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Archive for the ‘South Shore’ Category

Lunch @ Kristin’s

Kristin’s
349 Washington St.
Braintree, MA 02184
781-843-2022
website: http://kristinsbraintree.com/

Kristin’s in Braintree serves breakfast and lunch 7 days a week (Monday-Friday 6:30 AM - 2 PM; weekends 7 AM – 1:30 PM). Up until last month, I had only ever had breakfast at Kristin’s.  Their breakfast menu is a lot more extensive and interesting than their lunch menu. The breakfast menu contains a ton of creative pancake and french toast options listed on their board, homemade corn beef hash, assorted eggs Benedict selections…and so on…I’ve found that the most interesting choices are usually on the Daily Special Board.

 The lunch menu is mostly made up  of your standard salads and sandwiches: ham & cheese, club sandwiches, chicken salad, BLT etc. …so it never really jumped out at me as place I just had to try for lunch. I am someone who typically likes a little adventure in her menus. ;)

Well, we were in the neighborhood recently and decided to stop in for lunch. I ordered the Ultimate Turkey sandwich ($5.25).  The sandwich had a thick layer of roasted turkey (not cold cuts…the real stuff),  cranberry sauce,  stuffing and mayo. It comes with a pickle and chips which you can swap out for fries for $1. I opted for the fries.  The sandwich was very good and the perfect size for lunch at a price that is hard to beat. I love a good Thanksgiving-style turkey sandwich and this is one of the better ones that I’ve had in the area.

Kristin’s is relatively small so sometimes there is a bit of a wait on weekend mornings for breakfast.  They are family friendly and have several menu options geared specifically to kids (I’m looking at you, M&M pancakes) There is a small parking lot behind Kristin’s, but if it is full you have a fair chance of finding street parking on the side street.

Kristin Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sweet Lemons

Sweet Lemons
828 Washington Street
Weymouth, MA 02189
(781) 340-5551
website: http://sweetlemonsthai.com/
sweetlemons1

 When I first moved to the South Shore a few years ago, I found it to be somewhat of a culinary wasteland. The restaurant options pretty much came down to pizza joints and take-out Chinese. We move from the Back Bay in Boston to Braintree. I experienced a bit of culture shock. At our new place we didn’t have the option to walk out our front door and stroll a few blocks to get French, Malaysian, Indian, Korean or other fare.

Luckily for us, shortly after we move to the area, a new Thai restaurant called Sweet Lemons opened up in a Weymouth strip mall. I was immediately impressed with the quality of the food and the friendly service. That was several years ago and Sweet Lemons is still on my list of South Shore favorites.

I recently visited Sweet Lemons with a couple of people who had never been before. For starters we ordered the Chicken Thai  Rolls ($5.95) and chicken wonton soup ($3.95). I’d never tried their wonton soup before as I usually opt for the spicier soups. The wonton soup had a light garlic flavor with greens and wontons floating in the broth.  The spring rolls are akin to what you find at other Thai restaurants…(I have a hard time comparing one spring roll to another…they’re just a guilty pleasure)

sweetlemons1

 For our main course, two of us ordered the Pad Woonsen ($11.95) and one ordered the Pad Thai ($8.95).  The pad woonsen was comprised of cellophane noodles stir-fried with shrimp, chicken, pineapple and veggies. It had a nice blend of sweet and savoury.

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Sweet Lemons also usually has a menu with specials that aren’t listed on their website menu. Some of our other favorites from the menu that I didn’t order on this visit are: Pad Thai Zzzz (a spicy pad thai), seafood madness (spicy stir-fried shrimp, scallops, squid and fish), and chicken puffs (a mildly spicy chicken appetizer).

Sweet Lemons has a second location on route 18 in South Weymouth.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 mangoes

Sweet Lemons on Urbanspoon

Wild Ginger

 Wild Ginger
124 Washington St.
Norwell, MA 02061

781-347-4702

website: http://www.wildgingerthai.net/

wildginger

There is relatively new selection on the South Shore for Thai food– Wild Ginger on Route 53 in Norwell. This cozy restaurant is located in a small shopping plaza on the southbound side of 53. It is in the same space that used to house Cherrywood BBQ. 

