Thursday, February 16, 2012

What can you say about Clarke's at South Station on a Friday at 5 pm? It really, really crowded and really really loud; so much so that you can't hear your companions speaking once you hit a certain age. This is a lot of people grabbing drinks, etc. before they get on their trains to the suburbs.

We are lucky enough to get a booth which makes ordering manhattans a little more challenging. The cute blonde waitress just gives me the blank stare when I ask what kind of bourbon they have. I offer a hint - Maker's Mark. Yes, we have that. Would you mind asking what else you have? The basics - Maker's, Johnny Walker something...nothing else that really rocked my world. That said, the manhattan with Maker's Mark was not bad.

The nachos, on the other hand, were pretty dreadful in the looks and and taste department. Shouldn't nachos come with beans and guacamole? These had neither. It's basically chips with melted cheese, some hot pepper slices which I remove, salsa and sour cream on the side. In their defense though, these guys used to serve a decent hamburger so try to remember that next time.

My companion pays so you have to be grateful for that plus catching up with her is lovely. Around 6/615 the place empties out and I can hear again. Pretty shortly after that she hops on her train to hubby and kids in the 'burbs.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Meeting with friend for drinks in the new bar area at Pigalle didn't start off very well. The new and improved bar seems to be barely either. They may have increased the seating at the bar but there are at most 8 stools and it is very tight. I quickly grabbed the two seats at the end where the servers place their orders for the dining room since those were the only two available. Then the bartender ignored me and ignored me and ignored me some more. A simple nod of the head would have been sufficient. My friends arrives and we finally get menus and a "What can I get you?" I start my usual spiel. What kinds of bourbon do you have? Do you have any unblended rye? She hands me one of the 3 menus for the list of whiskeys. I have to say this is a pretty extensive list but Death's Door (White) stops me in my tracks. I tell her Maker's Mark is my default. What is Death's Door like? She offers to do a taste test and I see her pour the Death's Door. Oh, it's white. She instructs me to close my eyes which promptly changes my mind about her and I comply. She puts one drink in my left hand, one in my right. I smell, I taste, I guess correctly, I order the Death's Door. Death's Door is a Wisconsin brewery which makes this whiskey, a gin and a vodka. Does it have a hint of almond smell and taste?

As we look at the food menus, I see what is different about Pigalle bar area. They have a bar menu with a burger and fish and chips. But I settle on Grilled Baby Shrimp "matignon" of vegetables, creamy caraway polenta, whole grain aïoli & red wine sauce. My friend gets the clam chowder. Expensive at $17 each but we're here to use a groupon. We do see the angus burger (with sharp cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, fried onions, house made condiments & fries) pass us and it's about a mile high and $12. We settle into our drinks (Bombay Sapphire martini for my friend) and happily await our food which is, as expected, delicious. For dessert we have lemon merinque tart (rosemary & almond tart, lemon curd, candied beets, brûléed meringue & fried mint) for $9 and Chocolate Stuffed Poached Pears (ricotta crema, peach sorbet, cocoa nib & red wine reduction) for $8. Poached Pears were better; lemon curd in the tart was very loose and candied beets? Don't recall seeing them or the brûléed meringue.
By the end of the night we were on a first name basis with Bernadette, the bartender. Biggest surprise was that the drinks costs $10 each; a bargain anywhere probably but especially in Boston.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What I bought on vacation (patience is rewarded)

It's coming up on three years since I moved into my condo and broke my cocktail pitcher on the first night. After a long-tortuous-hot-everything but the boxspring getting up the stairs day of moving, I made a manhattan and tapped the pitcher against the hutch, shattering it. Since then it has been one antique store after another, one china shop after another, searching for a suitable replacement. Everything is too wide or if not too wide, no handle. Finally, here it is. Wandering around the shops at The Circle in Orange (It's About Time, 131 N. Glassell St) one morning waiting for the June gloom to burn off so I could hit the beach, I find it. The picture does not do it justice - but it is heavy glass/crystal with a nice bevelled pattern. Looks better with the cocktail in it, no? Something ridiculous like $32 and the guy at the counter wrapped it up so good. I was practically dancing out the door.

Stephi's on Tremont (ice, really?)

