I’m a sucker for noodles and dumplings, so when Live Noodles came in right down the street, I was dying to try them out. They serve traditional hand pulled noodles with authentic soup. From their website:
Lanzhou beef lamian, or Lanzhou beef hand-pulled noodle, is a type of Chinese noodle dish originated in Lanzhou, China, and generally popular in China. It is referred to as “beef noodle” or “beef big bowl” in Lanzhou. It is sometimes simply called lamian , which means hand-pulled noodle in Chinese, or “beef lamian” elsewhere in China.
Like most places on this block, the decor leaves something to be desired. While you can get some recognizable things here, they also serve authentic dishes like squid tentacles, chicken hearts and pig ears.
We were glad that we decided to get take out, as the place was packed! The place is small, with mainly two tops, so if you are going with a group, make sure to call for a reservation.
The home made dumplings ($9) came a dozen to an order. They were steamed and the filling was super tasty.
I love soup dumplings. These pork dumplings ($8), that came 6 to an order, were so good.
Here’s a close up of the hand pulled thin noodles.
The beef hand pulled thin noodles were a hit in our house, they came with corn, cucumbers, carrots and other vegetables to balance out the dish. Dishes are generally prices around $8-$15, but there are a few “big pot” dishes that can cost you up to $28.
1026 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA
Long story short, my car got a flat tire and I had to wait 2 hours to get it fixed. Instead of sitting in the Sullivan Tire waiting area watching horrible daytime tv, I decided to take a walk down to Clear Flour Bread. Located at the edge of a residential neighborhood, this tiny shop puts out some of the best breads and pastries I’ve had. I had been waiting to try one of their pretzels and it was so worth the wait. Their soft, German style pretzels are great warm and they are available after 10:30am the day they are baked! They are soft and chewy, a little bit of a crusty outside – so good!
I dream about their clafoutis. They are just the right amount of sweetness and I love when the outsides have a little crunch to them.
The classic croissants are hand rolled every morning and are crispy outside and buttery delicious on the inside. I love the almond ones. They offer plain, chocolate and gruyere daily and pretzel, breakfast croissants, apricot or raspberry on weekends and holidays.
If you’re looking for authentic Italian and French breads, look no further. Get there early though, the lines on the weekend go around the block!
Clear Flour Bread
178 Thorndike St., Brookline, MA
This year was the 5th annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Here’s how it worked – you had to have a food blog and sign up for the cookie swap. You make 3 dozen cookies and send a dozen to 3 bloggers. In return, 3 bloggers will send you a dozen cookies – so you end up with 3 dozen cookies!!! I ended up with some seriously delicious cookies that vanished before I knew what happened!
This year the organization as a whole partnered with COOKIES FOR KIDS’ CANCER, a national non-profit organization committed to funding new therapies used in the fight against pediatric cancer, which claims the lives of more children in the US than any other disease.
Here’s the recipe, adapted from Quaker’s vanishing oatmeal raisin cookies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) plus 6 tablespoons of butter, softened
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of salt
3 cups of Quaker Oats
1 cup cranberries
1 cup white chocolate chips
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars on medium speed in an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add combined flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, mix well. Add oats, cranberries and white chocolate chips, mix well. Press dough into uncreased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack.
I made these plain, but these would be great with a little extra white chocolate drizzled over top.
Just after Thanksgiving, when I couldn’t bear another turkey leftover anything, I headed over to Mission Hill to Beta Burger. I met up with owner Adrian Wong who gave me the lay of the land. They have seating upstairs with great lighting from the floor to ceiling window (a food blogger’s dream!). The parking can be a little dicey here if you’re looking to run in and pick up a burger, but there is a whole block of 30 minute parking in front of the Roxbury Crossing T station on the next block. And if that’s still too much, don’t worry, they deliver. With prices starting at $5.50, you can treat yourself!
The burgers are cooked sous vide and finished off on the grill with a quick sear. The sous vide style allows the burger to lock in all the juices, making it a really flavorful patty. TV screens on the wall give you tons of options to customize your burger: beef or chicken patties, potato roll, wheat roll or a skinny bun (almost like those Pepperidge Farms sandwich thins), American or cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, jalapeño, relish and their “not so special sauce”. (I love the name, because so many places have special sauce which really just ends up being Russian dressing!) They even have premium toppings like caramelized onions, sauteed oyster mushrooms, coleslaw, and smoked bacon.
