Category Archives: boston restaurants

Lovely Sunday

I had brunch over the weekend in Inman Square. I’ve never been there before. I’m lame. But that’s about to change! I totally loved the faded, funky looking buildings and basic nineties-ness of the area— very straight out of Reality Bites (and this song.)

Anyhoo, I was in this foreign land to grab brunch with some now-old friends, who I met two years ago when I got to be in this great show at Improv Boston called Atreus, Inc. My friend Matt, who wrote and directed that show, was back in town visiting from New York City, so we had a little reunion. (Matt’s now getting his Masters at NYU in being wicked smat. (Literature.)) My other friends, Ben and Michelle and Jess, who were also in the show and are fantabulous IB regulars, came too. (Ben and Michelle are like Brad and Angelina, cause they met and fell in lurve during the production of Atreus, though Michelle has yet to bear and adopt nineteen children.) Back in the day when Improv Boston used to be in Inman Square, Matt and Michelle and their dark and mysterious improv cronies used to frequent the East Coast Grill a lot, which is where we went for brunch. Again, I’m very slow on the Boston-uptake, because how did I not know about this place? Do you know about this place? It’s (in french accent) incredible!

Michelle and Ben are pretty much VIPs at the restaurant, so they were experts at helping the table order, and also kept creepily winking at all the waiters for “ketchup” the whole time. (Hmm…) We had smoked pork-stuffed bananas to start (always the first thing I’m craving in the morning, uh…but super spicy and delish), followed by queso so fresh and good it’s basically indescribable, and you probably should have had some five minutes ago. My only experience with queso prior to ECG had been that flourescent yellow-orange sludge Tostito’s makes (hey, it gets the job done at 2 a.m., am I right?) so I was pretty much shoveling the warm cheese and home-made chips into my mouth like a Chilean mining disaster survivor. Blah, blah, everything on their menu looks amazing, tastes better, my french toast was orange-y and special, and the drinks were grand too—imagine, sangria that actually tastes like red wine and fruit mixed together and not forty-seven packets of Equal!! Add in nice service, decent prices, and some sort of make your own bloody mary station situation that I didn’t get to and I’ll be going back very, very soon, probably followed by checking out the ice cream place next door.

The only real scary point of the meal happened when Matt started talking about his Joyce class at NYU and reading Ulysses and then he was throwing down words like “epistemology” and then something something about a “cacophony of sounds,” and then a cities’ “collected consciousness through the history of intergalactic moments” and I was full off that spicy banana pork situation and staring at my sangria glass like, “um, would now be a good time to tell him that when I go two days without looking at People.com it’s a personal victory?” Also, I’d like to go back and read hard books in college again and have guidance because now it seems like it would be a lot more fun.

But I love how smart Matt is. His passion was genuine and inspiring and un-Twitter-esque and it’s that kind of stuff that allowed him to write an awesome and fun play that made me meet all these wonderful people. I hope he does it again and again.

(Half of Matt’s head, duck tacos, and the glowing ghost of Joyce seen below.)

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The Ground Meat Blues.

I’m so depressed. And it’s not because in my last yoga class the teacher called me out like fifteen times for not doing the correct move and was like, “no, no, do your antelope pose with your knee here Caroline!” and then tried to move my knee the five inches herself, which wouldn’t budge, and then we were just staring at each other in sadness for awhile and it was awkward. No, what makes me sad is the fact that I just went through a slideshow of the ten greatest burgers in Boston on Boston.com, and I’ve only had ONE of them! (And it was like five years ago!) How IS THIS POSSIBLE??? (And why are half of them fifty bucks??)

But man, do I love me some burgers. And, honestly, besides communists and vegetarians, who doesn’t? Burgers are so perfect. They’re summer. They’re ketchup. They look hot when they hook up with cheese. Sometimes I lay awake at night debating my true happy place: is it really good pizza and a Diet Coke, or a really good cheeseburger and a Diet Coke? So much tossing and turning, and I still haven’t figured it out. But it’s like, Leo? Or Tom Brady? THEY’RE DIFFERENT THINGS OKAY.

