Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Great Mandarin Woburn

Great Mandarin in Woburn's Four Corners area has been here forever and are doing a lunch and dinner buffet containing mostly traditional American-Chinese dishes. If you want Pork Foo Young with gravy this is the place for you. The lunch buffet used to be $6 something and was OK for that price, but they are now $7.75. Admittedly, I haven't been here since I started the blog 1.5 years ago so I shouldn't be surprised about the price increase.

It's a pleasant enough room with a row of booths at my end. Unfortunately, the stuffing in the seat has seen better days..

You have a choice of the three traditional soups and the Hot & Sour soup was actually both even if it was lacking a bit on the hot part.

The deep fried chicken wings used to be worth the price of admission alone, but this time I think they had been out a little bit too long since they had started to dry out. A deep fried onion ring sneaked onto the plate as well. It's a bit bizarre custom to the eat the wings with duck sauce mixed with hot mustard, or in my case, hot mustard with some duck sauce stirred in but I quite like it.

If you are really lucky they might have the Salt and Pepper Shrimp at the buffet and they did today. Crispy little nuggets with some sliced jalapenos thrown in make this a real delight. The beef in black pepper sauce was also surprisingly good with a nice flavor. Of course, the beef is the normal over tenderized beef that you get in most Chinese places. Sure, it's tender but it's also mushy. My refill was exactly the same again.

All the traditional dishes are present on the buffet with the first part being mostly apps and four mains at the back and condiments in the middle. Everything is nicely labelled and the service is pleasant.

Great Mandarin Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cafe Luigi Bedford

I haven't been to Cafe Luigi in Bedford since last year and much to my surprise, the menu has changed. They added sandwiches to the lunch specials and now also have a daily specials menu.

It is such a funky place with the checkered tablecloth and the cluttered walls but the prices stay low and the place is always busy, at least at lunch. This was at about 11:45 and at 12:15 they were packed.

Chicken and Shrimp Scampi with Linguine from the specials menu. As usual the linguine needed salt and I could have done with some more garlic but overall this was a nice dish with plenty of shrimp. I have always thought this was a funny name for a dish since "Scampi" literally means shrimp sauteed with garlic and oil (or butter). Since the dish here also contains chicken I think they are correct naming it this way but for a dish that only has shrimp in it, Shrimp Scampi would be a tautology.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

OK, I'm back here again at PHU KET in Wakefield but it's such a nice place, good food and always excellent service so why not?

Any day that you can have duck for lunch have to be a good day, right? And if you can have it for a very reasonable price, even better. This is the Spicy Duck Fried Rice, tender boneless duck, tomatoes, oriental greens (not sure what this is), onions, red peppers and Thai spices. Tender duck and medium spicy it's a perfect dish for a blustery Saturday. No waitress today, the chef was managing everything himself, hopefully someone just called in sick.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Vine Brook Tavern Lexington

Decided to pay another visit to the Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington today since they only do lunch/brunch Fri-Sun. On the last visit, the Fish and Chips looked good.

It still looked good, here with the normal fries instead of the sweetpotato fries that's listed on the menu. On the menu it's listed as "local cod fish & chips, craft beer battered, sweet potato fries, malt vinegar tartar, cole slaw". The batter on the fish was really good as was the fries. The coleslaw was bland as was the tartar sauce. The fish itself was watery and not very flaky, perhaps frozen? The fancy salt that you get on the table is pretty useless since it doesn't stick to anything (but it tasted good). The whole thing was served in a cast iron container and while it looked cool, how do you eat out of it? I ended up tipping it on the serving plate and eating it from there. A couple next to me had the same dish and asked for extra plates. They also now serve pizza but only for takeout!

Leaving there was 2CV parked on the street, almost brought me back to my days in France.
From Wikipedia - Citroën 2CV (French: "deux chevaux" i.e. "deux chevaux-vapeur" (lit. 'steam horses'), "two tax horsepower") was an economy car produced by the French car manufacturer Citroën between 1948 and 1990.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Sichuan Gourmet Framingham

Decided on a small road trip on this cold and blustery day so I headed down to Sichuan Gourmet in Framingham. I like this location even if it's a bit further than their location in Billerica. It's bigger so at least you will get a table at lunchtime even if you get here at noon. Today they were almost full and even seated people in the bar area.

Got the single diner size of the pickled veggies. Not too happy about that.

It was appetizer day and I started with their excellent Dan Dan Noodles. Tasted really good and had plenty of heat but the ground pork was mostly absent.

SICHUAN WONTON WITH SPICY CHILI SAUCE was also very good with plenty of spicy chili oil and perfectly cooked wontons.
Rte 9 was miserable, full of uneven pavement and tons of roadwork going on everywhere. Took the back roads home, much better drive.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

I needed some good Noodle Soup so I went back to Taipei Gourmet in Lexington. Seems I go here every week but my last visit was in fact late August.

