Friday, November 29, 2013

Strega Prime Woburn

Where to have lunch on Black Friday and stay from the mad crowd? Well, Strega Prime in Woburn opened recently where Beacon Grille used to reside and I have been dying to try it for lunch. It's part of a local Boston upscale chain and also really close to home.

Interior is as expected, plush and nicely lighted by the big windows. The bar area did a brisk business at lunch as well.

You get a hot BIG airy popover with salted whipped butter, what happened to just plain butter?

The interesting thing on the menu was the $21 Strega Prix Fixe 3 course offering unless you wanted the Dry Aged Rib Eye for $47! I was really curious as to what you would get. I started with a Caesar Salad and it was fresh with nice tender croutons. The dressing was nice and light but a bit sparse.

Followed that up with the Club Sirloin Steak that was served with Garlic Mash and Grilled Asparagus and also a red wine jus. The name confused me and I had to ask if it was a sandwich (club) or a real steak but as you can see, it was real steak, about 8oz according to my waiter. I ordered it rare and it was spot on with a nice sear on the outside, mash was good, a bit light on the garlic but the asparagus was really good with a nice sear without being overcooked.

Finished the whole thing off with some delicious macaroons. I must admit that I was a bit surprised by how good of a deal this was. Service was, of course, excellent. They also have a 12oz burger that I might be back to try when the burger cravings kick in.

Strega Prime on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

I needed some comfort food on this miserable day so I headed over to Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington.

Lunch special Braised Pork Chop with Spinach is the new comfort food. Lucious braised pork riblets with some spinach is a deliciously porky dish. The addition of the not so spicy chili oil made it even better.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Dabin Lexington

I have been to Dabin in Lexington before but I have no memory of what I had and that's probably why I haven't been back but the name popped up in another discussion and I had a look at the lunch menu on their website and decided to try it again for lunch today. It's located on a quiet side street in Lexington center and is easy to miss.

The inside is pleasant enough with the sushi chef residing to my left in the reception area. They were quite busy at lunchtime so that gave me a good vibe about the place. In the summer, they also have seating on the small outside patio.

As a single diner I got two banchan, both of them were very tasty. My neighboring table of two oriental people got three dishes and they also got moist towels after sitting down. Not too happy about that.

I ordered the Dolsot Bibim Bab which is a Bibim Bab served in a VERY hot stone bowl. It's marinated veggies served over rice with beef and topped with a fried egg. The beef, what it was of it, was fairly tough, but the rest was just fine. There was some nice shiitake mushrooms in there as well. You can see the hot Korean sauce (Gochujang) that you mix in up in the right corner. Afraid of the sunny side up egg? Turn it over and it will cook, this pot is HOT.

Here it is, all mixed up and ready to eat. Why would you pay an extra dollar to get the hot stone pot? Because it goes from good to outstanding! The rice continues to cook and forms a crispy crust in the bottom that is really delicious. After eating about half of it and most of the banchan, I was going to take the rest home but continued eating and I finished all of it. Guess I'll be back.

Dabin Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, November 23, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Seems that the waitresses have got the weekends free at PHU KET in Wakefield since the chef again was working both the dining room and the kitchen.

Just wanted to include a pic of the tofu in the soup. This shows a chef who cares and have knife skills, perfectly cubed tofu. Unfortunately, the soup was missing the roasted garlic and it was served the same time as the lunchbox.

Pork Chop with sauteed mushroom lunch box. Mushrooms were stone cold but the rest was fine, apart from that one side of the pork chop was kind of dry.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Cafe Escadrille Burlington

Cafe Escadrille in Burlington is an institution that as been here forever and so have most of the menu. I used to go here occasionally for lunch, never anything exciting but decent traditional dishes. Service has always been very good, but the white nurse shoes that the waitresses were wearing really turned me off even if it might be appropriate for the age of most clients. I was pleasantly surprised to see how smartly the wait staff was dressed now and the white nurse shoes were finally gone.

It's a nice looking place with a large private parking area. You might want to park away from the rest due to the driving skills of the patrons.

The interior is nice with a big bar in the middle and lots of windows making the place look nice and bright even on a gloomy day like today.

Tuna Sashimi appetizer. The knife skills of a sushi chef are obviously lacking, but this was 5 nice thick slices of tuna with wasabi and pickled ginger served with a small seaweed salad.

