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A Little Bit About a Lot of Things

A lifestyle blog with a focus on my food adventures

As a stay at home mom, sometimes I crawl the walls and need to get out of the house. Here are some things that I’ve found in the Metro West area that will keep you sane and the kids entertained. Oh, and bonus points because they’re free!

On Sunday nights at The Villa restaurant in Wayland, magician Fran Flynn does magic tricks table side from 5pm – 8pm. Oh, and balloon animals, because who doesn’t love balloon animals! The Villa is located at 124 East Plain Street in Wayland.

Tuesday and Wednesday mornings there is a free story time at Barnes and Noble in Framingham (and other B&N locations as well – check their website for dates and times at a store near you). They read two books and have coloring afterwards. Storytime starts at 10:30am both days and they read the same story on Tuesday and Wednesday. June 13th and 14th they will read stories celebrating Father’s Day. June 20th and 21st they will read some silly animal stories. June 27th and 28th they will be reading about dinosaurs. In addition, they offer story time on Saturdays at 11am. June 10th they will be reading Oh, the Places You’ll Go. June 17th they will read When Dads Don’t Grow Up and on the 24th they will read The Rainbow Fish.

Little Flippers in Natick and Winchester offer free swim classes for infants aged 3 months – 6 months (First Flippers). The classes are 30 minutes and they sing songs and play games.

Planet Gymnastics in Natick offers free classes for kids aged 5 months to pre – walking. The 30 minute class incorporates massage, exercises, and activities that help with balance, and both fine and gross motor skills.

Jam time has two locations, one in Maynard and the other in Natick. If you are thinking about enrolling in a class you can try one for free before you commit to the entire session.

The shops at Linden Square in Wellesley offer free activities on the second Tuesday of every month (Mommy and Me/Tots at 10). Registration is required, as space is limited. Head over to California Pizza Kitchen at 10am on the 13th for a Father’s Day craft. See their website for a schedule of events.

Your library is a great resource. Check out you local branch’s website for free music classes and story time events. Worth noting, libraries also have museum passes that will get you discounted admission at some fun places!

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Growing up, I was pretty proud that I had never been to the town bar, the Dudley Chateau. Since moving back to the suburbs, I can’t even tell you the amount of times I’ve been there. And I brought kids. Townie bar with children. Yup, I’ve turned into that person. The bar is located on a pond, so people have a nice view when the weather is cooperating. The inside is exactly what you would imagine and there are definitely regulars there at the bar, but I guess you could argue that I’m almost a regular.

My mom loves the burgers, they’re not bad. You can get a regular or a mini. They offer your typical bar fare, chicken tenders, wings, nachos, and chili. They have a variety of wraps, wraps and burgers. The fries are good, but the onion rings are better. The mushroom burger is tasty, more so than the steak sandwich. Most entrees hover around $10. They have a kids menu, and for around $5 you can get 2 sliders and fries, a grilled hot dog with fries, mac and cheese bites with fries, or chicken tenders with fries. They all come with a Hoodsie cup, yay!

Service is good, attentive and pleasant. Parking is in a lot out front.

Dudley Chateau

20 Crest Road, Wayland, MA

http://thedudleychateau.com

Dudley Chateau Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Apparently my mother and I had the same idea, we had both been wanting to try out RFK Kitchen in Needham. So when her birthday came around this year, obviously we decided to try it out. Make sure to make a reservation, because this place gets packed!

There’s an open dining room, and if you are lucky enough to grab a seat at the counter you can watch the cooks in the open kitchen preparing your meal. Rachel Klein opened RFK Kitchen in her home town, and brought on fellow Liquid Art House alum (and Top Chef contestant) Stacey Cogswell as Executive Chef.

They had some good menu options for the kids at the table, we went with the mac and cheese. Generous portion, we brought 1/2 home for lunch the next day!

To start, the buffalo fiddleheads – a little bit of a spicy kick to them – the cheese was a welcome addition to the plate, but my mouth still tingled!

We had a a delicious meal, everyone enjoyed what they ordered. The strip loin steak comes with spring onions, parsnips and malt vinegar aioli.

