Tag Archives: 4.5 Spoons

Olecito, Inman Sq

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Where: Olecito – 12 Springfield Street, Cambridge MA
When: June, 2012

I’m a big fan of Ole in Inman Square and, before I started this blog as an excuse to eat out as much as possible, I would come up with excuses to get people to go there with me. “I’m celebrating growing my hair out!”, “I found the perfect nail polish color!”, “I perfected my cursive Gs!”… You get the point. I love Ole.

Because of my immobility (are you sick of hearing about my broken foot yet?) a good friend offered to come over with dinner from Olecito, Ole’s little brother who only does take-away, across the street. I clearly win the competition for world’s greatest friends.

I had picked up dinner from Olecito once before and had gotten the Arrachera Tacos which come with marinated steak, pinto bean spread, jack cheese, lettuce, and avocado sauce per a friend’s recommendation. Although very, very good (its still my friend’s go-to dish from there) it was a little heavy for me so this time I went for the Baja Tacos which come with battered fish (or shrimp), pickled cabbage, chipotle mayo, and cilantro pesto. Oh My My! Now this is what I am talking about.

The Baja Tacos were light, zesty, creamy, crisp, and just exploded in your mouth with flavor. I got two of them but likely could have eaten another two if they had been put in front of me. We also got some chips and guacamole which were delicious, as you can see by the empty guacamole container in front of me in the photo.

Overall, Olecito has a small menu and no seating but if you are looking for a quick, delicious dinner to go – this place is for you.  I’ve never tried anything but the tacos and likely never will as these own my heart.

Ole and Olecito are up there with The Painted Burro and East Coast Grill for my favorite shrimp / fish taco places in the greater Boston area. Olé!

How did Olecito measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Olecito 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

Painted Burro, Davis Sq – Revisited

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Where: The Painted Burro – 219 Elm Street Somerville, MA
When: May 2012

I’m very fond of the Painted Burro. In fact, in some cultures I may be considered “in love” with the Burro. He makes me very happy.

Lately I have been spending more time at the Painted Burro, it seems to be becoming one of my regular spots.  The have turned me into a big margarita fan.

This last visit started off as just going out for a couple of margaritas but once we got a couple of those in us we wanted food. We ordered the Guacamole “El Mero Mero” with fire roasted poblano & onion rajas and the Crispy Maine Redfish tacos with savoy cabbage, jalapeno slaw and baja mayo.

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The Burro offers three types of guacamole: one traditional, one with pork belly, and one with peppers and onions. We opted for the third options which was really good. The poblanos weren’t too spicy but gave the guacamole a nice texture and flavor. The guacamole alone would have been great so this was just an added bonus. And the chips… delicious. Not too heavy or greasy like a lot of places.

Its a little hard to tell whats going on in this photo but this is the Crispy Maine Redfish tacos with savoy cabbage, jalapeno slaw and baja mayo.I had had this dish earlier in the week and remembered it being really good (so good I forgot to take a photo before inhaling them) so suggested it again. We both really enjoyed the tacos and found them really filling. They had  just the right amount of crunch, crisp, spice, and creaminess. I think I actually prefer these over the shrimp tacos I got last time I was there.

Overall, I love this place and am upping the spoons I gave them last time. I love the atmosphere, the food is great and the service very good (they forgot to put in our guacamole order so when we asked 30 minutes later they brought it out for free and were very apologetic). I actually just realized why I recognized the bartender, he is / was the bartender at Posto, which is owned by the same people. You know you are in trouble when you start recognizing bartenders from bar to bar, right?

How did The Painted Burro measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

The Painted Burro on Urbanspoon

Toro, South End

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Where: Toro – 1704 Washington Street, Boston MA
When: May, 2012

Toro, one of the most talked about Boston restaurants, has been on my “must-go” list since they opened. The need to get to Toro only increased after seeing chef Jamie Bissonnette on the Food Network’s Chopped (he also won Food & Wine’s 2011 People’s Best New Chef award) and after going to Coppa, Jamie’s and Ken Oringer’s other restaurant, which was fantastic.

