you consider Anna's Taqueria to be "The Man", then head to Tacos Lupita.

July 10, 2008


Swung by Andala tonight. A Middle Eastern coffee stop filled with hookahs. Realize my hookah jokes are better delivered verbally than in print.

Our waitress was delightful. Anne went with cute. Either way I was reminded of Carleen Anderson.

I ordered a Jerusalem egg pita sandwich, and Anne went all hummus on me. She also chose an old smoothie. -Cymbal crash-

The sandwich wasn't all that good. Too acidic for my tastes, and I doubled up with a freshly squeezed Lemon juice that made me pull a face like I'd swallowed a fly.

Cannot help but feel that we chose the wrong items. Everything sounded good on paper. Check came to $26, and that's without hookahs.

April 21, 2008

Mary Chung Restaurant

Hole in the wall Chinese place next door to The Middle East on Mass Ave.

Someone from Anne's numerous and illustrious book club/cat-sit/tech-event network recommended the place, so we ambled on down on Friday night.

I love the mirror trick in small restaurants. I ALWAYS fall for it, thinking I am in a cavernous room.

Simple drinks choice. Tsingtao or some domestic rubbish - went with the "zing-dow"

Highlight of the menu is the "Mysterious Chicken", which the intrepid wife nearly got. Instead she went for another spicy chicken dish. I went for Moo Shi Chicken, because I'm silly for the wraps!

Kicked off with a couple of starters too and still the bill came in at under $40.

Happy to report that there was no real douchebaggery going on inside. Just people enjoying good company and food on a Friday night.

Walked home, with a smile and full belly.

February 21, 2008


North End Italian place. Cannot say how good the food is because I've been drunk each time I go there. Tonight I had stuffed chicken (the waiter said "Good choice" to everyone except me).

Wine was OK. But I think I paid $360 for 5 people, and that ain't no good. Last time I was there we had just bagged the Gillette account and I was pissed up on Sidecars.

February 18, 2008

Lucky's Lounge

Although not technically a new restaurant to us, this was our first Sunday brunch at the Sinatra themed crack den down in South Boston.

I guess there must have been something going on at the Children's Museum because the area was swarming with coffee slurping parents and their boggle eyed kids.

Thankfully Lucky's was kid free and as we slid into our vinyl lined seating we were greeted by an attentive young server.

We order coffee with milk. The milk part always seems to throw people. As if somehow we had asked for something 'off the menu'. The milk arrived in a tiny little glass - distinctly designed to leak it's contents.

Anne asked me what Fontina cheese was, and I employed my annoying trait of answering with assured knowledge when in fact I'm actually not sure. (Turns out my guess was correct).

Armed with her newly found cheese intelligence Anne ordered the Sinatra omelet and I went for the egg, bacon and ham panini.

Side note. I'm always annoyed when travel magazines drop foreign words into their articles as if it adds color and flavor to their otherwise insipid articles. Example "accompanied by a hearty lunch of roast pork and migas, bread fried with even more pork"

Anyway that's why I italicized panini back there.

10 minutes later a different server came out with 2 plates both containing omelets. Ugh oh, order screw up. Instead of plonking down Anne's tasty breakfast, both plates went back to the kitchen. A minute later we were told our breakfasts would be out in 5 minutes. And 4.5 minutes later I got my piping hot sandwich on a cold plate, and Anne got her congealed-under-the-hot-plate omelet, and shriveled home fries.

We could have used more coffee, and when it came, we could have used more milk. We're not demanding. Really, we're not.

Still the food was OK.

Every time I go to Lucky's I have a sense of excitement. I love the place, but I always forget that I go for the ambiance, style, music and cocktails. Not the food.

November 18, 2007


Love that Wagamama.

They could hang a sign, "We will phish your credit card details" and I'd still probably go in to try their noodles.

We finally got our asses down to the Harvard Square location last night. It is conveniently tucked next to a Staples, so you can buy office supplies and enjoy that Japanese ramen bar experience in one easy journey.

