Quick Brunch at Deep Ellum!

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Last Saturday, craving a brunch to satisfy my simplistic needs (anything with syrup and mimosas) I took a trip bringing me to one of Allston’s finest eats.  I’ve been meaning to get to this well talked about bar and restaurant for some time but the moment wasn’t right.  Usually when I think of Allston I reflect to my college years and think of a swarm of hipsters and people who claim to be “anti-hipster” but appear as such, with a mix of grunge and I tried not to blend.  Now that I’m older, and don’t care, I noticed Allston is home to a lot of delicious food gems.  This one in particular being Deep Ellum, which has a hipster vibe.  Cool.

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Busy as a bee in work Deep Ellum was packed, but not crowded for brunch.  With indoor seating, a bar, and a patio in the back guest have options on where they would like to sip and dine.   Word of advice: If you’d like to sit on the patio, GET THERE EARLY.  No reservations here.  Not only does the patio fill up but it can be a 25-35 minute wait to eat in the shade.

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Since opening on January 4th, 2007, Deep Ellum has been wowing the city.  Nominated for Best Beer Bar, Best Outdoor Drinks, Best Al Fresco Dining on the Boston A List, and getting 4 out of 5 stars on Yelp (those critics are TOUGH) this small yet popular restaurant deserved more recognition from Potbelly (wink).

The name, Deep Ellum, comes from an area of Dallas, TX known for great music, good food, and an “enticing nightlife since the early 1900’s”. Owners Aaron Sanders and Max Toste are  bringing this vibe to Allston.

Brunch on Saturday and Sunday is from 10am to 4PM.  Yes!  4PM!!!  If that doesn’t scream “amazing” I don’t know what does.  Then again it’s my favorite meal.  PERIOD.

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Since I had a simple craving I decided on the Fall River French Toast and the Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy. A mimosa accompanied my meal and comforted me while I waited.  My friend ordered some bacon, which I had to steal.

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Menu options are definitely priced within reason.  I like the option of having “Starters” before your meal.  I already have my fantasy brunch prepared consisting of two starters (poutine and a charcuterie plate). The rest of the menu is split between Sandwiches and Breakfast.  Starters are between $3 and $16, Sandwiches are between $5 and $10, and Breakfast is between $7 and $10 with sides at $4.  Not bad at all.  Most cocktails and cold drinks are an even $10 while beer varies between $6 and $9.  Not your cup of liquor?  There’s a full stocked bar with lots of whiskey’s to try.

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The bacon was good, just wish I had more.  My French toast which consisted of Portuguese Sweet Bread, Spices, Powdered Sugar and Maple Syrup satisfied my craving.  The thickness of the bread and the texture not only looked mouth watering but tasted sweet and gave a good chew.  My biscuits were another hit.  Thick and drenched in gravy these buttermilk delights were tasty.  Shame I was too full to finish them.

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With street parking and bus service in the area Deep Ellum is not hard to find.  Very welcoming environment and helpful staff, I can see why people this place is successful 7 Days a week!

Don’t intend to go on July 4th however, the restaurant is Always closed.

Deep Ellum

477 Cambridge St. Boston, MA 02134

617-787-BEER (2337)

http://www.deepellum-boston.com

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Asian Twist in Kendall with Fuji

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Kendall Square Cambridge.  Since 2010 this area has been on the rise for exciting new restaurants and simple eateries.  In December 2011 the area welcomed it’s popular and quite successful Fuji at Kendall restaurant.

Now, the 1st thing that I LOVE about this restaurant is the FREE Valet Parking.  How convenient!  Who wants to struggle finding parking around busy Kendall Square?  Not I said Potbelly.

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I thought to swing by for dinner after work since I told myself that I would stop by this buzzworthy spot for some months now and finally had time.  Although it wasn’t too busy when I arrived around 6PM on this weekday evening, when I left around 8PM the crowd was coming.

