Monday, January 28, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Stay Tuned...

For a review of Burton's Grill brunch. Let's just say that it was delicious and the price was great. It was one of the best brunches we've had in the city.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

And We Have Pictures!

I finally remembered to take the camera with me this weekend and that was an interesting experience. I kept thinking someone at the restaurant would say something about taking pictures and Alex kept telling me to hurry up with the pictures so he could eat. I think Kingston Station was the perfect restaurant to experiment with taking pictures of food. Although for anyone who knows me, you know that I like to take pictures of the food I make. Hopefully the pictures will allow me to bring you into the dining experience better.

First off, I took advantage and had the Vesper martini and it was really good. Upon recommendation from the waiter I order the large size because he said that the small one was 8 oz versus the 12 oz large. I think I made a good decision. As with most martinis I expected it to taste too much like alcohol but this drink had a good blend (I think it was shaken, not stirred....sorry I couldn't resist) and the lemon rind that was used for decoration gave the drink a nice hint of lemon flavor. Don't I look like I enjoyed the drink? (And please excuse the hair)

Next up we ordered the Stuffed Brie appetizer which was amazingly good. The brie was stuffed with cranberries, figs, and apricots and was served with three pieces of the crunchiest bread which was perfect for the soft brie. The stuffing was really sweet which was balanced off by the cheese. For some reason I had it in my mind that the stuffing would be layered fruits, but it was more like a paste. Having the stuffing be paste-like was great because it held the two layers of brie together. The best part of this appetizer had to have been the walnuts. They tasted like they were roasted and then dumped in a sugar-honey syrup. Salivary perfection!

If the appetizer was this good we knew that the entrees had to just as good. There was definitely that sense of excitement as we watched the tables around us get their dishes. If you were at the restaurant we promise that we were staring at your food, not you! I think the excitement peaked when they brought out the steak knife for Alex. That's always a good indication that your food is on the way.

I have to say that I was surprised when they brought out our food. My eyes were immediately drawn to Alex's dish because it was huge. It was something straight out of the Flintstones. What was even more amazing was that Alex ate it all and had dessert. Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself. Alex ordered the Crispy Pork Chop. On top of this pork chop being massive, it is stuffed with prosciutto and gruyere cheese and served with fingerling potatoes. The whole bottom of the dish was coated with a red wine sauce that was thick and a great compliment to the pork. The pork itself was succulent. I don't think a better word can describe the pork. I had expected a piece of pork that big to be either dry or undercooked judging by how crispy and golden the outside was. I'm assuming they stuffed the pork, baked it, and then fried it. It was very juicy and once you got to the gruyere and prosciutto it was mouth-watering.

I ordered the Gorgonzola Walnut Ravioli. The ravioli was served in a gorgonzola sauce and was filled with a gorgonzola-walnut mixture. It was then garnished with figs. This had to have been one of the best pastas I have ever had. It was creamy, cheesy, crunchy, and sweet. In this dish, the gorgonzola was mild and didn't overwhelm the pasta. The figs added a subtle sweetness to the dish. I think my favorite part of this dish was the cheese filling. It was like a roller coaster for the taste buds. You never knew what the next bite would have and at the end you wanted to ride it again. That's how the filling was. It was creamy, then crunchy, then creamy again. This was all because of the chopped walnuts that were throughout the filling. I ate every single ravioli and wondered why I hadn't discovered figs sooner.

We must have been so impressed with dinner because we both ordered a dessert. Again, we were looking at the tables around us to see what desserts others ordered (most were one course ahead of us). I couldn't resist the Cookies and Milk and Alex ordered the Vanilla Bread Pudding. I felt like I was transported back home with my dessert. The chocolate chip cookies were so good. They were brought out warm and the chocolate chunks were all melted. If you have ever had the McCormick Vanilla Chocolate Chip Cookie then you have a good idea of what these cookies tasted like. I honestly believe that whoever invented dunking cookies into milk is a genius because this was the best part of the night. There's something about milk and cookies that warms my heart and my belly.

Since one of us had to be the grown-up it was Alex and his Vanilla Bread Pudding. This dessert came with dark chocolate on the side and fresh fruits. The bread pudding was dense and silky and just plain delicious. Alex couldn't quite put his finger on it but this dessert reminded him of something he had had before. To me it tasted very much like natilla, which is a dessert that the women in my family make.

