Being “Common” at Haru!

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Sushi!  I crave it!  Love it, need it, it’s just tasty.  I try to treat myself to this delicacy every chance I get.  For my recent late lunch I wanted to visit one of my favorite, relaxed and welcoming restaurants after work, Haru. Although this was my second time dinning here, it was my first time at the bar… but won’t be my last.

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Located in the Back Bay area, this restaurant has one location in Boston but several locations in New York City.  I hope they add more in Massachusetts.  Opening back in 2010 this modern Japanese sushi house offers a wide assortment of menu items.  Official lunch hours are 11:30AM to 3PM and there’s a great Lunch Box offer.  The Lunch Box includes: a protein with California roll, shrimp tempura, rice, miso soup or house salad between $13.75 and $16.  I gotta try this deal.  In between 3PM to 7PM they offer Haru Hour, rolls and other items priced between $3 and $6.

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Since it was a late day I dived right into the dinner menu and thought, “lets jazz it up a bit tonight.”  Because of that concept, the Boston unCommon Roll seemed just right.  Containing Crunchy Spicy Salmon, Tuna, Avocado, Mango, Black Tabika (fish eggs), and gold leaf this special roll screamed, “try me”.  So I did.  I washed down my lunch/dinner with the drink special Sakura Breeze, which contained Grey Goose Cherry Noir, St. Germaine Elderflower, Pomegranate Sour, Muddled Shiso (an herb related to mint), and a Splash of Soda.  Refreshing.  Tiffany the bartender did a great job preparing my drink.  Best part about their “special” is THAT drink is ONLY $7.  That’s pretty awesome.  The special changes monthly but is Always available. Not into the special?  There’s a fully stocked bar and beverage list including wine, sake, beers and cocktails.

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There are four sections for dinner entrée’s: special rolls ranging from $13 to $18, hot entrée’s from $19.75 to $26.50, sushi entrée’s from $17.50 to $58, and maki entrée’s from $16 to $22.25.  Appetizer’s are between $5.75 and $16.  Sushi and Sashimi by the piece are between $2 and $5.25 unless market priced, meanwhile sushi rolls and hand rolls are between $3.50 and $10.75.  For soups the choice is Miso for $2.95 or Lemongrass Hot & Sour for 7.  Salads start at $6 and can be as much as $16.50.  So many choices, not enough tummy room!!!

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Sushi bar located in the dining room area

When my sushi arrived-I’m not gonna lie- I just wanted to take pictures of it.  It was like a work of art.  Perfectly placed in the corner of the plate with such attention to detail to the location of the avocado and mango trim.  Then I took a bite.  I was worried what the mango would do to this roll but I’m Sooo glad I kept it on.  The sweetness of the mango mixed with the fishes and avocado couldn’t be more in sync.  On the plate, a mix of wasabi sauce and ginger soy with a hint of sweetness.  More magic.  This was a great combination created by the chef.

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The best part of my experience was because of the roll’s name, “Boston unCommon” 100% of my meal would be donated to One Fund Boston for the victims of the Boston Marathon.  At the end of the month, once the restaurant tallies up how many rolls were purchased (this included their Back Bay Roll as well) they will match That number, thus making my purchase a 200% donation.  I found that to be fantastic.  I wasn’t made aware of this greatness until after I got my meal and I’m glad I really did make the right choice.

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This little piggy was Hungry!

Perfect for a large party or an after work drink, Haru has you covered. The touch of their Japanese garden makes the environment feel more authentic, not commercial.  I think that’s important for the ambiance, as it’s located close to the sushi bar.

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Keep up the Great Work Haru!  I’ll shall return! Xo.

Haru

55 Huntington Avenue

Boston, MA 02199

617-536-0770

http://www.harusushi.com

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Taste of Columbus!

