I have never been much good at sticking to my New Year's resolutions - but I am not one either to give up on the notion.
This year, I have decided to incorporate my blog into my NY resolution....this year, 2012, I will try to get to as many of the places on my ever-growing list of food spots as possible.
We are off to a good start in 2012 with a great little gem, located off the beaten path in Watertown. This gem is named Strip T's and is a peculiar spot I only heard about through SEgallows' recent tweets.
Generally, any restaurant recommended by a a solid restauranteur in the South End is a spot worth trying and I somehow managed to get Strip T's on my list and checked off within 24hours. (Why not get that momentum going from day one!? )
After a few confused text messages from my partners in crime trying to figure out why on earth I would want to go to a strip joint in Watertown, three of us found ourselves seated in a small, understated sit-down area in Strip T's on School St.
What first appears to be underwhelming, soon turns into a deliciously surprising adventure and it is not wonder why this place has 25 strong years under its belt and is still counting! Everything but the food is no frills, but there is no need to direct attention to decor when the food is so solid. The staff are professional and friendly, having come from impressive backgrounds such as stints at Craigie on Main, and the service was executed with attention and personalism. We ordered a slew of appetizers and a few entrees and each was thoroughly enjoyed.
Up first and pictured above was their Pig's Head Toast, served warm and tender with a creamy aioli and a satisfying crunch from freshly sliced radish.
Next we had their Japanese Eggplant Banh Mi, a traditional Vietnamese-style sandwich with crispy tofu, pickles and cilantro between crusty baguette. I thought a bit more accent from a sweet or spicy/sweet sauce would have brought the whole thing together, but even so, the Banh Mi was light and fresh.
I was nervous to order the Poutine, being Canadian, I am always tentative and usually disappointed. Strip T's poutine was on the verge of success with deliciously cooked and seasoned fries and a sweet and salty gravy. As usual, it is with the cheese that true success goes amiss. In traditional poutine, cheese curd is a necessity, and although Strip T's did indeed use cheese curd, they applied large cubes of it as opposed to smaller irregular ones...it was delicious, but did not meld together as poutines of my youth did. Still, a valiant and comparably acceptable attempt.
Among the appetizers that were so delicious I failed to get a picture before half of the dish was gone, were the Moxie sauced Chicken Wings (Sooo sweet, tangy and a tad spicy delicious!) and the charred (not fried!) baby octopus.
For entrees, we ordered their Grilled Skirt Steak topped with chimichurri, served over a bed of crunchy watercress, pickled peppers and fingerling potatoes. As many restaurants begin to fall short when it comes to entrees, Strip T's quite excelled. The steak was cut and cooked to a perfect medium rare. The sauce was an interesting choice but matched the presentation and bite of the pickled peppers. This dish was very well done and aesthetically pleasing with dashes of colour surrounding the pretty pink meat.
We were lucky enough to snag the last Rainbow Trout, served broiled and splayed with hen of the woods mushrooms (a nice, meaty contrast to the light fish), creamy roasted chestnut and jasmine rice. The dish was interesting and quite different from the steak, however the fish would have been more enjoyable had it been free of little bones:)
From Vietnamese dishes to American-Mexican and dishes with Japanese accents, Strip T's Chicken and Waffles is a true testimony to the eclectic mastery of Chef Tim (alumni of David Chang's Restaurant Group). A staple in Southern cuisine, Chef Tim serves his Buttermilk Fried Chicken with kale and a choice of grits of waffles (the latter...duh!). The chicken itself is delicious, not too heavily breaded and somehow maintaining a juiciness to write about, once everything is soaked in maple syrup, the bitterness of the kale cuts in as a mark of pure and simple genius!
Although we were quite stuffed (not surprising), the kitchen team brought us out some of their pine nut and lavender brittle. This dessert is light and tasty, the intention is both clear and subtle - each bit somehow manages to go through layers of flavoring.
From the start to the finish, this 'sirloin strip' joint will have you pleasantly surprised and incredibly satisfied. Too bad it is out in watertown, the South End would die for a place like this - modest, true and an exceptional price to quality ratio.
Here's to hoping this foreshadows a year of culinary discoveries like this!