All in all, the meal at Kingston Station was delicious. The restaurant is in the Downtown Crossing area so it's easy to get to. The only two drawbacks were the following: (1) since our reservation was on the early side so there were a lot of homeless people outside waiting for the nearby shelter to open and (2) where we were seated. They have a really nice dining room area (these are the pictures you see in their website), but we were seated in what I assume was the "cafe" area. I would have liked to have been seated in the main dining room since that part of the restaurant had more of a restaurant feel (the area we sat in had more of a subway feel because of the decorations). These will be things that I take into consideration and remember for the next time we go. I definitely recommend checking them out!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Last Minute Reservation

Now this is very late. We had trouble deciding were we wanted to eat this weekend. Neither of us was craving anything in particular and all we knew was that it had to be an early dinner because Alex has to wake up before the sun on Sunday. So off I went to OpenTable and began my search. I decided that this week we should head downtown and try Kingston Station. There menu looks so interesting and there are so many things I would love to try.

There's always one item on the menu that's a selling point for me and this week I must admit that it's something on their drink menu. They have a Vesper martini and my first thought when seeing this was Bond! If you remember in the most recent Bond movie, 'Casino Royale,' Vesper is the woman Bond falls for (note: 'Casino Royale' is the first Bond book and Vesper is the first woman Bond falls for). Now I also must admit that this isn't the first time I am influenced by something Bond-related. I tried an Americano drink once because that's Bond's choice of drink in many of the Ian Fleming books. The drink was disgusting but I drank it nonetheless.

So enough of Bond and here's hoping that the drink and dinner tonight are good!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

A North End Eatery

Last weekend we went to Lucia Ristorante. I'm usually apprehensive about going to the North End because of how busy it can get and how frustrated I get about the reservations rarely being on time. Despite this, it is worth going to the North End because you almost always get a good meal and there are plenty of restaurants that are very wallet friendly.

Well, we arrived at the restaurant at about 7:45pm and our reservation was for 8pm. We were seated right away at a cute little booth. Their menu is pretty extensive and they have all the classic dishes you would expect to see on a menu at an Italian restaurant. I initially decided on this restaurant because of the 'Mozzarella in Carrozza Lucia' appetizer. I just couldn't resist the thought of having mozzarella stuffed with prosciutto.

Before we ordered the food we ordered a bottle of their Citra white wine. Amazingly enough we were able to finish the whole bottle! It was a very light wine and even Alex approved of it (and he doesn't like wine!). After our first glass of wine we ordered our dinner. Of course we got the appetizer and it was delicious. The plate was brought out within 10 minutes of us ordering it and it was perfect for 2 people. It was two slices of mozzarella fried until golden stuffed with prosciutto and covered in marinara sauce. I'm not a big marinara person and I was scraping the plate to get more.

For the entrees, I ordered the 'Tortellini Quattro Formaggi' and Alex ordered the 'Spezzatino all'Abbruzzese. I knew I made a good choice because the waiter complemented me on my choice and said it was a good dish. Well he wasn't lying. It was a very good dish and it came in a creamy sauce. The serving size was perfect for me because it was enough to filled me up and have leftovers for the next day. The sauce is what really made this dish because all the cheeses blended to give it a really hearty and wholesome taste. When it comes to tortellini I'm usually weary because I don't like when the filling isn't smooth. I feel like the filling has a chalky texture when the tortellini isn't cooked enough. But, luckily enough, these tortellini were perfect. Alex really liked his dish and it came with a good amount of chicken and veal. The sauce in this dish was lighter than the tortellini one (it was a wine and cheese sauce). Alex's only complaint about this dish was the fact that the chicken tasted exactly like the veal. Although his serving was about the same as mine he ate all of his food. So if you go with someone with a big appetite or if you have a big appetite don't expect there to be any leftovers.

This was my favorite part of the night. The dessert. It was so ridiculously good that I even thought of finding the recipe for it but I figured why ruin a good thing? Plus, the dessert had amaretto in it and I don't think we need to add more liquor bottles to our already decreasing cabinet space. Anyway, the dessert was the 'Torta di Nicciola.' It was a cake with amaretto and hazelnuts. It was such a light and fluffy cake and such a perfect way to end the dinner. There was a hint of the amaretto in it and good distribution of the hazelnuts. This cake just had 'homemade' written all over it. It definitely took me to a happy place with every bite. Soo good!

Although the appetizer was great and the entrees were really good, the winner of the evening was the dessert. I would go back right now just for a piece of that cake.

