Category Archives: Restaurants

Go to Cafenation, Now. I’m Serious.


I can make a pretty good breakfast–that is, good for me. I will not claim to be skilled at any sort of fancy breakfast creations. I can make plenty of things that are tasty, or, at least edible, and at this point I’m very close to completely mastering the egg sandwich (often eaten for lunch or dinner as well, because I CANNOT get enough of them, it seems). I am incapable of making pretty pancakes or omelets. I’m trying to remember a time when I made breakfast for someone else that would be worth mentioning. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any.

This is why many of my best breakfasts happen when I go out. I don’t often go out for breakfast with a buddy. It’s too hard to gather people in the morning, especially a weekday morning, when the only people who could go with me aren’t even awake. (Or are in a different zip code.)

So I go out to breakfast. Or grab something on the way to work.

More often than not, this breakfast comes from Cafenation. They are one of my very favorite independent cafes in Boston (and everywhere else, but I’ll admit there are many I haven’t tried in other cities. In fact, most cafes in other cities I haven’t tried. Totally beside the point), because everything they offer is delicious. Their coffee is really good. Their chai is delicious. All their espresso drinks are amazing (I’m sure there’s the off drink once in a while), generally speaking. They have a pretty wide selection of teas, which I’m sure are also good. I’ve only tried the iced ones.

And the food? Well, duh. Delicious. Always. This morning I had the spiced apple and brie crepes, which were generously stuffed and dusted with powdered sugar. I had them before, probably three years ago, and it seemed about time. They have the standard cafe breakfast fare of bagels with various options for fillings/toppings (depending on if you eat it open-faced or not), tasty muffins and scones, and the full espresso bar you’re most likely hoping for. Then they have their omelets and crepes, good portions, fair price. I’ve tried one of the omelets with salsa and black beans, a bit like huevos rancheros, I guess. They also have a weekly special cream cheese flavor, in addition to the permanent selection, and jalapeno bagels. Who else has jalapeno bagels? Ok, probably a lot of places, but still.

Then there’s the lunch options. They have a small sampling of salads and soup, the latter of which changes by the week or day (I don’t know, I don’t get soup very much), and a nice list of sandwiches on your choice of bread. A few of the sandwiches are vegetarian options. Many of the breakfast items are vegetarian, and you can order them for lunch as well. The sandwiches are served with a good portion of mixed greens–more than just a token side salad, but not so much that it takes your attention from the sandwich. They also give you their housemade balsamic dressing, which is sweet and different and even if you think you don’t like balsamic dressing, I’d recommend you try it.

Bonus: They have one of the best day-old bread selections I’ve ever seen. Very rarely is the stuff more than just a little bit stale, but most likely it will keep for several days. They portion it well, too. I can get a half-dozen bagels, two muffins, and a scone for $3. There are times when I don’t buy bread at the grocery store for two or three weeks because I can get better stuff for less money at Cafenation. However, it’s often gone by midway through the day, so if you really want a good selection, you should go in the morning. It varies from day to day, too, as you might imagine. Sometimes they have a nice big pile, others, just a few bags. It’s a bit of a hit-or-miss sometimes, but definitely worth it.

In addition, the staff are generally very friendly, and if it’s not busy will even have conversations with you about things like tea. Sometimes they even remember my name. I go there a lot.  You should go there, and tell them I sent you. It won’t get you anything special, and most of them probably won’t know what you’re talking about, but tell them anyway.

Cafenation, 380 Washington St., Brighton, MA

Look Around, Try Something New


Ever been to Clover? They’re a vegetarian,  fresh-fast food joint with a few locations and a food truck or two.  I’m not vegetarian myself, but I’ve enjoyed their offerings every time I’ve been there so far.  This morning makes number 3, and it was definitely delicious. [Click the link in this paragraph to go to their website if you’re interested in finding out stuff about the business. You should, they’re cool.]

Circumstances collided this morning to make me desperate to buy a breakfast sandwich. I was on my way to Starbucks and happened to look up as I walked, for once, and notice Clover across the street. As I was thinking to myself, “They’re so good,” I saw their breakfast menu written on the window. For some reason I had been under the impression that they only did lunch, so I was surprised and immediately thought to hell with Starbucks, I’m going to Clover!

I got the breakfast sandwich, which is a freshly cooked egg, tomato, and cheese on pita. It’s not the typical egg sandwich–the bread is unusual and the egg I think was soft-boiled (that’s the only method I’m aware of that would result in the eggy end product on my breakfast…)–and that’s ok. It was delicious. Of course, if you feel like you need bacon on your sandwiches, you’re going to have to go elsewhere,  but you’ll be passing up something great!