Although Fuji might be new to Kendall, it’s not new to the city of Boston.  This is the 7th location of this restaurant group owners Jimmy Liang, Peter Tse, and their partners Tony Liang, John Liang, and head chef Ming Cao.  Other restaurants include Fuji 1546, B Café, Shabu Restaurant, Bistro Chi (which I LOVE) and Kama Restaurant.  This is now my 3rd time trying out this group for restaurants and I must say I haven’t been disappointed.

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Tiffany in the center along with servers.

I decided to order a couple of popular selections recommended by Tiffany the bartender.  To start I got the Volcano 4 piece sushi that consisted of Tuna, Avocado, Tempura Crunch, Red Crabmeat, Tobiko, and Spicy Aioli Unagi sauce (a thick and sweet sauce based on soy beans).  I followed with the Pineapple Fried Rice that contained Pineapple, Raisin, Curry Spice, Shrimp, Chicken, Onions, Peppers, and Snow peas, served in a Fresh Pineapple Shell.  Daring.  Then, as a surprised I was able to try not only the Tempura Tako Bites (squid aka calamari) but also the Tempura Styled Fried Cheesecake as dessert.  This was the CLOSEST since doing reviews that my potbelly became “visible”.  A lychee martini washed down my happiness, completing the meal perfectly.

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Now depending on what you usually spend on sushi, Fuji can be perceived as expensive or quite reasonable.  In the end, you get what you pay for and at Fuji, your money is well spent!  The menu is broken into 7 sections making it satisfying for many.  Appetizers range from $5 to $15, while Soups are between $3 to $7, and Salads are between $7 and $18 dollars.  That’s just one section of the menu.

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Nigri (2 pieces), Sashimi (3 pieces), and Sushi (4 pieces or more) range between $3.50 and $9.50.  That doesn’t include the entrée’s in this category or the makimono (rolled sushi in 6 pieces or more).  Sushi boats (which I MUST return and get) range from $40 to $120. Trust me, there’s A LOT to chose from.  Definitely a crowd pleaser.   In the wok tossed + noodle section dished are priced between $14 and $22 meanwhile desserts are a simpler choice of ice cream or cheesecake between $7.50 and $9.50.

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First out was my Volcano Sushi which was lovely!  The Unagi sauce was thick and added to the favor of the dish with that minor sweet blending with the meat.  I actually enjoyed the tobiko, usually it’s my least favorite.  It was necessary here.  That mix with the tempura crunch created a party for my maw.

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Fire Up the Torches!

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With a few sips in between of my martini I moved on to my next course, The Pineapple Fried Rice.  This dish had so many positive notes to take away.  Served in a Fresh Pineapple Shell gave this meal an A+ on presentation.  Everyone within eye sight wanted to know what that was.   The use of rice, fruits, veggies, meat, and seafood in one serving not only satisfies the “daily balance” of healthy pyramid items, but plays with the creative side of culinary magic.  Although I’m not a fan of Japanese curry (I’m Jamaican and LOVE my spicy curry powder) this was still pretty good and should not be ignored by foodies looking to try something new.

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The Tako Bites were perfect little poppers.  No sauce needed.  Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside.  I could eat a whole bowl of these.

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And finally, drum roll please, I got to eat the tasty, mouth watering Tempura Styled Fried Cheesecake with Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with Strawberries and Chocolate Sauce.  If I were one to rate items, this dessert Alone would get a 8.5!!!  I mean this is the BEST way to end a meal at Fuji if you’re into desserts/cheesecake.  The warm and creamy cheesecake texture mixed with the cold, dense ice cream, plus the sweet berries and chocolate sauce had given me great memories.  Very Impressive.  I’ve had deep fried ice cream before and heard of deep fried cheesecake but I must say if the others don’t taste like this, I won’t write about them.  Well done Fuji at Kendall!

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I’m glad to see this restaurant is becoming, if not already is a local favorite with local employees in the area as well as newbies to the city.  The sophisticated atmosphere and pleasant staff makes it easy to come in and relax whether at the bar or at a table.  I met a woman while dining who was from Texas and said she was so happy to be in a city where the options for cultured food seemed endless.  I recommended to her the Volcano Sushi to start and she got it.  Glad to know I can help spread good food to others at any point.

