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MenuSpaz's Profile

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Where do all the 20-somethings dine out?

I've visited Chicago a few times and been wined and dined by my doting parents. But this trip, they won't be there to foot the bill. Where can I come close to Aigre Doux and Blackbird on a more moderate budget? Better yet, is there somewhere that's a steal for fine-ish dining that might be even more interesting?

I'm not talking super-trendy or hyper-hip, just something with a nighttime going-out feel and a bit of sophistication.

Jul 04, 2007
MenuSpaz in Chicago Area

Vlora, new Meditteranean in Copley

I'll answer my own question. The Herald writes this:

"Mediterranean fare may seem ubiquitous these days, but Vlora promises to put a new twist on the old favorite. Owner Aldo Velaj, after all, is a native of Albania, which borders Greece and sits on the Adriatic Sea, just across from the heel of the Italian boot. As you might expect, they share many of the same culinary traditions.

Expect to find standard Greek and Italian fare, with an occasional tribute to his homeland, such as a simple “Vlora-style” salad of cabbage served with olive oil and lemon.

“We won’t try to impress people with overly fancy dishes or price points,” said Velaj, who studied in Italy and ran several restaurants in Europe before moving to the States in 2003. “We’ll serve what real people eat in the northern Mediterranean.”

Vlora, named for Velaj’s hometown, is slated to open in early May at 545 Boylston St., Back Bay."

May 15, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Vlora, new Meditteranean in Copley

Has anyone heard anything about this place? It's coming to the underground lair below that GNC and the Finagle in Copley Square. A banner advertises www.vloraboston.com, but the site doesn't say much.

ZagatBuzz says: "Vlora, named for chef-owner Aldo Velaj’s hometown, will open in May with a Mediterranean repertoire emphasizing the foods of southern Italy, Greece and Velaj’s native Albania; his wife, co-owner Cindy Tsai, will oversee the front of the house. The Back Bay setting (545 Boylston St., Boston) will also feature a water wall and a late-night lounge."

Anyone know the chef? Albanian could be interesting! So could a water wall...

May 15, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Portsmouth, NH Special Occasion

Well, I made up my mind and went with Black Trumpet Bistro because it was nearby our hotel and more intimate. I'll have to make it back to try the Dunaway.

We were seated at one of the tables along the wall. A nicely-lit exposed brick interior and copper tabletops made it feel really welcoming. Started off with the small plate (really a cup) of fried almonds with olives and garlic. Tasty, a good way to warm up for the big stuff.

Then we ordered two of the "medium" dishes as appetizers. The tuna tartare and the softshell crab. Tuna was great -- delicate and perfectly diced in a coconutty sauce. After we had ordered, our server told us they were out of the softshell and substituting with a crab cake. It would have been nice to know this beforehand. But the crab cake turned out to be delicious.

Entrees were a mixed bag. My partner had the lamb shortribs. Absolutely scrumptious in a sort of meaty reduction with beans. Moderately-sized. I went with the local cod, hoping for something special. It turned out to be a watery, fava-beany plate of blandness. I'm not sure if something went wrong or I simply ordered the wrong dish for intense flavor. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't really much of anything. The one exception: the cod "shoulder" had been mashed into a sort of fish cake, which was tastier. On the whole, a bit of a disappointment.

I'd mentioned over the phone that it was a special occasion. After our entrees, the hostess brought us a slice of the chocolate torte with a candle in it, on the house! A very nice gesture. It prompted us to get some port (on top of our $50 wine) and a cheese plate.

Overall, I would recommend the Black Trumpet for a solid dining experience, especially an occasion. It seems able to accomodate groups up to 10 as well, despite the small size. If you don't have a reservation, you could try the wine bar upstairs. Same or similar food, I think, and lots of two-person tables.

One note: the menu posted online is different from the one we saw at the restaurant. Not just the fish, but some of the meat dishes (beef vs. lamb ribs, etc.) I am looking forward to visiting the BT again this summer, and hopefully with a better choice of entree!

May 07, 2007
MenuSpaz in All New England Archive

Beacon Hill late night: Sevens?

Might want to try The Hill Tavern on Cambridge St. Great atmosphere, plenty of flat screens if there's a game on, and surprisingly good food. I am a sucker for their barbeque chicken wrap (assuming they still have it.. I moved a while ago). There's a second room with bigger tables if you have a larger group.

Apr 24, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Bouchee on Newbury Street

I have to second that comment about the onion soup. It is awful. Shouldn't a brasserie know how to make that? Other menu items are decent but perhaps not worth Newbury Street prices. The atmosphere is quite nice.

Apr 24, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Back Bay--is it hopeless?

I can't give it away, but another restaurant owner I know says they just signed the papers. Who knows how long the rehab will take.

I was afraid the storefront would become another ridiculous spa or interior design store. At least Houston's has that spicy steak salad.

Apr 20, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Place for yummy exotic/polynesian drinks and food in Boston?

It may not be Polynesian, but I really like Betty's Wok & Noodle Diner down near Symphony. Great atmosphere, tasty noodles and apps, and delicious sake-based cocktails. The only downside is that they don't have a full liquor license. So saketinis it'll have to be.

Apr 20, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Portsmouth, NH Special Occasion

Thanks for the response. I heard The Dunaway had a really nice candlelit interior, but maybe it's so big that there's no intimacy. I'm also concerned about the new chef. He's 22! I'm young too, but that seems a little suspect to me, seeing that the last chef won a national award.

I'm now leaning toward Black Trumpet. The menu seems more adventurous, too. Still have two weeks to decide. I'll post a review of whichever one I choose!.

Apr 20, 2007
MenuSpaz in All New England Archive

Back Bay--is it hopeless?

I think I heard it's going to be a Houston's, a la Faneuil Hall. Not bad for a chain place.

Apr 19, 2007
MenuSpaz in Greater Boston Area

Portsmouth, NH Special Occasion

Okay, I'll lay it on the line. I'm indecisive. I have TWO reservations for an anniversary dinner in Portsmouth: The Dunaway Restaurant at Strawberry Banke and Black Trumpet Bistro. One, of course, has to be cancelled.

I've read everyone's comments and reviews, but some seem dated. I know the founding chef at Dunaway just left. I know Black Trumpet is new and not so known (formerly Lindbergh's Crossing). But as far as atmosphere and food go, which one is best for the occasion?

I've already poured over this: http://www.phantomgourmet.com/Showpage.aspx?content=ReportCard&id=3526

and this: http://www.boston.com/news/necn/Shows...

...but I still can't I make up my mind. Help!

Apr 19, 2007
MenuSpaz in All New England Archive