Category Archives: Restaurant Review

Restaurant review: Boston Chops

Photo from Boston Chops facebook page

Boston Chops is described by owners, Brian Piccini and Chef Chris Coombs, as an urban steak bistro with a casual but refined twist on the traditional steak house. It has been a hot spot in the neighborhood and destination restaurant since it first opened four years ago in the Penny Savings Building in Boston’s South End. It is beautifully decorated (not at all stuffy like many steak houses) with a beautiful 20+ seat bar that runs the length of the restaurant and a small street side patio with doors that open to the street from the dining room.

restaurant review, boston dining, south end restaurant

Boston Chop’s Crab Cake shown above is $19

The Boston Chops menu obviously has many cuts of steak but the restaurant’s raw bar is excellent and there are many alternatives if you want something different. For example, Sergio opted to start with an order of Crab Cake. This is one of Sergio’s “go-to” orders and is large enough that it can double as a filling snack if you want something to eat but aren’t in the mood for a full meal.

Following in Sergio’s footsteps I ordered one of Boston Chops’ sides, the Eggplant Rollatini, as a first dish. The eggplant is sliced incredibly thin and stuffed with tomato, mozzarella and herbs. It is a great dish to share and I think often overlooked by many who come to the restaurant.

Boston restaurant review, south end dining, boston steak house

Boston Chops Eggplant Rollatini above is $12

For dinner Sergio continued with an unorthodox choice for a steakhouse, ordering the Pappardelle Bolognaise. Sergio loves a good bolognaise sauce and he tends to either order the Filet Mignon or this plate when we have dinner at Boston Chops. The pasta is fresh and comes with the hearty sauce made with beef, veal and pancetta in a creamy tomato sauce and fresh herbs.

Boston steak house, restaurant review, south end restaurant

Boston Chops Pappardelle Bolognaise is $22

Unlike Sergio, I always order from the Steak Frites menu which dominates the center of the restaurants dinner menu. All orders from this section come with an arugula salad served on the side and quite possibly Boston’s best french fries, that are regularly refreshed by staff from a warm copper bowl, ensuring you will over-indulge on the salty treats. Below is a photo of my skirt steak cooked exactly as I asked. I snapped this photograph before the french fries were added to make it look like a healthier option than it was in reality.

boston steak house, restaurant review, south end restaurant

Boston Chops Skirt Steak with peppercorn sauce and arugula salad $25

Although I’m not much of a dessert person, our waitress, Melanie, who provided flawless service throughout the dinner suggested we try their warm chocolate cake.  Melanie’s subtle suggestion was all the push we needed apparently, because we ordered the cake with barely any discussion. The cake was served warm and was devoured within minutes of its arrival at the table.

boston steak house, restaurant review, south end dining

Boston Chops warm chocolate cake $12 was devoured within minutes of its arrival

Boston Chops has announced plans to open a second location in Boston’s DTX / Theater District in the space previously occupied by Mantra so look for more updates on their newest location but until then my recommendation would be to visit the Boston Chops South End. The staff and kitchen consistently provide an excellent dining experience that many restaurants claim but few actually offer. Dinner reservations are strongly recommended, but dining at the bar is available on a first come, first serve basis.

BosGuy Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.boston chops review

Boston Chops (South End)
1375 Washington Street  ||  (617) 227-5011
bostonchops.com

Restaurant review: Frenchie in Boston’s South End

south end dining

Frenchie opened for business in late January earlier this year in the space formerly occupied by Kitchen in the South End. Frenchie is described as a Parisian wine bar and restaurant. For those familiar with the Boston dining scene, it is worth noting that the restaurant is owned and run by Loic Le Garrec from Petit Robert Bistro as well as newcomer, Sandrine Rossi.

South End, Frenchie Boston

Frenchie oozes cute and cozy from the moment you walk through their street side patio and down their steps to their partially subterranean dining room and finally into their sun room in the back. The clean look of the placeand expanded bar make the tiny space feel more spacious, and the number of French staff who work there make for a great first impression. I can’t help but appreciate when the staff working at a restaurant are from the same country as the cuisine.

Frenchie Boston restaurant review

Escargot Toast $11 || Fried Brussels Sprouts $9

Much of Frenchie’s menu is dedicated to reasonably priced wines. At the recommendation of our waiter, Thomas, we shared a bottle of 2015 Châteauneuf-du-Pape for $49. Frenchie’s dinner menu includes nearly 20 small plates that are divided as “Hot” or “Cold” and range in price from $8-$18 as well as four main plates: Fish, Chicken, Duck and Steak.