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Xo.

 

Fuji at Kendall
300 3rd St.
Cambridge, MA 02142
 
Phone: (617)252-0088
 

Maker’s Mark Mixes with the Kentucky Derby!

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In case you missed all the fancy hats walking throughout Boston on May 4th let me give you the recap.  Bright outfits, lots of partying, and horse racing?  I’m talking about the Kentucky Derby!  This year, seeing that I’m an ambassador for Marker’s Mark Bourbon, I had the pleasure of attending the Derby Party hosted at Towne in Back Bay this year.

Insight about the Kentucky Derby:

-It’s about a 1-mile race (it’s over in literally no time but intense as all races can      get) however it’s the BIGGEST horse race of the 5 race types (Prep Season, Championship Series- 1st leg, 2nd leg, wild card- and Kentucky Derby)

-Although the race and glory is important A LOT of people care more about the partying that comes along with it; their IS a DRESS CODE in certain seating areas of the actual Kentucky Derby.

Mint Julep’s are a Signature of The Kentucky Derby

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Patron’s enjoying themselves while the race is over in the background.

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Check out the HATS!

Insight on Marker’s Mark Bourbon:

-Distilled in Loretto, Kentucky (Get the Connection?)

-Makes a delish Mint Julep

-The 1st batch ever made was in 1954

This event was awesome!  There were 3 mint juleps to try all made with Maker’s Mark.  Of course the bar was open for other beverages but hey, it was DERBY DAY!  Gotta stay in spirit.

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I got the Bees Knee’s.  Not only did the name sell me but it contained honey, lemon, and mint.  Sweet.  I actually want to revisit this location for cocktails again.

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There were finger foods and votes for the best derby outfits for male and female.  Even though the race had long been over by the time I left, people were still lingering around enjoying each other’s companies, sippin’ on Marker’s and asking each other, “Hey, where’d you get your hat?!”  Trust me, the Hat’s are BIG!

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Best Dressed Male (Mike Brenker) and Female

Mother’s Day Brunch in Savin Hill!

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The one recognized day when mothers’ of the world are treated like royalty, walk on beds of rose pedals, and don’t have to lift a finger for anything.

At least that’s what will happen when I’m a mom.

To show the special lady in my life and my sister AND her friend how much I care I took them to one of my FAVORITE Dorchester eats, Savin Bar + Kitchen.  One of the perks of this restaurant IS the location.  Right across from the Savin Hill T Station on the Red Line and with plenty of public parking on the street this restaurant is inviting for all means of travel.

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Established in 2010 by Kenneth Osherow and Driscoll DoCanto, and with renovations in 2010 and 2011 Savin Bar + Kitchen definitely promises what it states on their site, “The ambiance is comfortable yet with an energetic buzz that has lit up Savin Hill.”  I can recall walking on Savin Hill Ave back in 2002 and the atmosphere in the neighborhood wasn’t as inviting in the slightest.  With new, welcoming eateries, like this restaurant, spirits in the area are higher.

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Brunch runs on Sunday from 11am to 3pm and with Mother’s Day being the focus point reservations here were key.  They were Very busy!

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While my mom got the Grilled Chicken Breast sandwich I ordered the Sirloin Steak Tips cooked medium-well with Eggs cooked over-hard.  My char-grilled sirloin tips were topped with Chimmichurri (a sauce made from finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, oregano, and vinegar that’s great with cooked meat), a grilled tomato served with spinach on top (which I didn’t eat) and home fries.

And what did I choose to wash all this down with? Water today boys and girls.  I had a cranberry juice after though.

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I like the lighting decor.

Now I have a love/hate relationship with Savin and their seasonal changing menu options (wink-wink).  I LOVE that they keep it new but then I hate to see something new leave; nevertheless you can find brunch favorites here for reasonable prices.  An entrée ranges from $8 to $17 dollars and sides are from $2 to $7 dollars, mix that and “wet your whistle” with brunch cocktail in different styles of Mimosas, Bellini’s, Bloody Mary between $8 and $10 dollars.  Not into brunch drinks?  They have a full stocked bar that is aimed to please it’s patrons including other cocktails, margarita’s and sangria’s.  Love sangria season.

