Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Capital Grille Burlington

New Years Eve lunch at the Capital Grille in Burlington. Not a place that I frequent too often, the dining room is really loud and I really dislike the servers ill-fitting jackets. The bar is a way better place to hang out.

It's a holiday so an Extra Extra dry Tanqueray Martini is in order. Big enough to overflow into a shot glass as it should be for that price. Excellent cut twist and the homemade chips are delicious.

Lobster and Crab burger with homemade tartar sauce and Parmesan and Truffle fries. The fries were excellent but was lacking the parm but had some truffle oil added. Truffle oil is now so exclusive that even Trader Joe's is selling it. The burger was excellent, lot's of crab without too much binders. The lobster part was mainly knuckle meat but delicious anyway.

The bar area is really nice, the bartender was really excellent and they have two waitresses (without the jackets) to cover the table service.
Two guys sat down next to me and ordered a bottle of wine, double order of the lamb lollipops, two orders of steak tartare, another bottle of wine and then a sliced NY strip and then I left! They also demolished two baskets of potato chips.

The Capital Grille on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 27, 2013

99 Restaurant Woburn

Couldn't decide where to have lunch today but the 99 Restaurant in Woburn could be worked into today's excursion. I haven't been here in a year and there were some changes to the menu including an express lunch option.

Popcorn arrives as soon as you sit down. Not a bad idea to fill up the patrons so they think they got more food than what they do.

From the express lunch I selected a cup of soup, today's choices included jammin' crab, and that was my choice. The waitress said if you like spicy, you would like this. Well, it was mildly spicy with corn and peppers but if there was any crab in there it completely eluded me. They probably did this the 50/50 way, half a crab and half a bushel of corn. The meatloaf sandwich, lightly grilled according to the menu, was totally carbonized on the bottom and was the size of a meatball that someone stamped on. The crisp onion petals were OK after they got some salt added. The side of red wine sauce was surprisingly good. The Ciabatta bread was impossible to cut through with a knife even after soaking the bread in the sauce. Probably be another year before I try this place again. Service is always pleasant and prompt.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Szechuan's Dumpling Arlington

Needed some cat food and TJ's is just up the road from Szechuan's Dumpling in Arlington so it was a convenient stop for lunch. Turns out that TJ's was out and I had to go to the one in Burlington with its insane traffic.

Decided to go with some comfort food and the Beef Chow Fun usually fits the bill. Silky noodles, tasty sauce and beef with some bean sprouts added. Some dishes they are stingy with the protein and this was one of them but it was still a very nice lunch. Yes, the chili oil was present again.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Asian Gourmet Concord

Trust Asian Gourmet in Concord to be open for lunch on Christmas day! And New Years day as well. A nice drive here today on this sunny day. People kept on arriving mostly in large family groups.

Taiwanese Sausage Fried Rice. This is how a "proper" fried rice should look, fluffy with egg and peas visible. The Taiwanese sausage was slightly sweet and mildly smoky.

I figured it would go well with the Crispy Duck and it did. The duck could have been crispier, but it was delicious, not sure what they did to the skin, but it was so tasty. Served on the bone, messy to eat but so worth it.

This arrived with the duck and what is it? Duck sauce of course! Not sure what was in this warm sauce but it went well with the duck. An older review from the Boston Globe complained that the sauce ruined the crispiness of the duck and recommended that it be served on the side and they obviously heeded that advice.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Davio'S Lynnfield

Christmas Eve lunch at Davio'S in Lynnfield. Christmas Eve is really the big day in Sweden, today we watch Donald Duck with Friends celebrating Christmas, a tradition that goes back to the 1950's and then we open the presents followed by Christmas dinner where you can find things like pickled herring (ick), lutefisk (dry salted cod served with wallpaper glue), ham and other goodies.

Extra extra Dry Tanqueray Martini, straight up with a twist. I must admit it was a very generous twist ;-).