Frenchie Boston, South End Restaurant

Boneless Half Chicken with gnocchi, succotash, asparagus, peas and fava beans $25

Sergio opted for the Boneless Half Chicken that is served with ricotta gnocchi, spring succotash, asparagus, peas and fave beans.  I didn’t try the chicken but I did try the gnocchi and was not impressed. They were tougher and heavier than what Sergio makes at home. By contrast, my order, Duck Magret served on parsley root puree, mandarin glazed carrots and buckwheat was delicious and a plate I would quickly reorder.

Frenchie Boston, South End dining

Duck Margret with parsley root puree, glazed carrots and buckwheat $27

Frenchie is a welcome addition to the neighborhood; the space is cozy and cute; the service was excellent; and my dinner was very good.There remains some room for improvement and creativity with the menu – in particular, I would like to see more main course options.

If you’ve not tried Frenchie, make a reservation and enjoy the South End’s newest restaurant for brunch, lunch or dinner – Bienvenue Frenchie.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

Frenchie Boston
560 Tremont Street  ||  (857) 233-5941
frenchieboston.com

Restaurant review: Brunch at Russell House Tavern

Harvard Square, restaurant reviewRecently, Sergio and I ventured across the river into Cambridge and had brunch at the Russell House Tavern in the heart of Harvard Square.

Ever since the Russell House Tavern opened back in 2010 it has been a popular destination for after work drinks and dinner, but we had never tried their brunch so I was happy to have a chance to visit. The restaurant’s 80s pop music which played throughout the morning provided a nice soundtrack to our brunch. With regards to their brunch menu, even the pickiest of eaters will be able to find something they like and for those on a budget, this will not break the bank (most items range from $10-$13).

While the menu includes its share of savory selections both Sergio and I focused on the sweeter options on their menu, but rest assured the menu includes eggs benedict, omelettes and more if you prefer saltier options in the morning.restaurant review

While I normally get eggs when I go out for brunch something about the “torched banana” was calling to me and I’m glad I tried it. The sizable portion of granola, strawberries and banana rested on a fair amount of Greek Yogurt. While not exactly the healthiest of meals, I enjoyed the fresh fruit, yogurt and granola.

Brunch, restaurant review

However, my order paled in comparison to the Nutella stuffed French toast that Sergio ordered. The brioche used for the bread was cut in the middle and slathered with ample Nutella, making a decadent breakfast even more so. The combination of the bread, Nutella and banana would have been too much for me if it hadn’t been for my coffee, but the sugary overload didn’t prevent us from eating everything on the plate.

BosGuy Rating: 3 out of 5 stars, Good.

Russell House Tavern restaurant rating

Russell House Tavern
617-500-3055
russellhousecambridge.com

Coppa’s Goodfella’s Dinner

Coppa Enoteca BostonOn January 24th Coppa hosted their first Goodfellas dinner and yours truly was there for all the fun. The tables were set with red and white checkered tablecloth, empty Chianti bottles with lit candles and the entire staff was decked out in black bow ties and suspenders. The look was a cross between the NYC gangster movies it was inspired by and Disney’s Lady and the Tramp.

The four course fixed price menu featured Italian-American favorites like Calamari, Lasagna, Veal Parmigiana and Cannolis.

South End Boston dining, Chef Ken Oringer happened to be on hand that evening, which was nice to see. I can’t recall the last time I saw him in the kitchen at Coppa and it definitely made the evening feel special. We started by ordering a bottle of Livio Felluga Vertigo Rosso, which is an Italian Merlot – Cabernet Sauvignon blend that was recommended to us by our server.

Coppa EnotecaOur first plate was a heaping portion of Anitpasti that was delicious but unfortunately didn’t photograph very well. Fortunately my friend, Deborah’s starter, Scallop Piccata with lemon, capers, butter and white wine sauce was beautifully plated and absolutely delicious. We used the bread at the table to clean the plate before our server removed it.

Shrimp ScampiFor my Primi plate I ordered the Shrimp Scampi with sauteed garlic, EVOO, crushed red pepper, done “classic style”. This plate turned out to be one of my favorites of the night. The shrimp was cooked to perfection, picking up the flavors of the garlic and finishing with a nice kick thanks to the red pepper.

Rigatoni alla VodkaDeborah’s choice was equally as delicious and in my opinion our Primi plates were the best part of the dinner. Above is the homemade Rigatoni alla Vodka she ordered. I feel like the photo above does not do this plate justice. It was both delicious and a surprisingly large portion. However, that did not stop the both of us from cleaning the plate so by the time our waiter came to take it away it looked so clean he could practically see his reflection.

Beef Braciole

Beef Braciole is an Italian dish that consists of very thin slices of meat that are pan-fried in their own juice with a bit of olive oil and wrapped usually with bread crumbs and cheese. Coppa also stuffed the short rib with sausage which I think made the plate too heavy and while it was good – it didn’t live up to the previous course. It was simply too heavy, despite the tempting flavors.

