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Late Night (after 10:30) Dinner

Serious Eats just published an interesting list here: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/06/be...

And Washington City Paper recently did a 24 hours in the DMV here:

I don't agree with all their choices, but it's a nice start...

Jun 19, 2014
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

First "Adult Night" dining out dinner

I had read about food like this, was a voracious consumer of fiction as a kid...but never eaten it. It was however the service that I took away from the experience. A friend's parent took out a solid group of our freshman group, a rowdy large table on the first floor. First time I tasted trout meuniere or bananas foster or good coffee or a sazerac and they remain benchmarks for me.

I went back again later with my dad and ate upstairs; food the same, but a very different experience, almost stifling high touch service. The food by then felt a bit formal and old school, but every bite stunning nonetheless. There's (many, many) worse things in life than a perfectly executed and formal old school menu.

Jun 14, 2014
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

Red Apron Penn Quarter - quick take

Prompted by the WCP's "24 hours of eating" story, made our way to Red Apron's D St NW location for lunch. Ordered a porkstrami, a breakfast sandwich, and a mix of farro salad and pickled radish.

Very impressive food turnout. The porkstrami is covered in a good sauerkraut and the pastrami-style pork shines. Very heavy but the flavors work anyway. The breakfast sandwich (southern comfort, they have several) is served on an italian muffin of sorts, with thin slices of tasso ham and a smoked pimiento cheese spread. The egg was perfectly fried and the tasso was fantastic, though I could have done with a heavier shmear hand on the pimiento cheese. It's a deal at $5.50. Farro and radish were simple but well executed. The sharp acids help cut the fat of the sandwiches.

They also have picnic boxes at $28 that look very interesting, especially one with fried chicken and a honey hot sauce...

Most of the non-breakfast menu (including the porkstrami) is a carryover from the 2 other locations. Don't sleep on the french fries.

Jun 14, 2014
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

First "Adult Night" dining out dinner

A great thread, though my response is also non local. Commander's Palace, freshman year of college (early 90s). Just the full nine yards, all the way to tableside bananas foster.

Jun 14, 2014
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

Red Hook Lobster Truck - MIA?

You can check them out on twitter and ask them directly there. https://twitter.com/LobstertruckDC

Mar 27, 2014
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

Portuguese Natas (custard tarts?)

I oddly enough saw fresh custard tarts advertised in Chinatown on H Street, via handwritten sign, yesterday. I think it was Chinatown Garden.

Aug 23, 2013
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

Where to take a former New Yorker who is missing good pizza

If you don't get it as a whole pie well done, I can't vouch, nor for slices other than the grandma style, which is sicilian. The ovens are new, unlike the Regina (the N location was my steady takeout for 10 years - those ovens have had generations to add depth). BUT - the style, the execution, the aspiration, they're similar enough that I get legitimately happy when my wife says let's eat pizza now. I just wish they had the sausage that makes a Regina pie transcend. Also the interior is kitschy kitschy so I only do takeout.

Jul 13, 2013
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

Where to take a former New Yorker who is missing good pizza

+1 for Wiseguy. Get a whole pie and ask for it well done. Got a nice chewy crust, tasty sauce, and well done gives it a good char. Very reminiscent of Pizzeria Regina in Boston moreso than NYC. The grandma pizza is also really good, square sicilian style with a nice crunchy crust and fresh basil on top. It's *good pizza*. It's pizza that I look forward to eating, which is more than I can say about the vast majority of DC pizza. Most of the time after I moved here I'd get the pie, and just look at it and start crying.

Jul 11, 2013
wilbanks in Washington DC & Baltimore

south bay bbq?

I've never been to Blue Rock, but I do know it's run by Tennesseans (went to high school with one of the owners). I however would vehemently disagree that "not serving brisket" is a big deal. One of these days I will make the trek to Blue Rock and see if the food's good, but dismissing a place based on the menu is kind of lame.

In North Carolina, they don't often even bother saying "pork" on the menu, because that's obviously the only kind of meat you call barbecue. I'm guessing that tells you all you need to know, so there's clearly no need for you to hit Lexington #1 when in the area. Only beef they've got there is chuck steak.

So, not serving brisket isn't a big deal - indeed, I rarely find a place that can both do justice to pork and to beef properly. Restaurants that try to do both often fail to do either very well.

