Tag Archives: upstairs on the square

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

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Upstairs on the Square, Harvard Sq

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Where: Upstairs on the Square91 Winthrop Street Cambridge, MA 02138
When: November, 2011 – Thanksgiving Day

Even though my non-American family and I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving, its a tradition I would very much like to take on as my own. I love that its about family, friends, being thankful and – food! I also love how its one of the few that isn’t about gifts.

I have never baked, roasted, or fried a turkey and for two people it was a bit much so my dad and I spent Thanksgiving lunch at Upstairs in the Square. I refuse to call it dinner if it takes place before 6pm.

I love Upstairs on the Square, its probably my favorite restaurant. I love the pink and gold and whimsy of it all. It feels like you are there for a special occasion every time and yet its comfortable enough where you can go in jeans and not feel out of place. Sophisticated but not stuffy.

For Thanksgiving it was the same menu for both floors, where usually the top floor is a little pricier and fancier. I made a note with my reservation that I would like to sit upstairs in the soiree room so was very happy they could accommodate that. I mean, you might as well get the best seat in the house if you can, right?

The menu was prix fixe so for $68 you had a choice of starter, entree and dessert. The first option on the starter menu was New England Crab Cakes with Citrus and Old Bay Aioli and Mache. Done. If a menu has crab cakes the likelihood that I will keep looking decreases about 98%. The crab cakes were really good, lots of crab and with the citrus they didn’t feel too heavy (isn’t it amazing how citrus makes everything feel lighter?). My dad got the Smoked Salmon Tartar on Buttered Bread Toast Points which was also really good and a light starter. The meal then came with an Autumn Salad with Local Apples, Farmhouse Cheddar, and Cider Vinaigrette – I love the tartness of the apples with the sweetness of the vinaigrette and saltiness of the cheese.

We both then got the Sage-Rubbed Pork Loin with Sweet Potato Gratin, Garlicky Swiss Chard and Apple Butter (poorly photographed here on the right). This dish was incredible. The pork was cooked perfectly and went perfectly with a bit of the chard and apple butter. The flavors all worked really well together and the portions were very generous. I would definitely get this again if they had it on their regular menu.

For dessert my dad had the Trio of Pies: Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan with a Chantilly Whipped Cream. I had thought this would be a small bite-sized pie of each but it was literally three big slices of pie. It was a little much (a lot much really) but they were all very good. We both agreed that the pecan was our favorite of the three. But my dessert,… I can still taste it. It was amazing. Caramelized Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was so rich and chocolaty but you just got this little undertone of banana with each bite which just made it taste even more chocolaty. I wasn’t planning on eating the whole thing but next thing I new I was handing my empty plate to my dad so I could try his pies. “Gourmand!”, as my cousin would say.

We rounded out the meal with a couple of coffees and talked about how this would be a nice Thanksgiving tradition. I agreed that until I have more than one person to cook for this makes the most sense although I most likely would not be able to pick up the bill next time as that was a hearty share of my rent.

We walked home, arm in arm, in the chilly autumn-going-on-winter air thankful for the warmth in our bellies and hearts from an afternoon spent with good food, wine, and family. Happy Thanksgiving!

How did Upstairs on the Square measure up? 5  Spoons!

Upstairs on the Square on Urbanspoon