We were there during lunch on a Saturday and were immediately seated. There were a few other parties in the bright and clean dining room. The servers were friendly and were quick to refill our water glasses (always a good thing in my book, since I am ALWAYS thirsty!).

We started off with the Som Tum salad ($8). This salad was made up of shredded papaya and carrots tossed with shrimp, string beans, tomato wedges and peanuts. It was topped with a spicy lime dressing and had some iceberg lettuce on the side. The salad was refreshing and spicy.  

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We couldn’t resist trying the veggie Thai Rolls ($5), which were spring rolls filled with assorted veggies and served with a sweet and sour dipping sauce. The spring rolls were crispy without being greasy.

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We got two entrees. The first was the Pik Pow Fried Rice ($9), a spicy seafood and veggie fried rice with pik pow sauce…all topped off with a sunnyside-up egg. The egg was a little overcooked. Based on my previous experience with Pik Pow rice at other Thai restaurants, the egg yolk should still be runny so that when you pop it, the yolk mixes in with the rice. Despite the egg yolk being a bit too well down (more over-hard, than sunnyside up), the rice was very moist and flavorful and loaded with shrimp, scallops, and squid. wildginger6

The second entree that we got was the Chicken Hot Tangerine ($8). This dish featured sauteed chicken breast with veggies, tangerines, and cashews in a Thai chili sauce. The presentation was very colorful and the cone of rice made me think of an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where Gordon Ramsay berated a chef for using a funnel to shape a Greek Salad. The Chicken Hot Tangerine was spicy and sweet and quite tasty but not my favorite entree ever at a Thai restaurant.

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Overall, I was very impressed with Wild Ginger for their service and food. I will definitely be back for lunch again.

I give them 4 out of 5 mangoes.

Eats: Alba Restaurant

Alba Restaurant
1486 Hancock St.
Quincy, MA 02169
617-376-2522

website: http://www.alba1486.com/

On a recent Saturday night, we decided we wanted a nice meal out. My husband told me he was craving a steak and to take him someplace where he could get a good one.  So I popped on the Internet and did my thing and came up with two suggestions in Quincy Center that I let him pick from: Alba and The Jury Room.  He ended up picking Alba, because it was the first one we drove by and he found parking almost immediately right on Hancock Street.  Alba does offer free valet parking in case the parking gods are not with you when you go.

Alba was previously located pretty much directly across Hancock from their current location. Their new space has 2 floors with a bar and dining area on each floor. The first floor is the main dining area and bar and the decor is modern traditional with dark wood and large globe lamps. On the night we went, we were told the wait for a table on the first floor was 45 minutes to an hour but that if we didn’t mind eating upstairs we could head up there and find a spot at the bar. That is exactly what we did. The decor upstairs is not quite as snazzy as the first floor but it was still nice. We found a couple of stools at the end of the bar and ordered some drinks from the bartender to sip while we perused the menu.

Alba serves up a variety of Italian and Mediterranean options including appetizers, salads, pasta, entrees, and desserts. We decided to split an appetizer and a pasta dish and ended up ordering the bruschetta and the seafood fra diablo. After his craving for steak, my husband decided he wanted pasta instead. Figures.

The Assorted Bruschetta ($11.50) was six pieces of toasted bread topped with 3 different toppings. There were 2 servings each of bruschetta topped with hummus and roasted red peppers, marinated tomatoes and balsamic mushrooms. They were served with a ramekin of assorted olives, and a piece of fried mozzarella on a bed of spring greens. This was the perfect appetizer to split between 2 people since there were 2 pieces of each of the 3 types of bruschetta.  Both of us like the hummus with roasted peppers the best.

They split the Seafood Fra Diablo ($22.50) into 2 separate servings for us in the kitchen, so we didn’t have to fight over one big bowl of pasta.  The linguine was lightly coated in a mildly spicy tomato sauce and topped with mussels, shrimp, and chunks of lobster. The seafood was perfectly cooked (no super dried out lobster and shrimp here) . It was not the best Fra Diablo sauce I’ve every had, I would’ve like it to have a bit more of a punch to it. Overall, the pasta was a satisfying meal and the half serving was enough to fill me up.

I would definitely go back and try other dishes. The service was good and the downstairs dining room felt like a South End restaurant…bring a bit of a Boston vibe to Quincy Center.