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Hospitality Group that is.  Last night I had the Honor to sample foods from All 5 of the company’s restaurants (Sorellina, Mistral, L’Andana, Mooo…, and Teatro) at Mistral in the Back Bay for the Taste Of Columbus Hospitality Cocktail Party.  This was the company’s first event showcasing each eatery but after their turnout and feedback last night I’m certain it won’t be their last!

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Before I got to the tables I was greeted with pizza options left and right.  Very comforting.  I don’t remember all the toppings on each but I remember thinking, “I need to make space to eat all this…invisible potbelly, EXPAND!”

I started off with Sorellina’s Chilled Peas “Zuppa” with Lemon Ricotta Crema and Chive Blossoms.  I’ve never had a “chilled” soup before, however because of Sorellina’s daring idea I will consider it next time when the opportunity presents itself.  The texture of the soup was just right; full of flavor and thickness, not watery or slimy.  Very easy to sip on.

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XV Beacon Hotel was there representing both their lovely accommodations for resting, as they were voted #1 hotel in Boston, and Mooo…. Restaurant.  Moo…. offered Beef Sirloin Sliders with a  Mooo…. Sauce and Camelized Onions in a Homemade Roll.  This was a treat.  The meat was so tender; I was saddened that I couldn’t finish the whole thing.  I LOVE Camelized onions so reading that it was a topping made me immediately snatch one up.  I’m having brunch at Mooo…. in the near future, and since they just switched up their menu I’m quite excited to attend their “Over The Top Brunch” that happens every Sunday.

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Update via Instagram. @Taralj

L’Andana gave us a nice taste from the sea using a Swordfish Shish Kabob with Wood Roasted Peppers, Onions and Cured Tomatoes.  That was my first time eating swordfish and I honestly enjoyed it.  Granted I come from a fish eating family but there was something about the texture that was familiar yet new.  An obvious soft chew and light on the tongue plus I loved how the surrounding of vegetables didn’t take away from the fish itself.

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Mistral was my next stop.  I felt like the chef knew I was coming and aimed to please.  I enjoyed (and Inhaled) a Sushi Grade Tuna Tartare with Crispy Wontons, Ginger and Soy.  Amazing!  I plopped the whole thing in my mouth.  So good.  The tuna soaked up the ginger and soy at the bottom while the wontons remain crispy and enjoyable at the top.

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I ended my food portion with Teatro, the restaurant I attend when I’m taking in a show at the Majestic Theater on Tremont St.   They offered a Handcrafted Fig and Prosciutto Sausage with Spicy Tomato, Brodo (a clear yet intense flavored broth), and Shishito Pepper.  Very good.  Tender, full of flavor, definitely something to try when I have another outing in that area.

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Of course I got parched throughout my samplings and conversations so I headed to the bar and grabbed a #springthyme drink made of Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Rhubard Thyme, Lime, and Soda.  So refreshing!  The perfect drink for us all to forget about the nasty misty (spitting) rain outside and pretend it’s really patio season in the city.

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I enjoyed myself at this event.  Not only did I get to meet new people, but I got to try out what each restaurant involved in the Columbus Hospitality Group had to offer in one location.  Now to visit EACH and get the full-blown menu!

Thank You So Much!  Xo.

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Dinner Dash at Wahlburger’s!

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Burgers!  I’m becoming more and more fond of them the older I get.  I’m not sure why it took me so long to jump on the bandwagon, but I think it had to do with the first impressions of what I seen grown up: flat patties, cold cheese SLAPPED on top and splattered condiments.  Kind of unappealing.  Thankfully because of my love of food I was able to venture and try out REAL burger joints and form a new option.  I now introduce to you, Wahlburgers!

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Created by my Favorite men out of Dorchester, Mark, Donnie and Paul Wahlburg, this upscale yet age friendly burger joint has the quality of becoming apart of your Friday night routine if you live in the town of Hingham.  It would be apart of mines if I didn’t live in Dorchester (yea, I’m a “Dot Rat”). Paul has another restaurant adding to the family’s empire where he is chef/owner, Alma Nove.

