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True Japanese-trained sushi chefs?

They are about to again soon...

Dinner Tuscan Kitchen Burlington ?

I was actually just there for a work dinner meeting recently. It would never otherwise have occurred to me to leave my normal stomping grounds of Camberville for a chain restaurant in a giant office park. We were in a private function room with seating for at least 150. I can't say for sure to settle the above argument, but there is a lot of seating there. Someone I was sitting with also mentioned that she'd tried to get a reservation recently and was unable to, and arrived a separate time to a 3 hour wait. I don't really comprehend how that's possible, but them are the facts.

The food was okay. Granted, it was a buffet style catered corporate dinner. Specifically, there was a mushroom ravioli that was excellent with obviously house-made pasta and slivers of short rib in a rich sauce. Other items were less stand-out, and the slabs of beef were extremely tough- not even clear what cut they were- and completely unseasoned. I'd give it a solid "B". Dessert was served on a platter in the middle of the table with an assortment of pastries. A few has some ice cream component and had obvious freezer-funk like they'd been cut a week ago into single servings and sat uncovered next to a bunch of other food.

I don't know- I can't see waiting hours to eat there, or driving up from Boston/Cambridge/Somerville/Brookline, but if you get the option of a free dinner, well, load up on the pasta.

Noor Mediterranean Grill -Excellent Shawerma!!

Yeah, we're switching to Noor exclusively even though the location is not as convenient. Shawarma Place last week was a disaster. Smaller wraps, incompetent counter help, and they've moved the prep area so you can no longer see and point at which toppings you want or see them make the shawarmas. Boo.

Strip T's is going Izakaya

They did this for a week a couple of years ago just before the re-re-invention as sandwiches only. We had an anniversary dinner planned well in advance and were unaware of the Izakaya-only menu. I can't say we were wowed by the food, and actually haven't been back since although we were huge fans their first few years and made the trek quite a few times.

A little fancy, feels like a good value, veggie friendly?

I think Bergamot is a good option. The vibe, availability of parking for someone coming in from out of town, excellent service. It's worth a look by the OP at least.

April 2015 Openings and Closings

Oh, wow. I never knew how to spell oounc oounc before. This board is such an education.

Meju in Davis Sq.-Anyone Excited?

We made it over here last night finally. I love what they've done to the space- hard to believe it used to be McDonalds! It was pretty busy at 7, possibly due to the independent film festival going on. We followed some recs from the Globe review and tried the flat dumplings, which had a bit of a kick to them, but were kind of greasy. I liked, but did not love, them. I went with a scallion pancake and roasted mushrooms for my dinner and my DC had the spicy pork bulgogi (spicy is their characterization; not mine). The pancake was light and crisp so I figure their oil temp is good, which makes the greasiness of several other items more troubling. The mushrooms were a highlight- a generous portion, nicely seasoned. I was happy to pay $10 for them. Some of the other dishes did not justify their price tag. The pork bulgogi was tender, but lacked any sort of sear or evidence of exposure to high heat. It was also quite sweet for my palate and not at all spicy. Personally, I prefer Buk Kyung's version, as does my wallet.

Service was very friendly, but not that capable. Ban chan did not arrive til after all the other dishes, which I found odd especially given the Globe review had mentioned that as a problem. You would have thought they would corrected it by now. We received complimentary mochi due to a very long wait between dishes, which was thoughtful but did not altogether make up for other lapses such as having to wave my empty water glass over my head repeatedly to get it refilled. The food in general was pretty salty, so this is an issue.

I'm not sure what to think about Meju. I love the space and vibe, and can't comment on cocktails as we weren't drinking. Perhaps its function is best for drinks and nibbles? I think there's an inherent difficulty in doing upscale Asian because diners make the calculation that they can get twice as much food which also tastes delicious somewhere else. It's really a question of whether people are willing to pay for the experience on the whole because nothing convinced me that their food was qualitatively different than other Korean joints in the area, with the exception of some fusiony menu options. It will be interesting to see how this pans out longer term.

Knife sharpening recs (NOT on the edge)?