Fried Oyster BLT. I sort of expected a sandwich even if this was listed under apps. Very fresh oysters lightly fried on a bed of tartar sauce and served with tomatoes and an interesting dressing. I asked the bartender what the dressing was and she comes back with "Lemon aioli" but I suspect she meant Lemon vinaigrette. Another really excellent lunch. The place was really quiet today apart from doing a brisk business selling gift cards.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Wagamama Lynnfield

I had to go back to a Wagamama in Lynnfield to try their Ramen. I expected the Market Street complex to be mobbed today, but it wasn't really that busy. They even have a skating rink set up. At Whole Foods, there wasn't even a line at the express checkout.

Chili Ramen with grilled chicken. It was either boring chicken or beef of unknown origin so I went with the chicken. The soup did have some nice heat to it and there were also red onions and the bean sprouts was hiding under the scallions. The fiercely looking red chilis were in fact quite mild and tasty. The noodles were very good and come out nicely rolled up and that meant that you couldn't get to them until you untangled the whole mess. Overall this was a bit of a disappointment, especially for $11+. Where's the fatty pork? Where is the rich broth? This is like someone in England said, "Let serve Ramen to the British" and this is what you ended up with. Wait, that's how Wagamama got started! Service is good with prompt water refills.

Afterward I walked over to Williams Sonoma where Steve DiFillippo, of Davio's fame, was signing his book "It’s All About the Guest" and also having a free sampling of his famous meatballs and Gnocchi with Bolognese ragu. I had the meatballs before so I tried the gnocchi and it was really good. Surprisingly, he did recognize my blog name when I introduced myself so I must admit that he's really up on everything.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Joe Fish North Reading

Heading for a Wal-Mart and the closest one are in North Reading so I stopped at Joe Fish since it's in the same plaza as Wal-Mart. Seems most of the potholes on Rte28 have been fixed and I got mostly green lights today.

Got seated in the bar again and it's a nice bright area away from the very loud dining room.

Warm bread is served in a bucket and comes with real butter.

Decided to opt out of exciting food and went with a Grilled Haddock, Mashed Potatoes and Fresh Vegetable Medley from the lunch menu. You had a number of choices for grilled and I selected Cajun grilled but that flavor was completely lacking. The fish was nicely grilled, moist and flaky. Mashed potatoes were fine after adding salt, but I did not expect to get a heap of overly sweet boiled root veggies when ordering the "Fresh Vegetable Medley".

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Taipei Gourmet Lexington

Snow everywhere but the plow guys both here and on the roads have done a fabulous job and it was mostly dry driving conditions when I went to Taipei Gourmet in Lexington for lunch today.

All those big windows make the interior warm and sunny.

Spicy Pork and Noodle soup are now coming out extra spicy by default and I'm not complaining. It's now runny nose spicy. Bok Choy, tender pork and a heap of perfectly cooked thick noodles make this an excellent dish. You get a small soup bowl and a big ladle so I suspect that you are supposed to ladle from this bowl and then you eat from the small one but that seems too much work for me so I just eat from the big bowl. It would make sense if you share the bowl.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Masa Woburn

I needed to visit Whole Foods so I stopped by Masa in Woburn for some lunch.

Nothing exciting but the Grilled Caesar Chicken wrap with fries is always good. Inside the tortilla, there is Grilled Chicken, Tender Romaine and Roasted Green Chile Caesar Dressing. I think I get fewer fries every time, this is a previous visit.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Tekila's Mexican Restaurant Methuen

When I walked into Tekila's Mexican Restaurant in Methuen and saw that there was no waitress, but only the bartender, that should have been my first clue. The place was also empty at noon and that should have been my second clue but sometimes I just get a brain fart and try a new "Mexican" place regardless.

The cold chips were nice enough and the red salsa was also tasty but very liquid, no chunks at all.

