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rlh's Profile

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Kudos to COMMON GROUND in Arlington!

I enjoyed my recent first dinner there as well - very friendly service, nice beer choices on draft, very hot and tasty tater tots, and a nice steak tip salad - definitely worth a return!

Jan 31, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

O Ya: to omakase or not to omokase?

Caveat emptor:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9960...

Keep in mind that Five Guys on Summer St closes at 10p, and if you don't like your O Ya server initially, ask to move to another section - that was really what ruined a potentially special occasion for us.

Jan 19, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Gordon's Waltham Ain't The Wine Shop It Used To Be

Ditto here - happy to pile on - I have used to use Gordon's as my go-to for all levels of wine at home for years, but the service and attitude has become pretty nasty over the last couple of visits - and the "special" email only offerings weren't that tasty and poorly-managed in terms of notification, pickup, etc. I haven't met the jerk noted but can certainly feel his imprint.

They also will fail to give you the 20% case discount (always available, which is a good thing) at checkout unless you mention it. The spirits selection is erratic (don't try to buy good basic brandy here, for example) but can have some good values on sale at times (also true at Cambridge Wine and Spirits).

I now turn mostly to Brix on Broad downtown where prices are slightly higher (so is the rent) but the services is STELLAR and the recommendations often eye-opening - they will also special order just about any single bottle of spirits that they can get from their distributors. The proprietor Carrie is just outstanding in her strong opinions based on personal experience and clear commitment to a high level of customer service regardless of what you are buying from them - their tastings are also good and thoughtful.

I also find Berman's in Lexington just over the Arlington border to be a nice but small selection, also with slightly higher prices.

The folks at Menotomy in East Arlington are also really nice and offer 10% case discounts always, along with great $10-$20 / bottle recommendations tailored to preferences you tell them about.

For commodity spirits at the lowest prices in many cases, and the deepest selection (especially rum and cachaca), Kappy's in Medford at Wellington is my go to - there is very little service, but also zero attitude whatsoever.

Jan 19, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Baby squid

The squid at New Deal are consistently the absolute best I have ever had anywhere - not sure about the size being baby or not. They hand clean them so the super tender side fins remain attached to the body, and you can buy bodies and tentacles separated as you wish. One of the very best values there (along with their mussels and salmon tail cuts).

Jan 19, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Dutch food in Boston

Closest that comes to mind is Saus - a casual frites storefront downtown, but it is probably more Belgian than Dutch in influence...usually pretty good, sometimes even great (interesting draft beer selections).

Jan 18, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Anyone tried the Sugarbells at Wilson Farms? Or other outstanding sweet citrus elsewhere?

Russo's had very green oro blancos a couple of weeks ago, they were smaller than last year and expensive but good - in the middle of the citrus section really near the registers - next to (good) Meyer lemons.

Jan 17, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Anyone tried the Sugarbells at Wilson Farms? Or other outstanding sweet citrus elsewhere?

The sugar belles from Wilsons we bought last weekend were not dry or pasty, but in spite of being juicy they were watery and flavorless, not at all like honeybells of past years - to me all of the FL citrus seems to be lackluster this year (maybe some kind of weather problem during growing season?) - very sad large red grapefruits last weekend as well, but the Ruby Red from TX I had around New Years was massive and spectacular, but I don't see them around here now. Crossing my fingers that someone has them around here soon....

Jan 16, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

"Tickets" for Restaurants

I think it's great way to reward serious fans willing to commit in advance, provide predictable cash flow, and share in risks with the very few spots that seem to always be enjoying an overdemand / undercapacity situation.

The only places in Boston that I can easily imagine using a ticket to dine in are Toro, Neptune Oyster, and Island Creek / Row 34.

Maybe the tickets also don't need to be an all or nothing decision, but have some available to those OK with the terms for peak dining days and times?

Jan 07, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Birthday Dinner Recommendations (~12 people, early-mid 20s)

Two ideas:

The pig roast at Citizen Public - awesome, fun, great cocktails, and just about the right size for this group (pretty sure they will accommodate vegetarians as well) - call and ask - super nice and helpful team there.

Alden and Harlow - Harvard Square - great if you decide Cambridge works and large enough to have the space needed if you book ahead.

Jan 05, 2015
rlh in Greater Boston Area

"Real" Eggnog

The renditions by Josey at Drink (and not to be confused with the stellar Tom and Jerry served there whenever it snows) and the one by Todd Maul (formerly Clio, now Cafe ArtScience) are delicious for bar versions by the glass - be sure to ask as it has usually been stored out of sight - if they make one, I expect it would be great at Backbar or Alden & Harlow as well.

The only comparable version for me is my homemade one using an old school Martha Stewart recipe that makes a punch bowl full and involves whipping and folding in both egg whites and heavy cream along with integrating at least three spirits (brandy, bourbon, and rum) and fresh grates of nutmeg....mmmm.

Dec 27, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Local meats/eggs w/o breaking the bank...recommendations?

