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JP RS's Profile

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Chocolate Madness Festival—has anyone been?

I go each year- mostly to support the organization, a little bit because of the chocolates.

I haven't found this event to be particularly overcrowded. I've never waited more than a few minutes (5, max?) for a sample of anything, and I am happy to pass a particularly busy booth and come back later.

The chocolate samples are a decent range. I always walk away feeling like I had a few really good really interesting items, a few really good but relatively pedestrian samples, and a few that I was glad to have tried but wouldn't go back for a second.

To me, this is an event that is a great one if you think about it as part donation, part food. If the food is the only appeal, I'd probably skip it. You're unlikely to come away completely wowed by the samples -- it's a benefit, not a showcase of the best and most interesting chocolate desserts one could have.

Apr 26, 2013
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Staff Meal -- Leather District Pop-Up

We went tonight. Awesome menu. Great flavors. All came out to the table luke-warm rather than hot, but the flavors were good enough that we didn't consider sending anything back. Really delicious stuff.

I didn't like District as a location at all. Terrible beer/wine options to pair with great food.

Dec 21, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Delete

Dec 21, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Also, Tavolo is doing it tomorrow night. I don't know the details.

Dec 20, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Canary Square is doing it, started a few nights ago and I think goes for another night or two. I had it tonight. A la carte with elements priced from ~$9 to ~$22, or tasting menu for 1 for $45, or family style for $80 (not sure how many that feeds). I did the tasting menu for one. The food was very good and the preparations interesting, and it was served in seven distinct courses. I thought the pacing was odd (with a few very long delays between courses and others that came a bit too fast) but that seemed to be waitress error, and the order of the dishes was not quite what I would have preferred. I'll try to remember it here:

-Clams Casino - traditional preparation, with 3 small clams.

-Bacala salad, which was a mix of escarole, garlic, red pepper flake, white bean, and flakes of bacala. Quite a large portion, so big that they automatically brought plates for sharing with my dining companions. Very tasty, with the garlic and red pepper giving the dish most of its flavor.

-Stuffed squid. Small slices of squid stuffed with what I think was a mortadella, served with artichoke / tomato / eggplant caponata. This was probably the best-prepared and tastiest dish of the planned menu.

-Baby eggplant. This was the only dish I really didn't like, and ate just a few bites. The preparation included potatoes and pesto. I thought the flavors were off and the baby eggplant actually undercooked. I like tender eggplant, but this texture just wasn't right.

-Lobster fettuccini. Delicous and simple. A bit too salty but still great.

-Eel, served roasted/baked with olives and peppers. Very tender and delicous.

-Grilled Sardines with a tomato relish. 2 large sardines, simply grilled. This to me was a very strange dish to end on. I would have preferred something lighter. Either the eel or the lobster would have been a great finish.

Extra course at end: scallop crudo. This was the best of the night. Simply done with some citrus + basil. This made me feel better about just having eaten the sardine...

This was my first time experiencing the tradition. I really enjoyed it and was happy to have 7 actual courses.

Great concept, interesting preparations, good execution, and a waitress who was very nice and seemed to be trying hard but not getting it quite right. All in all, a very good experience.

Dec 20, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

New site design - epic fail!

terrible.

Dec 11, 2012
JP RS in Site Talk

New Chowhound Design is Now Live!

terrible. i posted on the Boston site that the font size is too big and there is too much scrolling. That post appears to have been deleted.

This is a really bad design. It is hard to believe it was tested with users.

Dec 11, 2012
JP RS in Site Talk

No More Stickies?> Coupons etc.

Generally, the new design is less friendly to browsing on a desktop/laptop. Large print = more scrolling.

Dec 11, 2012
JP RS in Site Talk

Sigh. Boston restaurants, PLEASE learn some common sense when it comes to social media

Never been to Pigalle, but this kind of behavior/language/reaction, combined with recently running a Bloomspot promotion, makes me wonder if there are some bigger issues going on.