I got plenty of warnings about the extra long wait times so we made sure to head over right after work on a Tuesday to be safe. We were seated immediately as they had plenty of open tables (which did not last long). We sat at one of the large family style tables in the middle of the room where I strategically placed myself facing the open kitchen. The only complaint we had was that there wasn’t a place to hang our jackets or put our bags so we had to put them on the floor (thank goodness we weren’t in Brazil as that’s a clear “I’m a prostitute and available” signal). We started off with Gypsys all around. Whats a Gypsy, you ask? Its a delicious cocktail of Death’s Door gin, Yellow Chartreuse, and St Germain. Its so good, in fact, that I had another two which made me the friendliest person in the room chatting with our neighbors as well as asking our server to introduce me to Jamie Bissonnette, who I could see was working in the open kitchen. He said I could just go up and say hi myself but, oh no, I needed an introduction. This was a big deal! I got one and Jamie was super nice as I gushed about what a big fan I am. At this time our dinner neighbors leaned over to my friends to announce that Jamie is married so I just want to reassure everyone jumping to any conclusion that even though he seems like a lovely person, its his food skills that I am completely lusting over.

We decided to pick two items off the menu each so we would have a variety of tapas to try. And this is what we got…

Boquerones – White anchovies in vinegar and olive oil. In 2011 I took on two new lovers: anchovies and oysters. I almost don’t remember what I was like before these life changing foods came into my life but I am sure I was not nearly as happy. That being said, I had to get the anchovies and introduce Daniela to them, who I believe may be a new fan. These were great, nice and salty and perfect alone or with some of the bread served with our tapas.

Queso de Cabra – Vermont goat cheese with pistachios and tomato honey. There isn’t much that makes my mouth water more than the combination of cheese and honey so I was really excited about this dish. The cheese was great as were all the components but I found myself wishing out loud for MORE tomato honey and MORE pistachios.

Tortilla Espanola – Egg, potato and onion omelet with aioli. This dish was Daniela’s choosing, saying Tortilla Espanola may be one of her favorite dishes ever. No pressure, Toro. No pressure. I generally like Tortilla Espanolas but its not something really crave worthy for me so I was really surprised by how much I loved this one. The tortilla was really moist and creamy. Just lovely. The aoili, which came on a few of the dishes was a really great compliment for it and just the right amount of garlic. I could eat that shit on everything!

Datiles con Jamon – Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano. Holy moley, guys. These dates were phenomenal! Seriously. They were so good that before leaving I insisted that our new dining neighbors get them. Insisted. The saltiness of the ham with the sharpness of the cheese with the sweetness of the dates all came together really well. My only complaint is that there were only two of them; I could have eaten a half dozen easily. I’m a little embarrassed to say that between three college educated, well traveled, career women we couldn’t figure out what dates are. Were they dried plums? No, those are prunes. Dried figs? No… I had to google it to find out that dates are… dates. Waking up and opening my safari browser to find “Whats a date?” made me feel like a genius.

Asado de Huesos – Roasted bone marrow with radish citrus salad and oxtail marmalade. The bone marrow was Olivia’s pick and although none of us really knew what to expect, I was looking forward to trying something new. I had never had bone marrow before and expected it to be somewhat mousse-like for whatever reason. It was not mousse-like at all, it was fat -ike. Very very fat-like. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it after the first bite but after the second I decided bone marrow is not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I love fat but this was just too much for me. The oxtail marmalade on the other hand, I could eat by the bowlful.

Anna’s Empanadas – Chicken and potato empanadas with salsa rojo and aioli. I’m dying to know what sort of pastry these empanadas are made of as it wasn’t at all what I expected. In high school, in Panama, I would take my $1 a day lunch money to buy two empanadas from Oscar’s food cart (and spend the rest of cigarettes – $.10 each) and they were these really flaky buttery pastries. That’s what I always tend to expect when I hear empanadas but this was different – they almost tasted as though the pastry was made with corn or yuca or something. I could be off but either way, they were really good. And, again, they came with that phenomenal aioli.