Like most people, I grew up going to sketchy fast-food places as a treat. My mom would take us a few times a month after soccer practice if we begged hard enough—mmm, shin guards and Big Macs—and my father would take my brother and me about four times in the span of two days, aka whenever we were with him on the weekends and he had to feed us. (For years most of my friends were happy meal toys.) So it’s interesting now how McDonald’s is Starbucking itself and most likely going to be a very different type of fast food place in the future. I can imagine that when I have kids one day (scaaa-reeey), and I’m taking them to Mickey D’s in order to bribe them, I’ll be like “you fools, once these places were underground and RAW and homeless people slept in the plastic booths—you know nothing!”)

But back to that glorious slideshow of local eats. It made me hungry, and it made me very mad at my tunafish sandwich today. I want to try some of these burgers. Excluding the super-expensive ones, does anyone have some suggestions? (Is anyone alive out there? CAN-YOU-HEAR-ME. Yes, I love Titanic..and comments…) Anyhow, the Eagle’s Deli photo scares me a lot, but I think I may have to check out Wild Willy’s Burger and Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage soon, based off of those amazing restaurant names alone. Yep, I’m going to eat my way through that list this summer. And maybe I just will have to make it over to that Craigie on Main, plop down twenty bucks, and see what all the fuss is about.

x0

(And happy teeny-tiny burst of sunshine—as my dad’s german ex-girlfriend would always say, “Thanks Gods for it!”)

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The waitress at Red Bones was a vegetarian…?

Awhile back now, my friend Leandra came to visit me from NYC. Leandra and I lived in the same apartment senior year of college. Most of my memories of that time in our lives are traumatic: they involve staring into the empty bottoms of jumbo-sized bag of Stacey’s Pita Chips, watching instructional dance videos to Soulja Boy as thesis’ sit neglected on our desks, and asking Lee for her soothsaying advice whenever I received a text message at two in the morning that said something really hard to decipher, like, “u awake.”

But what does it mean, Lee? Does the absence of a question mark in this text mean that he wants to take me out to a romantic dinner tomorrow night and ask me about the meaning of human existence?

I don’t know, Care…maybe, but, uh, did you eat all the hummus again? I really need some hummus….

So yes, I was very excited about her trip. It’s always fun to be around a friend who you can sit next to in silence while eating Fruity Pebbles and feel perfectly happy. Also, Leandra is a pretty major foodie (foodie; what a stupid word) and lover of treats—she works at Serious Eats (major cool food website) and writes a blog about, you guessed it, FOOD—so I knew the trip was going to be wonderful in general, because it gave me a great excuse to get off my ‘arse and explore the city a bit. And like a ten-year-old saving up for her second Puppy Surprise (yeah, I still played with Barbies until I was a junior in high school), I had a stash of cash hidden beneath a pile of old tank-tops in my bureau, just to make sure I could fully enjoy our weekend together when she came. Did somebody say egg benedicts and manicures!! I say no to nothing!!

We had a ball. It was like the First Wives Club movie all weekend long, when they’re all wearing white power suits and dancing on the tops of chairs. Leandra wrote all about it on her blog here. (Take a loook.) We began our trip by hitting up Beacon Hill for breakfast and manicures on Saturday (I enjoy me some Town Nails in the basement off of Charles Street: minus points for all their US Weekly’s being five years old; bonus point for the manicures being faaaaabulous), followed by lunch and treats in the North End, followed by my inaugural trip to Red Bones in Somerville (my boyfriend’s version of DisneyLand), followed by another inaugural trip, this time to Flour, in the South End. (So many inaugurations in one weekend! I even wore this hat the entire time!) And because I had spent all week mentally preparing for the trip, I was able to put down food with Leandra like we did in our glory days of college, when every trip we took to the dining hall turned into a competitive eating contest. (“Well, I mean, do you want to go home and eat Doritos or are you going to get fro-yo?” “Fro-yo, duh, and I’m going to mix Cap’ N’ Crunch, granola and hot fudge in it.” “Well, I’m going to do the same, and then I’m going to eat a Belgian waffle.” “Fine.” “Fine.”) So yeah, it was amazing. But due to the situation at Monica’s and Modern Pastry pre-Red Bones, I couldn’t muster up the courage to order ribs by myself, and Lee and I had to split a plate of pulled-pork together. But it was some pretty good pulled-pork. (According to my boyfriend, eating anything besides a small breakfast at least eight hours before entering Red Bones is a “rookie mistake,” and we had sort of blown it. And, yes, he really talks like that. During the Final Four, I think I heard him say “punch their ticket to the big dance” about twelve times in one night.) But it’s fine. I’m clearly just going to have to go back.

