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Archive for the ‘Restaurant Review’ 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/
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 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)

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 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

Cuchi Cuchi

Cuchi Cuchi
795 Main St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-864-2929

website: http://www.cuchicuchi.cc/

 cuchicuchi1My book club held its March meeting at Cuchi Cuchi in Central Square in Cambridge. This was my first time dining at Cuchi Cuchi despite it being so close to my office. Now I am mad at myself for waiting so long to check it out.

Cuchi Cuchi has a vibe all its own with ornate decor that is reminiscent of the roaring 20’s. An atmosphere that is only enhanced by the female waitstaff decked out in duds that reflect the era. The menu is made up mostly of small plates ($8-15) with influences from around the globe. There’s also a fabulous cocktail menu with a plethora of martinis and other mixed libations.

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We each ordered 2 small plates, which was plenty of food. I started with the Savory Coronets with Tuna Tartare and Avocado Mousse (3 for $13), which Cuchi Cuchi describes as “Our Signature dish with a nod to Thomas Keller, The French Laundry”.  Thomas Keller is one of those chefs that I am just in awe of, so I had to order this. The three crispy cones stuffed with tuna tartare came served upright in a cute little rack.  I loved the presentation and they were tasty, but not my favorite preparation of tuna tartare ever.

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I also ordered the beef stroganoff ($14), 3 chunks of sirloin with shallot and mushroom sauce served over egg noodles. The stroganoff was satisfying and filling, the perfect comfort food.

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To end our meal we ordered the French Banana Bread Extravaganza and the Cornucopia, a pizelle cone filled with fresh fruit, pureed mango, and whipped cream. I found the cornucopia to be a very refreshing way to end the meal…then mango puree acted as the perfect palate cleanser.

I give Cuchi Cuchi 4 out of 5 mangoes. They are an ideal locale for a girls night out with a fun and funky atmosphere and creative cocktails.

Cuchi Cuchi on Urbanspoon

Scarlet Oak Tavern

Scarlet Oak Tavern
1217 Main St.
Hingham, MA 02043

781-749-8200

website: http://www.scarletoaktavern.com/

I recently attended a lady’s brunch with 4 other fabulous females at Scarlet Oak Tavern in the Queen Anne’s corner of Hingham. Scarlet Oak Tavern is located in a 250 year old colonial house and has a cozy New England vibe with a Pottery Barn-esque decor.

I’d had brunch at Scarlet Oak Tavern a couple of times before with my husband and decided that it would be a great place for brunch with the girls.  They have a full bar, so if someone wanted to order a bloody mary or a mimosa to go with brunch, they’d be able to.  We had a reservation via OpenTable.com, which made it super-convenient. Our table was ready when we arrived and we were seated immediately.

I ordered the Prime Rib Hash ($13) which comes in a small cast iron skillet with a side dish of fruit salad. The hash has large chunks of beef and potatoes with a tomato-based sauce. I like this hash but it wasn’t quite what Lisa expected due to the tomato and she didn’t enjoy it as much.

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 Amy ordered the stuffed brioche French toast with candied cranberries and sweet marscapone ($8.5). This is my husband’s favorite brunch option at scarlet oak.  It is sweet and satisfying with lightly tart bits of cranberries nestled in the creamy sweetened marscapone cheese.

Kathy order the brunch pizza ($12), which is an individual=sized pizza topped with asparagus, ham, eggs, and hollandaise sauce.

scarletoak2

Scarlet Oak has a large bar area with a cozy lounge with a fireplace in one corner. The bar area has a special tavern menu with lots of appetizers and casual fare. I will definitely be planning a girls night out after-work event there soon.

In the warmer months they also have an outdoor seating area.

Scarlet Oak has plenty of on-site parking.

Scarlet Oak Tavern on Urbanspoon

Gaslight Brasserie

Gaslight Brasserie
560 Harrison Ave
Boston, MA 02118
617-422-0224

website: http://gaslight560.com/

Gaslight Brasserie is located on Harrison Ave in the far reaches of the South End. The restaurant is located in a space that is slightly below street level in the same building that houses an outpost of the Boston Sports Club.  Once inside you’ll find the air abuzz with conversation and a crowd gathered around the long zinc bar. The walls are covered with black and white subway tiles.  All of this helps lend to the cozy yet elegant atmosphere.

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Once we ordered our meal, they brought out a freshly baked mini-baguette. The bread was fresh and delicious. We started off our meal with the steak tartar ($9.95), which came topped with a fried egg and aioli.  The steak was perfectly seasoned and we loved the touch of the fried egg on top.

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For my entree, I order the sauteed skate ($18.75)  with haricot verts and caper beurre noisette. The skate was lightly crispy on the outside and had a perfectly flakey texture. I know, skate wing is not the most “friend of the planet and animal” thing  to order, but I did just this once and am glad that I did. Now that I have skate-eating out of my system, I can go back to being “green”.

