restaurants

Go Here, Eat This: Pai Men Miyake

Most of my "Go Here, Eat This" posts focus on places in Boston. Today I'm going to encourage you to take a little trip. If you wanted to find genuine ramen, farm-fresh ingredients, locally raised, organic meats; if you wanted to discover the joy of true yakitori seared over binchotan coal; if you craved a new local oyster you're not going to find at your local Boston raw bar; you could take a trip to Japan.

Or, you could take a short road-trip North of Boston to Portland, Maine.

It is so worth the drive...Here's why...Pai Men Miyake.

Pai Men Miyake

It's a terrific local spot that features farm fresh produce and meats. As in THEIR farm. Really, how can you improve on that for sourcing?

See that fire on the stove on the right there? That's intentional. It's Binchotan coal. We'll get to that in a moment. First, we had to try the pork buns because the meat comes from pigs they raise. Besides, who doesn't want to start with pork buns?

I was delighted to find that two oysters were offered and one of them I'd not only never had, I'd never heard of. John's River Oysters are from the local river. Pemaquids we do see from time to time here. Housemade cocktails and mocktails were excellent as well. I also tried a local microbrew that was fine to accompany the yakitori.

Pai Men Miyake Pork Buns

Binchotan is a very special compressed "white" Japanese charcoal that burns extremely hot and evenly. It is precisely the type of coal one needs to produce proper Yakitori. Mad proper, yo. Too often some insipid chicken on a skewer slathered in teriyaki sauce passes for Yaktori. 'Tis an abomination, I tell you! Yakitori is perhaps the Japanese version of Nose-to-Tail whole beast cookery, taking many bits of different animals often the ones discarded and turning them into enticing little bites on skewers. I could make a meal of them.

  • Kawa - Crispy chicken skin - what's not to love.
  • Bonjiri - Chicken tail - the fat and crispy skin bonus bite.
  • Butabara - Pork belly - easy to love.
  • Motsu - Pork intestine - amazing, the slightest earthiness gives a hint of its origins but really appealing and yes, delicious.
  • Gyu tan - Beef tongue - tender in a way that the tongue in a deli sandwich hopes to be.

Pai Men Miyake - Yakitori

And finally, the noodles. This is the thing we came for. I had been whining about the lack of proper ramen in Boston. I'm excited we may finally be getting a ramen-ya in Porter Square (I know there's the food court inside the Porter Exchange, but I cannot queue up for an hour for ramen. Constitutionally incapable.)

The middle bowl is kake soba. Konbu and shiitake broth. The dark green is wakame, a sea vegetable and scallion. The broth was so umami-rich, I nearly asked to switch.

I ordered the house ramen pai tan ramen is a pork and chicken broth. That's a slice of their home grown pork belly, a soy-marinated egg that hovered in creamy deliciousness between poached and hard boiled. Crispy sheaf of nori. This dish took me straight back to Tokyo. Actually, for the second time. The yakitori had me recalling my trip to Japan maybe 15 years ago now. I ventured out one night on my own and ended up in an Izakaya style restaurant that specialized in yakitori. The only thing that would have made that night any better would have been to share it with someone.

Well, at least we now have each other, Doc. And, thanks to your sleuthiness, we have Pai Men Miyake. Can't wait to go back!

 

 

Pai men Miyake

188 State St, Portland, Maine Tel: 207-541-9204

Hours:

Monday-Saturday 12pm-12am Sunday 12pm-10pm

 

Go Here, Eat This: North Shore Edition - Enzo Restaurant

I may be the worst (or best?) procrastinator on the face of the planet. I can use the excuse that I am intermittently reinforced for this habit and thus feel powerless in the face of it. I'm mostly joking and do get an awful lot done, but never quite as much, as quickly as I would prefer. This North Shore edition of "Go Here, Eat This" (my series of occasional restaurant reviews) focuses on the Enzo Restaurant in the town of Newburyport. Chef Mary Reilly and husband Dave invite you to relax and enjoy fresh Italian cuisine, interpreted through hyper-local ingredients. If you love knowing that your fish was swimming that morning, your pork was humanely and sustainably raised, your chef is supporting local farmers, fishermen and distillers; well, Enzo is for you.

