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How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

These suggestions will not meet your criteria of "replace Hamersley's Bistro", but instead should simply be added to your list as "places I want to go on special occasions or a great evening out".

80 Thoreau in Concord, MA. Consistently exquisite food (literally never a bad dish in all my many many visits over the past 3 years since it opened). Elegant dining space (though not dark), plenty of parking, easy off Rt 2, wonderful service. Worth the trip, I promise! Expect to be thrilled.

J's Restaurant at Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton, MA. One of the most romantic little day / dinner trips you could ask for. The restaurant is a converted old home with wood walls and a beautiful fireplace and little tables scattered through out the several rooms. The food is surprisingly high quality foodie given the remoteness of the location (Boston plating style while overlooking western mass fall orchards = heavenly). The orchard-made wines and spirits are definitely more of a novelty than wine-snob worthy, but if you reframe your mind to just enjoy the flavors and not expect it to taste like a perfectly aged merlot, they make a lot of tasty beverages worth trying. Spend the late afternoon picking apples in a nearby orchard, head to the winery for a tour and spend some time in the tasting room / store (lots of variety to try), and then head into the house for your dinner. This place has been our Anniversary Dinner spot for 5 years and we never regret it and end each night vowing to go back!

As to your original request, just "food for thought", you seem to be oddly insulted by the restaurants you like being successful and mention through out this thread a desire to find a restaurant opened by the chef "for the love of serving wonderful food" and I really want to challenge you to question that. What makes you think anyone is crazy enough to take on the hell and financial burden of opening a restaurant in Boston proper without the goal of making a profit?! Restaurant are a HUGE investment, both financially and time...why on earth would you deny a chef / restauranteur that is putting in that type of effort and finance and personal sacrifice any reward for his / her efforts? Would you look them in the eye and say "Please, miss out on anything that resembles a normal life, spend every waking hour breathing your business, give yourself heart / stress / health problems, burn through several worthwhile relationships or miss your kids growing up, all to make me a nice dinner, but never get enough acclaim or make enough profit to justify opening a second location!" Really? Oh, and the hotel thing, there are so many *incredible* chefs who simply can not scrounge together the scratch to open an independent restaurant in Boston (do you have any idea how much money you need to do this in Boston these days PLUS the extra to buy off the city for a liquor license) and being head chef in a hotel restaurant is the only way you'll ever experience them. Also the hotel venture gives the chef a glimmer of hope of having a shred of a life, since they control the food, not the entire business. That small romantic seating area you enjoy with your leisurely 3 glass of wine and champagne by the glass several hour dinner experience is MURDER for profits in terms of number of table turns per evening and available number of table tops...with Boston rent being what it is, sometimes the only way to make that profitable is to spread out the rent expense across a larger business, AKA a HOTEL :)

Best Meatball Sub

Since there are so many meatball aficionados reading this string, I figured I'd ask, who is your favorite meatball purveyor in the North End (served either in sub or with pasta)? I'm sure the locations listed are amazing, but they are a little too far to cure the workday lunch craving this string has inspired :)

Kid's Birthday Cake in Cambridge, MA

If you ever happen to be in Concord, MA I cannot recommend Concord Teacakes strongly enough! They just did our daughters first birthday cake and it was phenomenal. Moist white cake, real butter-cream frosting and beautiful decoration! I just dropped off a napkin from our party plate set and they took care of the rest. You can see in the pictures, they did such a cool job working the colors of the party decorations into the details of the cake, even down to switching colors for every letter of "Happy Birthday" just like the decorations (with perfect color match to boot). Oh and did I mention it was delicious!
59 Commonwealth Ave, Concord, MA (978) 369-7644

Where to find "lobster pie" similar to Hilltop's

Actually, using cooked lobster meat is the correct preparation. The key to making a dish that requires you to cook lobster twice, like Lobster Thermidor or Lobster Casserole, is precise timing. You need to cook the lobster just long enough to make it safe (steam, broil, or boil, depending on the need), de-shell it quickly, and incorporate the other ingredients and get it back under the heat quickly so the meat never cools down and you have to spend as little time as possible under the heat again getting the final browning / warming. With Lobster Thermidor, you split the raw lobster, broil it till the meat is cooked, toss the meat in the sauce, stuff it in the shells, and give it a quick brown up and serve. You really need to get the sauce close to done before you broil the lobster (maybe 15 minutes out), so neither the sauce sits around and solidifies nor the lobster gets cold and needs to much heat to get warm through the center. Same issue with the casserole. If you are getting chewy lobster casserole, you chef is either a) ignoring the bug too long in the initial cooking phase b) a slow de-sheller or c) ignoring the bug too long under the broiler. If they are lazy enough to be pre-steaming a bunch of lobsters, chilling them, and then trying to warm the whole dish under the broiler, they should hand in their apron or go work for Olive Garden.

