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Trip Report: 4 days in New Orleans - days 3-4

Forgot to include Domenica, which I did manage to get to (I forget which day now). I have the recipe at home for the Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Feta - have been dying to make it, and had completely forgotten it was a restaurant recipe. Tried the original version here - delicious but insanely huge for one person. It's a whole head of cauliflower!

Mar 11, 2014
laura jean in New Orleans

Trip Report: 4 days in New Orleans - days 3-4

I would highly recommend either Peche or La Petite Grocery - definitely my fave 2 places I visited.

I only dine at bars - I much prefer it to table seating. And I tend to go out early so I can avoid the "prime time" rush.

Peche is more casual, open, airy - like a converted warehouse but nice. It's easily walkable from the Convention Center area. Peche has a huge bar - probably 30 seats? Great seafood with a NO focus.

La Petite Grocery is in the Garden District. It's much more formal - darker, hushed. The bar has 8 (I think) seats. On V-Day, the bar was filled within 20min of opening, by regulars who couldn't get a table rez (and me). Not sure how quickly they fill up usually. The food is upscale New Orleans (at least as far as I understand it).

I didn't find much around Le Petite Grocery, so if you are a multiple-places-in-one-night person, definitely do La Peche and also check out Herbsaint or Emeril's in the neighborhood. But LPG was truly awesome and decadent, if that's the mood you want.

Mar 11, 2014
laura jean in New Orleans

Trip Report: 4 days in New Orleans - days 3-4

So as I said, my trip turned into 4 days instead of 2 - not that I'm complaining!

FRIDAY - which was Valentine's Day, not the best day to be in a strange city solo but oh well - people were SO friendly and it was wonderful.

Friday lunch:
Charbroiled oysters at Drago's - ehhhh. I really don't like Gulf oysters, I find them too large and muddy tasting. Broiling them with garlic butter and parmesan is nice but not awesome.

Peche (I am obsessed with this place, seriously) - Shrimp and fontina croquettes, pan-fried catfish in a chile broth with pickled beet greens. Both awesome.

Friday dinner: I took the streetcar out to the Garden District.

Coquette - I love happy hour (we don't have that in Boston). 2 types of cheese, a housemade pretzel (YUM), gougeres.

Commander's Palace is seated-dinner only, no bar, so I skipped it.

La Petite Grocery - Way more elegant than I expected, based on the name. Lovely couple next to me insisted I try the blue crab beignets. YUM omg these were amazing. I should have tried more food here - it was my Friday highlight.

Lilette - Snagged the last seat at the bar. Another lovely couple next to me insisted I try the sizzling shrimp - not my usual, but they were giant and tasty (once I took off the heads - sorry CHers).

Bouligny Tavern - sister resto to Lilette, super packed and hipstery, so I went back to my new friends at Lilette. They were kind enough to share a lovely bottle of red they had just purchased. Then they decided it was too dangerous for me to walk back to the street car, so they drove me.

I expected to meet up with a friend but he was working late so I went back to my hotel and ended up falling asleep.

SATURDAY:
Got up and went to the airport for my 11am flight. Learned it was cancelled so I booked myself at the Hilton Airport and took a bus back into town. I decided to go towards the French Market/Frenchman street area.

NOLA - Pork cheek boudin balls were delicious. Warm shimp remoulade was good but not amazing.

Central Market - the mufaletta was fine but way better at Cochon Butcher (sorry everyone). It is fun to order beer and walk down the street drinking it. You can't really do that in Boston.

Coop's Place had a line out the door - so much for an "under the radar" local joint.

Three Muses - at the rec of one of my new friends from Friday night. Too full to eat so I just had wine.

Spotted Cat - So fun! Live music and dancing and drinking, all at 3pm! (cash only, BTW, and wine choices are "red" or "white") It starts to get blurry here, I will admit. Stopped at some other bar in that area, like a sports bar - called DBA or something sketchy like that.