Can't believe no one's mentioned them yet either as a negative or positive, but my practice sends our surgical scissors and tools to Siraco Sharpening in Somerville- they do all sorts of blades including lawnmowers, scissors, whatever. My husband and I use a Chef's Choice Pro for our regular knives and have been very happy with it- we have the Wusthof Cordon Bleu as our main knives, and a couple of other odds and ends. Our 12" serrated bread knife goes to Siraco every so often and they do get it sharp although you can see some significant wear and scratching around the serrations. I'd be curious to see what all you knife enthusiasts have to say about Siraco. They pick up at Tags Hardware in Porter so you can leave blades for sharpening at the desk downstairs.

Budapest 4/15 trip report

Just got back from a lovely week in Budapest and wanted to share my experiences since there seemed to be a bit of a dearth of information.

Our first dinner was at Konyha which my sister picked because it is right around the corner from our hotel and I'd just gotten in from 16 hours of travel. It turned out to be a lovely restaurant and we returned for breakfast another day. It's near Deak Ferenc, which is a main public transit hub on the Pest side of the river and turned out to be an excellent location overall. The restaurant is simple, very friendly English-speaking staff, and they do make a real effort to source fresh local ingredients. Their whole trout stuffed with lemons and herbs, grilled, and served over a bed of arugula, was excellent. The rest of my party was vegetarian and we weren't drinking but our bill still came out to about US $12 each for dinner and a few shared salads and soups. Amazing. Breakfast a few days later was really excellent- a nice chewy bagel with poached egg and a sort of a creamed spinach/pesto hybrid topping. Kept me completely filled up all day for about $2.50 US.

Other breakfasts were not as successful. We loved the coffee at Bluebird Cafe and Coffee Roastery (in the Gozsdu plaza area, a giant mass of mostly bars and restaurants), but their pastries and breakfasts were pretty awful. Get an americano to go and pickup food elsewhere. Also, in what just strikes me as weird, they sprinkle just about everything you order with peanuts. This would be a giant no-no in the US due to allergy concerns. I really did not expect my cinnamon bun to be slathered in sauce and peanuts when it came to the table, and when I asked if those were in fact peanuts on top, they first denied it, then confirmed it, and never offered to take it off the bill or get me anything else. (I'm not allergic; I just don't like unexpected peanuts) The next day, we went back because the coffee was just such a good antidote for jet lag and I was served a small plate of pancakes... covered in peanuts.

For lunch, we fell into the tourist trap of Fashion street once. It's hard to pass through and not eat. I enjoyed a plate of sausage and stuffed cabage, but compared to food everywhere else, it was quite expensive.

However, do NOT miss the Kürtőskalács "chimney cake" pastries in the fashion street tourist area. They are fantastic and unlike anything else I've had. I tried to convince a vendor to move to the US, assuring him he'd become rich, but no deal. They are rolled sweet yeasted dough which is wrapped around a special wooden dowel then roasted on a spit over coals. The layer of sugar on the outside caramelizes and the dough on the inside remains soft and puffy. Please, someone come make them in Boston.

Our one fancy meal ended up being lunch at Borokhonyha, also near Deac Ferenc and which recently received a very good write up in the NYT. Probably owing to that, they were unable to take us for dinner. No matter, lunch was fantastic. When they heard us discussing the term "pike perch", the waiter brought over a fish atlas and gave us a very nice zoologic explanation. This is the kind of service that gets you a Michelin star. I would highly recommend making a reservation and having a meal there because although it's a fancy restaurant by Budapest standards, the prices are still very reasonable overall so this is your chance to experience a high level of dining on a budget.

A few other meals- a nice dinner at Trattoria Pomo D'Oro. Very old-world Italian feel. I had an excellent duck breast and the vegetarian members of our party were happy with their flatbreads and pasta. Even with a few glasses of wine, our party of 4 had dinner for $60 US.

We had one dinner at Pater Marcus, a Belgian Beer pub on the Buda side of the river near the castle. Let's just say they didn't convince me they'd been to Belgium. They only have about 10 beers on tap, trending heavily toward very fruity selections, and the food was really not very good. I got off flavors from some mussels, and the "frites" were mushy wedge fries of the Sizzler Steakhouse circa 1980 type (a lousy American chain steakhouse for those wondering what I'm talking about). Budapest seems to have a pretty good wine culture going, but if this was their venture into beer they're going to have to step it up a notch before I'm impressed.