I give Alba 3.5 out of 5 mangoes. 

Alba Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Eats: Toast

Toast
121 Nantasket Ave
Hull, MA 02045

781-925-5221

website: http://www.toasthull.com/

Toast is a store-front restaurant located in the ground floor of the Horizons condo complex directly across the street from Nantasket Beach. You can see the ocean from through the large windows at the front of the restaurant. The vibe is casual, bright and family friendly. There are about 10 tables plus 5 or 6 stools at a counter. Toast is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesdays through Sundays. They take credit cards so don’t worry about having to remember to drag your sleepy head to an ATM before getting your morning coffee fix.

The breakfast menu’s offerings average around $7 per entree. There are a selection of omelets, egg sandwiches, pancakes and other dishes. We order two of the options from under the Toast Specialties heading. The “burnt toast” ($6.50) is creme brulee battered french toast with caramelized sugar. Four thick slices of french toast were served sprinkled with powdered sugar. The french toast had a sweet crackly thin crust of sugar giving it that creme brulee feel. The french toast is served with real maple syrup, so bonus points to Toast for not forcing us to use the imitation stuff.

 “The white omelet” ($8.50)  is an egg white omelet with chicken sausage, spinach, and jalapeno jack cheese. The omelet comes with hash brown potatoes and your choice of toast. For a place named Toast, they fittingly have a nice selection to chose from for toast: English muffin, dark or marble rye, sourdough, multi-grain, whole wheat, raisin pecan, white, or Texas toast.  I went with the sourdough toast, since it’s one of my favorites. The has browns were the shredded potato variety and were a hit with us. They were fried up to just the right level of crispiness. The omelet itself was very flavorful and packed with chunks of juicy chicken sausage. My only complaint might be that there was a bit too much cheese in the omelet for my taste. I usually love cheese, so maybe I wasn’t in a super cheesy mood that morning. ;)

 

Service is on the slow side on Sundays since the place fills up and they can only push so much food out of the small kitchen at a time. We had to wait about half an hour between ordering our food and it arriving in front of us.  For me it was worth the wait, but my husband might take some convincing!

Eats: The Fat Cat

Fat Cat Restaurant
24 Chestnut St.
Quincy, MA 02169

617-471-4363

website: http://fatcatrestaurant.com/

The Fat Cat is located just off of Quincy Center. Fat Cat doesn’t take reservations and they won’t seat you until your entire party has arrived. We showed up at 8 PM on a Saturday night with our party of 2 and the wait for a table was 30-45 minutes.  The interior of Fat Cat is kind of small with the room divided down the middle by a half-height wall to split the room into a bar side and a dining room side. The decor is casual and industrial-chic, with visible heating ducts, wooden beams, and exposed brick walls. Fat Cat feels like it would be right at home in Cambridge or the South End.

 

We waited in the bar area which takes up the entire length of one side of the restaurant. My husband was happy as a clam with the sitting at the bar situation since they were playing the Sox game on the flat screens hanging over the bar.  The bar itself is stylin’ with an off-white mock-crocodile bar top. We ordered a couple of drinks…All of Fat Cat’s specialty cocktails have cat-themed names. I got the Pink Panther which was one of their house special cocktails. It was sweet, but strong. We ordered some calamari at the bar while we waited for our table. The calamari came in a paper cone and lightly fried and tossed with lightly fried cherry peppers and black olive slices. It was served with a slightly spicy remoulade.  In the past we’ve also gotten the fried dill pickle appetizer which was very unique and tasty…dill pickle slices lightly battered and fried and served with a dipping sauce.

At last our table was ready and we moved into the dining room side of the space. The dining room is separated from the bar by a half-height wall. The dining area has 2 rows of tables, one lining the half wall and the other lining an exposed brick wall. 

The Fat Cat menu is loaded with upscale comfort food. There are options such as burgers, sandwiches, nachos, pastas, steaks, and fish & chips.

I ordered the 5 cheese Mac & cheese with lobster ($18). It was a huge serving with cavatappi pasta baked with lobster chunks  and a creamy cheese sauce–all topped off with some marinated tomato slices. The dish was very rich and filling. I could barely finish half of it and I felt like I over did it at that. There was plenty left to take home for lunch the next day.