Boston area breakfast recap

I can't believe no one has mentioned The Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square Somerville, MA! This Portuguese family owned restaurant is a must experience summer brunch destination for those in the know. The lines stretch down the block and by the end everyone agrees the wait was worth it!. Outdoor dining under a canopy of grape leaves on casual umbrella covered round tables and picnic tables. Every breakfast starts with their own homemade pastries and small bowl of their special cream of wheat (this is surprisingly delicious, I promise you). Each breakfast is an unconscionable amount of food....for around $10 they give you basically 2 breakfasts. One plate is eggs and home fries the second plate is something incredible like banana pancakes, or french toast, or pumpkin waffles, etc. You will leave stuffed for the day with really tasty, home made with love fare.

The only reason I am letting you in on the secret is I've moved too far away to go anymore and so you won't be in my way in the line ;)


Restaurants for Fat People

Being a member of a persecuted group does not give you license to join the abuse! Reinforcing ugly stereotypes is never funny, even if it is wrapped in the cloak of "self effacing humor". If a Hispanic Person or Woman wrote about creating a restaurant that catered to their group in such a derogatory fashion, Chowhound would never have elevated it in an article.

Obesity is a truly critical issue for America and it is getting worse, but not for the reasons people like Josh Ozersky like to blame. The more we design our communities around suburban concepts that require long commutes to work and the more American industry focuses on service based businesses that require desk workers over physical labor, the fatter we will all get. Americans spend more time getting to and from work each day and more time sitting at a desk than they ever have in history. Since the amount of time in a day is finite and working at a desk all day is equally as exhausting as working at an active job, the result is an equally tired worker at the end of the day that happens to have burned several hundred less calories, has even less time to burn off those calories due to the commute, but is still as hungry due to our outdated mammalian wiring that presumes feast or famine. Of course 60% of American are overweight. While our portion size and processed food quality also are to blame, systemic inactivity and the erosion of free time is what is killing America, not greed and laziness. Everyone wants to paint a terrible picture of Obese people as having some sort of more significant personal flaws that condemned them to their fate and relieves the rest of us of the fear of one day joining their ranks and frees us of the guilt of ridiculing them. However, the reality is that society did not suddenly over 2 to 3 generations get twice as full of lazy / greedy people than it has had over the past several hundred years, so blaming the huge increases in Obesity on Obese people's character flaws is absurd, and hateful.

Josh Ozersky next article ought to be about a restaurant for rape victims with chairs with special notches on them to let the ladies know their skirts are too short so they won't be stupid enough to get themselves raped will be a real knee slapper! </sarcasm>

Dec 14, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Features

Boston restaurants with a service shtick?

My one experience at Salts made me think they also specifically train their staff on the same "Allow me to educate you as to how lucky you are to be dining at our fabulous but not frou-frou temple of gastronomy" hauteur. Every course came with a 10 minute description of where every ingredient had been sourced, down to the garnish! While the food was lovely and I am actually a big proponent of supporting local agriculture, this jumped the shark to almost a satirical level. When the waiter, with a straight face, started waxing poetic about the "hand foraged mushrooms" and how they had their own personal forager for the restaurant...all to describe the 2 chunks of mushroom in the veggie loaded stuffing, I had to suppress a case of the giggles.

Breast Practices

The 130 comments on this topic are a sad indicator of just how disconnected most people have become from the reality of their mammalian nature. While we walk on two feet, wear clothing, and past waste into ceramic receptacles behind closed door, we are all still animals. We eat, we defaecate, and we breed. Americans in particular have become so squeamish that even the slightest reminder of their animalistic nature makes them uncomfortable. Meat cut into steaks wrapped in plastic are fine, but whole chickens or sides of beef handing on a hook behind glass gross us out. Guess what America, your beef was once a cow and your Chicken Caesar Salad with croutons on the side was once a bird that was killed and dismembered for your eating pleasure.