Went here a few weekends ago on a Sunday afternoon nice enough to sit out. I got the Basil Berry - oxley gin, strawberry puree, basil, lemon and lime ($13). Sounds good, right? Well, not so much. It was a pretty loose concoction, enough gin, some mild strawberry flavor and some ice cubes.

The appetizer, on the other hand, mmm, mmm good. These are cheddar bacon apple fritters ($10) - fritters with green apple, cheddar and bacon with horseradish dipping sauce. Oh baby, these were tasty. I know they didn't but these had so much bacon flavor I almost asked if they were fried in bacon grease. Nice combination of flavors, perfectly fried and a nice, cool dipping sauce.

Would I go back? Not sure, drinks were pricey and just not that good. Or maybe I should just never stray from Manhattans. The appetizer was very good so maybe if I was in the neighborhood.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Stanhope Grille (look homeward angel)

I guess it's true, you can't go back. After years of raving, fantasizing and trying to recreate the Southern Manhattan from the Stanhope Grille, I finally got back there for dinner. Sorry to say but my attempts at home far surpassed what I got there a few weeks ago. This was just sad, sad, sad. It's supposed to be Woodford Reserve and Southern Comfort instead of vermouth. As you can see, the color is just all wrong. It should be golden, not this color which is so similar to the color of the cherry that you can barely discern the poor thing at the bottom of the glass.
I don't remember what my friend got but she is a vodka drinker and I think this it had cherries in it. She was happy.

Dinner was a soup (so long ago, I don't remember the type) and pork shank. Food was decent but nothing so great that I am dreaming about it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cucina Alessa

I went to a special event at Cucina Alessa and had this manhattan made with Early Times Bourbon. Limited choice on the liquors since we were getting a special deal (2 cocktails and 2 appetizers each for $20). Although the drink was quite tasty, the calamari was...meh. Just not very crispy or flavorful. I would have much preferred by mozzarella, tomatoes, basil plate but by the time I figured that out they were just taking out plates of appetizers and setting them up buffet style with nary a piece of mozzarella in sight.

Fish tacos (can you ever have enough?)

The answer, my friends, is a resounding no. I had a least one fish taco every day in SoCal except the afternoon I couldn't find the place someone told me about.

Day one - it's always the same: arrive, pick up the car, drive to Huntington Beach, stop at the Rubio's on Beach Blvd., change into bathing suit in their clean bathroom while they make the fish taco. Instantaneously relaxed the minute I hit the sand. I feel like I'm home and most definitely happy. Rubio's is a chain but don't let that stop you. It's a decent fried fish taco for a decent price. Good amount of chips and some beans. Ahhh.

Day two - leave very early for shopping in Santa Barbara and, again, it's the same routine here (who says you can't be in a rut and still be happy?). Lunch is always at The Natural Cafe. So, so tempted by the soup (roasted red pepper if you remember that from last year) but the counter girl tells me the fish taco is one of their most popular item. Sold. Grab a table outside and am presented with this lovely plate. My first reaction is, "Wow, that's a lot of carrots."

But this is a very tasty broiled fish taco. My only grip is that it's a little too wet for my taste but the clean and fresh flavor makes up for that in a big way. This might be one of the more expensive tacos but it was accompanied by this fab "peach-o-rama" smoothie.

Day 3 - Normita's Surf City Tacos - by far the best deal in town in the fried fish taco category. Look at the size of that piece of fish (mahi). This has the potential to be too wet but it is just on the right side of that equation.

Day 4 - the loser of the bunch. Was driving around on one of the earlier days and saw this place (Guty's) with a sign advertising shrimp tacos for $.99. Jotted down the intersection and drove by one day before the beach. There were two miniscule fish in each taco, lettuce and, I don't think I'm wrong, mashed potatoes? Can that be right? It came with some very watery sauce (not pictured). It was all just a little too weird. In their defense, he did put the sauce in a separate container and the shells...I don't know what they fried them in but I was very happy with those.

The winner and still champion (although Natural Cafe is close, close, close) is Wahoo's. Again a broiled fish, again mahi. So good I went twice; once a la carte which is pictured and, on my last night, the combo plate with beans and rice.