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Slinging burgers and hot dogs since October 2011 Walhburgers has always been consistent during each of my visits.  With the option of fast food, seat yourself service or having a server customers can take their experience into their own hands.  This was my third visit and I wanted something new to my taste buds.  There are two categories of burgers: Beef and Specialty.  All beef burgers are topped with Paul’s Signature Wahl Sauce, dill pickles, “government cheese”, lettuce, tomato and onions.  I love the “government cheese”. Burgers in this section are between $6.25 and $9.00.  The Specialty area is where one can find other burgers and non burger options, such as a chicken “burger”, salmon, and portabella mushroom.  These options cost between $6.95 and $7.95.

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Not interested in burgers? Never fear, there’s the options of hot dogs for $3.95 or $4.75, and salads priced at $7.95 and $8.95.  And don’t forget the sides.  I had the Sweet Potato Tots my first time here and they were tasty! Drinks vary from Arnold Palmers (lemonade and iced tea) to soft drinks, frappes to floats ranging between $1.95 to $4.50.   Want something harder?  There’s beer, wine, Wahlcoction’s and Adult Frappes between $3.75 and $12.  Your not gonna find NOTHING like that in Boston.

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I got the BBQ Bacon Burger (Donnie’s Choice) which was topped with White Cheddar,  Bacon, Avocado Fresh Jalapeno (hold) and BBQ sauce as my main with some onion rings on the side.  And what washed down this deliciousness?  An Adult Frappe, “Smores” which consisted of Chocolate Ice Cream, Marshmallow Smirnoff, Chocolate Syrup and Graham Cracker Crumble.  Are you excited? I was!

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What can I say? I was hungry…

My burger was the perfect size.  Not too big to scare me off, but just right for me to plot which area would get inhaled first.  I liked the idea of the avocado being on the bottom of my burger.  Less mess and wondering if it fell off mid bite.  Nice chewable strips of bacon were a great addition.  Cooked at the right temperature so that the meat didn’t dry out or get too crispy.  My criss-crossed pieces were satisfying. White Cheddar was also a safe choice instead of orange.  The color hue was great and I know if I had the jalapenos the look would be complete.  The onion rings were thin sliced onions with a nice salty batter.  I personally like them that way.  Nothing again a HUGH onion ring, but these thin rings are more sharable and inviting to grab.

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My booze shake was Amazzzinnnggg!!! The right about of alcohol for taste and a good use of graham crackers blended inside for that hidden surprise.   This shake gets two thumbs up and a stamp of approval!  My only complain: BIGGER STRAWS Please!

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With green as the theme this relaxed contemporary location works great with being a quick spot to grab and go or a fun time to take the family.  With great Pop 90’s music pouring in throughout the restaurant I even had a moment to reflect when MTV played music video’s on TRL (Total Request Live) and Backstreet and Nsync* were in competition and next up was “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You”.  Wow, that was a long title.

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Love how the ceiling decoration represents movies/tv series the brothers have been in or produced.

Even though it’s a bit away I will continue bringing family and dear friends to this perfect getaway for good eats and delicious drinks.  They have a lent option for next spring and a burger of the month!  Who knows, maybe I’ll run into Ted here!

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Xo Wahlburgs!

 

Wahlburgers

19 Shipyard Dr

Hingham, MA 02043

781.749.2110

http://wahlburgers.com/

Up-Beat Vibes at The Sinclair!

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When The Sinclair first opened up in Harvard Square on September 4th, 2012 I thought to myself, “Wow! A venue in Harvard for concerts, I gotta look into that”.  But when I heard in January 2013 that The Sinclair ADDED on an American Kitchen I thought to myself, “When can I get there?!”  Finally I did.  Searching for atmosphere and potential good eats I wound up at The Sinclair by chance on Patriots Day or Marathon Monday as Boston residents like myself refer to the day.  With such despair created in Boston I thought Cambridge would be the right place to lift my spirits a bit and full my tummy.