Of course I chose the potato bun with the beef patty, relish, bacon and cheddar cheese. Look at how pretty that looks!
Let’s talk fries. They are pretty delicious on their own, but if you want to kick it up a notch, Beta Burger offers seasoning packs in flavors like garlic parmesan, salt & vinegar, sour cream & onion, or Buffalo. Check out the video of us shaking up our fries here.
Is your mouth watering yet? Stop in to Beta Burger and see what I’m talking about!
Disclaimer: I was invited as a guest to preview Beta Burger. My meal was provided complimentary. All opinions are my own.
1437 Tremont Street, Boston, MA
These days it’s hard for me to keep up. It was only 3 months late in taking my friend Julia out for her birthday when we headed over to Park in Harvard Square. Note that this was a few months ago, the weather was nice enough that they opened the windows and we sat just inside of them. I have more drafts in my queue than I know what to do with and am running so behind with posts, I guess that’s a good thing though, so many meals to share with you!
We started off with the trio of toasts ($10). I loved all of the different textures and flavors here, it was nice to get a little bite of everything. The trio changes seasonally, so these ones aren’t on the menu now. Currently, this is the selection:
They offer a local cheese board ($12), the types of cheese change daily. I love the presentation here, simple and rustic. I’m not generally a fan of blue cheese but this one was pretty mild.
I had the hand torn pasta ($19). I usually go for the meat pies, but thought I would mix it up a little. I liked the pasta, the texture was perfectly al dente. There was a little too much sauce that really overpowered the dish. They’ve since rotated this item off the current menu.
59 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA
Park offers free parking with your meal, Sunday after 10am, Monday through Wednesday after 5pm, and $2 off on Thursday through Sunday at the Harvard Square parking garage attached to the building.
Doretta Taverna is Michael Schlow’s newest restaurant that is in the former Via Matta space. The restaurant is a complete 180 from what Via Matta was, complete with a new entrance!
The restaurant is open and airy – the large bar is the focal point in the center of the restaurant. The fresh fish are put on ice in the back for guests to see (you can kind of see it on the back left). Doretta comes from the Greek word, Doro, meaning gift.
Michael and his wife were in the house the evening that we dined at the restaurant. We had a fantastic server, Alex, who took us on a tour of the space, and he even brought us down to the kitchen to take a look at the chef’s table. I’d love to dine down here one night!
Michael’s wife Adrienne did all the artwork in the restaurant. There is a 60ft hand painted wall on the left side of the restaurant and these figures that were created with paint from a syringe.
Her artwork is visually stunning and makes the restaurant feel very homelike. You can see more of Adrienne’s art on her website. This piece, “Like This” is a 40×60 piece, I loved the bold colors.
The menu is broken down into sections: raw bar, small plates and main dishes. We want to try a little bit of everything. Meredith and I started with the cauliflower spread ($7) that is topped with caviar – I love the saltiness that the caviar brought to this spread. We also tried the roasted eggplant spread ($6) with walnuts and red pepper. Both spreads came with warm flatbreads. This was a great way to start our meal.
Next up, we had the spinach pie ($9) that has a limited availability. The dough is light and flaky – this is one of my favorite dishes!
Of course when you eat Greek food, you have to try the lamb. So we had the lamb meatballs ($12) served with cumin, tomato, yogurt and lemon zest. The dish was lighter that I thought and really not as gamey as I expected.
They have fried calamari on the menu, but we opted for the grilled octopus ($16) that tasted so fresh. It was served with sweet onions, capers and Greek olive oil. This is a great menu option in contrast to the fried calamari.
For our main dinner we HAD to try the 15 hour lamb shoulder ($28 per person). The meat was so tender and flavorful, I highly recommend trying this dish.
We also had the shrimp ($34 per person) that you are supposed to use your hands and suck out the meat, but I just can’t bring myself to do that in public, so I used a knife and fork…
Cauliflower is my thing these days. The roasted cauliflower side dish ($9) comes wth jalapeños and pistachios. This definitely could have been my main meal – I could eat this for days!