Which brings me to Flour. The only thing I knew about the place was from my life-changing experience with Ms. Chang’s home-made oreos, but I knew Leandra couldn’t leave Boston without trying one. And I was confident the rest of Flour’s food would live up to the hype. And it did. The three of us got there around eleven a.m. on Sunday. The place was way too crowded, but I suppose that’s part of the Flour experience, and the extra time in line gave us plenty of minutes to oogle at cinnamon buns and over-order. Here are some photos I took at the shop below. They capture the deliciousness of the donuts and OREO COOOOOKIES; Leandra’s infectious energy and beauty (in her blog post, she conveniently left out the fact that the men at Monica’s started hitting on her the moment we entered the sub shop on Saturday. I go in that place all the time and attempt lame banter about the Bruins as I purchase goat cheese, and am routinely shot down with awkward silences and “take your sub and get outta here” looks. But they took one glance at Lee’s sexy Italian style, heard that throaty Long Island voice, and she was already getting the credit card look-over, followed by “So, uh, where you from Leandra?” and “Come back in and visit us soon, Leandra.” I was like, ‘Come back and visit us soon, Leandra‘? I always visit you guys! It’s over!) Anyhow, I digress. Here are the photos, and, also, my boyfriend’s dimple. (Thankfully, he still likes me, even if Leandra and I made it over to Ernesto’s a measly two hours after our Flour trip…)

Do yourself a favor and try really hard to eat one of these oreos before the day ends.

Next stop: making Leandra come back so we can try Toscanini’s ice cream. I’ve never had it before….

xo

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Feels like Friday.

The OptimistFreak, giggling in front of le Barking Crab. Those red and yellow stripes always put me in a good mood—means summer is here.

My roommates are both beautiful, right? (And clearly they have a thing for cute shoes.) Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful day. Go Celtics!

x0

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Cafe Nuovo, binge-eating, and Libya.

The North End is known for its Italian Restaurants, its tourists and its cheese shops. It’s known for pizza and espresso, pastry places like Mike’s and Modern, and old ladies with shopping bags and swollen feet. It’s not really known for having great breakfast. But when I woke up this morning, I had sore legs and a crabby-mood headache, and I made the executive-decision that only one thing was going to cut it: fresh coffee, and someone else making me eggs. (Okay, that’s two things. Math is over-rated.)

I’ll rewind a bit. Yesterday I had a very long (aka fourteen hour) day at my unpaid internship, followed by work tonight at the restaurant, straight through Monday. Wah, wah, wah, someone call the WHAMBULENCE, I know, but I really just needed to get out of my apartment and relax a bit before my shift today. And I guess I feel slightly guilty going out to eat by myself. It seems very Sofia Coppola to me. Like I needed new gladiator sandals and a pale blue mole-skin—and maybe also a directing career and a fortune—just to do it. Shockingly, I still somehow managed to get out the door.

And thankfully there was somewhere to go, since Salem Street now has Cafe Nuovo, a restaurant that as of now still serves only breakfast and brunch food. Which is fine, because they’re very good at it. I’ve been there three times since I moved here in December, and I have to say, me likey a lot. Big fan. It’s incredibly reasonable (5.99 (!) for two eggs any style, with delicious scali toast and very good home fries), they have good coffee, and the waitresses are nice. Hmm, what else…it gets great light in the morning. Good banana bread and orange juice, too. And it’s nice to eat alone at.