Mar 28, 2012
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

Mexican Restaurant Suggestions in Oakland/Berkeley..

There is also Dona Tomas, which does extremely nice higher end Mexican. Very nice, good tequila menu if you're into that sort of thing.

Dona Tomas
5004 Telegraph Avenue Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 450-0522

and its associated taqueria

1788 4th Street
Berkeley, CA 94710

I prefer Tacubaya actually of the two. They serve chilaquiles til 3PM on the weekend :-)

Feb 21, 2012
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

Smoke -- new BBQ (maybe) on San Pablo, Berkeley

You can get the classic tomato and vinegar sauces in SC, but the thing that usually distinguishes it is a yellow mustard based sauce. There's a good post on serious eats at http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/10/so...

Nov 30, 2011
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

2011 - Pumpkin please

had a very nice pumpkin gelato at almare on shattuck in berkeley. extraordinary flavor and creamy texture.

Nov 04, 2011
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

So many SF donut shops!

King Pin Donuts on Telegraph in Berkeley is a good bet as well. Great holes, and a very good old fashioned. Similar to Bob's but seems to be fresher (but that may be because i don't have to drive as far, and my craving is fresh when I get one as a result).

Oct 17, 2011
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

Starter Bakery in Oakland - Incredible Pasteries

Yeah, the kouign amann is a specialty of theirs. Available at pop up general store in oakland as well. Salty, sweet, wonderful - and the fruit ones are great too. They have a mailing list and are starting to distribute a bit more widely. http://www.starterbakery.com

May 20, 2011
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

Best burgers in the Bay Area 2011

Great burger. Loosely packed patty, cooked medium rare, good sear, great pickles and a good bun. Housemade mayosauce. Tasty garlic fries as well, often thrown in for free loose in the bag. Some mild variations in cooking time can be exacerbated when there's a real traffic surge. Also makes a grilled cheese made of the good bun, two slices of cheddar, a big slice of tomato in between and some truffle oil. Haven't had the steak sandwich or sausage, or the grassfed patty option. Serves lunch most days Tu-Sa and dinner in front of various east bay bars. Follow on Twitter for easiest updates.

Apr 07, 2011
wilbanks in San Francisco Bay Area

Rendezvous - all starters meal?

Did a 3-person all-starters meal there a few weeks ago. Started with colder dishes, of which I liked the ceviche best. Be forewarned it comes in a spicy chili oil (good for me, bad for someone in my group). The middle eastern sampler was just meh. Scallops were exactly right. The squid with sausage was easily the star of the night, and the potato gnocchi with foraged mushrooms was probably second most liked at the table. I also loved the sardines, but one of the dining crew found them too strong...

Sep 18, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area


Beef: burnt ends at Blue Ribbon.
Pulled Pork: I tend to prefer Blue Ribbon here as well. M'n'M when its on is spectacular, but it's not always on.
Chicken: M'n'M. Vitaminq's point is dead-on accurate.

I don't tend to like the ribs, of beef or of pork variety, in Boston BBQ joints. I also don't get the love for Redbones, which to me is a fun to place to drink good beer and eat good sides, but serves consistently mediocre smoked meats to my own taste.

There is a pretty acceptable BBQ place on the Cape in Wellfleet at Marconi Beach - as long as you ask for the meat to be served without being sauced first. Sort of like Uncle Pete's in that regard - gloppy sauce covering up pretty finely smoked meat products. I just ask for a little oil and vinegar, and some pepper sauce, and it's quite good. Bonus points there for having fresh raw wellfleets, which make a fine appetizer to the pulled pork and chopped brisket.

Thanks for the info on Tennessee's in Peabody. I was out there yesterday and *almost* cracked and ate there - I'm from east TN and the name tried its best to suck me in...

Jun 06, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Fat Toad Farm, Vermont

Just a quick post - we did a short cheese run up and down I-89 a few weeks ago - hitting many of the usual suspects, eating cider donuts, etc.

But the Fat Toad folks deserve a specific mention. Fat Toad is a small goat milk farm in central VT, Brookfield to be exact (about 20 minutes off exit 5). We dropped in on them after a few emails. The farm is in beautiful country and the owners are very nice to city folk.

They have fresh chevre, in several infused flavors, and fresh maple chevre, which are very much like nice fresh cream cheeses with a light goat tang. But it's their caramel that's the reason I'm posting.