This is the Pork with Snow Cabbage in Noodle Soup. Apart from the cabbage it was some finely julienned pea pods and shiitake mushrooms. Big heaps of noodles underneath and this was an excellent lunch. New waitress and she didn't bring me any change so she took a nice tip. Well, a quarter more than what I would have left.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe Chelmsford

I was on the same latitude (or is it longitude?) as Gene's Chinese Flatbread Cafe in Chelmsford so I decided to pay him a visit for lunch today.

Still the same menu and the "Chinese dishes" are now relegated to the far right. Gene was happy as always and are doing good in the Boston location and have expanded the hours there to 6:30PM, he said there was a lot of dinner takeout so it made sense.

This is the delicious #9 and it's also $9 with tax, Cumin Lamb with hand-pulled noodles. The noodles was excellent as usual and the lamb delicious.

Here it is again with the noodles exposed. This dish should really be eaten from the bottom since there is where all the delicious chili oil resides.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Davio'S Lynnfield

I had a hunch that an appetizer would be enough for lunch after visiting Davio'S in Lynnfield last week and seeing the size of the portions so I decided to test that today.

I took a seat at the bar and promptly got water, the nice bread basket with bread and the homemade potato chips.

I haven't had Fried Calamari in a long time so that was my choice and I got a heap of them with fried cherry peppers and aioli. I was happy to see that you get the tentacles as well. The calamari was really tender with a very light and tasty batter and of course, fried perfectly. This was plenty of food for lunch and a real treat, so good.

This is the open kitchen in the back.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Yard House Lynnfield

The Yard House in Lynnfield is another restaurant located in the new Market Street shopping complex just off Rte128 at exit 43. Word of warning, if you are going south on Rte128, leave the complex using the middle lane and cross over to the on-ramp. There are no signs at all at the exit.

Look, there's that nice car again, naturally parked as close as possible. If you don't try for the best spot, you'll never get it.

They have an outside HEATED 3 seasons patio! It was heated alright, I even took my sweater off. The bench seating to the right had heated seats as well. How cool is this, so to speak. Tons of seating inside and a humongous bar. The menu starts off with 3 pages of beer selections. I believe they have 140+ on tap.

This is the GRILLED KOREAN PORK BELLY from the Street Taco selection. It comes with kimchi, toasted black and white sesame seeds and red chili threads, beans and spicy rice. This looked good, but everything was stone cold! It quickly got replaced with a new plate and on that one everything was piping hot. Beans were good, the rice was spicy and the taco's was excellent with plenty of grilled belly present. Of course, you get linen napkins. They are not cheap, nothing really below $10 except the lunch special, 1/2 sandwich with soup or salad. This was good value for the money at $11.95. They have 1/2 priced apps Mon-Fri 3:00PM-6:00PM and after 9:30 Sun-Thurs. Apps is $10 and up.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Haven't been to Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington for a while so it's time for some more delicious Taiwanese lunch dishes.

The Chili oil arrives at almost the same time as the peanuts does, pays to be a regular. The Chili oil looks way more ferocious than what it really is.

Today's pork bone soup had sprouts added and was not bad.

This has to be one of the best lunch dishes on the menu and also one of the most misnamed. On the menu it's called "Braised Pork Chop with Spinach". You get a heap of braised pork ribs, tender with delicious porky flavor. There is some spinach underneath the heap.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Punjabi Tadka Arlington

I saw a sign outside Punjabi Tadka in Arlington saying that they now serve a 15-course lunch buffet 7 days a week and decided to try it for lunch today. The sign should have read 15 items lunch buffet.

The buffet was set up in a corner and the condiments and the salad items looked fresh and the food was hot and naan was almost served to order.

Lentil stew, Potatoes and cabbage, Spinach and cheese, Chicken curry and Tandoori chicken. There were a few more items that I skipped. The biggest surprise was the flavors! I had to ask if there was a new chef since everything tasted really great. What happened to the fairly bland food that they normally serve? Favorite dish was probably the potato and cabbage dish that had really great flavors. My refill was the daal, spinach and cabbage. The freshly made Naan (brushed with butter) was also good.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Well, if it's not PHU KET in Wakefield for Saturday lunch it's for Sunday lunch as it was today.

Masaman Curry with Chicken. Probably my least favorite curry and the two brownish blobs that can be seen was actually sweet potatoes and that's below broccoli on the edible scale for me. 

This place is getting spooky! Not too excited about Halloween decoration in a Thai restaurant

Saturday, October 12, 2013

McDonalds Methuen

What! Me at McDonalds in Methuen? Doesn't happen but I was in a hurry and I was really curious about their new bone in chicken wings.

They looked good but at $5.35 incl. tax for 5 pieces it might be fast food but cheap it isn't. Much to my surprise they tasted really good, crispy on the outside and moist inside and they packed a good amount of heat as well. Probably the best thing I have had at a McDonalds in a long time. Doesn't really say much since I almost never go here ;-) but they were good and I'll have them again.