Last summer I was delighted to be introduced to one of our local distillers and equally happy to discover that Enzo carries these distilleries' fine products on their bar. Of course! After my first meal at Enzo, I floated away on a cloud of sated happiness and promised to tell everyone. Mary was kind enough to share the recipe for one of their house cocktails, and I tested it out with my fresh-late summer produce. I muddled, mixed, sipped, and shot.

Farmers' Market Martini, Enzo

Then life happened. A lot of it. Good and bad  -- and just took over -- as it does -- and here we are in AUGUST already. Luckily it's a great time to try this cocktail (again.)

Farmers' Market Martini

This cocktail takes advantage of the smoothness of Beauport vodka and the fresh flavor of summer vegetables.

  • 4-6 cherry tomatoes, or 1/4 of a medium tomato
  • 2-3 slices cucumber
  • a few sprigs of herbs: parsley, basil, chives, summer savory (whatever you have on hand)
  • pinch salt
  • 3 oz. Beauport vodka
  • cucumber wheel or cherry tomato for garnish

In a mixing glass, muddle the tomato, cucumber and herbs well with the salt.  Really make sure you mash all the vegetables up so as to extract as much juice as possible.  Add the vodka and ice and put the top on your shaker.  Shake well to make sure the you get everything super cold and well combined.  Double strain* into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cucumber wheel or cherry tomato.

* Double straining is a technique used when you make a drink with a lot of "bits" in it. In addition to a standard Hawthorne or julep strainer (or the strainer built into your cocktail shaker), strain through a fine-mesh strainer into your glass. A simple way to do it: hold the shaker/strainer combo in your right hand and hold the fine mesh strainer over your cocktail glass. Pour directly into the fine-mesh strainer - all the small bits will get caught, leaving you with a clearer drink.  If you don't have a fine-mesh strainer, no worries, the double strain isn't essential; your cocktail will just be a wee bit chunkier!

Getting Back to Enzo

The good news is that Enzo Restaurant has passed their first year anniversary, they're gaining steady clientele and gathering a slew of good reviews along the way. You really must go and experience it for yourself. It's comfortable yet sophisticated. As North Shore folks are wont to do, there are plenty of customers in well-worn shorts and deck shoes in evidence. The freshly coifed and the couples celebrating having found sitters on the same night (so it seemed to me) were also out in equal numbers. I was pleased to see a fair number of guests who knew the staff and to learn our server likes the place so much she'd brought her partner back on her day off! Not many restaurants can make that claim. Everyone should know this is a warm and welcoming place.

This recent meal was full of delicious surprises (left to right):

The olive oil and foccacia were delicious and a statement in pink and green.

Nonna Rose - Enzo's first barrel-aged cocktail with Milagro blanco tequila, Aperol liqueur and vermouth spend a month in an oak barrel to produce this smoky, slightly spicy cocktail. Served on the rocks with a flamed orange peel.

Pat Woodbury's Clams (wanted a bathtub sized bowl of these babies, clean, ocean-y).

Rhubarbarita, Fried Polenta, Fried olives stuffed with cheese (one of the few olive dishes Doc loves).

 

Nonna Rose, Fried Olives

 

Since the Striper was caught that morning, I couldn't resist. The fish was perfectly cooked, sat on a bed of three local beans and potato dice.

Doc had the free form lasagna, housemade cheese, local sausage.

Dessert - sorbetto so rich and chocolatey you might think you were given gelato instead. Correto.

 

EnzoResto Striper, Lasagna

So, Mary & Dave - we will not wait another year to come back! I'm hungry again looking at all the delicious food. Wonderful evening beginning sips to last. Mille Grazie!

Enzo Restaurant

50 Water St., #304 Newburyport, MA (978) 462-1801

Opens at 6:00 Tuesday through Thursday and 5:00 Friday through Sunday

Closed Mondays

Highlights: Local, seasonal, handmade food.

For diners with allergies: Enzo is one of the best at accommodating allergies and offers options for nearly everyone.

Phone ahead for reservations and let them know of any allergies then.

 

Where to Go? What to Order?

Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The “must-try” spot for Chinese food? Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger? Pizza? A Gluten-free joint? Who does the best dollar oysters? Roast pig? People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there.

“Go Here, Eat This” 

Quick posts sharing notes of good spots to eat, highlighting what’s unique about the place,  favorite dishes, house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I’ll also try to note things like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc. Just stuff you ought to know.