Agreed about Chip-In being scarce at Russo's and higher quality than Wilson's - where they always have that hand-lettered sign over eggs by the entrance to the tent that says "laid today" yet the expiration date seems way too soon for that be true and the yolks don't stand up like same day eggs to me (hmmm - but they still beat Trader Joe's for me) - and the rumor I heard is that the Wilson chickens have a pretty hard life (I keep meaning to ask for a tour of the hen house I think is on site) vs. Chip-In where they are really free range, pasture-raised...

Dec 16, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Local meats/eggs w/o breaking the bank...recommendations?

We really like Chip-In Farms eggs from Bedford - usually buy them at Russo's for around $4.50 per dozen. I think they also sell them directly at their farm if Bedford is closer than Watertown.

Dec 15, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Local meats/eggs w/o breaking the bank...recommendations?

Where have you seen P&J eggs for $3.50 or even $4 a dozen? - I am pretty sure they are at least $6 a dozen at their "store" in the horse barn in Concord - jumbo are more and pullet or cracked ones are less...their meats in the freezer are also really pricey for all cuts.

Dec 15, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Best Transparent Restaurants in Boston?

Alden & Harlow - love the high top peering into the kitchen!

Dec 15, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Waltham near Marriot suggestions?

Guessing you mean the Courtyard by Marriott across the intersection from the Westin, this may help:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/986994

Dec 03, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Border Cafe - Blackened chicken recipe

You forgot the "open the can" part of the instructions...

Dec 01, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Retail oysters part 2--where to get crushed ice?

and they ship "free" overnight, but 3 dz oysters would be $36 if you picked them up in Eastham, vs. $79 for exactly the same amazing oysters sent overnight from the website....

Nov 26, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Retail oysters part 2--where to get crushed ice?

Resurrecting this to provide specifics that Brookline Ice has 40 lb bags of "snow" for $4 if you pick it up at their site on Brookline Ave - they have LONG hours and are even open on Thanksgiving morning.

For me, this detour and price beats a lot of pounding with a mallet in the small Packard (aka Lewis) bag that we have for this purpose when serving tiki - and the crush will be far more uniform and fine as a bonus.

Our Wellfleet oysters were shipped direct overnight so we couldn't get storing or serving ice from the supplier (Mac's Seafood Market in Eastham, which is outstanding BTW.

Nov 26, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Good American Chinese in Somerville/Cambridge/Medford?

Changsho on Mass Ave

Nov 25, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Thanksgiving ?s

Verrill wins for tasty fillings but most have a crumble top which I don't like - Petsi is all about amazing crust, top and bottom if you wish.
Wilson Farm is pretty good but definitely a lower tier than the other two.

Nov 24, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Rainbow carrots and Turnips

I am pretty sure the ones at Russo's are not local, but they are nice and well-priced - we also got nice ones recently at Wilson Farm in Lexington = shrink-wrapped in plastic on a foam tray - pretty likely not local, either, but tasty.

Nov 24, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Food near the Intercontinental Hotel

Parking in Boston is easier and cheaper than in midtown Manhattan all the time - I can't imagine the difference in the parking rate at the hotel makes it worth the hassle if you're spending at that level for the hotel anyway.

I do not like the food options in your hotel and there is not much to choose from in the Financial District across the Greenway during the weekend. Chinatown is a great suggestion right at the end of the Greenway (to your left as you exit the hotel) and no more than 15 minutes away by foot - same for the North End (Italian) - Mamma Maria is likely to have great truffles (res required).

Trade and Nebo are in the same block and both seem pretty well-received by most.

Most of the restaurants noted will be a crapshoot without reservations - even the former fringe areas Fort Point (Congress St., Summer St, A Street, etc.) and Seaport have become really popular - both are 10 minutes or less walking from the hotel (bundle up for crossing the bridges if it's windy.

New spots to add to for your consideration include Tavern Road, Pastoral, Blue Dragon, and Bastille (supposedly with a fun cocktail bar in the basement, but I haven't been yet). If you are patient, I think Row 34 is worth waiting to get into as a walk-in. BTW, most of the seaport options right on the waterfront (Northern Ave addresses) get average to bad feedback here as tourist traps.

Avoid the Daily Catch at Fan Pier at all costs - consider yourself warned.

Nov 20, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

New to (East) Arlington! Need Recs!

We do most of our shopping at Wilson's (not on weekend afternoons - or park in the remote lot and walk - too much drama in the main lot - the store is fine inside even when crowded as it's huge with a lot of checkout lines), with a bit from Trader Joe's, and deli / basics from D'Agostino's, and now dry goods and big shops at Wegman's on occasion. I have no patience nor use for the Stop n Shop in Arlington or the Shaws in Belmont - subpar and pricey. Arlington Whole Food is OK but really small and limited, and smell the fish before you buy.

Nov 20, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

[UPDATE] Vote for your favorite restaurants in the Boston area for "Best of 2014."

Alden & Harlow
http://aldenharlow.com/
Consistently firing on all cylinders for both bar and food since opening day - creative, energetic, tasty, and fairly-priced - each and every time, regardless of day of week or time of day.

O Ya - guess we should have gone years ago (long...and sad...)

