Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Spalla's Italian Beef Natick

Spalla's Italian Beef in Natick is one of the few places in NE that serves a genuine Chicago hot dog so I took the scenic route down there for some lunch today.

They are located inside Culinary Delights and are located just off Rte 27 and Rte 9. There are some outdoor seating to the right.

Not very exciting inside but a good amount of table seating. You order at the counter and they will bring the food out to you and they will also run a tab and you pay when you leave. There wasn't exactly a rush at lunch time.

And here is the famous Chicago Hot Dog ($4) in all its glory. "100% Vienna beef hot dog, mustard, onion, relish, tomato, pickle and sport peppers on a steamed poppy seed bun". Watch out for the peppers, they were seriously hot. There is also some neon green relish hiding in there and the secret ingredient is some celery salt sprinkled on top. This was a very nice dog with all the ingredients working together for both taste and texture and you could still taste the hot dog despite all the condiment. Not bad at all and an interesting experience.

I decided to also try the Chili Dog ($4) with some onions added on top. The chili had both beans and tomatoes but what it didn't have was chili or any other seasoning so it was really bland.

Spalla's Italian Beef Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Bancroft Burlington

It's Memorial Day weekend, so a burger is in order, right? I decided to give the Bancroft in Burlington another chance on this gray and overcast Monday.

They are conveniently located on the new 3rd Avenue complex in Burlington with plenty of parking.

I really like the bright and sunny bar area where I got a nice booth next to the windows.

I went with the Bancroft Burger ($15) that is only available for lunch. "Cave Aged Cheddar, Brioche bun and Fries." The crunchy onion strings that on a previous visit was on top was now on the bottom and hence got soggy from the tomatoes. The brioche bun was nicely toasted and very light. You got a small container of pickles that was overly sweet. The house made ketchup is outstandingly good and worth the price of admission on its own. The fries had also improved and while not really outstanding was perfectly acceptable.

I ordered the burger medium rare and when I cut into it, it looked really good but unfortunately this was only true for this corner, the rest of the burger was medium at most. Still, the burger was well seasoned and juicy with a really beefy flavor. Next time I'm going to order it rare and see what I get. This is one excellent burger that also had a nice char.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sichuan Gourmet Burlington

It's really too soon to return to Sichuan Gourmet in Burlington but I can't stay away. It's soo nice to have them almost next door.

I got there just after noon when they opened and the place quickly got seriously busy and there were only two tables of non-Asian customers in there.

It's hard to pick something from the menu since everything is soo good but I settled for Spare Ribs with Fresh Bamboo Shoots ($12.95). The pickled veggies were, as usual, very tasty. The spare ribs could have been more tender, they were on the dry side but the dish was still very tasty with a bit of heat in the sauce.

There isn't such a thing as an idle waitress in a Chinese restaurant, there are always something that needs to be done.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Taste of Siam Stoneham

On this blazingly hot Saturday I decided that a hot curry was in order, so I headed out to the delightful Taste of Siam in Stoneham.

I wonder if the aunt is working in the kitchen?

Again I went with the Lunch Box ($8.95) that comes with a very tasty Chicken and Noodle soup. It turns out that you really can pick two of the apps so a Golden Triangle and Spring Roll it was. The Spring Roll hadn't improved but the Golden triangle was tasty and I also got a dipping sauce. I went with the Massaman Curry**. "With potato, sweet potato, bell pepper, carrot, and peanut in Massaman curry & coconut milk." I asked for no sweet potatoes and as a result, I got no potatoes at all but I got a ton of pork instead. Tasty curry with tender pork and I asked for it 3-star spicy but that didn't really work, maybe two-star in the end. It was a different waitress this time. I really like this little restaurant.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Oga's Japanese Cuisine Natick

The rumor has it that Oga's Japanese Cuisine in Natick serves up some of the best sushi around and you don't have to mortgage your house to eat here, so I decided to give it a try for lunch today. Oga's Sushi dinner special changes daily and might contain fish flown in from Japan.

They are located just yards from the busy Rte 9, but there is plenty of parking. If you arrive via the scenic route (Rte 27), the good news is that if you go out the back, you can rejoin 27 without having to use Rte 9.

The inside was nice with plenty of space between the tables.

The sushi bar with the chefs working away.

The obligatory miso soup. The cute soy sauce bottle was a nice touch. Paper napkins weren't.

I went with the Sashimi Bento Box ($12.50) from the lunch selection. Not really sure what the app was but it has soba noodles and crab and stuff and was really tasty. The salad was nicely dressed and fresh, but the dressing was bland. The fish was excellent and super fresh and the pickled veggies in the middle was delightfully tart. The get minus points for including fake crab. Service was excellent. 
Note to self: Do NOT use Rte128 on a Friday before a long weekend. On the way back I had to get off at Rte 2 and take the backroads to get home.

Oga's Japanese Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Karl's Sausage Kitchen Peabody

Karl's Sausage Kitchen moved from a very visible but small location in Saugus to the current location in Peabody that is a bit hard to find.

Even with the big sign, I missed it on my first try.

Nice building but parking can be hard if they are busy like at lunchtime.

Their Beer Garden dining area with table service.

I decided to try the Currywurst ($8.49). "House made tomato curry sauce served over a grilled knockwurst, with hand cut French fries." The good news was that there was a big portion of fries but the bad news was that they were overcooked and completely lacked salt. The curry was sharp but the "grilled" knockwurst never saw the grill and was most likely just steamed but it tasted OK. I tried both the medium and hot mustards and both were really tasty. Not overly excited by this.

Lots of sweets available.