I also got a coffee, even though I’d already had coffee that morning, because I have a hard time resisting coffee. They use the pour-over method, which essentially guarantees you a good cup of coffee. I’m not a pour-over snob, I promise. I drink as much regular drip coffee as the next person who likes things that are simple and easy to prepare (but not instant–never instant! yuck!), but I like pour over places because it means that your coffee is freshly brewed, every time. It takes only a few minutes longer than the standard Starbucks coffee.

What it all boils down to is freshness. They use local ingredients, actually fresh ingredients (not frozen), and everything is made to order. I know some people don’t think that really matters, but believe me, you can taste the difference. However, they don’t jack the prices up like some places would–in fact, I find them very affordable. I am sure I’ll be going back there for breakfast in the future.

And they have popovers! I don’t always like popovers, but sometimes I’m in the mood for them. Maybe I’ll try the popover sandwich next time.

Monday Madness: Really, it’s Egg Nog Season


It’s not Christmas season, it’s eggnog season! I swear, it’s one of the things I look forward to most. And I don’t mean cocktail style, with rum or whatever people put in it. Just plain old, ridiculously sweet, rich, freaking delicious eggnog. Last year I made pancakes with it. This year I’ve been thinking about making cupcakes. Spice cake with eggnog frosting. I’m pretty excited.

I keep thinking about the pumpkin saturation we’ve been seeing the last few years. every fall, or rather, late summer, pumpkin starts creeping in, and by the end of September you can barely take a step without colliding with something pumpkin-flavored. Maybe it’s that fact, or maybe I just don’t like them as much anymore, but I’m pretty much “over” pumpkin coffees. I’ll get a handful throughout the pumpkin spice season–somewhere between 5 and 10, I’d guess–but I don’t crave them every day and I don’t get that excited for them to come out.

I reserve that feeling for the delicious, probably not nutritious, eggnog latte. Starbucks started having it just before Thanksgiving, so I’ve already managed to have two. Cafenation is advertising one as well. I’m not sure if they have them yet or if I’m going to have to wait a bit longer, but I’m really looking forward to it. Cafenation does everything well, so I’m sure I’ll love it when they combine two of my favorite things, coffee and eggnog.

This should not be such a big deal. You can in fact get eggnog any time of the year, and I suppose I could get an espresso machine (although at this point I don’t really want one), but eggnog has always been seasonal for me. We had it every Christmas morning. And probably Christmas eve. Now I tend to drink it all through December, padding a little in November and January depending on availability. I don’t want it at other times of the year.

That’s probably a good thing. It’s not exactly the best everyday food. But it is THE BEST holiday drink.

Monday Madness: What even happened this weekend.


Ever have one of those times when you have a four-day weekend and you get so overexcited about not having to do anything that you really just don’t do anything?

That’s pretty much what happened this past weekend.

Then I woke up this morning with a bit of a queasy stomach and still feeling totally exhausted, so I’m working from home.

But I did have some good times last week. I posted on Wednesday or so that I was going to The Fireplace. I did, and I did in fact order the lobster mac and cheese. It was served with spinach and broccoli, and it was made with really decadent, fancy cheese. It was in fact very delicious. I’m hoping to plan another outing there to get the burger, which, as I’ve been mentioning up and down to everyone I talk to, is actually in my real price range (not often, but once, sure).

I ordered dessert as well, the brownie sundae, after filling up pretty thoroughly on my rich dinner and the generous portion of broccoli. It was too much, and I wished afterward that I’d gotten the lemon tart instead, BUT it was very tasty and I’m sure you would enjoy it if you ordered it. Although I wished for more peanut butter sauce.

Saturday I went to Passage to India in Porter Square and there were lots of leftovers for me. I thought their portions were very generous, about what you would hope for for the price, and also very delicious. I got the moongia chicken special, mostly because of the inclusion of cilantro, and I was not disappointed.

Ah, food. I do love it.

Considering that the office is again going to be closed Thursday and Friday, September really is almost over. I’m probably going to have to give my work an extra push on Monday, the last day of the month, but overall I’m not worried about getting all my work finished. The benefit of working like a maniac earlier in the month. I put in lots of extra hours at home the first two weeks, and some the third week, to make sure I would be able to meet deadlines. This is how we do it in the real world. Often, it kind of sucks at the time, but then I feel quite proud of myself for having everything done.

Off to be slightly productive today. I’m not going to push too hard because I don’t feel too great today (as mentioned above), but I have a certain amount of work I want to make sure I get done.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad Monday.

Voting day breakfast


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This is the breakfast I got to have to reward myself for getting out to vote early enough to actually have time for breakfast afterward.

