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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

Tag Archives: casual dining

imag1464I met my two old friends over at Trade for dinner. We grabbed a great seat by the window and gabbed the night away.

Trade is owned by Eric Papachristos, Sean Griffing and chef Jody Adams. You may know Jody as a James Beard winning chef and the co-owner of Rialto in Cambridge. Griffing is a 15 year veteran of the Boston restaurant scene and Papachristos is a self made restaurateur. Jacki Morisi has just moved over to Trade as the new events manager – she comes from Rialto, where she was the marketing and communications manager.

We start with curry cauliflower with red onion, raisins and yogurt ($7). The presentation is lovely and the dish has a warmth to it – the yogurt was a really nice addition to complete the dish.

imag1465Chicken meatballs with smoked corn, charred tomato vinaigrette and pine nuts ($11) were a table favorite. Classic yet bold in flavors.

imag1466Fried polenta bites with chorizo aioli, cilantro and preserved lemon  ($9). These were delicious – I loved the texture of the polenta.

imag1469Baked rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone  ($22) had perfectly al dente pasta. The ragu wasn’t too game-y as sometimes lamb can be. It felt like comfort food without that heaviness that can sometimes come with it.

imag1467The chocolate decadence cake with caramel, creme fraiche and 5-spice ($8) went quickly. The cake was dense but not heavy. It paired well with caramel and the 5 spice wafer was a nice mix – sweet and spicy.

Trade

540 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA

http://trade-boston.com/

Trade on Urbanspoon

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imag1453I met Melissa over at Wink and Nod to check out Josh Lewin’s Bread and Salt. From the moment you meet Joe, who greets you outside at the front door, you feel like you are part of a private supper club. As you descend the stairs and walk into the restaurant, you see a dimly lit room with comfy sofas and armchairs. Is this the bat cave? I already know I want to come back soon and we haven’t even eaten dinner yet.

They have recently added bread service – and you’ll be glad they did. Here is the soda bread with a schmear of lobster butter which may rival my all time favorite honey butter from Sweet Cheeks. They also make a delicious saffron roll.

imag1455I’ve met Josh a few times and he knows Melissa too, so he comes out to the table  and chats for a bit. He brings us delicious Pani Puri with Tamarind Chutney, Truffle Oil, and Potato Purée. I try to be lady like and make it into two bites, but really, it’s a one bite kind of thing.

imag1456We start with a lovely peach with ricotta salad with a honey film- I’m trying hard to hold on to the last bits of summer!

imag1457The lobster curry ($13) is an excellent dish made with spiced corn broth, pork rinds, pickled onion, puffed rice.

imag1459The insanely talented Sous Chef, Kate Holowchik, comes out next to say hello and brings us some scallops with grapefruit and avocado – such a wonderful dish- sweet, creamy and perfectly acidic.

imag1460The hand rolled pasta is cooked perfectly al dente and comes topped with mushrooms and rabbit cakes.

imag1461Peaches & Corn. This dessert features popcorn panna cotta and peach sorbet with cornmeal crumble and bay leaf mousse for a slight savory note that cuts through.

Not pictured (because we were too eager to eat), the fernet bon bons. Kate Holowchik stabilizes the alcohol first before adding it to the ice cream base so that more alcohol can be added and you get an intense fernet flavor – not to mention a buzz!

Monday nights join Bread and Salt for their night market menu from 8pm-12am. They print up menus that look like newspapers with the evenings selections. Most are small plates/bites, all priced at under $20. The also have #winktiki Mondays, where guest bartenders come in and serve drinks –  this particular evening, Angel’s Envy was getting mixed up in cocktails.

Bread an Salt

Located at Wink and Nod

3 Appleton Street, Boston, MA

http://winkandnod.com/

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IMAG0391We met Ruth and Joe, my cousins, in Worcester for our monthly meal together. We headed out to a new spot, Livia’s dish.

IMAG0394We are usually horribly late, but today we are here first. We sit and look over the menu while we wait for our dining companions to arrive.

