Highlights from the Boston board. Restaurants, bars, food stores, and more.
Good news for locavores and lovers of fresh seafood: Gloucester fishery Cape Ann Fresh Catch is planning to offer a community supported fishery program, or CSF, to customers in Cambridge and maybe in Boston if there’s enough interest. The service begins in June.
A CSF works like a CSA: Customers buy full-share or half-share subscriptions, and receive freshly caught fish every week. Cape Ann shares are to be 12 weeks long, and are $180 for 4 to 6 pounds of seafood weekly or $360 for a full share of 8 to 12 pounds. That’s about $3 a pound for what Cape Ann’s website says will be haddock, cod, flounder, hake, dab, grey sole, monkfish, pollock, redfish, and maybe clams, lobster, and scallops. Fish will be cleaned and gutted but not filleted, so bones (fish stock ahoy!) and scales are part of the package.
Pick-up spots are still being hashed out, but Cape Ann’s website indicates there will be a Cambridge pick-up spot, probably at a farmers’ market: e.lizzy says the Harvard Tuesday farmers’ market may be the chosen spot. A Boston location is not yet nailed down; at least 50 customers must sign up in the area for Cape Ann to do a drop-off there. Evidently the response has been good so far: The sign-up period has been extended indefinitely in hopes that enough customers will join. Contact Cape Ann ASAP if you’re interested.
Cape Ann Fresh Catch [Gloucester]
37 Commercial Street, Gloucester
Board Link: Community sustainable seafood
Cajun comfort foodatorium Tupelo, which fecalface calls “a cheaper and hipper Hungry Mother,” has been open a little less than a month in Cambridge and positive reports are coming in. “This is a great, chill, middle of the road between fancy and casual place,” says Dreamworks.
Mains are in the $12 to $15 range, appetizers are $5 to $8, and sides are $5. Good stuff: the pork chops, “perfectly done” according to bobot, and served with red beans and rice. Other high notes are the deviled crab with garlic toast points, fried oysters, and the beer-battered crepes, filled with spinach, smoked mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, and fennel.
For dessert, fecalface recommends the “rich” pecan pie, topped with tupelo honey ice cream, while bobot went all gooey over the banana pudding, with homemade vanilla wafers. Order coffee with dessert; it comes in an individual press.
1193 Cambridge Street, Cambridge
Board Link: Tupelo in Cambridge
“While the South End’s lack of parking spaces may create headaches for visitors, its abundance of fine eating establishments often alleviates the pain,” says paulspalate poetically, before going on to extoll one such eatery: Union Bar and Grille, with its “elegant” dining room and “genial, courteous, and knowledgeable” service. Union has been dinged on the boards for being too expensive, but its “early riser” weekend brunch special is a steal at $9.95, and it’s great, say hounds.
The $10 deal is offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sundays. For your sawbuck, you get a slice of coffeecake, a choice of entreé (french toast, a salmon and eggs scramble with house-cured salmon, or omelet), juice, and coffee or tea. If the breakfast prix fixe doesn’t thrill you, there’s a full brunch menu with eggs, steak, and sandwiches in the shockingly reasonable $8 to $12 range.
Several Union fans admit to parking in the lot at nearby Gaslight and sneaking over to grab some food at the bar. We, of course, would never advocate such a sneaky maneuver—just making conversation.
Union Bar and Grille [South End]
1357 Washington Street, Boston
Board Links: A Blessed ‘Union’
manish01 loves the tofu banh mi sandwiches at Bobalicious, and wants to know where the tofu goodness comes from. “It really tastes like meat in texture and flavor,” says manish01 longingly.
galleygirl has the answer: Ba Le Bakery has fine faux chicken and fake roast duck, while Ba Le Cafe has other mock meats made of gluten, tofu, and tofu skin. Both sell containers of it for about $5, and you can also sometimes find the containers in the deli case of New Saigon Sandwich.
Speaking of Bobalicious, if you’re not a vegetarian, word on the street is that the pork banh mi is one of the best in town, and the chicken is pretty good too. But some hounds aren’t so complimentary about the bubble tea: “slushy,” says taterjane.
308 Watertown Street, Newton
Ba Le Bakery [Dorchester]
1025 Dorchester Avenue, Boston
Ba Le Cafe [Dorchester]
1449 Dorchester Avenue, Boston
New Saigon Sandwich [Chinatown]
696 Washington Street, Boston
Board Links: Tofu Deli “Meat”
Bobablicious - Newton
The Bahn Mi Taste Test
Like Vietnamese, Thai, and other Southeast Asian cuisines, Cambodian food exhibits a “hot/sour/salty/sweet” blend of flavors, with a particular emphasis on sourness that makes for intriguing meals. Hounds who have the fever for the flavor head to Mittapheap in Lynn for its tasty soups, stews, and salads.
Alcachofa was rapturous over the Cambodian sour soup: “First the aroma hits you like, wow, this tremendous scent that you can’t quite place, though it seems a little sour. Then you try the soup and it is even better than anything the aroma let on.”
The prahok ktis, a dip made with ground pork, chiles, and fish sauce, served with steamed vegetables on the side, is another hit. It’s redolent of the fermented, pungent fish sauce used by Cambodian cooks, and resembles a Thai dish, nam prik, which is similarly served with crudités. Alcachofa also calls the beef salad “flat out amazing,” with “well-prepared beef” set off by “fresh fresh” lemongrass, basil, and mint.
Order a bubble shake to go along with your meal: StriperGuy recommends the durian, which he says is “more like a frozen fruit shake” with “boba thrown in for good measure.”
