Category Archives: Central Sq

Moksa, Central Sq

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Moksa – 450 Massachusetts Ave Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Oh hi! Its been a while, I know. That’s what a new, demanding job will do to you. Don’t get me wrong, I have continued to go out and eat my way through the city, take food photos, make notes, and write up drafts, but the sitting down and cleaning them up part has been something I am struggling with. Ok, enough about me, lets talk about stuffing our faces at Moksa in Central Sq.

I was stoked (stoked? Who am I?) when Moksa opened up in Central Sq last year. Having lived in Central Sq for years its fantastic to see all these new places popping up. We paid a visit to Moksa a couple of months after they opened and were looking forward to a few cocktails and nibbles after work. It was fairly nice out so we sat outside and kept sitting there for what seemed like forever until someone came over to take our drink order. I got the Peking Sailor which is Hendricks Gin, Campari, Elderflower Vinegar, Bubbly and Cucumber (they had me at Gin and Bubbly). The drink was ok, not sure it was my favorite thing ever (I switched to wine right after) but how it was served was hilarious. I don’t think it was meant to be ironically funny but when the waitress came out with these big glasses brimming with umbrellas and tchotchkes (thanks for the spell check, BL!) I couldn’t help but blush and look around hoping no one had seen the ridiculous cocktail I was about to drink. I mean, we are two women in their 30s in Central Sq, not at Senor Frogs on Spring Break in Cancun. I understand how many may like this sort of attention but it’s just not our thing. After much giggling we moved on to the menu and waited for our waitress again.

We decided to share a few small plates starting with the Vietnamese Spring Roll with Cilantro-Lime Sauce. This dish was delivered to the wrong table but eventually found its way to us. The Spring Rolls were pretty simple, fresh and overall pretty good, probably the best thing we ordered.

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Next we got the Thai Green Papaya and Mango Salad with Peanuts, Mint & Chili Lime dressing. Unfortunately neither of us were really a fan of this one. It was a little bland and the peanuts on the soft side which didn’t add that crunch we were hoping for. Next.

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I had the highest hopes for this next dish, the Popcorn Shrimp with Spicy Remoulade. If you know me at all you know I always lean towards shrimp dishes whether they are fried, buffaloed (yes, I am making that a verb), grilled, tossed with pasta, however you want to make them I will eat them. I’m pretty much the white nerdy version of Bubba from Forrest Gump.  Anyways, popcorn shrimp is one of my favorites and adding remoulade to any fried food makes it a baller dish, I could eat that shit by the spoonful.

The remoulade was fantastic but the shrimp were super dry. They were on a small salad that added some moisture but then they sat on top of another dry bready thing. Too much breading on the shrimp which contributed to the dryness. Pass me my recockulous cocktail to get this to go down, please.

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We wrapped up the night with the Vegetarian Fried Rice with Carrots, Onion & Sake Shoyu. Totally fine but nothing to write home about.

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After dinner we sat with empty glasses for over 20 minutes before we got up and went inside to ask them if we could pay. Can we please pay? Please? We’d like to give you money. Okthanks.

Needless to say, we weren’t fans of the service or food. I’ve heard the dance club in the back is decent and recently had a friend who got the bartender to swap shoes with her so she could go in (no flip-flops allowed) which has boosted my opinion but I think I’ll be going down the road for food in the future.

How did Moksa measure up? 2 Spoons!

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Craigie on Main, Kendall / Central Sq

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Craigie on Main – 853 Main Street Cambridge, MA 02139

We’ve all heard about Craigie on Main’s famous burger but I hadn’t met anyone who had actually eaten it. Every time it came up the response was “Ohh I’ve heard it’s the best, I need to get there” or people would talk about their failed attempts. They had gone and tried to get the burger but it wasn’t on the dining room menu, they couldn’t get a seat at the bar, they were sold out, etc. These are the types of stories that usually get my hopes waaayy up ensuring that I am disappointed when the time actually comes around. But not this time, my friends.

I had somewhat randomly ended up at Craigie on Main after a few drinks (at Cuchi Cuchi) with my (now former) colleagues on a Tuesday night. As soon as Craigie was mentioned I started going on and on about their burgers and how I have heard so much about them and read articles, etc. Now they wanted to try their burger as much as I did. Excellent plan.