The 1st parade of Mardi Gras was in that neighborhood starting at 6:30pm, so I stayed to watch the parade, it was awesome. Only problem was, could NOT get a cab after. I was back in the French Quarter so I went to R'Evolution for more food - burrata with caviar, and turtle soup.

Finally got a cab, went back to my hotel. Went to the bar, cuz no one ever said I make good decisions.... Met a flight attendant, decided I will become a flight attendant (probably will not actually do that), ate red beans and rice with andouille sausage. More wine. OUCH.

Got up at 4:30am, flew home. Ouch.

BUT overall an amazing trip. I hope I can come back soon, hopefully with a partner in crime next time!

Mar 10, 2014
laura jean in New Orleans
1

Trip Report: 4 days in New Orleans - days 1-2

I spent 4 days in New Orleans last month - was supposed to be 2, but thanks to New England weather, I got stuck a couple extra days. Not that I'm complaining! I did a lot of CH research in advance, and wanted to post my trip report.

I'm going to split this into 2, as it will be LONG. I ate and drank a TON - especially on day 1, when I thought I was only on a 2-day trip. But it was awesome.

WEDNESDAY:

Lunch at Cochon Butcher - Cabbed it directly here from the airport. I want to go back 10 times and try EVERY thing. Mufaletta - WOW. Marinated brussels sprouts - tasty

Dinner "crawl":
Peche - Fabulous bartender, love the decor, I should have just stayed here all night. Sampled 2 each of 3 oysters, from Alabama, Louisiana and Texas. Verdict: I really am an Atlantic oyster gal.

Herbsainte - Super cute and upscale, very San Fran/Philly-esque feel to it. Also nice bartender. Chicken-andouille gumbo - rich, tasty.

SoBou - SO LOUD. The bartender had quite the flair for drama.... not really my thing, as it resulted in me being ignored while she told long stories of cocktail origins to her captive audience. I had the hogs head tamale - served openface, quite delicious.

Kingfish - It felt New Orleans-y but not kitschy. Tried the bacon-wrapped jalapenos stuffed with chorizo and cheese. Yum. Wish I had tried the smoked rabbit gumbo.

(I wanted to try more "New Orleans food" throughout the night, but it's all so heavy when you're restaurant-hopping. Like the sweet potato beignets with foie fondue at SoBou.)

Met up with a friend and went to the Carousel Bar. Yeah, I don't like moving in circles while drinking.

Then we wandered around Bourbon just to say we did- stopped at Galatoire's for drinks.

THURSDAY:
Lunch:
Emeril's - BBQ shrimp were rich and delicious and the rosemary biscuit should be illegal it's so good. Buffalo duck wings were gigantic, like turkey size, and fairly tasty but not amazing. Nice crispy skin.

Peche - Yes, again. Smoked fish sandwich was incredible. The lovely gentlemen (one customer, one off-duty bartender) sitting next to me recommended it, and also gave me a taste of their fried bread - also awesome. I would eat here everyday if I lived in NO.

Dinner:
Work event at Ruth's Chris. The steak bruschetta was tasty. Other than that, I did not eat.

After the event:

Restaurant August - huitlacoche agnolotti with smoked rabbit and chiles. YES PLEASE. I should have also tried the hot buttered crab and burrata cornbread tart or the gnocchi with blue crab and truffles. BUT I was on a mission so I went to:

Luke - Bistro-Epcot feel, didn't love it. Rabbit and chicken liver pate was nice but nothing special. Slowwwww bartender - by the time she took my card etc, it was 10:53 and I tried to go over to Domenica but got there at 11:01 and they were closed. Boo.

Mar 10, 2014
laura jean in New Orleans

Stella - $5 Happy Hour

Finally tried this last week. The $5 Happy Hour plates include almost every app on the regular menu, and they are full-sized appetizer portions. A fantastic deal!

Parmesan Arancini - enjoyed the sauce (a little spicy) but found the arancini a bit dense/heavy. (I miss the short rib arancini from Sage....)

Bistecca Tartare - very good, mustardy, but a raw egg (or at least a softer-cooked yolk) probably would have worked better.

