Wednesday, July 28, 2010

the gallows (boston)

There's a restaurant called The Gallows in the South End where Sage used to be. We stumbled in around 8:45 pm last Tuesday and waited for about 10-15 minutes at the bar for a table. The place was packed, which is great for a weeknight. It was nice to be able to look around and take in the scenery, especially since they totally redecorated the place. I really like the hanging light fixtures and the lights along the wood walls.

We enjoyed some wine while waiting to be seated. Tony had a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Lyeth winery in Sonoma. (I tell you, he's lovin' California wines - cab sauvs in particular - more and more these days.) I had a great glass of Pinot Gris from the Montinore estate winery in Oregon.

We shared the smoked fish pate appetizer which was made with smoke blue fish (I think?*), cream cheese, and green onions. It was very tasty and had a nice smoky flavor to it.

[* Quick note: I have this habit of relying on a restaurant's online menu to help me remember what it is we ordered when it comes time to blogging about a dining experience. In this case - which rarely happens actually - the restaurant doesn't have their menu posted online so I unfortunately don't have very many details to share. My apologies in advance!]

Tony had a delicious beef brisket dish for dinner which was served with some eggplant and tomatoes on the side, and a dollop of cool yogurt on top. (I apologize for the dark photo but I hate using a flash in a restaurant and the lighting was pretty dim.)

I enjoyed a steak salad cooked very medium rare on top of a bed of greens that I can't remember the name of. They were described to me as tubular and crunchy, which was quite accurate. (I wish I could remember the name of them! Our waiter described them as essentially being a type of weed ... I guess at the time it didn't seem as unappetizing as recalling the description now ... LOL) It was a nice change from ordinary, flat lettuce and the dressing was delicious.

We shared a blueberry dessert that of course, I can't remember the name of (see above comment about lack of menu for reference). I don't want to call it a cobbler but it also wasn't a tart. It was served hot in a cute little cast iron pan and served with delicious whipped cream on top.

Overall we had a fun time even though it was quite loud at some times. Our waiter, Jim, was very friendly and made conversation with us throughout the night. The atmosphere is pretty laid back and casual, but it's also a nice place for a date or small group outing.

The Gallows
1395 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

Saturday, July 24, 2010

bin 26 enoteca (boston)

For my birthday this year, Tony let me pick a restaurant for dinner. I decided to check out Bin 26 Enoteca in Beacon Hill because we have walked past it a few times and it looked like a nice little romantic restaurant. Charles Street has always had that sort of charming effect on me with it's little boutique shops, old sidewalks, and perpetually burning gas lights. Plus it's so easy to access via public transportation, so we hopped on the red line after work. We were pretty early for our 7 pm reservation, so we took a nice stroll through the Boston Common and the Public Garden. We saw the nesting swans, a wedding party all decked out in white tuxedos and hot pink gowns, and some beautiful flowers.

The hostess seated us even though we were half an hour early (the place hadn't filled up yet anyway), and even though we said we would be happy to wait at the bar. They have a huge selection of wines available by the bottle -- a large leather bookful actually -- as well as some information about different wines and the regions they come from.

The wines by the glass section was a little confusing at first because they offer most them by four different measurements. They offer them in 100 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml and 750 ml increments. Well, 750 ml was easy to perceive as a full bottle, so 500 ml seemed like it would a little bit more than half a bottle. We each got 250 ml portions which were served in glass carafes. It ended up being like having slightly less than 2 glasses which was pretty reasonable.

I had the 2008 Chenin Blanc, Cave des Vignerons de Saumur 'Les PlantagenĂȘts', Saumur, from France and it was quite good. Not overly sweet or acidic. Tony had the 2007 Projekt B, VdP de Vaucluse, from France and also really liked his pick. I think both wines went really well with our meals.
But before I talk about the food, I have to say that they win points for decor. I love this all of wine labels that cover every single bit of surface space. Now if I can just figure out how to take off our wine bottle labels gracefully and without tearing them, I think this would be a fantastic idea for decorating our future wine cellar (this is, of course, when I win the lottery ...).

