Archive for September, 2009

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I ate this, you want it, shut up.

September 29, 2009

Speed's Dogs

I feel like a fool. I hate to admit it, but I do. I’ve been hearing about Speed’s Hot Dogs for oh I dunno at least 5 or 6 years now. As a notorious hot dog fanatic, I brushed off everyone’s claim that it was the best hot dog in town. Pfft, I thought, I make a better hot dog at home than I’ve ever gotten at a restaurant.

I was wrong.

Speed’s cart is famous. I’m not going to go into a ton of history, it’s all easy enough to find, but I will say it is the best hot dog I’ve had outside of my own home. Nah, scratch that, ever. This oversized beef dog is sweet and salty, split down the middle on a grilled bun, and (if you get the loaded dog as I was instructed to by Jared [HI JARED]) just loaded with raw onions, home made mustard, relish, and their special sauce. The special sauce is a bean-less chili like you would expect in the Midwest and is great. The real treat here besides the dog and, oh I dunno, everything else, is the relish. I haven’t had anything like it. Super sweet and fruity, not a pickle based relish like I am used to, and hell the darn stuff was purple! I loved it so much I made a comment and the guy behind the counter came over and loaded my dog down with even more of the sweet syrupy stuff, only adding to the mess this dog makes.

I’m not playing games, don’t be like me. Go to Speed’s and eat the best hot dog in the Boston area.

Speed’s
42 Newmarket Square
Roxbury, MA
617-839-0102

Speed's Hot Dog on Urbanspoon

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Italian done right in Cambridge

September 23, 2009

I recently completed a course on the History of the North End in Boston, and with it came me eating at a variety of different eateries there. While the quality was pretty hit or miss, the high prices were pretty much the same all across the board.  One day as a treat, we had a guest speaker named Stefano Selimbeni, an Italian born journalist covering the news in America for an Italian news station.  Everyone in the class had one thing in mind for the native Italian, and that was “Where is your favorite place to eat in the North End.”  Stefano kept dodging the question until he said something along the lines of “I won’t say which places to go or not to go in the North End, but the best Italian food I’ve had was at Gran Gusto in Cambridge.”   My interest peaked, I set out for a meal as soon as I could, and was not let down.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff helped us decide by offering up some awesome sounding specials.   We started with some Italian cheese on a bed of spinach, and then hit the main courses with much fervor.   The Pappardella In Polpa D’Astice (homemade pasta with lobster in a fra diavolo sauce) was pretty much one of the best things ever.  The lobster meat was very fine, but also very flavorful and added a great texture to the dish.  The Risotto Nettuno, their seafood risotto was creamy and rich, with calamari, shrimp, and scallops finely mixed into the rice.  The item that won the table over though, was the Lasagnetta Di Melenzane.  The al dente lasagna noodles were baked to a nice crispiness that complemented the eggplant, mozzarella, and tomato and basil sauce.  The dish had a comforting creaminess that isn’t often found in a baked pasta dish, but it was there and the flavors were just spot on.  Also be aware that they have gluten free pastas for anyone you know who has an allergy.  The desserts were no laughing matter, but seeing as they change almost daily, I’ll just say go and give them a shot on your own and take my word for it.

The thing about Gran Gusto that makes them stand out is their attention to the details.  Every dish was presented in an elegant but homey way that just begged you to eat it.  The location, while a bit odd as it is in a mall of sorts, was great.  Their outdoor patio dining during the warmer days was a great option, but the inside is decorated pretty rustically as well.  While it wasn’t the North End, the food was some of the best compared to the dozens of restaurants I’ve had there, the prices were a lot less than most of the places in the North End.

Gran Gusto
90 Sherman St
Cambridge, MA 02140

Gran Gusto on Urbanspoon

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The burger that teaches you how to love again

September 17, 2009

After years and years of eating burgers, you get accustomed to the flavor. Sure most of them are juicy, the cheese melty, the buns soft yet buttery, but after a while you just kind of take the burger for granted. You forget to tell it how you feel, you start playing more video games, maybe pay a bit more attention to the hot dog place down the street knowing full well that the burger just isn’t going to go anywhere.

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, a burger pops up into your life that shows you how wrong you were. Burgers aren’t just burgers, they can be SO MUCH MORE! And really, the burger at The Cellar in between Harvard and Central squares has taught me how to love again.

The expectations were high, as I had heard many MANY great things about this burger. Some said it was the best in the city, others the world. So after much hype I went in, ordered a Boddingtons and one these burgers I’ve heard so much about.