Michael Schlow is the one of the chef’s behind this operation.  Relocating here in ’95 from NYC he’s owned an operated several restaurants: Radius, Alta Strada (2 locations), Via Matta, Happy’s Bar and Kitchen [R.I.P] and Barrio Cantina which took place of Happy’s.  It’s awesome that Boston has such a well-acclaimed chef, winning the James Beard award for the Best Chef in the Northeast.  Head chef in this location is Chef de Cuisine Marcellus Coleman from Manhattan.  Recently the winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped” Marcellus adds to the, “eclectic menu” as site states by bring tasty small, big, and sharable bites to the city.

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Pour.DRANK!

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Before even stepping in I was amused by the sidewalk chalkboard’s “dranks all night” line which I thought was a friendly invite in (I only stayed til 6PM).  Taking a seat at the bar, I had the pleasure of meeting Ron, a bartender who’s been with The Sinclair since the beginning.

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Ron makes a good thirst quenching drink.   Cocktails range from $9 to $12, beers vary from $5 to $20 (that’s A LOT of beer!) and wine ranges from $7 to $12 by the glass.  Want something stronger?  Lucky you, there’s a full bar with top shelf and regular brands.  There’s even an after dinner drink list too!

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I tired out their Jack Rose cocktail made up of Laird’s Applejack, house grenadine, and lime.  Can you say “bomb dot com?”  The chemistry was well balanced between the jack and the grenadine so it wasn’t too sweet like a  “girly drink” but wasn’t strong enough to put “hair on your chest”.

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My starter was Deviled eggs with mushroom truffle and bacon.  For dinner I got the Sinclair Burger with basil aioli, MC’s secret sauce, watercress and french fries.  Because of my timing I grabbed the deviled eggs off the mid day bites menu served from 3pm-5pm since dinner doesn’t start until 5pm.  Small plates are between $7 and $13, while entrée’s are $13 to $25.  Mid bites are between $9 and $13, while dinner snacks are between $4 and $8.  I love the range of options. When I return I MUST try their pastrami’d pork belly sliders!

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After my first bite of my eggs I thought, “why doesn’t Everyone make deviled eggs like this?”  I’m a firm believer bacon can make a dish better and THIS is a perfect example.  With a surprise of a creamy layer under each egg this was a nice mouth popper before the main course.

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Chef Fun!

On to my burger.  Cooked well, the aioli spread and secret sauce made this burger come alive, separating it from just an ordinary meat patty.  Watercress was the classier choice over boring lettuce and I agree with the decision.  My fries were good with a nice crisp in most of my bites and the presentation overall won me over before eating anything.

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Although dimly light by the bar, natural sunlight brought life into the downstairs and upstairs dinning space.  I liked the separation of spaces; while downstairs had more of a cafeteria style seating arrangement upstairs retained a fine dining vibe which is great how both are housed under one roof.  The décor is contemporary yet simple so you can either dress up or down in this gastropub and not feel out of place.

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As the tone was set for Boston, The Sinclair managed to remain in higher spirits.  TV’s where conveying the news, but diners and drinkers at The Sinclair were able to create a separation of inside the bar and the world outside.  I thought it was interesting when Ron apologized for the bar being not as full at that hour since usually it’s busy on the weekends (which is fact!); little did he know that setting at that time on Monday was full enough for me.

Great Job Sinclair!  Xo.

 

The Sinclair

52 CHURCH STREET

CAMBRIDGE

MA, 02138

617-547-5200

INFO@SINCLAIRCAMBRIDGE.COM

Birthday Eats from The Daily Catch!

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Mini Line…but it was longer!

“Vo-la-re!”

No I can’t fly BUT I do almost feel like I have wings with a pleasant smile on my face after grabbing a bite at The Daily Catch located in the North End.  Although this was my third visit to this restaurant today was quite special; it was my mom’s birthday.  I thought what better place to go than an Italian (Sicilian styled to be correct) eatery to celebrate.