Come on McD how do you expect this to work? Back to the drawing board, please.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Davio'S Lynnfield

Davio'S Northern Italian Steakhouse in Lynnfield opened about a month ago at the Market Street open-air lifestyle shopping complex. (This really means big shopping center without a roof). I live in Woburn and this was just a few exits north on Rte128 and I had no clue that this complex was here. It's anchored by a big Whole Foods Market. I just reviewed Steve DiFillippo's book "It's all about the guest" and decided to try the food for lunch. Full review of the book can be found HERE. Short version, the book is really good.

Exterior looks nice but the interior...

Is gorgeous with a nice big bar just off the entrance and a big dining room with high ceilings further in and really high-quality furniture. The silverware was really nice as well. Sometimes you get cutlery that looks good but feels awkward but not here. This is important for those of us who use the cutlery properly ;-). The open kitchen can be seen in the back.

A basket with homemade potato chips and bread arrived promptly accompanied by some olive oil. The chips were very addictive so I never got to the bread, but I'm sure it was good.

I started with the American Style Kobe Beef Meatballs with Caciocavallo cheese in a tomato sauce. Very tender meatballs with a really beefy flavor served in a HOT bowl and the tomato sauce was really rich and delicious.

This is the Tagliatelle Bolognese with Braised Veal, Beef, Pork and Tomato Sauce. The sauce was meaty, rich and really excellent, but the hero here was the pasta! Light, silky smooth and cooked perfectly. This is a deceivingly simple looking dish, but an enormous amount of work goes into getting this just right. The pasta!

I was stuffed and then the tray of DOOM appeared. They, of course, have an in-house pastry chef and I can not remember all the dishes but the wiggly Panna Cotta with fresh berries caught my eye.

Look at this! The Panna Cotta was outstandingly delicious as was the impeccable fresh fruit. Again a very simple dish, just heat cream and milk, mix in some gelatine and vanilla and you are done. Not really, again it takes a lot of experience to get this just right and of course, they do. Another excellent dish and what a way to end the meal. The service was impeccable, the manager stopped by to make sure everything was all right and I noticed him circulating and talking to the guests. The waitstaff all looked neat, I noticed at Capital Grille that the staffs jackets didn't really fit and that made the whole place look a bit sloppy.

Full disclosure. This was paid for by Davio'S but all opinions are my own.

Davio’S Northern Italian Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bombay Club Burlington

Bombay Club in Burlington opened in the former The Mughals space this week. The interior hasn't changed but they will be open 7 days a week and serve lunch buffet ($10) Mon-Fri and brunch ($12) Sat and Sun. They will let you do takeout from the buffet and that also includes a freshly baked naan.

They kept the Papads and I love those guys. The daal above with mixed beans was excellent and spicy enough that they probably should have been marked is as such. I loved it. The naan was excellent and tasty as was the very tender and juicy Tandoori chicken who also had a good level of spiciness. Goat curry (on the bone) was delicious as was the Chicken curry. Vegetable rice was very tasty but VERY spicy. The onion pakora was nice and crispy and the little potato cakes with peas, daal and nuts were a delight. I must admit that I was impressed with the level of flavor on every item and everything was piping hot even after being transported home.

  Bombay Club on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tuscan Market Salem NH

I have been to the Tuscan Kitchen in Salem NH and really liked it so today I decided to try the Tuscan Market next door.

Custom built and it looks really nice and tons of parking. Hm, nice car, wonder who that could be?

Inside is pristine with good stuff all over the place. Cheese, meat, prepped food, bread and fresh pasta.

They serve food and have a nice seating area and they just got their liquor license so now there is waitress service in this area, I didn't realize that when I ordered at the counter, it defaulted to to-go.

Parma Ham Panini with Parma ham, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, heirloom tomatoes on crusty Tuscan bread. You also get homemade chips. It tasted better than what it looked like. Sandwiches run about $10. They also have pasta and some entrees available. Bread and pasta are made in house.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Emerald Rose Billerica

The Emerald Rose in Billerica is located on the despicable Rte 3A but they sent me an $10 off anything offer so I decided to give them a try for lunch. I have been here before and never really understood how they justified their high prices.

The dining room is nice with linen tablecloth and napkins but the median age of the customer seems to be in the low 90's. There is a bar on the other side that is as big as the dining room if not bigger and the median age is way lower.

Apart from the linen napkins you get bread with your meal, This is (cold) raisin bread with whipped something (Butter?). Not too fond of fruit in my bread or food.

This is the Haddock Sandwich for $11. "Fresh Atlantic Haddock Coated in Beer Batter. Served with Mesclun Greens and Jalapeño Aioli on a Grilled Bulkie Roll". The fish was fresh and cooked perfectly with a thin batter but needed seasoning. The fries were the normal boring restaurant type and unsalted as well. They put the small mesclun salad on top of the aioli and under the fish on the bun so that ended up being a soggy mess. There was just a smear of aioli on the bun but I asked for some more on the side and that was not a problem. Not much jalapeno in the aioli either. Still not sure how they justify their prices. I have had the boiled dinner (for lunch) around St Patricks and was underwhelmed by that as well.

It's a nice custom built building along Rte 3A in Billerica. Not sure how long they have been here but I found reviews going back to 2001.

Emerald Rose on Urbanspoon