Nov 28, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Tonic Boston

Today, Tonic announced on their Facebook page a reopening for this Friday, looks like Eater and Boston Restaurant Talk blogs picked up the announcement. Curious to see what this iteration brings.

Nov 05, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Tonic Boston

Despite being closed for a couple-few months now, as of this weekend Tonic finally has a nice new shiny sign. Seems like the kind of sign they should have put up back when they opened, rather than the cheap white banner, but hey.

I have no clue if this signifies there will be a rebirth, or is just a sign manufacturer belatedly delivering/installing a sign.

Nov 04, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Eugene O'Neill's JP?

I was at Eugene O'Neill's for lunch a couple of weeks ago. My quick observations were:

-I thought they had a moderately interesting beer list but am now blanking on any particular examples. There were at 3-4 taps that didn't feel like the standards, and it looked like they pour full pints, though wasn't sure.
-The bartender (who I assumed was the owner, but am not sure) was quite pleasant, as was the server.
-The menu itself wasn't particularly exciting, as straightforward pub food -- it didn't interest me as much as the combined pub+dinner menus at James' Gate do, but is a step above the Jeanie.
-The salad my DC had was quite good - decent mix of real greens, plenty of veggies, not over-dressed.
-My fries were quite good -- I preferred them over Dogwood (which I quite like in general).
-My burger did the trick. Not as good as I could make at home, but I don't often make burgers at home and am happy to have someone else provide an adequate burger with interesting toppings next to some excellent fries.

I'll be back and feel like it's a good addition to the strip.

On the strip itself, maybe call me Pollyannaish but I don't see much of a curse to the strip -- I see long-term improvement in the years I've lived nearby. Certainly more incremental than I'd like, but good steps nonetheless:
-Dogwood continues to look like it's doing well
-Fazenda seems to do a good business and appears to be building a following, and is an absolute upgrade vs Java Jo. Nicer space, better coffee, great roast beans, better food, great employees. And Java Jo was better than the nothingness that preceeded it... (great coffee house > decent coffee house > no coffee house... )
-Tonic was a major upgrade vs the old Griffin's space, and had some demand before temporarily/permanently failing.

I chalk Tonic's (temporary? permanent?) failure to first-time restaurant owner mistakes. From the outside, it looked to me like he spent way too much time and money on planning and decor (which was too kitschy/loungy vs what it needed to be to support "reasonably upscale neighborhood restaurant"), and then didn't really know what to do in running a restaurant or how to judge success once he opened. I imagine he set a budget to open, blew way through it (I can't imagine he planned for build-out to take as long as it did) and then didn't leave enough cushion to operate it at a loss until it found its footing. I found the owner tone-deaf to feedback on my couple of interactions with him (even from the get-go, when he was looking for neighborhood approval to build). He talked about wanting to be like the Franklin in the S End, but I don't know that he understood what that meant or how to deliver on it. The menu itself was interesting but everything was too sweet for my taste -- I felt like all of the sides and many of the mains had too much carmelization, maple, sweet/thick sauces, or sweet cream sauces. The perfect example was the white asparagus dish -- it could have been decent, but the sickly sweet bowl of buttery broth killed it for me. Or the pork chop -- the root vegetables/syrup made it too sweet for me to want to finish it.

I hope the Tonic owner either learns from his mistakes, or that his upgrades to the space (less the light-up bar -- that's just silly) make it possible for someone else to step in and run a better restaurant than he was able to. I really wanted Tonic to succeed and continued to spend there in an effort to support it, but I have to say I thought it was mostly mis-firing and am looking forward to someone re-booting it, whether it's with a different chef, different owner, or both.

Oct 15, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Panadero? (Burlington, VT)

Has anyone been to Panadero's "Pizza at Panadero" nights? Worth trying?

Oct 02, 2012
JP RS in Northern New England

Masona Grill West Roxbury

Odd, and not in keeping with what I've experienced there at all.