Before I end this post I just have to mention something that struck me about this restaurant. I know this may seem random and although it is not directly related to the food it's definitely related to the overall dining experience. They have the smallest bathrooms I have ever been in. Ever. They managed to fit 2 stalls, 2 sinks and a dryer in what felt like a 5ft by 5ft space. I barely fit in the stall and the dryer was over one of the was that small! It just seemed so comical to me. After seeing this bathroom I could totally picture it being in a routine where 20 clowns come out of it similar to 20 clowns coming out of an old VW beetle. I guess I was just thrown off because the restaurant is pretty big and I expected a bigger bathroom. Oh well. That's my random observation about Lucia Ristorante.

The bottomline is that if you go to Lucia Ristorante you definitely have to indulge in their cake and check out their bathrooms if you want a good giggle.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Ready for the Weekend?

I am! It's been a long week for Alex and I and we are both looking forward to relaxing this weekend. In the spirit of relaxing we'll be going to Lucia Ristorante in the North End. What's a better way to relax than to get your belly full of Italian food? I'm looking forward to the prospects of eating their mozzarella cheese stuffed with prosciutto (you can never go wrong with that combination!).

Make sure to check back for a review!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

This Just In!!!!

I hope you are ready for dining overload! Restaurant Week is coming up!!

If you don't know about Restaurant Week then pay close attention. This is when certain restaurants participate in prix-fixe menus for lunch and/or dinner. There are so many options that it can get overwhelming, but there is definitely a restaurant for every palette. This is a time to take advantage and go to that expensive restaurant you have been dying to go to at a fraction of the cost. And don't worry about asking for the Restaurent Week menu when you go to the restaurant, they expect it. Restaurant Week does require a bit of flexibility though. I love to eat out on Saturday nights but Restaurant Week is only Sunday through Friday so I have to change what night we go out.

The Unofficial Guide to Restaurant Week has the winter 2008 dates as the following:

Sunday, March 9 through Friday, March 14 and
Sunday, March 16 through Friday, March 21.

Check back often to see what restaurants are participating this winter!
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Thinking of Romance

So tonight I get to spend the night all by myself because my husband has to work overnight. I decided to indulge in a few of my favorite things: I took a nap with my dog, made myself dinner using Nutella, and spent some time with my favorite spy, James Bond (Sean Connery, of course!). Despite this night of self-indulgence I can't get over how much I miss my husband. It's nights like this that I think about wanting to spend a romantic night together and when I think of romance I immediately think of the time we went to Grotto.

We went to Grotto last spring and this restaurant is the epitomy of romance. But before I get there, let me tell you about the mission we went on to get there. I remember passing by it on one of our city walks and it being kind of close to the Government Center MBTA (or T) stop so we get off at that stop and get lost. Not just a little lost, but a lot lost. We ended up running to the Park Street T stop because I definitely know how to get to Grotto from there. Luckily enough we had left the house pretty early that night and still made it on time for our reservation. Now this is a restaurant you definitely have to keep your eyes out for. It's on Bowdoin Street which is right next to the State House. It's sign is pretty well displayed but the restaurant is basement level. Anyway, we get to the restaurant and it is small! It's probably the size of our apartment and if you have been to our apartment or know anything about Boston real estate, then you know how small small is. The restaurant itself has a very rustic feel to it (I love the brick walls) and there is very little lighting (be prepared to pull the table's candle close to your menu). They have this one painting that I couldn't stop staring at because I could have sworn it was Salma Hayek; the painting is actually on their homepage so tell me what you think. They do cram in quite a few tables in the dining area, but if you can, request the table that is located right under the stair case. It's in a corner all to itself and you get a pretty good view of their wine selection and bottles. Surprisingly enough, despite all the people that were there, the noise in the restaurant was low. I think the dim lighting and romantic feeling got everyone in the mood to whisper sweet nothings to each other :)

Now to the good stuff....the food. One thing I really like about this restaurant is that they have seasonal menus and they have a prex-fixe menu year-round. When we went we had the Fontina cheese fondue which was out of this world. The cheese was perfect and it was so creamy; it wasn't as strong as say a blue cheese, but it was still extremely flavorful. It was served with the most tender steak tips and hearty mushrooms. I took advantage and also dipped our bread in the cheese. For the entree, I had the cavatelle pasta. The ricotta cheese in this pasta was a perfect complement to the pancetta. They do serve a lot of pasta so be prepared to have leftovers. Alex (my husband) had one of the seasonal items which was a filet mignon wrapped in prosciutto with roasted potatoes. The steak was cooked medium just how he likes it and he said it was one of the best steaks he has ever had. For dessert we shared the "melting chocolate cake" (lava/molten cake in some circles) and it was so rich. They serve it with vanilla ice cream which makes the dessert so heavenly. Sharing the chocolate at the end of the night definitely made the night more romantic.