Anne went for Chilli Chicken Ramen. Because she likes that lip tingling sensation. Her big bowl of soup was tasty, and the wooden spoon they give you demands that you slurp like crazy! Each time she dipped in with the chopsticks she pulled out an endless amount of grilled chicken and noodles.

I went teppan style. Delicious teriyaki steak placed over soba noodles. I cleaned the plate. We also enjoyed a side of 'tori kara age'. For all I know it might be Japanese for 'pan scrapings', but the menu informs me it is chicken in a bunch of herbs and sauces.

As ever, comedic events ensued. A young couple of first timers were surprised that they had to eat in a commune style environment. "Don't you just have a table for two?" they inquired. The server did the best she could by sitting them at the window next to each other. Disappointed pulled faces and a full restaurant walk around followed before they left. I can imagine the little germaphobes yapping into their cell phones "And you have to sit next to other people." Idiots.

Cambridge being Cambridge, there was the usual smattering of uber-lib parents teaching 18 month Tarquin how to eat with chopsticks. It's important he knows the difference between Udon and Kare at an early age.

Great food and service. Will we go back? Probably in the next 48 hours!

November 10, 2007


Walked down to Magnolia's of Inman Square tonight. They feature Southern-Cajun-Creole food. I think we tried to go one time before but inanely chose a Monday when they are closed.

Our waitress was speedy. Sat down with drinks in no time. Anne went for a New Orleans Dixie brew, and I went Lone Star.

The menu is a good combination of regulars and (I suspect) rotating specials. Our waitress was patient and pleasant. She reminded me of the part of Maggie Gyllenhaal you don't want to punch in the throat.

I started with Alligator and Corn Fritters. They say fritters but to me they were just balls. Does an alligator have balls? In High School I skipped Biology to have extra music lessons - boy do I feel stupid now.

Talking of skipping, Anne skipped the appetizer, and plumped for the Bayou Platter. Blackened Catfish, Alligator Fritters, Frog Legs, Crab Cake and an assortment (!!) of mashed potatoes. And Collard Greens.

I opted for a blackened filet mignon with a Maytag Blue Cheese (I thought they made washing machines) and sweet potato mash.

The clientele was quite old. Strangest item in the place is a wall hung plate of a winking woman that could give a child nightmares.

Our food arrived, and we were pleased. The Frog's Legs were pickled and therefore cold, and Collard Greens are an acquired taste, but overall we liked what we got.

Check was $85 inc. tip.

Walking home we stopped in 1369 our local coffee shop. Anne loves the place - because she hates "the man". I think they're a bunch of trumped-up folk-music-loving, pseudo-liberals, who all probably have trust funds and investment strategies. I'm supposed to be impressed because you drew a leaf on the top of my latte?

October 21, 2007


We went to Asmara last night. Not the Eritrean city, but the namesake restaurant on Mass Ave. in Cambridge.

So how does Ethiopian slash Eritrean food compare in a plethora of other ethnic choices?

Pretty, pretty good.

They are next door to Picante's which is my favorite in and out Mexican place. And every time I go in Picante's I always notice the big upturned sombrero tables in Asmara.

We walked in and were immediately moved to our table. It was a little close to the door, so we kept our coats on, plus the AC was blowing up a storm. Towards the end of the evening our waitress apologized for the cold, she explained that the kitchen was red hot, so they keep the air-con on full tilt.

Anne and I agreed on the Sega Bebayneto, a sampler dish of chicken, beef, lamb and vegetables.

We also asked for Asmara beer. Two bottles came and as Anne poured, I did the same. Mine didn't come out. It was frozen. Still a replacement came and all was good.

Within 10 minutes we were each given a hand wipe, and this was a sign that our food was imminent. You eat with your hands in this place.

Sure enough, a huge platter of food followed, along with injera, an Ethiopian bread that looked like chamois leather but tasted delicious.

The food was great. That's all I have to say. You grab some bread, and pick up the food, like a self-serve stew.

