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Mei Mei Kitchen, real disappointment..

To be fair, without weighing in on the quality of dishes (i haven't made it out for dinner in quite some time), you can still get the double awesome on the takeout menu at dinner: http://boston.eater.com/2014/10/30/71... .

This split-lower price point for takeout with some of the lunch favorites, higher price point- seems like a smart way to try and get the best of both clientele worlds and also allow them to continue offering a more innovative menu at dinner. That said, obviously, if the quality's not there, that's a shame, but, at least as a tactic it's a nice way to try to please everyone (as opposed to say, the discussion over on the strip t's thread about the switch to an all day, mostly sandwich focused, menu)

Nov 02, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Future of Junk Food?

I went to the junk food dinners, and they were worth the money in all cases, and for my favs of the series downright steals.

The last event he did in boston was a collab, and the food was great, but i would say the theme translated differently: the dishes Monsour has done are typically delightfully literal translations of junk food concepts into fine dining form, as in recreating a snickers with foie for the nougat, or a handi snack using campari candy for the stick, etc...while the other chefs ( putting out great food) tended to run more abstractly with the general concepts of a junk food dish.

Which is to say- i think you'll have a great time, and you should go, but if it's really the concept of having gourmet recreations of junk food you're sold on, then this might leave you a bit disappointed.

My understanding, though, is that you should probably expect this series to continue to be collab events, and, while he's living in LA, will be touring the series around to other cities per recent coverage...so may be better to get in while you can!

Oct 15, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

Thanks for the info Gretchen, and for the report Duster. As I said, nothing wrong with accommodating what the majority of your customers want, but it still can make for a sad day for those in the minority :)

Boston Magazine piece 9/9 discussing the changes- http://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaur...

Sep 10, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

yes apologies, i probably should have elaborated more/not phrased it as 'any additional plates'-lunch often had specials too, so i was envisioning it more as just an extension of that, but i could've phrased it better- the real point of what i was trying to say was that this did not seem like dinner+lunch options, it was trading out a lot of dinner options in favor of serving lunch options all day.

And while they may have 'dinner specials', i can't imagine the quantity (or ability to develop them) could be anywhere near what it was when they had a dedicated dinner menu with specials on top of that. after all, it's a tiny place, they seem to think the demand was that those lunch options be served at dinner, so how much room can that leave to be putting out new plates?

but admittedly, this is all speculative :). if you've (or anyone) has been, i'd love to hear how many plates they're putting out nightly after 5pm and how they are!

Sep 06, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

New Strip T's Thread for 2013:Excellence and Innovation Continue

If it were simply adding sandwiches to dinner, I'd concur. But from the looks of it they've nixed attempting any additional plates for dinner. perhaps this is just temporary after chef shuffling, but i'd be willing to be that, unless business drops as a result, this is permanent.

Sep 05, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Carbone v Torrisi

Ha-I don't doubt it! I thought about saying that, but figured it might be a tougher sell on someone who hasn't been to say "don't worry about the money you're spending, they'll make great leftovers" :)

Aug 23, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

Carbone v Torrisi

I've only done Carbone, but I think your bigger determinant may be the size of the party you have. I would only do Carbone if I had a party of 4 or more, ideally really 6. Here's why:

Loved the food at Carbone. But as others have noted, it's bold, and rich, and portions are *huge*. I can't think of a single entree dish that wasn't good enough for 2 if not more. I loved what I got, but I don't think I would have enjoyed it nearly as much if say, *all* i was able to order was the veal parm because my party was small. After a couple of knockout bites, rich food like that hits diminishing returns very quickly.

On the other hand, getting to have 4 bites veal parm, a few bites ribs, etc, and not only is Carbone amazing, but, honestly, bc of the portion sizes, it ends up being not nearly as expensive as many make it out to be (with 6 of us, i think we got 4 entrees, were stuffed, and to the waiter's credit, he actually *stopped* us from ordering more food. Keep in mind this was also a year ago, so not sure how things have changed).

