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

Friday, April 17, 2015


          Last weekend I headed outside the city to try Bocado in Wellesley with a group a friends. Bocado is a Spanish tapas restaurant with locations in Worcester, Wellesley and Providence. The place was hopping and we had some drinks and apps at the bar while waiting for everyone to arrive. The special wagyu beef pate (not pictured) was amazing.  

          When we sat down for dinner we decided to go with the Bocado experience, at $40 per person for six people. This was such a great value and came with so much food! It included two meat and cheese plates, two large salads, four tapas served family style, two main courses and three desserts.  

          The meat and cheese plate was delicious and had some creative options like cured duck breast and smoked salmon and garroxta (a semi soft goat cheese).

          The salads came topped with shredded cheese and plenty of avocado, which was a nice touch.  

          The foie gras was one of my favorite tapas, and definitely won for best presentation! It was seared and served with fried sweet potato, which was a perfect pairing and something I'd never seen before.

          I was glad to see some of my favorite classic tapas on the menu including fried goat cheese with honey and garlic shrimp. These are old standbys and Bocado's interpretation did not disappoint!


          The octopus was the most impressive of the night and some of the best I've ever had. The texture was perfect, and it was served with tons of paprika and roasted potatoes.


          I was way too full to try more than a bite of each entree, but both the seafood paella and steak with blue cheese were excellent. Although we ended up taking the entrees home, somehow we found room finish off three desserts between the six of us. My favorite were the churros, and several of my friends were raving about the almond cake.

           I hope to check out some of the other Bocado locations if I'm ever in the area. It's a great meal, fun atmosphere, and an exceptional value.

Bocado on Urbanspoon

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Club Passim

          Club Passim is a venue in Harvard Square and one of the first places I ever went out in Boston / Cambridge when I first moved to the area. They are a non profit dedicated to supporting local artists and musicians and host open mic nights and free community concerts in addition to shows by more well known artists. I hadn't been in years, and was excited to check them out after they recently reopened with a new focus on food in addition to the music.

          For as long as I can remember, the restaurant at Club Passim was Veggie Planet which has now closed with plans to eventually reopen in another space. Chef Brandon Arms is the new Executive Chef, and has elevated the menu to a whole new level. Arms has worked alongside some of Boston’s finest chefs, including Clio’s Ken Oringer, and ran Garden at the Cellar from 2011 to 2014. Arms’ new menu for Passim features globally-inspired New American cuisine.

           Before sitting down to enjoy a great show with Lori McKenna and Steve Moakler, I had the chance to check out the kitchen, chat with the chef, and try some amazing food!


          We started with some apps including  dates wrapped with bacon and stuffed with blue cheese, pork belly buns with Asian pickles, jalepeno, cilantro and sweet soy, roasted brussels sprouts with country ham, egg yolk puree and crispy potato, and a mushroom crostini with sherry walnut puree, goat cheese, and chives. I enjoyed all of these but my favorites were definitely the dates. The majority of these dishes were from the snacks section of the menu and only $5; you could definitely come and dine tapas style while you enjoy a show.



          While I was back in the kitchen, I was drooling over the duck legs used to make the duck pastrami sandwich. This is the finished product:

          These are the duck legs they use to make the pastrami. When the chef saw me seriously reconsidering my dinner order after seeing these, he sent out one for me to try. The duck was incredibly tender, with lots of pepper for the pastrami. Next time I come in, I am definitely trying the sandwich!

          For the main course, I had butter poached lobster with a fried duck egg, brioche croutons, and shaved black truffle. This was LOADED with truffle and at $18 an exceptional value.

          I also tried a bite of the lamb gnocchi and salmon which were delicious. The salmon was some of the best I've ever had, and beautifully plated. 

           I was too full for dessert, but the beignets looked amazing and I plan to save room next time! If you're interested in trying Passim for dinner and some great music, the complete schedule is available here. The food and the ticket prices are both very affordable, and you'll be supporting a great cause!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Select Oyster Bar

          There aren't many places I'll wait in line for, but last night I waited in a line to try Select Oyster Bar for about a half hour before they opened. I was glad I did - about half hour after opening the doors, they were on an hour and a half wait. 

