MichaelB's Profile

Title Last Reply

Apricot Kernals in bulk bins?

I've seen these in the past at Trader Joe's (bagged), but it was a while ago and I don't know if they still have them. I think it was at the Coolidge Corner store, which usually has a wide selection of nuts and dried fruits; some of the smaller stores stock fewer selections.

Mar 24, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canadian foods sold anywhere?

I don't know specifically if they have Canadian foods, but it's probably worth trying Cardullo's in Harvard Square - they have lots of international candies and cookies, etc.

Mar 24, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Quattro North End?

Too late to make suggestions for your dinner, but I've been twice and both times it's been good, though not great. I've had the roasted chicken, which was nicely cooked: well-seasoned, with nicely rendered skin (not especially crisp, though), and mostly moist meat. It came with grilled vegetables, which were fine if not especially exciting (or seasonal - asparagus in January?). More recently we tried the pizza, which was definitely Neapolitan - from the charred puffy rim to the somewhat soggy middle - but again, good not great. The meatballs ("meatball madness"!) were just okay - I wouldn't get them again.

It's definitely got a more modern vibe than many North End places, and a less trapped-in-amber menu - I'd go back to try other dishes. The service has been friendly but kinda nervous and amateur - not a problem but not a strength either.

btw the proper Neapolitan pizza has arrived in the neighborhood since Slim posted - up the street at Locale. If I were just going for pizza, I'd go there, but Quattro has a much broader menu. I'd be curious to hear other people's impressions since I've only tried a few things so far.

Mar 07, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Large format dinners in Boston

Anh Hong does 7 courses of fish as well - also delicious.

Feb 20, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Tenoch Mexican in the North End....mini report

I didn't see any beer or wine when I was there; don't know if they're planning to try for a license or not.

Feb 14, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Bondir Concord Just Okay

Ditto - Domenic's was one of my favorite things about working in Waltham. It was a happy day when I discovered a side route that shaved about 10 minutes off the round trip there by avoiding Main St. traffic. I could eat an eggplant panino right about now!

Feb 14, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Tenoch Mexican in the North End....mini report

Just tried this tonight - thumbs up! I'm excited to have this as a more T-friendly option than the one in Medford.

We shared a torta (carnitas and chorizo - I forget the spanish name for this), an order of chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, and a pork mole tamal. The torta was fantastic, just as good as in Medford, and better than any others I've had since Tacos Lupita in Porter Square changed names and went downhill. Nice mixture of flavors from the shoulder meat and sausage.

The enchiladas were very tasty although we had actually ordered them with green sauce rather than mole, but they were pretty busy and it seemed silly to have them redo a whole plate. I chose the chicken to match with the green sauce - it was a little overwhelmed by the flavor of the mole but perfectly fine. Good rice and black beans alongside.

The tamal was good, and a little different from ones I've had - it was steamed in a banana leaf (rather than a corn husk) and the masa was *very* tender and had a bit of sweetness in the mix. Very comforting on a cold night; I might try it with green or red sauce next time to balance out the sweetness. The mole itself was a bit sweeter than I expected (but I am no expert in mole) but was velvety smooth and rich.

It's a nice little space - not fancy but modern-looking and comfortable. I think there are just 22 seats, but they were already doing a lot of takeout. The owner was at the register and was incredibly friendly and gracious. I got the impression that the kitchen was still working its way into shape (not surprising on their 3rd day open) - the owner said he was getting used to not being right next to the line as he is in Medford - but overall everything was really solid. I look forward to working my way through the menu, especially all the different tacos and tortas.

Feb 12, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Best in Watertown?

Yes to those (especially the walnut macaroons), and I'd add the persian baklava - sweet and flaky, with lots of crushed pistachios and a strong cardamom flavor. I don't love most baklava but I really like these.

Jan 27, 2014
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Roland Demerara Sugar Cubes -- anyone know a (cheap) local source?

I've seen them, very intermittently, at Ocean State Job Lot stores.

Dec 16, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canary Square seafood dish + scallop guts question

Oh, this was *definitely* not roe. Roe would have been cool. This was just connective tissue - digestive tract, membrane, etc. As Bob Dobalina suggested above, I did kind of think, "hmm, steamers?" Or as a co-worker commented when I told her, it's "nose-to-tail!"

I can get over the skeevy factor but I definitely think the sweetness of the scallop meat got lost in all the other stuff. Although some of that may have been the prep - the strong flavor of preserved lemon is an interesting idea but might go better with a sea scallop.

