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ECG Hell Night Rec's

As I side, I enjoy the theater, but I have never set out to finish the bowl of pasta. In the olden days, I'd eat a few substantial bites, but the peppers have really gotten much hotter and (like you), I don't need to suffer for 24 hours anymore. I'll leave that to the others who are crazier than me. Of course, I'm not above goading new-comers at my table to take a big hearty gulp. Dinner theater!

Sep 23, 2011
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

ECG Hell Night Rec's

Great review by Gabatta! I can add a few of my impressions, will try not to repeat.
(fyi: I was there on Wednesday night 5:30 with 10 people. This was my 27th HnH).

I recognize that the Hotter-n-Hell is clearly dinner theater rather than fine dining. Not that the food isn't good (it usually is), but the whole event is a testosterone-fest from the loud music to the stage smoke and the screaming in the kitchen. It's a blast, but it's not haute cuisine. All that said, here are some notes about the food:

- You had to ask for the "guava" ribs to get the spares coated in the hot inner beauty sauce. My rib was tough and dry. The ribs on the menu are baby backs and my waittress confided that they weren't going to be hot.

- Concur with Gabatta re: Pasta. Much hotter than I remember. Must be that new scorpion pepper. It doesn't seem humanly possible to eat a whole portion. Yes - I heard about the ambulance and I believe it to be real.

- Roulette Meatballs were a fail this time. Partially our own fault as some of my tablemates just grabbed and gobbled instead of waiting for 1-2-3. We should have started with these because anyone who'd eaten a Wing may not have tastebuds for a few minutes. Eventually they were all eaten and no one admitted to getting the hot one. So, roulette didn't work. And, $2.50 a pop for tiny meatballs is a gouge.

- Wings of Ass Destruction are the star appetizer. 'nuff said.

- I had the Vietnamese Style Big Bowl o' Seafood entree and it was tasty and hot. Danced on the line where I wanted to keep slurping the broth but had to put the spoon down a few times. Perfect level of heat. The entrees are typically are a disappointment from heat standpoint. The seafood itself was fine, nothing special, but the ghost-chile lemongrass broth made it worthwhile..

- Between others at the table we ordered all the entrees but shrimp&scallops. Nothing special to note from a heat or quality standpoint. That pork chop was impressive looking. I had a bite and it was dry.

So, bottomline is you go for the fun of it. Choose your tablemates accordingly. The apps are usually the highlight, not the entrees.

Sep 23, 2011
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Moody St. Waltham Sunday

2nd for Taqueria Mexico. I've enjoyed the bi bim bap at Tom Can Cook. I got the salmon version with brown rice and the quality of the fish and other ingredients was a pleasant surprise.

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Taqueria Mexico
24 Charles St, Waltham, MA 02453

Tom Can Cook
374 Moody St, Waltham, MA 02453

Jun 22, 2011
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Rialto: 4 course dinner with wines, prepared by Jody Adams - Rue La La coupon

We also had a miserable RW experience at Rialto a couple years ago . The restaurant was overcrowded and none of the staff looked like they wanted to be there. Food choices were uninspired and the portions were laughable. We were hungry before we were even outside the place. I felt like they were taking advantage of RW, so they've lost my business.

Jun 22, 2011
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

New to Arlington - Where should we eat?

I'll add on to the support for Nicola's pizza (and calzones and grinders) and Thai Moon. Also a fan of Bollywood and Zocalo (table-side guac is the best).

I must have missed the post. Where/when is a new bagel place opening in Arl Heights?

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Bollywood Cafe
135 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

Thai Moon
663 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

Zocalo
35 Stanhope St, Boston, MA 02116

Sep 19, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder for Fresh Sausage in South Shore burbs?

yes - I should mention that it is boneless, which makes it an even better deal, though I actually prefer to smoke bone-in to get more flavor in the center.

Sep 11, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder for Fresh Sausage in South Shore burbs?