Crispy Fried Artichoke Hearts - I loved these, slightly thick batter but fried really nicely and tasty.

Spicy Mussels in Saffron Cream - delicious, spicy, the best dish of the evening - definitely worth a return trip for these.

Bartender was friendly; the Richer Pourer wine on tap was crisp and tasty and nicely priced (I think $8?). Huge bonus: There are parking meters across the street (in front of the Salvation Army) that do NOT turn resident-only at 6pm. Why have I not been here before?

We rounded out the meal with a cheese platter at Gallows. A tasty evening all around!

Adventures in Downtown LA

I was in downtown LA last week for 2 days/nights for work, staying at the O Hotel (8th and Flower). I was car-less, but determined to see as much of the area as possible.

Lunch #1 - Tuna melt at Bar/Kitchen at my hotel - delicious, house made. Plus, you can never go wrong with tater tots!

Dinner #1 (Wednesday) - more of a crawl than a dinner....

Drago Centro - http://www.dragocentro.com/
Oysters with peach mignonette - the mignonette was gelee beads or something, served on the oysters - pretty good, even though I prefer my oysters without condiments. Nice place for a solo diner.

Border Grill - http://www.bordergrill.com/bg_dtla/bg... - Should have eaten more here, this was the highlight of my evening. Lamb barbacoa taco was AWESOME, baja shrimp ceviche tostada was fine but not a revelation.

The Standard Hotel rooftop deck - http://standardhotels.com/downtown-la... - Lovely view, cheap drinks served in plasticware.

The Parish - http://www.theparishla.com/ - My concierge said I should probably not go alone after dark to that area (close to Los Angeles Street), so I went before dusk. Sadly the real menu did not match the online menu, and everything I had wanted was not available. I had the "paella" (listed in quotes) which seemed to be a barley-based risotto/paella dish, with a whole sardine and smoked sausage - interesting, tasty, nice and filling after all the HH drinks! This was a great place, the vibe felt very San Fran.

When I was done it was dark so the bartender suggested an alternate route home from the way I got there (more lights/people). I still got chased by a homeless guy which was quite alarming.

I then tried to find The Gorbals but either I missed it or it is closed. I also wanted to find Cole's for their secret bar/speakeasy but also could not find it. I was a little on edge by that point, so I walked back to my hotel.

I wish I had known about Alma - read about it in Bon Appetit when I got back home....

Lunch #2 -
Checked out the Pershing Square Farmers Market, got a cheese/poblano tamale and a jalapeno/black bean pupusa. Both were tasty but not spectacular. Then I headed over to Grand Central Market, for pork tacos as Las Morelianas - also tasty.

Dinner #2 (Thursday) -
Business dinner event at the Palm, enjoyed the crab cake appetizer.

After dinner, cabbed it over to Perch by Pershing Square. What a scene! I had heard it was classier than Standard, but it's really the same scene minus the pool. Snagged a bar seat and ordered the gougeres - they were enormous, about the size of tennis balls, fairly doughy and bland (didn't really taste the emmental and gruyere).

Headed over to 6th Street Tavern, but that was also insanely packed so I just went back to my hotel.

(Last trip I went to Rivera, which was good, so skipped that this time.

)

Overall a good sampling of food throughout the neighborhood! Next time I'll try more at Border and check out Alma.

Aug 19, 2013
laura jean in Los Angeles Area

Near or At Natick Mall

I work in that area and am sadly all too familiar with the options.

Margaritas is always crowded and loud.Service can be really slow/non-existent at both John Harvard's and British Beer Company; I prefer Paparazzi but have also had odd service in the bar area.

I have not yet tried The Pantry, at the VERVE-Crown Plaza hotel. Looks better than the alternatives and am (moderately) looking forward to trying it.

What's Up With Tempo in Waltham?

Two of us went last night to try their "$7 Before 7" appetizers. When I arrived, the bar was crowded with 2 large parties waiting to be seated. We hovered by the door for the 15 minutes it took to get them seated, then snagged 2 seats at the still-busy bar. We ordered a drink each, then three of the appetizers: Philly steak and cheese spring rolls; shrimp and chorizo in a skillet; and mussels with Italian sausage and white wine broth.