Same thing with breeding. At one point in your life, you sucked on your mom's happened. So did the co-worker sitting across from you in the next cubical. For people to be so uncomfortable with this fact that they can't handle being in a room with this normal activity is happening under a drape of fabric where they don't even have to look at it is ridiculous. Babies are not a unusual occurrence....4 million of them are born every year in the US alone. For people to expect that there would be 4 million of ANY CREATURE in the US and they should never see it eating is absurd!! Babies eat, just like the adults they grow into. Babies breast milk, that is what all new born mammals eat. The idea that all 8 million parents of the 4 million babies born in the US should hide in their house for 1 year so people without children don't have witness the infants speaks to just how cracked our culture has gotten. We watch adults spoon mouthfuls of cream into face in the form of soup with no discomfort, but a baby sucking on a breast under a blanket is translated as "disgusting".....what is wrong with you people. We'll watch an adult eat a whole boiled lobster, which is basically a big bug, and salivate, but the knowledge that an infant is eating 2 tables over where we can see them makes us loose our appetite, give me a break!

There is a HUGE difference between parents not managing the behavior of their child and breast feeding which many people are erroneously blurring into one issue. If the infant is fussing or crying, yes they need to be taken out of the room so they don't disturb others. If the infant smells, yes they need to be taken out of the room to be changed. However, if they infant is no louder than the other adult patrons conversing over their meal and does not smell, their presence and their eating while present should not be viewed as inherently distressing and disturbing to other patrons wanting to enjoy a nice meal. You can complain about parents who allow their child to be a disturbance all you want and it is totally fair game (especially those with older children they let run wild), but if you still think it's logical to complain about new born mammals eating what they are supposed to eat in the way it is supposed to be delivered in the same room as have some heavy Freudian introspection to work though!

Aug 22, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Features

The, Um, Breast Milk in the Fridge

Let's sort out some facts from hyperbole here.
1. The woman in the article was storing her milk in a branded insulated carrying bag with the breast milk in closed containers within said carry bag. This practice is not only very common, but of NO risk for cross contamination with other food in the fridge. People are confusing the outer carrying bag with clear little plastic breast milk storage bags (there are no breast milk storage bags in the market called Mommy's Milk, but there many insulated carrying bags with silly things on them). Having the little plastic storage bags in the fridge without the outer container could be risky for spills, but stored in the outer bag they are entirely safe.
2. While I understand people's squeamishness around seeing breast pump apparatus in the dish strainer (for aesthetics I agree it would be best to hand dry them and return them to the bag), the reality is your work kitchen is a hotbed of germs as so many people use the rest room before they get their lunch and don't wash their hands properly or at all. People sneeze on, cough on, and touch everything, it's just not in your face so you choose not to think about it.
3. If the employee works in an open work environment with cubical or work stations, pumping and storing privately may simply not be an option. Breast-milk degrades quickly at room temp, so keeping it in a crappy little cooler at your desk without real refrigeration simply doesn't work, especially for 8 hrs plus a 40+ minute commute home.
4. There are no federal labor laws regarding breaks for hourly workers, but many states have established different minimums, the most popular being 30 minutes per 4 hrs and 30 minutes for lunch. Salaried workers can be made to work as many hours as the employer wishes to pressure them to work with again no regulations on the federal or state level as to breaks.
5. Most women pumping breast milk take under 30 minutes per session and pump no more frequently that 1 x ever 3 hours (this is the rate that babies feed at home). Given the average work day is 8 hours, women should not need to exceed the industry standard of 30 minutes per 4 hrs and 30 min for lunch, so complaints they are getting extra time off are inaccurate. Most women will pump 3 times a day at work at most and will fit the 3rd pump in during their lunch break or before they commute home, so again this argument is moot.
6. If people are going to complain about women taking breaks to pump, they need to start restricting all of the men going out to grab coffee or to smoke. These breaks happen all the time and no one blinks.
7. The FMLA allows women up to 12 weeks unpaid leave, but many women come back sooner due to being unable to afford the loss of payroll. Whomever was quoting 6 months clearly lives in another country our is severely out of touch.

Aug 19, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Features

Fresh Corn and Tomato Salad

I have always done something very similar, but I think even better, so I'll share.
1. Leave the corn raw!! Raw fresh sweet corn is decadently sweet, crunchy, and stays sweet and juicy longer! Just husk it and cut it off the cob.
2. I use full sized heirloom tomatoes chopped instead of cherry. My richer flavor and more colors. You will have to drain it though.
3. Use lemon zest infused olive oil instead of plain evoo and cut down the lemon juice to 1 tbsp, gives you much moire complex lemon flavor without too much tartness.
4. Add 2 tbsps of balsamic vinegar reduction sauce / glaze. The one I use has a slight sweetness to it, but not too much.

