Since the season officially closed last year there have been a number of changes regarding restaurants and dining options in Provincetown. I’ll continue to update what I hear is happening as I learn more.
Probably the biggest surprise for me was to learn that Frappo’s at the Art House is no more. Replacing the popular eatery will be Blondies Burger. Blondies previous location on Commercial Street will remain but undergo changes that include upgrading the menu.
Look for big changes at Tip for Tops’n on Bradford Street. The restaurant is now being operated by Chef Melissa Ettlinger from the East End restaurant, Devon’s.
Tip for Tops’n had previously been a relatively cheap eats, but one would surmise that under Ettlinger’s direction the new menu will more likely mimic the modern American cuisine that is her signature – time will tell.
Lastly, Lorraine’s, which started in the East End but has resided on Commercial Street in the West End for years is now looking for new space. It appears that a wine bar will go into the space and be operated by the owner of The Squealing Pig and the former owner of the now defunct Joon Bar (above Vixen). They are currently seeking permits from the city so nothing is confirmed.
The Boston Globe’s annual restaurants tournament, Munch Madness, modeled after the NCAA’s spring basketball bracket has started again. Sixty-four restaurants have been plotted in the Globe’s restaurant bracket but only one can win. Make your picks now – voting for round 1 starts today, March 20th and runs though March 21st.
Link Here To Cast Your Vote
With more than 200 participating restaurants in the Boston area participating it is hard not to notice that Restaurant Week (or should I say weeks) is about to start, running from March 17-22 and 24-29th. Three course dinners cost $38.13 and $20.13 for lunch. If this is your first time making reservations during Restaurant Week, consider the following tips or guidelines.
- Not all participating establishments are worth visiting. Restaurants serve 3 courses from a Prix Fixe menu for $38.13. If most of the restaurant’s main plates are less than $20.00 you are not likely paying more than you would normally and being forced to order from a limited menu.
- Restaurant Week is designed to bring crowds into restaurants during a time that is normally quiet. To avoid the crush and not compromise on the service, make reservations for Monday or Tuesday; it’ll be a better experience for you.
- Select a restaurant you have never had a chance to visit. Use the opportunity to explore new places. You may be pleasantly surprised and discover a new favorite. There certainly are a lot of new options here in the South End.
Recently Aquitaine in the South End expanded their lunch menu, which they serve Monday thru Friday starting at 11:30am. The menu has updated some of the restaurant’s best sellers like the Salade Nicoise ($13.95) and the Shrimp Salad Tartine Sandwich ($12.95). Other popular new items include the Ploughman’s Lunch, which comes with a house pate, cheese, house pickles and a fresh baguette ($12.95), as well as the “MLT” marinated mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, lettuce and herb goat cheese on toasted sour dough bread ($9.95).
Aquitaine Boston MLT sandwich $9.95
Aquitaine has retained their lunch special which includes the choice of a soup and sandwich or salad as well as a soda or coffee for $12.95. For lunch we tried the turkey club, onion soup and a side of fries.
Aquitaine Boston’s lunch special $12.95
Both meals proved to be delicious and the service we received from our waitress, Ludgiie, was both prompt and professional making it easy to get in and out of Aquitaine with enough time to get back to the office quickly. The newly expanded menu offers patrons a large selection that includes breakfast items, salads, classic plates as well as delicious sandwiches. I’d definitely recommend checking out this place for lunch the next time your contemplating where to go. You can view the new menu online here.
Boston Chops opened yesterday in Boston’s South End neighborhood, and it’s opening may be the best evidence the recession is behind us. Owners, Brian Piccini and Executive Chef, Chris Coombs, are betting they can lure clientele from the neighborhood and beyond to keep this space busy beyond the opening week buzz. With a price point that averages between $30 – $39 for most main dishes, this also marks a departure from recent restaurant openings that had lower price points, but then again the menu prices are consistent with the city’s other steak houses even if they are higher than neighboring restaurants.
Since so much has been written about the restaurant already, I thought I would focus on their menu which centers around their signature plate, Steak Frites. At Boston Chops you may select the cut of meat you would like and you may enjoy as many frites you may consume. The cuts available make this signature plate range from $24 for the flat iron cut to $39 for the filet.
Starters - with items like sushi grade fluke ceviche for $11, Caesar salad for $9 and mussels for $14 there is a little of something for everyone.
Rarely Celebrated - this section of the menu concentrates on parts to the cow not usually served in steak houses, like bone marrow for $9.
Entrees / Ocean & Other - these two sections combine to provide patrons with a wide range of meals including cuts of beef, seafood, chicken and pasta plates. Prices range from $19 – $39.
Sides - like many steakhouses there is plenty to tempt you, but what caught my eye was the poutine style twice baked loaded potato for $12; definitely not a low-fat option but one I know I’ll be trying.
Look for pictures of these tempting items and a restaurant review in the weeks that follow. Should you have a chance to stop by Boston Chops, let me know your thoughts about the new restaurant. My congratulations and best of luck to the owners and staff.