Dec 09, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Canary Square seafood dish + scallop guts question

I was at Canary Square this weekend and had one of their special appetizers: cream-poached oysters with tarragon and cape scallops on the shell with preserved lemon and olive oil. 3 of each nicely presented on individual beds of salt. The oysters were fantastic. My question is about the scallops. They were simply steamed open and served guts and all. (By "guts" I mean the connective material that is usually removed to leave behind just the muscle.) I tried one, guts and all, and it was … fine, then i abandoned manners for a minute and forcibly separated the muscle from another one and it was sweet and delicious.

So, is this a thing now? Scallops served with all the innards? My tablemates thought it was fine. I have two objections: 1) All that connective stuff obscures the sweet delicate taste of a very delicious little scallop meat. 2) It's skeevy!

Am I being too squeamish about the guts? (Entirely possible.) I know it's technically fine to eat as long as the scallop is fresh. Do other places serve them this way? Does anyone prefer it?

Dec 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

White Clam Pizza

I believe there's one on the menu at Locale in the North End. I haven't tried it, but their other pizzas are fantastic. Neapolitan style, not New Haven style, but very likely worth trying.

Dec 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Clementines that actually taste good

Not exactly clementines, but Whole Foods has been stocking satsuma mandarins for several weeks and they're very good. More sweet and tart than super-sweet, but much more flavorful and juicy than most clementines. Russo's has had them in the past as well, almost certainly at a lower price than WF, but I haven't looked there lately.

Less shelf life than most clementines, so check them for soft spots, and note that the attached stems (which look very nice) sometimes poke holes in their neighbors in the bin.

Also not a bargain source, but Formaggio Kitchen usually has a really excellent supply of unusual and frequently delicious citrus fruits in the winter months.

Dec 05, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Star Fish Market, Egleston Square - home of the $3 fish sandwich

The last thread about this place was about 7 years ago so I think it's time for a new one. It's located right in Egleston Square in JP, on Washington St. just before the intersection with Columbus Ave.

There's a fresh fish counter, but most of the action is at the fried fish counter, where they sell various takeout platters of fried seafood and french fries. I haven't tried those yet (though I plan to); what I have tried are the ridiculously cheap fish sandwiches. The whiting sandwich is about $2.75; the luxury option, haddock, is $4.00. (Plus 30 cents for cheese, which I tried just to confirm that American cheese does not improve fried fish. Indeed it does not.)

It's a pretty damn good sandwich! Served on "whole wheat" Sunbeam-esque bread, which does not interfere with the fried-to-order fish. I've tried both the whiting (aka pollock, I think) and the haddock, and without having them side-by-side I'd be hard-pressed to state a preference - both are freshly fried, nice and crisp, and go nicely with the tartar sauce and hot sauce they provide at the counter. The fry job is excellent and just thinking about it is making me eager to try the full seafood platter.

The fish market side has had a very limited but fresh-looking selection when I've looked - usually some salmon, haddock, pollock, and porgy, which they'll cut/filet/etc. to order.

Nov 17, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Hot Dog hole-in-the-wall's in Boston Metro?

Ditto on Casey's. I've never been inside but I love stopping at the side window when I'm nearby. Not a super-snappy dog but great flavor. I love the big copper cauldron just inside the window where they cook the dogs and steam the buns.

Nov 17, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Nantucket / Cape Scallops

This is south of the city rather than west, but I saw some at the Fruit Center marketplace in Milton a few days ago. (I think the seafood counter there is run by Rocky Neck seafood?) Price in the mid-twenties I believe.

Nov 17, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Locale - North End

I've been meaning to post about this place - glad you put up a review. I've been twice and I think it's great - some of the best Naples-style pizzas I've had in Boston (meaning *actual* Neapolitan - cooked quickly, puffy high crust, plenty of char), with the major caveat that I still haven't tried Gran Gusto (i know, i know).

Pretty short menu - about 5 or 6 pizzas, salads, antipasti, and a few other items. We tried the meatballs right after they opened and they were just so-so: nice texture but kinda weak-tasting. I think they were beef-only and some pork and more seasonings would have livened them up. Perfectly fine tomato sauce on top though. I'd try them one more time to see if they've improved since then. The meat antipasto was solid - good selection and good quality (and quite a lot of it), though nothing to make you forget Coppa.