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Before my steak I wanted to try my sister’s side of bacon.  That was some good bacon!  Not too greasy, the PERFECT amount of Crunch!  Oh, I had to hold back and remember it wasn’t mines.  And then it appeared; my steak looked AND tasted very good.  The chimmichurri brought more flavorful notes out of the steak.  Unfortunately my camera died right as I was about to cut into the meat so I have no inside snapshot, but it looked good, trust me (ref. my previous photos).  My eggs were perfectly pressed and the potatoes were satisfying and filling making my brunch experience complete as a whole.

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Laid out with two rows of high-top tables and a regular seating with plush velvet backing this restaurant offers comfort with a modern approach. The downstairs space is available for many rental functions from private parties to art gallery shows.  Every 1st Thursday of the month the location host an art gallery show free to the public.  Talk about keeping Dorchester Cultured.  Love it!  Looking for entertainment on Tuesday or Thursday? Savin’s got you covered for Trivia night!

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Friendly staff, mellow tunes, events, all smiles…in Dorchester? Absolutely!

Literally, “kid tested, mother approved!”  Mom loved it!  Xo.

 

Savin Bar and Kitchen

112 Savin Hill Ave

Boston, Massachusetts 02125

617) 288-7500

Tortilleria La Niña!

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Tortillas! While attending The Columbus Hospitality Group Cocktail Party in late April I had the pleasure of trying one of these delicious tortilla chips with sea salt.

So fresh,

So crisp!

I had to find out more about this product.

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Turns out Tortilleria La Niña (little girl), located in Everett since March 2012, was founded by Jamie Mammano, owner and chef of the 5 restaurants under the Columbus Hospitality Group (Mistral, Sorellina, Teatro, and Mooo…., and L’Andana).  Named in honor of his 10-year old daughter Paola this wholesale tortilla company, started in 2011, makes corn tortillas without any preservatives making their product as fresh as they promise.  Not only are we talking about taste (they use an authentic recipe), but the quality of the product ranks top notch by being kosher, 100% gluten fee, vegan, locally produced, hand crafted, and stays away from artificial flavors or colors.  Only thing your eating here is White Corn, Filtered Water, and Lime.  It’s the winning 3 items!

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So good!

You can taste their product at Boloco restaurants, The Painted Burrito in Somerville, El Pelon Taqueria in Boston, The Boston Harbor Hotel, Gillette Stadium and throughout some food trucks as well.  Wanna skip the middle guy?  You can purchase their white corn tortillas, chips, or masa’s (for tamales as an example) on their company website and have it delivered to you!  Cool right?  Think about, as authentic as you can get to Mexico but close to home.  The process in the “About Us” section definitely had me sold.  I’m ordering soon!

 

Tortilleria La Niña

189 Elm Street

Everett, MA 02149

617-880-6462

info@laninatortilla.com

http://www.laninatortilla.com

Food Truck Throwdown 2013!!!

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In August 2010 Boston has it’s 1st EVER Food Truck Festival and I had the pleasure of attending.  Held in the SoWa South End Market area this event left food trucks busy and sold out of many of their popular products.  Who knew a year later the idea of food trucks in Boston would become so popular that now we would have showdowns between New York City!  Awesome!

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Judges from L to R: Jon Albanse, Richard Chudy, Tom O’Keefe, Jenny Johnson, and Jamie Bissonnette

With over 40 food trucks and counting, Boston’s community for food trucks is well respected throughout the city.  With that being said starting last year, October 13th to be exact, the city showcased it’s 1st Food Truck Throwdown where Boston and New York battled it out on what city offered the better food truck.  Last year New York took home 5 out of the 9 categories and won best food truck overall.  It was time for a REMATCH.  This year the throwdown took place on the Greenway near the financial district on a sunny, yet breezy “derby” day Saturday, May 4th.  With qualified judges and the opinions of the people trucks were ready to rumble.  With their food in the kitchen that is.