Who else was dining? A classic Cambridge intellectual - complete with the 4 essentials, a bow-tie, tweed jacket, high waisted pants and a dowdy unimpressed wife. His table was rounded off with 2 younger women who did not seem happy.

Mostly, the place was full of people who seemed to enjoy the food and/or the concept.

One unrelated bizarre incident. At the exact moment a couple entered the restauarant, the Red Sox had scored and the people in the bar across the road let out a huge cheer. To those of us inside the restaurant it sounded like Mass Ave had a "Canned Cheer" track running, activated by the door of the restaurant. I guess you had to be there ...

So it all seemed very authentic, except for the huge espresso machine. I know Ethiopia is a large coffee supplier, but somehow I cannot imagine an industrial sized "La Spaziale" in Addis Ababa. Then again what the hell do I know?

We'll go back.

October 20, 2007

Dolphin Seafood Restaurant

Favoring something a little healthy the other night, we walked over to the Dolphin Seafood Restaurant.

To me it feels like the opposite of the Naked Fish.

Naked Fish - pretentious restaurant in the dull sad suburbs.

Dolphin Seafood Restaurant - unassuming hole in the wall style place in the heart of a nice city neighborhood.

We were by far the youngest people in there.

Simple menu. A bunch of fish choices. 3 starches to choose from, and a veg/salad/slaw option to make.

Anne asked what the vegetable of the day was. It was carrots. So she ordered a salad. Anne is the master (mistress?) of not choosing whatever specials she asks about.

I had Tilapia for the first time in an age. A few years back, I was involved in a photo shoot for a client who sells frozen Tilapia in a box. Because that's how glamorous my job is. Since then I have developed an almost psychopathic aversion to that damn fish.

I also had a baked potato and the aforementioned carrots (they help you see in the dark - and who wouldn't want that special power?)

Anne had bread-crumb encrusted haddock, with rice and the salad.

Our waiter looked like a down-on-his-luck Billy Corgan, but I'm nit-picking if I said it spoiled our evening. To be clear the Smashing Pumpkins were not a good band. If you disagree that's because you're wrong.

The Red Sox vs Tribe game was on in the background but nobody seemed to care that much.

All in all simple food in a simple setting.

And that's why we'll be going back.

October 9, 2007

Betty's Wok and Noodle

Oh Dear. I so wanted to like this place.

We needed food before the three hour marathon of watching Henry Rollins 'speak his words' at Berklee on Sunday night.

The theme is all screwed up.

Photos of Betty adorn the place and she looks like a your archetypal 50's housewife, complimented with period (although actually replica) typography. It's a great schtick.

So it's a bummer that the decor is slightly retro but not enough to do the theme justice, and certainly not ground-breaking enough for me to 'get over myself'.

Food. Latin-Asian fusion. Two words. Fuck that.

Juan-Ton is undeniably funny, but it does not make it edible.

Listen up people, stop using fusion as an excuse to put incompatible shit together. Unless you are performing spinal surgery, or are a nuclear particles dude you have no reason to use the word.

And as bad as fusion is for food, it's even worse for drinks.

I had a Sak-it-to-me Punch. Why? Obviously because it's funny. The menu promised sake and fresh citrus fruits. It tasted like ass. Pineapple is not a citrus fruit. (I looked it up in Wikipedia - and that's never wrong is it?).

Anne had something that tasted like fizzy curry. Tamarind and chunks of ginger. Is someone taking the piss?


Luckily it is by the Symphony Hall, so there's lots of kids (probably named Tarquin and Tamsin) in dinner jackets and bow-ties.

I digress.

For food we all had noodles, with veg and meat.

Mine was so, so (Chicken and Hoisin).

Anne's was short on noodles and taste. You do not mix mint and peanuts. Ever had a minty peanut butter chocolate bar? No, because it tastes terrible.