Miraculously, as we were entering Craigie someone was leaving, freeing up 3 seats together at the bar. BOOM. We took them, ordered 3 beers and 3 burgers rare. JLo got his au cheval, which is with a fried egg on top. Delicious but I wanted to taste the burger in its simplest form for my first time.

This photo really doesn’t do it justice (guess I will have to go back and retake it?) but this was a damn good burger. Damn good. You can taste the quality of the ingredients, especially the meat. The cheese was sharp, the bread a perfect combination of soft and toasted (and buttered, obvi). The burger is simple and flavorful. I get it now. You don’t find a taste like that in your average $8 burger (hence the $14 price tag -well worth it, btw).

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Overall, I liked the atmosphere of Craigie with the open kitchen and friendly staff. The bartenders were whipping up some awesome creations too, which I’ll have to get back for some time. I think we got lucky with finding seats so quickly as there were people waiting once we sat down so be prepared for that.  I’ve never eaten in the dining room and, honestly, probably never will as I’ll be wiggling my way up to the bar for a burger the next time I go in there.

How did Craigie on Main measure up? 4.75 Spoons!

India Castle, Central Sq

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Where: India Castle – 928 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139
When: June 2012

With the foot still broken (seriously?) its time to try Indian food delivery. There is a place near me that I had ordered from before, pre-Five Spoons, that I did not like at all so made sure to avoid it. I was thrilled to find that India Castle, which I used to go to all the time when I lived on Harvard Street in Central Sq, delivers to my neighborhood. Let the ordering begin!

We got an order of Meat Samosas (homemade turnovers stuffed with lightly tempered and fresh minced lamb with peas) to share and then I got the Malai Kofta, my favorite Indian dish ever, which is balls of minced vegetables cooked with mild Indian spices in a tomato cream sauce. Doesn’t that sound delicious? Well, it was.

The Samosas were good but I didn’t find them to be above and beyond Samosas from a lot of other places – pretty standard but you can’t go wrong with them. The Malai Kofta, on the other hand, was amazing. The sauce was rich, with a touch of spice and cream. The vegetable balls were soft but firm bursting with Indian spices and flavors. Nice and saucy to slather on naan or polish off with rice. My only complaint would be that I want double the amount of vegetable balls but no one ever seems to give you more than two per order anyways.

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Overall, India Castle delivered hot, flavorful dinner pretty quickly considering they are a little ways away from me. The Samosas were good but the Malai Kofta was delicious, definitely better than any other place I have discovered near me. I haven’t been into the restaurant in years but I remember it being nice, service good and everything all around authentic. I’ll definitely be ordering from here again, broken foot or not.

How did India Castle measure up? 4 Spoons!

India Castle on Urbanspoon

Flour Bakery + Cafe, Central Sq

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Where: Flour Bakery + Cafe – 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge MA 02139
When: May, 2012

I didn’t realize how close our new office was to Flour Bakery. I also didn’t realize how hooked I would be on their sandwiches and sweets. Ay Dios Mio.

I’ve been wanting to go to Flour Bakery since seeing Joanne Chang, the owner, compete on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network. Not only did she throwdown with her sticky buns but she won. Damn straight. I also ran into Joanne (do you like how I pretend to know her on a first name basis?) at the Tags in Porter Sq when she was doing a book signing. I didn’t know she was slated to be there and almost went into a frenzy when I saw her.

Anyways, back to the present…

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There isn’t much that I like more than a BLT and the BLT at Flour is amazing. I’ve been back several times and have never wavered from the BLT. Its that good. Its made with applewood-smoked bacon, arugula, tomato, and mayo. The bread is lightly toasted, the bacon smokey, crisp and salty, and there’s something about the tomato… Its not just a tomato slapped on the sandwich, its like a sun dried tomato spread or something. Juicy, sweet, and just melts into the bread. Delicious!

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For dessert, this particular trip, I got not one but two cookies. Naturally. The one on the left is a Milk Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookie and the one on the right is a Peanut Butter and Chopped Nuts Cookie. I had the peanut butter one after lunch and saved the milk chocolate and hazelnut one for later in the day. The peanut butter one was very good but after having the milk chocolate and hazelnut one I don’t think there is any going back, it was clearly the better of the two.