If you ring the butchers behind the glass at the Waltham Costco, they'll bring out shoulder, typically a 2-pack, totaling 15-16 pounds. Their case price is cheap, like $1.29/pound.

Sep 10, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Blue Ribbon BBQ - Newton vs. Arlington

Blue Ribbon smokes their food for the restaurants and their catering business at a central commissary in Newton. They just reheat at the stores.

I think Firebox in Bedford is worth checking out. They do a particularly good job with chicken. They smoke inhouse and are happy to give you a tour of their equipment.

I smoke quite a bit, too, so I'm interested in hearing your assessment of the local bbq scene.

Sep 03, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Food carts coming to Greenway

Tried Andale cart today. Got a chorizo sandwich with chimichurri sauce. Tasty, but too small (just one sausage link) and a bit over-priced ($6.75). I went back to the cart to let them know the price was too high for the quantity and they said they are planning to drop the price tomorrow. Probably down to burrito levels ($5.75). Next time, I'll grab a burrito.

Would have been nice if they offered my something today since they acknowledged the sandwich was overpriced.

Yesterday I had a Pearl 1/4-pound dog with sauerkraut from the "Dogs-n-Spuds" cart that was excellent. And a bargain at $3.

I want the carts to thrive, so I'll be trying all of them when the weather is good.

Jun 15, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Restaurant Depot Worth it?

Second the recommendation for RD for doing a BBQ. Whole briskets (point + flat) and the very inexpensive butts make the trip worthwhile for me.

If you were throwing a big party, RD is the place to go for restaurant-style frozen appetizers. I now realize the secret for many restaurants - they just purchase and reheat the apps, not make from scratch.

It's such a different shopping environment - just go check it out!

Mar 09, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

The Meat House, Arlington

I live nearby and look forward to visiting The Meat House when it opens. They told me, via FB, it will open mid-April.

I BBQ quite a bit so I wonder if this will become my go-to place for meat. I'm willing to pay a bit more for top-notch customer service and a knowledgeable butcher. Do you know if their prices for ribs and brisket are much higher than Costco?

Mar 09, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Nourish -- New Vegie Friendly place in Lexington

Finally, tried Nourish tonight. Though I live in town, I saw the mixed reviews and wanted to give the restaurant a chance to settle in.

Unfortunately, it was not a great experience and I don't expect to return. My wife ordered the tofu in satay sauce over brown rice. Tofu was fine, but the sauce was incredibly salty/sour. And the rice was undercooked, actually crunchy. yuck. This problem goes back 6 months, if you look at the reviews above. We told the waitress at the end of the meal and she said she'd let them know in the kitchen. I would have expected a manager to come over to apologize, but nope. I guess they are fine with patrons complaining about crunchy rice.

On the positive side, I enjoyed the falafel rollup. The falafels were well-cooked and quite tasty and the other ingredients in the rollup were fresh and crunchy. I had asked for the harif hot-sauce, but didn't notice it in the sandwich.

Value is poor. $30 for the tofu, falafel sandwich and a small glass of iced tea ($2.99!!!).

Nice, relaxing space, but it's too bad the food and the value is unacceptable.

Feb 02, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Arlington Area Rehearsal Dinner

Second for Flora. Last year, I worked with them to plan a graduation dinner for 20 relatives. We designed a menu to my liking, including wine choices. They printed up the menus (no prices) and made a festive table for us . Service was impeccable. Wasn't cheap, but Flora made a memorable evening.

Jan 24, 2010
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

New BBQ in Bedford!!!

TNN - Pretty sure they said they made all their sauces.

Agree on the fried sweet potatoes - they were good. Nothing complicated, but well-cooked chunks of potato.

Going for lunch later this week, so I'll try to get the scoop on the sauces, as well as try something new.

Nov 02, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

Concord, Lexington, Arlington?