The short rib was so tender and was served with spelt and soffits.

This was no ordinary chicken dish, the rotisserie chicken, served with potatoes, onions and lemon was so flavorful. Other entree options include a golden cioppino, a roasted monkfish, the RFK burger and a garbanzo bean stew – to name a few.

The Atlantic Cod was beautifully plated with asparagus, forbidden rice and ribbons of rhubarb.

They kindly added a birthday message to my mom’s dessert.

No longer on the menu, the macaron with rhubarb curd and vanilla bean cream was tasty, albeit a little difficult to eat. I love the ribbons of rhubarb!

Service was good. Street parking at meters and in a lot close by.

RFK Kitchen

30 Dedham Ave., Needham, MA

www.rfkkitchen.com

rfk kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I think I may have said this before, but Maynard is like the land that Monster forgot. One night while the suburban ladies were getting together and drinking wine, I was saying that I felt like the thing I missed most since moving out to the ‘burbs was good ethnic food. My neighbor then RAVED about this little Korean place that if you give a wink to the little old lady, she’ll make it spicy as hell. Intrigued, I ordered take out one night. First, my navigation couldn’t even get me to the right address, so here I am, running around the empty streets of Maynard in the dark looking like a tourist.

The shop is small, and a little dated, but I’m hoping that means that the food is just super delicious because little grandma is more focused on cooking than decor. The man du (first photo) is a meat and vegetable dumpling that I order fried (you can get it steamed too). The filling is good, but not crave-worthy for me. The bulgogi is a traditional dish, marinated beef with vegetables. Again, just ok. It’s served with a side of rice, and when I asked if it was white rice, the woman said it was a mix of white and brown…with beans….

One of my favorite restaurants for soup is Myung Dong 1st Avenue in Allston. I was excited that Little Pusan made my favorite soup, the dok ramen, made with rice cakes, ramen noodles, vegetables and egg in a spicy soup. The soup was tasty, but again, fell a little flat for me. I wasn’t sure about the vegetables in the soup and the noodles were a bit soggy.

Verdict, OK for suburbia, but for this girl, just meh.

Little Pusan

83 Main Street, Maynard, MA

www.littlepusan.com

Little Pusan Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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As you may know, Blue Ginger is closing. The Wellesley restaurant, owned by Ming Tsai, has been know for its allergen free dining (gluten free and nut free dishes). Blue Ginger was coming to the end of their lease, and after nearly 2 decades of business, Tsai has decided to close the restaurant and prepare to launch a new restaurant, Chow Stirs, a fast casual concept restaurant. The last day of service is June 3rd, and on the 4th they will hold a yard sale in the parking lot starting at 9am. Part of the proceeds will go to Family Reach, an organization providing a financial lifeline to families fighting cancer.

Blue Ginger stopped serving lunch and only offered dinner (starting at 4pm) so the staff could focus on providing excellent dinner service. When we went, the service was spotty at best, as the restaurant was slammed with patrons wanting to get one last taste of Blue Ginger.

Jodi and Kim put the evening together, and I’m glad they did. I’m sorry to say that I had only ever been to Blue Ginger once before, and that was for take out. The food we had that night was delicious. We started with the shiitake leek spring rolls and they bigeye tuna poke. We had $41 sake miso marinated sablefish (butterfish) with wasabi oil, soy lime syrup, and vegetarian soba noodle sushi. The Korean rice cake with shiitake mushroom ragu ($26) was very interesting – quite flavorful. I loved the different textures in the dish and the richness of the mushrooms.

I never get the creme brûlée but nothing else spoke to me on the dessert menu, so vanilla bean creme brûlée it was. Not bad – and it came with two cookies that were tasty.

So goodbye Blue Ginger, looking forward to trying Chow Stirs in 2018!

Blue Ginger

583 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA

https://www.ming.com/blue-ginger.htm

Blue Ginger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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As we were driving through Charlestown to get to Monument, I was telling my friend about this great little Italian place my husband and I used to love coming to, but how it had been ages since we had been there. As we pull up, I felt like the place had a familiar feel to it.