The caramel is spectacular. At room temp it pours very much like a thick syrup - at refrigerator temps it's thicker but still somewhat pourable. Almost no goat flavor in the vanilla bean version - we have several jars and haven't dug into the other flavors (coffee, cinnamon, original) just yet. Strongly recommended and available in some of the farm stores along 89 in VT, especially the Upper Valley Co-Op in White River Junction or by calling the farm directly.

Jun 06, 2009
wilbanks in Northern New England

Ok, I'll give you 4 dollars, where are you going to spend it for lunch. And here's the catch- no pizza.

1 snap dog with mustard and onions + 1 small fries + 1 soda at Sullivan's, Castle Island.

Jun 02, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Greek Festival, Arlington, 6/5-6/7/09

Food's good - I remember being much more happy with the pork than the lamb, but that is probably because I like pulled pork more than most things on earth. I have some pix from 2005 still online at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wilbanks...

Jun 01, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Guarapo de Cana - Sugar Cane Juice; Yerba Buena?

Since this old thread has come to life, I will say that I've found fresh pressed sugarcane juice at Ba Le (vietnamese bakery and banh mi) on Dorchester Avenue. It's authentic caldo de cana and the machine they use is a hell of a lot cleaner than the ones I'm accustomed to in Brazil. Ba Le has a number of fresh sucos and batidos as well as their vietnamese offerings.

Ba Le
1052 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02125
(617) 265-7171

May 01, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Coquette on Magazine

Went there Friday night on the first meal of a weekend visit (in from Boston. used to live in NOLA but it was so long ago it barely counts). We were running late as we got stuck in traffic in the FQ from the transformer blowout and other annoyances, bad moods abounding...went to coquette sort of by accident - driving down magazine after 9pm taking a chance to find a good meal. had eaten there three years earlier when it was table one.

boy howdy was it good.

first off, our server (preston i believe) was wonderful. calmed us down and accommodated wishes for a window table upstairs. the meal was perfectly paced and the larger dishes were split for us into two plates or bowls without having to be asked. service was attentive but very unobtrusive, a tough combo to pull off.

second, the food was really quite good. we had the roasted oysters with fennel confit, bacon, and horseradish cream to start - lovely. cooled the hunger bad mood instantly. fresh, crusty hot bread to sponge up the oyster liquor. then a trio of small plates - bibb salad, bbq shrimp, pork belly rillettes. could have done with a bit more cheese on the salad, and i prefer my rillettes with a little more chew, but those are quibbles. the shrimp were fantastic - a great version of the pepper-butter sauces you get from the brennan family, but lighter and more fresh. the rillettes were like a smoky meat butter.

main dish was recommended by the server, the bouillabaisse. split in two ahead of time, each bowl bearing two oysters, two shrimp, crawfish, and some redfish. broth was good enough that there was competition for the last spoon.

we shared a bowl of macerated strawberries (i think in lychee cream) with handwhipped cream.

all this with a bottle of prosecco and coffee came to $140 with tip. it was our best meal of the weekend by far, and given the circumstances - grumpy couple late on a friday night without knowing where we were going - a gift from the chow gods.

Mar 31, 2009
wilbanks in New Orleans

Egg and Cheese Sandwich

+1. I love Billy's.

Feb 13, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

New fixed priced menus at Clio and Uni

Had the market menu last night. The app was miso-lobster risotto - served in a small bowl, very rich and savory, very satisfying on a cold night. Entree was a choice between either rubbed hangar steak with potato puree or barbecued skate with a deconstructed noodle, fried peanuts and lime. I had the skate, which I loved (the noodle and the dried coconut powder were really nice touches). DC had the steak, which was steak. Dessert was supposed to be chocolate timbale but they ran out and was instead dark chocolate mousse with pear ice cream. All in all a solid deal for $50.

FWIW, Uni had more than two groups there when we left - maybe two tables open - but we didn't go down and look at the maki.

Jan 20, 2009
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Taco Trucks in the Boston Area?

It's not that great. I've gotten one en route to an Amtrak, and it's a hell of a lot better than the fare on the train. It's also better than the other food carts in BB Station and than getting a flatbread monstrosity at Dunkin.

But it was pretty bland - I'd rather eat at Chipotle or Qdoba, if that's a reference point, and I'm not a big fan of either of those places compared to Tacos Lupita...now, if the Lupita folks would open a truck at MIT, I'd be in heaven.

