Welcome BACK Brunch at North Street Grille!

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It’s been 2 months and 22 days since I’ve written about my love of food and I apologize for the wait (life…oy vey).

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Kicking off my return to writing I came prepared with a fork in the left and a drink in my right to tell you about a semi secret, yet not so secret spot in the bustling North End perfect for your brunch munch cravings, North Street Grille!

Opened back in October 2010 on North Street, dinner is served 5 nights a week from 5pm to 11pm and brunch from 8am to 3pm Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and Holiday Mondays! A new addition to my Friday Brunch line up! On street parking around here is a bit tough, but there are lots close by or one can take the train in and walk from Haymarket.

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Whoop Whoop!

 

It’s the perfect, cozy location for a chill brunch; whether you’re coming from working out and wanted to grab a bite while unwinding with pals or you’re hungover and literally dragging your bum through the door.

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The menu is broken down into generous sections providing eaters to sample and indulge in some tasty treats. Prices vary from $5 to $17 for entrees with wine, beer, and cocktails varying from $5 to $10. Very inviting for many budgets!

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For my homecoming feast I went for the Banana Bread French Toast and washed it down with the Flirtini cocktail. Need I say I was also on a date (wink wink). I think I would have picked something different if I knew they gave you FRESH BANANA BREAD as a starter snack. So moist and chewy; a nice way to start off any brunch.

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My Flirtini was a blend of Cruzan Raspberry, Champagne, Chambord, Pineapple and Cranberry juice. Absolutely Re-Freshing! I had to have two, with no guilt! I must admit it’s been a while since I’ve had fruity drinks but this one was even blended and with the use of champagne it made the drink more like a punch, which I enjoyed.

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My Banana Bread French Toast was to die for! Sitting in it’s already soaked goodness of a caramelized banana sauce this lovely thick Texas toast style bread was decorated to the nines with fresh bananas atop, confection sugar, and whipped cream.

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This place Knows Bananas!

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Each bite better than the first, and with little need to add extra maple syrup, one can eat continuously unless needing a drink break. It happens.

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Sadly I couldn’t finish my plate 100% but I managed to get ‘er down to a solid 85% devoured!

 

Next time I visit for brunch I’m going with their ‘Benedict in Bed’, which is a French Toast stuffed with Canadian Bacon & Cheddar topped with Poached Eggs & Hollandaise Sauce. Sounds dangerous I know, but with my stomach up for the challenge I KNOW I’ll get to the bottom of it!

 

I can’t say the date was a hit, but at least my potbelly was visible. Xo.

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North Street Grille

 

229 North St.

 

Boston, MA 02113

 

(617) 720-2010

 

http://www.northstreetgrille.com/ordereze/home.aspx

Celebrations at Cinquecento!

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The South End is home to many amazing local favorites for dining.  With a nice blend of old and new eateries, patrons can choose between sticking with what they know or dining at the areas newest hot spot.  Since I’m always up for a challenge for my sister’s birthday her best friend and I surprised her with Cinquecento!

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Now, if you haven’t been to this new addition…

Stop Everything and check it OUT!

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Business hours for dinner are 5pm to 11pm Monday thru Wednesday and 5pm to 12am Thursday thru Friday.  As their site states, Cinquecento offers, “this edgy community [South End] a contemporary, casual and energetic Roman Trattoria, perfect for a spontaneous night out or your go-to spot for dinner and brunch”.  Agreed!  This restaurant definitely fills the void of an Italian cuisine meeting scene.  Affiliated with the fabulous Aquitaine Group, this new addition since November 2012 is as aesthetically pleasing as its sister restaurants with not only a main dining room and bar but a private function room equipped with a bar.  With on street parking and a free parking lot adjacent to the restaurant patrons can drive in knowing they won’t have to fight for parking or pay a ridiculous fee.

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I heard the brunch here is fabulous (I will try it soon), served from 10am to 3pm Saturday and Sunday. I can’t wait for the patio in the summer!

Dinner menu items start from $8 and go as high as $30.50 not including sides that start at $6.50 and salumi (cured sliced meats) starting at $5.25.  Cocktails are either $10 or $11, beer is between $4 and $28, while Amari (Italian liqueur with bitters) range from $6 to $11.