I went for the Cheddar Burger with Asian Slaw. You also had a choice of fries and a few other sides. It was served very nicely in a make your own fashion and I really liked that. The onion was sliced as it should be and you got a whole pickle. The burger was ordered medium rare and was on the medium side but it was a nice coarse grind and it was juicy. Considering that this burger was only $2.95 more than the half pounder at Retro Burger, this was quite a deal even if you have to leave a tip here. The burger also included fries and that was another $1.50 at Retro Burger so for $1.45 more plus tip you get a full service sit down meal with linen napkin in a pleasant environment and professional servers.
I have now added a Friday Splurge label to the more expensive and upscale visits I plan to do on Fridays.

Cafe Escadrille on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Retro Burger & Ice Cream Arlington

Retro Burger & Ice Cream in Arlington opened a while ago after owner Bill Maund relocated his business from West Yarmouth to Arlington. The menu is simple, Hot Dogs, Burgers and Ice Cream.

The location used to be Cakes Bakery & Cafe but now hold the 19 seat Retro Burger.

They tried to do the retro diner look and did pretty well. The inside is nice and bright with cool memorabilia on the walls.

I went for the classic Menotomy ($8 half-pound, $5 quarter-pound) that is Retro’s most popular offering, a combination of lettuce, tomato, red onions, pickles, American cheese, ketchup, and yellow mustard. I ordered it in "Not man enough" size e.g. quarter pounder and also fries as an add-on. For $1.50 you get a big heap of fries, unfortunately, they were of the industrial frozen variety and they also lacked salt. Forgot to order the burger Medium rare until the order was in but wasn't too worried since the menu said the burgers are cooked medium unless otherwise ordered. Well, this one comes out well done but was still juicy and the patty was coarsely ground beef so it had some texture. The red onion was coarsely chopped onion and they, of course, were all over the place, on a burger, thinly sliced onion makes so much more sense.

You have a condiment tray on the table and they also now have a jukebox in the back to complete the retro theme.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

I was going to Taipei Gourmet in Lexington for some delicious Noodle Soup when I saw that a Crispy Duck Rice plate had been added to the menu. At first I was baffled that I had missed this dish since I love duck but after speaking with the owner, she said that some dishes was added a little while ago.

I got a free cup of Hot & Sour Soup while waiting. Nice!

Crispy Duck Rice Plate in all its glory. A good amount of tasty and tender duck and the plate had all the traditional rice plate trimmings. I especially like the marinated egg, delicious. This is a steal for less than $8.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chili's Burlington

Chili's sent me another offer for a free app with the purchase of an entree so I decided to give them another try. Last time I got a hockey puck and carbonized fries and it was so bad I didn't even want to write about it.

Ordered the Old Timer Burger rare and it come out nicely medium, so that kind of worked. They forgot the sliced red onion and the waitress didn't stop by until I was almost done so I never saw them. I must admit that the Fries here are OK. This burger used to be $6 and change but is now over $8 but since I got a $9+ app for free I guess I can't complain too much.

Spicy buffalo wings, on the bone, with Blue Cheese dressing and some celery will be today's dinner. Service was again sub-par with no water refill and a very late "How's your food" visit.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Blue Ribbon BBQ Arlington

Stocked up on a bunch of Groupons for Blue Ribbon BBQ in Arlington again, can't beat $7 for $15 worth of food. I can see a lot of BBQ in my future!

Same as usual, a half slab of ribs with mash and baked beans. Everything was excellent, but the price has gone up again.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Legal C Bar Lynnfield

Went back to Legal C Bar in Lynnfield armed with my $10 survey discount for a second lunch visit.

It was warm enough today that they were actually cleaning the tables on the little patio.

You get warm crusty rolls with your lunch and you get REAL butter!

Legal’s Signature Crab Cake. Jumbo lump crab, mustard sauce, seasonal salad, choice of one house side and I again selected the French Fries despite the terrible fries on my last visit. I thought the menu said Crab Cakes so I was kind of surprised to see only one but a further peek at the menu confirms it said cake (singular). Now this was a crab cake worthy of the name, all lump meat with no fillers at all and very lightly fried. Really excellent. The crab cake was served with the mustard sauce that you can see on the plate and that was clearly not enough but the waiter was happy to get me a cup of the stuff. The salad was nicely dressed and had crispy cranberries added and much to my surprise I kind of liked the cranberries.

The French Fries this time was really good, hand-cut fries nicely fried and well salted. This is what you expect from a place like this.

Legal C Bar-Lynnfield on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thai E-sarn Cuisine Arlington

Decided to give Thai E-sarn Cuisine in Arlington another chance after last weeks visit. They were not very busy at lunchtime today.

Again I got a nice booth next to the window. Lunch specials come with either a salad or a tofu soup and since I already tried the salad I went for the soup. The soup was lukewarm and not very exciting, there was some very mild roasted garlic and a bunch of unevenly cut silken tofu cubes in there.