I know you appreciate the very different experience of Sono in Arlington as well, and I would much rather go for the nicely paced, straightforward classic omakase with Tom 4-5 times (seriously) than return to O Ya. Apples and oranges, I know, but I MUCH prefer it.

Nov 18, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

O Ya - guess we should have gone years ago (long...and sad...)

Have heard mostly raves about O Ya for years - that it is really pricey, but special and worth it was our perception - the first part is correct. I could not find any remotely recent threads to post on, but felt obligated to report after have such high expectations lead to big disappointment this past weekend. I wonder if we would have enjoyed it in its prime - it seems like maybe it's the forgotten stepchild now that there's a glitzy NYC sibling in the picture??

We spent over $300 and 2.5 (long) hours there, then went around the corner for some more satisfying food afterwards (Les Zygomates - a fine croque madame and frites - not a destination recommendation, but I'd go back again for the same thing).

Most of the O Ya a la carte items are served as 2, occasionally 3, bites on a plate - literally - and range from $12-$68 each (seriously - that is no typo - but it does get you a couple of bites of toro tartare with Alba white Truffle....).

Of the ten bites we tried, we agreed that 3 were beautiful tasty, and memorable, perfect even, at $14 per two bites - hamachi with banana pepper mouse, kumamoto oyster with cucumber and watermelon (2 admittedly perfect specimens-possibly more than $14 due to the mysterious MP on them...?), and the chicken wing ballotine (2 of the finest nuggets ever). We would order these again, for certain.

The fried kumamotos with squid ink bubbles were pretty good but neither perfect nor memorable, along with the (teeny tiny) nantucket bay scallops in coconut-lime dressing, and scottish salmon belly with hot sesame.

We were divided on the much-lauded foie gras with balsamic chocolate/raisin cocoa/aged sake - loved the complexity and layers but my other thought it was overly bitter and imbalanced.

The fails for us were the spot prawn which was overshadowed by bitterly preserved yuzu and garlic, the "Eceltic" eel/tomago/foie gras that was an utterly unshareable blob of indistinct, unbalanced flavors, and the well-reviewed mushroom sashimi of primarily shiitakes with a very few shreds of chanterelle, supposedly grilled but ours was more raw than cooked, and an unappetizing froth of sesame in abundance.

The simultaneously condescending and absent server was a real distraction and letdown as well - there were LONG pauses between some bites and then multiple plates arrived almost simultaneously - and he seemed to have an entitlement expectation of praise for everything, yet we remained with no water and empty sake glasses for a long time, before flagging him to bring the $14 Japanese IPA 12 oz beer.

Given our uneven and ultimately underwhelming meal, we were delighted NOT to have selected the 17 course omakase ($185 per person) nor the chef's grand white truffle omakase ($350 per person) nor the wildly-expensive and server-pushed "real Kobe beef that only served at Jean-Georges in Vegas other than here" - no, this not our kind of place.

Nov 17, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area
1

Great Soups Downtown

I agree that their soups and (very rich) spanokopita generally outshine their gyros - which can be delicious if not super salty (this does happen once in while) AND freshly carved, but often late during their lunch hours (like 1:30p or after), they have pre-carved and stored the meat (I think they want to preclean and get out quick at closing time - I also have a pet peeve about this at Fresh Pond Seafood in Arlington that I will detail elsewhere at some point....) and it completely dries out - and sadly they alway have those mediocre pitas - meat topping their salads with tzaziki (I don't like ANY of their salad dressings, but the Greek is at least edible) is the best choice for gyros there.

Nov 14, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

First trip to Wegmans: What should I get? [moved from Boston board]

I went again and have to add that the pretzel bagels are neither, but quite addictive anyway and going into the rotation - also, I saw it int he bakery area, but restrained myself from buying Green's Chocolate Babka, which I love (know it from Zabar's NYC) and have never seen it around here - this is quickly becoming my only grocery store, but you still must seek produce elsewhere (like Russo's or Wilson's, in my case) - the selection is OK but the quality is marginal at best...

Nov 10, 2014
rlh in Chains

Great Soups Downtown

It is not clear at all on their website, but the Facebook info is correct - 11a-3p Mon-Fri at both locations.

Nov 08, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area

Sono Asian Cuisine, Arlington. Continues to improve

It was really informal and conversational. I guess we are becoming semi-regulars. Tom is a very approachable, friendly, and in my opinion, highly skilled sushi chef - we sat down at the sushi bar, said given it was late, we wanted some light sushi / sashimi, and asked him what he recommended that day - he then said would it be OK if he just made us some traditional dishes(and specified that he would take care of any sauces needed - a very good sign to me) - he knows we always trust him and probably remembered that we really like kama (collar) cuts - we didn't ask the price as it's always fair to often great value at Sono, though we did reject his initial idea of getting their new sizzling sirloin steak main (not light by definition to me) which I think was about $15-$18 - maybe we will try it next time.

FWIW, now I usually stick with really basic items from the sushi bar that shine based on their freshness and his knifework - I have had mixed results with the more razzle-dazzle apps and maki (multi-ingredient, complex sauces, etc) at Sono - and have no interest in the Chinese and Thai offerings at this point..

Nov 08, 2014
rlh in Greater Boston Area