Thanks to their prix-fixe menu you feel like you are getting a lot of bang for the buck. I did the prix-fixe menu while Alex ordered an entree at regular price. This worked out for us because I like to share (isn't my husband lucky??) and I definitely wouldn't have been able to eat all three courses by myself. The service was great and the waitress who helped us was extremely attentive. The whole experience was great and surprising. We weren't in search of a romantic night, just a good meal. We got lucky enough to get both.

If you have the time (and energy) I definitely recommend finishing the night off with a nice stroll through Boston Common, the Public Garden, or Beacon Hill.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

Say Good-Bye to Yesterday!

Remember when you used to have to call in a reservation? If you're anything like me, that means you would completely forget to do it earlier in the week and would wait until the day before to do it only to find out that the only reservation available is one that's way passed your bedtime. Well, thanks to OpenTable you can make reservations for most restaurants online. This website has quickly become my best friend and should be every restaurant hopper's tool. It's free to join, has restaurants listed for most major cities, and the best part is that you can look at individual restaurants to see what the dress code is, payment type accepted, cuisine type, and a whole slew of other things. As of today, they have 173 Boston restaurants listed on there. I think this website is slowly catching on too. I remember being on Tapeo's website two months ago and them having listed that they did not accepted online reservations and now they do! A similar thing happened with Pho Republique when we went last summer. I called (and I did it early too...) to see if they accepted reservations and I was told that they did not accept them for parties smaller than 4. And now they are listed on there and do accept reservations for 2!

I think the best way to really convey the greatness of OpenTable is through this story. Almost a year ago my friend told me that he was planning on going on a date with some girl. Of course, as soon as he told me this I asked him what area he was interested in and began my restaurant search. I sent him an email with the names and menues of about 10 different restaurants (I put stars next to the ones I really liked) and he decided on Metro 9 in Framingham. Mind you, he was looking for reservations for the same night and the restaurant didn't open until 5pm and it was a Thursday night. So off I go to look on OpenTable to see if they had the restaurant listed and they did! He joined OpenTable and made himself a reservation for dinner. When he met up with his date at Metro 9, the restaurant was full and there was a wait. They went up to the hostess desk and she asked them if they had a reservation. Not knowing that he made a reservation, the date replied 'no.' My friend corrected his date and told the hostess that they indeed did have a reservation. Needless to say his date was stunned and impressed. I definitely took partial credit for their date going well since I had done the restaurant research and introduced OpenTable to my friend.

So......the morale of this post is (1) never make a reservation late again when you can do it over the internet and (2) impress your date by making a reservation online and ahead of time.
Vote for my post on Mom Blog Network

First Post!

So I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to create my very own blog. The best part is that it's a blog about one of my passions.....FOOD!

The idea for this blog came on one of those days I was complaining about my job (property management = not fun). I was thinking of all the other things I would love to do and food critic was one of those things that came up. After googling "How to be a food critic?" I found this page and thought that although I might not ever do this professionally (see #9...yikes!) it would be something fun to do on a blog. It would be a fun way to keep track of all my dining adventures and misadventures.

In a way I have been a food critic in-training for the past year and a half. Each weekend my husband and I go to a new restaurant in and around the city and after each meal we have a discussion about our dining experience. This whole time I have been keeping a spreadsheet with the names of all the restaurants we have been to. The list currently has over 90 entries! I can look over all the names and recall my experiences at the restaurants perfectly and vividly. I've created mental categories of things like best burger, biggest splurge, best drink, etc. I even have set restaurant choices for whatever visitors we may have. So instead of having a city tour of landmarks (which is huge in Boston), I've created restaurant tours based on different personality types (how cool would this be for all cities to have?).

As a disclaimer, I am in no way an expert on food or culinary techniques. I'm just a regular city girl in search of a great meal who gets excited going to restaurants both old and new.

Hopefully this blog will help spread my knowledge about the Boston dining scene. Thanks for looking and here's to good eating!!