Spicy Squid lunch portion. Deep fried squid sauteed with assorted veggies. This dish is conceptually so wrong, how can you serve deep fried squid drenched in a sauce? Deep fried implies crunchy and that will go out the window as soon as the sauce shows up. Having said that, this dish was excellent with a good amount of (not crispy) perfectly cooked squid and an excellent sauce, it was marked as two peppers on the menu and I asked the waiter to make sure it comes out as two peppers and it certainly did. The spicing was spot on with a nice mix of sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. Service was very attentive.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

It's freezing today and we actually had a snow flurry this morning. Might only have been two flakes but it still counts. Really good day for some hot and spicy noodle soup and it was time to try the Spicy Beef Noodle soup at Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington again. I tried it shortly after they opened this spring and it was OK.

This time I ordered it extra spicy and it had a better kick to it and the beef was tender and I also remember to order it with Udon noodles so now it's nearly perfect. It appears pretty fierce, but it's just mildly spicy. I really like that you have a choice of six different types of noodles with your noodle soups and your stir fried noodles.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Zocalo Arlington

I haven't been back here since last November and that's a shame. The food is really good and cheap as well and if the sun is out it's nice and sunny inside.

It did fill up later and a party of six arrived, mixed ages, but they left without ordering for some reason.

The salsa is blended with chunks of onion and tomatoes added. It's pretty good, but the chips are store bought and that's a shame.

Make your own quesadilla here with pork and creamed poblanos. The "guacamole" was mostly tomatoes with some avocado added. Unfortunately in the creamed poblanos the cream had turned pretty solid and I wasn't too happy with that.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

The chef was again doing the waitressing at PHU KET in Wakefield as well as the cooking at my lunch visit today. With only three tables going it's not surprising that they are saving a bit and going without a waitress.

Spicy Chicken with mushrooms lunch box. Stir fried chicken with mixed mushrooms on a bed of baby spinach. For someone who doesn't really like mushrooms I seem to eat a lot of them! I might have to rethink this but I'm quite sure that I don't like mushrooms. Very nice lunch but without a waitress that knows what I mean when ordering extra spicy, this was just a bit spicy but tasted great regardless.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Back to Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington because I had a hankering for some spicy pork.

Twice cooked Pork, lunch size portion! This dish is done correctly here, using the pork belly as it should and it's delicious. The cabbage was tender, the finely sliced hot peppers were spicy and the chili oil helped as well. Excellent rendering of a classic dish.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Thai E-sarn Cuisine Arlington

Thai E-sarn Cuisine in Arlington Heights recently opened in the space formerly occupied by Tom Yum Koong II. I never visited the previous restaurant mainly because the reviews were not that good. The online menu looked go with all the standard dishes so I decided to give it a go for lunch today.

Interior is nice and bright with a set of booths in both rooms next to the windows.

Tables were nicely decorated with a (plastic) flower with some Salt and Pepper Elephants hanging around and the water-glass was big, another plus with me.

Lunch Specials come with either a Tofu Soup or a Salad and since I ordered a soup anyway I went with the salad. Standard lettuce with some julienned carrots and a homemade dressing. Nothing special and the dressing was a bit sweet but it was fresh.

Duck Noodle Soup, Thai style rice noodles with boneless roasted duck. The soup itself was OK, a bit of roasted garlic in there and the noodles were cooked al dente, I hate mushy noodles. The duck, on the other hand, was very dry, there was one slice in there that wasn't dry and overcooked. The service was very friendly and efficient. I thought it was a nice place and I'll be back to try some more dishes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tenoch Medford

I had to go to Boston to pick up my passport at the consulate so I decided to stop at Tenoch in Medford on my way in. They are getting bigger, now with a food truck and a restaurant in the North End in Boston.

One Taco with Adobo Pork and a Tostada with Mexican Chorizo, both was really excellent and a nice light lunch. Their refried black beans that are on the bottom of the Tostada is excellent.

Current list of specials, there is always something new here and I'm amazed that they can produce the food in their minuscule kitchen. Their sandwiches are also really really good.
The consulate has a very fancy location in Boston but there is no parking so a brief stay in a no parking/tow zone worked out well this time.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

Back at PHU KET in Wakefield for another Sunday lunch and the place was very quiet.

Again I tried the Salmon Rad-Prik, extra spicy and ordered medium rare. It was spicy but was again overcooked, but this time at least it was moist inside. Look at the nice tender asparagus in the dish, the quality of the veggies here is always top notch. Salad and crispy rolls are also included in the Lunch Box specials. It was plenty of food.