3rd diner was our friend Beck. She looks like Betty, loves the theme, and seems to be "Never Wrong™" so of course she's going to like the food. She had beef noodles in a Thai sauce. And she liked their lemonade.

That said, we had a fun time talking about tuxedoes, the restaurant mirrors and our server who looked like Frank the cap-wearing writer in 30 Rock. And the check was reasonable.

Combining two things I love; the food of Wagamama with the feel of a 50's diner could be much much better.

Note I didn't write mucho mucho - because the Latin thing needs to be dropped like the Selena Fan Club.

September 20, 2007

Grafton Street

Venerable bar restaurant in Harvard and scene of dinner with the missus, and my parents from the Land of the Eng.

Swift moving greeter - you know I like that, and we snagged a table inside the restaurant but next to the open windows ensuring we could 'experience' the chatter of Cambridge.

Our server was late, then he came with the water, but did not take our drink order. Drink order, no food requests. Then he told us the specials. We've been here 20 mins and we have no food ordered yet!

Still at least the wind wasn't blowing a gale into the restaurant. What's that? It was? Oh, yes, and we were freezing.

Food time. My parents both had salmon and lapped it up like a cat in a dairy. Ten out of ten from the European judges then, but the Americans (well I live here) are harder to please.

Anne had a middle Eastern medley of hummus and tabouli and all that other chick pea goodness. She liked it but said "It's no Algiers Cafe"

I started with clam chowder. It was chunky and plentiful. Then I went for another cheese plate. The cheese came but with no crackers or bread. What's the point of that? Luckily I had leftover bread from the chowder plus Anne had more pita bread than a Cat Stevens back stage rider.

Check was reasonable enough as I recall, and my father paid so that was nice.

Would probably give it another go, but Bartley's Burgers is next door, and I do like a good burger ...

Tavern in the Square

A quick entry. Went there before a show at The Middle East. Ordered Waffle Fries and they were total crap.

August 31, 2007


Packed a winter coat and braved the Arctic chill of Amesbury in Northern Massachusetts the other night.

What an unexpected delight! The center has all the charm of a coastal town without the pretentious sweater-over-the-shoulders crowd.

Word of warning to out of town folk, the Amesbury rotaries are absurd but they do have a street named Powow.

Went to Flatbread, a local pizza joint. It was wonderful. Granted they are a bit touchy feeling when it comes to their mantra - their printed materials should lose the words sacred, spirit and imagination. And honestly I suspect that pepperoni tastes better with nitrates.


The pizzas were great, as was the beer, as was the brownie dessert, as was the company. Laura just had a baby and this was one of her first times away from the kid, so she got to choose what we ate, drank and talked about and she was up to the task in hand.

Waitress was good, and nobody seemed to mind that our table was cursing like a bunch of sailors.

I was expecting polar bears, Aurora Borealis, igloos and eskimos but damn me if Northern Mass is only an hour from the People's Republic.


Late Post!

Went to Radius during restaurant week. No clue why, considering dinner for two ended up costing approx. $180 more than it should do during the aforementioned restaurant week.

Love their set up. You walk in and the maitre d is the gatekeeper to the restaurant. If she deems you worthy she opens a gate for you to enter the 'Kingdom of Radius'.

We get in!

Shuffle to our table and a few minutes later our extraordinarily tall dark and handsome waiter shows up ... with a reserve waitress stood behind him.

Knowing nothing about posh restaurant etiquette Anne and I spend the night supposing she is essentially his bitch. He asks what we want and she scurries off and writes it down. Survey says "Ugh Oh". I'm told she was probably in training. Ah well. Much prefer my option. A master waiter and a pimp.

This all happened a few weeks ago so forgive me if I don't remember the food details. During the time we were ordering, a train nearly hit us. The figurative wreckage ended up on the table next to us.

Saving the best for last I'll start with the guy. Badly cut but vaguely expensive suit (come on, if you're going to wear suits, just buy a few expensive ones and have them tailored to fit), the frames of his glasses looked a little headmistress-like to me, but also said "I like coke". Finished it off with a finely trimmed goatee.

