Late Brunch at Union’s!

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I must say my personal staple with food is Brunch!  I love it!  When else is it acceptable to drink before 12PM with no one questioning you (unless your in New York City on a Sunday).  When I can, I brunch in the South End.  It’s not because of the amazing scenery or out of this world menu and beverage options, but there is something about the South End that draws me in when it comes to brunch; the atmosphere is friendly and inviting while the food is delicious.  This is what brought me to Union Bar and Grille this past Sunday.

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I’ve been to Union in the past and what brings me back is that they live up to what they claim on their website, Union is “what going out to dinner used to be — not a culinary education, just good food that you want to eat,” stated by the Aquitaine Group.   The Aquitaine group owns a total of 4 restaurants in the South End area that are all successful (Union Bar and Grille, Metropolis Café, Aquitaine-Bar a Vin Bistrot, and Gaslight Brasserie).  Union was chosen this time around because of their appealing menu.  Executive Chef/Partner Seth Woods uses classic brunch favorites with an added twist that makes the customer return for a particular item.

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Serving brunch every Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 3pm is pleasing for the person with the busy morning on the weekend OR the person rolling out of bed later on a lazy Sunday afternoon. However, being an early bird for Union will get you many “worms” on Sunday.  From 10am to 11am the restaurant offers an “All Inclusive Early Riser Brunch”.  For $9.95 before tax you can get a pastry, an entrée (from a selection of 3), and juice or hot tea/coffee.  Not bad right? Oh, you just have to wake up.  I missed that deal this time around and arrived about 1:45PM.

Key things to remember in the South End:

  • Brunch is pretty busy, so if you can RESERVE, RESERVE, RESERVE your table.
  • Parking can be pricey for garages, but Union NOW has FREE PARKING at 560 Harrison Ave which is about a block and a half walk away.
  • Prepare to be social! If your looking for a quite, non-busy area for brunch then this just ISN’T for you!

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Meals range from $8.50 to $14.75 before tax.  I went with the Steak & Eggs since I don’t like ham on my eggs bene.  For my drink I chose the Union Pimosa, a brut sparkling wine with pomegranate puree.  Dry but tasty.  There’s a list of international wines, cocktail & draught to chose from as well.  Those price points are from $6 to $16.

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After a decent wait it was time to savor. My steak was juicy and a nice color for medium well.  Although I don’t enjoy a charcoal taste the steak itself was well prepared.  Full of flavor with no sauce needed.  My eggs were something I didn’t think possible.  Fried poached eggs in what seemed like a panko crust.  Brilliant.  My homefries had the perfect amount of seasoning and weren’t dried out, making the need to drown it in ketchup unnecessary.  I didn’t even need it.

As I enjoyed my meal in this simply sophisticated environment I became more aware of the features of the restaurant.  My favorite moment is walking through the door and seeing the bar area.  The busy, the calm, I love the bar here.  Natural light comes in and brightens the area, adding to the sky lamps throughout the restaurant.  Even though the dinning room is dimly lit, it’s the perfect contrast to the sun from the big windows.

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Hopefully next time I visit Union I can get there on a Saturday at 10:30am and sit near a window so I can not only feel the sun on me, but then I can pay for my meal with about 10 dollars then buy 2 Primosa to wash it all down for about a Whopping total of 30 dollars.   Deal!

Union Bar & Grille
1357 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 423 0555

http://www.unionrestaurant.com/index.php

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Shake It Out at Shake Shack!

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The EPIC line to get in.

It’s here, it’s Here!

Shake Shack is HERE Boston, we finally have one!  Now I didn’t know much about Shake Shack when my interest was sparked coming back from New York on a Lucky Star bus passing the billboard in November 2012, but I can share a bit now.  It all started 2001 in New York City at Madison Square Park in Manhattan as a hot dog cart for a solid two years before they were able to make a permanent kiosk.  A hot dog cart. Really? I think that’s AWESOME!

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Big Hit in Chestnut Hill!

My friend and I decided on Friday night, March 22nd to give the new Chestnut Hill location a try.  She already tried Shake Shack in Miami and wanted to compare, meanwhile I just wanted to try it since November period.   Although the line was about a 30-45 minute wait to get inside (yes, this is true) I honestly feel this is NOT your average burger joint that you’re waiting for.

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Simple, easy to follow menu.

What I like about the menu is it’s to the point.  There are 5 different kinds of burgers (1 being portabella mushroom), 4 different hot dogs, and 2 types of fries.  Perfect!  No need to worry about bringing your indecisive friends here.  Their price range works perfectly for the hungry Boston University, Boston College, and Pine Manor student being you can get a single patty cheeseburger as cheap as $4.75 and a double for $7.40 before tax.  The highest priced burger would be the Shack Stack which contains BOTH a cheeseburger and ‘shroom burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce for $8.95.

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Custard Calendar!!!