Mussels were tasty (and only one unopened). Sausage pieces were a little large, but it was a satisfying dish. Shrimp and chorizo were very dry yet oily, but still edible. I preferred eating the small chorizo slices with the mussels, myself. Philly steak spring rolls were sliced in half lengthwise, which led to them being incredibly dried out.

The service was just as so-so as the food. Our wine and water glasses sat empty for long periods, and we had to flag the bartenders down for refills. Yes, the bar was busy, but a bartender should not actively seek to avoid eye contact with patrons. When we did interact with them, they were indeed friendly, but the painfully slow service was really frustrating. On our way out, the 2 hostesses did not even acknowledge nor thank us.

I enjoyed the vibe of the place (even though it was really quite loud at the bar), the decor, the idea of the menu (if not all the execution), and the discounted pricing. But I don't think I'll be back anytime soon - so-so food combined with so-so service? No thanks.

Daddy Jones Magoun Sq, Somerville, now open. First visit.

We tried it last Friday, around 8pm. Definitely a lively place. Staff was super friendly too. The bar was almost full (maybe 2 seats open) and all tables were full. We were seated within 5 minutes, and split several appetizers.

Fried zucchini were tasty but I didn't love the breading. I loved the phyllo stuffed with spinach, mushrooms and cheese - will definitely return for that on a regular basis. Smoked herring was very smoky, and I liked it especially paired with the grilled romaine and capers. Meatballs were good, but not exceptional - I wish they were lamb meatballs.

I live less than a half mile away - it's great to have another option besides Magoun's. I'll definitely be back, and often.

First Printer in Harvard Square

I checked in out in early March. My BF wanted to watch the UNC/Duke game at Tommy Doyle's, so I bailed to find better food. So, at that point I was just happy to NOT be at Tommy Doyle's and anything may have looked good - but I did really enjoy First Printer.

Roasted Harvard Beet Salad: Harvard, gold, and candy stripe beets, parsnips, turnips, mixed greens, toasted almonds, Vermont Creamery goat cheese, craisins, Honeycrisp cider vinaigrette - Yeah I really hate turnips, that was confirmed. But the rest was good.

Shrimp and Grits: asiago cheese, andouille sausage, Holy Trinity tomato broth - I am a sucker for shrimp and grits, plus anything with andouille, so, YUM.

Side of Braised Baby Spinach, Rainbow Swiss Chard and Broccoli Rabe - Too bitter for me, but I was trying to be healthy.

Looking forward to going back, with more people so I can try more. Also, the wine was cheap.

Backbar Open and Worth Seeking Out

Yes, the "plate of goodies selected by your bartender" ($15 per person) was a bit of a miss - and FYI it's a pre-set plate, not something the bartender whips up with your preferences in mind. Once we added on the cheese and rabbit that appealed off the chalkboard menu, it came to $49 for basically a charcuterie plate for 2. Yikes.

Union Mule was delicious - not at all cloying like most St Germain drinks are these days. Nouveau Carre was a play on the Veiux Carre, with tequila and mezcal and other things I forget. I couldn't taste any smoke in the smoke 'n coke(they use smoked ice) - perhaps it's too subtle for me. Then again, it was my 3rd quite strong cocktail....

I'll be back for drinks (as often as possible!) but agree with Gini that the snacks really aren't the strong point. Too bad they were out of the pork cracklin's - maybe they were the magic piece we were missing....

Bosphorus - Inman Square - Another "meh" vote

They must have recently changed the menu - I went on Sept 22nd, and they had none of those items. The current online menu reflects what I had: http://www.bosphoruscambridge.com/.

Everything is offered in half and full sizes, which i do appreciate, as we were able to try several dishes that way. I enjoyed everything we had, but it was not earth-shattering. I am also assuming this is no longer authentic Turkish cuisine?