Short, focused list of wines by the glass and some interesting-sounding beers which are lost on me since I'm not a beer lover. Friendly, quick service - I think it's always been the owner (big guy) who's waited on us. The main story is definitely the pizza - which is really really great.

We've eaten in both times, so it's good to know that takeout is solid as well.

Nov 08, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area


I tried it too and while the experience was fun, I agree that the donuts themselves weren't great. I thought the cake flavors in particular seemed over-fried - they were a bit dry and tough and had absorbed a lot of extra oil. The yeasted varieties (the tarragon-lemon and another glazed one - coconut?) were better but also a bit too dark and greasy. The mexican chocolate one was just lame all around - barely chocolately, no spice flavors to speak of, and unpleasantly dense.

But the glazes were excellent - mai-tai very mai-tai-esque and boozy, the maple bacon would be GREAT if the basic donut had been better, and that lemon-tarragon was nicely bitter/sweet. Hopefully fryer-execution and their basic recipes will improve with practice (their tweets during the morning were entertaining but a bit frantic). I don't think it's a matter of frying on-site - a hot donut is best but a good one can certainly have good taste and texture several hours after frying.

Oct 20, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Steel and Rye report

I just tried it tonight and really enjoyed it. I lived in Lower Mills for 7 years and I would have killed for a place like this when I was in the neighborhood. The space itself is pretty stunning - spacious but not too cavernous, with several distinct seating areas (as well as a private dining area that apparently can open up to add capacity to the main restaurant when needed).

We started with two excellent cocktails - a Maritime Out for her (rhum agricole, fresh lime juice, sugar, bonal gentiane-quina) and a Blinker for me (whiskey, fresh grapefruit, house-made pomegranate grenadine) - mine looked pinker but tasted drier, hers was more sweet/sour but still nicely balanced.

Nice anadama bread and butter on the table. We split a half dozen RI oysters - very cleanly shucked - and the special "snack" of salmon rillettes. This was slow-cooked salmon mixed with smoked salmon, "a lot of butter," olive oil, and served slightly chunky and sprinkled with some chili pepper and herbs. The waitress (who was excellent throughout) wasn't kidding about the butter - very rich but then they are rillettes. Delicious on the "homemade bagel chips" - not something I've ever imagined with rillettes but they made an excellent cracker.

For mains she had the roasted chicken with spring vegetables and I had the "giuntatelli" with confit chicken, oyster mushrooms, pancetta, arugula pesto. Giuntatelli turn out to be a fresh pasta about the width of fettucine but with slightly ruffly edges. Very tasty, with good resilient texture. The confit chicken was excellent - very rich and moist. Her roast chicken was a juicy breast with very crisp skin. The vegetables alongside were chard, tiny potatoes, a poached tomato, artichoke, and some fiddleheads. I snagged a fiddlehead and it was fresh and green, especially with some of the garlic cream that came alongside.

We managed to save room for dessert and tried the forbidden rice pudding and the chocolate-hazelnut dacquoise. We both really liked the rice pudding - which came with mango sorbet (whose tartness complemented the pudding although it was a little icy), vanishingly tiny diced mango, some guava puree, and a confounding drizzle of curry oil. For some reason neither of us could place the curry until the waitress identified it for us - it's odd but we both liked the way it complemented the mango flavor. Probably they should mention it on the menu (I see that sallyt hated the flavor) just so people know there will be a rather assertively non-dessert flavor in the mix, but I did enjoy it.

I'm no expert on dacqoise, and this seemed more like a rich multi-layered chocolate dessert with a crunchy middle section, but that was fine by me. The candied lemon bits in the cake and the sliced candied lemon on top were delicious and a nice respite from the chocolate onslaught.

Total was about 115 before tip - not cheap but we both felt the food, service, and overall experience justified the price. We had no problem parking in a space out front but it was a monday night - I can see how it would be tighter on weekends. I'd absolutely go back to try more of the menu.

May 13, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Group dinner in Boston/Cambridge on a Saturday night - with some specific requirements

How about Abigail's in Kendall Square? I had a nice dinner there a few weeks ago - excellent oysters, bone marrow, very good cocktails (can't remember which ones); I had the excellent fried pork chop sandwich, my dc had the steak salad which she liked a lot. Dinner entrees are mostly over $20 but everything else - sandwiches, burgers, pastas, appetizers - is well below. Owners and staff have links to East Coast Grill and B-side, both apparent in the food and drink menus. And it's just a few blocks from the Kendall T. It was completely off my radar until I noticed it searching for new Kendall places, but I'd definitely go again.