Now this is a view of the ceiling inside the women's bathroom (I heard it's the same in the men's by the way). It's (what seems like) a gazillion wine bottles hung from some sort of contraption from the ceiling. It makes for eerily dark lighting, but I think it's pretty cool.

Okay, so on to food because that's the real reason why you're reading this, right?! (j/k!) We had the bruschetta appetizer which was served with sauteed mushrooms with garlic and fontina cheese. Oh. My. Gosh. I think I could eat ten plates of this ... it was amazingly delicious! The simplicity of how the mushrooms were sauteed with just salt and pepper paired so well with the stronger fontina flavor. (I'm drooling as I'm typing this and reminiscing about how delicious they were!)

Tony enjoyed the spaghetti with scallops and shellfish in saffron tomato sauce entree (it's too bad I couldn't try any of it - it smelled so yummy). The scallops were nice and plump, and he could tell the pasta was freshly made.

I seem to be a sucker for grilled squid, and since I don't see it on the menu very often, I went ahead and ordered the appetizer dish. It's normally served with white beans on top of the arugula but I asked them to omit them due to my food allergy. I also got a side order of their garlic mashed potatoes. I was a little disappointed that the squid was served cold, but it still had a nice grilled flavor to it. The mashed potatoes were wonderfully light and not overly garlicky.

We split a lemon tart dessert and while I was in the bathroom earlier, Tony told our waitress that it was my birthday so they brought it out with a candle. It was so good! It kind of bummed me out because this in another example of how restaurants don't disclose everything on the menu when they present something with additional ingredients (a pet peeve of mine!). We just took the strawberries and blackberry off as quickly as we could and I just crossed my fingers that I wouldn't be too itchy later on.

[Of course in hindsight, it was probably the potatoes that made me the itchiest after all. Read about my nightshade woes here.]

Overall I think it was a good dining experience. I would definitely go back there some time during the week after work to hang out at the bar and eat five orders of the mushroom bruschetta (you think I'm kidding!) and enjoy some wine. It's a great place for a romantic date and a small group outing. I'm not sure I would recommend it for families unless you went during the daytime (they do offer lunch). Huge wine selection, good sized food portions, beautiful decor, and super friendly wait staff.

Bin 26 Enoteca
26 Charles Street
Beacon Hill, MA 02114

Sunday, July 18, 2010


No, I'm not referring to Corey Hart's song about wearing sunglasses at night -- I'm talking about vegetables and fruits that are classified as "nightshade foods". My coworker mentioned this term to me a couple of months ago when the topic of my food allergies came up, and he gave me a list of things that fall under this category:
  • tomatoes
  • eggplant
  • bell peppers
  • cherries
  • tomatillos
  • potatoes
At that moment, I gasped when I read potatoes and thought, "Well, I know for sure that I'm allergic to the first five but I can't -- I just CAN'T! -- be allergic to potatoes too!"

So I kind of ignored the fact that they were on the same list and went on eating potatoes for the next couple of months.

Itch here, rash there ... but it had to be something else. It couldn't be the french fries I ate with my burger. It couldn't be the mashed potatoes. It must've been the carrot that touched my plate. Or the pickle that came on the same plate. Or maybe they used corn syrup in something.

I was in denial.

Then one day I ate some fries at lunch time and later that night broke out pretty badly. (I still think the hot and humid weather contributed a little bit to it.) And then at that moment I had to confess to my husband about my knowledge of nightshades and that sadly, potatoes fall under that category.


So for the past week and a half, I've been staying away from potatoes. I can't say that my skin has miraculously gone from being dry and flaky to perfect, but I don't think I've broken out very badly either. It is still hot and humid so I find myself getting pretty sweaty, and I have eaten a couple of questionable things too (cucumbers? maple syrup? pancakes?) so who knows. But I think I'll continue another week without them (it's been difficult, let me tell you!) and then maybe have them again one day and see what happens.