Go Here, Eat This - Suishaya

It's easy to fall into an ordering rut. You go to a favorite place - you order your favorite dishes.

Gook su bok kum at Suishaya in Chinatown is a perfect example of why we should venture beyond "the usual." Stir fried noodles with spicy pork served on a sizzling platter for $12.95 easily enough for 2-3 people to share depending on what other dishes you order.

Warming, spicy and a welcome departure from the usual bulgogi or kalbi.

An order of Mandu (Korean potstickers or gyoza) and you have a dinner for two. Panchan - the little pickled side dishes are cheerfully refilled. 

Suishaya

  • 2 Tyler St (Corner of Tyler and Beach)
  • Mon - Sun 11AM - 2 AM.
  • (617) 423-3848

Go Here, Eat This - BBQSmith Rolls into Leather District

A surprise opportunity for lunch with my husband leads to a savory, sweet discovery. Boston's burgeoning food truck scene delivers tasty results to Chinatown and Leather District neighbors. Real American Barbecue. On wheels and in the hood five days a week. Meet BBQSmith.

Restraint and BBQ

It might sound like an oxymoron, since BBQ is so often about BIG and BOLD flavors. It's about SPICE and SMOKE. It's about FAT and FIRE. But, restraint?

If you find yourself in my neighborhood, and you want to switch it up from Chinese style BBQ, head toward the Chinatown gate and look for the BBQSmith food truck. These guys balance just the right levels of smoke and spice, exhibiting admirable restraint in a menu of really full flavors.

BBQSmith in the shadow of the Chinatown gate.

The menu - with daily specials. Yes, you can find them on FB & Twitter, but they're better in person!

I chose the smoked beef sandwich. Doc had smoked pork. Both sandwiches were fantastic.

 

We shared a couple sides and the team threw in a couple extras to try. Not only were the sandwiches fantastic, a delicate, not overpowering smoke, tender meat; the meats are natural without added hormones or antibiotics.

Black beans also displayed restraint. Crunchy slaw, green tomato pickle, with optional hot pickled peppers - piquant, textural counterpoints to soft smoky meats.

Sides feature local farm ingredients and the corn, cuke, cherry tomato and dilly bean salad (without the buttermilk for dairy allergy girl!) was a delicious late-summer celebration.

Watermelon lemonade was like a not-too-sweet agua fresca, really refreshing.

Bonus: A frequent diner card!

 

Go Here, Eat This - 51 Lincoln

 

Where to Go? What to Order?

Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The "must-try" spot for Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger or pizza? A Gluten-free menu or an out-of-the-way find?

People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there.

“Go Here, Eat This” posts are my quick reviews of good spots to eat. I’ll let you know what is unique about the place and include some of my favorite dishes. These may be either house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I'll also try to add observations like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc., those things it might be helpful to know.

Search on “where to go” or “eat this” or just check back on the Noshes, News, and Notes page for these new posts. If some write full reviews, think of these as small plates: quick to consume but full of flavor.

 

Go Here, Eat This - 51 Lincoln

Eating at 51 Lincoln is akin to being in the company of a slightly eccentric and much-loved relative. The Aunt who has traveled further than anyone else, who wears unconventional hats or the odd piece of jewelry, each with a fascinating story. It is full of grace, good hospitality, and quietly shows its character, seasoned by life and peppered with the loving remnants of adventure.

Chef Fournier's art adorns the walls.

One of the first things you notice is the good buzz in the room. Not the raucous, clanging sounds favored by restaurants downtown eager to prove they are the hot new thing. It's located in Newtown Highlands, a stone’s throw from the green line in a tidy row of tony shops and those that strive in that direction. Apparently, they roll the sidewalks up at 5 because my first visit (a media dinner) seemed like something from a sci-fi movie. Where are all the people?, I kept wondering. They were inside the restaurant!

Never mind, this only contributes to the sense of adventure. Once inside you are cosseted in a place that feels like home, if your home were decorated by that well-traveled slightly relative with expensive tastes.The art on the walls, most or all of it, is painted by the chef owner, Jeffrey Fournier. It might be the most brash thing in the room, adding a splash of color here and there to the understated decor.