Boston Chops (617) 227-5011 / 1375 Washington Street in the South End
Last week I was invited to attend an event hosted by the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) at The Granary Tavern. This nonprofit’s mission is to build a Massachusetts economy that is local, green, and fair. They currently organize several programs but are probably best known for the Boston Local Food Festival held each fall.
Chef Keenan from The Granary Tavern was tasked by the SBN to pull together a tempting 3-course dinner for a crowd of approximately 50+ people using only locally sourced ingredients (down to the flour and salt used). For those who live outside of New England you may not realize how difficult this can be during the height of our winter, but I have to tip my hat to Chef Keenan who did an admirable job. The dinner was both social and educational – driving home the point that even here in the winter, one may buy locally grown foods and prepare nutritionally balanced, delicious meals.
Dinner started with a salad made with assorted lettuce, parsnips, apples, and cheese. The crunchy parsnip strips, cubed apples and tangy vinaigrette contrasted nicely with the soft goat’s cheese and buttery lettuce flavors. And as you can plainly see in the photo below – everything looked fresh.Following the salad, I had high hopes for the main course which I had ordered. The second course was a grilled Angus hanger steak served on a bed of root vegetables with a rich sauce; I believe it was a hollandaise – it was delicious.The final course of the evening was a baked Alaska made with maple syrup ice cream and drizzled with extra maple syrup for additional flavoring. I’d never had a baked Alaska before but this was light and sweet. I love real maple syrup and it was the inclusion of this local ingredient more than any other that tempted me, while I scraped my plate clean, finishing off the baked Alaska. In the past I’ve written about local farmer’s markets and my interest in purchasing food that is locally sourced (for example The Foodery post in January) . Do you purchase food from a farmer’s market? Do you notice a difference in the quality / freshness of that food? How important is this to you?
One week from today the Taste of the South End will take place at the Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) on Tremont Street. All proceeds from this culinary delight that each year tempts the hundreds who help this event sell out will go to benefit New England’s largest AIDS service organization, The AIDS Action Committee.
Taste of the South End is Tuesday, March 5th
Doors are open from 7-9pm (VIP’s are welcome starting at 6pm)
It is difficult to articulate how much fun I have at this event each year and for those new to the area or curious to check out restaurants in the South End, this offers you a great opportunity to sample plates from 40+ restaurants in the neighborhood. Many of the stations are hosted by the head chef or general manager of the restaurant so it also offers you a chance to chat 1:1. If you haven’t yet, consider supporting AIDS Action Committee’s superb event The Taste of the South End by purchasing tickets today.
Purchase Tickets to The Taste of the South End Here
This year’s participating restaurants include: 28 Degrees, Addis Red Sea, Aquitaine, B&G Oysters, The Beehive, BoMA, The Butcher Shop, Cinquecento, Coppa, DaVinci Ristorante, Darryl’s Corner Bar and Kitchen, Davio’s, Estelle’s, El Centro, Flour Bakery, Formaggio South End, The Gallows, Gaslight, Haley House Café, Hamersley’s Bistro, Kitchen, Masa, Mela, Metropolis Cafe, Mistral, Myers + Chang, OrinocoPetit Robert Bistro, Picco, Pigalle, Sibling Rivalry, South End Buttery, Stella, Stephi’s on Tremont, Stir, Toro, Tremont 647/Sister Sorel, Turner Fisheries, Union Bar and Grille, and Whole Foods Market
For those who purchase VIP tickets these restaurants will be in the VIP Lounge: Bistro du Midi, Summer Shack, and Yakitori Zai
Wake up… Get up… So where will you brunch today. Do tell.
The next restaurant expected to open in the South End is Boston Chops. Earlier this week I was able to sit down with restaurant owner, Brian Piccini, to talk about the imminent opening, the menu and his expectations.
Brian wasn’t able to predict when Boston Chops would open, grimacing slightly he shrugged and said “any day now”. I can tell you from the tour he gave me, the restaurant is ready – all he’s lacking is the glassware and liquor behind the huge bar he’s built, which happens to even include an oyster shucking station and raw bar. This is a large restaurant capable of seating well over 150+, and the space is beautifully designed. While there are plenty of rich woods and dark colors its custom light features, exposed brick and unfinished steel gives it an edge that suits the South End neighborhood this restaurant is calling home.
Boston Chops opening may be the best evidence that the recession is firmly behind us. The restaurant’s size and the expected price point means, Brian Piccini and his Executive Chef, Chris Coombs, are betting they can lure residents from the neighborhood and beyond to keep them busy seven days a week. When I inquired if there would be a bar menu he shook his head and said the decision to forgo a smaller bar menu was a conscious one.
I was not able to look at a wine list since it has yet to be pulled together, but the evening I sat down with Brian, wine was definitely top of mind as he sampled several Cabernets. By the size of the bar — one that comfortably seats 25 (I counted) and the impressive wine room encased in glass and on display for all to see — you too will be mindful that one has many options.
Although at the time that I wrote this post Boston Chops was not taking reservations, Brian has indicated one may call the restaurant or look to online restaurant reservation systems like ureserv.com and opentable.com.