I've had only good experiences there -- both food and service -- and have found the owner and the rest of the employees to be among the friendliest and most accommodating. They have recovered more than gracefully at small mis-fires I have experienced. I think the owner is truly interested in the quality of the experience and nothing but pleasant -- I've critiqued items and never found him defensive in the least.

Sep 29, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

day trip to Portsmouth NH -- 3 quick reviews

I was up in Portsmouth earlier this week for the day. Had the chance to experience a few places...:

Friendly Toast: I tried to go there for breakfast, but simply couldn't tolerate the number of houseflies. They have a problem -- it couldn't possibly be sanitary how many flies there were in the restaurant. I gave it a few minutes at a booth, but was too bothered by the sight of so many flies as well as the couple of them that kept landing on my neck and water glass. I considered saying something, but certainly the workers have noticed -- so I didn't bother. I left before ordering.

Instead, I had breakfast at the Works Bakery Cafe. Totally fine breakfast sandwich on a pretty good poppy seed bagel, nice atmosphere, no flies.

Dinner and drinks at the Portsmouth Brewery. The ploughman's plate was a good start - a bit of salami, a bit of roast pork, some white mild cheese, a few cornichons... all tasty. The IPA on tap was excellent, as was the stout. The steamed mussels in ale were absolutely delicious -- full of garlic, tomato, oregano, and perfectly cooked mussels. I kept seeing people order the nachos, which looked great but would have been way too much food just for me. I would happily drive back from Boston just to spend more time at this place. Great beer selection, really interesting menu, very nice vibe, and a helpful server.

The flies in the Friendly Toast are not a sight I will forget quickly.

Sep 25, 2012
JP RS in Northern New England

MASS MoCA road trip suggestions?

Agreed on the Peoples' Pint. Great place -- good beer list, quality ingredients, very friendly people.

Jul 11, 2012
JP RS in Southern New England

Tonic Boston

Headed there for the first time last night. Overall it was a really nice time and the food was good with potential to be great... prices very reasonable, great atmosphere (until the end when the TVs came on), really solicitous service from both bartenders, the hostess, and the servers. All of them incredibly interested in what we thought and seemed to care about the feedback.

-Very good craft beer list. $5-6 for what looked like full pints.

-Beet salad - quite nice actually. Beets, beet greens, a few blackberries, small amount of chevre. $11-12?

-Parsnip chowder: sounded great on menu, agree it was too sweet. This could be a great chowder if less sweet. Also could have been served hotter. $11?

-Tempura pork belly. I should have known better but am a sucker for pork belly. Too fatty, not served hot enough. This was the only "off" dish of the night. I let them know especially about my disappointment with this one. $12?

-Side of brussels sprouts. Very tasty, nothing fancy, maybe a little too much broth/butter at the bottom of the bowl. Nice size portion for ~$6.

-Side of sweet potato fries. Tasty, served piping hot. A little limp, but that's why I don't normally order the sweet potato fries. Again ~$6.

Our neighbors at the bar had the pork chop, which looked delicious, and the penne, which sounded great on the menu. They said both were delicious, and looked worth going back for.

I had heard about their TVs playing loud/annoying videos, but they kept them off last night until 9pm. Thankfully, jazz music while we were eating. At 9pm, the owner turned on the TVs and it was indeed 80s-pop with poor quality video. We let the bartender and the owner know that it was a much better atmosphere with the jazz than with the videos. The bartender seems to know it; the owner seemed defensive. I don't know if he really thinks the videos are a great idea and wants his place to feel "clubby" at night, or if he is just hearing it from all sides and tired of talking about his decision.

Feels like they're on the right track, just need a bit of ongoing tweaking...

May 12, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Tavolo (Dorchester)

We had a nice tasty dinner at Tavolo last night.