Let's cut to the chase, the chick-ee-dee accompanying him had freakish breasts. Not 2 guys at a bar saying "check those out" breasts, but the kind that even my demur and proper wife said "Holy Jesus Christ those are massive tits". Of course she chose to reign them in with a bra 8 sizes too small and an ill-fitting spaghetti strap bingo* dress

* From the start of an English game of bingo, when the caller says "Eyes down and look in".

The waiter asked the 'lady' what she wanted to drink and the guy chimes in "We'll have Champagne". With few exceptions this is a douche move. He then requested a bottle of red for their main course. After the waiter and his white slave moved away, the guy tells his lady friend that Bordeaux is a place in France famous for its wine. Wow, we're sat next to a sommelier!

We had an amuse bouche, as a welcome from the chef. We felt special until we realized everyone got one.

Before our apps came out, the bread guy rolled into town. Talk about quick on the draw, the food wasn't even at my esophagus and there was another roll on the plate.

I started with rabbit. Inspired by Anne's course at Rendezvous. It was delicious until a day later when I found myself in the Liberty Tree mall pet shop looking at cute bunnies.

Anne began with warm foie gras. Don't know exactly what it is, but she was in a happy place while eating it, so must have been good.

I had filet mignon. Usually I order steak when I can find nothing else on the menu, but I was in the mood. Anne teased me because I ordered the meat on the rare side. I prefer well done, but I think when you are in anything higher than Fuddruckers it is offensive to the chef to order it too well done. That's me ... sensitive to the needs of the chef.

Anne ordered the $30 vegetable plate. I think we were both curious just how much veg you get for 30 big ones. It was cool, lots of varied veggies prepared in an artistic manner.

Meanwhile next door, we discovered that he was some kind of combination doctor/weapons expert, and she was not. They spoke as if it was a first or second date, and once in a while held hands across the table. She periodically giggled at the right spots in his conversation and all was going well until she blathered out how much she wanted kids, and a stoney uncomfortable silence ensued.

Not surprisingly the table on the other side was dysfunctional too. The woman ordered a bottle of wine but added "Although one of us has to drive home". The waiter (when not whipping the shackled wench behind him) suggested they order just a half bottle, at which the woman replied "Yes, and then we can order another half bottle later".

I turned to my darling wife and said "She's just effing stupid". As if to further my elucidate point wino woman spent the next 30 minutes
reading the wine list like it was some James Ellroy page turner.

We had dessert. Because why the hell not?

Anne ordered a cookie platter - the menu stated it was 'for one'. After the previously small haute cuisine portions she was suddenly faced with a platter that would not be out of place at an Italian wedding. Six cookies! Hey, six cookies are great at night when you are under a blanket watching the tube with a glass of milk, but shoveling down six cookies in a fancy restaurant is a bit much. So I finished them for her. After my cheese platter was taken away. Note to all: The Greeks makes sub-standard cheese.

Over at the first date table, the guy disappeared for 10 mins. I presumed 'coke run' but apparently his credit card did not work. It got to the stage where I nearly asked the circus freak if she was OK. I thought he had done a runner.

All in all a great night. A full belly and some great people watching.

August 7, 2007


It's a bistro!

A bijou spot on a Harvard back street. We chose it for a couple of reasons.

Monday was my birthday, and it's restaurant week.

We did not spend $30.07. Instead we went à la carte as English people in French restaurants like to say.

The greeter was very pleasant. We showed up 10 minutes early but she still showed us to our table. That's how it should be done Daedalus.

Our waitress was a little cold at first, unlike the Perrier on the table, but not to worry because she switched it for a chilled bottle.

Next she struggled with my syllable perfect pronunciation of the wine we ordered. My finely honed French led me to regale Anne with a story of Mrs Wallage my middle school French teacher who was smart enough to send her kids to the local Catholic school where they no doubt got a better education.