Overall, I’ve never been able to get a seat at Flour, its always packed to the walls, so I have only gotten food to go. Despite how busy they are its always fairly quick and really efficient. Everyone is also super nice which isn’t always easy under pressure. The food is consistent and the sandwiches, well the BLT, are crave worthy. I need to go back for those damn sticky buns that everyone is always talking about. I’m just not sure I can handle a BLT and stick bun and how does one choose between the two?

How did Flour Bakery measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Flour Bakery + Cafe on Urbanspoon

Veggie Galaxy, Central Sq

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Where: Veggie Galaxy – 450 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139
When: May, 2012

After seeing Veggie Galaxy reviewed on one of Boston’s food shows and having heard that they serve breakfast all day long I was eager to get down there and try them out.

Veggie Galaxy is all vegetarian food although everyone I know who has gone there has assured me that us meatatarians won’t miss the meat at all. Alright, bring it.

I like the atmosphere at Veggie Galaxy, its laid back and old school dineresque. (I was very tempted to write “old skool” just then) They have an open kitchen, hightops and a lot of chrome. All good with me.

We decided to split two of their burgers: 1) The Harvard Square Tarragon Basil Pesto Burger which comes with red cabbage slaw, and sweet corn mash. We got this one with the mushroom chickpea burger patty. 2) The Kendall Square Burger which comes with roasted red pepper puree, beer battered onion rings, roasted garlic mayo, and baby arugula. We got this one with the Chipotle black bean burger patty. They were both very different and very good. I did want fries instead of salad but they said they couldn’t do substitutions which I was confused by. In retrospect I could have gotten a side of fries but didn’t think about it.

I started with the Harvard Square Tarragon Basil Pesto Burger as it seemed a little milder in flavors. It was very good with the sweetness of the mash and earthiness of the mushroom patty. The burger patty could have been a little firmer for my likely but the flavor was very good.

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The Kendall Square Burger was a little more gluttonous than the first, with deep fried onion rings right on top – yes. The roasted garlic mayo was one of my favorite parts (you know I love my aiolis).  I think we both may have preferred this burger patty to the first.

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For dessert we split the Sweet Potato Carrot Cake, which is made in-house. The flavors were good but the cake wasn’t very moist. Its likely from having been refrigerated but it just was cold and dry. Not memorable.

Overall, I liked it. I wasn’t knocked off my high booth but it was all good (minus the cake). The service was great and burgers were worth coming back for. I’d recommend it for groups, breakfast, and dinner with friends. Its far from romantic but who needs that all the time anyways, right?

How did Veggie Galaxy measure up? 3 Spoons!

Veggie Galaxy on Urbanspoon

Life Alive, Central Sq

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Where: Life Alive – 764 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA
When: Februar, 2012

I’ve heard nothing but rave reviews about Life Alive since it opened so was thrilled when an old friend and colleague, Jackie, moved back to town and suggested it to Daniela and I. The plan was lunch but since we pinned down a date I had booked a flight for a mini holiday so we moved it to brunch.

Daniela and I got there a few minutes before Jackie did so we grabbed a table and started scooping out the menu. We didn’t recognize a lot of the sauces so had a hard time distinguishing what was what and hence were no closer to a decision when Jackie arrived. After a few minutes of catching up we re-focused on the menu until we had our choices.

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I got the The Green Goddess: “Our Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce enhanced by flax oil and garlic, empowering avocado (seasonal), broccoli, dark greens, and tofu. All are served over short-grain brown rice.” I got mine in a salad format (instead of a wrap). It was really filling and full of healthy and earthy ingredients with a zesty tangyness from the dressing. It felt really healthy, like I was doing a really nice thing for my body. It was also very garlicky. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlic but I just couldn’t get over how garlicky it was (I think I must have said “Wow, this is garlicky!” six times). It must have had 12 cloves of garlic in it. I felt bad for whoever was sitting next to me on my 3 hour flight. Yikes!

20120229-165757.jpgDaniela got the The Adventurer: “Our Sesame Ginger Nama Sauce combines with a colorful mix of corn, beets, broccoli, dark greens, shredded cheddar, tofu & tamari
almonds over quinoa & short grain brown rice.” This was recommended by one of the staff members when she asked for a suggestion. He said this is their most popular item on their menu.