When it came over, the $10 masterpiece looked amazing (I wish my photo represented it better, but let me tell you the thing looked like a work of art). Made of grass fed local ground beef, topped with Vermont cheddar, arugula lettuce, a garlic aioli and set onto a beautiful brioche bun, I could not wait to bite into this thing. The aioli, let me tell you, holds this sandwich together, but as a whole the overall package really was just something out of this world. It was a burger like no other I had ever experience. I sat and ate it slowly, really getting into the complexities of the flavor. Cooked perfectly as per my specifications, medium rare, it was juicy and I wouldn’t let any of the juice get wasted. The arugula adds a great crispness, sure, but it also adds a whole other flavor profile that blends in so perfectly with the just right melted cheddar on top. While I am not really one to talk about fries, the rosemary truffle fries that came on the side were a welcome addition to the whole plate. The only complaint was that the dish came with ketchup to dip the fries in instead of say more of the aioli.

If a burger has broken your heart recently and you are reluctant to let another burger in, or if you are just tired of the same old super processed, uber lackluster meat and cheese burgers that are out there, shake your booty all the way over to the Cellar on any night but a Monday (those nights you should hit up the Plough and Stars anyway [shameless plug shameless plug]) and let this tasty little patty into your heart and let it show you that a burger can be, and is, so much more than just some meat stuffed between a bun.

The Garden at the Cellar
991 Mass Ave
Cambridge, MA

Garden at the Cellar on Urbanspoon

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Tempura Fried Savings!

September 10, 2009

This past week my parents, aunt, cousin, some family friends and I took a trip to the pretty crazy Medieval Manor in the South End for my Dad’s Birthday.  We got to the area about two hours before doors started and we needed something to do so hey, why not get some snacks and some drinks and get a bit full and loose before a 5 course meal loaded with beer, right?  Oishii, on Washington Street, provided us a pretty nice patio and a treat I did not expect from such a fancy place; a really inexpensive tempura menu!

While I would have loved to have had some sushi, this meal was totally on the folks so I wanted to stay relatively cheap, and I have never been one to turn down anything fried, so we hit the menu pretty hard, getting everything from the tempura fried avocado (which was really good) to the lobster (which unfortunately, was my least favorite).  The best one we had though had to be the Sweet Potato, which was just perfectly fried and provided a salty crunch and a sweetness that played really well together.

The best part about these crispy little guys was the price, with most of the veggie items costing around $2 , and the seafood ones being around $5 (though the shrimp runs you $10, you get 2 pieces).  So if you are a little light in the wallet but want a good snack on a pretty nice patio full of all kinds of awesome people watching (and some radical dogs too), Oishii might be the spot for you.

Oishii 3
1166 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02218

Oishii Boston on Urbanspoon

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Who likes being cheap?

September 2, 2009

This is what 6 lobsters look like

A friend of mine clued me into the wonderful Mt. Vernon Restaurant in Somerville.  Knowing my love of lobster but also my hatred of spending lots of money on things I love, he really was correct in pointing me here.   With two compatriots in tow, we set off for the adventure late on a Sunday afternoon to try their twin lobsters for $12.99 deal.

Stepping into the Mt. Vernon is truly stepping into another time.  The bartender was wearing a white shirt with a black tie and a black vest, and the wood paneling and wooden bar seemed out of place compared to the urban neighborhood just outside its doors.  It seemed like we had stepped back in time, to a place men would put hats on before they left the house.  The bar was stocked with classic regulars pounding High Life out of pony glasses and picking the meat out of the lobster shells as if it was the most natural action they had ever performed.

After being seated, out vested waiter (who was quite the character) took our drink and meal orders.  A round of High Lifes, a coke and some waters, some fresh bread and 20 minutes later we were digging into some pretty sweet lobsters.  A decent size, and plenty meaty, each of us got two 1 1/4 lb lobsters right in front of us with some drawn butter (how else are you gonna eat these things?).  I got a side of cole slaw that was pretty darn great as well, and the fries seemed to be a hit.  After a while, our party had enjoyed just about every part of our lobsters and settled in content.  The meat was perfectly cooked, the butter just perfectly melted.  Our waiter said they had sold 1600 lobsters that day and because of that they had run out of the popovers that usually come as a side dish.

Getting two awesome lobsters for $12.99, man that’s a deal you would have to be a fool to pass up.    They have other lobster items, like the special this past August, Lobster Mac and Cheese.   And the $7 beer and a burger special is pretty grand too, served only at the bar but still.   So I guess I would say go here if you want cool stuff in a cool place for a pretty cool price.  HUZZAH!

Mt. Vernon Restaurant
14 Broadway
Somerville, MA

Mount Vernon on Urbanspoon