Apr 10, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Went to WIlson Farms for 1st time. It was great! What are some of your favorite things there?

You mentioned the honeydew - their cut melons (honeydew and cantaloupe) are almost always great regardless of season, and much better than the ones at Whole Foods, Russo's, etc. In general I find that their out-of-season fruits are better than the ones elsewhere. I got some blueberries there recently that were more than passable for something shipped 4000 miles.

Their fresh-squeezed juices are great as well - actually squeezed on the premises and they taste like it. I like their cider donuts -- I usually get them in the fall when they're frying them fresh outside, but they're not bad even in the packages they sell inside.

Feb 06, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Edwards mangalitsa smoked ham at Formaggio

Holy woolly hog heaven! This stuff is amazing. It's on the wall with the prosciutto, serrano ham, etc. Each slice is about 1/3 fat and 2/3 meat. The fat is tender and gently smoky; the meat is dark, intensely salty, smoky and nearly crisp. 34 bucks a pound for a peak pork experience. (They'll slice any amount you like.)

Jan 31, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

ISO Callebaut Mini Chips

Try Marty's Liquors in Newton. They usually have a wide selection of Callebaut - both blocks and chips. Not sure specifically about the mini-chips but it's worth giving them a call.

Jan 31, 2013
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Trip Report: Portillo's, Intelligentsia, Yusho; Wildberry, French Market, Publican, Do-Rite, Johnnies

En route from Boston to Wisconsin, we planned on spending a day in Chicago a few days before Christmas. Due to the end-of-semester academic crush and general holiday madness, I didn't have much time for advance research or to post queries on the board, but thanks to the many helpful posts already here, we had a great time, with some fantastic and memorable food, so I want to report back in some detail.

We arrived at our hotel (the Burnham, in the Loop) late morning and headed out to Portillo's on West Ontario. This was my first time in Chicago and while I'm generally a mustard and relish-only purist I really wanted to have the full chicago dog experience. Tomato slices on a hot dog - who knew??Turns out I've been missing out! Less unwieldy to eat than I had expected - that steamy-soft bun makes a nice handle for the dog and all the toppings. I don't know if Portillo's is the apex of the standard chicago-style hot dog experience, and I was a little worried when I saw the kitschy decor and multiple food stations but I thought it was great. She had an Italian beef sandwich with sweet peppers, dry. Pretty tasty but I think (and confirmed at a later visit to Johnnies) that it kinda needs to be dipped otherwise it is, well, a little dry. I considered a second dog but wisely decided to save stomach space for later.

I was a little sleep-deprived due to our early-ish flight, so I was super-happy to discover that there was a branch of Intelligentsia a few blocks from the hotel, right near Millennium Park. I don't drink a lot of coffee (mostly avoid caffeine) but when I do I really do like super-serious 3rd wave coffee geek places with intense baristas. So Intelligentsia was perfect! She had a very nice earl grey tea; I got an espresso and a canele. The canele was very dark, almost burnt, but that was right to my taste. There was some mixup with the espresso (they called someone else's name for mine so it sat for a while until I checked on it), so the barista tossed the cold one and very nicely pulled a shot of the extra-fancy single-origin (I think) espresso they were serving. It was a very good shot, maybe not quite as amazing as Gimme Coffee in New York (my favorite), but still very very good.

After walking around Millennium Park (and taking a zillion pictures at the Bean - you have so much excellent public art there, makes me jealous!) we warmed back up at the hotel and then took the blue line El train to Logan Square and walked up to Yusho. What a fantastic meal! We're both still talking about it. Our initial welcome was pretty friendly, and the service was a nice mix of informal, polished, and - especially once we started asking questions about the food and drink menus - enthusiastic. We shared: Chicken Skin; Chicken Wings; Grilled Tofu; Pickles; Tuna; Beef Tongue; Steam Bun.

Roughly in the order they appeared:
Chicken Skin = chicken bacon!: the skin was stretched flat with some garlic slivers pressed in and roasted until the fat was fully rendered and it was basically a chicken chip, with a drizzle of japanese mustard and a sprinkle of togarashi. Addictive and delicious.