20120229-165746.jpgJackie got The Explorer: “Our scrumdelyishus homemade lowfat Red Lentil Hummus, paired with sesame crunches, sundried tomatoes, cucumber, corn, spring mix and a sprinkle of shredded carrots and beets all traveling together with our fantastic honey wasabi vinaigrette. A dreamy destination!” What a description!

Both Daniela and Jackie said they liked their wraps a lot and both took half home as they were so filling (I ate all of mine, ahem).

Overall, I think Life Alive is a great bite place. They don’t have table service so the feel is very casual, more like a cafe, but comfortable. I think its a great alternative to grabbing a burrito or something a little less healthy when you need a quick lunch. I’d definitely go back when I want to grab a quick healthy, filling bite.

How did Life Alive measure up? 3.75 Spoons!

Life Alive on Urbanspoon

Cuchi Cuchi, Central Sq

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Where: Cuchi Cuchi – 795 Main Street Cambridge, MA 02139
When: January, 2012

I’ve been itching to go back to Cuchi Cuchi since Libby and I were there last weekend for a drink after going to Bondir. With some plans having gone pear shaped at the last minute, I found the perfect opportunity to go last night.

Cuchi Cuchi is such a charming restaurant. The staff’s fanciful clothing (flapper dresses, feathers, pearls, and even a tutu!) matches the restaurant’s whimsical décor with stained glasses windows, overflowing vases, antique tables and jeweled lighting. And… no TV in the bar!! It has quickly gotten itself a spot up there with Upstairs on the Square and the Beehive, my favorites.

We got there about 45 minutes before our 7pm reservation and sat at the bar for cocktails. What a selection! I had a Pimm’s Cup which was great. At 7 the hostess told us they had a table for us but if we wanted to wait 20 minutes more they would have a better table. Sounds like a good deal to me. We ordered a bottle of wine, Quinta da Alorna ’08 from Portugal, at the bar while we waited.

Once we were seated at our especially nice table we pored over the menu trying to narrow down which tapas we wanted. So many options! I really, really wanted to get the Ceviche from Panama as it’s not often you see a dish from Panama on a menu in Boston (or anywhere in the US for that matter) and it reminds me of a lot of good memories as a kid. I lived in Panama for 13 years while until I moved to the US when I was 16. Ceviche reminds me of days spent out on the ocean or Gatun Lake with my family on our boat, the Eek-e-de (Originally called “The Weekender” but it lost a few letters). We would come into dock sleepy and warm from a day in the sunshine and it would be the perfect, zesty, fresh end the day. It cooled you from the inside out. Alas, the ceviche at Cuchi Cuchi was made with scallops which I am allergic to so that wasn’t going to work. I actually considered still getting it, telling myself maybe I was over my allergy but that wouldn’t have been smart.

We narrowed it down to four selections:

  • Brie en Croûte – Brie, walnuts, bacon in puff pastry
  • Fried Artichoke Hearts – filled w/ gorgonzola, pistachios & basil
  • Bracioletta Ripiena di Maiale – Grilled pork rolls stuffed w/pecorino cheese, pancetta, sautéed garlic
  • Potato Croquettes

I am not sure I can even categorize the above selections from my favorite to least favorite, they were all phenomenal. The brie was a lovely combination of salty and sweet and served with green apple for a little tartness. The artichoke hearts were lightly fried with a burst of gooey cheese and basil that sort of exploded, in the best possible way, in your mouth when you bit into it. The bracioletta was a little heavier (everything else was surprisingly light considering they were deep fried or wrapped in puff pastry), heartier and nice and salty. Being in the shape of an eggroll I kept expecting a dipping sauce but clearly they were not eggrolls and they did not need a sauce, they were plenty moist but still not fatty. If I had to choose a favorite I think it may have been the potato croquettes. I love anything croquettes. They were light and fluffy on the inside while crispy and golden fried on the outside. They were served with two sauces – a creamy alfredo and a zesty marinara. I saved one for my very last bite as that’s the flavor I wanted to be left with (until dessert that is).