We had an interesting Georgian dinner at Hachapuri- I was completely unfamiliar with Georgian food, and would love to explore more. I liked the ambiance at the restaurant and we were able to order by pointing at pictures on the menu which had good English descriptions. This was good, because the staff didn't speak much English. Dessert after that was a trip to the Bookstore Cafe, an architectural gem of a mirrored, gilded ballroom hidden upstairs in a bookstore. Again, stale awful pastries and cakes. Have a cup of tea and then get some gelato if you must, but worth it for the decor and wow factor of the space.

That about sums up the eating. Oh- if you're there on a Sunday, do try to visit the Farmer's Market which is located inside the Ruin Bars not far from Deac Ferenc. We had to have someone help us find the entrance but it's pretty amazing once you're in there. Lunch of fresh yogurt, sausage and cheeses is a nice break from restaurant meals and you can find lots of nice food gifts which are a cut above the typical tourist bag of paprika.

Apr 16, 2015
Parsnipity in Europe

Places to eat near Tufts?

Do you know where? I must have missed this...

Don't Waste Your Allowance on Ordinary Sweets! Hold Out for the Good Stuff;Hold Out for Paris Baguette!

Is that a Chitty Chitty Bang Bang reference? If so, I *heart* your post.

ISO: Thick-shelled white eggs for pysanky (Ukrainian dyed Easter eggs)


ISO: Thick-shelled white eggs for pysanky (Ukrainian dyed Easter eggs)

I am looking for some higher-quality white eggs. As a kid, we used to blow out raw eggs to dye for pysanky- Ukrainian dyed Easter eggs. Most of the eggs I buy now are brown, and I tried blowing out some super market white ones and they are so thin and fragile that I couldn't do it. Meanwhile, I have beautiful eggs from 25 years ago that have survived. Are they making eggs thinner these days? Anyone have a lead on some uniformly-colored and thick-shelled white eggs?

Meju in Davis Sq.-Anyone Excited?

Huh. Thanks for sharing. It had kind of fallen off my radar, largely due to lack of chow chatter, but also partly due to the higher-than-expected prices based on the initial soft opening menu. It's back on my list now. Will report when I can...

Where to take four young kids in Cambridge/Somerville

Highland Kitchen is a great choice for that age group, but as for getting a table it depends on the night. If it's a weeknight, we've done well at 6, but not on a Friday or Saturday. Sometimes even Thursday it can be pretty busy by 6, and if you miss that "first seating" where all tables have just sat, it can be a long wait.

We've enjoyed Christopher's with kids. You could also do "dinner for breakfast" somewhere like the Friendly Toast. Kids love that.

ETA- Mary Chungs! See my prior posts on the amazing kid friendliness of the waitstaff- to the point where they will somehow get your kids to eat greens. And what 3 year old wouldn't be excited about their own order of dumplings? Only downside I can think of is a bit of a busy street and walk with the little ones either from parking or the T.
By the way, you're brave. Wanna add two more little girls to your party?

Durkee spices

As much as I love Cooks's Illustrated, remember they're writing for a national audience and need to point people toward brands they have a chance of finding. I take their national brand recs with a grain of salt, given that we have much more availability of smaller name or ethnic products here. While they write for people who love to cook and eat, I think they consciously steer away from a foodie or Chow take on products, in other words settling for "available" vs "obsessive searching for the absolute best or cheapest". I'd be interested to hear if anyone does find Durkee and compare it to say, Badia or a brand from an Indian market.

Budapest - rustic/traditional? help, please

Boston hound here. Will be in Budapest in April visiting my sister who is a vegetarian (I'm not) and who, despite living in Budapest for a year, claims to have not eaten much noteworthy. Looking for interesting dining that I wouldn't be able to find here in a major US city.
Simon, any finds to report back?

Feb 26, 2015
Parsnipity in Europe

What new spot would you try?

