Tag Archives: tapas

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!

Casa B, Union Sq

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Where: Casa B – 253 Washington Street, Somerville MA 02143
When: June, 2012

After my failed attempt to go to Casa B a few weeks ago I jumped at the chance to to go again, this time with a reservation. We got there for 7pm and were taken downstairs, which seemed to have a pretty different feel to it (cozier and more intimate than upstairs), to be seated. Originally we were taken to the bar to sit in this double bar stool thing which was a bit awkward so we requested, and were granted, a table. Thank god.

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We started with the Tabla de Ceviches which is an assortment of three ceviches, marinated in citrus, root vegetable chips. The three ceviches were langosta (lobster), merluza (hake) y salmón (salmon, obviously). They were all really good, fresh, light and zesty but the hake was probably my favorite. The trio of ceviches was served with plantain chips which were crunchy and earthy, a nice compliment to the lightness of the seafood.

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Next we got the Bacalaitos Fritos con Brandada y Alioli de Cilantro (salted cod fritters, brandade, with cilantro aioli). I expected these little deep fried fritters it to be really incredible but it fell a little flat for me. It was crispy and had the potential to be amazing but it was a little heavy and flavors a little muddled. The aioli was really good.

This was my favorite dish of the night. Camarones Rellenos de Yuca Envueltos en Tocineta con Salsa de Cilantro y Jengibre (Yucca Stuffed Shrimp wrapped in Bacon, Cilantro Ginger Dipping Sauce). The shrimp were succulent; yucca, earthy and bacon, salty. The sauce mellowed the flavors out and gave it a burst of freshness. I could have eaten a couple dozen of these.

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Next, we got the Albóndigas en Salsa de Guayaba (Meatballs in Guava Sauce). The meatballs were tender and juicy with the sauce adding a sweetness to balance them out. I thought that this was an unusual menu item for a tapas place, but what do I know? It totally fit and worked.

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For dessert, we got the Tres Leches – Leche Condensada, Evaporada,  Clásica Decorado con Merengue (Three Milk Cake: Condensed, Evaporated, Cream, topped with Meringue) which had come highly recommended from a friend. This little cake was really good – moist, soft, light, and fluffy. It satisfied my need for something sweet at the end of ever meal.

Overall, the service was great, atmosphere vibrant yet intimate, and food above average. Great for groups, a date, or just out with a friend. I’d definitely go again.

How did Casa B measure up? 4 Spoons!

Casa B 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

Lolita, Back Bay

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Where: Lolita – 271 Dartmouth Street, Boston MA 02116
When: April, 2012

A couple of weeks ago I agreed to join one of my favorite francophiles, Olivia, at the French Cultural Center for their Open House. My french has developed a little rust around the edges so we agreed to go get a drink before heading over as we all know that makes the languages flow with more ease.

We met up at Met Bar on Dartmouth which was the perfect spot for an after work drink. We both got the Gypsy cocktail which is gin, st. germain (my fav), chartreuse, and fresh lime. First thing I noticed? These cocktails are big! My french would be flowing in no time. I really liked Met Bar actually, I would definitely go back.

Our visit to the French Cultural Center went well. Olivia ended up signing up 20120329-180859.jpgfor advanced French classes while I chatted away with some of the professors. They played a little game trying to figure out where the hell they would place me if I choose to take classes as I can understand french perfectly, speak it well enough to get by, but can’t talk about the past or future. Its all about the present for me, mon amour. After some cheese, wine, and all things french we headed out to find a spot for dinner.

We headed to Lolita on Dartmouth and were promptly seated, even with no reservation. We were served complimentary granita with grapefruit and tequila as well as three salsa with chips. I could have done without the granita but the salsa was nice to nibble on as we wait for our tapas to come out.

Below are my reviews of what we ordered and how I liked them. I took some notes during dinner as I was about 3 drinks in at this point and didn’t want to forget anything.