The food arrives promptly even with the dining room nearly at capacity. The menu changes regularly with fun specials like May’s “30 days of Crab” in which each day offers a new special using this seasonal ingredient like soft shell crabs. The wines are paired with a parallel 30 days of specials. Sommelier Miguel Escobar is enthusiastic and just the personality one hopes for when it comes to ordering wine. He’s knowledgeable without making one feel bad if you are less so. He’s proud of the list and eager to share a taste of what’s new, special or exclusive to the restaurant.

...a knockout rosé

Outstanding taste memories from my first visit included the house-made charcuterie which shines in all aspects and includes the most ethereal head cheese I may ever have tasted thanks to Sous Chef Max Burns. “Ethereal head cheese” probably three words you’re not used to seeing together, but there you have it. The menu strikes the right balance between familiar flavors and daring notes.

 

Kudos to Sous Chef Max Burns for the ethereal head cheese

Local and seasonal

These words form a popular mantra for many restaurants. At 51 Lincoln, they take the phrase, but not themselves, seriously. (fried pickles anyone?) Dishes are thoughtfully put together with really local produce and a sense of humour is in evidence. They’ve started a rooftop garden which they hope to expand in 2012. This year, look for “rooftop assisted” dishes like the most excellent Pat Woodbury’s clams with Hungarian Wax Peppers, cilantro and tomatoes from the roof.

Meats are from small farms and co-ops around New England, backyard favorites like Allendale Farms, much of the meats are grass-fed and pastured. The menu recognizes local producers simply and servers were mostly able to answer questions on the spot.

Artful plating is an affront if the food itself is not satisfying. Here one gets the best of of both worlds. The “Fluke Amok” pays homage to a recent journey to Cambodia and is plated in a large banana leaf which gently cups the perfect-sized fillet and the lemon grass, ginger scented coconut curry. Watermelon steak is perhaps the farthest reach toward fun, but it added more of a surprise element to the meal. Frickles are another example of the humour in the menu, tasty, too.

Using catch of the day, fish may vary, this was fluke.

Fried + pickles = Frickles

End the meal with desserts, cheese board, and after dinner drinks, MEM teas, or George Howell coffees. No desserts disappointed, even sorbets came in interesting flavors.

“Where’s the Cake Lebowski” was a hit with Coen brothers fans at our table.

Beginning to end, (roof)top to bottom, this just-outside-Boston restaurant was a delightful surprise for this city girl. I’m definitely going back.

Where to go:

51 Lincoln

51 Lincoln St., Newton Highlands

617.965.5100

Lunch M-F 11:30- 2:30

Dinner Mon - Sat 5:00 - 10:30

Website: 51 Lincoln

 

What to eat:

Any “rooftop assisted” is a good choice.

Get the clams if they’re on the menu.

The charcuterie is a standout and shows a skilled kitchen.

Ask what specials are particularly good that day and definitely have a conversation with Miguel Escobar their sommelier.

A cheese board is available and but for my dairy allergy, I’d have tried that with Miguel’s pairings.

 

 

Unique about this place:

...are the rooftop-assisted dishes.

Up there ...

...where cilantro grows.

More plantings are planned for next year

and they've begun composting.

Emphasis on local ingredients with unique global flavors.

Classical influence, modern sensibilities.

Classes offered beginning this "soon".

Mondays and Tuesdays are dollar oyster days, belly up to the bar.

Wednesdays - wine flights and pairings.

 

Note:

Full bar and thoughtfully prepared wine list and drinks menus, both reflect “old school” and “new school” offerings. Bar menu includes a handful of dishes from pasta, to tacos and burger, as well as charcuterie cheeses and snacks.

They bake fresh breads every day.

House-made charcuterie is a stand-out.

House-made charcuterie

Street level access, near T.

 

cozy private dining room, downstairs.

 

Questions? Comments? Please drop a note if you've eaten here and share any dishes you think are on the "must-try" list!

 

 

 

 

Go Here, Eat This - Tico

Where to Go? What to Order?

Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The "must-try" spot for Chinese food? Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger? Pizza? A Gluten-free joint? Who does the best dollar oysters? Roast pig?

People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there. In these "Go Here, Eat This" quick posts, I'm going to share notes of good spots to eat, highlighting what's unique about the place, including some of my favorite dishes. The ones that are house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I'll also try to note things like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc. Just stuff you ought to know.

Going forward you can search on "where to go" or just look at the "Noshes and News" page. When I add new posts, I'll add them there and post on the home page, too.