Off the specials menu, we got a a very good fiddlehead appetizer, and a reasonably good artichoke appetizer (they called it confit, which maybe it was -- but maybe it was just roasted small artichokes, I'm not sure what the difference would be ). The specials menu was full of other options I wanted to try - last night also had an eggplant caponata pizza that we skipped, a braised short ribs dish, and a seafood ravioli with smoked scallops that sounded interesting but too heavy for me to want to try last night.

Then we had the asparagus salad off the main menu. Nicely grilled asparagus, topped w a poached egg, some goat cheese, arugula. It was quite tasty. The poached egg was hard rather than runny, which I thought odd, but my companion didn't care to ask if that was intentional, she was happy to have it.

And I finally tried the meatball panini, which I think is the last meatball prep on the menu that I hadn't tried. Quite tasty. I do like their meatballs.

The bar side looked like it was pretty busy; the tables side was nearly empty. We were admittedly eating on the early side of a Saturday night, but when we left around 8:15 there were just ~3 tables full on the dining side of the restaurant. Is this normal for Tavolo on a Saturday night? I haven't been in ~6 months but feel like it was busier last time I was there.

Apr 22, 2012
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Chez Henri bar?

Any advice on how early the bar at Chez Henri tends to fill up on mid-summer Friday evenings? I'd like to swing by for a Cubano...

Thanks!

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Chez Henri
1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Jul 12, 2011
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

May 2011 Openings and Closings

Or return it... I'm not sure Groupon's return policy in the event of closures, but I think this Groupon was sold back when you would have been able to use it for alcohol. Now that alcoholic beverages don't apply, Groupon will refund you for any certificate you bought under the old policy.

May 18, 2011
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

May 2011 Openings and Closings

Savant Project is closing -- last day is this coming Saturday.

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The Savant Project
1625 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02120

May 17, 2011
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Groupon discounts that include alcohol violate ABCC rules [moved from Boston]

Yep, they updated it so it now does have the alcohol exclusion. When they originally posted it it didn't have the alcohol exclusion, which was odd. They must have written the copy for it before the recent hoo-ha.

Mar 21, 2011
JP RS in Not About Food

Groupon discounts that include alcohol violate ABCC rules [moved from Boston]

Today's list of Groupons includes one from Bull McCabe's Pub in Union Sq Somerville -- this one doesn't exclude alcohol (as of this morning) . What gives - is this a mistake? I'm surprised to see this given that it's been just days since Groupon retroactively added fine print to prior deals that had included alcohol.

Mar 20, 2011
JP RS in Not About Food

Restaurant for Sukkot Near Coolidge Corner??

Lineage is very fresh/harvest-based, consistent with how I think of the holiday.,

Sep 27, 2009
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Half-priced appetizers for after-work drinks

This thread is a year old... there are more up-to-date topics on similar topics -- search for recession busters if you're interested.

Apr 05, 2009
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

2009 clam shack openings

Haven't seen it posted yet so thought I'd pass along the news from my phone calls this morning:

Farnhams in Essex is open for the season. Can't wait to get up there but today wasn't the day.

The Quincy/Wollaston Clam Box is open too. The clams today at Clam Box were quite good.

Tony's in Qunicy looked like it is still closed.

Mar 15, 2009
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

breakfast pizza?

Dogwood Cafe in JP (directly across the street from the Forest Hills stop) has it on weekends. I haven't tried it myself, but have heard from people who like it.

Jul 07, 2008
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Calypso Sauce

Matouk's brand Calypso is carried at the Hi-Lo in JP (on Centre St in Hyde Square), and at Baby Nat's fruit market near the intersection of Walk Hill and American Legion Hwy.

I think I may have seen it at the Whole Foods in Fenway too, but am not sure about that one.

Mar 29, 2008
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Best Reuben in Boston

I'm a fan of Sam LaGrassa's for their Reuben.

Mar 23, 2008
JP RS in Greater Boston Area

Supports Local Farms? Vegetarian Options?

Yes, Vee Vee supports local farms and has vegetarian options.

Mar 07, 2008
JP RS in Greater Boston Area