Saturday, April 8, 2017

Sweetgreen in the Prudential

          Sweetgreen is one of my favorite spots to grab a salad for lunch, but I've recently become obsessed with one of their warm grain bowls on the Winter menu: the shroomami. The shroomami is completely vegan and gluten free, and comes with a base of warm quinoa topped with marinated mushrooms, tofu, bean sprouts, kale, and miso ginger dressing.


          It sounds simple, but this bowl is sooo good! The dressing has such great flavor, and the dish feels warm and comforting on a cold day. I hope they keep it around when the weather gets warmer; if not I'll try my best to recreate it from the standard menu items!

Sweetgreen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, April 7, 2017

Bon Caldo

          Bon Caldo in Norwood used to be one of my favorite restaurants when I lived out that way, but I hadn't been since moving to Boston years ago until I tried it again recently with a friend. The cusine is Italian, with several gluten free options labeled on the menu including gluten free pasta.

          I tried the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin with madeira demi-glace, sautéed spinach, and bacon gorgonzola polenta. It was just as good as it sounded, the pork was tender and juicy and wrapped in plenty of bacon! The polenta was served fried, a crisp cake with just a hint of gorgonzola.

       
          Norwood is just a short drive from Boston, and definitely worth the trip if you haven't tried Bon Caldo yet!

BonCaldo Ristorante, Bar & Functions Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, April 6, 2017

An Eight Course Tasting Menu at Craigie on Main

           Craigie on Main in Central Square has been one of my favorite restaurants for years. The wide-open kitchen, blackboard listing featured ingredients for the evening, and warm atmosphere give it a cozy, intimate feeling like being a guest in someone's home. Craigie on Main was one of the first of Boston’s “locavore” restaurants and set stage for smaller gastro pubs that have become popular over the last several years. 

          I've dined at Craigie many times, and the most recent visit was with a Gilt City deal for multi course tasting menu with wine pairings. It's not often that I'm so into the food I forget to take pictures, but this happened several times at Craigie. There were at least additional 2-3 courses not pictured / described here!

          We started with an amuse of Tonato with scallion basil oil. This was rich and creamy; a perfect first bite.



           Next was one of my favorites, the duck and foie gras pate served with with pickled cranberry, beet tapenade, winter vegetable, whole mustard, and purple mustard. The pate was amazing, and my favorite pairing was the whole grain mustard. I kept taking tiny bites to make it last as long as possible!


           The next dish was another of my favorites, a slow poached egg with pears, mushrooms, and root vegetable puree. The runny egg mixed with the vegetables and made for a rich, and delicious sauce.


           The first of our main courses was a braised short rib served over creamy polenta. I love short ribs with polenta, but don't order it often because it's usually too rich and too big a portion. I enjoyed having a small plate on the tasting menu!


          The final savory course was a chicken ballentine served with sweet corn. The chicken was really well done, with crisp skin and tender white meat. The sauce was also a bit sweet, a perfect pairing with the corn.


          Dessert was a milk chocolate cremeux with feuilletine walnut ice cream. This was a bit like a deconstructed candy bar, and a perfect ending to a great meal.


           I was surprised that Craigie offered a Gilt City promotion; the place is always packed. But it was a great deal, and many of the items were from the regular menu. I would definitely take advantage of this offer if I saw it again!

  Craigie On Main Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Live Music Brunch at Club Passim with The New England Food Bloggers

           I've been a fan of Club Passim since I was in college and my friends used to play the open mike nights. They had a vegetarian spot in the kitchen until 2015 when the owners of Passim took over its kitchen operations. I was very impressed when I tried the dinner menu, and so I was very excited to try the new brunch menu with the New England Food Bloggers.

          The Live Music Brunch at Passim features a different style of music each service including Bluegrass, Old Time, Blues, Celtic, Classical, Folk, Jazz and more. The menu includes everything from several types of eggs benedict, to breakfast sandwiches, avocado toast, pancakes, and more. All menu items are created from scratch with fresh and locally sourced ingredients, and there are plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options available. 
 
           When our group sat down, we were greeted with some of the house specialties including avocado toast, and made from scratch Thai sausage.



          The sausage was amazing, it had such great flavor and just a little bit of a kick. The avocado toast looked so good I had to order the gluten free version for my meal. I added an over easy fried egg on top, and it was the perfect healthy breakfast!


          I also enjoyed trying sides of the bacon, hashbrowns, and turkey sausage. The bacon was perfectly crisp, and the hasbrowns were definitely a favorite of the table! The turkey sausage was also tasty, but didn't compare to the Thai sausage.