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Being that I love food I knew well in advance lines were Not for me.  I purchased the V.I.P. package for $65 and it was WELL worth it!  I got to “sashay” myself to the front of any line all day long and grab 5 FREE bites from any of the food trucks.  Yes, I felt like a Food Truck Queen.  The five trucks I decided to try out were: Paris Creperie (BOS), Roxy’s (BOS), Big D’s Grub (NYC), Momos & Buns (NYC), and Uncle Gussy’s (NYC).  Being I live in Boston and have a “food truck mission” up my sleeve I thought why not give more New York Trucks a try today.  What do I have to lose?

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I thought dessert would be a great start so first I went to Paris Creperie where they, “Bring Paris To You” through their version of the tasty street food.  Their dish of choice was the S’mores Crepe.  A campfire sensation!  Each bite made me want to pretend I wasn’t in public and eat non-stop with the melted marshmallow covering my cheeks.  Had to come back to reality each time.  The graham cracker layered in made the crepe seem more like a dessert pie, which I really did enjoy.  The crepe itself was thin, perfect, and light.  Good job team.

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Swinging out of Boston for a bit I walked over to Big D’s Grub featuring, “good food with bold flavors influenced by Guyana, the American South and China in the spotlight” as the website claims.  Here I had the Spicy Chicken Taco with Old Bay Fries.  I must say, I’m gonna start placing Old Bay on ALL my fries from now out.  Talk about adding flavor to something so simple.  Matched with the spicy mayo, winning combination! My chicken taco, topped with fresh cilantro on a soft tortilla was tasty as well.

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After shaking up my pallet I thought why not get back to basics.  Basics meaning, a grilled cheese sandwich.  I went over to Roxy’s, Gourmet Grilled Cheese truck where their special was the Green Muenster Melt Half Sandwich which contained Muenster cheese, homemade guacamole, and applewood bacon.  This was DEFINITELY a turn for the better when it comes to grilled cheese.  Next time I order one of these babies, I’d like my bacon on the crisper side so I can get more of a crunch.  The cheese was nice melt, the guac rubbed my insides and made me smile.  Yea, it was a beautiful moment.  I remember when Roxy’s wasn’t even a truck and they were at the 1st Food Festival getting their name out there.  Now they’re doing quite well.  So well they took home this years’ Food Truck Fan’s Award.

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Next stop was Momos & Buns, a mix between Chinese foods dressed with Indian Sauces.  Here I got the Chicken Momo, hand rolled pan fried dumplings.  Can you say delicious?  I felt the 4 dumplings I received were a tease.  Infused with chopped ginger and cilantro these snacks were awesome.

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I had the pleasure of meeting Vik Lulla, part owner and chef of the truck, for a brief moment and found out some insider information.  There are two locations being negotiated as the future home of Chinese Mirch, the foundation of Momos & Buns.  One location in the downtown Boston area or one in Brookline.  Which will be victorious?  Either works for me.  But until then Bostonians can venture to Framingham for some great momos and buns at Chinese Mirch.  I got to try the savory Chicken Tikka & Mint Chutney bun.  So good.  The texture of the bun itself was soft and chewy while the chicken blended with the sauces was fabulous.  I’ll get to Framingham sometime next week.

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My final stop on my V.I.P tour was Uncle Gussy’s, Greek food on the Go.  The pita with choice of meat was my choice so for my protein I went with Lamb.  It only seemed right.  Right it was! The tzatziki (cucumber yogurt sauce) and grilled onions were PERFECT with my flavorful, thin cut lamb.  Wrapped in a soft pita this meal was perfect in completing my food truck showdown experience.

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PITA

My instagram pic. Yum!

I left the throwdown full, happy, and excited that I got to partake in such a great event brought to Boston by Kickass Cupcakes.  Boston won overall food truck this year (as it should) with food truck Pennypackers being Victorious.  Granted I didn’t get to try their goodies, I’m sure I can find their schedule around the city, or use Roaming Hunger on my phone to get my desired food truck fix.

http://www.foodtruckthrowdown.com/

http://roaminghunger.com/bos