Taste buds have been satisfied at this original location ever since 1973.  With two other locations (Brookline and Seaport) the business has been able to spread it’s love of cooking pasta with seafood throughout the Boston area.

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Bread and Wine List to start

Things I love about the North End:  it reminds me of Sicily (visited in 2010) with small streets, hidden shops in alleys, and tasty Italian food.  What I don’t like so much: hard to find parking and can be crowded during a holiday weekend (e.g. Marathon Monday).  Luckily for people wishing to dine at The Daily Catch there is street and lot parking at “Parcel 7” which is a 5-minute walk away.  Not too shabby.  Plus for $3 you can get 3 hours of parking! Pretty decent.

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No Shirley for Me Today 🙂

Open daily from 11am to 10pm there are moments when a “line” forms at the door, and those who are patient get rewarded.  Sorry, no reservations here.  This cozy 20-persons, 3 employee (the server, the cook, and dishwasher) restaurant does fill up, nevertheless service is quick.  I understand “waiting” is not something everyone can do, but if you can bare the 15-25 minutes without a complaint then come on down!

I personally LOVE the chalkboard menu.  They’ve even taken a picture of it for their website if you wanted to check it out before you venture down.  Appetizers vary from $9.75 to $19.50 meanwhile main entrée’s are between $18 and $22.  Their black pasta, (yes, BLACK pasta…which I will try one day) made with squid ink, is $21 for entrée size and $10.50 for the appetizer.  The menu continues with salads and seafood platters. This CASH ONLY establishment gives a fair amount of options to the Italian cuisine lover. Also, you can pair your meal with an assortments of wines and bottled beers.

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The open kitchen is another plus. Right there, in front of your face you can SEE what goes into every meal the chef is preparing.  You can watch as he grinds up the calamari, garnishes each frying pan (most meals are served out of them), and multi-tasks at each objective place in front of him.

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A couple of dishes waiting to be served and yes, one IS Lobster!

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Hard at Work.

I started off with the Shrimp Scampi.  In a chain restaurant such as Maggiano’s or Olive Garden, this would come with linguine however here it’s just the appetizer…shrimp.  I must say, the white sauce they’ve created keeps me coming back.  Made with garlic, oil, butter, lemon, wine and cheese this blend is simply addictive.  My mom said it was her favorite part.  The shrimp tasted fresh not like freezer shrimp, which can ruin any meal.  This was a great way to start.

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Our entrée was Mussels Marinara and Linguine.  Mussels and I became friends about 4 years back and I haven’t been disappointed yet.  The Daily Catch is Now added to my list of Mussels Execution SUCCESSES!  Big, juicy pieces of meat reveal themselves out of shells.  Fully of flavor and taste!  Although the pasta/marinara combination didn’t wow me, it didn’t stop me from continuing my meal with enjoyment.  I think for me, white sauce always wins, Even with mussels, which typically requires a red sauce.  During this late lunch I sat next to a women from Connecticut who had an interesting bias toward the food and she made me realize that you can’t win over the world one meal at a time.  For me, a good percentage of the city and Beyond, The Daily Catch is delicious and well worth the trip to the North End for good eats.

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As their website proclaims, “This will be an experience to remember” indeed.  Food out of pans?!? Who’d knew?  There’s definitely a “friendly dining experience” offered as well which makes everyone feel welcomed.  Although dessert is not an option, never fear; you can either join the HUGH line across the street at Mike’s Pastries or walk a bit down to the other line at Modern’s which is what we did.

Happy Birthday Mom!

The Daily Catch -North End

323 Hanover St.

Boston, MA 02113

(617) 523-8567

http://www.dailycatch.com/northend.html

Restaurant Week at Mistral!