The European Market had a surprisingly amount of Swedish stuff including a variety of crisp breads and even Kalles Kaviar and also tons of pickled herrings (Ick!).

Smoked and cured meats galore.

Karl's Sausage Kitchen & European Market & Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Saltbox Kitchen Concord

We finally got a nice and warm day, so I decided that short road trip was in order and headed out for my long awaited visit to Saltbox Kitchen in Concord. It's actually in West Concord and just down the street from that other farm to table restaurant. It's run by chef, and now a farmer, Ben Elliott that has worked at some of Bostons most famous restaurants.

It's located on Main Street in West Concord and there is only (expensive) metered parking available. The parking meters have a feature that I haven't seen anywhere else, there is a button that gives you 12 free minutes, pretty neat if you are just doing something quick.

Everything I have read about this place mentioned the lack of tables and seating but I found that there was a good amount of seating available including window counters. The open kitchen can be seen in the back.

They now have some Large Plates on the menu that looked really interesting but $20 for the Portuguese Braised Octopus was a bit too steep for me. I suggested that they should serve smaller portions for lunch but she said that the serving wasn't that big. So I settled for the Walden Local Knockwurst (12). "Local knockwurst, housemade sauerkraut & mustard." A bit expensive but boy, was this delicious! The bread was super fresh and the knockwurst was juicy and tasty with a mild but very interesting whole grain mustard. The sauerkraut was probably the best I have had. The salad was tasty with a very sharp dressing and it turned out to be baby kale (I had to ask). Another very pleasant lunch with a very nice cruise down the backroads. I might have to save up some money and go back for that octopus.

Saltbox Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Sichuan Gourmet Burlington

The latest addition to the growing Laosichuan empire, Sichuan Gourmet in Burlington is now open in the formerly Mr. Chans location.

Nice highly visible sign and of course plenty of parking.

They took out the other divider otherwise, it looks pretty much the same. One of the owners, Mr. Li Zhong is here to oversee the opening. I did recognize the waitress all the way in the back from, I think, their Billerica location

Only one family table.

Their H&S soup is usually very good but this one was excellent with a very rich flavor in addition to being both hot and sour. I suspect that their head chef, Mr. Liu Lijun, is working in the kitchen. The pickled veggies were also very very tasty even if it was a lot of carrots but in this case, I didn't mind them.

One of my favorite dishes from the lunch menu, Sichuan Double Cooked Bacon ($8.50) with pork belly, of course. The only other restaurant that has this on the lunch menu, Beijing in Lexington, is hit and miss and you have better that a 50% chance of getting dry and overcooked pork. Here the pork was, naturally, perfectly cooked with lightly charred hot peppers and some thinly sliced and crispy leeks. This was so perfectly prepared that it just reinforces my suspicion that the head chef is in the kitchen.

This is how it looked at 12:15, the place was packed and at 12:25 there was a line waiting for tables. I'm soo happy to have them here. They only serve their lunch specials Mon-Thurs but you can do takeout from the lunch menu on Fridays.

Sichuan Gourmet Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Lexx Lexington

Lexx in Lexington is located in a prime spot in the town center and I finally decided to stop by for some brunch on an overcast Sunday. I must admit that I think the name is smart.

Plenty of metered parking around and it's only a quarter an hour. Free parking on Sundays, of course.

Nice bar area with high tops and bar seating.

It's an L-shaped dining area and there is a similar dining room behind me.

I had my eye on the Fried Egg Sandwich ($14) from the brunch menu. It's also available on the lunch menu. "Braised pork belly, cheddar cheese, garlic aioli, buttered brioche roll, pickled veg." It was good sized slab of pork belly with an egg that oozed yolk when cut into and the sandwich was delicious. The pickled onion was tart enough to curl your toes but went well with the pork. The fries, however, was the standard commercial fries and didn't really fit in. When I mentioned to the bartender/waiter that some hand cut homemade fries would be better, he agreed and then promptly comped half of the meal! Now that's customer service and I left very happy.

Lexx Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Country Chef Wilmington

Country Chef in Wilmington is another place that I driven by countless times, so it was time to check out the food.

It's very nice looking place on Rte 38 with plenty of parking. They are only open until 1:00 PM.

It was nice enough inside with a steady stream of customers today.

I went for the Spicy Meat-Lover Omelet ($8.95). "Ham, Bacon, Sausage, Linguiça, Jalapeño, Cheese." This is not a small plate but a full sized one. The omelet was enormous and chockful of meat and they didn't hold back on the finely diced jalapenos either. Nicely browned on the outside with melted cheese on the inside and it was cooked nicely. The Home Fries was a bit mushy but was seasoned nicely, so they get a pass for those. Another plus was the lightly toasted Scali bread. Good food and reasonably priced as well.

Country Chef Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WooRi Arlington

I was going to Snappy Pattys in Medford but what used to be free parking is now metered, so I left since I refuse to use their newfangled infernal parking meters. Instead, I went to the delightful WooRi Korean Fusion Grill in Arlington.

The renovation of the facade is finally done, there was scaffolding hiding the restaurant forever and I'm sure that was not good for the business but now it looks really good with the new awning.

Today's banchan offering, all made by the grandmother. I especially like the steamed cabbage (top left) and even ate the sweet carrots. The kimchi was seriously spicy and the kale was also excellent.

Lunch portion of Kimchi Stew ($11) "With Pork or Without Pork." With pork, of course, and it also comes with rice on the side. This was hot squared but very very tasty but not for the faint of heart. What a delightful lunch!

The interior is fairly small but nice and bright from the big windows. They were packed at lunch today, good to see them being busy. This is a really tough spot for a restaurant but at least they have on-street free parking.