Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Strip by Strega

          Strip by Strega is Nick Varano's newest restaurant: a high end steakhouse in the park plaza. By the look and feel, it aims to be the most exclusive steakhouse in Boston. My first impression was that this is a place to host a business dinner and impress a client, and after seeing the outfits on the cocktail servers that I'm not their target clientele.  

          What distinguishes Strip from most other steakhouses in the city is the A5 Kobe beef on the menu. This is literally the best beef in the world, and Mooo is the only other steakhouse in Boston that regularly carries it. So naturally I went in with the fiance and a friend on opening weekend so we could enjoy some A5!

          We started with the tuna tartare served with avocado and sesame crackers. This was tasty and a generous portion, definitely enough for two to share. 


          You really can't go wrong with A5, and Strip's version was served with a selection of sauces including truffle butter, bearnaise, and two types of steak sauce. When I order A5 I prefer just a hint of salt, and instead enjoyed the truffle butter with my duck fat marble potatoes.


 

          The dessert was fun and one of the more impressive presentations that I've seen: cotton candy with pop rocks and chocolate covered oreos. 


           I enjoyed my meal, but being opening weekend there were a few hiccups. I would give them another try for the A5 once they've been open a bit longer and had time to work out the kinks. 

Strip By Strega on Urbanspoon

Monday, May 4, 2015

Babbo

          With all of the buzz surrounding the Babbo opening in Boston, I did something rare and waited a few weeks hoping it would be less crazy. The fiance and I went in for dinner this Saturday around 5:15 thinking we'd have no trouble getting a seat at the bar...that was definitely not the case! There was a 45 minute wait at the bar, but we were able to grab a standing table just at the edge of the bar and enjoy some apps and wine while we waited (the full menu is not available at these tables, but they do offer limited apps).

          We started with the octopus with shishito peppers and citrus. The octopus was cooked perfectly and came chilled in a citrus dressing. This was a generous portion but still very light.


          Next we ordered a platter with all of the cured meats, and a selection of three cheeses. The meats included coppa di testa, pancetta, salami, prosciutto di parma, and doppio parma. The cheeses included pecorino, parmigiano, and a triple cream goat cheese. I enjoyed all of them, but my favorites were the coppa, salami, and the goat cheese. I also loved the accompaniments of truffle honey, candied cherries and oranges.




          Once we moved over to the bar, we asked whether they had any orange wines or natural / unfiltered wines. The staff was very knowledgeable and went over the wine list in detail with us. They had several orange wines by the bottle and recommended one by an Umbrian producer so small the wines weren't even available in the US until the past couple of years.


          Next was the quattro formaggi pizza, a white pizza with mozzarella, gorgonzola, fontina, and grana. The pizzas at Babbo are Neapolitan style, and perfect as an entree for one or an app for two to share. The quattro formaggi was served with tons of gooey cheese, and I especially loved the flavor of the gorgonzola.


           Finally, we each had one of the house made pastas as a main course. I ordered the rigatoni with black pepper and pecorino, and the fiance had the gnocchi with tomato and oxtail. Both were delicious, but I was glad I chose the rigatoni!



          I enjoyed everything about my meal at Babbo and was also impressed by the incredible wine list and outstanding service. It's definitely elevated the Boston dining scene and already one of the best Italian restaurants in the city.

Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Farmavore

          How would you like to have a personal chef deliver healthy, home cooked meals to your office each day? Farmavore does just this, making the personal chef accessible to just about anyone with meals that cost about the same as your average takeout order or office cafeteria.

          I recently had the chance to try this new delivery service in Boston and was impressed by the creativity and quality. Each meal comes packaged in a microwaveable dish (just remove the lid) with heating instructions plus the calorie count and list of ingredients.


          I tried two meals, starting with the grilled lamb burger with feta and focaccia and the arugula salad with lemon oregano vinaigrette. The burger was cooked to a perfect medium, and I was surprised how well it traveled and held up after being warmed in the microwave. It retained its juicy pink center, and didn't get dried out at all.


          I also loved the salad, particularly the dressing! I wish I could buy a bottle of it to keep at home.


          My second meal was a chicken tagine with rice and asparagus. This was also excellent, and I loved the sauce with lemon, olives. and fresh herbs.


          Meals from Farmavore are available 1-5 times a week, and prices range from $10-$14 depending on how many times you order. They have both a chef and dietician on staff to make sure the meals are tasty and healthy, and the portions are just right (you will be full but not in a food coma). There are vegetarian and non-vegetarian options, and they continuously work to refine their menu based on surveys and feedback. For more information or to try them check out their website.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Freshii

          Freshii is global casual restaurant that has expanded to Boston in the past couple of years. They've had existing locations in Fort Point and the Financial District, but just recently opened a flagship location in Back Bay.  Freshii is a fresh alternative to fast food and offers healthy and nutritious food to energize people on the go including custom-made wraps, salads, bowls & fresh-pressed juices at affordable prices. They are also committed to sustainability with their “Mission Green” focus, which avoids traditional fast food staples like excess packaging, heavy energy consumption and greasy processed meals. 