The longer this salad sits together the better the flavors blend, so don't worry about having left overs or making it early. It really is summer in a bowl!! So tasty and good for you!

Aug 19, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Recipes

Casual dinner recommendation in Acton/Concord/Maynard?

Honestly, local Concord / Acton/ Maynard casual fare can't hold a candle to Arlington, Somerville, and Cambridge, so when you have the chance, drive the extra 20 to 30 minutes down Rt 2, it's worth it (been living here over year now and doing that a lot). Here are your options if you have to stay local:

Little Pusan Korean in Maynard - very casual, but solid Korean food. Very much the family run little place where dad cooks and mom manages the front.

Asian Gourmet Rt 2 Concord - 2 floors, one Chinese food & hibach, the other sushi. Not nearly as vile as the decription sounds! The Chinese is surpizingly authentic and well executed!! Don't be throw off by the tacky exterior or pan-asian offerings!

Spicepepper Garden Acton - Really tasty Chinese American food. Very fresh ingredients and not too oily / fried.

Vincenzo's is very decent if your local, but not worth it if you live elseware.

Helen's was extremely forgettable when I went. Good for ice cream.

The 99 is just like you'd expect it to be, but with nicer waitresses than most 99s.

Cast Iron Kitchen is again solid for local but not worth the drive for anyone else. Their menu tends to be a bit hit or miss, but never terrible and sometimes really tasty. Very family friendly.

Colonial Inn is pretty tasty if you stick to things like Chicken Pot pie and other Yankee fair, but fails at anything adventurous.

Though you didn't ask for it, your best lunch spot is Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord (behind the gas station). Hidden gem alert! Wonderful sandwiches on fresh baked bread....any toppings or fillings you want with very nice options like pea guacamole, arugala, brie cheese, smoked turkey, curry chicken salad, etc....all for $7 a sandwich!

Nashoba Brook Bakery Cafe
152 Commonwealth Ave., Concord, MA 01742

Colonial Inn
48 Monument Sq # 2, Concord, MA

Cast Iron Kitchen
177 Main Street, Maynard, MA 01754

Spicepepper Garden
36 Great Rd, Acton, MA 01720

Little Pusan
83 Main St, Maynard, MA 01754

Ducali Pizzaria serves surprisingly good pizza....who knew?!

I work just down the street from the TD Bank North Garden, so I've been meaning to try Ducali for ages and finally dragged some co-workers this Tuesday. I admit I went in with low expectations (pizza by the garden has always been suspect at best) and man was I blown away!

Gorgeous hand stretched pizzas with really top quality toppings, yeasty chewy crust, and ample portion size made for an unexpectedly decadent lunch. Their claim that their large serves 2 must be based on bigger eaters than us as we had to bring several slices as left overs to our grateful co-workers. We got 3 pies for 6 of us, one with 4 cheeses, one with potatoes rosemary and pancetta, and one with a bunch of meats (sausage, salami, and pancetta). All 3 were absolutely delicious, but the stand out was the potato...the flavor combination was addictive. If you like your crust really crisp, I'd ask for the pies well done as they definitely lean toward just golden brown....but I like them this way, so I was thrilled. The service was also friendly and prompt, so another plus there. They were sadly pretty quiet for the middle of the lunch hour, so I am guessing being on the very edge of the North End by the Garden has a lot of people making the same wrong assumption I did...thus my feeling the need to post.

I will say this definitely gourmet pizza, not classic Pizzeria Regina style pizza, but I think both varieties have their own inherent value and should be celebrated independently, not in competition with one another.

To sum up, if you are in the area and looking for a great pizza, look no further.
If you have to eat dinner by the Garden and don't want to get stuck at a crappy sports bar, look no further.
If you like old-school pizza, keep walking, you'll be annoyed :)

289 Causeway St, Boston, MA 02113

Steamed Cheeseburgers

I actually beg to differ as there are some surprisingly tasty and chowish finds on their menu. Their BBQ Beef Ribs are totally craving worthy! Massive portion of fall off the bone tender beef and sweet caramelized sauce with your choice of sides and corn bread. My hubby and I just went back there this past weekend for these and they were as finger licking good as ever!

