Tag Archives: restaurant review

A Place of Our Own

Emily introduced me to sushi a few years ago and, since then, we’ve gone to about six or seven places in the Boston area and never more than once. None of the places we went to were necessarily bad (except for the one in Somerville where the waitress corrected Emily in the most condescending manner possible. Good fish though.), but there was just nothing there to make us come back.

But now I think we’ve finally found a place that’s worth revisiting a second time. We went to Cafe Sushi in Cambridge tonight and it was one of the better sushi places I’ve been to, either in Boston or anywhere else. It’s a middle-sized place, definitely larger than some of the hole-in-the-walls we’ve been to recently, but nowhere near as large as Fins. The waitstaff were friendly and helpful and it’s convenient to get to, especially for the car-less.

Now, the fish was good and I enjoyed the rolls, but that’s not what sold me. They have craft beers! From Japan. Of course, I managed to go through almost their entire selection of Japanese beers, but not all, so I still have a reason to go back again. They serve beer brewed by Hitachino Nest, which has the most adorable owl mascot. I tried the Sweet Stout, the White Ale and the Red Rice Ale, all of which were uniquely flavored and delicious in their own ways.

The White Ale is crisp, sweet and refreshing. The sweet stout, very smooth, mellow and also very refreshing. The Red Rice Ale was extremely fruity and sweet. Emily said it tasted like gummy bears and I think that’s the best possible description. It was a great trio of beers and if I can find them outside of Cafe Sushi, I’ll definitely pick them up.

If you want great sushi, great beer and without a hefty price tag, I recommend checking out Cafe Sushi.

I give it four owls. In their nests. Eek! They even have a little owl icon for the Chrome tab.

-D-

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Restaurant Review: Hungry Mother

Emily and I have gone to a few restaurants in the area now and I think we have a good bead on what’s good in Boston/Cambridge.

For us, the best restaurant we’ve gone to, either here or elsewhere, is Hungry Mother. We’ve only been there twice, because that’s as often as we can afford to go there, but both times we’ve been there, it’s been great every step of the way.

The food is always excellent and they make use of locally grown produce whenever possible. Since they advertise as a Southern style restaurant, they do have to dip into Appalachia for some of their ingredients.

Last night, we ordered the Smoked Beef Tongue ‘Au Jus’ and the Carolina BBQ Pork Biscuits to start. Emily got the Braised Beef Cheek ‘Parmentier’ and I got the Cast Iron Chicken.

Both the beef tongue and the pork biscuits were the right size for appetizers, so we were both still hungry when the main course came. And they were a great blend of flavors: The smokiness of the tongue mixed well with a horseradish and swiss cheese. And no offense to my home state, but that was some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had and I’m angry it was in such small amounts.

My chicken was phenomenal and was probably the best chicken I’ve ever had. Rather than masking the chicken in a bunch of spices and sauces, they used the flavor of the chicken, accenting it with this green sauce stuff. It was the right balance of taste and some of the most tender chicken I’ve had.

The last time I was there, I had their Catfish Pecan ‘Meuniere’, which I can still vividly picture. I miss that catfish.

Emily’s beef cheek was also amazing. Very tender meat. Great mixture of textures and spices.

After dinner, we ordered the seven layer cake, which was everything I’ve wanted out of a restaurant’s dessert. Usually, it seems like they try and overwhelm you with some kind of overly-chocolatey death by fudge concoction. The seven layer cake went the opposite route by being light and airy without being oversweet. It was the perfect way to end the dinner.

Hungry Mother has a good selection of drinks. I tried their hefe weissbier (Weihenstephaner) and a whiskey (Redbreast 12yr.), both good.

Their waitstaff was always on hand and helpful. When our original selection for dessert was sold out, they even gave us a free scoop of their ice cream, which was also the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They were never intrusive and always managed to arrive right when we needed them. Duane, our water for most of the night, was also knowledgeable about the mixed drinks.

I realize I’m using the word “best” and “perfect” a lot here, but really, there’s no other way to describe Hungry Mother. Everything has either met or exceeded expectation threefold both times we went there. The atmosphere is relaxed, the food is delicious and the staff are among the best (there’s that word again).

I can’t recommend them enough. If you’re willing to spend the money for it, it’s the best dining experience I’ve had.

Dylan Charles

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Restaurant Review: Empire Garden

Emily and I had decided that we were going to get Chinese food one night. That, of course, meant that we had to go to Chinatown. By the time we got there, we were so hungry that we just lurched into the first restaurant we saw and that’s how we discovered Empire Garden.

When you first walk into Empire Garden, it’s like stepping into a dingy movie theater lobby. And then you go upstairs. Now, I haven’t done much (any) research, but I heard it used to be a theater before it was converted into a restaurant and I can believe that. There are murals and mirrors and massive high ceilings and it’s gaudy and wonderful all at once. It’s one of the most fantastic looking places I’ve been in.

I’ve only gone to dim sum a few times, but Empire Garden’s food is above average compared to the other places I’ve been. We’ve been there five or six times now and the food has always been good. I’m not crazy about their chicken buns, but the yellow bean and pork buns were awesome. The duck was also pretty good.

They also have a bewildering array of mixed drinks with things like the ubiquitous scorpion bowl and a whole host of other tropical drinks in tiki head cups. There are also a couple of Chinese beers (like Tsingtao)

And here comes the best part; generally speaking, we’ll spend about $35 on a meal there. That’s including the tip and enough food and drink to make sure that we have trouble walking home.

It’s cheap, it’s good and the atmosphere is old style insanely over the top. It’s only a block away from the Chinatown station on the Orange line (located at 690 Washington St, Boston, MA 02111), so go check it out.

Dylan Charles

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Restaurant Review: Smoken’ Joes

I occasionally get the tiniest bit nostalgic for the South. Actually, correction, during this past winter I really missed the South. Boston’s winter was absurdly snowy. North Carolina knows that snow is a rarity and something that should only happen once or twice a year (if that). Boston apparently thinks that the ground should be white from December to March.

Anyway, there are two things I miss about living below the Mason-Dixon line: Sweet iced tea available everywhere (including McDonalds) and barbecue. And by barbecue, I mean “pulled pork” though I still can’t get used to saying that. It’s not exactly common up here, whereas in Durham you couldn’t swing a dead pig without hitting a BBQ joint. So I’ve spent the last few months pining.

But then something wonderful happened; I found a place that has barbecue and it’s within spitting distance of our apartment. It’s called Smoken’ Joes, and they’ve got multiple different styles of barbecue and blues music every night and beer too and oh, just everything. I had their Alabama style, which has a kind of white sauce. Since my knowledge of barbecues is limited to Western and Eastern North Carolina types, I was surprised at the variety of choices.

I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re in Brighton. Great food and music; it’s the South without that banjo kid and Confederate flags on pick-up trucks.

Dylan Charles

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