Our waitress had recommended the French Banana Bread Extravaganza for dinner claiming she could eat one every night for dinner but we still, ignorantly, ordered the Tiramisu instead. We immediately regretted it as it just wasn’t that good. Sensing my disappointment and seeing me put down my spoon for the first time with a dessert on the table, my dinner date quickly flagged down our waitress and ordered the French Banana Bread Extravaganza. My hero!

The French Banana Bread Extravaganza came out practically on a platter. It was huge! There was no way we could finish the entire thing. Oh wait… yes, we could. The bananas were fried and caramelized and served with ice cream and whip cream and there must have been some bread in there somewhere. I didn’t stop long enough to really get a good look. This, along with a cup of coffee, was the perfect way to end a wonderful evening and an amazing meal.

I need to go back soon. Very soon.

Now for the pièce de résistance, the French Banana Bread Extravaganza in all its glory. Try to wrap your head around that.

How did Cuchi Cuchi measure up? 4.5 Spoons (too bad for that Tiramisu or it would have been 5)!

Cuchi Cuchi on Urbanspoon

Thelonius Monkfish, Central Sq

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Where: Thelonious Monkfish – 524 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02139
When: November, 2011

Last night Daniela and I did something naughty. Verrrry naughty. We donned trench coats and fake mustaches, crept across town to Central Square and tried a new sushi restaurant – Thelonious Monkfish. Please don’t tell Blue Fin.

TM, as I will call it for short as I seem to spell it wrong every time, wooed me with their “Jazz for the Palate” tag line. I had also heard from Dan that the sushi was fantastic and it was worth going to even though they don’t have a liquor license (gasp!). Those of you who know me know that I like a drink or two with my meal but this had to be done.

We didn’t think to make a reservation so when we got there, and saw that the place was packed, the host told us we could take a seat at the sushi bar or he had space at a Japanese-style table. We got excited about that until realizing those cushions aren’t really ideal when wearing a skirt. To the bar we go!

The waitstaff were very good, efficient and attentive. It wasn’t lacking just because we were at the bar which was great.

Their menu is extensive. They have everything from tamarind duck to ginger cod. From fried rice to Tonkatsu curries. From Udon to Krapows.The names are fun to read over and the descriptions are clear and mouth watering. My favorite names were in the “Fairy Tale Sushi Series” with names like The Frog Prince roll (salmon, mango & tempura crunch, layered with avocado, then crowned with a spicy snow crab & tobiko salad) and The Sleeping Beauty Roll (white tuna, crushed pineapple & tempura flakes wrapped in yellow soy paper & sushi rice, then draped w/ salmon, sliced ripe mango, drizzled with a refreshing pineapple-lime mayo). I like a good fairy tale, especially if its got a happy ending.

We had stalked the menu ahead of time, pointing out the Cranberry Crab Rangoons which looked interesting and delicious. We still went through the motions of pretending to look and exclaim “oh, Cranberry Crab Rangoons, those sound interesting… Hmm, what do you think? Should we get an order?”. Yes. Yes, we should. They were amazing. One wonders how you would make a cream and crab filled dumpling that is then deep fried even better but apparently cranberry is the way. The tart but sweetness of the cranberries cut into the heaviness of the cream and made them feel lighter and, dare I say, healthier? Yum! The only complaint we had was that the order came with 5 and we had to awkwardly split the last one. Come on, add another to round it out! Okay, I really just wanted another.

We always get the same thing when we go out for sushi – spicy tuna make and idaho maki. Its our thing. We weren’t willing to give either of those up but we did think we should try something new in addition to these traditional rolls. We got, per Dan’s recommendation, the Harlem Nocturne Roll which consisted of avocado, asparagus, cucumber, tempura crunch all wrapped in nori and rice topped with smoked salmon, cream cheese and spring onion “confetti”. Hajimemashite! Dan was right, its like a fresh salad explosion in your mouth. I couldn’t say it better. And, honestly, anything with “confetti” is bound to be fun. I’d definitely also recommend the spicy tuna and idaho rolls here, they were both really fresh.

When we were paying our bill I noticed that every time a customer came in I’d get really cold so I’d ask to sit at the back of the restaurant next time. I’m always cold though, aren’t I?

Thelonious Monkfish on Urbanspoon