Turns out that the old Italian place, Paolo’s has since gone out of business, and Monument took over the space (and the laundromat that used to be next to it). Apparently this place gets pretty packed – but we lucked out and were able to score a high top table in the back.

Move over honey butter, my former love, whipped ricotta and honey is my new beau. They serve it with fresh rolls, and like guacamole, I could eat just this as my dinner.

Sometimes I like to be a grown up, so I order real food. We start with the Kung Pao Brussels Sprouts ($11). I’ve recently taking a shining to Brussels Sprouts, given that you top them with bacon and throw on some delicious sauce. These come topped with szechuan peppercorns, shishito peppers, honey roasted peanuts, and sweet chili sauce. Just the right amount of heat and I was totally digging the crunch from the peanuts, it was something a little different.

Next we had the pork and spring onion dumplings, seared ($12) that also came topped with that sweet chili sauce I loved from the Brussels Sprouts dish.

Everything on the menu sounded so delicious, it was hard to choose. Sorry in advance about the lighting, the restaurant was a little dark and I was THAT person in the back trying to light my dishes quickly before the annoying glares started. So I went with the lobster gnocchi (market price), the dumplings were hand rolled and the Maine lobster was topped with Newborn sauce and pea tendrils. Very light, the pasta and the sauce, and the lobster was sweet. A+ for this entree.

How amazing does the roasted pork chop ($21) look? Brined pork with fresh thyme and butter, bacon braised kale, confit heirloom carrots and crispy snap peas, spring onion and bacon marmalade with a perfectly beautiful sunny side up heirloom egg.

Dessert was a butterscotch pudding that we dove into so quickly I didn’t remember to get a picture beforehand. It had vanilla whipped cream and some espresso brittle, YUM!!!

Service was top notch.

Monument Restaurant and Tavern

251 Main Street, Charlestown, MA

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monument restaurant and tavern Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I recently had the opportunity to try out VERTS Mediterranean Grill with my girls from Go Local Boston. They have two locations in Boston, the Financial District down on Summer Street and the location we visited in the Back Bay on Boylston at Clarendon. They are also planning on opening a location at Washington and School soon.

VERTS is a fast casual concept restaurant where you can make your own meal- most of them are under 600 calories.

Did you know that if you download the VERTS app you can get a FREE entree?? In addition, you can get $10 for every $100 you spend and a $2 reward for every friend that you refer.

First, pick you base: pita, salad, baby kale blend, rice bowl or quinoa bowl. Then pick your protein: beef and lamb, chicken, falafel, turkey and mushroom meatballs or slow cooked pork.

VERTS has a large selection of toppings to choose from: things like red cabbage slaw, cucumber and tomato mix, sumac onions, spiced chickpeas, carrot slaw, picked onions, picked jalapeños, marinated green olives, feta cheese, grilled beets and more.

They have 8 sauces to choose from: herb vinaigrette, roasted red pepper, spicy green whipped feta, eggplant dip, tzatziki, hummus, spicy cilantro and hot harisa. Sides include things like delicious sweet potato fries or a pita and hummus plate. VERTS has found just the right balance between quick and friendly service. While the lunch time rush does have a line, it moves quickly. Even better, order ahead on your app and you don’t have to wait!

Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest of VERTS to sample their menu. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.

VERTS Mediterranean Grill

545 Boylston Street, Boston, MA

http://eatverts.com/

VERTS Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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It’s ice cream season, are you ready? I recently headed over to Honeycomb Creamery to taste it for myself. I had really been dying to try the rosé gummy bears, but they are seasonal, so I had lime instead.

Flavors available that day included: burnt vanilla bean, cinnamon dulce de leche, honey lavender, brown butter oatmeal cookie, cold brew coffee chip, matcha pistachio and chocolate toasted coconut. They offer vegan ice cream in the following flavors: horchata, spirumint chip and chocolate caramel swirl.

I went with a scoop of vanilla bean and a scoop of brown butter oatmeal cookie. YUM! Really nice texture and flavor.

For toppings, I chose lime gummy bears and house made peanut butter cup pieces. They probably don’t go together, but they sure were tasty.