Enchiladas de mole, $8.95 online, $10 something in reality was 3 Enchiladas with a filling of either shredded beef or chicken. I ordered two chicken and one beef. This was served with rice and beans. The menu forgot to say that it was also served with pico de gallo and sour cream so I had no chance to tell them to hold the sour cream. The beans were really a cold bean soup that lacked flavor. The cold chicken Enchiladas was dry and bland and the beef one was bland as well. The mole sauce on top was just sweet and had no mole taste whatsoever. The rice was hot but was just colored rice. The best part of the meal was the chips and salsa. I have to give up on these adventures, never works out.
Trying to get there from 495 I learned that you don't take the first Merrimack Street exit but the second one. How stupid is that signposting but since this is New England where "If you don't know how to get there, don't try" seems to be the norm.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Zaika Indian Bistro Woburn

Decided to pay Zaika Indian Bistro in Woburn another visit for lunch and see what the takeout buffet options looked like. You need to be lucky to find close parking since they are located on the main street in Woburn. There is always free parking behind Tre Monte up on the hill. Of course, I got lucky and found a spot just outside the restaurant.

You get a smallish takeout container and two plastic containers and a freshly cooked Naan. At the bottom left was a chicken curry with mustard, new to me, but very tasty. The daal to the right was also nicely spiced.

Aloo Pakora (spicy potato cakes) was big and really flavorful, and then there was a chicken dish that I forgot the name of but it was chicken cooked in the tandoori, I think, also very flavorful. The big heap of chicken to the right is the Chili Chicken, also really good. Unfortunately, the Naan was again slightly undercooked and doughy. Got enough food for dinner as well.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuscan Kitchen Salem NH

I needed to go to NH so I decided to stop by Tuscan Kitchen in Salem for some lunch. This is such a nice place and the lunch prices are very reasonable.

It had changed! The high tops are now in an enclosed area with the bar and separated from the rest of the room.

The delicious bread that's made on the premises quickly arrives with some dipping olive oil and balsamic.

A small order of TAGLIATELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE. Thin House Made Noodles, Rich Sauce of Beef and Veal, Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano. This was a really delicious dish with rich sauce and feather light pasta. The order was small but with the crusty bread it made for a nice light lunch and it will only set you back $10.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Pho #1 Woburn

Winter is here and looking at a completely snow covered landscape I decided to walk down to my local Vietnamese restaurant, Pho #1 in Woburn, for some soup for lunch. Sleeting snow made the walk down a bit of a misery, but the walk back was fine.

About 38 seats, amazing that a small place like this is making enough money, but they have been here for quite a while and are always full at lunchtime.

Dac Biet Beef noodle soup. "Large sized bowl of our popular beef noodle soup, with combining sliced rare eye round, well-done flank, brisket, tendon and tripe" is what the menu says. At the best I would call this a passable rendering of Pho. The broth is OK but lacks the depth of flavor, only a few pieces of tripe and tendon and the brisket was mostly missing. The noodles were also a bit mushy but on a miserable day like today, this is the perfect food and it's within walking distance.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

PHU KET Wakefield

The waitresses are back, Yeah, at PHU KET in Wakefield.

There was actually quite a few tables going today at lunch time and that was nice to see. Small room but the interior is nice and bright.

Today I tried the Pork Ginger, extra spicy, and it was nice but a bit boring. Two big pieces of pork but apart from that it tasted about the same as it looks.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wagamama Lynnfield

Wagamama in Lynnfield's Market Street complex is part of a chain that started in England and this is the fourth location in Mass. Casual pan-Asian food cooked fresh and served quickly.

Sleek exterior with lots of big windows.

Big open interior and I heard that they are known for their bench seating. I got a nice window table with a view of the shopping area. Not unexpected, but this place is loud.

Chili Squid was served with a nice dipping sauce and had a little bit of chili heat but wasn't really very spicy, the squid was cooked nicely. In the background, you can see the container of Shichimi, a seven flavor chili pepper mix and there was also light and normal soy sauce and a bottle of chili oil.

Duck gyoza with a somewhat sweet dipping sauce wasn't bad. The duck filling was really good, but the wrapper was slightly doughy not really sure why since it was just lightly fried. Regardless the whole combination tasted great!