For frozen delights you have the choice between Frozen Custard [a dense dessert made from milk and flavors] or a Concrete [custard blended at high speed with a mix-in] from their popular choices or you can try a shake, regular ice cream, or a float. This will cost between $3.25 and $6.50 before tax.   Funny enough I didn’t want a shake on my visit like I thought I would when coming back from New York, but when I return I think I’ll have the Lobstah Shell [vanilla custard, lobster tail pastry shell from Boston’s North End, strawberry puree and ricotta cream] which you can ONLY get in Massachusetts.  Their drink list consists of non-alcoholic options as well as wine and beer (yes!).

My order was quite simple.  I got the ShackBurger, which is a juicy 100%-all natural Angus beef cheeseburger with lettuce, tomato, and ShackSauce that tasted to me like thousand island with mustard.  Different but Good!  I washed it down with a cup of ShakeMeister Ale, which is an Exclusive Brew for Shake Shack by Brooklyn Brewery.  Very impressive.  Dessert was chosen from the Custard Calendar for March (genius) which was half of a “Salty Chocolate Peanut Butter”.

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I must say, although that was the RAREST meat I’ve EVER eaten in all my life, it was Delicious!  The burger was quite juicy, which surprised me because it wasn’t a big patty.  The ShakeSauce complimented the burger by being not too bold but leaving a nice love tap to your taste buds.  The beer was a good light body beer.  Not too hoppy but still had a bite.  And then, I had the custard.  Umm, custard (insert Homer Simpson Grawl Here!).  The texture of the custard was like a thickened mousse.  Great balance of PB to chocolate with a hint of salty for contrast.

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Yummy Custard

Being that this location just opened up I can see the line to get in remaining long for the next couple of months.  That being said, this REALLY Shouldn’t stop anyone who has a bit of time on their hands from going.  They even have two lines for people who just want something cold from those looking for food which is helpful to the person getting their custard and leaving right away.  The staff is so friendly and helpful.  One of the employee’s who was in charge of handing order’s to customer’s asked me my name.  When I replied, “Potbelly” he laughed and said, “Nice to meet you”.  I told him I’d review this location and he was glad to hear it.  Team members clear your table for you and ask, “how did you enjoy the food?”  A fast food joint with full service restaurant demeanor, love it!

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Yup, that’s Me!

The modern space is clean looking, organized, and makes good use of wood throughout the restaurant.  From the walls to the tables real wood is the theme with a nice natural finish.  Each table has a carving of either the symbolized Shake Shack Burger or a message like, “Handcrafted in Brooklyn, NY this surface was part of a bowling lane” which means, they RECYCLE!!!   The use of magnets for the menu board is very efficient so new products can get added to the space without disturbing much of the structure such as clothes or a new shake.

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Recycled!

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Creative AND Cute!

In the end I was highly impressed with Shake Shack and what they have to offer.  They have me as a customer whenever I can make it out to Chestnut Hill.  When they actually COME to Boston however, I think that’s when I’ll be VERY pleased.

LOVE YOU! – Potbelly Tara, xo.

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We’re Happy Too!

Shake Shack

49 Boylston Street

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467

617.651.3406

chestnuthill@shakeshack.com

Potbelly Tara

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Loving the sun in Cozumel, the coconuts from the island, and never wanted to return to work.

If there’s one thing all my friends can say about me is that I love being entertained.  For me food and beverage has been something that’s peaked my interest since 2009 with being able to legally combine both at that time.  I was amazed by how many options there were for food and also how great it could be complimented with a beverage.  It seemed like striking a gold mine for my palette.

Currently living in Boston, MA I come from a Jamaican background so to some I’ve been eating things that are considered “weird” or “strange” most of life for example Ackee and Saltfish, Red herring and Dumpling, Cowfoot, Chicken foot, and Chicken Liver just to name a few.  The first cuisine I fell in love with once deciding there’s more to life than McDonald’s and Red Kidney Bean Soup was Italian.  I just finished the 9th grade and a summer college program took my class to VinnyT’s of Boston (R.I.P) which was in the Back Bay where currently Back Back Social Club resides. I remember at the time thinking all I know about Italian food is spaghetti and meatballs (which I did order that day…the shame) But when I left I felt I opened up to the world of Italian cuisine.  I started exploring more Italian chains like Maggiano’s and, of course, Olive Garden (oh, the “joy”).  But then it hit me and I realized at some point after to incorporated other chains, and other types of cuisines like Chicken Madras at Milon Bangladesh Indian Restaurant in New York CityKalbi Korean BBQ at Samurai in Boston to name just a couple things.

I am proud to say today my taste and love for food has expanded PAST chain restaurant and I am unafraid to stray away to up-and-comings, as well as mom and pop shops which is what this blog is about.  My dream is for everyone to at least try a restaurant they’ve never heard, visit a location they would never go to, pretty much, step out of their shell with food.  Mix that with a drink and some atmosphere and you Never know what you’ll discover and where it could take you.

Email: taralj@outlook.com

Enjoy.

Fish and Chips Sushi at Empire in Boston at Seaport Waterfront.

Fish and Chips Sushi at Empire in Boston at Seaport Waterfront.

Eggs Benedict with Salmon at Essex in L.E.S. NYC

Eggs Benedict with Salmon at Essex in L.E.S. NYC