Why choose one dessert when you can order 3? We ordered the galaktoboureko, a custard, that is kind of the consistency of a firm bread pudding, with a layer or light flaky filo dough on top. I wasn’t sure I was going to like this after our server described it, but it was one of my favorite desserts of the night. I would come back and just eat dessert at the bar!
The baklava was delicious, topped with honey and pistachios. A family friend used to make this sweet treat for us, so I have a special place in my heart for this dessert!
The almond cake with smoked apple gelato was a close second to the galaktoboureko. I didn’t want this dish to end – I loved the flavor of the cake and the consistency was just right. I highly recommend visiting Doretta Taverna for dinner!
79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA
Kilwins is an amazing sweet shop in Cary with other locations across the country. They have a variety of sweets to choose from, check out these caramel apples, I feel a cavity coming on just looking at them!
I was so impressed when my niece said she was only going to get one scoop of ice cream…until I saw it. it was a softball sized scoop in an enormous waffle cone…that was covered in candy. Oy!
The chocolate selection is impressive from their hand paddled Mackinac island style fudge, to their rich and buttery caramel to their fresh nut brittles and truffles.
We restrained ourselves and only got a few things – milk cashew turtles (one of my favorites), a milk chocolate peanut butter oreo, a milk chocolate rice krispy bar, a milk chocolate toffee and white chocolate pretzels. Every piece was delicious, you chocolate snobs out there won’t be disappointed.
2004 Boulderstone Way, Cary, NC
After eating Bruegger’s three days in a row, I needed a real breakfast. We went to Brigs at the Crossing. When we arrived, there were a lot of old timers eating breakfast – they serve it all day, 7am to 2:30pm.
I had the Western omelette with ham, onion, peppers and swiss cheese (instead of jack cheese). The omelette itself was pretty good, I only wish that the potatoes had been a little crisper.
They offer hot cakes, pancakes, in stacks of 3, a short stack of 2 or a single cake. We had the plain cakes with blueberry compote on the side, but it looked a lot like it came out of a can, so we passed. Service was a bit spotty but overall good. The food was average, nothing that really stood out and wowed us.
1225 NW Maynard Road, Cary, NC
My brother took us out to Ruth’s Chris Steak House for my niece’s birthday. Generally speaking, chain steak houses don’t really do it for me, Ruth’s Chris not being an exception. The restaurant looks like it belongs in a hotel. The service here was good, our server was attentive and she was super friendly.
We started with the calamari, that was lightly fried and served with a spicy asian chili sauce. The portion was generous for an appetizer but there wasn’t really anything that made this dish stand out for me. My brother and his family all had the petite filet mignon, that was an 8oz corn fed midwestern piece of beef that is broiled to your liking.
I decided to go outside the box and get the veal osso bucco ravioli that was a saffron infused veal osso bucco ravioli with fresh mozzarella cheese, served with a side of sautéed baby spinach and topped with a white wine demi glace.
The onion soup au gratin was delicious and was topped with a good amount of cheese. I personally love onion soup but hate eating it in public because the cheese gets everywhere, there is just no way to look lady like eating it.
As a compliment to the soup, to make it a main meal, my dad ordered the “side” of shrimp. The dish was average, neither outstanding or bad. Overall an ok dinner with an expensive price tag.
Ruth Chris Steak House
2010 Renaissance Park Pl, Cary, NC
On a recent trip to North Carolina to visit my niece of her birthday, we did a lot of eating out. Not the kinds of places that I would necessarily go to, but then again, sometimes you are at the mercy of your host, you go where they like to eat. The first night we went to Red Bowl Bistro, a casual Chinese restaurant.
The restaurant has a large dining room and is family friendly.
We start off with the potstickers ($5.25) that come in pork or vegetable. We had the pork dumplings that were grilled. They were ok, nothing to write home about and lacked flavor.
I ordered the chicken lo mein ($9.75) that came with carrots, beansprouts and onions. Again, lacked flavor and was a little on the greasy side.
We ordered pork fried rice ($9.25) for the table that wasn’t bad.
The sweet and sour chicken ($9.95) came with the sauce on the side which I actually liked, that way you could control the sweetness.
The food here was just average, I’m not sure that I would be in a rush to go back.
Red Bowl Bistro
2020 Boulderstone Way, Cary, NC