          Others at the table raved about the french toast, the BKK street bread, and breakfast scramble.


          Live Music Brunch at Passim takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, and if you have a chance to check it out I definitely recommend it!

 The Kitchen at Club Passim Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, March 6, 2017

Viale

           Viale is an Italian and Mediterranean restaurant in Central Square, from the same owners as Giulia but a little bit more casual. I tried them for dinner this past weekend, and had a great experience.

          The fiance and I started with a Charcuterie Board to share, which came with chicken liver mousse with figs, proscuitto, house made pork sausage, soprassata, mortadella, whole grain mustard, hummus, pickled veggies. Everything was delicious, but I especially loved the homemade sausage and chicken liver pate. The figs in the pate was a really interesting touch, and added just a hint of sweetness.


           I ordered the Prime Ribeye Tenderloin, with smashed potatoes, spinach, and caramelized onion aioli as my main course. The steak was fork tender, and cooked perfectly. It was such a large portion I thought there was no way I would finish, but it was so good I couldn't stop eating until every last bite of steak was gone!



           The fiance went with the Pork Milanese special with aioli and asparagus and carrots, which looked amazing and was also a huge portion!

           For dessesrt we shared the Gluten Free chocolate ganache brownie with burnt caramel ice cream and hazelnuts.The brownie was very similar to flourless chocolate cake, and was rich and chocolately.

 
            Overall I really enjoyed the meal at Viale, and appreciated that most of the menu can be done gluten free including several of the pastas (which I hope to return soon to try!)

 Viale Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, March 5, 2017

My Second Visit to Forage

          With so many new restaurants to try it's not often that I go to the same restaurant twice in one year, never mind twice in just a couple of months. But, after having an amazing first experience at Forage over the summer the fiance and I went back again for dinner recently with a Gilt City special.
What struck me most about Forage during my first visit was the focus on local seasonal ingredients, and the great wine list with an interesting selection of small production and biodynamic wines. This was just as true in my second visit.

           We did a three course tasting menu, which started with soup of pea puree and roasted squash. It was rich and creamy, and set the stage perfectly for the rest of our meal.


         
           Next was the herb brined and roasted half chicken with dill dumplings and braised kale (my gluten free version had roasted potatoes instead of dumplings). This chicken had the crispiest skin I've ever had (my favorite part of roast chicken!) and the kale was also the best I've ever had. The fiance doesn't even like kale, but even he couldn't stop raving about how good it was. We ended up taking a good amount of chicken home because it was such a huge portion, and it was just as good for lunch the next day!



          Next was a bonus course, a sweet onion ice cream with melted cheese on top. I know this may not sound appealing to everyone, but trust me when I say that this dish was soooo good! The sweetness of the onion was perfect in an ice cream, it had an almost caramel flavor. The addition of cheese that was charred a bit on top added even more complexity, and a really great contrast of sweet and savory.


          For dessert we had a buckwheat chocolate cake and I learned that buckwheat is naturally gluten free (it's not actually related to wheat) and it's delicious when cooked together with chocolate!


           Forage is quickly becoming one of my favorite spots, and I hope to make it back in again soon!

Forage Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Artisan Bistro

          Artisan Bistro is the restaurant inside the Ritz Carlton Boston, and I recently tried them with a great Gilt City Special they were offering! The dinner for two included two apps, two entrees, and a dessert to share.

          I started with the grilled oysters with grapefruit caviar and micro greens. These tasted just as good as they looked, and I loved the creativity of the grapefruit caviar!



           The fiance started with clam chowder, which was thick and creamy. It was such a generous portion he had to force himself to stop eating so he would have room for dinner! Thanks to the convenient labels on the menu, I saw that this was also gluten free and will definitely try it when I go back!



           I ordered the steak frites as my main course, and the steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare. I appreciated that the herb dusted frites were served in a separate cast iron plate so that they stayed nice and crispy.



          The fiance also enjoyed his seared George's Bank scallops with dill risotto, chard, and romesco.



          For dessert we shared the white coffee creme brulee, which was a delicious twist on a classic dessert, and so smooth and creamy!



           I also had an espresso shot, and loved the presentation in this fun mug!



           In addition to being very impressed by the creativity and care that went into each dish, we both appreciated the fantastic service. Our sever was incredibly friendly and accommodating with every table, making sure all guests had a great experience. I will definitely be back!