CannoliWe both opted to end our dinner with a ricotta and mascarpone and chocolate chip cannoli. As with the previous plate, it was good but in my opinion the best cannolis in Boston are from the North End’s Modern Pastry Shop and everyone else is a distant second. Mind you, that didn’t stop me from eating every last bite.

Despite the fact that some of the plates were not necessarily my favorite I would very happily go back to Coppa’s next Goodfella’s night, and I would suggest you do the same if you are a fan of Italian American cuisine.

BosGuy Rating: 4 out of 5 stars, Awesome.ratings-awesome

Coppa Enoteca
253 Shawmut Avenue, Boston MA 02118
617.391.0902

Eight course dinner at Toro Boston

south end boston dining, toro restaurant, ken oringerKen Oringer’s restaurant, Toro Boston, first opened in Boston’s South End in 2005.  Despite being open for more than a decade, getting a seat at this casual dining Spanish tapas restaurant can be tough to put it mildly so it has been a while since my last visit. However, Toro occasionally has deals on Gilt City Boston so we purchased an 8-course dinner with wine pairings for two.

I’m happy to write Toro Boston continues to tempt with uniquely delicious dishes and a lively vibe most restaurants would die to have even for just one night a week. Our eight course tasting created by our very able, friendly and not to mention handsome waiter, Jesse, was so delicious that I’ll be thinking about it for weeks to come.

Toro Boston

Rhode Island fluke crudo is new to Toro’s menu and worth trying

Our server started our meal with lighter, refreshing seafood plates that included local oysters with fennel and lemon juice, offering a nice texture and burst of citrus. Sergio even tried it (his first time eating an oyster) and gave it a thumbs up. Following the oysters we were treated to tuna tartare served in what looked like a small anchovy tin. It was served with a green curry, red onions and shallots. However, it was a new dish that Toro had added that day which I really loved – fluke crudo with white soy sauce. It was paired with the Portuguese wine, Nortico Alvarinho 2014, (one of my favorite wines that night), which is very affordable and worth buying if you see it in your local wine shop. 

Toro Boston, Ken Oringer

One of our favorite plates was the Spanish octopus

Two more seafood options followed. First, fried cod tempora croquettes with aioli. I really enjoyed these but Sergio’s response made me laugh, “everything fried tastes good.” Both of us preferred the next plate, Spanish octopus served with olive tapenade, orange, potatoes, and saffron aioli. The seared flavors permeated the meat, making each bite taste better than the last.

Toro Boston, ken oringer

Braised mushrooms with egg yolk is very rich and paired nicely with Portuguese Baga (similar to a Pinot Noir)

Jesse’s next few plates were some of the most flavorful vegetable plates I’ve had in recent memory, starting with roasted pumpkin that had been cooked with maple syrup and was served with squash, wild mushrooms and topped with a liberal helping of pine nut muhammara on grilled lettuce. It struck me as a plate you’d be more likely to see in the fall. I preferred the next course which was braised mushrooms in a broth with herbs and an egg yolk in a spoon. That was just so damn good with the runny yolk of the egg coating the mushrooms.

Toro Boston, Ken Oringer

Our favorite plate of the evening was the smoked duck drumettes

The final few plates started with seared foie gras, which is the first time I’ve ever tried it and left me thinking “what’s all the hype about?”.  The next two plates however more than made up for my lackluster response.  Hanger steak with an onion marmalade and blue cheese butter followed by smoked duck drumettes with a quince glaze.  These last two dishes were hearty, flavorful and in the case of the duck, finger-lickin’ good. The smoked duck, octopus and steak proved to be our most favorite plates so if you find yourself at Toro in the coming weeks, try one of the plates we did and let me know what you think.

BosGuy rating: 5 out of 5 stars, Wicked Awesome.
ratings-wicked-awesome

Toro Boston
1704 Washington Street
toro-restaurant.com

 

Taste-Vin in Belo Horizonte, Brazil

dining, restaurant review, brazil diningEach year Sergio and I travel to Belo Horizonte (B.H.), Brazil. Despite the fact that you may never have heard of his hometown, it has roughly the same population of Chicago – America’s third largest city.

We take advantage of the great dining when we visit B.H. and this year we visited a restaurant in the Lourdes neighborhood that has been operating since 1988 called Taste-Vin. The quaint French restaurant has a cozy feeling. The decor includes friendly messages like a “Recipe for Happiness”, walls lined with wine bottles and small dining rooms that are sectioned off by a central bar that serves to divide the space but still let patrons look from one dining room to another.

