Category Archives: Dining

Boston Restaurant Week gets a makeover

Restaurant Week BostonDeclining participation from both Boston restaurants and diners has forced the organizers of Boston Restaurant Week to do some soul searching to help breathe new life into the ailing biannual foodie event.

This year it has been rebranded as Dine Out Boston the new two week event that will run from March 16-21 and 23-28 is hoping to lure both restaurants and diners back with a tiered pricing structure that offers lunches for  $15/$20/$25 and dinners for  $28/$33/$38.

FYI – American Express will apparently offer a $5 credit on cardholder statements when they spend $21 or more on an enrolled American Express card at a participating restaurant, during Dine Out Boston. I couldn’t figure out how to enroll my card; neither Dine Out Boston nor American Express had any information.  If you figure it out, let me know.

Delux Cafe to reopen in February

Deluxe CafeOver the weekend it appeared as if the popular South End, cheap eats restaurant, Delux Cafe, had closed.  Dig Boston posted this photo of the restaurant on their Twitter account @DigBoston on Saturday. Soon after @deluxcafe sent a Tweet assuring everyone they will reopen in February. The restaurant had been sold to a long time employee so one would expect Delux will remain same as it ever was; perhaps it is just getting a much deserved (and needed) cleaning.

Deluxe CafeThe news of Delux closing did result in a lot of hand wringing initially as residents bemoaned the closing of yet another longstanding popular, cheap eats restaurant.  Fortunately, that isn’t the case but it does provide everyone an opportunity to think through why (despite the popularity of such dining establishments) there are so few remaining in the South End. And what –  if anything – will the neighborhood do to help encourage more restaurants like this to open in lieu of $20-$30 counterparts (or even worse more banks and real estate offices).

Modern Pastry

Italian PastryBoston and many of the surrounding towns have no shortage of fantastic Italian pastry shops with extremely loyal customers who all swear by their favorite.  While the most famous Italian pastry shop in the area is Mikes on Hanover Street, I’ve always been partial to the Modern Pastry at 257 Hanover Street.

Last week I made a visit to the Modern and noticed that their neighbor Piccolo Venezia had closed and the Modern is expanding into the space, hooray.  Modern Pastry has operated out of the same, tiny location for more than 80 years so I can hardly wait to see how their expansion will help accommodate them and their many loyal patrons of which I am a proud member.

My recent purchase of 18 mini cannolis filled with ricotta and two lobster tails

My recent purchase of 18 mini cannolis filled with ricotta and two lobster tails

Blind Tiger renamed Wink and Nod

Boston Nightlife VenturesThe South End restaurant and bar space perhaps best known as the former home of Icarus, but most recently occupied by Noche made news earlier this year when the owners, Boston Nightlife Ventures (BNV), said they would reopen as a cocktail speakeasy restaurant in early 2014 named Blind Tiger. I wrote about it and included some artist renderings in my post Blind Tiger.

Earlier this month BNV announced they were changing the name to Wink and Nod after initial tests indicated Blind Tiger sounded too much like an Asian restaurant. Euz Azevedo told foodie blog, Eater Boston, Wink and Nod will feature “a serious craft cocktail program with a dinner menu that can be paired well with the inspired drinks and are encouraged to be shared.”

While I’m happy to welcome a new restaurant and bar, BNV has a dubious record of managing restaurants.  Maybe this will be the restaurant that proves me wrong.  I’ll be more than a little curious to see who they partner with to develop their menu and see how it is managed after the opening. I was a regular at Noche’s bar on Wednesday nights and miss the space.

Dining in Rio de Janeiro

BrazilHaving just returned from spending two weeks in Brazil, I thought I’d share some thoughts about dining in Rio de Janeiro. The biggest difference I’ve noticed since my last visit is that prices have risen dramatically.  Kilogram restaurants (places where you pay by the weight of food on your plate) continue to be the most affordable.  Of all the kilogram restaurants my favorite remains, Frontera on Visconde de Piraja in Ipanema (approximately 2 blocks from the gay beach in Rio).

Le Ble NoirFor a nicer option check out a French creperie in Copacabana called Le Ble Noir on Rua Xavier da Silveira. The over sized crepes are delicious and is worth trying.

Confeitaria Colombo in Rio is in some ways what Cafe du Monde is to New Orleans.  In recent years they have opened a second location at the Fort in Copacabana Beach called “Cafe do Forte” near Posto 6 (where Copacabana ends and just before Ipanema). Making reservations and requesting an outdoor table for brunch or dinner will afford you fantastic views of Copacabana Beach and Sugar Loaf.

Zaza Bistro Tropical Rio de JaneiroA popular option in Ipanema is Zaza Bistro on Rua Joana Angélica.  I first ate here about 4 years ago and when I asked friends in Rio for dining suggestions for this trip, Zaza was repeatedly mentioned.