877 Western Avenue, Lynn
Board Links: Tasty Mittapheap
Mittapheap as good as ever
There are two styles of hamburger, says writer J. Kenji Alt in a Boston Globe article called “Burger War!” There is the big, fat, pink-inside grilled East Coast variety, and the thinner, seared, griddled West Coast–style patty. Up until fairly recently in Boston, it was difficult to find anything but the thick, grilled “pub burger,” but the opening of newish, much-praised places like Five Guys in Dedham has changed that.
In the Globe article, Alt crowns the burger at Flat Patties king. jgg13 agrees: “I’ll bite into them and say ‘eh, nothing special’ but then I find that I can’t put the things down and keep stuffing them in my face until they’re gone. It’s like there’s crack in there or something. I’ve never really figured out how something that seems so plain ends up being such a must-have for me.” That’s “because they’re simple but perfectly done,” says BarmyFotheringayPhipps.
Five Guys Burgers & Fries [Dedham]
170 Providence Highway, Dedham
Flat Patties [Cambridge]
81 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge
Board Link: J. Kenji Alt’s Boston Burger Battle
Nab likes to cook fish parts cut from the head, but cheeks, throats, and other parts are hard to find unless you have a relationship with a good fishmonger. itaunas nominates Courthouse Fish Market for the job, saying that it sells a lot of hake steaks and removes the heads before the weekend: “So 3ish on a Friday would be a good time.” You can buy them for around 99 cents a pound, although you used to be given them “for free if you bought other stuff.”
Jardinia, in search of soft shell crabs on another thread, gets the same advice: Go to Courthouse, where not only can you buy the crabs to cook at home, you can order them made up into a crab sandwich at the restaurant adjoining the market. Actually, according to Itaunas, anything in the fish market priced at $1 a pound or over can be fried, broiled, or steamed at the restaurant.
Courthouse Fish Market [Cambridge]
484 Cambridge St, Cambridge
Board Links: Good fish market w/ good prices for picky fish eater
the elusive soft-shell crab?
Boston doesn’t have many Ethiopian restaurants, and those it does have (Addis, Fasika), get mixed reviews on the boards. That’s why NoNatto was so excited to find Habesha, an Ethiopian restaurant in Malden that’s so small and unassuming that it’s easily overlooked. The food, however, is the “real thing,” says NoNatto.
The kitfo, finely chopped beef, was served raw on NoNatto’s request, mixed with spiced clarified butter, it has a “late-blooming peppery kick.” NoNatto also loved the awaze tibs, a spicy and savory stew of marinated beef chunks with onions and peppers, and the quanta firfir, pieces of spongy Ethiopian injera bread with dried beef. The items on the combination vegetable platter, such as collard greens (gomen) and mildly-sauced chickpeas (shiro wat), ranged from “OK to delicious,” but NoNatto preferred the meat dishes over the vegetarian ones.
“Absolutely one of the best meals we’ve had,” says Taralli. “The new combinations of spices had my taste buds popping. Many dishes had a piquant sour flavor note, which we really liked. Several of us commented on how the spices and flavors pleasantly lingered on our palates, afterwards, as we sat around and chatted.”
Prices are very reasonable at $8 to $14 a plate. Habesha is a short walk from the Malden T stop.
Habesha Restaurant [Malden]
535 Main Street, Malden
Board Link: new malden chow: ethiopian Habesha
Eithopian Restos in Cambridge/Somerville
Don’t let the sign fool you: Fish Market is not the place to buy seafood by the pound. It is instead a brand new sushi restaurant, and one so good that it convinced Vin Ordinaire to “delurk” after months of reading and post for the first time ever. Vin calls the space, most recently home to the Reef Cafe, “pretty,” with “clean lines with bright natural wood,” and food that was “fresh, clean, and simple,” a contrast to nearby Privus, where Vin says you will find “gigantic maki tortured into unnatural positions and adorned with bright swathes of sticky sauces and spicy mayo.”
Boiled edamame were tender-firm and well-salted; miso soup was rich, yet delicate. The real treat came next: a few pieces of pristine fish plus tuna rolls and the lovely dragon eye maki, which featured “thin slivers of fresh avocado and silky salmon spiraling inward on itself.” Throughout, the fish quality was excellent, and, Vin says, a good value; his party of three came out full and paid about $60 before tip, an amazing bargain considering how fresh the sushi was. GretchenS agrees, addding that “‘value’ and ‘sushi’ combined in a good way is indeed a rarity.”
Fish Market [Allston]
170 Brighton Avenue, Allston
Board Link: Fish Store
jmf2188 has a thing for granola and wants to know where the best breakfast mix is found in Boston. jmf, you’re in luck, because many local bakeries sell homemade granola.
Hounds recommend the pricey but delicious containers of cereal at Flour Bakery’s Fort Point and South End branches. Another option is the granola sold by Iggy’s at local farmers’ markets, once these are open for the season. But the best variety thus far uncovered on the boards will involve a bit of a drive for most Bostonians: Cottage Wellesley sells its own “decadent” granola, according to emilief, with “lots of pecans, cranberries etc. Hard not to eat the entire bag at once.”
Flour Bakery + Cafe [Fort Point]
12 Farnsworth Street, Boston
Flour Bakery + Cafe [South End]
1595 Washington Street, Boston
130 Fawcett Street, Cambridge
Cottage Wellesley [Wellesley]
190 Linden Street, Wellesley
Board Link: mountain rise granola…where?!