Chef Rodrigo Fonseca

Chef Rodrigo Fonseca who also owns Taste-Vin came out to greet us and share his personal recommendations

The menu at Taste-Vin is surprisingly large with Entrées, Soufflés (perhaps what they are best known for serving), Seafood, Duck and Rabbit, Meat and of course Desserts. Because we got a late start to our dinner (10:30PM on a Monday) we decided to skip ordering an entree and doubled down by ordering one of the twelve soufflés to share and the filet mignon. Before we talk about the food we ordered think about the fragrances that filled these rooms as countless soufflés are being served at nearly every table; like the one shown below.

Spinach Souffle

Taste-Vin Spinach Souffle – $18

The filet mignon, served as two 5 oz medallions, is ideal for sharing so we asked to have each medallion served on separate plates. Below is a photo of my plate as it was served – cooked medium rare as requested. The combination of the wine, filet (with a bouquet of eight herbs served to the side) and soufflé was so aromatic that I was salivating like Pavlov’s dogs after hearing the chime of a bell.

taste-vin-belo-horizonte-filet-mignon-au-pauvre

Shown above is one of the two 5 oz grilled filet mignon medallions is $22

The soufflé was so light and full of flavor. I immediately understood why every table had ordered one to share. The Gruyere soufflé we had ordered also had the added benefit of absorbing some of the au poivre vert sauce.

Upon arriving at the table the waitstaff plated the soufflé, adding some additional drama to what normally concludes with plates being served. taste-vin-belo-horizonte-gruyere-souffle-and-filetpng

Although I mentioned that we skipped an entrée because of the late start to our dinner, neither of us were in a rush to leave what turned out to be an excellent meal so with very little urging from Sergio we also ordered the Moelleux Au Chocolat which is best described by sharing this 5 second video. 

Should you ever get to Belo Horizonte, you may want to give this restaurant a try. Taste-Vin ranks as the second most popular restaurant out of a possible 8,310 places to try listed on Trip Advisor.

Taste-Vin Restaurant – Belo Horizonte

Restaurant review: Marliave

marliave-boston

Photo Credit: downtownboston.org

If you’ve lived in Boston long enough you’ve probably dined at Marliave. The restaurant is located down Bosworth Street – a nondescript street between Downtown Crossing and the Granary Burial Grounds. Marliave has been operating since it first opened in 1885, and is named after the original owner, Henry Marliave, a French immigrant from Paris.

Tracey, Life Food Wine, restaurant review

Life Food Wine blogger and BFF Tracey modeling Marliave’s cocktail menu

I recently joined my friend and fellow blogger from Life Food Wine to visit the restaurant. While the space could seriously use some renovations, I can appreciate how regulars may like the eccentric layout and idiosyncrasies of the space. While we both really loved the cocktail menu, we ended up (as we normally do) enjoying a lovely bottle of wine to accompany our meal.

Diners familiar with the establishment will recognize the menu since little has changed; perhaps a sign that the restaurant knows what their clientele like. The two page menu is divided into what I think of as starters or lighter fare: raw bar, appetizers and eggs, that range in price from just a few dollars for raw bar which are priced individually to $18 with most in the $10-$12 range.  The second page of the menu has the main dishes and sides which include: pastas, meat, fish and sandwiches. These range from $15-$36 with most options in the low $20 range, making the Marliave an excellent value when you consider the quality of the food and service that has remained fairly consistent over the years.

marliave-beat-salad

Marliave’s tower of roasted beets $12

We started our dinner with a very fall inspired plate of roasted beets that were topped with arugula and stacked high with goat cheese that was slathered on almost like a frosting between three layers of beets.

The salad was beautifully assembled and presented with spiced walnuts and drops of aged balsamic and lemon vinaigrette.

marliave-serving-tray

Serving trays add a sense of drama to the service at Marliave

After clearing the salad, our skilled server brought over our main plates in what can only be described as an impressive presentation (yet again) with our dinners served to us like royalty in these serving trays. Want to impress a date? Take them to a restaurant where their meal is presented with a serving tray. I had to prevent myself from saying “Voila!” when our server lifted the lids.

marliave-salmon

Marliave’s wild salmon $30

Tracey opted for the chicken under a brick which was served with a mushroom risotto for $26. Since I don’t like to have bricks with my dinner I opted after much deliberation for the wild salmon. The filet was cooked exactly as I requested and served with a medley of vegetables and a garlic aioli.

My latest visit to the Marliave was a nice change to my regular dining routine and reminded me that the restaurant continues to provide excellent service and a solid dining experience making it a great option for a date, night out with friends or an evening with colleagues.

Marliave
10 Bosworth Street
(617) 422-0004
www.marliave.com