So, we got:

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Sticky spare ribs: BBQ’d pork ribs with a spicy Mexican coffee bean, chocolate, sesame and orange glaze. What I noted during dinner: “Ribs had way too much sauce. Think like tar. Couldn’t eat more than one and didn’t even like the one. Blech.” These were clearly a disappointment.
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Rib-eye tacos: sliced grilled rib-eye, tobacco onions, garlic crema. I ate more of these tacos than anything else. They were a little dry on their own but drenched in the garlic crema they were delicious. That being said, not sure if having to drench something in sauce to make it delicious is the best review I’ve ever given.
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Crispy masa oysters: lghtly fried east coast oysters dusted with red chile masa and chipotle crema. I kept calling these “Roysters” apparently (from my notes and vague memory). These roysters had way too much breading on them, you could barely taste the roysters.

Mahi mahi flautas: roasted corn, poblano and chipotle chiles, jack cheese and avocado-tomatillo salsa. I wrote: “Fluatas good but a little soggy.” These were halfway decent but they were soggy, as I mentioned. We thought maybe it was because everything came out at once which made things sit a bit longer then they should have and get cold. Bummer as they could have been good otherwise.

Overall, the food was not impressive. It wasn’t even mediocre. I wouldn’t go back for dinner although I can say that the drinks were great so I would go back for that. The atmosphere was lively but not rowdy and a bit of a younger crowd. It was pretty dark and that’s what I will blame for missing a step and spraining my ankle (not the numerous drinks) while leaving.

One last note I took, not sure its relevant but funny nonetheless: “Table next to us had a few mishaps. Dropped menu and then split drink. Guess I would be nervous too if I were a 21 yo dating a 40 yo.” Yikes.

How did Lolita measure up? 1.5 Spoons!

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar on Urbanspoon

Tico, Back Bay

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20120205-212918.jpgWhere: Tico – 222 Berkeley Street, Boston MA 02116
When: February, 2012

Saturday night I had plans to head down to Back Bay to hear a band that I wanted to check out for our company’s annual gala. I couldn’t see them until after 10pm so what’s a girl to do to kill a couple of hours? Fortunately, my colleague and one of her friends were up for a night out!

We started at Brasserie Jo for cocktails. I haven’t been there in years so it was really nice to see the space, it looks great as does the menu. I had a hard time catching the bartenders’ eye but once I did I got an espresso martini which was delicious. I couldn’t imagine getting anything but an espresso martini at Brasserie Jo for some reason, it just seemed to fit.

After a couple of drinks we headed to Tico for dinner. I had never been but it was on my list as one of my must go to restaurants for 2012. Tico was rated by Esquire as the best 2011 new restaurant in the US so I had high hopes.

We got there at 9 with a 9pm reservation and had to wait about 15 minutes to sit which was fine but the place was so crowded we weren’t able to get to the bar for a drink. While we waited I noticed the customer flair. There was the guy at the bar with dreads but then a table of girls who looked like they walked off the set of the Real Housewives of New Jersey. I think I may have been the only one in there not wearing colored stilettos (not that I don’t want to). Eclectic. I can dig it.

We were seated close to the bar which was really loud and it was a little difficult to talk over the music.

We decided to order three small plates each to share (descriptions below photo):

Spicy Shrimp, bacon and avocado – The flavors were good and the shrimp were cooked very well. I could have used another shrimp or filler in each taco, they were a little skimpy.

Crispy Pork Belly, onion & mustard – These were amazing. To quote Carol, “If you like fat, you’ll like these”. Yes, I like fat and I like these. I loved the mustard sauce as well, just tangy enough to cut the fattiness of the pork.

Tuna Tartare Tostadas with lime, cilantro and serranos – I loved this. The tuna was really fresh and the tostadas crispy and salty. I’d get this again any day.

Crispy Fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce – I’m a Manchego fanatic so was really excited about this dish but, sadly, quickly found out that fried Manchego pretty much tastes like fried mozzarella. If there was a notable difference I’d have to say that the Manchego was drier and, dare I say, blander? There was nothing special about this dish unfortunately.

