Jolyon Helterman's Profile

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Coverage of wine/bar in Boston food reviews [split thread]

It's actually not completely your choice (you're pleasing an editor).

Apr 11, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Coverage of wine/bar in Boston food reviews [split thread]

I also think that with the Globe, as with most major newspapers, there's a lingering, historical "We're a family-values paper" ethos when it comes to covering booze.

Apr 10, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Cochon555?

I'll bet it'll be as transcendent as the last time I visited Asia, that night we stayed up late enough to eat a whole pig at the local speakeasy in the "house style." Which is somewhat ironic, given my deplorable grasp of spoken Asian.

All joking aside, it does look like it'll be incredible eating.

Apr 01, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Is there better Chinese in Boston than Peach Farm?

I second everything nsenada said (though I like the non-lamb pulled noodles a little better).

Mar 18, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

"No seating incomplete parties" rule [moved from Boston board]

Precisely.

Mar 14, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Not About Food
1

"No seating incomplete parties" rule [moved from Boston board]

Demanding to be seated before dinner service even begins feels worlds different from expressing annoyance that your table is unavailable because you're down one guest. (I won't rehash my usual Andelman-trolling soapbox speech here, but....)

That said, I too scratched my head when that Globe review came out. I agree that it's a perfectly justified practice—why shouldn't the restaurant let walk-ins take advantage of an open table while the reservation (or next-in-line) party gets its act together? In that extra 20 minutes or so while your missing crew "parks," the restaurant could be serving someone else who's hungry and, you know...present and ready.

To the OP: I have found noon to 1:30-ish to be pretty slammed at Blue Dragon, particularly later in the week. That said, if you get there—complete party—right at noon you shouldn't have too long a wait, and the food service has always been pretty fast, in my experience.

Mar 14, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Not About Food

Szechuan Takeout Tonight

I love the Szechuan-style flounder at Dumpling Cafe, tho maybe better dining in. And the Dry Fried Chicken at New Shanghai.

Mar 13, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Alden & Harlow

That raw butternut squash salad blew me away. I could have sworn it was oil, but I might be wrong. So perfectly balanced.

Mar 05, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Great restaurants, for a single course each at the bar, on multi stop anniversary night out near Kendal Square

Those would prob be my recommendations (places, not necessarily food/drink specifics), with the addition of Belly Bar near the beginning.

Mar 03, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Boston - Monday night, casual dinner, serious foodie

Liberty Hotel is a little bit in no-man's land for the sort of thing you're looking for (though Scampo, right in the hotel, is an excellent restaurant and possible to orchestrate a table-sharing situation with a proactive swath through the menu).

Alden & Harlow is a good suggestion. Another place worth checking out is West Bridge (also a short cab ride).

Mar 02, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Fried Okra in Boston area?

it = fried pickled okra (sorry, I read too quickly)

Mar 02, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Fried Okra in Boston area?

I've tried it personally in Asheville, Charlotte, Atlanta, and Columbia (SC), and I know that Sean Brock does it sometimes at Husk in Charleston.

Mar 02, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Fried Okra in Boston area?

I dunno. What year of invention was the cut-off for something to be considered "culturally authentic" in Southern cooking? ;)

I grew up in Irmo, SC, which grew so much okra we had an annual okra festival (the Okra Strut, with parade, okra-eating contest, etc.). Not sure I remember fried *pickled* okra, but it's all over the South now, and seems plenty authentic to me, if possibly a lot newer than, say, hushpuppies.

Either way: I kinda liked the fried pickled okra at State Park, though I'm more obsessed with the Nashville hot chicken!

Mar 01, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Must Haves at Oleana and Bergamot for Tonight/Soon?

That quail dish is probably in my Top 10 for the entire city. Perfect.

Mar 01, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

James Beard Semifinalists

Historically, James Beard Foundation awards (in my opinion) have been head-scratchingly anachronistic nods to now-fading restaurants—as though the foundation accidentally picked up 15-year-old issues of a city magazine to figure out What's Good Now.

I am all for heralding the true stalwarts, and the first one to push back, often not so gently, against the culture of Fetishizing the New in which I toil every day (the glossy-mag world). But the semifinalist lists going back at least ten years have been eye-rollingly laughable. A nutso, distorted snapshot of diningscape relevance.

Grumble, grumble, grumble. OK, fine. They nailed a few of the choices on this particular list. Even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while.

I'm gonna go take my meds now.

Feb 22, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area
1

Looking for Prime Bone-In Thick Cut Ribeye or Portehouse Steaks

Every Whole Foods butcher I've ever asked has been willing to cut steaks however thick I want (assuming they have more in the back). Have they changed their policy?

Feb 07, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Bondir Concord Just Okay

You haven't been but think it's worth more than 2 stars? Say what??

Feb 07, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area
1

Bondir Concord Just Okay

I had an excellent meal at Bondir–Concord a week or two back (at a four-top that may have ordered the entire menu, IIRC). Though yes, that coquillage dish was the weakest thing we had. All the pastas in particular were in the 9 to 10 range for me; fantastic. Though different from the one described above.