          I recently had the opportunity to try the new Back Bay location and see what Freshii is all about. The space was open with lots of long tables and counters for eating, and there were tons of fresh juices and healthy snacks available for grab and go in addition to the menu of salads, sandwiches, and bowls.



          I stopped in for breakfast, and started with a green energy juice made from apple, cucumber, kale, lemon, carrot, romaine, and spinach. It was delicious and refreshing; there was just a touch of apple and carrot to add some sweetness but keep the juice overall fairly low calorie (139 per serving).


          I also tried a bacon, egg, and cheese pocket which was warmed in a panini press and a great alternative to a traditional breakfast sandwich.




          The experience was quick and easy (I was in and out in 10-15 minutes) and enjoyed a healthy fresh meal prepared to order. Freshii is definitely a great alternative to traditional fast food and I hope to try them for lunch soon.

Freshii on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 25, 2015

American Fresh Brewhouse

          American Fresh is Slumbrew's new brewhouse and taproom at Assembly Row. It's a casual spot that's great for drinks after work or a fun night out with friends. They have live music, trivia, and an assortment of board games like Connect Four. 


          I recently went in with a friend after work; we'd originally planned to go somewhere else at Assembly Row but when we saw the sign for fluffernutters and craft beer, we had to check it out!


          We stopped in the tasting room first and sampled several of the beers. My favorite was the Porter Square Porter which the staff recommended as a perfect pairing with the fluffernutter we planned to order.
 

          The fluffernutter was just a good as we hoped. It was just like you'd make at home, except they used almond butter instead of peanut butter.


          We also tried the charcuterie board which came with beer bread, apples, blue cheese, cheddar, proscuitto, salami, quince, candied nuts, and chocolate. The chocolate was also excellent with the porter.


           The atmosphere was a lot of fun, with a great selection of craft beers and snacks. I could definitely see this place becoming a regular after work spot!

American Fresh Brewhouse Boynton Yards on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Product Review: Matlaw's Stuffed Clams

          Matlaw's is a seafood company based in Gloucester, MA and has been known for their stuffed clams since the 1950s. In addition to offering delicious products, they are also committed to sourcing their seafood responsibly and sustainably. Matlaw's parent company, National Fish & Seafood, was a founding member of the Global Aquaculture Alliance and continues to provide stewardship and guidance to the industry as a GAA governing member. They are also Best Aquaculture Practices certified by the Aquaculture Certification Council – which includes guidelines for responsible farm to table shrimp sourcing – and they adhere to the Safe Quality Food Institute’s international rules and regulations for safe food handling.
 
          I recently had the opportunity to try the New England Style Stuffed Clams which come served in a natural shell, stuffed with breadcrumbs, chopped clams, minced celery, red and green peppers, and topped with paprika and parsley. These were delicious, and so easy to make! I just heated them in the oven for 30 minutes and they were ready to go!


          I served the clams as an appetizer, and for the main course I made this halibut with the mango salsa from my flounder recipe.


          This fall Matlaw's will be releasing several new products in local supermarkets including seafood paella, salmon burgers, and several types of fried shrimp. I can't wait to check them out!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

TR Street Foods Takeover at Tavern Road

         If you're a fan of TR Street Foods you definitely need to check this out! For the month of April, Chef Louie DiBiccari’s internationally inspired TR Street Foods concept will cross the border to the restaurant’s main dining room. The new dinner menu includes more sophisticated plates that draw from classic street food flavors. Prepared with finesse and thoughtfully presented, these distinctive dishes are meant to be shared with friends and best paired with cocktails created especially for the occasion.

          I had the opportunity to sample the new menu with several bloggers last week, and we tried a good portion of the menu.   

          The white sweet potato samosas with walnuts and tamarind were a great take on this classic Indian dish. I enjoyed the slightly sweet interpretation of a normally savory dish.


          The chickpea frites with spicy tomato jam come straight from the TR Street Foods menu, as they are one of the most popular items. These tiny fried chickpea nuggets have a bit of a cheesy flavor to them and don't even need the sauce.


          The parsnip and potato pierogies were one of my favorite dishes, the crispy texture contrasting with the gooey potato inside was spot on.


          The ceviche with horseradish, cucumber, lemon, and olive oil served with plantain chips was light and refreshing - a perfect summer dish.





          The grilled octopus skewers with peppers, pearl onions, and caper vinaigrette was another one of my favorites. The octopus was charred perfectly and not at all chewy.


          The grilled steak skewers with red curry and chimichurri were also delicious, and extremely tender.


           The lamb meatball shwarma with arugula, cucumber, yogurt, and harissa is another favorite of mine from the TR Street Foods menu. I get this every time I come in for lunch, and this was just as good as the lunch version.


          The beef short rib with stir fry veg, thai chilies, and kafir lime was one of the most creative preparations of short rib I've ever had. Normally it's braised in some kind of sauce, but this preparation made for the most tender stir fry I've ever had.


          The milk and cookies was recommended by both the Chef and our server, so we knew we had to order them. Our expectations were high, and the creamy milk ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate chip cookies did not disappoint. 
 

          The normal Tavern Road menu is also excellent but a bit more expensive. If you want to try the restaurant for a more casual and affordable option the Street Foods takeover is definitely worth checking out!

Tavern Road on Urbanspoon