Sweet Corn with Bacon, Chiles and Thai Basil – Loved this. It was pretty spicy with the chiles but the sweetness of the corn and saltiness of the bacon balanced it out well. A keeper.

Grilled Octopus with Tiny Potatoes, Aji Amarillo and Panca – I’m drawn to octopus anytime I see it on the menu so was pretty excited about this. The octopus was cooked well and very smoky tasting which was a little different. The rest of the salad was fine but not particularly memorable.

Chorizo Risotto with pasilla chiles, scallion and parmigiano – Great risotto, nice and creamy with just the right amount of bite to it. But where was the chorizo!? The pieces were so small It was easy to forget it even came with chorizo. Get some big chunks in there.

Crispy honey-cayenne chicken wings – The chicken wings were sticky, sweet, spicy, succulent, and messy – just as wings should be.

Lobster Croquet with Aji Amarillo Sauce – I think I have mentioned this before but I’ll say it again – I love croquettes. They are fried and crispy and all soft and gooey in the center. This, essentially, was all that but sadly was not memorable in a good way. All I could really taste was what tasted like velveeta cheese. I couldn’t have been velveeta (is that stuff even still legal?) and I have no idea way it was but it was not tasty. Very disappointing.

Overall, the things I did love – the pork belly, tuna tartare, sweet corn, and risotto – were all amazingly delicious and I’d love to have them again but I’m not sure I’ll be making a trip back. It was really loud and half the dishes we got were just “ok”, if that. I’d like to know what the guys from Esquire got!

How did Tico measure up? 2.5 Spoons!

Tico 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

Kika Tapas, Kendall Sq

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Where: Kika Tapas – 9 Broad Canal Way, Cambridge, MA 02142
When: December, 2011

I’ve been walking by Kika Tapas on my way to work since they started building out the space a couple of months ago. The last month has been pretty exciting watching them install the painted wooden floors and apply the awesome “Almodovar-like” red and white wallpaper, which I love. Until I heard someone refer to the décor this way I didn’t put the connection together between the restaurant name and Almodóvar who directed the film Kika. Until I put this together I wasn’t really crazy about the name but it makes a little more sense to me now.

I saw that Kika Tapas opened last week so was excited to go there with Libby for our holiday-y dinner. I really liked the restaurant decor, its fun and funky but clean and simple, if that makes any sense at all. I dig it.

We started with a bottle of the Las Rocas Garnacha which I didn’t recognize the name of but I knew as soon as it came out that I had had it before and liked it. Its still driving me crazy as to where I previously had it.

When I was a vegetarian I used to hate going out for tapas as the table would end up sharing multiple items but with only which about 1/4 of them being vegetarian. So I’d share those and still get stuck with 1/2 of the bill and a 3/4 of an empty belly. You do the math. I now love it as I get to try so many things in one sitting instead of just having one plate of food in front of me.

We ordered the Boquerones, marinated fresh anchovy filets, while we looked over the menu. I think I have previously mentioned my newly found affinity for anchovies and you can always count on a tapas place to have them on the menu. They were garlicky and salty, just as they should be.

We then got the Gambas al Ajillo, Sizzling Garlic Shrimp, which came out just as they should – piping hot. The shrimp were really garlicky and well cooked (lucky thing we weren’t planning any canoodling with all this garlic). Next was the Ravioles de Mariscos, Lobster Crab Raviolis in a Langostino Sauce, which I think was my favorite dish of the night. I am a sucker for these rich tomato cream type sauces and this one was good. Not too heavy and just right to compliment the delicate pasta as well as to be mopped up with extra bread, one of my favorite parts of any sauce.

The next round was the Mejillones a la Salmorra, Steamed Mussels in a Spicy Tomato & Wine Sauce, which I was a little apprehensive about after my experience at Abigail’s but I am glad I plowed through it as they were really good. The sauce was, again, garlicky and a little spicy and also great to use up that second basket of bread we asked for. Last but not least we had the Queso de Cabra Montañes, Baked Goat Cheese in Tomato Basil Sauce, which surprised me every time I took a bite. I knew from the description that it was goat cheese but for some reason every time I took a bite I expected a milder cheese, like a mozzarella. Each time I was like, wow, this is goat cheese!