Of course, going out to eat today was really stupid of me, after the debacle of what happened last night. I was working an event that had a lot of food, which meant a lot of left-overs and harried face-stuffing while running dishes, and I got an up-close-and-personal reminder of why I was fifteen pounds heavier in college. (Let’s just say a buffet dining hall + stress isn’t good for anyone’s arm tone.) It was a night where it seemed completely normal to me that I was mixing shrimp cocktail with Popeyes fried chicken, followed by mini chocolate eclairs and roasted red pepper crostini, topped off with coffee-oreo JP Licks, and then a nice glugging of ginger-ale, with a side of macaroni and cheese and tiramisu to finish things off. (This all occurred in the span of twenty minutes.) I should probably be juice-fasting for the next 48 hours, or cayenne peppering, or whatever it is that Beyonce does to get “healthy” fast, but sometimes you just need to order an omlette with peppers and cheese and watch SportsCenter on mute, even if you’re still full from the night before. (And probably will be for the next month.)

But the North End really is lucky to have this spot. I sat there peacefully, drinking my fresh-squeezed orange juice, texting my boyfriend, and attempting to read an article on Libya, which is always fun first thing in the morning. (Whenever I come home to a new New Yorker at night, I always crawl into bed, read the celebrity profile (this week Jane Fonda—why is Klute SO GOOD?), read the movie reviews and other pop-culture-ey things (great article on the Pioneer woman blog), browse the comics and snort a little bit, and then throw the thing on the floor in exhaustion, feeling incredibly guilty that I have by-passed all the poems and in-depth articles on the numerous wars going on in this world, and chosen, instead, to sleep. (Does anyone else read those things last….or never?)) But it is what is. And I don’t like how little I comprehend of that stuff. (That stuff? Uh….) The question is, of course, what comprehending any of it does, anyhow. It’s strange to read about rebel armies, and the deaths, and the desert, while looking out a window at laughing old men and food trucks slowly lumbering by and feeling like you live in a very peaceful part of a very peaceful city in a very peaceful nation. But I’m going to finish the article now, most likely with a window on Wikipedia open, so I can understand what the hell the reporter’s talking about. And hopefully I don’t fall asleep from my idiocy, or from being too full.

xo

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Coolidge Corner My Soul

Tomorrow is my roommate OptimistFreak’s twenty-fifth birthday. As this is an important milestone for her, and because she is a huge ham, we have turned the entire week into a her-themed celebration, which has been really nice, actually. (I feel like I have a very full calendar for the next few days, as opposed to my usual plans of: go home, eat Annie’s with some peas added to avoid contracting scurvy, pretend to read new non-ficition book about Iraq War, pass out.) And to get things rolling before the floats parade through the city this weekend, I took OF out to for an early birthday lunch yesterday, at The Regal Beagle, in Brookline.

This place has been around for over a year now, but I just heard about it recently from my boss and friend (is that allowed?) Sheila, who gave it a glowing recommendation and told me that their grilled cheese and soup combo was the best she’d ever had, and that the place was really cute, too. (It was a pretty easy sell. I was practically running down Beacon Street the moment she whispered, “huge grilled cheese” at me.) Also, Sheila reminds me of an Iranian Sophia Loren, dresses in a palette of dusty pinks and greys, and generally makes me sort of ga-ga with her amazing hair and ballet flat/boyfriend-jean collection, so I pretty much would do anything she told me to.

Sure enough, the Beags did not disappoint. IT WAS HA-MAZING, and the kind of place I wish Boston had more of: really, really good food, great atmosphere, wonderful service, and a not terribly expensive menu. For example, the appetizer that we split—bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with gorgonzola cheese—was only five dollars. (FIVE DOLLAHS!) I mean, sure, it wasn’t huge, but it had, like, seven levels of THIS IS GOOD enjoyment, and did I mention that the dates were wrapped in bacon and then stuffed with gorgonzola cheese? Worth the trip alone right there. The decor was also very charming, I thought, if not a little too much in-your-face hipsterish, though hipster gastro-pub is simply how the cookie crumbles these days, and I not-so secretly like all that stuff. If the food is as good as it is here, give me all the dark-wood accents and interesting wallpaper and ironic touches that a girl can get!