Regale? To entertain sumptuously! Fine wines and etymological feasting. Phew.

Anne started with a green salad that frankly had too much dressing. Two seasons of Top Chef and a handful of Gordon Ramsey shows and we think we're Zagat now? I opted for a Maine Crab Cake, because the French are famous for that. The accompanying slaw was wonderful. What an inane sentence.

Mains: Anne had a Lobster risotto which she said was perfect. I had chicken with Provençal herbal goodness.

We tidied off a choc dessert too.

We noticed the head chef was mingling with the clientele. His name is Raymond Ost. His business partner is Gwen Trost. I write this purely to illustrate that their names rhyme. (Apologies if one of them has a soft sounding "o").

Overall, excellent food and at $180 expensive enough to make us feel exceptionally guilty.

Well done Sandrine's

July 5, 2007


After a tedious day at work what better way than to wind down at Central Kitchen? Unfortunately it was closed so the wife and I shuffled over the road to Rendezvous.

The first of many diversions. I like the typeface they use for their logo. It looks like Chicken Basket or something from the same foundry, however to paraphrase James Brown, please, please, please kern the damn space between the 'e' and 'z'. You could drive a bus through there.

Inside, the place looks great, full of people pretentious enough to call themselves Cantabrigians. Outside, the varied vista of Central Square chock full of yuppies and homeless.

We dove, or dived depending on your level of education, into cocktails. I went for a bitter Drambuie concoction while Anne sipped back and relaxed on a cool sparkling fruity thang.

Then the horror set in. I didn't really fancy any of the entrees. You know it's a bad time when Anne says "You'd like the vegetable dish".

After some mulling, I did indeed opt for the vegetable pot pie, but as an appetizer I shockingly went for the farmhouse cheese selection. When the board arrived I presumed it was only part of the order. $12 for two 1" square blocks of hard cheese? Oh, my mistake, there's four walnuts and a string of carmelized onion, too.

The pot pie was well made, although the dressing on the lettuce was super acidic (great name for a college band).

Anne chose rabbit. I never eat rabbit. My mother made diced rabbit in 1981 and it was the only time my father never cleared his plate. Admittedly that rabbit was bought from a 2nd rate frozen food shop in industrial England. Anne's rabbit was succulent and tender, and served on a bed of fettucine pasta (though she thought it tasted like Pennsylvania Dutch broad egg noodles). She almost got me to take a bite, but somehow my memory still keeps 1981 alive.

For desserts (come on, we both skipped lunch), Anne had an ice cream with strawberry and rhubarb compote, I had a chocolate and cinnamon 'thing'. Anne's compote had basil mixed in. Now, maybe the educated-at-culinary-school palate would say the basil was a brilliant addition, but Anne thought it was crap.

I was tempted to wash down the dessert with a glass of port, which reminded me of the time I was in Elephant Walk. I had asked for a glass of port, the make of which is pronounced coh-burns. The waitress came back three minutes later telling me they didn't have any of that brand but they do have one called Cockburn's.

Anyway back to Rendezvous. Sat opposite us was a woman who looked a lot like Aimee Mann. It prompted a conversation titled "Is personality shaped by physical appearance?" I like Aimee Mann (although ironically, not her early stuff — that was 80s tat), but boy does she come across as being hard work in real life. The lady sat opposite fell into the same maintenance bucket.

I had a feeling that psychology class would come in handy.

The final bill was a $100+. A touch pricey but made worthwhile by our waitress who was excellent.

If you like your meats out of left field, and can tolerate us Cambridge folk, then you just might like Rendezvous.

June 26, 2007

The Ivy

Moseyed on down to the Ivy in the Ladder District last night. This is significant because I once declared I would never eat there after I saw a rat the size of a pillowcase outside 'Ritas and Fajitas.

The pleasant maitre d greeted me and escorted me upstairs to where my co-diners were gathered.

The 'pitch' is 'think tapas but pay more'. There were 8 of us and we ordered 12 dishes.