Boston lowest in fast food consumption

While fun to see, Boston's lowest ranking has more to do with the viability of certain foodservice business models than Bostonians' presumed healthier / more refined eating habits. All the lowest cities on this list have a high and dense enough population with a high enough percentage of ethnic diversity to support a thriving independant "fast-food" / ethnic food market. Instead of McDonalds, Bostonians are buying cheap burritos, pizza, Pho, Bah Mi, Brazilian buffet, etc. from a sleu of independant eatieres that are just as fast and unhealthy as their franchised fast food counterparts, just without the stigma. Same for NYC, San Fran, Phili, Detroit, and all the other major cities at the bottom.

We don't build more McD's and Wendy's here because we all can get a cheap, filling, fast, unhealthy meals from local places that simply taste better. With all these easy access alternatives with meals that are $1-$2 difference from the FF chains but have massive improvements in flavor, there's just no appeal.

80 Thoreau in Concord

Great question with a possibly less than clear answer. They actually take their little gnocchi and sear the sides in a pan so that they are golden deep brown, so you get this great mix of fluffy, crunch, and slight chew in each bite. However this makes it hard to tell what the texture of the gnocchi was before it hit the saute pan :)

80 Thoreau in Concord

I just went to 80 Thoreau for the 3rd time last night and can confidently say this is an excellent dining establishment. Metro West, esspecially the northwest, has been dying for a restaurant like this for years and I am so happy it finnally showed up a year after I moved out here. My husband and I spent our first year making pilgramages to Cambridge because the only high quality restaurant out here was AKA Bistro and frankly they aren't as great as they think they are (or chagre for). 80 Thoreau could have opened in Cambridge or the South End and helt its own, no problem....there is no "phoning it in" because they know they are in the burbs at all!!

What stands out for me is their commitment to quality throughout every detail.

The space is beautifully rennovated....high ceilings, hickory floors, blemish free linens, interesting light fixtures that creat a mood instead of distract....the works....but it all simply creates an elegent but still inviting atmosphere that makes you want to take your DC for a nice date night or some good friends for a low key catch up over drinks and nibbles at the bar.

The food is all seasonal, locally sourced when possible, and uniquely prepared without being pretentious, self righteous, or strange for the sake of being strange. The impecable technique of the kitchen crew really shows as ever plate I have been served every time has been spot on in terms of meat cooked to the perfect temp, pasta the simmered to just the right consistency, veggies never over or under done, great crumb or chewiness from the bread, seasoned just to the right strength without being weak or salty, plated beautifully, and served hot though well timed without my ever feeling rushed.

The dishes I've tried so far are the seared gnocchi with morels (my favorite app so far, so tasty and such a nice combination of textures), the duck confit with salad greens and cherries ( very nice, but admittedly not life changing), the grilled lamb with turnovers (soooooo good! The turnover lamb filling is heavenly....I wish you could get it as an app!), and the parpadella with veal (beautifully made pasta, decadentally tender veal, all in a wonderfully flavorful sauce that doesn't overpower at all, just compliments). For desserts I've had the Strawberries Napolean (sweet and delcious finish without being too heavy, local strawberries allowed to shine ) and the pot de creme (rich chocolated and perfectly smooth withouth being too sweet or too intense).

I also have to pay my respects to the staff. They are all wonderfully friendly, helpful without being overly chatty, professional without being stuffy, and expertly trained. Water glasses stayed full, napkins refolded when you return from the restroom, and plates clearned never too early or too late. I am paticularly impressed how they walk the line between making you feel like you're having a fine dinning experience, but still make you feel comfortable and at ease, so you don't feel like you have to sit up extra straight in your chair or raise your pinky when you drink your water.

If your in Metro West, this restaurant is a must. If your in the city, I'm not sure I'd drive 30 minutes plus to try it as again it is as good as anything in the city, but not so much better I'd make a pilgrmage just for them. However if you are in the city and making a trip out to Concord to see Walden Pond, or bike ride, or apple pick, would be a shame to miss the chance to visit 80 Thoreau for dinner while you are out here.

They are very busy, be warned, so call or use Open Table for reservations.