Second the rec for Bollywood friendliness and flexibility. I order saag paneer with yogurt instead of cream and it is lighter and quite delicious. Every couple of months, a group of 10 neighborhood guys meet at the restaurant and put ourselves in the owners hands. He brings out a great appetizer assortment, lots of entrees and naans. Total ends up being under $15 pp before tip. (It's BYOB which save lots of $$$.)

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Bollywood Cafe
135 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

Oct 31, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

New BBQ in Bedford!!!

Checked out FireBox last night. Very pleasant space. Seating area is great, unlike Blue Ribbon in Arlington which is mostly takeout.

Ordered a 3-meat combo (pork ribs, pulled pork, burnt ends) and a pulled chicken sandwich. Also, a couple of beers. They have a tap with a half-dozen interesting selections.

General comment is that I prefer a deeper smoke to the meats. They have a beautiful Southern Pride 300# smoker that they are still getting used to. All heat and flavor come from wood, not gas. I think they need to experiment with different types of wood, different temperatures, and different cooktimes to get that smokiness needed for top-notch bbq. After talking to the very friendly owners, I am confident they are paying attention and will make adjustments.

The pulled chicken was the winner. Very moist, relatively smoky. Good mix of white meat and dark. As others have noted, it was more chopped than pulled, but I haven't found pulled chicken that had a stringy, pulled appearance except when the meat has been braised, which is a bbq no-no.

The ribs were tender, not fall-off-the-bone which is appropriate. The meat came clean off the bone with little resistance, which is the standard for judging ribs (I'm a KCBS bbq judge). As noted, I wanted more smokiness. Also, a little more crust from the dry rub would be good.

The pulled pork was almost as good as the pulled chicken, but the lack of smoke held it back. Good mix of interior shredded pork (white and pink) and a few good chunks of exterior bark. They serve it unsauced, which I prefer. But, takeout customers will need to remember to grab some containers of sauce.

Burnt ends were not. Actually, I received sliced brisket, that was sauced and grilled. Looked like sausage slices in my container. Definitely not from the point part of the packer brisket. I asked the owners about this and they sheepishly admitted that demand far outstripped their ability to produce burnt ends so they've been substituting this brisket concoction. They need to figure out a better response - either smoke more point to produce real burnt ends or properly label their twice-cooked brisket.

Notable was the quality of the sauces - complex flavors that matched well with the meats. The homemade pickle alongside the sandwich was also a hit. You can see that the owners care about the details. Maybe too much. They told me that they had a homemade ketchup that bombed. Everyone just wanted their Heinz. A lesson that you need to nail the basics before adding your own twist.

The best part of the visit was talking to the owners and seeing their enthusiasm. They aren't trying to make dive bar bbq; they are bringing their extensive culinary background to make bbq with a twist. It was clear that their launch point is their catering and french training, rather than pit-master bbq. They are planning special nights to showcase world-bbq, highlighting different regions each time (asian, north african, etc.).

I support their endeavors, and by the good crowd on a Fri night, it looks like they are on track. My advice to them is to wait for the "foo-foo" until they've really nailed the bbq side of things.

SpicyIvan

Oct 31, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

H-Mart Burlington!!!

Confirmed - I went to H-mart at 10am this morning (Sunday) and the parking lot was 1/2-empty and the store was empty enough to push a shopping cart.

Oct 18, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

best lobster roll

I was surprised and impressed by the lobster roll at Kimball's Farm (Westford). At $15, it wasn't cheap, but the portion size and the quality was excellent. Rarely does a lobster roll fill me up, but this was composed of tons of lobster -- looked like the meat of a complete 1+ lb. lobster. 2 identifiable claws and lots of chunk tail meat. Just enough mayo to hold it together. Their new snack bar matches their ice cream business model: give more than expected, for the price.

Aug 09, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area

BBQ Supplies in Boston

Costco is best for ribs (babybacks and spares) and brisket (flat). I get full briskets (flat + point) at Restaurant Depot in Needham. Low prices so both stores do big volume -- turnover and freshness are excellent. Anybody have additional recommendations?

Jul 16, 2009
spicyivan in Greater Boston Area