On the website they have Chicken alla Puttanesca, which roughly translates to 'Whore's chicken' - apparently streetwalkers in Naples used to create this dish when they needed something quick and cheap to fill them up before a night of paid lovin'. I guess Monday is a quiet night for Italian prostitutes as sadly the dish wasn't available last night.

The usual suspects of fancy bread and quasi expensive cheeses, were joined by surprises such as fig paste, and an undetermined brown drizzle that none the less tasted delicious.

We ordered a good mix of proteins and pastas all of which tasted as good as they looked. We also got cheesy balls. This makes me laugh.

Wine was OK-ish for the price, and the 3 desserts were fruit free to which I say "Bravo!". One of the desserts was 'Classic Tiramisu'. What purpose does the 'Classic' serve?

Would probably go back again with the wife, and their downstairs cocktail bar looked full of drunken promise.

May 29, 2007

B Side Lounge

We've been to B Side several times. Richard loves the place; I know it's because nearly everything on the menu seems to come with cheese. For me, the place is meh. In addition to the cheese-y menu, the chef has some obsession with blue cheese to which I can't subscribe.

But it was Memorial Day weekend, we had just seen the film "Paris je t'aime" and since I was in a loving mood, I agreed. I figured I'd just get some fries, which are always good.

Richard suggests we share side orders. A side of fries (regular, NOT the blue cheese fries) are a done deal. We agree on the Artisanal Cheese Plate — yeah, OK, it's cheese but I see it comes with some fruit and Iggy's bread, so I figure it'll be alright. Finally we select the side of black beans and cheese. That's right, more cheese.

It all comes at once, which I guess is fine. The fries are awesome and aplenty. There are 2 artisanal cheeses: lots of slices of what looks like havarti or swiss (I realize that, not being a huge lover of cheese, I'm downmarketing whatever kind it was -- and in fact, I didn't eat it), and 2 huge slabs of ... yep, blue cheese. There's also Iggy's french bread (always excellent), some fresh pear slices, carmelized walnuts and lots of just-for-display lettuce. The black beans were pureed and bland, in fact, a bit like eating very dry mushy peas that stick to your mouth.

The drinks were pretty good: I had a Metropolitan and Richard had a Sidecar.

So I've done my good-wife deed for the weekend. Verdict: if you like cheese, you'll like B Side.

January 22, 2007

Algiers Cafe

We stopped in on Saturday afternoon, after a very chilly walk from our apartment, ostensibly just for a coffee/tea. But we were able to nab a table upstairs that overlooked the downstairs area and then witnessed the gorgeous plates of food on other tables, making our stomachs signal interest in some sampling activity.

I had a pot of jasmine tea, Richard had the mint coffee, and we decided to share a plateful of hummus, grilled peppers and roasted chicken, beautifully sprinkled with paprika and oil, and served with a basket of pita bread. It definitely hit the spot, though we giggled as we burped up garlic the entire walk back home.

Can't wait to go back and try many more things from the simple but tempting menu.

40 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Harvard Square. It even has a page (albeit with one sentence) on Wikipedia:

December 17, 2006

All Star Sandwich Bar

An exciting idea to bring a bit more variety to the flagging sandwich.

I had something with gruyere in it. Why? Because I always do.

We chose take out, because the place was jumping. Here's problem #1. The open format kitchen is way too big. The customer area is way too small.

We ordered our delicious lunches and waited. A bag appeared with my name on it (Richard), but the flake behind the counter picked it up, and walked over to another guy who had been waiting as long as us.


This guy was not called Richard, but it did not stop him from prodding the contents of our bag. Our intervention fell on deaf ears and a two minute scrum ensued in the (still too big) open air kitchen.

Their stunning organizational plan appears to fall down when two people have the same name, or when a douche bag called Kevin chooses to be Richard for the day so that he can get a sandwich quicker.

The woman behind the counter was hopeless, as was the guy bagging the sandwiches. All you have to do is match the sandwich with the ticket.