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To get our party started we began with the Cozze in Brodo.  This appetizer consisted of Steamed Mussles, Red Onion, and Basil marinated in a Spicy Broth.  For my main I got the Bucatini alla Carbonara containing Pancetta (pork belly), Pecorino (Italian cheese from sheep’s milk), and Black Pepper.  My sister had the Vitello Milanese con Gorgonzola e Rapini or Fried Veal with Gorgonzola Cream and Broccoli Rabe.  Her best friend tried the Taglaiata alla Fiorentina; Char-Grilled Bavette (fan-shaped cut) Steak, Toasted Sage Oil, Garlic Spinach & Roasted Potatoes.  Since I had to get a cocktail due to the occasion I drank the Autunno, made with Vanilla Bean Infused Apple Cider, Rye, and Fresh Lemon Juice.

First out was our drinks and I loved mines.  It wasn’t too harsh and I loved that you were able to taste the rye within as well as the vanilla notes.

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Following our whistle wetters were the yummy mussels.  These we’re some of the yummiest mussels I’ve had mainly because of the spicy sauce they were swimming in.  The nice and thin broth definitely made this appetizer stand out!

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In a reasonable amount of time our entrée’s arrived.  For a busy Friday night the wait was not long.  My carbonara was lovely!  I’m so glad I didn’t add chicken; the pork was plenty meat for me.  The cheese clung and melted throughout the pasta, distributing nicely through each bite.

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I had a bite of my sister’s veal and her friend’s steak.  The veal was nice and lean!  I enjoyed how the young beef was breaded.

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The steak was delicious on it’s one but was fantastic when combined with the toasted sage oil.  Two thumbs up!

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To end our “tour di roma” for dessert we went with the Lemon & Riccota Torta which I wasn’t too excited about…but then I changed my mind.  This treat contained a Ricotta Pound Cake with Lemon Crema & Blood Orange Sciroppo (syrup).  First bite and I fell in love!  The pound cake was light, while the cream and syrup both were refreshing additions, turning the traditional everyday pound cake into a celebratory dessert.  Great choice made by sissy.

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I’m glad that not only did my sister enjoy her Birthday present but we were able to bond over good food and conversation in a new, sleek atmosphere.  Shouldn’t that always be the case? Maybe I’m just fat, ha-ha. Xo.

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Some of the lovely staff. Thank you!

Cinquecento

500 Harrison Ave.

Boston, MA 02118

617-338-9500

http://www.cinquecentoboston.com

Friday Brunch at Ferrara’s!

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Whenever I’m off work on a Friday (which is rare) I like taking in luxuries of the day for instance waking up later than usual, walking around the city like a tourist, and of course having a REAL lunch. The usual 30-minute break doesn’t allow much catching up or better yet food enjoyment.  It’s more like a mundane necessity than extraordinary nourishment for the body.  This is how I stumbled upon Ferrara’s.

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I was looking for lunch with friends, and instead they said, “let’s do brunch”.  “On a Friday?” I thought.  No way!

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Voted Best Brunch in Boston Ferrara’s keeps brunch lovers like myself happy with an amazing menu Friday thru Sunday from 8am to 3pm!  If you’re not a brunchie junkie like me then you can join Ferrara’s for dinner Monday thru Sunday from 4pm til closing.  The only thing that makes me sad is that I’m just finding out about this gem and they’ve been open since June 2012. So many wasted Sundays!!!  And Fridays!!!

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Casual and modern patrons can come in right after work for a drink and hangout or make Ferrara’s a destination for dining. The location of the restaurant is close to Haymarket Station making commuting by T easy peasy.

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Menu meal prices are between $4.95 and $16.95 while sides are between $1.95 and $4.95.  I was excited when I seen the “Seafood Benedict” option on the menu and had to have it.  I went with the Fresh Lobster Meat instead of the other options of Maryland Lump Crab or Shrimp and washed it down with some cranberry juice.  This was only the start of a beautiful experience.

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My lobster was SO tender with nice chunks!  The home fries here are to die for!  Cooked up with onions and seasoning, they don’t need any ketchup.  I was full, I was happy…and then the chalkboard caught my eye.  It read, “Egg in a Jar”.  I read the contents and ordered one for my table.  We agreed to not have your potbellies “visible” so we shared this special.

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The Egg in a Jar contained Creamy Mashed Potatoes, Sautéed Mushrooms, Seasoned Grilled Chicken, a toped with a Warm Sunny-Side Up Egg and Crispy Prosciutto. At the time it just sounded different, but after the first bite it was my fate.  The prosciutto was yummy!  I never had it crispy before then.  We broke the yolk of the egg so it could run throughout the jar, which worked out well.  Served with elongated Siciliano bread we quickly dug into our jar, almost as if we didn’t consume our brunch prior.  The mash and chicken delivered as promised and the mushrooms were a nice balance.  If this item is served again when I return I’m getting it for MYSELF hands down.

