Archive for October, 2009

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Dollar Deals in Davis

October 22, 2009

Chicken Takatini Pizza

I am a big fan of Diva Lounge in Davis Square, if only for the fact that hanging out inside of it is like hanging out in a bar envisioned by the set designer from Barbarella. But it offers so much more than just a tragically cool setting to knock back $3 Miller Lite pints, they offer some pretty great deals on food as well. And I have to say, the food is pretty darn good!

The food at Diva Lounge has always been pretty similar to the menu at the much larger, less bar focused Diva directly next door (and sometimes when Diva gets too full, they seat folks in the lounge). One of my favorite bar snacks is the mozzarella and green chile stuffed naan. At $4, it’s hard to beat, and its filling and delicious! Recently though, the owners decided to start offering $1 tapas in the lounge, so sampling some of those was on the agenda this visit.

While the staff was a little flustered at the onset of this Saturday night due to the sudden surge of folks hitting the lounge, they never once lost their composure. The tapas are not your traditional Spanish style tapas, and neither are they something you would find on most Indian restaurant menus. The dishes don’t come out all at once, and this is one thing I think could be fixed, BUT I also kind of enjoyed the one or two plates coming up at a time.

So, a buck for individual tapas? It is actually a pretty great deal as some of the tapas are pretty filling. The Chicken Takatini Pizza, while a bit on the cold side, was sweet and savory at the same time. The Cheese and Mushroom Samosa was one of the better things I’ve eaten in a while, but do yourself a favor and order 2 as they are a bit on the small side (Hey, it is a DOLLAR!). On the other side of things though, the mini cheese dosa, a crispy crepe filled with potato and cheese was a pretty hearty size, much bigger than I would have expected for the price, and pretty tasty too! The dollar dish that stole my heart though was the Shrimp Chat, which was a cold shrimp and cucumber salad served in a crispy roti bowl, that was about 2-3 bites big. While that was my favorite, the lamb slider was fawned over by everyone else in my party, and was compared to a mini version of the Cellar burger I had written about previously.

So if you want to hang out in a futuristic setting and eat not quite traditional tapas that only cost a dollar a piece, Diva Lounge is your spot. It gets pretty crowded on weekends, so I would say if you want a mellow experience, hit em up on a weekday!

Diva Lounge
248 Elm St
Somerville, MA, 02144

Diva on Urbanspoon

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Chicken Fingers……..yeah.

October 15, 2009

Who wants to party
Finding out that there was a new chicken finger restaurant (really!?) opening up near my work had me, well I kinda didn’t care much at all really. Then to find out that it was a national chain, something that I am inherently against (unless you are Taco Bell or Popeye’s Chicken, I will love you both forever), I was just kind of disappointed. However, the Raising Cane’s now located on the BU west campus decided to hand out a coupon for a free meal the day before open so of course I am not going to pass that up, right?

Right.

Me and some pals and a complete stranger went in and were greeted by a super friendly staff who was eager to make each person’s trip enjoyable. I mean, these folks were anxious. If the sweet tea doesn’t give you diabetes, they just might! Anyway the menu basically consists of 4 combo meals. That is it. They have 3 times the beverage options, but only 4 meals to choose from. Each combo comes with side of coleslaw, some fries, texas toast, and their famous “Cane’s sauce”. The combo options are 4 chicken fingers, 3 chicken fingers, 6 chicken fingers, and a chicken finger sandwich. Notice a pattern? They don’t have anything else. But they do have fountain drinks, sweet tea, unsweetened iced tea, and “fresh squeezed” lemonade. Even though our meals were free, the meal I got would be over $10, and all of the combos were in the $7-10 range.

So the food wasn’t all that bad, or not nearly as bad as I had expected, but it really wasn’t as good as the people who were working there were building it up to be. The downside was the “Cane’s Sauce” which really didn’t add much flavor to the pretty darn juicy chicken fingers. I would have much preferred a ranch or a honey mustard (which, while they have it, someone at our table got it and an employee was so distraught about her not trying the Cane’s sauce that he went and got some so she could try it). The chicken fingers themselves, yeah they were really moist and with a really good crisp, but the flavor just wasn’t there. It needed some more seasoning in the batter. The fries were right out of your oven, McCain style, or out of your high school cafeteria. The cole slaw, well I rather liked it but you would be hard pressed to find one that I wasn’t that into. Again, it could have used a bit more seasoning but what can you do. The texas toast, though, this was the winner. I wish I had gotten 6 pieces of this rather than the 6 pieces of chicken that I did eat (yeah I got the big one).

In the end, is Raising Cane’s a viable lunch option? Sure, if you REALLY crave chicken fingers and not much else. Its hard to tear down their idea though, as they have locations that apparently have been successful all over the country. Only time will tell if the city will embrace this type of a place, but as for now I think I’ll keep my distance, knowing full well the best chicken fingers in the world are in Manchester, NH.

Raising Cane’s
945 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA

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Sushi in Allston

October 9, 2009

All that for $19.

I wanted to like the place. Then I wanted to hate the place. In the end, I left satisfied. Fish Market is a new mid-range sushi joint located in Allston, providing pretty damn good quality sushi for a decent price. I was surprised the place wasn’t more packed when I went, but I guess it was a Wednesday night.

My buddy Omar recommended Fish Market to the internet and spoke wonders of their Crispy Spicy Tuna roll. As I walked into the nicely decorated restaurant and took my seat at the sushi bar, the waitress handed me a menu and I was a little shocked at the prices. Granted, I’ve mostly been eating at Bluefin and the sushi counter in Porter Exchange, so I’ve gotten to be a bit spoiled when it comes to price. I decided to choose the Sushi Deluxe entrée, which is 8 pieces of sushi and a spicy tuna roll. I asked the waitress if I could upgrade the spicy tuna roll to the crispy spicy tuna, and she was a bit hesitant. Eventually she asked the sushi chef, and he said he didn’t know, so she went to the back and came out saying “Sorry.” I was a bit confused. I had offered to pay extra to have the upgrade, and as far as I could tell (since I could see everything) none of the food was pre-made. How hard would it be to charge me $4 extra to get the special roll? And what about next time if I’m not in the mood for the spicy tuna roll? No where on the menu did it say no substitutions, but rather than get up and leave I stayed hoping that the food would make up for the minor inconvenience that had me stewing.

And it did in a big way. The gyoza (fried) were outstanding. And the regular spicy tuna roll was pretty good, but the Sushi itself was what really sold me. I cannot think of a better piece of salmon sushi. I honestly was blown away by the quality of every piece I ate. I took a risk in ordering the entrée as I usually just stick to the same 5-6 things, but my world was expanded into new things. The 8 pieces that came were tuna, salmon, sea bass, surf clam, yellowtail, fluke, squid and unagi. The squid was one of my favorites, coming wrapped in Japanese mint which was pretty awesome. The unagi was just the way I like it, drizzled in the sweetened soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds (something that neither Bluefin nor the sushi counter do and it always makes me sad). The fish was fresh. Again, I’ve eaten sushi all over the place and I can’t think of a better meal at a local place, low end or high, that could top the meal that I had at Fish Market. Even the new sushi chef, who came over halfway through, apologized for not making the upgrade (yet still offering no reason as to why not). To finish the meal off, the crispy fried sesame ice cream hit the spot.

So, not a perfect visit to a new restaurant, but it seems like they are still working out some kinks. No matter what issues I had with the substitutions not being made, the food really stood up for the place as a whole, and I don’t think you can find a better sushi place for the price anywhere in this city.

Fish Market
170 Brighton Ave
Allston, MA 02134

Fish Market on Urbanspoon