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 Mr. Mango opted for the bar steak with caramelized shallots, mustard cream sauce, and frites. ($19.25). This skirt steak was perfectly cooked and served with a pile of golden frites.  barsteak

For the dessert course, we ordered the molten chocolate cake and the citron tart (6.95 each).  The tart had a bright citrus flavor and a buttery shortbread crust.  The molten chocolate cake revealed an inner layer of gooey chocolate as expected, and while it was good it was not the best molten chocolate cake we’ve ever had.

 citrontart

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During dinner hours there is free parking in the lot immediately adjacent to Gaslight, which is a rare find for dining out in the city. We will definitely be back! I  want to try their brunch someday soon as well.

My Rating: 4 out of 5 mangoes

Gaslight on Urbanspoon

Eats: Mulan Taiwanese Cuisine

MuLan Taiwanese Cuisine
228 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02139
617-497-4277
website: http://mulan.4t.com/
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 My foodie friend Rebekah was moving back to Buffalo from Boston and we decided to meet one weekday for lunch somewhere between my office and her apartment. We decided on MuLan. MuLan is located a couple of blocks up Broadway from The Garment District.  It is located in the same building as Beauty’s pizza and the 2 places share a small parking lot with enough parking for about 5 cars. I was walking so I didn’t need to worry about parking… Good thing since the lot was already full.

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 After a small wait, we were seated and given menus and some pickled veggies and peanuts. It took some prodding of the waitress to get some water and tea. But, we finally got some. The menu contains some authentic Taiwanese dishes along with some dishes you may be familiar with from Chinese restaurants. We decided to order a couple of dishes from the lunch specials to share. We ordered the kung pao shrimp and the lamb in hot chili pepper sauce. Both dishes were $7.95 and came with soup and rice.

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The kung pao shrimp contained chopped celery, water chestnuts, peanuts, dried red chili peppers and large shrimp in a mildly spicy sauce. It was very similar to kung pao dishes I have eaten at other Asian restaurants.

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The lamb was our favorite dish of the two. Thinly sliced lamb was stir-fried with julienned chili peppers and green bell peppers.  This was one spicy dish! I would definitely order the lamb again.

On another lunch visit, I had the shredded beef with dry bean curd.  It was flagged on the menu as being spicy, but I didn’t find it that spicy at all. It was flavorful and filling.

The service was similar on both visits… friendly, but a bit frenzied. On both visits, we needed to request water and tea. On some weekdays at lunch, there can be a wait to be seated.

Their menu says they deliver so I will definitely have to order in some lunch with co-workers sometime soon.

Mulan Taiwanese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Eats: Stix

Stix
35 Stanhope St.
Boston, MA 02116
617-456-7849
website: http://www.stixboston.com/
 

My book club read (or at least some of us did) Supercapitalism and we met at Stix to dine and discuss. None of us had ever eaten here before. I had dined at the restaurant, Bambara,  that formerly occuppied the space a couple of times and gave it mixed reviews.  Stix is owned and operated by the same folks who ran Bambara and 33 Restaurant (which is nextdoor).

To be honest with you, when I originally heard about Stix right around when they opened (Fall of 2007 ) I thought it sounded like an interesting place that I would like to try. Their “shtick” is that they have a selection of small plates that feature various things served on flavor-infused wooden skewers.  But then…. I started hearing bad word-of-mouth reviews, and reading mediocre or bad reviews on Chowhound and Yelp.  I went to my book club dinner with an empty stomach and an open mind.

The decor at Stix is modern and trendy, but nothing that bowled me over. The space is long and narrow. One wall is lined by a bar that had a cool color-changing light wall behind it. The tables ran the length of the room on the opposite wall.  There is supposedly a lounge area downstairs, but I didn’t check it out. The walls are exposed brick with blonde wood panels that match the tables.

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We all ordered one or two small plates each. I ordered the tuna sashimi ginger mango Stix ($9)and the pickled shitake potstickers ($9). The Stix came out first.  There were 3 skewers of tuna sashimi with soy sauce for dipping. The tuna was coated with togarashi (red chili peppers), wasabi, and tobiko (fish roe). I found the tuna to be WAY to salty.  If the tuna was infused with any of the ginger mango flavor from the sticks it was completely masked by the saltiness. One of my fellow diners also got the tuna and felt that they were too salty.

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The Shitake Potstickers were the best part of the meal for me. The wonton wrappers were filled with chopped shitake mushrooms, topped with scallions and served with a ginger dipping sauce. The wontons were flavorful and thankfully didn’t have the salt overload that the tuna had.

 A couple of my fellow book clubbers ordered the mini lobster tacos. When they were brought out to the table, I had a moment of envy and thought “I wish that I ordered those!”. They were so cute and looked to be little tasty bites. Turned out that I had nothing to be jealous about. The lobster tacos were bland, bland, bland.

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We were the only party in the restaurant for about the first 40 minutes of our meal, which even in these times of economic downturn was a bit odd. At least we had the $10 off coupon from their website. (Our waitress told us that there was a $25 off coupon available on restaurant.com). We all left hungry,  but firm in the knowledge that our book club will not be returning to Stix.

 

rating: 3 out of 5 mangoes

Stix on Urbanspoon
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