IMAG0392The decor inside is simple and a bit dated, but the food is pretty good, and the price is right!

IMAG0395The nutella French toast ($7.99) was enormous, and I couldn’t even get halfway through it! As I mentioned before, the price is right, four of us for breakfast and the bill was less than $50! Service was good – they allowed us to sit and chit chat well after the time when they close for lunch. If you’re ever in Worcester and looking for a casual bite, stop in!

 

Livia’s Dish

1394 Main Street, Worcester, MA

http://www.liviasdish.com/

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img_20140830_165300On our way out of town on a Saturday morning, we stopped back in at Cafe Madeleine to try some of their delicious pastries. The almond croissant was by far my favorite. Just perfect – the right amount of sweetness, a little crunch to the outside while being soft and light on the inside. I probably could have eaten three of these.

IMG_6466The cinnamon roll was different than I thought it would be – only because when I think of a morning bun, I think of Joanne Chang’s version from Flour. Still a tasty treat, but not top of my list.

IMG_6476I picked up a bag of macarons for later – they came in a variety of flavors: lemon, salted caramel, rose, and chocolate. A nice treat – chewy with filling that was bold but not overwhelming. You can also buy these individually.IMG_6475The signature madeleines were tasty, a hint of sweetness in these spongy cakes – just lovely with a cup of tea.

IMG_6471I can’t recall the proper name for this apple dessert, but it was outstanding. While I love summer and berry season, I really look forward to fall and apples – apple pies especially. This dessert had a lovely eggy consistency with a sweet finish.

Cafe Madeleine

517 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA (South End)

http://cafemadeleineboston.com/

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imag1393My favorite time to go to the Cape is in September. The tourists are gone for the most part, the beaches are empty, the air is crisp and best of all, you can get a table as a walk in. The Pickle Jar opened in February of 2013 in the old Laureen’s space.

imag1394My friend Ziggy is opening up his own pickle business, Fox Point Pickles – don’t hate me, I swear I was just checking out the competition! Check him out though, seriously, he is insanely talented. To start, we all share the pickle jar ($7) that was an assortment of pickled veggies: cauliflower, carrots, olives, mushrooms, onions etc. Really delicious.

imag1396For lunch we had the special – the lobster hand roll ($16). Lobster tossed with fill aioli and lemon juice and rolled with lettuce, cucumbers and pea shoots in a lavash. A lighter, seemingly healthier version of a lobster roll.

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The egg salad sammie ($7) was a twist on a classic with sliced hard boiled egg, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts with dill aioli.

imag1401The Firehouse sandwich was the star of the afternoon ($10) with house smoked chili rubbed boneless pork, wilted kale, pickled carrots, smoked cheddar and BBQ sauce on a toasty house roll. The pork was flavorful and I loved the pickled carrots on top. The sandwich was much heavier than the other two options we ordered, but it was so worth it.

The Pickle Jar

170 Main Street, Falmouth, MA

http://www.picklejarkitchen.com/

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IMAG0463Caffe Nero is the newest coffee shop to hit the scene. The European based chain opened it’s first location by the Loews movie theater in Downtown Crossing.

IMAG0452They have an extensive drink menu – serving premium Italian espresso.

IMAG0454Customers order in line and then find a seat in either a booth, the long communal table, a leather chair by the fire, or a two top in the corner.