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Ah, restaurant week.  It’s that magical time when if you don’t have a lot of money but want to enjoy quality food at some of the city’s amazing restaurants then Your in luck!  Over 200 restaurants partake in this event that happens in March and August and lasts for two weeks each time.  Sweet!  Granted I’ve known about restaurant week since 2010 but I first attended in 2012.  Even though I’m a late bloomer, that didn’t stop me from jumping in headfirst!  To end winter restaurant week I chose to dine at Mistral in the Back Bay for dinner.  I finally got my chance to try out this “Best of Boston French Bistro” which I heard about two years prior.

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Now, because of Mistal’s popularity of offering a fabulous dining experience I must start off by saying it’s imperative to make a reservation! It’s highly recommended for dinner.  I booked my 10:30 dinner the very first day of restaurant week for the LAST Friday of the two weeks and THAT was the Only opening they had left.  Keep in mind, I booked at 10AM.

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Walking in past patrons and looking at the art.

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High ceilings with long curtains and soft lighting

The ambiance was a perfect mix of upscale meets contemporary.  Their website says it perfectly with, “Gracious. Sopisticated. Seductive.”  Warm, dim yellow lighting gives the entire restaurant a nice touch of comfort without needing to take out your cell phone to aid as a flashlight.  The Columbus Hospitality Group has a total of 2 hotels (The Inn @ St. Botolph and XV Beacon Hotel) and 5 restaurants (Mistral, Teatro, Sorellina, L’Andana, and Mooo….).  Mistral has won OpenTable’s Diner Choice award two years straight in 2011 and 2012.  Opening in 1997 Chef and Owner Jammie Mammano had set out to, “become a legend of the Boston dining scene.”  Mission accomplished!  With award winning service and impeccable food I’m glad Mammano settled here in Boston when he could have stayed in the other cities he worked in during his culinary journey.

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My Thirst Quenching Shirley Temple.

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First of my 3-course meal was the appetizer.  I chose the Beef Sirloin Carpaccio (raw), Black Truffle (mushroom) Aioli (sauce consisting of garlic and oils), and Toasted Cibatta.  Although it was my first time trying out beef carpaccio I can say it was quite tasty.  The mix of the aioli and cibatta made the dish familiar to me, like a Caesar salad.  Very enjoyable.  It was a like typical Piedmont carcappio but with sliced meat instead of minced.

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Next was my entrée; Grilled Faroe Island Salmon, “Printaniere” (garnished with fresh vegetables), Leek and Asparagus Risotto (creamy rice dish), Fine Herbs. This dish tasted amazing.  The delicious risotto had a great balance of cooked rice and steamed vegetables that were mixed after each was prepared.  The salmon, which laid atop the risotto bed, was lovely.  Sorry I couldn’t capture the inside of it but trust me, the pink fillet was appealing both in and out.

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Dessert was Classic Profiteroles with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, Dark Chocolate Sauce, and Pistachio Croquant (crispy crunchy).  The texture of the pasty ball was a soft chew while the hard-hand scooped ice cream made it a nice pair.  Topped with ganache-like sauce and pistachio this was the perfect way to end my meal.

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I cannot wait to return to Mistral, restaurant week or not.  The food is definitely something to share with friends and loved ones alike.  If I could meet Mammano I would compliment him on his options offered during restaurant week and thank him for locating Mistral, name inspired by the wind that sweeps through the South of France, in the lovely Back Bay.  If your driving, street parking is fairly decent, but the restaurant does offer a $17 valet.  Closer to the area?  Try out their complimentary car service available upon request that will pick you up within a 2 mile radius.

On a usual dinner night you can get an appetizer between $15 and $22, and entrée between $21 and $40, while dessert is between $9 and $22 dollars.  Or you can wait until August and get all three for only $38.13 with limited options.  See you in May Mistral!

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Suggested wines to pair with meal

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2 people, 1 Bill, Good Night!

Mistral Restaurant

223 Columbus AveBoston, MA 02116(617) 867-9300http://mistralbistro.com/