Marinated Beets with Halloumi Cheese, Ruby Red Grapefruit, Parsley-Mint Salad
Grape-leaf Dolma with Currants, Rice, Pine Nuts and House-Made Yogurt Sauce
Seared Sea Scallops with Creamy Cauliflower Risotto and Truffled Mushrooms
Poached Turkish Beef Dumplings in Tomato Sauce

I was disappointed that they were out of the Eggplant-Wrapped Braised Lamb Shank with Caramelized Onions and Eriste, as it sounded interesting and the most unusual of the meat offerings.

Loved the design/decor of the room. Food was fine but not exceptional. I won't rush back, but I would definitely go again if in the area.

I shuck, therefore I eat...oysters

Can I ask, where and how did you learn how to filet fish? Was it from someone you know, or did you get a professional lesson? The nice gentlemen at Courthouse have described the technique several times, but I don't seem to be learning it well (as is obvious if you saw my fish filets), and I would love to find a place that does hands-on lessons.

August 2011 Openings and Closings

The giant "open" sign was up last weekend when we walked by, but they were closed - a worker told me they were opening this past Tuesday. Not sure if they actually did though - I can't get to Back Bay during the week much. Urban Daddy says they'll be open for the weekend.

Estragon reviews?

The pringa is amazing (bone marrow, beef shank and pork belly) and the crisy spicy garbanzos are beyond addictive. I also really liked the grilled chorizo (I'm a sucker for smokey flavors). It's been a while, so I don't remember everything in perfect detail, but I recall not being as impressed with the crispy pork belly or the lamb empanada.

They won't accept the groupon during restaurant week, even if you sit at the bar and not order off the special menu. Not that I minded, since it gave me an excuse to go back. :-)

Fantastic meal at Journeyman in Somerville

(I was gini's DC.) It was absolutely amazing! The best tasting dinner I've had in Boston (which made my boyfriend sad when I told him cuz he sprung for the Craigie tasting on my last birthday. Well, now I have a new birthday place!)

Cost was $65 for 5-courses and $45 for wine pairings.

With the addition of the starters I had waiting for gini, I was absolutely stuffed at the end of the 5 courses. But I would definitely do 5 or even 7 courses again - just skip lunch next time.

Any recent reviews on Brunello Bistro?

I live down the street and have been a couple times. I like the space and want to love the place, but I have not been impressed with most of the food.

The baked gouda wrapped in phyllo dough over greens with berries was insanely sweet, even if it had been a dessert instead of an app. I don't remember specifics about the stuffed eggplant appetizer except that it was very heavy. My DC liked the seafood risotto, which had lots of seafood, but I found it bland. I was also unimpressed with the carbonara. I actively disliked the lobster gnocchi - I probably should not have ordered such a tricky dish, I realize. I did really like the rigatoni bolognese - I'll go back for that. And I still want to try the ravioli and osso bucco. I do wish they offered half-size portions of the pastas - the portions are too large for me.

Gallaria Umberto: did they change the arancini?

Are there variations/flavor choices for the arancini, panini or panzarotti? I'll eat anything, but I'm just curious how it work at GU.

I've never been and am hoping to make a trip there this Friday. Thanks!

Sick of gazpacho - need some new chilled soup ideas

I just made this Peach Soup with Ceviche and it was super easy and delicious - sweet and spicy:

http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

Jul 22, 2010
laura jean in Home Cooking

What is the last new recipe you tried, and how would you rate it?

I went on a cooking binge this weekend, since my parents came over for dinner.

Braised Lettuce Crostini: I used ricotta because my father won't eat goat cheese; the cheese was too bland and the lettuce came out soggy and slimy. Not sure what (if) I did wrong. Will not repeat.
http://www.thekitchn.com/thekitchn/gu...

Peach Soup with Ceviche: I used bay scallops instead of crab in the ceviche. This was delicious (and I'm not a sweet soup fan) - sweet but spicy from the radish and jalapeno. Definitely a keeper, and soo easy.
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/rec...

Nigella's Watermelon Salad - It was great day-of, but I didn't like the leftovers at all.