I was told that the food was served as it was cooked, but I didn't expect the Chicken Katsu Curry to arrive 4 minutes after the starter got on the table. The curry was good, as expected it was a normal mild Japanese curry with lightly breaded chicken and a nice lightly dressed salad. I was expecting a bit heavier breading on a Katsu dish. The chicken was sliced thinly and was cooked well, still moist and tender. This was a big portion with lots of chicken so it was good value for the money. Apps runs in the $7+ range and mains in the $12+. The ramen dishes looked good and I have to be back and try them later. This was a lot of food and the waiter (who was really good) asked if I wanted the squid and curry leftovers to go and I, of course, said yes. Here is where things went a bit astray, turned out there were a small miss-communication and my leftovers got tossed. My waiter offered to either take them off the bill or have the kitchen refire them if I wanted to wait. I said I wait and said that if they refired two half orders that would be fine but he said they would do two full orders and I was really happy with that. Why do good things keep happening to me? The manager also stopped by and apologized for what happened. This was really no big deal for me since they handled the situation so well and they have only been open for a month. A+ for customer service.

Full disclosure. This was paid for by Wagamama, but all opinions are my own.

Wagamama on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 5, 2013

La Carreta Nashua NH

Stopped by La Carreta in Nashua after one of my very infrequent visits to my dentist and much to my surprise it wasn't very busy. Did something change?

Interior is the same as always but with Xmas lights added.

Service is always very prompt and warm chips and salsa arrives promptly as does the water.

Today (and most of the times) I have the Lunch Special #4 Chile Relleno with a Beef Taco and Rice and Beans. The taco with ground beef is tasty and doesn't drip grease all over the place. The Chile Relleno is in my opinion the best one around, very thin and light batter then quickly deep fried and all the seeds have been removed. I really dislike it when the Chile isn't cleaned properly.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Zaika Indian Bistro Woburn

Zaika is an Urdu word that has many meanings, savory, tasty and flavorful and it seems appropriate after trying the lunch buffet at Zaika Indian Bistro in Woburn. This place has only been open for about a month but was doing a fair amount of business at lunchtime today.

This is a small place but the interior is nice. Stay away from the tables closest to the door, wicked cold draft when it opens.

They offer a buffet at lunchtime and that's all, no other lunch specials are available. Outside of the picture, there is a condiment area that also has some salad items. The tamarind chutney I had with my Samosa was excellent. They also offer hot tea with the buffet.

You get linen napkins! Tandoori Chicken was moist but could have spent some more time in the marinade and was lacking the tandoori char. Rice was good and the dry vegetable mix was really good, tasty and with crunchy veggies, Chickpeas was cooked well in a tasty gravy and I really liked the Chili Chicken, it had a good kick to it. The potato and pea Samosa was fine. There were a few more dishes available that I skipped and also dessert.

Naan is included and cooked to order, you can choose between plain naan and garlic naan. It could have been cooked a bit longer but had plenty of garlic. Service was very friendly and overall this was a nice lunch.

Zaika Indian Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thai E-sarn Cuisine Arlington

Decided to go back to Thai E-Sarn Cuisine in Arlington to try one of their lunch boxes. I asked about the name and was told that E-sarn (Wikipedia calls it Isan) is a distinct region of Thailand with their own regional cuisine. They do have a "special" menu in Thai with the local dishes listed and they are working on an English version. She said that if you like spicy dishes you would like this.

Playing with the camera, here's the interior again.

You get soup with the lunch boxes and it was way better today, piping hot and flavorful. Unevenly cut tofu...

Spicy Basil lunch box with Chicken ordered with fried Gyoza. I ordered it as listed, 2 out of 3 peppers, and I would give it 1 1/2. Nice kick but not overwhelmingly spicy. The salad was the normal salad that it's a choice when you order from the regular menu. The Gyoza was crispy and very light with a soy dipping sauce. The Spicy Basil was OK with the standard veggies, not the most exciting thing on the menu but there was plenty of food and the veggies were fresh.