Leah said that the waffle cone was not to be missed (add $1), and they now have matcha waffle cones too. We both want to go back for the flight of ice cream – pick 4 flavors for $8 and they serve them with waffle cone chips. They also offer hand packed pints, 1/2 pints for $6 and pints for $10. Make sure to bring your coolers and ice packs, because you are going to want to bring some home for later, trust me!

Honeycomb Creamery

1702 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

http://www.honeycombcreamery.com

honeycomb creamery Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Do you ever wonder why bagels in New York taste so much better than anywhere else? Some people think it’s the water, The Brooklyn Water Bagel Company sure thinks so. They have a proprietary water treatment system call the Brooklyn Water Works. They say it replicates the natural composition of the water that flows from the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York into the homes of Brooklyn residents.

I’m all about a great breakfast sandwich, so I switched up my morning routine to stop over at the Framingham location. For $5.49, I ordered the sausage egg and cheese. It sort of felt like I was ordering breakfast at McDonald’s. I also wished that my yellow American cheese would have been melted on the sandwich instead of just thrown on as what seemed an afterthought.

Bagels are $1.29 each, 6 for $6.49 and thirteen for $12.99. They have sandwiches, baninis (bagel paninis), and a variety of breakfast bagel sandwiches.

Service was meh. There’s plenty of seating and there were a lot of families with children here.

Brooklyn Water Bagel Company

341 Cochituate Road, Suite 5, Framingham, MA

http://www.brooklynwaterbagel.com/

Brooklyn Water Bagels Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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I had been dying to try The Table at Season to Taste in Cambridge for some time now. All my friends who have been said that it was the best meal of their lives. Here’s the thing though, the menu changes seasonally, so get in there quickly!

The 20 seat restaurant feels like you are a guest in Chef Dooley’s home. If you are lucky enough, you can grab a counter seat and watch Chef Dooley create your meal! They’ve also just opened their patio for the season!!

The prix fixe menu is $69 per person wit two choices per course, and they even have a vegetarian menu available. We were celebrating my sister in law’s birthday, so we decided to order the whole menu and share. I have to say that I probably wouldn’t order any of these things if they were on a larger menu, but I’m glad that I tried them because each and every one was better than the next.

First course was a house-cured Scottish sea trout with marinated cucumbers, lemon yogurt and crispy pita. Not fishy at all – really light and fresh.

Option two for the first course was the Vietnamese style beef tartare with grilled kimbe carrots, nuoc cham and roasted peanuts. Not what I envision when I think of steak tartare, but I loved this. Flavorful and light with some nice crunch for texture.

Second course, whole wheat ramen noodles and chicken broth with cockscombs, ramps, bonito flakes and sesame oil. Probably my favorite dish of the night. Just something warm and comforting about this.

The second option was the glazed California asparagus and house cured bacon with black pepper, manchego, and lemon bread crumbs. This is totally a way to get me to eat my veggies – just throw some bacon and cheese on it!!

Third course was a roasted pork and shrimp sausage with red curry, snap peas and spiced cashews. I love this combination – wondering why I never thought about this before. The dish was so wonderful in its simplicity.

The braised veal short rib and morel mushrooms was served with English peas, toasted almonds and vin jaune. The meat was so tender it just melted in your mouth.

The palate cleanser.

Dessert was a chocolate meringue with white chocolate pretzels, chocolate pastry cream and malt ice cream. I LOVE the presentation of this dish and love that while it was a chocolate dish, it wasn’t heavy.

The tres leeches cake was served with passion fruit sorbet, caramelized coconut crisps and chile mango. I love tres leches cake, the flavor, the texture, the sweetness, basically everything about it. This had a little sweetness, a little spice, and a little crunch, making this dessert hit all the right notes.

After dessert, they brought over some complimentary sweet bites.

And some house made granola bars to take home! We really had a great evening, the food was outstanding and the service was excellent. I highly recommend a trip over to The Table at Season to Taste if you have a chance.

The Table at Season to Taste

2447 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA

http://www.cambridgetable.com/

Table at Season To Taste Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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