IMAG0455Sandwiches are pre-made and can be toasted up in the panini press. Here are some of the sandwich choices:

Caffè Nero Breakfast Sandwich
Baked Frittata made with fresh eggs, roasted tomatoes, bacon with emmental cheese and arugula served on a toasted ciabatta.
Caprese on Baguette
Fresh mozzarella, garden fresh tomatoes, basil leaf and extra virgin olive oil.
Prosciutto de Parma with Mascarpone
The crown jewel of hams with a touch of mascarpone pressed on a baguette.
Roast Turkey and Brie with Cranberry Chutney
A pressed roast turkey with cranberry chutney, brie & caramelized onions on a baguette.
Roast Beef with Caramelized Onions & Grainy Mustard
Tender roast beef & sharp cheddar cheese topped with sweet caramelized onions and Dijon horseradish spread served on a baguette.
Roasted Vegetable Focaccia
Focaccia pressed with roasted peppers, eggplant, squash and zucchini and an olive tapenade spread drizzled with pesto aioli.
Ham and Cheese Baguette
Rosemary ham with emmental cheese withbutter on a baguette.
Tuna Salad Sandwich on Ciabatta
All white tuna tossed with celery and mayonnaise served with baby field greens on a ciabatta.
BLT
Bacon, lettuce and tomato with pesto aioli served on a ciabatta.
Artisan Italian on Focaccia
Rosemary ham, hard salami and mortadella topped with provolone and olive salad.

IMAG0457The have an enticing case of sweets to choose from.

IMAG0459Caffe Nero is a more upscale version of Starbucks – with leather seats and a warm fireplace.

IMAG0461We both ordered the Caprese on a baguette with fresh mozzarella, garden fresh tomatoes, basil leaf and extra virgin olive oil. Pretty tasty – but I think I would have liked it not toasted.

IMAG0458Limoncello Mascarpone Cake – my downfall. So impossibly light and delicious – I may be drooling as I am writing this. It is sweet, but only just enough. I have dreams about this cake.

 What is your favorite coffee shop?

Caffe Nero

560 Washington Street (Downtown Crossing), Boston, MA 02111

http://www.caffenero.com

Caffè Nero on Urbanspoon

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imag1417Scissors and Pie is the new pizza place on the block. Located on Newbury Street in the Back Bay – these guys are doing things a little different. When you go into the restaurant, you’ll notice that they make their pizzas in trays. All “slices”, or “petzos” as they call it, are cut to order, with – you guessed it….scissors. You tell them how little or how big of a piece you would like – then, you pay by the weight of the pizza. Scissors and Pie was generous enough to come into our company for a tasting. They brought a traditional Margherita topped with their signature tomato sauce, fresh handmade mozzarella, aromatic basil and finished off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

imag1418Scissors and Pie’s version of the pepperoni (since they don’t have pepperoni), this meaty pie was pretty spicy. What really makes this pizza is the dough, it’s light with a crisp crust and a chewy interior.

imag1419The parmiggiana topped with their signature tomato sauce, fresh handmade mozzarella, roasted eggplant, freshly grated parmesan cheese, aromatic basil, extra virgin olive oil with a drizzle of home made garlic sauce. This was a crowd favorite.

imag1420The salsiccia e broccoli with fresh handmade mozzarella, imported sausage, fresh broccoli, red pepper flakes and spicy oil. Probably my favorite out of all of the slices – this kind had a really nice kick.

imag1421The bufala, pomodorini e scaglie di parmiggiano with fresh handmade mozzarella, plump local cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, freshly grated parmesan cheese, fresh hand made bufala mozzarella, home made pesto, and a sprinkle of home made garlic sauce. Their version of a vegetarian pizza.

Scissors and Pie

225 Newbury Street, Boston, MA

http://www.scissorsandpie.com/

Scissors & Pie on Urbanspoon

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imag0814Julia and I met in Cambridge for an event and headed over to State Park afterwards for dinner. State Park is a new restaurant opened by the team behind Hungry Mother. State Park is a drastic contrast to the more upscale Hungry Mother, just around the corner – some might even consider it a dive bar. You walk into a dark room filled with dark wood paneling, a pinball machine, a pool table and a jukebox. There is a greenhouse room off to the side and picnic tables outside. All tables are seat yourself.

imag1367The service was a bit slow and we couldn’t figure out who our server was for most of our meal, but that was ok – we were busy catching up. We started with the fried cheese curds served with ranch dressing and bbq marinara. Pretty darn delicious.

imag1369I had the Memphis bbq spaghetti with garlic bread ($11) which had a bit of a bite to it. The garlic bread was lightly toasted and had a generous amount of garlic – YUM!

imag1368Julia had the catfish plate with greens and hush puppies.  She loved the hush puppies and the catfish, but wasn’t impressed with the sauce on the greens.