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So Yummy

I can see how and why Ferrara’s is worthy of high ranks in the city.  With good service, good prices, and tasty meals one has to give credit where it’s do.

Xo!

FERRARA’S KITCHEN + BAR

76 SALEM STREET

BOSTON

857.753.4615

http://www.ferrarasnorthend.com

Reasons I LOVE Ashmont Grill!

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Dorchester, Massachusetts.  My hometown, my city, home sweet home.  Although it gets a bad rap this neighborhood is up and coming making it more appealing to residents and visitors looking to stay local for dining instead of trucking it to the downtown area.  In 2005 Ashmont Grill graced Dorchester’s Peabody Square drawing in patrons from all over the city and beyond proving that Dorchester has lots of potential.

Here are my reasons for returning over and over again to Ashmont Grill:

Reason 1: Atmosphere.  Ashmont Grill gives off the feel of restaurants in the South End.  It’s friendly; host an inviting environment with familiar tunes and impressive service.

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Reason 2: Price.  Menu options here are wallet-friendly for all types of dining (dinner, Friday lunch, and brunch).  Dinner entrée’s are at most $24, Friday lunch ranges from $7 to $15 dollars, while brunch entrée’s top at $15.

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Reason 3: Location.  Right across from Ashmont T Station and with a customer parking lot this location is accessible to all.

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I usually have brunch here and always enjoy myself.  After placing your order they bring out a nice assortment of scones and chocolate chip banana bread.  I LOVE the banana bread.  The bread is soft and moist while the chocolate chips are semi soft creating a nice mix on the palette and a good texture to chew.

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I decided to switch it up and go for the Egg Benedict containing 2 poached eggs & smoked ham (I’m usually a salmon girl) on an English muffin, hollandaise sauce, fresh fruit, and homefries.  For a starter I got the Old Fashioned Cider Donuts made handcut with cinnamon and sugar.

First bite into my cider donut and I thought, “Yes! Chris, these are perfect!”  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Chef/Owner Chris Douglass who lives nearby the restaurant a couple of times and he’s always been pleasant.  My donuts (little munchkins) were nicely dusted with cinnamon and coated in sugar on the outside while the inside was soft and crumbly.  These donuts could be a kid’s best friend.

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When my Eggs Bene came out I was so pleased!  My eggs were nice and runny with hollandaise oozing all over it (insert smile here).  The ham was a nice thin cut and the English muffin was the SOFTEST texture I’ve Ever had! Well done!  The touch of pomegranates, pineapples, and oranges as their seasonal fruit medley was another plus!  Much different than the usual pairings of melons.

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Other recommendations I have for Ashmont Grill are:

Baked Mac n’ Cheese (Three Cheese blend.  Simply Amazing!)

Eggs Nova Scotia

Wood Grilled Lamb Sliders (you can TASTE the lamb!)

Classic Mai Tai Cocktail (Rum Yum Yum!)

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My sticky toffy and mai tai via insta

Sticky Toffy Pudding (featured on the Food Network!)

Niman Ranch Pasture Raised Burger

I assure you, these items WILL NOT disappoint.

As a Dorchester native (or Dot Rat) I am proud such a restaurant is here in our neighborhood.  Businesses like this and their sister restaurant Tavolo (located on 1918 Dorchester Ave.) allow people who live in the area the opportunity of experiencing more than just the neighborhood bar.

Thank You! Xo.

Ashmont Grill

555 Talbot Ave.

Dorchester, MA 02122

617.825.4300

http://ashmontgrill.com/

Brunchin’ At Scollay Square!!!

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Sometimes I want something simple and comforting when I go out to eat.  Nothing beats simplicity when you’re either on a budget or just want to stay low-key.  In perfect accord I’ll introduce Scollay Square on Beacon Hill.

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Serving up American comfort food since 1992, Scollay Square provides a very inviting environment, making it perfect for hanging out with friends or stopping in for a solo bite.  Apart of the Legendary Restaurant Group since 2004, the owners Brad Dalbeck and Chris Damian run 5 other restaurants in addition to : Papagayo (My FAV!), Burger Dive, Max & Dylans, SiP Wine Bar + Kitchen, and Avery Provision Company.