AKA Bistro
145 Lincoln Rd, Lincoln, MA 01773

Favorite cold soups, please

chilled plum soup and cantalope pinapple soup

plum soup - take around 8 plums and simmer them in a sweet white wine (white zin, riesling, etc.) and OJ with some ground clove & cinnamon. Puree and sweeten to taste and chill.

Cantalope pinapple = 1 pinapple, 1/2 cantalope, handfull frest mint, little lime juice, puree and enjoy!

Jun 08, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Home Cooking

Sopha's Greek Pantry in Saturday's Wall Street Journal

Are you sure?
Fage Classic is 132 calories per 100g, so 214 seems really high

Greenway Names Dozen Vendors for 2011 (Food Trucks/Carts)

Sorry, but I don't buy this excuse. If J. Hook was interested in running a cart, they could absolutely turn a fine profit without sacrificing their current business.

1. Employees are not a finite resourse. They would hire a new kid to man the cart, not take their inside sales rep off the phone thus abandoning their restaurant one is that stupid and you should give them more credit that that if you like them.

2. The article says the 6 vendors last year had 60,000 visitors, that's 10,000 per vendor during the first year of the program. Presuming they were out there for 4 months = 120 days, that's 83 customers a day! Far from the 11 you suggested. Given there are more options now and lobster rolls are pricey, it is still fair to guess they could sell 50 customers a day. Presuming the average bill would be at least $12 (it is a lobster roll), that's at least $600 to pay for a college kid looking for a summer job to toast buns and stuff rolls for $11 an hr for 8 hrs, which will cost you maybe $100 once you throw in employee payroll tax. Not sure what the rental fees are or the amortorized cost of the truck....but this doesn't look too shabby so far by most restaurant standards.

3. Yes there are plenty places for watery lobster in Boston...and they are all full for lunch all summer long! If anything that proves the market potential not detracts from their chances.

Decadent Chocolate Saturdays at the Langham Hotel, Boston: What's your feedback?

The last time I went it was still Le Meridien. Back then it was quite good (at least to me). They had a wide variety of chocolate desserts, from chocolate soup to custom made chocolate crepes. It was definitely all dessert and very rich, but if you made a point of only eating a savory salad as your meal for the day beforehand, you could definitely go in and sample plenty of dishes before you got sweet - overload. My favorite was the chocolate bread pudding made of croissants (sooo good). The trick is to go with friends and treat it like dim sum, where you taste bites of the dishes others bring back to the table, rather than committing to eating a full slice of each cake or ramekin of creme brulee. I apologize if the quality has changed over the years and would defer to hounds who have visited more recently!


While I'll be the first to agree it is not fine dining, I am very surprised by the dishes you had an issue with. Their wings are heavily marinates, to the point of almost salty usually, never tasteless and their pork strips tend to lean on the fatty side, so I've never encountered a dry one except maybe in my home leftovers a few days later. This does not mean what you experienced didn't happen, it's just really odd for them. Sorry you hit them on an off night....their Pu Pu Platter is usually very tasty :(

Pu Pu Restaurant
2060 Centre St, West Roxbury, MA 02132

Best (NON-Buffalo flavored) Wings in Boston?

I remember a cheezy old recipe for Sweet & Sour Sauce from Better Homes and Garden's in the 70's that had a flavor very reminiscent of the Saugus Wings (which was made with pineapple and cherry juice, soy sauce, corm starch, and some other forgotten ingredients). My guess is that Saugus wings are Sweet & Sour Sauce mixed with Soy Sauce, a touch of molasses, and a bunch of chopped garlic and simmered down to the black magic we know and love. I am guessing this because they invented the recipe on site using whatever was in the kitchen (molasses is used to make the lobster sauce).....with a leaning toward whatever the people of Saugus seemed to like, which was the super Americanized dishes like lobster sauce and sweet and sour pork :)