But back to the food: for our meal, OptimistFreak and I really branched out: we both got the grilled cheese and tomato soup combo. The grilled cheese was giant as promised, and made with carmalized onions and grainy fancy mustard; the soup was creamy and full of flavor. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of our meal until it was all over—clearly I was not meant to write a food blog…

So, yeah, the Beags rocked. I can’t wait to go back for dinner in a bit and try something new. And not to sound like a cheerleader on speed or anything, but I totally love Coolidge Corner!!!! I mean, SIGN ME UP!!! I want to be in that hood one day: you got a huge Trader Joe’s that sells wine (boo the one on Boylston), the Coolidge Corner Cinema, the Brookline Booksmith (top ten greatest places on earth), and now this place? All adds up to a very wonderful part of our city, indeed.

Happy Birthday to my roommate, who is beautiful inside and out!

xo

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Le Back Bay Social Club.

I met my good friend Maria Sharapova for lunch yesterday. (No, not that one. Maria Sharapova is my friend’s blog code name; I call her this because she is a) sick at tennis and b) super hot.) Maria and I decided to check out The Back Bay Social Club, on Boylston, for food. I’m not sure if this place is cool or not, or the best decision for my first entry on Beantown food spots; essentially, my decision to try it out was based on it looking vaguely French inside, and the fact that there wasn’t grey ice-slush piled up by the booths. In February, those are pretty much my standards. For anything.

(Maria!)

I’ve known Maria Sharapova since I was fifteen, so lunch was going to be enjoyable no matter what; lots of old stories to re-hash and stupid stuff to gossip about. And despite the raging head cold I’ve got going on—it sort of feels like that creepy monkey from Toy Story 3 is playing the cymbals in my nasal passages 24/7—we had a great time. Back Bay Social Club has a wonderful vibe to it: it’s huge and well-lit, and if you’re into the brassiere eco-food rustic thing, which I am an admitted sucker for, it’s pretty much heaven. Unfortunately, my food wasn’t that great. Fortunately, for anyone that likes this place and/or wants to try it out, this was probably my fault.

You see, I love BLT’s. I LOVE THEM. They’re my go-to order choice in any dining situation, whether fancy or low-key, and I often have erotic dreams about them. But for some reason when I ordered at BBSC, I decided to betray myself. I by-passed what looked like their very delicious version of the American classic, and instead went with their slow-cooked pork sandwich, and the soup of the day. The soup of the day was very yummy (split pea), though not hot enough if we’re going to be super honest—whaaaat I can’t like my soup hot??? Sorrrrry—but the sandwich….um….I’m sure it was a great slow-cooked pork sandwich, but turns out, I don’t really like slow-cooked pork. At all. I hate it. Somehow in my deranged state I must have thought for a second I was at a BBQ joint in Memphis and ordering a pulled-pork sandwich in BBQ sauce (which I LURVE), but, alas, this was not the case, and my taste buds suffered. The pork in my sandwich reminded me of the steak in philly cheese steak sandwiches, and that ‘ish grosses me out. I freakin’ love steak, but that kind of “steak” is so smelly and greasy and odd-looking…I mean, no wonder Flyers fans are so mean. Wah wah wah; I’m an bad-ordering idiot, and I was totally lusting over Maria’s Ham melt the whole time. (Which she thoroughly enjoyed, I will add.) That being said, the bread my sandwich came on was de-lish, as were the adorable and scrumptious FRIES IN A BOX that it came with. Good fries in ketchup solve all the world’s problems.

So even though my food was sub-par and smelly, I would totally go back again. It seems like the perfect place to wear black tights and maybe shoes that hurt your feet a little, and order a cocktail, or a beer and their burger and pretend their isn’t a Dunkin Donuts right near-by. I’m such a sucker for red leather booths and black and white floors and big mirrors with specials written on them. Chocolate Raspberry Martini, YES PLEASE!

Hugs and kisses,

Claire

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