My husband ordered the Grain Special for the night, which was penne pasta in a basil cream sauce with marinated tomatoes, lobster, shrimp, and scallops. He liked it but said it needed a little more salt. His pasta was also very generously portioned and he had some to take home as well.  They also had a special that night of a steak topped with foie gras and I tried to convince him to get that, but he couldn’t be swayed from the pasta.  Oh well, I can’t win every time.

rating: 4 out of 5 mangoes

Fat Cat on Urbanspoon

Eats: Strawberry Fair

Strawberry Fair Restaurant
14 Pond St.
Norwell, MA 02061
781-878-7878

Website: http://www.thestrawberryfair.com/

The Strawberry Fair is located near Queen Anne’s Corner in Norwell, just over the Hingham line. It’s in a renovated antique farmhouse that is currently tucked amongst car dealerships, a Chilis, and other not very antique places. The interior decor is cottagey, quirky, cluttered-country, with most of the tables and chairs being different styles (some of the tables are actually antique sewing machines) and knick-knacks all over the place… most with a strawberry theme.

Strawberry Fair serves up Saturday and Sunday brunch. Their brunch menu has New England influences with dishes such as Corn Bread French Toast and the Brown-Eyed Susan (Eggs Benedict made with homemade brown bread).  Many of the dishes are served with baked beans, toasted cornbread and strawberry jam. The food is pure comfort food and so good!

I ordered the corned beef hash with poached eggs, hash browns, and toasted corn bread. This corned beef hash is NOT the stuff out of a can.  I really appreciate a good corned beef hash and Strawberry Fair’s version gets my stamp of approval. It definitely gives me my corned beef fix.

My other half got one of the selections off of the specials list– Creme Brulee French Toast. The french toast was a thick slab of bread with a carmelized sugar layer on top.  It was served with fruit salad. My husband loved the french toast. It was very much like bread pudding, one of his favorites. Many people at other tables asked what he had ordered and then ordered the same. Way to start a trend…

I’ve also had lunch at Strawberry Fair and they have a nice selection of homemade soups and sandwiches along with some hot entrees. They also server dinner but I haven’t tried it yet. Someday…

RATED: 4 out of 5 mangoes!

Strawberry Fair Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Eats: Little Q HotPot

 Little Q Hotpot
1585 Hancock St.
Quincy, MA 02169
617-773-5888

website: http://www.littlequsa.com/Web/Home.htm

We love us some Little Q Hotpot!  Little Q is a popular chain restaurant in China and the Quincy location is its first (and currently only) American outpost. They are located in an otherwise dead Quincy Fair shopping center in Quincy Center. The shopping center is slowly dying due to the fact that the city of Quincy plans to tear it down to build a road. Hopefully, Little Q will be able to find a new home in Quincy. I would hate to lose it.

We’ve been to Little Q a few times now. On this visit, it was the busiest we’d ever seen it. The area outside their entrance was crowded with folks waiting for tables. We were able to be seated immediately since we were willing to sit at an isolated counter area tucked off to the side of the restaurant.  We didn’t mind, we just wanted to eat!   Plus, the counter is against a window that overlooks the rest of the Asian food court area, which includes a couple of other dining options, including Taste of Taiwan. I was tempted to try Taste of Taiwan soon, based on some of the dishes that I saw people get from there.

But, back to Little Q…

The table tops and dishes at Little Q are all made out of the same plastic, easy to wipe down material. The dishes/cups and napkins are all printed with the smiling face of a cartoon goat–who I suppose is the mascot of Little Q.  The decor is definitelycasual and cafeteria-esque.

The staff at Little Q are all very friendly and helpful, so don’t be afraid that you’ll be lost if you have never had hot pot before.  They readily help you chose from their selection of broths and then chose other items that you want to cook in the broth. These include various veggies, meats, seafood, and noodles.

After ordering the server brings us some complimentary pickled radishes and peanuts. These are both very tasty and addictive snacks. I really want to try making the pickled Daikon radish at home.

Shortly there after she brings us our pots of broth, inserts them into the holes in the counter and turns on the cooktops. We ordered the seafood broth. It comes out with green onions, ginger and various spices floating in it. The broth is very fragrant and flavorful and the flavor gets enhanced with each new piece of meat or veggie that you put in. I love the way the fried tofu and bok choy pick up the flavors of the broth.