Great place to go with friends, hang out and drink beers. Food wise, I think I’ll stick with Hungry Mother.

State Park

1 Kendall Square, Cambridge, MA

http://statepark.is/

State Park on Urbanspoon

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imag1166When we finally got up to Stowe Mountain Lodge in Vermont, we decided to go out for dinner. Looking for something casual, we decided on Gracie’s. I hadn’t been there since I was a kid, and that was at their old location in town. Closer to the hotel, Gracie’s is a popular casual dining spot for locals and tourists alike.

imag1172Gracie’s opened in 1991, and it was named after owners Sue and Archie’s rescue dog. They made the move to this new location in 2009. The dog theme is carried throughout the dining room – from the decor to the names of the menu items.

imag1167We started the meal off right – they brought out a wonderful bread basket with delicious chocolate chip oatmeal bread.

imag1170The quinoa salad special was more of a dinner sized plate than an appetizer! We all ordered burgers, they are all named after dogs:

The Chihuahua
Half-pound burger served with lettuce, tomato and guacamole on the side.

The Airedale
Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed peppers and onions.

The Boxer
Half-pound cheddar bacon burger.

The Husky
Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed mushrooms.

Blazing Beagle Burger
Gracie’s half-pound burger rolled in Cajun spices and grilled to juicy perfection with lettuce and tomato.
Also available as Dante’s Dalmatian-for the firedog.

The Kirby Burger
Gracie’s half pound burger topped with melted cheddar, bacon and a side of our own Memphis BBQ sauce.

Blue Tick Hound Burger
Half-pound melted blue cheese burger with lettuce and tomato.

The Rottweiler
This one’s got a good bite to it. A half-pound cheddar burger topped with lettuce and Tomato. With sour cream, garlic, horseradish sauce on the side.

The Petey Burger
Everyone’s favorite canine orphan. Spanky and Alfalfa put their minds together for this one. A great combination that only the little rascals could think of starting with a half pound of Boyden Farms ground beef topped with Vermont cheddar cheese and, bacon, onion rings and cajun spice.  A dollar of the price of each Petey Burger will be donated by Gracie’s to the North Country Animal League.

imag1174The Husky ($12.95): Half-pound cheddar burger with sautéed mushrooms. Just what the dr ordered after a long car ride. The burger was flavorful and cooked perfectly medium. The service was excellent – Archie the owner was there running the host stand! I always think it’s nice to see the owners of restaurants pitching in.

Gracie’s

18 Edison Hill Road, Stowe, VT

http://www.gracies.com/

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imag1342Mark (fortunately) forgot his lunch last week, making it an excellent opportunity to head out to Gene’s Chinese Flatbread cafe over in Downtown Crossing.

imag1340This tiny restaurant is packed at lunch time – great idea to come early or late – or just take out.

imag1339There are only a few items on the menu: the flatbread sandwich,  housemade noodle soup, lamb  hand pulled noodle soup, hand pulled noodles, Xi’an noodles, and cumin hand pulled noodles. Be prepared to wait, as they hand pull the noodles to order.

imag1343Mark orders the noodle soup, which he liked, but wished that the noodles were the same ones I had in my meal.

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I had the #4 hand pulled noodles, served with a healthy dollop of garlic, a sprinkle of chili powder, cilantro and scallions. The noodles are thick and have a good bite to them. A simple but extremely delicious dish. So good in fact, that we went back days later with other co-workers!

Don’t forget to stop at the ATM before you go, they only take cash. Monday thru Friday: 11AM-6:30PM, closed on the weekends.

Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe

86 Bedford Street, Boston, MA

Website

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