Boston Chops (617) 227-5011 / 1375 Washington Street in the South End
Starting this weekend, you will have another option for brunch as Cinquecento opens to serve patrons from 10am – 3pm on Saturday and Sunday. The menu which is posted on their website here, is divided into pastries, smaller first plates, eggs, salads and pastas; all very reasonably priced it would appear.
According to the press release, Cinquecento’s brunch menu will include savory Italian dishes like truffled polenta with poached eggs, grilled steak and eggs with Pecorino biscuits, as well as sweeter options like crepes with whipped lemon ricotta and native honey, ricotta fritters and sugar donuts.
You can call to make a reservation at (617) 338-9500.
Ming Tsai’s new restaurant Blue Dragon is rumored to be opening their doors today. His restaurant is the first since Drink and Sportello opened to get my attention. For all the fanfare about restaurants opening in Fort Point Channel and Seaport, few seem to be memorable, but I feel that could all change with Blue Dragon.
Ming Tsai is one of my favorite chefs in the United States and unlike many celebrity chefs who rely on their name to carry their brand as they open one restaurant after another, Chef Tsai has diligently cultivated a large and faithful following at his Wellesley restaurant Blue Ginger since it first opened in 1998.
Adding to the appeal of the new restaurant is news that one of my favorite bar tenders in Boston will be pouring drinks for Ming Tsai. John Drew has picked up a following of barflies like myself from his days at Anchovies in the South End. While I’d love to have him in my n’hood pouring drinks, Ming’s new restaurant is close enough that I know I’ll be able to get a chance to see more of him.
324 A Street - (617) 338-8585
While staying at the W Spa and Resort in Vieques, we primarily dined at the restaurant and during the day – poolside at the bar. While one can grab a sandwich or burger from the bar menu, dinners are only served at Sorce. The hotel restaurant prices are similar to what you would pay at a nice restaurant in Boston with cocktails costing ~ $15 and main dishes ranging from $22 to $38. Although the food was mostly quite good, I preferred their breakfast menu. Sadly two of our favorite items, the pancakes and the huevos rancheros I failed to photograph, partly because they were inhaled so quickly.
Our favorite meal came at the suggestion of one of the locals who told us about Sabores, a restaurant in Isabel II (a town 15 minutes away by car) or approximately $10 cab fare from the W. From the oustide, Sabores looks to be nothing special, but the inside is brightly decorated and the food is delicious. I started our dinner with the two large crab cakes shown above ($12), which were the best I’ve had in recent memory and something I would suggest to anyone who asked. After the shared appetizer was cleared, I had Mofongo ($19). For those unfamiliar with Mofongo, it is a fried plantain-based dish from Puerto Rico that is served with meat in a tomato and chicken broth sauce. The savory meal is both hearty and addicting and I’m embarrassed to admit I ate the entire meal – barely giving Sergio the chance to get a few bites in edgewise. All told, our dinner at Sabores came to $70 with tax and tip included.
If you are visiting Vieques and are curious to check out the restaurant note that Sabores is open Wednesday to Sunday from 6 – 10pm. Call ahead to make reservations at, (787) 741-7000
The Taste of the South End, which raises funds for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts may be my favorite charity event of the year. With 40 restaurants participating, it is a “must attend” in my opinion. That is why I wanted to give everyone a heads up that one month from today, on Tuesday, March 5th, the Taste of the South End 2013 will take place. If you’d like to learn more about the event or purchase tickets online, link here.
Feel free to check out my two minute video from last years Taste.
Recently I chatted with the people over at Boston Chops. Rumors of their opening still remain unconfirmed, but waitstaff has already started training so hopefully the wait is nearly over. When the doors open, Boston Chops hours will be 4pm to 1am; serving dinner from 5pm to midnight – daily. Boston Chops will also be open for brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm, but I was told brunch will not be available immediately.
The menu is either not finished or when I spoke to them they wanted to keep the information private. I was told the menu focuses on allowing patrons options not often associate with steak houses. For example, you will be allowed to choose your cut of steak for their signature steak frites and you will be served unlimited fries. While that sounds delicious, when I asked about prices I was told Boston Chops is an “urban steak bistro” with approachable prices. Huh? I have absolutely no idea what that means. However, if Chef Coombs restaurant Deuxave in the Back Bay is any indication, main plates could range from $31 to $39; let’s hope Coombs opts for a more affordable price point here in the South End so I can visit more often.
Patrons of the previous restaurants in this space will remember a very dramatic interior. Boston Chops brings a completely different look and feel to the space, using dark woods, burgundy tones and heavy unfinished steel. The 30-seat bar and a large lighting fixture designed to look like chandeliers from Burgundy France will provide a sophisticated vibe. Construction was still on-going when I wrote this post earlier in the week, but I have faith it will look beautiful and will be a fantastic (and welcome) addition to the neighborhood.
You can stay up to date on the latest information about Boston Chops by liking their Facebook page here.
Are you a serial bruncher? Is that even a word? Where are some of your favorite restaurants to grab brunch (include your city if you mention restaurants outside of Boston).