Chicken Wings - deboned wings, cooked until quite soft and rich, seasoned with bonito salt, lime and thai chili. This was an interesting prep - it really brought out the unctuousness of the wing, without quite crossing over into gross fattiness. In truth I wouldn't want more than a few bites of these because of how rich they were, but when balanced with all the other dishes it worked well.

Pickles - cucumber, lotus root, carrot. I am obligated to order pickles wherever I find them. Memory is fuzzy on the flavor details but they were excellent and a nice foil to the richer/fattier dishes.

Tuna - sort of a poke-esque prep with soy dressing, long shreds of taro root chips, pine nuts, and radish. YUM. When tuna is this good it really doesn't need anything else. By the time this dish was half-finished I started to panic and seriously considered placing another order just to make sure there was enough. I wouldn't think to pair radish and pine nuts with soy sauce but it all worked together as if it's been done forever. Just delicious.

Beef Tongue - Skewers of tender, thinly sliced tongue, showered with grated horseradish, over yukon gold potato puree, with (I think?) pickled ginger. Texturally perfect, with rich deep flavors. I wish I could describe it more precisely but all I remember was that it was smack-the-table delicious.

Steam Bun - my recollection was that this was tasty, with a filling of pork shoulder (vaguely char siu-ish?), kimchi, and crushed peanuts. It didn't make a huge impact on me, though that may be because it sat on the table for a bit while we ate the tongue, tuna, etc. One tip: this is not a great plate to share - once you cut it in half it falls apart and you end up using a fork and not getting all the components in each bite. I think it's probably better to eat (as a sandwich) right when it arrives. The steamed bun waits for no one.

Grilled tofu - I like tofu but this was not my favorite. I respect the straightforward slab of grill-marked tofu and I genuinely liked the sweet-pickly pineapple chunks that came with it (along with chrysanthemum - I think this was a green sauce - and walnuts) but this one never really came together for me. The grilling toughened the outer skin of the tofu without adding a whole lot of flavor, and the combination of flavors was okay, but not particularly special.

I haven't even mentioned the cocktails yet! Fantastic and creative bartending. I started with a Negroni, which tweaked the standard recipe: voyager gin, cardamaro, gran classico, and toasted soybean bitters. I gather that the cardamaro stood in for sweet vermouth and the gran classico was the Campari equivalent. Honestly it tasted like a well-made negroni, with a little extra in the finish from the bitters. She had the draft cocktail, which the waiter described as "summer in a glass" - which was exactly what she wanted on a cold night. It was citrusy, light, a bit fizzy - tasty enough that she got two. For my second drink I had the Sujeonggwa - they reeled me in with the note "served warm" on the menu. This was an interpretation of a Korean ginger/cinnamon/persimmon tea - I think some of those elements were part of this drink, along with some whiskey and vermouth, cherry, and some pine nuts floating on top. It basically tasted like the best mulled wine ever. I would drink these all winter long.

As the meal progressed and it became clear how great the food and drink was, we were enthusiastically telling the waiter how much we were enjoying it. By the time we finished the savory courses, we were pretty well stuffed and turned down dessert, but when the waiter found out we were from Boston (and therefore couldn't come back for dessert anytime soon) he said "you guys aren't getting out of here without dessert!" and came back with a (large!) dish - on the house - of their latest soft-serve creation: eggnog ice cream with fernet caramel and white chocolate-nori crunch. Whoah! This was ridiculously good. Fernet caramel! Nori crunch! it all worked. the nori just added sort of a salty bite to the white chocolate, the bitter medicinal notes of the fernet played really well in a caramel, and it all complemented the rich eggnog custard amazingly well. I'm not usually one for odd savory flavors in dessert but this was just delicious.

I think the total bill for everything - including tax and tip - was just under 100 dollars. Just an amazingly good value for a great experience. Tremendously confident, creative, and precise cooking - no obvious/familiar dishes (well, maybe the steam bun) - just a ton of enthusiasm and skill. If I lived nearby I would go all the time.

As it happened, we were planning to drive up to Wisconsin at exactly the same time that "Winter Storm Draco" hit, so we ended up spending an extra day in Chicago. I seem to be writing a novel here so I'll add another post to this thread soon on the places we visited on day two. Hope these reviews are helpful!

Jan 08, 2013
MichaelB in Chicago Area

December 2012 Openings and Closings

Tasty Burger in Harvard Square is looking pretty close to opening - sign is up, interior (based on some peeking through the glass) is nearly finished. Excited!

