Saturday, April 24, 2010

TId Bite! Thinking outside the box...

It is so easy these days to get stuck in the same pattern, day in, day out...what with the fast pace of society and the immediacy of social networking, people seem to have lost the notions of exploration and instead revel in the ideas of comfort.

When you live in an area where almost everything you need is at your fingertips, going out of your comfort zone to find new places becomes a bit of a hassle and sometimes a hassle that doesn't end up being worth it. The thing people fear most is that they will take the initiative to go somewhere else and have the 'I should have just stayed home' thought plague their minds. Despite this great risk, there is a lot to be said and gained by pushing the limits of your bubble and experiencing a bit of something new.

Last night my friends and I did just this. Yes indeed, we did it! We popped our bubbles and hopped onto the T. Of course, with our luck, the T broke down...but that didn't stop us! We pushed on, jumped in a cab and made our way to Kendall Square in Cambridge.

Once we had arrived at our destination, we saw a cultural movie called 'Dancing across borders'. The movie was great, it broadened our horizons and we lef the theater inspired and ravenous. Kendall square happens to have loads of cute little restaurants and pubs in the area. One place in particular caught our eye; The Friendly Toast.

We all thought some friendly toast would be a novel idea so in we went, at great personnal risk. The saying that the greater the risk, the greater the potential yield? Well, that is competely true. The Friendly Toast has proved to be my new great find. (Of course it has been found by many others for a while now...but that's ok)

The menu is inspired with concoctions I would never have imagined but having read about them, I am dying to try! The inside is so alive with color and spunk and it reminisces the greasy diner you have always dreamed about.

They serve breakfast all day and having breakfast for dinner, or for a late night snack is one of the best ways to shake up the old routine. They have spiked milkshakes served in gargantuan metal cups, pop rock rimmed cocktails and sweet potatoe fries with a mouth watering mango sour cream.

We only got to experience a few items, but another trip to Cambridge is already underway...and you should consider doing the same!

Saved by the Pops!

A couple of friends and I went out last Thursday night for an impromptu all honesty, we had been planning to attend the Picco Earth day fundraiser I had been raving about. Unfortunately, once we arrived ready to gorge at Picoo Restaurant, the event turned out to be slightly different from what we had been informed about...Seeing as we weren't in the mindset to wait around for 40 minutes for a table and wouldn't have been able to squeeze four spots out of the bar, we decided to give that plan up and try something else.

Our default plan was Pops, one of the many other restaurants located on tremont Street in the South End. That's one of the nicest things about the area, it has so many different restaurants to choose from that usually you can salvage your night.

This is what happened for us. We went into Pops, were greeted by an old friend of mine whom I used to work with (in the good old hostessing days), and were seated right away. Pops has recently reworked its interior set up as well as its menu and both are to the restaurant's advantage.

We ordered a round of drinks, my friends each got a different glass of red and I got the Pops champagne cocktail; a mixture of bubbly, bitters, crème de violette, with a sugar cube in the bottom and topped with cava. They were all great choices and set the mood for the rest of the meal.

We each tried something different, one friend got the famous Spicy Lamb Bolognese, loaded with delicious chunks of ground lamb meat, another tried the Mix sausage trio which comes with three different types of sausage over a poutine like sweet potato medley. Both main courses were deliciously playful to the mouth and appeasing to the eye.

My other friend and I tried some of the small plates, this is the newest edition to the menu and, as you know, the more frugal option. My friend got the skewered salmon, I got the vanilla sweet potato filled ravioli and we shared the sushi chicken and ginger rice balls. Suffice it to say that all of our dishes met even my standards and despite the range in foods, they somehow managed to complete each other beautifully. I soaked up every last bit on my place (and the plates of others :)) with my bread, which happens to be the best bread served in all the South End.

We finished the night off with chocolate filled doughnuts garnished with poudered sugar and accompagnied with crème anglaise and a raspberry popsicle.

So what can be learned from this delicious default? When in doubt or in a tight spot, allow yourself to be saved by the Pops!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Tasty Teatro

