Having 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).
For 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.
A 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.
So 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
Persistent 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.
In 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.
Last week I was invited to attend a digital media dinner hosted by the Beat Hotel in Harvard Square. The subterranean restaurant, bar and music venue resembles the owner’s other venue, The Beehive in the South End, but it manages to exude its own character. The Beat Hotel earned my immediate gratitude when I learned the owners have brought back a few popular menu items that they had served up at Pho Republique but more about that later.
Beat Hotel Soursop Fresca
Capable of seating 360 and offering two bars in addition to live performances 7-days a week, makes the Beat Hotel not only a unique destination but also a very welcome addition to Harvard Square. I have to admit I really enjoyed everything about my first visit. I loved the look and feel of the space that was inspired by the Beat Movement from the 1950s and think that this place will thrive in its new home. As I mentioned previously, the owners have given a nod to a popular restaurant they closed in 2010, by adding Pho Republique’s smokey chipotle BBQ spare ribs ($14) and crispy tuna springroll ($11) to their menu.
I practically lived off of Pho Republique’s crispy tuna springroll so I was excited to see this return and the opportunity to eat this regularly is enough incentive to get me to head over to Harvard Square. For the record, both taste exactly as I recall and remain as addicting as ever. There are approximately 20 items from The Beat Hotel’s large menu that one may choose for appetizers and shared items with most reasonably priced $10-$12.
The dinner menu includes approximately 20 items. One menu item featured is the Beat Hotel’s Earth Bowl. These range from $20-$26 depending on the protein you include and the portions are very hearty including a natural selection of grilled and roasted vegetables, rice pilaf and tasty sauces to accompany your protein. I opted to try this and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of textures, flavors and portion; only order if you really are hungry!
My table guests were nice enough to let me photograph their dinners. The first photo shown above is Sergio’s massive organic chicken piccata that was served on a bed of gnocchi and spinach for $23. Unfortunately, the image next to it is hard to see, but it turned out to be my favorite meal, 40-Something Life’s swordfish tacos for $24. The photo in the lower left corner was my salmon earth bowl and in the lower right is the Halibut for $34. I failed to try the halibut, because I had stuffed myself into a pleasant food coma, but it smelled and looked delicious.
I’d encourage people to check out this venue for dinner, drinks or just a fun night out to catch some great live music. The website includes a current calendar of upcoming acts.
Beat Hotel 13 Brattle Street / Harvard Square
617-499-0001 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Last 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.
Chef 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.
The 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’s 142 Berkeley Street – Boston, MA
Tables 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.
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. You 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.
Earlier 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.
Last 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 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 email@example.com.
Thanks for the memories 28 degrees. I won’t lie – I had some fun evenings there.
The Hand Taste Collective is a Cambridge-based group that has previously hosted two pop-up dinners at Somerville restaurants, Daddy Jones and Spoke Wine Bar. Next Monday they will cross over the Charles River to take over BoMA Restaurant and Bar.
Monday, Sept-9 Hand Taste Collective Pop Up hits BoMA
According to Scott Kearnan’s article on Zagat.com, the menu will fuse “southeast Asian flavors with a New England sensibility”.
Kearnan writes, “Expect a “surf ‘n’ turf” of liberated marrow and snails, pickled mackerel and roasted maitake; sweetbread banh mi with liver mousse and carrot pickles; and “campfire veggies” served with guanciale and soy-cured yolk.” I’ll be honest, I have no idea what half of those ingredients are but photos from the Hand Taste Collective facebook page look scrumptious.
It sounds like the food will be paired with equally exotic libations including natural wines, tiki drinks and beer. If you have an adventurous palate and are looking for something different to try, make reservations for September 9th at BoMA in the South End via OpenTable.
BoMA is located at 1415 Washington St. in Boston’s South End.
Francesca’s Cafe is closing, after serving the South End for nearly 20 years from their cozy home on the corner of Union Park and Tremont Street. Earlier this afternoon I spoke to the staff and they confirmed Francesca’s closing. There is no word if the owner plans to reopen in another location.
In March I reported rumors about a pending close in my post Francesca’s Cafe South End. I speculated Francesca’s days may be numbered after South End resident, Fredmond Kiley IV, quietly purchased the building in what was rumored to be a cash deal.
Time will tell if this is the final chapter for Francesca’s or if the owners will look for another space to reopen. I’d love to suggest they look at the 7-Eleven space that will be closing at 1306 Washington Street in SoWa later this year. Time will also tell what the landlord will do with this prime real estate – rumor has it he’d like a high end restaurant or cafe.
After hosting friends and family night earlier this week, Five Horses Tavern on Columbus Avenue will have their grand opening tonight. as tonight). If you live in the area, walk over this weekend to check out the newest restaurant to open in the neighborhood.
Five Horses Tavern is located at 535 Columbus Avenue in the South End. Eater Boston earlier this week published a write up about Five Horses Tavern here.
Not all gossip is good and in the case of Yakitori Zai – the Japanese barbecue restaurant that opened in June – the rumors that I’ve heard are definitely not good. The remodeling signs that are in the windows of this newly renovated restaurant are due to the brand new ventilation system that the owner installed. I don’t know all the details but rumor has it the issue is that Yakitori Zai’s new ventilation flumes are visible from the street. I hope there is more to the story, because the South End certainly has far more significant blights; one need only look left from Yakitori Zai to see the abandoned and crumbling Sahara Restaurant – talk about a blight to the neighborhood.
Fortunately, I have more exciting, albeit more ambiguous gossip to share about the eagerly awaited Five Horses Tavern. My curiosity got the best of me and I walked over to the restaurant the other day. I was able to meet one of the owners – Sarah Hanson – who walked me through the property.
I promised Sarah I wouldn’t say anything about the work they did, but for those familiar with the Columbus Cafe space – be prepared to be pleasantly surprised. This team has done a remarkable job and the space is both much better designed and beautiful. The neighborhood should be very excited to have this property – I know I’ll be checking them out when they open shortly.
Harry Collings knows the LGBT community is looking forward to the opening of his new restaurant and bar, Back Bay Harry’s, and his team is working diligently so they may open in September. Earlier this week Harry gave me a private tour of the space that has been completely redesigned by HGTV designer and Massachusetts native, Taniya Nayak.
The changes to the space are significant (and for the better in my opinion). Harry is doubling the bar area, moving it to the opposite side of the room that runs along Stanhope Street. The bar will run the full the length of the restaurant, ending at the newly renovated and more open kitchen. The bar will give way to high tops, followed by dining tables and comfy banquets by the front windows and along the left side of the restaurant.
Harry Collings poses in front of his new restaurant, Back Bay Harry’s
The license for Back Bay Harry’s will allow for dinner to be served until 1AM and the bar can remain open until 2AM. Harry indicated that he plans to be open for lunch and dinner and to serve brunch on the weekends. Although the menu is yet to be finalized, you can expect affordable American fare. I promise to share more on that subject – the food – in a future post. I want to be among the first to say welcome to Back Bay Harry’s and to wish them luck.