Brunch is available Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 2pm.  With an easy to follow menu, patrons are left with minimal questions regarding terminology.  Ahh, the simplicity of American dining.

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Pricing starts from $6.5 to $19.  That’s it, nothing higher than that!  Considering being located in the heart of Downtown Boston the prices are amazing, and Scollay prides themselves on offering, “reasonable prices”.  Seeing that I wanted something straightforward I picked the English Muffin Egg Sandwich that came with Canadian Bacon (smoked ham), Jack Cheese and Hash Browns.  See, right to the point!

Now, one of the coolest features of Scollay Square and what brought me to check it out is there “Make Your Own Bloody Mary Bar”!

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How does it work?

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You choose your vodka at the main bar then head over to the set up bar.  This bar is used to garnish your BM how ever you’d like with the offerings of 3 types of tomato juice, all kinds of spices and hot sauces (e.g. the colon cleanser), as well as different veggie and fruit toppers.  Since I have yet to try a Bloody Mary I went STRAIGHT for their $4 Mimosa.

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Not much time later from ordering my sandwich arrived!  I wasn’t expecting the salad on the side but thought it was a nice touch to a potentially unhealthy breakfast.  I loved the portions.  I’m all about proper portions.  My sandwich fit nicely in my hand.

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On to the taste.  Usually I salt and pepper my eggs but not today.  The Jack Cheese gave each bite the right amount of pepper while the bacon gave off some salty traits.  I loved how the hash browns were golden and crispy.   Each bite had a crunch.  This meal, including drink was a wise $11.50 investment!

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I plan to revisit Scollay this weekend and go for either the Fillet Mignon Eggs Benedict or the Lobster Eggs Benedict.  With $2 being the only “big” difference it’s up to my mood on what I’ll pick that day.  #winning!

 

UPDATE: October 19th, 2013

Scollay Square

21 Beacon Street

Boston, MA 02108

617-742-4900

http://www.scollaysquare.com/

Mooo….for Brunch!

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There comes a time in my foodie mind when I think, “hmm, how can we take sometime classic and make it better?”  For me that classic would be brunch.  It screams perfection fusing alcohol and breakfast/lunch into one!  I’ve had my eye on dining at Mooo… for sometime now and finally had my moment.  I wasn’t sure before what mealtime I wanted to indulge in, but now I’m more than happy with the choice I made.

Opened July 2007 atop Boston’s Beacon Hill this modern steakhouse restaurant is apart of XV Beacon Hotel.  Affiliated with the Columbus Hospitality Group (see Taste of Columbus post) Mooo…. suggest booking reservations, an elegant or business casual dress code, and is open seven days a week even during current construction!  Perfect if your not a brunch freak like me.  With two floors  Mooo…. offers a lounge type dining on the first level with a private room below named, “the Wine Cellar”.  Chef/owner Jamie Mammano has done it again with another award winning restaurant.  Chef David Hutton keeps the food coming out with flavor.

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Here’s how Mooo….starts by making their Brunch fantastic:

  1. Free Valet Parking!  No need to circle the block to find a space, just hand over your keys and walk inside.
  2. Soft, LIVE Acoustic Music!  Marcella’s voice is amazing.  Full of passion and soul, with a bossanova style.
  3. Spacious Dining!  Your not seated too close to other guest making you feel your personal bubble has popped.  Here your kept cozy and separated in the modern and sophisticated décor.
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The amazing live performers

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Down to the Wine Cellar

Sunday Brunch is served from 10am to 2pm with meal prices varying from $9 to $39.  The highest priced item on the menu is a 6 oz Kobe Beef Steak and Eggs for $125…one day it shall be mines! Until then I got the Traditional Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon as my main course.  To start, I ordered the Blueberry Beignets (a square of fried dough eaten hot sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar) and our table received house-made Cinnamon Buns.  Sounds like a lot? Don’t worry, I had my two best friends with me that day for potential assistance.

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I was very excited about their tea selection 🙂

To drink I ordered the Pimm’s #15, a yummy cocktail consisting of Hendrick’s Gin, Pimm’s #1 and fresh lemon, garnished with thyme.  Usually I don’t do this but I had two drinks pretty much back to back.  Refreshing! Cocktails here are a bit pricey, ranging between $12 and $16 BUT if that makes you a bit uncomfortable you can choose from beer, wines, and hard liquor.

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First up were the Blueberry Beignets.

