Boston

rendezvousIt's six o'clock. Traffic is intense for no Red Sox game and the Grateful Dead boys several weeks gone. Every street is on hold as we split to Central Square's Mass Avenue and voilà: it's Rendezvous. We opt for the bar as we're greeted and seated in no time. This is some room: it's all skylights with yellow brickwork and the ceiling's a warm orange. Why is it looking familiar? Oh, now I remember. When they opened eight years ago, they took over a space that used to be . . . a Burger King. Pretty gutsy, Steve Johnson, creating fine dining where there was once less fine dining, with all due respect.

Here's a bar basket with lemons, limes and oranges that are missing peel. When he's making your cocktail, the bartender carves a fresh piece, just for you. Watching him assemble mojitos and martinis is affecting - he never stops shaking and measuring. As we watch, he puts together a Mamie Taylor, a tall drink with Scotch, ginger beer and lime. It's too hot to think about wine, let alone Scotch. What's wrong with us, I think, is too much yard time earlier. Cocktails galore yet I see him pour no beer or wine though he must have.

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snappyintI love the city of Boston. I spent my college years living there and enjoyed myself immensely. My family is from Massachusetts (not Boston, there is a BIG difference) so I get to visit once a year, though my time in the City is usually quite short. This recent trip I had mere hours - after landing and before take-off - to get my food on. I follow as many Beantown restaurants on Twitter as I do LA ones and had hoped to visit a few on my Hit List but timing and opening hours conspired against me. That's how we found Snappy Patty's.

I had wanted to stop in Cambridge at Catalyst for our last East Coast lunch, but driving into and around Cambridge is a nightmare on a good day, even if you know how to navigate the tiny, one-ways streets. I won't even discuss the parking situation. No, we were out of our element, hungry and pressed for time. Getting lost was not an option. (Yes, that's still possible in the Smart-Phone Age.)

So, as we barreled down the highway, I choose a nearby northerly suburb - Medford - guaranteed to have street parking and plugged the town into Yelp. I know, people are hating them right now, but sometimes you just need the best info you can immediately get your hands on. Nothing really stuck out except Snappy Patty's. Clever name, 4 stars, right off the highway? Burgers, beers, a nice little wine selection - we were still on vacation - it was just the type of neighborhood joint I was looking for.

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224 3Last year Boston Magazine named owner Kevin Tyo's 224 Boston Street: "Best Dorchester restaurant, neighborhood casual." Sadly, their website doesn't say when they opened. It's got to be 20 years and right from the start, the talk was good. It's your very own block party in the middle of the city three blocks off Mass Avenue and if it weren't so steamy, we'd be at one of those tables among the flowers on the patio.

You enter the red room with the bar to get to the green room with the chefs. It's an open kitchen that's noisy and friendly. The menu points traditional American: meatloaf, sirloin, mac 'n cheese, risotto, duck, pork chop, lamb along with salmon, cod cakes and scallops with sangría cold enough to induce brain freeze.

The big eater nearly always chooses pork chops on our food adventures. In her opinion, this one's tops and she easily meets her prediction: "I will eat it all." It's a hearty grilled double in a sweet apple glaze with asparagus. She opts for mashed potatoes that were cheerfully swapped for fried yucca. The chop's pink, moist and inspiringly, she finishes it with no trouble. I think she may have been dreaming of it all day or maybe it's the sangría.

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AquitaineOutsideAquitaine's clever. They've got photographic food diaries on all their front pages. Even Twitter is crowded with savvy bartenders, one of whom reminds me of Ben Affleck in Argo; smart servers, one of whom has cool pink hair; the bar lit in warm golden tones, snazzy cocktails, shrimp with heads, gooey onion soup, bunches of greens and my shrimp sandwich. You can preview nearly everything but where are the waffles?

Today we've come over from the antiques show on Tremont Street at Cyclorama's Boston Center for the Arts. It's brunch and everyone in the South End's got the same idea. Since 1998 Aquitaine's been on a roll in a semi-converted industrial space that once housed a video store. Tables are close so watch what you say; even though it's busy know that everyone can hear. Cozy banquettes are backed with mirrors and your server will pull out your table so you can get in. All small children are well behaved, as in very.

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FijjibarI'm not sure who declared Fuji 1546 has the longest bar in Quincy; a local editor, reporting two years ago, or the website. Either way, it is major. If you want a seat, you can have one. High ceilings make it noisy all right with the concrete floors and all. Watching a ball game here is like being in Fenway Park without having to get up for the beer. Honestly, it's just what we need this Tuesday. Dance class is off and we're in desperate need of a big dose of happy with good food and wine. It's all here.

Julie chooses a Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand grown. Nobilo isn't making it easy to learn more. Before you can get on their site just to read about wine, not drink, you must swear to be "of legal drinking age in your country to enter this site." And you have to put in when you were born. Really, as if no one ever lied to buy something online? We agree it's crisp with citrus notes which pretty much describes everything we order. I'm having a Chateau Lafayette fizz from California which 1000corks.com reports, without any tells, you can get on the cheap around the country. We send back the first glass, no bubbles. The second one's fine.

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