At Cafenation in Brighton. I ordered the Spanish Sunrise omelet, stuffed full of beans and cheese and a delicious salsa fresca. There was cilantro in my eggs! Perfect! It came with nicely ripe melon and a stack of buttered Iggy’s toast. I was so happy about the toast–so often when your breakfast comes with toast, they fail both to avoid burning it and to put the butter on before it’s cooled off too much to melt it. Cafenation, doing toast right! I almost never get to have this type of breakfast on a weekday.

And of course, an iced coffee because it’s a hot day! I considered chai, but coffee mornings are most wonderful. But if you don’t like coffee, Cafenation has really good iced tea, including one of their summer drinks, Thai iced tea (which I just have to get a few times every summer, it’s delicious but very sweet).

They also had tons of day old bread available, so I got one bag of baked goods (the scone will be either a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack) and one of ciabatta rolls. They aren’t hard at all! I love when the day old bread is still fresh and soft.

That’s my breakfast spiel. Did you vote? Did you have a nice breakfast? Are you thinking about iced coffee and/or tea? I need to know!

 

**By the way, that out-of-place clothing tag on the table is actually my bookmark.

Eating All Over Town


As I commented to a friend earlier today, I have been stubbornly refusing to go grocery shopping for about two weeks now. That is not to say I haven’t been to the grocery store, but I’ve only picked up a few things while I was there. I haven’t done a full shop for quite a while. I’m going to try to force myself to do it tonight. If not, it will have to be tomorrow, because there are too many things I need.

In the meantime, I’ve been buying a lot of food out. Breakfasts, because I haven’t wanted to wake up in time for breakfast. Dinner once or twice. Otherwise, I’ve been scraping together meals from whatever’s around in my kitchen, but not too much worth posting about. I’ll update you soon on one or two of the things I’ve adventurously cooked.

Until then, I wanted to run down some of the foods I’ve been purchasing… or having purchased for me (I visited my parents last weekend, so of course they bought me food), with short reviews of the places. We’ll start with when I was in Worcester.

1. Surya – Indian restaurant – I have loved this place for a very very long time. They’ve changed a bit since we first started going there. New owners or new chef or both. Some of my favorite items there have been the Rose Milkshake, Mango Lassi, Shahi Paneer, Chicken Tikka Masala, and Nan. And my ultimate Surya dish, tandoori chicken. At other Indian restaurants, tandoori chicken is not really my top choice. But here, they do this amazing thing with the marinating or the cooking method that just makes it so incredibly flavorful and juicy. This time, I decided I wanted to try it hot. Let’s just say that was a mistake. I usually get it medium, and I can hardly feel any burn at all. Fully spicy, it was still good, but actually made my throat sore, which I have never had happen when eating spicy food before. So I won’t be doing that again. If the burn had stayed in my mouth, and out of my throat, I would have been fine with it. Not a fan of food that makes my throat hurt. It actually still hurt the next day. But PLEASE don’t take this as a negative opinion of the restaurant. They are my favorite Indian restaurant I’ve ever been to and I recommend that everyone go there.

2. Ronnie’s – Sea food and ice cream – This place was close to my childhood home, so I’ve been there many, many times. I never get to go there anymore, though. I miss it. It’s a seasonal place that is open from April to October, I believe, and they have really good, quality seafood. They also have standard burgers, chicken, etc. for people who don’t like sea food, but then why would you go to Ronnie’s? I had the expensive jumbo lobster roll, which is just the perfect item if you like lobster. The clam fritters are delicious but probably not very healthy. And if you go for ice cream, I’d suggest the chocolate-dipped soft serve.

Now back to Boston:

3. Monte Cristo Mexican grill – Ok… so, I’ve ordered from this place before, and it always takes them a while to deliver, but it took them a really long time on Cinco de Mayo. I should have expected that. But I was ordering from Eat24 with one of their weekend coupons and they’re the only mexican restaurant on there that delivers to me… at least, the only one that didn’t also serve chinese food. So I got a carnitas burrito, which was tasty, but not life-changing or anything. (I have yet to come across a life-changing burrito. If you find one, let me know, because I WANT.) The service is friendly here but a little slow. The food is good, but not great, and sometimes just ok. I did get pork enchiladas from them one time and they tasted amazing, so maybe just go with the enchiladas, or a burrito if you’re not feeling too picky. But their fajitas aren’t served with tortillas. I was really confused…

4. Caffe Aromi – I’ve only been in this place one time before, just to get a latte or a chai or something. I stopped there for breakfast one morning last week because I was in a rush (unfortunately, it didn’t help me get to work any faster, but nevermind). I got a breakfast sandwich and a latte, and I wished I’d gotten a savory croissant and regular coffee instead. What I got was good, but my sense when I’m there is that I’m overpaying. I just don’t feel like you quite get your money’s worth. Also, the decor strangely makes the room look kind of empty, which is rather unpleasant to me. The food to me seems comparable to most other independent cafes, so maybe it’s just the weird tables and chairs I don’t like.