There also remain a handful of restaurants two blocks from the gay beach in Ipanema on Farme de Amoeda; starting with Si Senor, Cafeina, Rota 66 (Route 66), and To Nem Ai. Cafeina makes for a good breakfast option but for the most part the food at these places is best not discussed. To Nem Ai is  the most popular for grabbing a drink after the beach, to people watch or start your evening.

For additional tips about dining in Brazil contact me directly and I’ll be happy to provide additional insight.

Looks like 28 degrees may become Merrill & Co.

Merrill and CoSo Eater Boston reported that The BiNA Family Hospitality’s  latest newsletter (the owners of: jm Curley’s, Bogie’s Place, Bin 26 Enoteca and Lala Rokh) has recently added a logo for a new space called Merrill & Co.  This leads one to believe that the South End rumor I reported earlier this month is more than just neighborhood gossip.  According to the newsletter this new restaurant in a yet to be named location (cough, cough 1 Appleton Street) will open in the Spring of 2014.

Eater Boston Article: Rumor Mongering
BiNA Family Hospitality: Newsletter with new Merrill & Co. logo

Restaurant review: UpStairs on the Square

Upstairs on the SquareAfter 31 years co-owners Mary-Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes have decided to close their successful restaurant in Harvard Square.  When word of their closing was announced, I spoke to my very good friend and fellow blogger, 40-Something Life about having a last hurrah at UpStairs.

I suppose this isn’t quite a review as much as it is a tribute to a restaurant that has been uniquely true to itself over its 30+ years in business.  For my final dinner at UpStairs on the Square I made reservations for the Soirée Dining Room and we were seated near the beautiful fireplace in the back third of the room – sometimes called the Jewel Box because of the round windows and champagne bubbles in silver leaf that decorate the walls.

Upstairs on the Square appetizersDinner was superb from start to finish with flawless service that was attentive without being intrusive. We started our meals sharing the beet trio $17.00 and grilled oysters $18.00. While both starters were delicious the half dozen grilled oysters served on a bed of salt were so good that I kicked myself for not having ordered them before. The oyster shells were hot to the touch, but the meat of the oysters only warm providing a uniquely delicious dining experience.

For our main plates we opted to try some of the house favorites. Tracey (40-something life) ordered the crescent duck served with beets and the juice of blood oranges $33.00. The duck was succulent with a salty exterior that made it impossible not to devour.  Upstairs on the Square main dishesI opted for the monkfish which was served with mushrooms and sauce that was so addictive my dining partner had to dip her bread into it a second time to enjoy it again. I had contemplated ordering the salmon but our waiter had suggested I try the monkfish and I’m happy he did. The fish was delicious with the bottle of Laroche Chablis we had ordered with our dinner.

Upstairs on the SquareFollowing our meal, we were provided complimentary glasses of sparkling wine served in classic champagne glasses.  Perhaps it was the bubbles or just knowing that we’d not return again but neither Tracey nor I wanted the dinner to end so we ordered  a cheese platter $15.00 and glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.  The cheese plate included (from left to right) Charmoix – a cow’s milk cheese from Belgium, Gran Pyramide de Chevre – a goat’s milk cheese also from Belgium and a Comte (my favorite) from France.

I will miss this restaurant and would encourage anyone in the area to make one final reservation – preferably for their Soirée Dining Room before they close for good on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013.

UpStairs on the Square you will be missed.

Upstairs on the Square on Urbanspoon

South End restaurant gossip: Barcelona Wines eyeing Sibling Rivalry’s space

gossipPersistent rumors suggest that Sibling Rivalry’s plum location in the South End will soon be a Spanish tapas and wine bar.

Word on the street is the owners behind the popular Spanish tapas restaurant, Barcelona Brookline, will go into the space formerly occupied by Sibling Rivalry at 525 Tremont Street in the South End.

When I reached out to the ownership, I received neither a confirmation or denial, but a promise that more information would be shared soon.  It is hard to say what may happen, but when I hear more, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

South End restaurant gossip: jm Curley’s to move into 28 degrees space

gossipIn late October I heard rumors that  jm Curley in DTX was considering opening a new location in the space formerly occupied by 28 degrees in the South End. However, when I contacted Suzanne Dagenais – GM for jm Curley & Bogie’s Place – she responded that the ownership remained open to new ventures but there would not be “any more jm Curley’s in the South End or elsewhere.”

Fast forward to mid-November and word on the street is that the owners of jm Curley have inked a deal that will have them moving into the space formerly occupied by 28 degrees.  If this turns out to be true it will be great to have them in the neighborhood.  Not familiar with jm Curley’s?  Check out their website, jmcurleyboston.com.

UPDATE – NOV 15: I was contacted again by Suzanne Dagenais.  She confirmed the owners are looking at this space, but have not finalized negotiations (this runs counter to what I was told about the deal being inked).