And I personally would pick Alden & Harlow over Ribelle and Giulia, although I think you would not go wrong with any of those.

Great Boston restaurants with my kids

I really don't think there's anywhere that would be off limits. I would just search threads and plan around your tastes and locations and budget. There are tons of kids and family threads on here, but most of them focus on babies and toddlers. At this age, if your kids have wide palates, you've already got all the posters with food allergies/disabilities/vegans/etc beat as far as being able to go anywhere. I certainly hope that as a city and culture we don't make school age kids feel unwelcome in any dining establishment. In a few short years, your young ones may be our bussers and line cooks and summer ice cream scoopers.

another suggestion please

I had a nice moms' night out at Alden & Harlow, which is easy on the red line too. I'd want a reservation though- their bar gets packed. Whatever red sparkling libation they served me undid about 13 temper tantrums. And then some indulgent hot chocolate at Burdicks... ah, I need to do that again soon.

another suggestion please

If I were out without my kids, K T&T is not where I'd want to go. I'd want something a little more elegant. Maybe it's all the snow emails and kids specials Maws has been emailing out, but I do not think this is the vibe you're looking for.

You could try Westbridge and then Belly for drinks after- only have to park once that way.

New Falafel Joint in Somerville/Medford

Interesting. The first few times I went in, the owner was super friendly and cooking and you're right, lately it's been some younger (possibly teenage) guys not really giving it their all. I had a conversation with the owner about saj bread and how awesome it is and whether he'd be able to get it- based on that alone, I usually pick Noor these days although I work literally around the back side of the same building as the Shawarma place. He had said he was working on it, but obviously it never happened. Also, the kofta used to be cooked to order and it was a 10-15 minute wait if you ordered them. Then there was a time period where they were pre-cooked and just available, and the other day when I went in they just plain didn't have them.

Restaurants with parking?

Green Street Grille is really close to the public parking garage in Central. Not sure what the availability of parking is these days anywhere but under normal circumstances it's easy to find a spot there and only a few bucks.

Bergamot has a parking lot.

Does the snow keep you close to home?

Amen. Trekked over to the Porter Exchange and ended up at Cho Cho's. Decent meal of bibimbap and bulgogi, rice and edamame for the little ones and plenty of space to run around and burn off steam after dinner for the kids. Not as good as Buk Kyung in Union as a downside, but as an upside about 1/2 the price noted on the menu at Meju which I haven't tried yet.

What's for dinner during a blizzard?

Hounds- we're going stir-crazy here. What's everyone doing for dinner tonight? We're interested in somewhere in Davis, Porter or Ball Square areas, but I'm sure other hounds would be interested in a general discussion. I know Craigie and Kirkland Tap & Trotter are doing some blizzard specials, but they're a little outside our walking zone with two kiddos in packs. Nothing on Davis Square Live Journal yet...

Are there any highly recommended vegetarian entrees in the Greater Boston area?

ditto parsnips ;)

Best sandwiches in Boston?

I was going to weigh in to vote for the artichoke arugula pesto with fresh moz. I'm not a veggie but it's on my top 10 favorite list for sure. I also really like the smokey spicey turkey at Dave's.

Garlic & Lemon's anything on saj is ridiculously good too and head and shoulders above either the Schwarma Place or Noors over here in Davis.

January 2015 Openings and Closings

Just walked by and the stop work order is gone, a permit is posted, and there were people inside looking over papers. So hopefully they're back on track.

The new Rosebud, Davis Square

Brunch- good thought. As long as they take reservations we could give it a shot, because that's been the sticking point of many of our other brunch options. Like, Highland Kitchen (which I was sorely hoping the new Rosebud could be compared to) has the most amazing chicken/biscuit/egg concoction but with two hungry small ones, there's no way we can wait for a table.

The new Rosebud, Davis Square

Yes, that is what I meant. We were wowed by the beer itself and I guess I'll trust you on price. I don't in priciple have a problem paying as much for a beer as a wine or cocktail. I just felt overall the value was not there, and when you leave with that feeling you start looking at the bill and trying to figure out where the money went.