If you have the ability to have a big party at your whim, or just go to Torrisi, i obviously can't say which would be better since I haven't done the latter. But for me, since it's usually hard to round up a party that size with that $ for one evening, when i had that chance, i hopped on it, and had a blast.

Aug 23, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

PHX CHer in BOS to imbibe

will second recommendation for West Bridge above. Some great cocktails,favs on the list for me are the

Reardon- Rye, Amaro Abano, Bonal, Bitters (iirc done as
Boulevardier variant)

Third Sound-Beet infused mezcal, Cynar, Citrus

Amarillo by morning- Hay Infused Bourbon, Benedictine, Hickory, Sasparilla

Other cocktails on list are good but skew towards the light/refreshing end, which usually isn't my thing.

Other notable perks depending on your hours- West Bridge has a great patio (with separate drink list) that opens at 3pm.

Also, generally, WB has good daytime drinking hours (bar opens 3pm on weekend, 1130 am weekdays)

Jul 22, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

PHX CHer in BOS to imbibe

I'd throw on Merrill & Co., which is from the same folk as JM Curley (Kevin Mabry, in particular, heads up the bar for both). Some awesome sherry cocktails in particular, including these, which are two of my favs from the listt:

Chipiona- gin, fino, blanc vermouth, celery bitters
Two Stones- rye, east india sherry, curacao, bitters


Jul 21, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Would any Boston restaurants get any Michelin stars?

Without commenting on star placements within a city, if Michelin were concerned with driving people out to odd places, why would they be so restrictive in where they set up guides in the first place? Why not have a generic 'America' guide that would allow them to throw single stars out across the country even if those areas didn't have much to offer, as opposed to concentrating their guides only on three specific cities in the US?

Jun 16, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

best fine dining in New York?

aha, thanks Kathryn.

Jun 12, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

best fine dining in New York?

My impression from your other post was that you might need to do this trip asap- if that's the case, you are likely to have trouble getting into any of the high-high end places, which all book out several weeks in advance. If you give us the timeline, we might be able to come up with places that are likely to have seats (though it's always worth checking with the emps/per se's to see if there have been cancellations).

If you can book multiple weeks out in advance, and are staying the night... I'd throw out Brooklyn Fare as a place you should be looking into; consistently has been the best meal i've had.

Also, I hope you made it to Vintage Cave before you left; Chris Kajioka, a Per Se alum, was doing stellar food over the last year and a half, but alas is leaving (or may have already left). If you did do VC, i'd say Per Se should be less of a priority; even if Per Se is better, you'd find EMP much more novel at that point.

Jun 12, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

Guy Fieri filming in allston

thanks for finding this Slim. I had found the Page suit/counterpoint a while ago, but had never seen the piece from Kloster; greatly appreciate the second/less-reason-to-be-biased source on this, as it's a view about Guy I'd held since reading about the original suit.

Jun 05, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Awesome burgers: new thread

FYI- Next Super Burger Bros. pop up is Tues. June 17, 9pm at Commonwealth. Menu 'coming soon' per Mr. Monsour.


Jun 03, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Bagelsaurus: How Early is Early?

Seems like a policy aimed at allowing the most customers to try them, as opposed to making them accessible as a brunch/potluck idea? given the lines, I could see why they'd set a limit (which is not to say i don't understand why it's annoying if you wanted to get more).

Though it's an interesting question of how many people buying them are just looking to grab a bagel vs. would want to buy a bunch to take home...

Jun 02, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream?

Of course pints will look economical compared to a scoop shop....

But in any event, any food, to the person eating it, should be worth what you paid for it. If you haven't been, why isn't the commentary "wow, they must think their product is really good, or people really want good ice cream, to be able to charge that much?"

The cynicism with lack of data is exhausting.

May 30, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream?

based on General Greene, or have you actually been to Morgenstern's? Because I'd love to actually hear from someone who's been on this thread...

May 29, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

Harvard Sq Brunch?

Hsq (my current habitat) is lamentably barren for creative brunch options. rht is fine, and i know park launched brunch this year, though i haven't been.

per twitter, a&h will be launching brunch soon; that could potentially be a great option depending how soon your show is.

Otherwise, if you are coming by car, i'd take the ten minutes to drive over to Sofra if you're looking for something creative.

kt&t also launched sunday brunch recently, so that's another short drive/walkable with enough time (assuming a sunday matinee).

May 29, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

March 2014 Openings and Closings

This was actually confirmed quite a while ago, but you can see the latest update from Clover on it here :)


May 27, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Paris Baguette in H Mart Central Sq.- Your Fav Items?

I'm a fan of their canele, though they are fairly nontraditional. While only the top get a really good crunch to them, the inside has a really interesting, dense custard texture to it. Definitely worth a try if you enjoy the standard canele.

NY Serious Eats has a good description of what makes them unique here:


May 23, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Eleven Madison Park - 5.45 or 9pm

I think it all depends on when/how much you eat for lunch.

With a nice meal like that, my primary concern is always timing a meal so that i don't go in starving (because then i'll devour the food without appreciating/pay as much attention) or, obviously, so full that i similarly won't enjoy the food.

if you're like me, 9 o clock is just too long not to go out for a snack and a drink or three beforehand, and i always regret doing that before a really nice meal.

i would probably do 545... but that's usually because i skip breakfast and eat an early lunch, so i'm plenty hungry by then. but, i also can't say in a place like that i'm worried about their being the right amount of noise/people.

i'm just trying to optimize the eating part.

May 23, 2014
valcfield in Manhattan

I am a Victim of Their Success

that is random. In their defense/for future convenience, they do keep a calendar with when they'll be closed: looks like they've been closed all week (i'm assuming, of course, that they haven't edited that calendar after the fact in this case, but in the past i know it's been up to date in warning people)


May 23, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area


There's definitely a lot of hype, and associated good will/lack of the same standards, for pop ups than for b&m/established places.

It's also understandable why you'd see so many execution issues:

often times they're pop ups because the maker is trying something new for them

obviously, the nature of a pop up means you are either working in a kitchen you're unfamiliar with, or making product elsewhere and having to transport (which with pastries brings the getting-old issue in)

similar issue that when you're in someone else's space you may not have all the prep time you want, leading to rushing and associated execution problems

also assuming the above, i have to imagine that the time, but especially the money, to test out ideas is often quite limited, though that's probably not the case with Stacked, given they've had a series of pop ups.

I think there's a specific skill set to knowing how to arrange and execute a pop-up that's probably not appreciated by everyone who attempts one, and i definitely set my expectations accordingly/choose pop-ups either where i'm confident the team doing it is equipped to *or* where i just don't care if it doesn't quite live up to its promise.

In this case, while these guy seem great, donuts are something that if they're not *excellent*, then i'd rather not spend the calories. But I hope they can get to that point.

One last note, as a counterpoint, i've been amazed with the future of junkfood series and how they've been able to use ingredients like urchin, and foie gras, in a successful manner where i can only imagine what limited capacity there is to play around with such expensive ingredients.

May 22, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Awesome burgers: new thread

JM Curley, which also has a pretty great burger on their specials board right now (bacon laced patty, bacon cheddar biscuit bun, slaw).

Alden and Harlow: always loved the meat, frico, and bit of funk in this burger, and think they've nailed their bun now so meshes well with the filling.

and for burger fans who don't already know, Richard Chudy and Sam Monsour have been promoting their upcoming cookbook with once a month pop ups called 'super burger bros.' The first one, at boston chops, was a lot of fun if chaotic.

Last night's, at Tavern Road, was a total blast, and the monsour/chudy creation of the month, a breakfast burger with sous vide egg yolks, porchetta, rosemary butter, on a stone and skillet english muffin (new high end english muffin company?) was pretty fricken awesome. seconds, and thirds, were ordered. So i'd definitely recommend burger enthusiasts look to see where/when the next one is.

May 21, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Half-price Sushi for Short Adults?

I guess they felt measuring your waist line would be too invasive?

May 14, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Mid-Tier Spirits for Every-Day Cocktail Making

Well, Serious Eats gets bartenders to share theirs: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/05/ba...

May 06, 2014
valcfield in Spirits

Fiola Mare dish recs?

Thank you all for the recs! We got:

frutti di mare large platter (6 of us.. this was not my choice, as i'm always skeptical of seafood tower-esque things)

full order lobster ravioli

full order gragano spaghetti

olive oil poached black bass

side of olive oil crushed potatoes

dessert: chocolate marchesi and bombolini

alas! no risotto on the menu.


1. as expected, frutti di mare was the one and only disappointment. the raw shellfish, prepared mussels, and lobster were great and well-portioned, but the tuna tartare, peekytoe salad, and uni were all subpar, and served in incredibly tiny dishes- my big issue here is that, this being the large platter, it's almost impossible to imagine there is a smaller dish/portion of those they use on teh small platter... so i think you just get the same amount of crab/tuna/urchin regardless, which is frustrating.

2. all the other savory food was lovely.

again, it was a bit odd that the 'full' portion of the lobster ravioli had only 3 ravioli (as it raised the question of what a half order would have), but the portion of lobster was great, and, more importantly, the lobster itself, the ravioli, and the broth were clean/refreshing and delicious (which is a great counterpoint to a normal buttered-lobster feeling)

clams and spaghetti also had a wonderful sauce that had us asking for extra bread.

olive oil black bass was also wonderfully executed. meat was tender, the oyster/caviar accompaniment was wonderful (it looked like this was the same prep as the oyster/caviar app, made me bummed we didn't get that separately)

3. dessert:

bombolini were great, but iirc they've been on fiola menu a while and received much deserved praise there.

the marchesi was a disappointment. The chocolate cake itself is just a par for the course rich chocolate, and the mint sauce on top, while exceedingly fresh (very herbal, not sweet at all), it did not mesh well with the chocolate, and ended up dominating the pistachios that were also present.

overall... i'd go back for the pastas, and the prepared fish, but, having gotten to sample most of the raw fish via the platter, i wouldn't bother order anything from the raw seafood page again given the prices they charge.

Mid-Tier Spirits for Every-Day Cocktail Making

will try and get a full list up soon but:

1. striperguy, thanks for starting this thread.

2. on vermouth, I love that the 750 ml of dolin are all ~15, especially the blanc, which is just lovely. also comparatively priced (when you account for size), carpano has recently brought to the US their carpano bianco- i saw it in NY for $23 for a litre. I haven't done a side by side with dolin, so i can't say which i prefer, but look forward to doing so sometime soon.

punt e mes always feels like a steal. and, i've wanted to try the classico. i like antica, but now that i've played aroudn with it on my own... anytime it's used in a cocktail, unless it's a really restrained amount, it just dominates the drink for me (i feel the same about cynar... and wonder if that's just what happens when you've had a distinctive spirit a lot, or if certain ingredients/profiles are more prone to that development).

May 02, 2014
valcfield in Spirits

IMPROPER BOSTONIAN, MAY 2014 "Hot Shots" article by MC SlimJB

generally- this is something I see such disparate opinions on; if and when it's worthwhile to use a good/pricy spirit in a cocktail. I think it was Jim Meehan i saw quoted recently who said that a cocktail is 'only as good as it's weakest link', and thus always seemingly worthwhile... but i'd love to see a roundup of different professional's opinions (a la serious eats' occasional features.. don't think they've covered this one yet) on when/which high end spirits they use for cocktails vs. when it's a waste...

May 02, 2014
valcfield in Greater Boston Area

Fiola Mare dish recs?

Thanks both! And yes- I was having same conundrum with sea urchin pasta: love it, but it's like Dave Chang's pork buns 5 years ago... seems to be everywhere now.... good to know it doesn't blow away the rest of the pack.