          Select is the newest restaurant from Michael Serpa of Neptune Oyster, and I've been excited to try it since I heard about the opening months ago. It was even better than I hoped. 

          The wine list included some great and unusual selections, including this amazing orange wine which was perfect with our first two courses. 

          First was a special salmon crudo with lime, smoked maldon salt, nanami tograshi, and olive oil. The seasonings were delicious but subtle, and really allowed the fresh clean flavor of the salmon to stand out.

          Next was the flash seared hamachi with avocado and cucumber salad and grapefruit dressing. The fish had just a tiny bit of sear on the outside with a perfectly rare center and I loved the combination of the citrus and avocado.

          The giaveri siberian caviar service is probably the best value I've seen in Boston.  An ounce was only $75 and was served with an ounce of vodka and made to order blinis. The caviar was so good, the simple presentation was perfect - you didn't need any other accompaniments.

           We finished with a shellfish tower which was quite impressive! The smaller tower included six Island Creek oysters, six little necks, six jumbo prawns, dressed lobster with fine herbs and lemon and the ceviche of the day: scallops with sweet peppers, red onion, cilantro and lime. Everything was amazing, but my favorite was definitely the lobster and ceviche.

          I'm really excited Select is finally open and will definitely be back soon!

Loyal Nine

          Loyal Nine is one of the most anticipated restaurant openings in Boston (East Cambridge) this spring, and I showed such restraint by waiting a whole week to try them! The concept is east coast revival cuisine, or updated takes on classic New England dishes and ingredients. The menu is unlike anything I've ever seen, with dishes I've rarely or ever tried - think Atlantic sea bream, butterfish, periwinkles and turkey neck.

          The atmosphere fits perfectly with the concept, sort industrial meets log cabin with lots of wood, beams, and open space. Many of the dishes are made by one of the owners in house, and our server explained that items she doesn't make come from local thrift shops.

          Each meal starts with some hearty slices of home made rye bread and cultured butter, along with a bowl of beans. The beans are fried and served with bacon and seaweed; sort of a nod to the classic New England baked beans. I couldn't stop eating these, the texture was really unusual and delicious - crisp on the outside and perfectly tender inside.

          The menu is divided into three sections: on the ice, with hands, and trenchers or larger courses. We tried a couple of dishes from on the ice to start both recommended by our server as being some of his personal favorites.

          First was the caveach of butterfish with black walnut and smoked oyster root. The simple preparation was perfect for the delicate fish.

          Next was the soused mackerel on brown bread with horseradish cream and radishes. This was one of my favorite dishes of the night, I loved the soft brown bread and the combination of the mackerel and horseradish.

          We ordered one dish from the with hands section: the fried clam and pig ear roll which was another recommendation. This was a twist on both a hot dog and clam roll, with a hearty New England style roll filled with fried clams and topped with two fried pigs ears. 

           We finished with two trenchers: the Scituate lobster with Shagbark hickory nuts and mead and the matelote of RI squid with bone marrow dumplings. I've never eaten lobster meat so tender, the meat in the shell was falling apart and almost creamy. I think I scraped the shell at least 3-4 times trying to get one more bite.

          Although I enjoyed the squid, the bone marrow dumplings were really the star of the show. These were my favorite dish of the entire night; the marrow seemed to be infused in the dough so you got the flavor in every single bite.

          There is also a cafe in back, which our sever showed us at the end of the meal. It's a really cool set up with some serious equipment. The cafe serves a selection of bakery items and a breakfast sandwich which they're hoping will become the best in Boston.

          The experience was outstanding; the food unlike anything I've had before and all of the staff was knowledgeable, friendly, and excited about the menu. I can't wait to come back for dinner, and will definitely stop by before work to try the breakfast sandwich!

Loyal Nine on Urbanspoon