 

This visit we ordered several items to go in our soup: Baby Bok Choy, fried tofu, white mushrooms, chicken breast, white fish and shrimp. The chicken breast comes out thinly sliced and arranged in rolls.  All of their items are always super fresh.

 

Then we just put our ingredients in the broth and let them cook. Part of the trick of eating at a Mongolian hot pot place is the timing for how long the items need to cook in the broth. The different items take varying amounts of time. The thinly sliced chicken cooks up in just seconds. Little Q often has this information printed on the place mats at each table setting. Although for some reason, this past weekend, the placemats had Greek tourist spots printed on it. Hmm!

Their seafood fried rice is also very good. It contains scallops, white fish, shrimps, and squid. Little Q’s scallion pancakes are also phenomenal, but we didn’t order them this past time since we didn’t want to get too much food.

We got mango (can’t resist it) ice cream for dessert, which is a great refreshing way to end the meal.

I give Little Q Hotpot 4.5 out of 5 mangoes.

Little Q Hotpot Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday Salon: Day of Cookies, History & Goulash

I didn’t get nearly as much reading done today as I’d hoped. I had lofty goals of reading 80+ pages of my book club book “Then We Came to the End” by Joshua Ferris. I only read about 20 pages of it, but I also read a bit of “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath. So that’s something…. The relative lack of reading was for a good cause— COOKIES!  The cookies came out great. They are the Chocolate Whopper Malted Drops that were this week’s selection for Tuesdays with Dorie. I am not officially signed up for TWD yet, but decided to try the recipe anyway since I’ve always loved malted milk balls. I will make another post later about my cookie baking adventures.

I also went to tour Adams National Historic Park in Quincy, MA with my mom who came down to visit for the afternoon. Even though the park is so close by I had never been there before. The tour was $5 for adults and lasted about 2 hours. We got to tour 3 historic homes that belonged to President John Adams and his family.  I had read “1776″ by David McCullough last year for book club which touched a bit upon John Adams. I have not read McCullough’s biography of Adams, but I did see the HBO mini-series version of it.  I am hoping to read the book at some time in the future when I’ve read most of my unread TBR books.

At the National Historical Park, the most interesting of the houses was the so called “Old House”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Adams Old House had a very lovely garden with paths lined with colorful flowers and several shady tree just begging to be curled up under with a book.

Adam's House Garden

Adams House Garden

The property also features the first American Presidential Library.  It is an out building of the Old House and has floor to ceiling books lining all four walls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weathervane on Roof of Adams Presidential Library
Weather vane on Roof of Adams Presidential Library

And for dinner… we ventured into South Boston to have dinner or goulash and potato pancakes at a Polish restaurant… but more on that in a later post.  I must try to read a bit more before I drift off to sleep tonight.

Eats: Niko’s Bistro

Niko’s Bistro

948 Broad Street Weymouth, MA 02188

781-335-4423

website: http://www.nikosweymouth.com/

Niko’s is a cute little breakfast and lunch spot in the Jackson Square area of Weymouth. We go to Niko’s for Sunday breakfast at least once a month. On Sundays there can be a wait for tables, so get there early, or grab a Sunday Globe before you arrive. The room has cheery red walls and is brightened by a number of skylights. There are about 16 tables and the open kitchen lines one of the walls. The staff is always super friendly and always greet us with a smile and a “hey guys!”.

The breakfast menu includes a variety of fresh baked muffins, a whole page of omelettes and another page of different varieties of Eggs Benedict.

This past weekend, I ordered the breakfast bruschetta, which is multi-grain toast spread with a thin layer of cream cheese and topped with bananas, strawberries, orange marmalade, honey, and powdered sugar.  This is a nice “light”, fresh breakfast.

Breakfast Bruschetta

 A. got the veggie omlette with the addition of jalepenos to the assortment of veggies. We also ordered a side of potato cakes.

Potato Cakes (comes with 3, but *someone* grabbed one as soon as the plate was placed on the table!)

We always get out of Niko’s for around $16 for breakfast for 2.  Niko’s is one of our favorite breakfast places on the South Shore!
Niko's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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