Where to go:

Tico Restaurant Boston

222 BERKELEY STREET BOSTON MA 02116

617 351 0400

M-F 11:30 AM-2 AM, SAT. & SUN. 11AM-2AM

 

Unique about this place:

...is a large pan-Latin menu covers flavor profiles of Mexico, Spain, Central and South America. Large selection of small plates, tacos and entrees covering seafood, meat, vegetarian options.

Note:

Large, lively bar with over 80 Tequilas.

Some outdoor seating available.

What to eat:

Pork belly, Grilled octopus with aji amarillo, Shishito peppers,

 

Questions? Comments? Please drop a note if you've eaten here and share any dishes you think are on the "must-try" list!

 

Go Here, Eat This - New Shanghai

Where to Go? What to Order?

Looking for a place to eat in Boston? The "must-try" spot for Chinese food? Dumplings? Dim Sum? My favorite burger?Pizza? A Gluten-free joint?

People often ask me where they should eat in Boston and what they should order when they get there. I've been very inconsistent about keeping up my "Noshes & News" page, sometimes posting on food news and food reviews in the Leather District Gourmet page, sometimes there.

Adopting the "no time like the present" motto, I'm going to start now. I'll make best efforts to share quick notes of good spots to eat, noting what is unique about the place, and include some of my favorite dishes. These will be the ones that either house specialities, indicative of the cuisine, or just ones that I really enjoy. I'll also try to note things like whether the place is friendly to those with allergies, or disabilities, etc. Just stuff you oughtta know. Going forward you can search on "where to go" or just look at the "Noshes and News" page. When I add new posts, I'll try to remember to add them there and post on the home page, too.

Where to go:

New Shanghai Restaurant

21 Hudson Street (runs between Kneeland and Beach, just inside Chinatown Gate.)

617.338.668

Unique about this place:

...is that it specializes in Sichuan cuisine, in a Chinatown which is largely Cantonese seafood. This restaurant is the place to try Northern specialties like Cumin Lamb which recall the Norther Silk Road influence. Many dishes have toasted red chilies which you don't eat, simply set them aside or eat around them. Also unique to this region's cuisine is the Sichuan Pepper (which is actually not in the peppercorn family at all, but that's a post for another day). The oil creates a spicy, slightly tingly and numbing sensation on the tongue. It's also floral in its flavor profile and the whole combination is so intriguing you can't help but go back for more. Remember, when you're trying to quench the fire in your mouth water is not your friend! Eat a bite of white rice to dampen the heat. Then go back for more.

Note: several steep and slightly uneven steps lead up to this restaurant. I don't believe there is alternate access. If someone in your party cannot handle these steps, I recommend doing takeout and having a picnic in the Chinatown garden or on the Greenway.

Mandarin is the primary language here, though both English and Cantonese speakers will have no trouble ordering. Menus in English. Separate room available for large parties.

Beer and wine are available, as well as some sakés, but I think tea or beer is the best with this food.

What to eat:

 

Szechuan Wonton with Red Chili Sauce - soft little dumplings in a Sichuan chili sauce that is hot in temperature and spice.

Spicy Cabbage salad - don't eat the red chilis but the rest is great, crunchy, slightly vinegary, perfect counterpoint to many of the spicy dishes.

Scallion pancakes - here come with the addition of sliced cold beef. It's a nice departure from the typical Cantonese style pancake.

Cumin Lamb - very good, a little salty, cumin covered lamb is quite different from the dishes you'll find elsewhere in Chinatown.

Tea-smoked duck - Lapsong Souchong is a very smoky tea which is used both for drinking and for smoking meats. This duck is a great example of the use of this technique.

There's also a dish that doesn't appear on the online menu that is well worth trying. It's a poached or steamed "baby chicken" (I think probably poussin) served cold in the Sichuan chili sauce. So tender and flavorful is the meat, and delightfully tingly is the sauce you'll be thinking about this dish before your next visit.

Moo Shu dishes are excellent here, too. The stir fry of meat and vegetables always has a good amount of the expensive mushrooms other places might skimp on. The crepes are perfectly rendered and more can be ordered. The leftover filling is also great for breakfast!

 

Questions? Comments? Please drop a note if you've eaten here and share any dishes you think are on the "must-try" list!