Boston

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.

Read more ...

bistromidiBistro du Midi is all about location. Facing the Public Garden and adjacent to the Four Seasons in Boston, it lives on Boylston Street not where you live, at least not where I live. But it's where you stroll for a south of France lunch. We like the downstairs where you'll meet Jenna who's minding the bar. Have the café menu at the bar and on the patio and if you can score a tiny table outside, take it. (Upstairs, Chef Robert Siska does it up big starting at 5 but we're partial to light fare). After two visits I'm on to this being one of those cafés where you think you're looking at someone you know from the movies. Today I think I see Dermot Mulroney. I ask Jenna and she agrees it looks like him: him in 10 years maybe. Still.

Quiche: It's Julie's choice with Languedoc Hecht & Bannier, better than good. This is a traditional quiche; the creamiest we've had since forever. It's topped with potato crisp and goat cheese, spinach, leek, and tomato fill it out but it's mostly cream and eggs. She says it's one of those lunches that taste like summer, even more with these bright greens. The last time I had my own quiche was a long time ago. I take just a bite; eggs are no longer mine and I miss them. This quiche is, as you expect, filling with the taste of France now that Maurice Chevalier is keeping us company.

Read more ...

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.

Read more ...

playmepianoThings we like about Chinatown: it's close, you can park on the street and there's always adventure. This is one of those days: not only do we park but there's a piano on the sidewalk under the arch at the entrance. The Celebrity Series of Boston's placed 75 of them in Boston and Cambridge with an invite: "Play Me, I'm Yours." In 2006 there were cows everywhere and today it's pianos. No one's paying any attention so we toy with creating our own adventure like putting on a show: some song and dance maybe. Maybe not.

Where should we go? Oh, let's relive the '90s; to be clear, not my nineties and not Julie's either. She has stories about fun times at New Shanghai in the last century and you can never have too many stories when they're about someone else. So New Shanghai it is. Seems like old times with tales of old flames and late nights going way back to when this was the only gig after nine. That was Boston. (It used to be Faneuil Hall had two places and there was the No Name on the Fish Pier. We loved a Mexican bar in Cambridge beside the Orson Welles where someone stole the cash eight of us laid down to pay the check one night.) New Shanghai is still very good.

Read more ...

Evoo 3Is everyone at Kendall Square's Evoo and its sister, Za, right next door? It's Evoo for more formal meals like scallops with risotto or fig compote with lamb rillettes. You could chill out with pizza and salad at Za and slide over for dinner all without moving the car. I'll concede that we haven't but we might.

Right off, Evoo changes the menu often; each day but if not, for sure by the week which means they ax a favorite without warning. I just checked: what we had, the Pig Pile, you can't so wait for it. No matter, what you will not be is bored.

While many kitchens call their cuisine eclectic, Evoo has a gift for New American eclectic. And if you're going to write about novel dishes, take notes and get the menu on your way out because by the time you get around to it, they've thrown a curve and moved on.

First, Julie and I come for lunch. She's picked peppery fried eggplant with cucumber salad in minty yogurt and curried tomato sauce. It's all here in a tower of mashed potatoes, pea shoots, corn, grape tomatoes and onion. Eggplant should always be this good. I checked: chefs call eggplant vegetables and to botanists, eggplant's a fruit. She chooses for us the Atalaya garnacha tintorera monastrell that goes down in a swirl of cherry and chocolate. No one's going back to work.

Read more ...