It's not uncommon to be wandering around the theatre distrist and have the sudden desire to go somewhere chic for a quick drink and a bite. The problem sets in when you realise that most chic places come with a daunting price tag...I found myself in such a situation the other night and decided to give Teatro a try. This little italian restaurant is located opposite the Commons on Tremont street and looks small and selective from the outside, but becomes more welcoming as you step inside.
Given the name, the location and the set up, it seems like a pretty sleek and expensive place that would empty the pockets. However, whislt it does indeed have the ability to rack up an impressive check, there is a way to go about it well, frugal-y.
Teatro's menu now includes a piattini or 'small plates' menu which means you can order a few different tastings each costing around 3-7 dollars. These are great for sharing or simply to create your own personnal meal. Of course, it may not be the heartiest meal, but that would depend entirely on how many piattini you order. They also have an enticing sounding pizza menu which would also be a nice idea for sharing.
The entree menu is naturally where prices start to fly high, but again, the nice thing about the pastas is that you can order half portions at half price; another way of getting in a nice fancy meal for under twenty...tip included.
Teatro's wine list is quite impressive and their house wines are 6 dollars a glass. I had their house made White Sangria at 9 dollars the glass and it was one of the better ones I have tried so far. As a side note, it is always best to order a cocktail 'light on the ice', otherwise you end up with a quater liquid to 3/4 ice...
But you know the most impressive thing about Teatro was that admist all of its exterior glam and intimidating aura, the staff were exceptionally friendly and attentive. I only went in for a drink and a small bite (as it turns out their truffle fries with parmigiano are to die for) but I would be very much tempted to go back again and live the life of a rich business person only with a much different check!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

go loco - eat boloco!

Mexican fast food has been on the rise for the past few years. What started as a few small local taquerias has become something much bigger, especially in the States. In Boston, a Qdoba or Boloco is no rare commodity.
In my opinion it's a good thing though, because a 5 dollar burrito can get one through many a tough time.
However, I must say that I have a very special place in my belly for Boloco. Ever since their bout of 'free burrito' days, I have really come to appreciate their style and service. Boloco is in actual fact, a bostonian burrito company and it has a few quirks that set it apart from the other contestants in the burrito war.
Boloco has inventive burrito creations as well as the option to build your own. Better still, you can have your burrito mixings in a burrito, in a bowl, as a salad or in a mini size.
Funnily enough, I think one of the greatest things about Boloco doesn't even have to do with burritos...two words should do the trick: nutella milkshake. If you haven't had one of these yet, you need to.
There is also something about the way boloco relates to its community, there truly is a communal feel to this company...I mean, they even sent out an April fool's joke. How is that for community spirit!?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A little Hot Spot on the brinks of the South End

Last Friday night my friend and I were romping around in search of a new place to try out. We were in the mood for something easy and casual with a social atmosphere. After a brief moment of deliberation and a quick inventory of our surroundings, I remembered a little place called Coda situated at 329 Columbus Ave. between Clarendon and Dartmouth.
This place had been on my radar for a while now and I have walked past it enough times to know that both its drink and dining menus appealed to me. As it so happened, that night I particularly wanted a good burger. So in we went and Coda proved to be exactly what we were looking for. It is really great when things work out so nicely!
As I found out once we were greeted and seated at a neat little make shift bar stool table, Coda’s burger is so well known that it qualifies as a ‘secret’ burger. By secret I mean that it is not on the main dinner menu handed to you once you sit down. People regularly come in with nothing but the Coda burger on their minds and so Chef Charlie Redd has no need to advertize it. Instead, he tries to entice the guests with the numerous other mouth watering dishes like the Mac and Cheese with pancetta or the Cape Cod Fisherman’s Stew. Tempting as these other menu items were, my friend and I both settled for the infamous ‘secret’ burger.
Boston is a great place for burgers and it is difficult to find the necessary touch that sets yours apart from all the others. Coda manages to do this with its great price (10$) as well as its homemade pickles and the option to add your own cheese free of charge. I got mine with blue cheese which I think is a great compliment to most burgers. The burgers arrived while we sipped on our drinks; my friend got the sangria; a pleasant mixture of fruity red wine, rum, Brandy, Cointreau and the traditional fruits while I tried out the Grapefruit Summer Press: Ruby Red vodka, St. Germain (a personal faveJ), grapefruit juice and fresh lime. The drink menu is inspired and costs average at about 8 dollars the cocktail!
As always presentation is a must and Coda nailed that as well: two beautiful open faced burgers were presented to us with all the fresh fixings and a generous side of shoestring fries.
The waiter was very friendly and informative and by the time our tummies were full the bar had filled and there was a comfortable buzz in the air.
Coda is a gem, one worth seeking out more than once and next time, I will definately be trying out something on the menu!

the virgin post

Alrighty, we are finally up and running! Restaurants of the area beware! The frugal foodista is about to be unleashed! Well, there is actually nothing for these guys to worry about, unless they are offering mediocre food for high which case they should be quivering in their kitchens...However, that being said, I am simply going to be trying new places and letting my readers know what is worth their money...I am very excited to get this going and I hope it will be useful to all who share my passion for food and a smart wallet! I am hoping to get in a new eating experience a week, whether this is an actual meal out, just a social drink, a quick bite or even take out.
If you have any suggestions please feel free to let me know! I love all types of food, the more exotic the better, so bring on the suggestions!