Re: the Aka Bistro subthread, I remember sitting at the bar a year or two ago with a couple of co-conspirators and working our way through a sizable percentage of the Japanese menu. Mostly good, a little skewed toward the ambitious-but-not-quite-perfectly-landed. Still hungry, we shared a hanger steak frites from the other menu and it may have been the best steak frites I've had in greater Boston. Since then, I've returned and explored the French offerings, which I think are superb as a rule. Now my M.O., which I recommend, is to order like you're at a Parisian bistro, with a starter or two of Japanese-style crudo for good measure.

Feb 05, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area
1

St. Barth / St. Bart's Best Restaurants Right Now

I am headed to the island for four nights at the end of next month, for the first time. I have reservations at Gaïac but nowhere else yet. I could replace that, if advised.

I've been considering a Cabaret night at Le Ti St. Barth (worth doing?). We're renting a house, so will probably cook in some. Otherwise, no agenda set.

I've looked at the few posts on this topic on this board but would love some ultra-current information. I'd prefer the sort of modern small-plates/grazing style format over white-tablecloth-formal, but I would take anything that's worthy, right now, in 2014.

Many thanks in advance.

Jan 13, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Latin America & Caribbean

Best steak in Boston area?

I don't believe Grill 23's 100 Day Aged Ribeye is dry-aged, or advertised as such. As much as I love funky dry-aged flavor, I think about two months of true dry aging would be as much as I'd want, anyway (although I'd be willing to try the Eleven Madison Park 140-day some time!).

It's a wet-aged steak, but a great one, IMO.

As for the Kobe cap, another favorite of mine: No, it's not Japanese A12 Wagyu (given the 10-ounce portion, it would have to cost $300 at least). Pretty sure it's an American cow grown Wagyu style. That said, the marbling is rich and luxurious, and as big an eater as I am, 10 ounces is plenty on that steak.

As for the OP's question: If your budget is $50pp, Grill 23 is probably too expensive, and sounds like you want a steakhouse dinner not just a good steak. Give Bogie's Place a try—I think it'll be perfect.

Jan 05, 2014
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area
1

Lamb Dinner

Gaslight does lamb shank dinner as a weekly (Thursday) special.

Also, the Blue Room

http://www.theblueroom.net/menus/dinner/

Dec 20, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Help me decide where to cry about my advanced age.

Kirkland and Sycamore would be my top choices for a birthday celebration, as much as I love the other places!

Dec 18, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Where do you people-gaze?

Agree with MC's above.

Also:
Towne
Post 390
Trade
Scampo
Blue Room
Sonsie

Dec 17, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Anyone been to Ostra yet?

I was wondering whether the quotes referred to the Columbus Hospitality Group's whole/deboned hybrid (which I love), though not sure quotes work for that purpose, either.

The several-steak-option thing is a CHG trademark that makes a lot of business sense, but I always wonder if it undermines the credibility of, say, Sorellina as a legit Italian restaurant among a certain set—when, in fact, it's pretty excellent.

Looking forward to trying it!

Dec 08, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Sycamore

I haven't been there since summer, but there was hardly a dud on the table (and our group got through the bulk of the menu).

Back then, we had the duck board for two, which was terrific, and I'd be tempted by the beef version on the current menu. Also: the chorizo croquetas.

And yum, if I were in a table-wide sharing situation, I'd be interested in a few bites of the veggie entree I see on the menu now: "crispy phyllo-wrapped eggplant…confit peppers, braised greens, kohlrabi & smoky tahini 20." The grilled-squid prep looks great, too. And the parsnip-almond skordalia. And... Hey, stop it, I'm getting hungry at 5am!

Nov 21, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Debunking Boston restaurant myths

Not to mention that cookery, FOH service, and acoustical analysis aren't always a bundled skill set.

Nov 21, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

November 2013 Openings and Closings

Did you find that out on Chowhound? ;)

Nov 11, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Little Lamb Mongolian Hot Pot (Beacon Hill) now open

I think it's in contention for best hotpot option going, including Little Q, There. I said it.

Love the dipping-sauce "bar." The chive-flower sauce is beautiful. They charge you a $1.50 fee for, what, 20 options (as opposed to the standard shabu-style four), and that is a rip-off? Bright green chive-flower sauce!

I thought that the broths were complex and interesting. (The mushroom broth may be my favorite of the two times I've been, but the Mongolian Spicy was also good.) The veggies are beautifully presented, esp the napa and spinach. The second time around, I tried the Mongolian BBQ lamb ribs. Dusted hard with cumin, they come out still on the dramatically curved bones; the server carves the fatty meat off them at the table, leaving a couple of still-meaty bones to gnaw on. A little pricy, but terrific, and not what you can find elsewhere around town.

Had no problem with slow service.

I will respectfully disagree that paper-thin slices of meat need to come to room temperature before cooking.

Will emphatically agree that this is a horrendous place to park. In the end, we rolled a Whole Foods visit into the meal, and so cheated the parking, walking the 2 1/2 blocks each way.

Oct 30, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Blue Nile vs Addis vs Asmara vs... for birthday dinner

Though I probably like Habesha the best right now, the downstairs area at Addis Red Sea (South End) is excellent for a group, and the food they serve is definitely solid---I've had a couple of birthday gatherings there myself! I'd recommend it.

Oct 16, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area

Grill 23, tomorrow, for a friends birthday, what one plate should I get?

Oops. Good call on the date! LOL

Aug 31, 2013
Jolyon Helterman in Greater Boston Area