Grilled Pork Burgers: These were highly recced by the board, so I was excited to try them. They smelled heavenly when I was prepping them, using chorizo from a local farm and Niman Ranch applewood smoked bacon. I also omitted the chiles but added a touch of cayenne, and topped them with aioli, manchego and arugula (not the romesco). Once on the grill, they shrunk at least 50% into tiny round balls. Is that normal?
http://wellfed.typepad.com/well_fed/2...

Corn Boats with Zuchinni: The boats were actually easier to make than I expected, but even though it was cute, I'll never do that again. Plus, the corn would have been better grilled not sauteed, and I didn't think the pepper jack added anything (and I'm a cheese freak!). Leftover filling will be mixed with black beans and salsa to make veggie tacos.
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...

Yogurt Panna Cottas with Honey: I added 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the mixture, and served them topped with blueberry honey, fresh blueberries, and golden raspberries. Light, delicious and super easy, a definite keeper.
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/yo...

Jul 19, 2010
laura jean in Home Cooking

Silvertone & Stoddards

The grits were thin and watery, and the smoked flavor of the ham was nowhere to be found. These grits are why many Northerners think they dislike grits.

I specifically *did* say I'd return for bar food - I much prefer bar dining over dining room/table dining, especially when a place has proven to have very slow/bad service in the dining room. I can't imagine having to wait 30 minutes for a drink refill at a bar....

Since all reviews of this place have mentioned the wait, the crowdedness, the after-work popularity, etc, I find it absurd that they would be "not accustomed to being quite that busy." I just think their service is subpar.

Newton-area Italian?

Hello,

I'm looking for a restaurant to host a private party (actually a rehearsal dinner) for 25 people, in a private room. The bride has requested Italian, which (to her) means red-sauce Italian. The preferred location is between Newton and Boston, as most guests will be staying in either Newton or Kenmore Square.

I've reached out to: Gran Gusto, Stellina, Amelia's (in Kendall), and quite a few North End places (Artu, Rabia's, Euno, Filippo, Lucia, Marco and G'Vanni's). Are there other places I have not yet thought of? I'd love something in the suburbs to make parking easier and keep the price down a bit.

Thanks!

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Gran Gusto
90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

Stellina Restaurant
47 Main St, Watertown, MA 02472

G'Vanni's
2 Prince Street, Boston, MA 02113

Silvertone & Stoddards

Stoddard's is offering a deal this week (apparently a "thanks for being patient while we took forever to open" party) - any app + entree (full menu included) + a cask ale, for $18.68. I went last night to try it out.

Food: The gouda fondue is to die for - I'll be going back specifically for that. The charcuterie plate was monochronistic and visually bland, but good tasting - country pate and rabbit galantine in particular were delicious, the quail egg sausage nothing special. For entrees, the heritage pork was amazingly tender and delicious; the accompanying smoked ham grits a sad let-down. I had never had rabbit ballotine before so have no idea what to compare it to - I found it okay but nothing special.

Service: Bad. Initially the waiter was good - friendly, informative, etc. But once the appetizers were dropped (by a runner), we never saw the waiter again. My beer (and water glass as well) was empty by the time the entree was served, but I was never offered any refill. More than 10 minutes after we were done eating, my DC went to find the waiter and ask for the check (which still took several more minutes to arrive). I would have happily had another drink or two (one with dinner, one after) but had no way to order. Also, I was overcharged $1 for the wine I did order before dinner - no big deal, but annoying when I was already frustrated with service.

In summary, I'd go back for the fondue and possibly the burger, maybe as an afternoon snack, but definitely not for dinner.

Anyone have the scoop on new Mexican place going in where 33/Skewers/Bomboa used to be?

Pricing looks even more aggressive in the new location - I seem to recall the guac was ~$8.50, now it's $9.25. Other prices also looked incrementally higher. But the patio and full bar will definitely add value.

Pazzo for dinner

I've tried Pazzo twice now, and while it wasn't terrible, I don't think I'll bother to return.