Dec 07, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

ISO: Food Grade Cocoa/Cacao Butter

Sure - the recipe is from Maggie Glezer's book Artisan Baking. Very detailed description of the steps required to make the pandoro sold at Bruno Bakery in Brooklyn. (Which was the bakery's name at publication - the baker's empire seems to have expanded since then - I just googled quickly and Pasticceria Bruno in Staten Island and Manhattan and Settepani in Brooklyn all seem to have the same owner.)

Sourdough starter, dough built over multiple long mixings and enrichments, a 12 hour rise, special pans. It sounds fantastic - like the best brioche ever - but it is a project. Looking at the recipe, I now see that *this* is where I got the information that cocoa butter from the cosmetic department is fine to use "as long as it contains no perfumes or preservatives." Post if you make it!!

That book is excellent by the way - and to add a little local relevance, it has a recipe for Hi-Rise's corn bread - one of my favorite local breads. I've made it and the results were very good.

Nov 24, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

ISO: Food Grade Cocoa/Cacao Butter

I don't know if this will satisfy the "food-grade" part of your query, but last year I bought some cocoa butter in the Whole Body section of the Whole Foods on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill. I was planning to use it for a recipe - it didn't specify "food-grade," but it was 100% cocoa butter, and it smelled delightful, so I wasn't particularly worried about baking with it. (I'd had the same problem finding it via more conventional routes.) In the end I didn't use it but only because the recipe (pandoro) had about a million steps and I didn't have the time to tackle it properly.

Nov 19, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

"Suicide food" restaurant signage in Greater Boston?

Back in the day when Boston Chicken was 1) still called Boston Chicken and 2) had reasonably good food, their logo was a chicken that was right on the verge of being too cute to eat.

Nov 12, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

Thanksgiving Sandwich/Wrap in Cambridge Area?

1369 Coffeehouse in Central Square has had an excellent Gobbler for the last few weeks. I always seem to go there on wednesdays so I'm not sure if they have it every day but I've really enjoyed it. (Their sandwiches in general are reliably good.) Good french loaf bread (probably Nashoba or maybe Pain D'Avignon), well-seasoned stuffing, moist (but not slimy) turkey, a bit of mayo, and - the only flaw - not quite enough cranberry sauce. If they added a little more cranberry sauce it would be perfect. I haven't tried the one at All Star - sounds a little more cheffy (and delicious) - this one is basic but very satisfying.

Nov 02, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area

A Tale of 2 Downtown Bars

This thread, and especially 9lives recommendation, nudged me towards Curley's for dinner last night -- definitely a great place. It was hopping at around 6; we put our names in for a table but ended up getting seats at the end of the bar and staying there for food as well as drinks. Cocktails were good (a Jack Rose for me and a "Seasonal Collins" - made with concord grapes I think - for her). We ate the baby octopus appetizer, the little cornbread skillet, and burgers - the sloppy joe burger for her (apparently the special theme this week was "Betty Crocker Cookbook" - hence the Chicken a la King sliders) and the regular burger for me.

The octopus (more toddler-sized than baby, I'd say) was tasty and pretty tender, though quite aggressively salted. Granted, it is bar food; of course it's salty. I might have wanted something a little green/pickled/tart to go along with it but that's just fussing; I'd get it again.

The cornbread was delicious - I was trying to tell where the cornbread ended and the melting honey/butter topping began to see if it was the authentic southern skillet cornbread so many hounds crave, but I couldn't say. But the crust was beautifully browned, the bread was pudding-y moist, and I was raised on sweet northern cornbread so I'm not a very good judge of authenticity. I think I'd actually order it for dessert next time, but I would definitely order it. Every time.

The burgers were as good as everyone says. Thick and very juicy, on a thankfully non-brioche toasted sesame-seed bun, with cheddar, grilled onions, pickles and sauce. The sloppy joe burger added seasoned beef and coleslaw (and maybe took away the other toppings? I was concentrating on mine so I'm not sure.). Between the sauce and the onions and the burger itself it was a little over the top in richness: next time I might customize it a little to make it more balanced, but the beef itself was fantastic. Oh, the fries that came with it were good - they seemed mostly crispy to me (to reference the other current JM Curley thread) and well-seasoned.

Our service at the bar was great: friendly and attentive. I agree with all the praise for this place - definitely hitting all its marks; really a paragon of a great neighborhood restaurant. Probably my new favorite place in that area.

Nov 02, 2012
MichaelB in Greater Boston Area