Maiz Asado con Aioli y Queso Cotija – La Especialidad de la Casa. Grilled corn with aioli, lime, espelette pepper and aged cheese. Amy first introduced me to Elote at Ole in Cambridge and since then I have been hooked. I even have a couple recipes saved but something about smothering corn with cheese and mayo at home just seems a little too indulgent to me. This was super messy but equally delicious so was happy to have aioli across my cheeks for the experience.

Churros with chocolate sauce. Toro has one dessert and that’s all they need. The churros are light and fluffy on the inside and the chocolate sauce rich and velvety. We actually all agreed that although the chocolate sauce was delicious the churros were so good that we preferred them on their own. That’s saying something.

Overall, I thought the service and atmosphere at Toro was great. The drinks were delicious (and helped me meet a famous chef as well as have a heart to heart with a very sweet homeless man, Ritchie, on my way home). The food was all very well prepared and flavorful. I’d recommend it for a group of friends or coworkers or even on a date although be warned that a community table isn’t particularly cozy or romantic. I’d definitely go back but I do not think I would wait hours in their famous lines for a table. Don’t get me wrong, its great food but Boston has enough great restaurants that I am rarely willing to wait more than 20 minutes to be seated.

How did Toro measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Toro on Urbanspoon

Area Four, Tech Sq

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Where: Area Four – 500 Technology Square Cambridge, MA 02139
When: March, 2012

Last week our field staff were in town for a two day training so I was put in charge of choosing where our large group would be eating dinner – no idea why they picked me as I can’t stand thinking about food.

The natural first choice was Area Four which is steps from our new office space in Tech Sq. I had been there before in my pre-blogging days so was excited to be able to review it this time. We sat at the same large table in the back which is a great spot to to see everything going on from the kitchen to the outside courtyard. The restaurant has a very casual but modern feel with high ceilings and a lot of stainless steel. Even with so much space and metal they manage to make it feel comfortable and personal with their layout and details.

I was nominated to order red for the table so got us a litre of the Guintrandy Rhone Blend which went down like water after a day of meetings and trainings (read: it was good). We then got a couple orders of the Garlic Knots with pecorino & gremolata to share (per Daniela’s strong recommendation). I wish this photo did the knots justice but I couldn’t get a good photo and refused to keep trying as it was catching my boss’ attention who was starting to think it was a little strange that I was photographing our food. These little orbs were soft, chewy puffs of garlicky heaven. They were smothered in garlic so I encouraged everyone at the table to try them as not to isolate any one person who would quickly feel like the only vampire at the table otherwise.

20120314-203802.jpgAs the server went around the table taking orders everyone was trying to match up pizzas to share. Shockingly, no one wanted to share my Wellfleet Cherrystone Clam & Bacon pizza which came with clam sauce, pecorino, hot pepper, and parsley. Everyone seemed a little disturbed by the thought of clams on pizza but after having the memorable pizza with mussels at Trade I was up for it. The pizza was good! Not to sound surprised but everything worked really well together. It was fairly salty between the bacon, clams and cheese but the hot pepper, which wasn’t overly hot, cut through the saltiness and the parsley added a layer of freshness. The dough was also very good – a thin crust with puffy soft pockets. It made me want to order a side of ranch or something fatty to dip it in to but then I reminded myself that I just ate an entire pizza by myself.

The clam pizza is the one on top of the rack in this photo. The one below is the Puttanesca which has green olives, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, hot peppers, mozzarella, pecorino and parsley. I almost got this one as I love anchovies but I’m still working on loving olives so I held off. A little bit of food history for you – did you know that Puttanesca means “in the style of a prostitute” in Italian? Apparently way back in the day (what day, don’t ask) in Italy the wives complained that they didn’t want the prostitutes shopping in their markets so the prostitutes were only allowed one set afternoon a week to shop for all their food. Because of this they stocked up on nonperishable canned items like anchovies and olives that would keep longer. The prostitutes created a pasta dish with all these items and it was dubbed Pasta Puttanesca (Prostitute’s Pasta). Good for them for creating a dish that has become so popular.

Overall, the service was great and I love the atmosphere. They know how to take care of a big group although I am sure it would be a great place to go to with a smaller group as well. The food was all above par, I’d definitely go back and likely will. Often.

How did Area Four measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Area Four on Urbanspoon