The only off putting part of the evening is that the waiter would only look at me when he came over to our table. Granted I did order the wine, taste the wine, and order all the food but I felt as though I was on a date and I was the man which was a little awkward. Libby ended up putting dinner on her card so there’s a lesson to you all to look at both parties in the eye when talking to them!

Overall, I loved Kika Tapas and am excited to have them in my work neighborhood. I see many lunches, drinks, and dinners happening here. Its perfect for groups, friends, or even a date (although careful with all the garlic!).

How did Kika Tapas measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Kika Tapas on Urbanspoon

Coppa, South End

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Where: Coppa – 253 Shawmut Avenue Boston, MA 02118
When: November, 2011

I was thrilled when Alyssa suggested we try Coppa in the South End for our next outing as I have heard a lot of good things about this place. We set a date weeks in advance due to our (mostly her) crazy schedules. Then I get sent to New Orleans for a last minute work trip and the only direct flight back has me missing dinner so I booked a crappy connecting flight through Cincinatti. I was determined. My flight was about 20 minutes late so I was one of those people tearing through the airport with my scarf and suitcase flying behind me. I got there 10 minutes late and a little frantic but Alyssa seemed less fussed about my tardiness than I was (did I mention she had been there for 40 minutes total as we could only get a 6:30 reservation? She rocks).

All the running was well worth it – the place is charming and cozy! Like any real Italian place they pack a lot of tables into a small space but you don’t feel cramped or crowded. Its just right. The waitstaff are all casually dressed (Brandeis t-shirt on ours) and very friendly.

Alyssa started with the Aperol Spritz (aperol, prosecco and soda) which she confessed was one of the main reasons she wanted to come here. Aperol was her drink of choice while in Italy and not many places in Boston have it. She let me try it and we both looked at each other and exhaled “refreshing” at each other. I had a glass of the Cortese which was crisp and perfect to cool me down after my mad dash.

Now… food. We split a few things to be able to try as many things as we could. We started with the Funghi Marinati which isn’t just fun to say but fun to eat as well (as you try not to let your fork pop them off your plate on to your neighbor). These mushrooms were marinated and served in Eva’s herbs. Bravo, Eva. I have a special place for mushrooms in my heart and belly as from about 12-16 years old that’s the only thing I would agree to eat when dining out. As a family we would go to these wonderful restaurants from Sao Paulo to Vancouver and I would threaten to starve myself unless the chef sauteed mushrooms and plopped them on some toast for me. I was practically made of mushrooms.

We then got the Prosciutto di Parma, a generous plate of salty prosciutto drizzled with just a drop of olive oil. Eat it on bread, eat it with more oil, eat it alone. No matter how you eat it, its salty goodness.

Here comes the Mele e Burrata. Heirloom apples with Maria’s Burrata and charred lemon. I was a little lukewarm about this one. I couldn’t quite pin it down but it was just a little too tart for me and I’m just not crazy about the flavor combination although I love all the components separately.

And now. Get ready. Arancini! Not only fun to say, as anything ending in “cini” is, but terribly delicious. These are traditional fried risotto balls with fontina cheese. Oh my. Yes. Four more orders please. They were deep fried and crisp on the outside but you cracked it open with your fork to reveal the softest creamiest risotto. I don’t know what sauce they served it with but I did find myself stealing the last piece of bread to sop up the remainder of it once I had polished off my arancini. This was the highlight for me, hands down.

Would I go back? I have to, there are so many things I didn’t get to try! Like the Sea urchin and salami panino with mustard seeds, the house-cured white anchovies, and the fluke crudo. Those are just the small plates, just wait until you see the full menu!

How did Coppa measure up? 5 Spoons!

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