According to Suzanne, should a deal go through, the space would be for a separate concept not yet determined.   It is hard for me to believe that owners would agree to move into such an expensive space and not have a full business plan if only so they can get financing.  What I’ve concluded from Suzanne’s email is it is unlikely jm Curley’s will open, but the owners are probably looking at a higher end option to make the space economically viable.

Could the soon to be departing jm Curly chef Sam Monsour be involved with the jm Curley’s owners in this new space? Time will tell I suppose.  More about Chef Sam Monsour’s departure can be found in EaterBoston’s article.

Addicted to pasta

PastaSince the SoWa Farmer’s Market opened in May I’ve been purchasing homemade pastas from Valicenti Organico every Sunday but sadly the market closed at the end of October. I’m addicted and my homemade red sauce tastes so much better when paired with fresh pasta.

 Where do you buy fresh pasta and what is your favorite?

Back Bay Harry’s opens Friday at 5PM

Back Bay Harry'sLast week I mentioned that Back Bay Harry’s would open later this week in this post.  Starting Friday at 5pm you can check out this place first hand but tonight I stopped in at the restaurant as Back Bay Harry’s welcomed a lot of industry types and media to check out this new restaurant on the corner of the Back Bay and South End. Below are some photos from tonight’s celebration.  Let me know if you end up visiting Back Bay Harry’s and tell me what you think about the new space and Chef Santos’ food.

Back Bay Harry'sChef Jason Santos was in good spirits while he directed the capable crew who were busy feeding a lot of hungry guests who had come out to see the new restaurant on the eve of its opening.

Back Bay Harry's barThe friendly crowd was in good spirits and seemed to enjoy the opening party, while they drank from Back Bay Harry’s spacious bar.  The photo below gives you an idea of what to expect from the newly designed dining room which has lots of booths that look very comfortable.Back Bay Harry'sBack Bay Harry’s 142 Berkeley Street – Boston, MA

Back Bay Harry’s to open next week

Harry CollingsTables and chairs are in place at the newly remodeled restaurant, Back Bay Harry’s, located on the Back Bay / South End line, and rumors suggest an opening later next week.  For those unfamiliar with the new restaurant opening in the space formerly home to Geoffrey’s, Back Bay Harry’s is a hip, casual restaurant and bar.  Harry Collings (Back Bay Harry) has teamed up with local celebrity chef, Jason Santos, the man behind Gargoyles (closed in 2011), Abby Lane and Blue Inc. Together they have worked hard to keep their menu affordable with main plates ranging $18-$22 and offering less expensive options with salads, sandwiches and pizzas; perfect bar fare.

Harry Collings

The newly redesigned bar which was moved to the opposite side of the restaurant and runs along Stanhope Street seats approximately 60 both at the bar and in surrounding high tops; all with great views of televisions if you want to watch a game. Look for fun weekend bar food specials, featuring some of Santos’ favorite items as well as a vibrant cocktail menu to sate your thirst while you nibble on snacks and appetizers, that range from $4-$12. Harry CollingsYou can like Back Bay Harry’s page on Facebook or check back at their website backbayharrys.com to see when they finally open, but as I mentioned previously look for an opening later next week.   Back Bay Harry’s is located at 142 Berkeley Street on the South End / Back Bay line.

Back Bay Harry’s

Harry CollingsEarlier this summer I sat down and talked to Harry Collings (owner of the soon to open Back Bay Harry’s).  At the time he had hoped they would be able to open by the end of September. Unfortunately the restaurant / bar has yet to open but the work inside is coming together and it appears if this location will be opening very soon. Last week the final remnants of Geoffrey’s Cafe came down and a new awning and sign was installed to the exterior.

Stay tuned for more to come shortly.

Zagat 2014 Boston restaurant survey

Boston MapLast week Zagat published findings from their 2014 survey on Boston restaurants, which includes more than 1,200 restaurants and the collective opinions of more than 8,500 diners.

Their survey showed that Boston has a resilient and growing restaurant scene with many newcomers challenging established favorites.  Zagat’s Top Food List gives top honors to a new restaurant this year, the North’s End’s Neptune Oyster (up from No. 4) followed by another seafood restaurant, Island Creek Oyster Bar (previously unranked). The remainder of the top five restaurants include Oleana (No. 3), Craigie on Main (No. 4, previously No. 15), and Lumière (No. 5)

Their survey also found Bostonians eat out 3.7 times per week (for lunch and dinner combined), and report spending an average of $44.19 per dinner.

Want to read more? Check out Zagat’s blog here.

28 degrees Boston closes

28 Degrees Boston28 degrees Boston is no more. A sign posted on their front door indicates that after serving the neighborhood for 8 years they are now closed.  This sign validates my post on Facebook this past Tuesday when I mentioned I had been hearing that the space was rumored to have been sold.  Of course, considering the restaurant’s history it was hard to take the rumors seriously but the sign on the front door of 28 degrees sort of says it all.  If you have any details – shoot me an email at bosguymail@gmail.com.

Thanks for the memories 28 degrees. I won’t lie – I had some fun evenings there.