Here's a bittersweet little story about Kowloon from back in the day for your entertainment. Kowloon became my family's favorite Chinese restaurant almost 30 yrs ago. The reason had little to do with the food and a lot to say about race relations at the time. My older sister and I are half Jewish and half Black, a controversial mix by 70's standards, to say the least. Our sweet little Jewish Great Aunt decided to take us out one afternoon for Chinese food at her then favorite restaurant Bali Hai in Lynnfield (we were around 4 and 7 at the time). The staff there, apparently fearful that a table of interracial diners would offend their other patrons, proceeded to ignore us and refuse to seat us for 45 minutes, while seating a slew of parties of 2 and 4 that walked in after us (even with my Aunt politely reminding them of our presence several times), until we got the hint and left. Determined not to let the afternoon be ruined, she drove us back onto Rt 1 and headed south till she found another Chinese restaurant, which as you can guess turned out to be Kowloon. The staff there seated us immediately, was ever so sweet to us, and forever won my Great Aunts esteem and gratitude. She and her son went to Kowloon almost weekly ever since that afternoon till her death 5 years ago and she insisted whenever the rest of my family wanted to go to Chinese food with her that this be the only restaurant we give our money to. Her presence was so familiar at the restaurant that they used to make her and her guests a complimentary round of drinks whenever she went (she ordered a Kahlua and Milk with extra milk each time, so it was hardily a profit loss). It wasn't till a few years before her death that it finally dawned on me to ask her why her staunch loyalty to Kowloon over all the other Chinese food in the area and she told me the story ( I was too young to really remember the event). While it's kind of a sad story, it gave me such an heightened sense of respect for her and the Wong Family that owns Kowloon. Living in modern times, it is easy to forget what life use to be like and how racism could taint something as innocent as taking your little nieces out for lunch....and far too easy to forget the strength it took to be good people like the Wong family and my Great Aunt during those less enlightened times.

So yes, Kowloon's food might be Americanized and their decor corny, but it is a family restaurant run by great people who take pride in their work and treat their patron with care and have earned ever ounce of their success! May they never change!

Best (NON-Buffalo flavored) Wings in Boston?

+1 for the Saugus Wings at Kowloon. I can't prove it, but I believe the sweet & sticky element is a mix of pineapple and maraschino cherry juice (or poor man's sweet & sour chicken sauce). They are surprisingly addictive actually....given the "everything in brown sauce" nature of the rest of the menu.

I will always have a little sweet spot in my foodie heart for Kowloon, no matter what other's think. They know who they are and own it unabashedly and have for over a generation. If your looking for palate challenging authentic Chinese or impeccably balanced Thai, then steer clear, but if you'd having a craving for sub gum fried rice, pu-pu plattter, lobster in lobster sauce, and a scorpion bowl all while sitting on a ship with a frilly plastic lai around your neck, then they are the best in the state, no question!

Sous Vide in the Home

How about using a meat injector to shoot some flavor into the center of the steaks manually?

May 05, 2011
InmanSQ Girl in Home Cooking

Have You Seen My Ideal Burger in Boston?

Here are some options with *most* of your requirements

Hillston in Fanuel Market Place - Fresh ground, high quality, very tasty burger. Homemade egg bun, not brioche. Fries are good, thin, and hand cut. Not sure about pickle

Eastern Standard on Commonwealth Ave - Beautifully done burger, thin and excent frites and aioli available. One issue is they serve the burger on brioche. Again not sure about pickles

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

Rod Dee Porter Square: Progress?

Fair point, but only up to a certain level. If a burger joint says how would you like your burger cooked, and you say "raw with a refrigerator cold center", the restaurant will not do it and will give it to you rare. The customer is always right, right up to the point they ask you for something that may be an open liability for your business. Again, I have not eaten here, so the dishes may indeed be wimpy, but since the OP said he wants his food as hot as Ghost Peppers, I don't think I am wrong in presuming that the level of heat he wants served to him is a open liability to serve most Americans and I respect the chef reluctance to "give him what he paid for". Again, at a burger joint the customer may want and pay for food borne illness level raw, but that doesn't mean I the line cook am into S&M and want to harm my guests even if they pay me for it.

Rod Dee Porter Square: Progress?

While I have not eaten at this specific restaurant, I must object your statement that a Thai restaurant is not properly representing their country if their food is not 5 alarm spicy. This is actually a stereotype of Thai cuisine and has nothing to do with the widely varied and beautifully balanced flavors of the country.

My husband and I spent 20 days in Thailand for our honeymoon eating our way through the finest restaurants to the humblest of street carts and open market "restaurants" and I can tell you that while the Thai people love their heat, it is FAR from the only thing they love. The thing that they prize most highly is the BALANCE of salty, sweet, sour, and spicy! We were lucky enough to take a day long cooking class at The Blue Elephant in Bangkok, where the the head chef waxed poetic for nearing 45 minutes on the importance of balancing flavors and how the street food of Thailand was giving the entire cuisine a bad rep by being too focused on heat.