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Oh. My. GOODNESS!  These little jelly filled donut like pastries were yummy!  Best part, they were served Warm.  The jam inside wasn’t goopy and thick, but more liquid.  So soft with gooey blueberry!  Perfect starter.

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Once our order was placed we received our Cinnamon Buns.  The lightly cinnamon pastry was pretty tasty.  I liked the huge sugar crystals on top of the bun. Full of puff and not too dense.

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To end this AMAZING experience I got my Traditional Eggs Benedict with Salmon.  My meal was Complete!  The eggs were nice and runny and as usual mixed well with the hollandaise sauce.  The English muffin was lightly toasted, leaving it softer than others.  Accompanying my main course were O’Brien potatoes covered with Parmesan, Red Bell Peppers, Onions, and Fresh Parsley.  I wish I had more space for the potatoes.

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My one regret from my unforgettable experience at Mooo….was that I didn’t try either of my best friends’ French Toast with Caramelized Banana and gingered maple.  One of my friends said it was the best french toast he’s EVER had.  I gotta go back for it and then some!

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Til next time Mooo….! Xo.

Mooo….Restaurant

15 Beacon St.

Boston, MA 02108

(617) 670-2515

http://mooorestaurant.com/

Cambodian AND French? Elephant Walk!

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I’m always trying to broaden my spectrum on food every chance I get.  This is one of the perfect restaurants for hitting two birds with one stone: Elephant Walk!

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Opened back in 1991, Elephant Walk has a total of 3 locations: Boston, Cambridge, and Waltham.  The first location opened by Bob Perry and Longteine “Nyep” de Monteiro was in Union Square, Somerville on August 20, 1991 the day after Hurricane Bob.

Funny.

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Serving Lunch, Dinner, and Brunch with a respectable wine menu Elephant Walk aims to please.  The bright, upbeat appearance and decorates of Elephants takes your mind on a mini vacation outside the city.

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After years of wanting to eat one of their locations I finally had my chance in Cambridge.

The menu is split between two cultures but one is further broken down to “Traditional Cambodian” and “Original Cambodian”.  What’s the difference?  Traditional Cambodian are foods widely known throughout Cambodian culture and can be found at other restaurants.  Original Cambodian however are foods made by the chefs in house using traditional ingredients and techniques, but you can ONLY find those meals at Elephant Walk.  Love it!

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Warm Bread to Start!

Most Cambodian recipes at the restaurant come from the founding chef and author of The Elephant Walk Cookbook, Longteine “Nyep” de Monteiro.  Nyep’s daughter, Nadsa de Monteiro has brought in most of the French recipes.  These are some very talented ladies.

Since I HAD to have a mix of both worlds I had Cambodian as a starter and French as my entrée and dessert.  I was so excited for dinner that night!

Prices on the menu range from $8.50 to $23.95.  Not a huge jump.  I ended up drinking Irish Breakfast tea that night which had more depth than English breakfast, but was tasty all the same.

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Irish Breakfast

First out was my Cambodian Crêpe au Canard et Champignons, a warm crêpe filled with duck braised in Soy-Ginger and Tamarind juices, with Mushroom and Scallion, garnished with Dressed greens.  This dish was So well rounded: great appearance and great taste!  The duck was Very sweet and tender.  I believe it was my first time having duck!  The crepe itself was soft and chewy.  Yum.

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Second out was my entrée, Steak Grillé, Jus de Boeuf au Vin Rouge, a Grilled Flat Iron Steak, Red Wine Beef Jus, sautéed Yukon Gold new Potatoes, Zucchini and baby Portabella.  The steak was nice and tender.  I liked the amount of salt and butter used in this dish.  There was a good balance.

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And finally, the cherry on top (not literally) of my best of both worlds combination was my dessert, Moka Liègeois, consisting of two traditional French desserts revisited: combining chocolat liegeois and cafe liegeois. Layered Almond, Coffee and Chocolate Cake with Coffee and Chocolate ice creams, served with mocha sauce.  This is how you finish a meal!  The espresso at the bottom of the dish was quite potent, but not overbearing.  The fingers were delicious and perfectly soaked due to the melting ice cream.

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This location is perfect for the common MBTA commuter or driver.  A short walk from Porter Square on the Red Line or a convenient parking location behind the building, Elephant Walk leaves their guest comfortable.

I see why this business has been around since the 90’s.  Quality food NEVER goes out of style!

The Elephant Walk

2067 Massachusetts Avenue

Cambridge, MA 02140

(617)492-6900

http://elephantwalk.com/cambridge-menu/