Artisan Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Dinner Thyme

          I recently had the opportunity to check out a new-to-me meal delivery service, Dinner Thyme. Dinner Thyme was the original cook-at-home meal delivery service; they started in 2010 in Manhattan and over the past several years expanded throughout the eastern US including Boston.

          I've tried lots of different meal delivery services over the past couple of years, and several things about Dinner Thyme immediately stood out to me:
  • All of the meals are designed to be cooked in 15 minutes (and the vegetables and herbs come chopped already)
  • The options are incredibly flexible and they are the only company that offers single portions (although you can order more)
  • You get 9 different menu options (weekly) to choose from
  • They are there for people "on the go", people who don't have 45 min - 1 hour to cook a meal
          Dinner Thyme posts their menus on their website several weeks in advance, and you can customize orders based on your preferences. I was able to find 2-3 gluten free meals available each week, and found that most meals could be made gluten free with slight substitutions if you keep a few basics in your pantry (pasta, flour, etc.).

          I tried two meals: Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa and Curry Rice, and Pork Chops with Apricot Sauce and Glazed Carrots.




           Both were delicious, and really were done in under fifteen minutes with minimal prep work. I also appreciated that both meals were relatively low calorie at about 500 calories each. Dinner Thyme really is a quick, easy, and healthy alternative for weeknights when I come home from work and don't want to spend a lot of time preparing dinner!

           Now for the best part: If you want to try Dinner Thyme, you can get $20 off using the code READYSETCOOK at checkout; that's ~2 free meals!  To get started, check out their website or find them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

2017 Boston Wine Expo Recap


          I've attended the Boston Wine Expo for several years now, and it's always been my favorite local food and wine event. This year, however, has been the best year yet because I was able to experience the Vintner's Reserve Lounge for the first time! The Vintner's Reserve Lounge offers a range of boutique, limited edition and small batch wines in addition to tastes from some of Boston’s most popular restaurants.

           I started out in the Grand Tasting, where I enjoyed several wines from the Southern Italian winery Sorrentino and chatted with their Master Sommelier Gabriele Massa.



          Of course I had to stop by one of my regular expo favorites, Treana to try their wines and take a selfie on their boat!


          After about an hour in the main expo, I headed over to the Vintner's Reserve Lounge, which was in a small, private room in the seaport hotel. I spotted one of my favorite California chardonnay makers (Mer Soleil) and was excited to try some of the other Wagner Family wines. I loved the Caymus Special Selection Cabernet, which was one of the most popular bottles at the table.


          Another favorite was the selection of champagne from Charles Heidsieck; I loved all of them but especially the Rose Reserve and Brut Reserve.



           I also stopped by a table sampling 10, 20, 30, and 40 year old ports. It was really interesting to taste them each side by side and notice the differences and increasing complexity with age. 

            
           In addition to having the best wines at the Boston Wine Expo, the Vintner's Reserve had by far the best food. I enjoyed bites of steak from the Palm and Del Friscos, and plenty of fresh seafood that was perfect with the Champagne. 

           The Vintner's Reserve Lounge definitely made this year's experience at the Boston Wine Expo my best yet! I enjoyed the more intimate, less crowded setting and the chance to try some of the best food and wine the expo has to offer!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Bistro Mondays at Select Oyster Bar

          I tried Select Oyster Bar when they first opened and had a great experience, so I was excited to check out the new Bistro Monday this week - it is one of the best dining deals in Boston right now! You choose three courses for $35 with the option to add one dozen $1 oysters. Here's a sample menu from this week:

  
   
          The fiance and I started with a dozen Island Creek oysters, and of course a glass of sparkling! These came with all of the traditional accompaniments plus their house made mignonette which was delicious.

          For my first course, I ordered the salmon tartare with mustard dressing, crispy capers, and radishes. The salmon was incredibly fresh and literally melted in your mouth. 
 

           The fiance enjoyed his smoked bluefish toast, and this one definitely won for most beautiful presentation!

  
           For our second course, we both ordered the frisee salad with smoked bacon and a sunny side up egg. I always say that bacon or an egg make everything taste better, and salad is no exception! This was rich and full of flavor, definitely not your typical salad!


           For my main course I had the mussels in white wine broth and the fiance had the peekytoe crab pappardelle, which were both excellent and the perfect ending to an amazing meal!



           This was one of the best meals out I've had in awhile and such a great value! The food was excellent and portion sizes very generous. I would definitely come back specifically for this menu!

Select Oyster Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato