h

hcraddock's Profile

Title Last Reply

Bogie's Place Comparison

I have seen most of my opinions about Bogie's fairly well expressed by others in this thread. Which is to say that the quality and preparation of the steaks is as good if not better than any of the big steakhouses in town, although obviously the dry aging program can't really compete.

The service is much more personal, which adds a nice 'private room' feel for special occasion dining. The starters and sides are, in my opinion, miles ahead of CG or any other national steakhouse chain (particularly the wedge salad, as mentioned below).

In addition to all that, if you are planning on getting the caviar service it seems like an easy choice. Definitely a unique offering, and something that really makes it stand out as a celebratory destination. If it were me I would let them know my intentions re: caviar when I booked the table, just to make sure they are prepared to pull out all the stops.

Mar 07, 2013
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Kabob Corner Medford

I am in Melrose, and this is my go-to takeout for Indian despite a number of closer options. Their standard Indian menu options are meh, but dishes of Mughal or Pakistani origin tend to be quite good. This is not the place for biryani, most of the British-style curries (vindaloo, tikka masala, etc), or anything absurdly spicy.

The most important thing to know is that the meat dishes on the halal menu are far superior to those on the normal menu. The goat curry is consistently excellent, and the goat Seekh kebab is decent even though the lamb Seekh kebab on the normal menu is mediocre at best. The chicken korma and the butter chicken off of the halal menu are good as well.

The aloo gobi and the malai kofta are the best vegetarian dishes I have had, although I often get the saag paneer even though I know there are better versions out there. For bread, the Peshawari naan is one of the better versions I have had in the area, although I prefer their chewy whole-wheat roti to their plain naan for eating with curries.

Feb 22, 2013
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Drinks Before Dinner in the North End

I don't know of much in that immediate area, but several of the city's best cocktail spots are in the half mile to mile range.

Depending on how up or down scale you want to go, No. 9 Park and JM Curley are walkable (although at least half a mile) or an easy 2-stop train ride from Park to Haymarket. Drink is slightly further and not as train-accessible, but the walk to the North End along the greenway/waterfront is nice as long as it is not too cold and windy. All three make fantastic cocktails. No 9 Park is dressy and a little stuffy, while JM Curley is more relaxed and homey (although somewhat busy during peak hours).

Drink is pretty much a mob scene, but with their bespoke cocktail concept it is definitely a fun place to get a couple of rounds. Much more so if you can get an actual spot at the bar, patrons sitting around the periphery tend to get short shrift from the servers.

You could also go to Blue Inc which is a bit closer than the other options. Most of their cocktails are gimmicky and seem to involve liquid nitrogen in one way or another, but as long as you stay on menu and don't mind a little whimsy it can be an entertaining little pre-dinner diversion. Not an every day kind of cocktail experience though, unless you really like whimsy.

Nov 17, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Is there anywhere Houndish in the Stoneham-Wakefield-Melrose area?

I have lived in Melrose for almost a decade now, and in my opinion the restaurant scene has only made one significant change over that time, and that is one of cost. Cheaper restaurants have closed, pricier ones moved in, but the quality has largely remained the same. Which is to say, meh.

Turner's has been a perfectly fine place to have a meal for as long as I have lived here. While a seafood restaurant of consistent quality is certainly a nice thing for a town to have, there is nothing particularly remarkable about this one in particular. That opinion may be due to the fact that they have the kind of overlong, overcomplicated menu that often puts me on guard and looking for safe bets. Stearns & Hill suffers from this menu dilemma too, although I have found their food to be neither as well-executed nor as consistent as Turner's.

I really enjoy Billy's Roast Beef on the Melrose/Wakefield line. They don't have the best fries, rings, or seafood of any Kelly's-style joint, but their sandwiches are pretty much the platonic ideal of a Roast Beef Sandwich. Pillows of medium rare super thinly sliced beef on a perfect onion roll. I like mine with sauce, cheese, and horseradish, and I usually just get a super beef with no fries/rings. Plenty of food on its own. Beware of the "plate" (or use it to your advantage): it comes with enough fries/rings for 3-4 people to share.

The Mexican restaurant (Mexico Lindo) is neither authentic nor particularly good. That said, it is entirely possible to have an enjoyable meal there with some decently priced Mexican beer. Anything with the pork in salsa verde is ok, and the big "knife-and-fork" sized burritos are a better option than the plates that come with lukewarm chewy Spanish rice and pasty refried beans. The chile relleno is not bad, and the arroz con pollo is decent. Stay away from the mole sauce, which seems to be flavored predominantly with peanut butter.

Sushi Corner in the center of town has its fans, but I (somewhat literally) can't get past the fact that they are located behind the Turner's dumpster. Also, I have had a couple of questionable sushi experiences there.

Malden is in fact quite close (as mentioned by 9lives), and has many terrific options. Fuloon for Szechuan (and other regional) Chinese, Habesha for Ethiopian, and Biryani Park for Sri Lankan are all excellent. Bossa Nova does decent rodizio/buffet Brazilian, but you have to go when it is crowded. I have read about the Moroccan Hospitality Restaurant on this board and elsewhere, and it sounds worth a trip.

Spice-N-Hot is pretty good for Indian, although I usually get takeout. Always best to stick with the daily specials. Not sure how the new location is for dining in, but it can't be worse than the old one, which was a couple of rickety booths from a 70s sub shop and an actual hole in the wall to the kitchen where one could order/receive food.

Nov 17, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

West Bridge - Kendall Square

Visited for the first time on Friday and was also quite impressed by the bar. Even coming directly from a pre-dinner drink (or two) at Brick & Mortar, I didn't feel there was any noticeable dip in the creativity or execution of the cocktails after moseying on over West Bridge. Not much a surprise though, considering the ESK pedigree of their bar manager.

I was particularly enamored with the Wheelwright cocktail. Wray & Nephew Overproof rum tastes a bit like vanilla-flavored jet fuel on its own, and it takes a deft hand to mix it into a cocktail and not have it completely dominate. I felt that the Sea Plane was less successful, but then again Last Word variations always have a lot to live up to, and I rarely find them to be as compelling as the original.

The food was quite good as well. The egg-in-a-jar definitely lived up to the hype (and it certainly had a lot of hype to live up to). Thought the venison entree was excellent, three very rare slices of loin with a nice smear of a raisin puree served on a bed of a somewhat chewy whole grain with which I was not familiar. They also had a very tasty special that was chewy little bits of pork belly and slices of apple, served in a paper bag "like popcorn" (the waiter's description, not mine).

All in all, it is a welcome addition to a neighborhood that is really coming into its own. I still remember years ago when the Kendall Square theater first opened and that whole area was basically abandoned warehouses and vacant lots. It seems like these days you can't walk a block in the Central-Inman-Kendall triangle without stumbling across yet another place doing creative, thoughtful, and delicious food and/or drink.

Nov 11, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

"Authentic" Huevos Rancheros?

Dorado Tacos & Cemitas has a fairly respectable version in the style you describe, with an actual ranchera sauce and black beans on the side (or patatas bravas for $2 extra). I believe it is available on their brunch menu only, Sat & Sun 11-3, but at $6 it means you can have that and a Negra Modelo for <$10, which may be the best brunch deal in the city.

Lone Star Taco Bar has a version that is close, but has some issues (which is actually how I feel about a lot of the food both there and at Deep Ellum next door). The sauce is chunky and not particularly authentic, but definitely closer to ranchera sauce than salsa fresca. Really the only thing missing is about 10 seconds in a blender. On the upside, it is available 7 days a week from open to close and comes with a slice of avocado, which is a worthwhile addition IMO.

Nov 11, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

North by Northeast or Myers and Chang?

I love ExNE, but all of my best experiences there have definitely been for Sunday brunch. The handful of dinners I have had there have been good, but always felt a bit lacking in one way or another. The brunch menu combination of scallion pancake fried egg sandwiches, dim sum style dumplings, and the option to add a poached egg to any of the noodle dishes really puts it over the top. Also, the szechuan peppercorn and sriracha Bloody Mary is terrific.

I visited Shojo right when they opened (within a week or so), and found it to be kind of a mixed bag. I felt that everything was just one or two minor tweaks away from being truly great. For example, I had a really nice braised beef ravioli with a terrific, mostly asian sauce, but it also had some halved cherry tomatoes that I felt stuck out like a sore thumb. However, the GM did spend the evening going from table to table asking people serious questions about what they did and didn't like. Sounds like maybe they have been listening and improving. I will have to give them another go now that they have settled in.

I do agree that the cocktails are well done, although I was a bit mystified that their non-alcoholic section features house made tonic water, but the drinks list failed to include a gin and tonic. Seems like a gimme.

Oct 25, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

JM Curley Fixed Their Fries (oh no!)

I like the fried chicken, although it is a huge amount of food and could certainly do without the sweet tea that comes with it. The sauces really highlight the chef's innovative use of "trashy" ingredients. However, usually when I end up there it is not a situation where I want to be saddled with a doggy bag for the rest of the evening. I typically end up with the burger (it is really tough to turn down), and personally have never found the fries to be particularly soggy. Don't know if it is still on the board, but last week's special "derrty south" burger, with pimento cheese sauce and collard greens, might have been even tastier than their standard burger option.

On my last visit I managed to pass on the burger and went with the pork chop, which had a nice herbaceous marinade and was cooked perfectly, which is a difficult thing to achieve with a porterhouse chop. Some people might find it overly salty, but I tend to have a very salty palette. I also enjoy the steak frites, but maybe not enough to pay a premium over the burger. Have I mentioned how much I love that burger?

The other thing I would note is that they consistently have one of the best and most creative specials boards in the city, and I have always had good luck going with whatever happens to be up there in chalk. I really wish some previous specials, such as the goat taquitos and the chili-spiced pork rinds, had found a place on their permanent menu.

Oct 25, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Hunting for lamb

Second on this suggestion. My two visits have both led to some of the best food I have ever cooked at home. I was just in there yesterday and they had a beautiful bone-in leg sitting in the display case, ready to go. I would definitely call ahead though. Their products are amazing, but due to the fairly limited volume prime cuts can be hard to score without advance notice.

Oct 25, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Upscale meal with good vegetarian options

Yes. They have one for omnivores and one that is vegetarian only. They allow you to pick courses from between the two if you want, although many of the early courses tend to overlap. On my last visit, our party of four had multiple allergies/aversions, and they had no problem working around it, tweaking a couple of the courses as necessary to make sure everyone got food they were happy with (and wouldn't kill them).

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

College Student Birthday Dinner suggestions needed off the Red Line

They definitely run a similar type of program, following the classic cocktail revival trend that has been so popular of late. I have had a couple of nicely balanced whiskey drinks before my meals, and my SO has sat at the bar and delved a bit deeper, going "off menu" and reporting consistently well executed drinks, both original recipes and things from the standard repertoire.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Upscale meal with good vegetarian options

I would consider the food upscale and stylish, but the atmosphere doesn't necessarily read "formal" to me. I would not feel out of place in jeans, and the space has kind of a homey feel. It may be formal by Union Square standards, but that is not a hard feat to accomplish.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Dinner suggestions near BU Theatre on Huntington Avenue.

I have eaten here pre-symphony a couple of times and never had an issue with timing, even with my father, who goes into a near-panic when arriving anywhere with less than half an hour to spare. The red lentils and collard greens are as good as any I have had in Boston, and I am always a sucker for spicy raw meat.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

Upscale meal with good vegetarian options

I think Journeyman would be my first choice. Not a vegetarian myself, but they seem to really embrace it, not just tolerate and accommodate. On my last trip there had a party of four rather devoted meat-eaters, but ended up with several selections from the vegetarian side of the menu that turned out to be the highlights of the meal.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

College Student Birthday Dinner suggestions needed off the Red Line

I totally agree with the Russell House Tavern suggestion, but would also add Park as an alternative. Also in Harvard Square, and under the same ownership as Russell House. Have eaten there three times since they opened and have been pleased each time. Very similar menu with plenty of straight-forward American classics, but (to me anyway) feels like less of a bar scene than Russell House, particularly on a Saturday night. That might be a plus for a group of 18-year-olds with parents in tow.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area

ECG Hell Night October 8-10

Went for the 7:30 seating last night. It was my fourth time attending, after missing the last few. Getting seated for Hell Night these days can be harder than scoring a table at NYC's trendiest new spots. This time out, I waited in line at 9:00 AM on a Saturday to make the reservation in person, which appears to be the only reliable way to get it done, at least until the current wave of hype subsides.

We had a shellfish allergy at our table, so abstained from any treats from the raw bar. My own past experience was that oysters and clams are some of the highlights, although purists would probably argue that too much spice is a waste of perfectly good bivalves.

We started with an order of the aptly named Wings of Ass Destruction for the table, which this time out were a semi-traditional jerk preparation. Quite hot, but not necessarily beyond the realm of an authentic Jamaican jerk or Indian curry. Looking past the spice for a moment, they were tastier than previous incarnations of the dish, at least in my opinion. I remember the searing heat of the ghost chile wings from my previous visit, but not so much the flavor. All in all, it is a dish I would order again, even on a non-hell night.

Russian roulette meatballs are a fun little gimmick, but between the four members of our party, no one seemed to get one that was beyond medium intensity. Not a real standout, but a fun (and affordable) way to get the ball rolling, especially if you have a table of four or more.

Due to a bit of miscommunication with the waitstaff, we ended up with a couple of orders of the baby-back ribs (we were told the ribs had been upgraded to 8 bombs, but turned out that was referring to the single ribs from the starters section of the menu). They were very tasty, with a nice meaty chew. Be advised that these are not the falling-off-the-bone braised style of ribs that some have come to expect from baby-backs, which is totally fine as far as I am concerned. Spice-wise they were fairly tame, but that did not stop me from enjoying them thoroughly. If I had it to do again, I would probably try the steak, which looked pretty excellent on its way by.

The catfish wasn't as well executed as the ribs. The fish was good, but the crust was a bit soggy on account of the salsa placed on top and rice and beans underneath. It did pack a potent yet well-tempered punch of spice that I felt was the best-balanced heat of the night.

After being somewhat disappointed that we had made it through the meal without anyone crying, we decided to go out with a bang and split an order of the 14-bomb curry chicken. This is apparently being made with ghost chiles, not the as-advertised Moruga scorpions, due to limited availability of the latter. I am totally OK with that; these were hot enough for even the most seasoned of chile-heads.

The first bite seemed pretty tame for a good 5-7 seconds and was actually quite tasty, with a deep earthy flavor reminiscent of a good Mexican mole. Then there is a truly devilish heat that starts off intense and continues to build over the next 5-10 minutes. I never tried the fabled Pasta from Hell, so I can't make a direct comparison, but this was definitely the hottest dish I have ever eaten. Three of our four party members ended up with hiccups from a single bite. I had the lion's share with about five or six bites, including one of just the sauce, and paid dearly in a myriad of different ways over the next twelve hours. Definitely a worthwhile experience if you are into that level of pain, but not one I will be rushing out to repeat anytime soon. About once a year is good enough for me.

Oct 09, 2012
hcraddock in Greater Boston Area