Dec 30, 2008
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Taco Trucks in the Boston Area?

Closest thing to a good taco truck taco is the stuff at Tacos Lupita in Somerville, IMHO. Search this board for info. I love the chorizo and the al pastor there.

Closest thing to good truck food is indeed Speed's dog. Good stuff. There's also a BBQ truck somewhere in Roxbury that I've driven past once but haven't been able to get to for eating purposes. Anyone?

I love the stuff at Clover at MIT, but although it's served in a truck, it's closer to a gourmet fast food store than a "taco truck". Soy BLT and fries FTW.

Dec 28, 2008
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Where to buy tamales by the dozen in Boston area?

There are multiple tamale delivery options via USPS. You can get your local ones mailed to you (make sure they are frozen as fast as possible). Or you can order a large variety online. I have had, and enjoyed, the red chile with pork and the green chile chicken ones from Santa Fe (http://www.santafetamales.com/index.htm). I've never eaten but am curious about Pasquale's (http://www.sucktheshuck.com/pasquale-...) despite the weirdness of italians in arkansas selling mail order tamales...or maybe because of it.

Tacos Lupita in Somerville (see elsewhere on this board) has very corn-y tamales with chunks of meat. I don't like them as much as the other food there. There are also latino groceries in Eastie and there's one on Center St. (the Hi-Lo) in Jamaica Plain that has a huge selection of tortillas and arepas. I got some nice purple corn tortillas there a few weeks ago and I'll check on the tamale situation there next time.

Warning on my taste: I come from Texan stock, though my own intro to tamales came from the street vendors in New Orleans who used to sell them along with newspapers in front of the old K&B drugstores. I love border tex-mex as well as the varietal "authentic" mexican cuisines, but my first love is new mexico style, so that biases me towards the santa fe tamale.

Nov 22, 2008
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Clover Food Lab (@ MIT)

Yes, this is the new truck outside Medical, just on the river side of the red line entrance inbound. Their blog says they're opening a set of fast food restaurants and this was a pre-launch experiment. Blog also claims the chef cooked with Thomas Keller previously...

As for collaring the guy with fries, that's pretty much what happened. I saw him approaching, smelled the rosemary, and mildly freaked him out.

Nov 06, 2008
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Clover Food Lab (@ MIT)

Just ran across a new food truck at MIT called Clover. It's a revelation. Organic, fresh stuff - veggie for the most part - with free local apples and fries I would put up favorably against River Gods and Sel de la Terre. They serve sandwiches and soups as well as the fries, with juices and teas to drink. It's new and if you work anywhere near MIT definitely check it out. I am a convert. Was simply walking down the street, saw someone with a small fries and nearly collared them to get the 411 and my own order. On the web at http://www.cloverfoodlab.com/

Nov 06, 2008
wilbanks in Greater Boston Area

Central MA chowdrive

Made the drive up to Barre to pick up my order of grass-finished beef from Caledonia Farms. This was the last farmers' market of the season and as such was a slightly cold and sparse affair, with just a few stalls open. In addition to a nearly 7-lb brisket, we got some tenderloin and stew beef from Dave Petrovick of Caledonia, a half-peck of apples and some cider from Allen's Cider Mill (the Jonagolds are spectacular, the cider clear and tangy), and some heritage pork sausage from Blood Farms in West Groton. Caledonia will do one more run into the Boston area in December, mainly beef (they deliver in Newton). Caledonia was sadly out of eggs this time, but the brisket is spectacular looking, and will make a fine treat in the smoker next weekend.

On the way home we stopped in Worcester to poke around Lebanese and Syrian bakeries. I'd posted here a while back looking for sfiha and got a pointer to Worcester, though not locations in the city, and got lucky with George's Bakery on Rte 122. Purchased: two ground beef and pine nut sfiha, two beef and tomato sfiha, baklava, in-store branded pita (that certainly tastes fresh baked), store-made hummus, and cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and rice. Really, really, really good. I'll be hitting the various watertown stores this week for a reference taste against George's, but my wife certainly felt this was the first time she got the tastes she remembered from the Brazilian lebanese community that she was looking for in the US. If you find yourself out there, give it a shot.

Oct 26, 2008
wilbanks in All New England Archive