As a result - and this was the 2nd day of not eating them - I asked for brussel sprouts instead with my burger at the Indo last week. I have to say, they have the friendliest and most patient waitstaff there. Plus, they kind of know me by now so I think that helps. :) I asked for a bunless burger with the brussel sprouts instead of fries, cooked medium rare, with no tomatoes, but with swiss cheese, mushrooms, grilled onions and garlic aoili. It turned out perfectly!

Okay, oops, forgot to say no pickle but my order was already pretty complicated! The burger was cooked perfectly and all of the flavors went together so well. Without the fries it was a little bit more on the healthier side.

Anyway, it will be really sad if I can't eat potatoes any more but I'll have to try them again in a week to see if anything drastic happens.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

amelia's trattoria (cambridge)

I celebrated my birthday with three friends at Amelia's Trattoria last Thursday. It was real sweet of them to let me pick a place, but that was also a difficult choice to make since there are so many places I like to eat at. I picked Amelia's because we've been there before and it's consistently good Italian food, and the restaurant is nice and cozy (not too big).

We shared this bottle of Gini chianti and it was delicious. It went perfectly well with our pasta dishes.

I ordered a Caesar salad for us to share. It's a pretty good size on its own.

Laura and I both had the ravioli special of the day: a lemon ricotta ravioli served with pancetta, mushrooms, and spinach in a white wine sauce. I asked them to omit the tomatoes though. It was divine! And embarrassingly, I cleaned the whole plate!

Jess had the braised short rib bolognese which was made with fresh Fusilli and shaved Parmesan cheese. It was large enough that she had some leftover to take home.

Karoline had the house-made spaghetti in a plum tomato ragu and served with basil and shaved Parmesan cheese. She had enough to take home, too.

We shared a tiramisu dessert and it didn't last on the plate for very long. :) Even miss Jess who insisted she was too full for a bite couldn't resist.

I had a shot of espresso with dessert. So nice and rich, it helped wash down the dessert.

A glass of limoncello. That was quite yummy too.

Again, another wonderful meal at Amelia's, and this time in very good company. :) It's a great restaurant for small groups of people and especially for a romantic date. There's a small bar, too, and locals aren't shy about dining alone there. The waiter was very charming and accommodating with my food allergy concerns. Overall, a very pleasant experience.

Amelia's Trattoria
111 Harvard Street
Kendall Square
Cambridge, MA

Friday, July 9, 2010

sushi teq (boston)

This is a restaurant review that I've been meaning to post for a while now. We went to Sushi Teq back in March on one of those nights where we tried to get into another restaurant but the wait was over an hour and a half. Tony had heard good things about it from his coworkers at his old job, so we decided to check it out. It's located in the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston and towards the back of the lobby. You can't miss it: it's the only place there with neon lighting and walls that change colors.

I couldn't get over how cute the soy sauce bottle was. (Me = geek!)

They have a nice little bar area near the sushi chefs. The whole concept behind the restaurant is that it's a "salsa bar featuring innovative and traditional sushi concepts paired with vintage agave driven tequila, margaritas, and specialty cocktails." I do have to say that the salsa and merengue music they were playing was quite loud, but it did give the place a fun and energetic ambiance.

A funny before and after of the edamame appetizer. Tony had some miso soup (below) with his sushi rolls. A pretty big portion.

It's kind of too bad that I waited this long to post this because I don't think these drinks are listed on their current cocktail menu. All I can say that Tony's drink had some sort of blackberry base and garnish. And probably tequila!

I remember having a lemon drop martini that night. It was so yummy!

And of course, I can't remember which roll he ordered but I do remember him saying it was absolutely delicious. I think this is one that is soy wrapped on the outside.

I went with my usual sushi picks: Negihama maki (yellowtail and scallion rolls), Maguro (tuna), and Ikura (salmon roe).

I think overall it's a cute place for sushi, especially if you're on a date and in that part of town. The prices were surprisingly not as expensive as I had anticipated, especially since it's located within that particular hotel. It has a fun atmosphere and the wait staff are super friendly. The funny thing is that they brought in a hamburger from the restaurant next door for one of the customers. I guess he didn't care for sushi!

Sushi Teq
510 Atlantic Avenue
Boston, MA


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