Sandwich? Pretty good but not worth the $7 I paid for it.

Result. Not going back.


Oh Boy.

So we went here for Anne's birthday. It's a place we've walked past a bunch of times and it always seems to be filled with the usual Cambridge types you love and hate.

We made a reservation for 7pm, and showed up 5 minutes early. The maitre d looked at her book and then her watch and said it would be a few minutes wait. Technically I had no problem with this, but it was delivered with the style and gracelessness that only power crazed types can exude. She'll probably end up being a publicist.

There's a scene towards the end of Meet the Parents (a movie I did not particularly enjoy), when Ben Stiller's character wants to board a plane, and the Attendant will not let him on despite the fact he is the only one left at the gate. Why? Protocol, and our robotic maitre d had oodles of it. Hungry yet happy people were streaming in and she seemed to take great delight in puncturing their expectations.

It's great that you are full, just turn people away with a touch of humility OK?

7.20 we were shown to our table next to the staircase. Don't get me started.

The cocktails didn't match the food. It didn't stop me from combining a mint chocolate martini with clam chowder, but let's be honest, I'm in Daedalus so I'm no gastronome am I?

We had a priest sat near us. He was nice. There was also a drama concerning a stolen coat, plus the usual 'angry at their parents' brainiacs speaking too loudly.

Our waitress had no cadence. She had awkward timing when it came to asking our menu choices. I had a perfectly fine Penne with Chicken and Anne had Risotto.

The owner was around, and he looked like a good man, which is a shame because when he said goodnight to us that was the most pleasant experience of the whole night.

We went home and ate blue cake for Anne's birthday.

Sorry Daedalus. To Homer you were a skilled artisan, to us you were personified by a soulless maitre d.

Chart House (Longwharf Boston)

Housed in some old salty seadog building near the Aquarium and behind the oddly shaped Marriott, the Chart House is apparently a chain! Well if this one is anything to go by, it's a damn fine chain.

A colleague booked this place based on it's architectural excellence - never a good omen, but it turned out to have culinary excellence too.

11 of us showed up, and were ushered to our table on the brick exposed 2nd floor. Our waiter was called Greg or Grant, and either way he was very good.

He kicked us off with cocktails, beer and wine, and then suggested hot and cold platters of seafood. Nobody complained as we devoured the oysters, tuna, calamari, lobster, crab and shrimp.

Greg/Grant's suggestions for entrees were excellent, and his coup de grace was suggesting the miraculous desserts BEFORE we got our entrees.

I had blackened swordfish, with a crab and pico de gallo salsa. First up - it was excellent, but boy have I had enough of the whole pico de gallo thing. It means rooster's beak. It should have lots of good stuff in it, but it only ever seems to be chopped tomatoes to me.


Afterwards I had the chocolate dessert and everything was good in the world again. My colleague picked up the check, so I have no clue how much it all cost, but I will go again, hopefully with Anne next time.

Olé Mexican Grill

Tucked behind 1369 in Inman Sq. this was only our 2nd time there. The first time wasn't great but it was hardly their fault. We'd shown up a year or so ago wanting some quick in-and-out burrito action. This ain't the place for that.

So they have award winning guacamole. Who the hell gives awards for guacamole? None the less it is impressive as they mix it in front of you in a big stone mortar & pestle. Taste? Wonderful.

For cocktails Anne had some icy mango concoction, which hit the spot. It's raspberry companion wasn't so good. I went for a tequini, which combined the knock out qualities of tequilla with the added punch of citrus flavored liqueurs. I drank too many.

I had such a buzz going that by the time we ordered entrees I thought I could pronounce everything in my "3 years at school" Spanish accent. I had a chicken, bean and tortilla dish that was incredible.

Anne went for a steak and mole (imagine an accent above the e) dish so good she ate it all, but not good enough for her to remember the name of it.

Our waitress was great. Always there, but not rushing us or disapproving of my piss poor Spanish.

Well done Olé. We'll come back!