At the open market "restaurants" and other non-high end shops, table condiments were pretty much always available and included peppers and fish sauce and other ways to tweek the food your liking. This does not mean all the Thai cooks of Phuket, Chang Mai, and Bangkok were all bad cooks because they did not spice the food to the level YOU like before they served it, it means that this is how the Thai people as a whole prefer to serve their food, which is spiced to a well balanced level for that dish and then leave you free to crank up the heat as you wish.

The only exception to this was street cart food, which was pre-made and you weren't expected to sit around there to eat it and doctor it to your liking, so for those dishes, if they wanted it hot, they made it 5 alarm, period. I like heat, but there was a stir fried frog dish that will live in infamy in my family, in that my husband could not manage it and I had to switch dishes with him....the "veggies" for the stir fry were a mixture of sliced bird chilies, sliced red chilies, and fresh green peppercorns, with no other veggies for relief, save some garlic! I'm still surprised I managed to finish it.

Lastly, I have to mention that spicing food with fresh peppers is NEVER a precise science. Depending on the time of year, the age of the fruit, and even just the environment from one farm to the next, the spiciness of a specific type of pepper can vary wildly! 2 bird chilies that made a Tom Yom soup unbearable the day before may make the soup only medium today. While I agree that chefs should always taste their food, sometimes correcting a dish can be very hard. especially when it's something like a stir fry where when you discover it is too mild, throwing in more raw pepper would mean making the rest of the dish mushy while you wait for the new peppers to cook. People also forget that if a pepper is hot enough, it can actually give you chemical burns and other real damage (aggravate stomach issues, induce vomiting, etc.) and frankly a lot of people who claim they like "spicy" really can only handle American level spice, so with those two very real issue in mind, you can't blame the chef for being reticent to make your dish ultra spicy and taking the safer route of making your dish American hot and letting you crank the heat on your own.

Sorry, I'll stop ranting now :)

Dining out with a new baby

Yes it is spicy and that's a good thing :) There is a reason that children from other cultures can can eat all sorts of strange and spicy foods and American kids must be force fed chicken finger and Lunchables till their in highschool....and it is this very "shelter the baby from strange flavors" mind set. The best thing you can do through out your pregnancy and nursing is eat well flavored foods (not necessarily searing hot, as that can upset your stomach, but spiced with flavors and some mild heat). When your pregnant the spices and herbs make your amniotic fluid smell, so your kids gets used to and likes the smell of things like garlic and curry from day one, and once the kid is on the outside, it flavors your breast milk the same way. In India, babies are fed curry as early as 7 months old.

I say order any any all of those suggestions from Stripper Guy, just ask them to make it "medium" and make sure you intermix some spicy and non-spicy foods you should be all set! Enjoy and help awaken the palate of your future chowhound :)

Boston Area Chinese Buffet

The forgotten value of the buffet is the variety. If I choose to dine alone or with a small number of guests, there is a definite limit to the number of dishes I can try at one meal. When you dine at a buffet, you can try little bits of several dishes that interest *you* without the challenge of worrying that your fellow dinner guest have to be interested in trying the same several dishes. Dining in Chinatown is wonderful with a group of 6 when you can try little bits of lots of fun stuff, but if you're with 2 to 4 people, especially if some of the party are picky / unadventurous, you end up ordering much "safer" dishes and getting to branch out less.

Sadly, many look at buffets purely as a chance to stuff their face with as much food as possible for a fixed rate, thus the bad rep of sub standard food and greedy fellow diners. When done right, a buffet can be a fun food exploration, when done wrong it's The Country Buffet (nuff said). I wish more restaurants in Boston, Asian in particular, would invest in quality buffets. The prices will be higher than the standard $7.99 stuff-your-maw lunch variety, but I think there are plenty of foodies in Boston that would ante up for the experience.

Nice, Foodie Quality Lunch near Colonial Theater - Reservations a Plus?!

We are going with some good friends to see Hair at the Colonial Theater (106 Boylston Street, Boston, MA) this weekend and want to meet them for a nice lunch beforehand. The hope was that this could be a slightly nicer occasion in a place with good food that takes reservations. All the nice places in the area I know (Avilla, Bin Osteria, Teatro) are not open for Saturday lunch. It need not be super fancy, but just not crappy...someplace we can linger for an hour+ and catch up and eat great food and make our friends feel like it was worth investing in a baby sitter for one of their few child free jaunts into the city.

Any suggestions on where we can go?

177 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02111