First visit was dinner at the bar with 1 DC, to use the groupon (or whichever). Service was good and the food was good but not amazing. We tried the beef carpaccio, crab cakes, and the gnocchi which I asked to have topped with the boar and pancetta ragu. The carpaccio was fine, my DCs first time trying it but I wasn't impressed. Crab cakes were surprisingly delicious. Gnocchi (very large and somehow loose) did NOT work with the ragu (which I seem to recall was bland), guess I should have trusted the menu.

Second time was for drinks and apps on the patio with 3 DCs. The first bottle of wine we ordered was out, but they suggested a decent (same priced) alternative. We split the arancini, grilled artichoke, tuna tartar and maybe one other thing. Artichoke was great - I could have eaten several. Pet peeve of mine, but maybe I'm being too demanding - there were 4 of us, only 1 of 2 tables on the patio at 4pm on a Saturday, so obviously not a busy time. We were given 3 arancini - I KNOW that's the portion size, but I am very pleased when a waiter takes initiative to have the kitchen provide 4 pieces for 4 people. Anyways, they were only okay, after all that.

Overall, I guess an okay place for a drink and an app, but I'd only return for the $5 app "happy hour" at the bar.

Exchange Street Bistro in Malden now has the chef from Zon's...anyone been?

Do you know when the new chef started?

I went in early March - just had drinks and appetizers. I remember most being ehh, but one thing was really good - I think the brisket taco?

Within walking distance of W South Beach - what's the best?

I was just at the W last week for work, and had one dinner at Solea and one at Talula. Solea was very good, but Talula was fantastic!

The cork-braised octopus salad was the definite highlight, as well as the stuffed pork chop (amazing crust, delicious overall). I highly recommend trying Talula.

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Talula
210 23rd St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Help! Boston 30th bday celebrations for large group

Red Sky would be great for your group, for the drinks/music part. Last time I went, it was a 20's and 30's crowd (not too too young and college-y) with top 40 and dance music. Lots of flavored-vodka type drinks - not a place for a "classic" cocktail, but fun and lively.

The food at Red Sky is very mediocre (at best) bar food that's trying to appear upscale. I'd eat elsewhere - there's not much in Faneuil Hall though. Perhaps Marliave or Silvertone for dinner?

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Silvertone
69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108

Marliave
10 Bosworth Street, Boston, MA 02108

Chacho's, Mission Hill: thoughts?

Wow - flashback! I lived in the neighborhood during college and ate there many times, but I have no memory of how it was.... Pizza was fine, what you want for breakfast when you're regretting all those beers the night before. I remember the Puerto Rican (?) specialties - there was something that was like a giant arancini, stuffed with ground beef, fried but not deep-fried like an empanada. I remember it being really good - but who knows if it really was?

Recommendations for Erbaluce please

Guess I can chime in, as gini's DC. Almost totally agree with her review.

I arrived first (6pm), and there were 5 people at the bar and no one in the dining room. There was also no bartender behind the bar, and no one at the host station. I hovered awkwardly for about 2-3 minutes (which REALLY is a long time in that context!), peeked into the dining room where 2 servers saw me but didn't acknowledge me, and then sat at the bar. Memories of negative service reviews were making me nervous.... A couple minutes later, the bartender came back, and after that there was no hitch at all in service. James the bartender was friendly and helpful; I spoke briefly with Joan; and as gini mentioned, the chef came and talked with us a couple of times.

Wine was great and very affordable - I think $7-9/glass? The boar meatballs really were amazing - and the sauce they were served over made the dish even better. I was nervous about tongue (yes I can be squeamish, sorry! but at least I try stuff I'm scared of!) but it was delicious. The smelts were okay (again a little scary to me), but the plate with the garlic aioli-type sauce was whisked away before I could try it on the fish - I bet it was awesome. Tuna pate was fantastic! And the cheese.... wow. I agree that the spaghi didn't match up to Coppa's - I kinda wish we had tried the mushroom lasagnetta instead. (And I was sad there was no rabbit.)

I will definitely be back - as gini said, this place more than compares to Coppa, with tons of seating and none of the waiting.