5. Grass Fed – I went there because I had been craving a burger. After debating going for quite some time, I finally determined that I didn’t feel like cooking so I headed out. I just got a standard cheeseburger, and I was what I expected. The draw of Grass Fed is being pretty much “gourmet” fast food. They claim to use local products as much as they can, which is a nice incentive, as it’s good to support local. The best way to describe their burgers; they taste like fast food, but good. It’s not a real, big barbeque burger, but it’s not a gross McDonald’s patty either. Worth heading out there once in a while.

6. Mr. Crepe – This place in Davis Square is a nice little treat once in a while. I used to go get coffee there on occasion when I went through Davis on my way to work. Their coffee is pretty good. Unfortunately they lost my order at first, meaning I had to wait for at least 15 extra minutes for my food to be ready. Of course. It was good. I got savory crepes with spinach, basil, and tomatoes, and I was fairly satisfied. As for the crepes themselves, I’m more a fan of the ones at Cafenation. These I think would be better with the sweet fillings. But that’s just me.

 

That’s all for now. I’m proud to say that I managed to stop myself from ordering a pizza, but I don’t know how much longer that will last. Pizza is wonderful and when you get the craving, how long do you really expect to hold out against the amazing power of pizza?

Cozy Eating at The Squealing Pig


Last weekend I had a great meal with friends at the little Longwood area pub, The Squealing Pig. It’s a place I had heard mentioned for a while, but never managed to go to myself despite living near it for over a year. I’m so glad I finally went! It’s a very nice atmosphere. Not quiet enough to be a good date spot, but good for a gathering of friends, or perhaps a casual date. They feature a wide selection of drinks and good, simple food.

Beer-wise, it seems they have some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t. I’d personally go for a Magner’s cider, which they have on tap. I find many brewed drinks taste better on tap. I’m not much of a beer person anyway, but there are many options for those who are.

The food is their spin on pub food, so they’ve got the usual appetizers (quesadilla, fries), soups, sandwiches, burgers, fish and chips, pizzas, etc. I had to go with the lobster toastie when I saw it on the menu. A toastie is like a panini. This one had bacon and cheddar cheese I ordered the soup of the day to go along with it, which was a smoked haddock chowder. I guess it was a seafood night.

I would give my meal a three out of five (this may or may not be my rating system for reviewing restaurants in the future). The flavors were all very good, but the soup was very hot and I, of course, couldn’t wait five minutes, so I burned my mouth a little bit. The toastie was a little bit dry. It was clearly not pressed with any sort of butter or oil on the outside of the bread, and none of the fixings inside had much moisture to release. I enjoyed both the soup and the sandwich, but it was not 100% satisfying. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures, because I was not thinking at the time about making a blog post. By the time it occurred to me, the food was gone.

My friends ordered the fish and chips and the asparagus pizza. I tried a little bit of each. I have to say, the cod was amazing. The batter was very light, and the fish was so moist and flaky. I almost wished I had ordered it. The fries were very good too, but they’re only fries, so I don’t have much to say about them. I remember thinking that the pizza had good flavors, but I only had a small bite, not enough to get a good sense of it. I want to try a pizza myself when I go back there. I’m thinking the shrimp and chorizo.

I can’t end without commenting that our table was right next to a lit woodstove, so my legs were very warm and comfy. However, there was also a large group of people having some sort of party, and I was extremely tired, as it was a Friday night. For me, if I had more energy or went on a quieter night, I think it would be a great place to come back to.

On the way home, my hands were freezing, and it felt like too much effort to get out my gloves. I stopped at the Green T Coffee Shop to get a nice warm beverage instead. It’s located right on the E train of the Green line (hence the name). Looking at their special drink menu, I noticed that they still advertised pumpkin spice lattes. IN MARCH. My answer to that was “yes, gimme.” I ordered a small–this was my first time in this coffee shop, and I was still pretty full anyway. The barista was very nice and friendly. There were no other customers to wait on, so we chatted a bit while he made my latte.

I found the “spice” part of the name to be a little lacking, but the flavor overall was very good. I suppose I could always get one, take it home, and sprinkle some pumpkin spice seasoning on it… unfortunately, my mouth was still angry with me for eating such hot soup, so the experience was not as pleasant as it should have been. I am intending to go back and try another of their beverages on a day when I have not done something stupid to my mouth or tongue.

*I realize that this is not a very professionally presented restaurant review. I’d rather it have the personal touch instead.

Post-Thanksgiving


In which “post” has two meanings. Get it?

Nothing particularly exciting happened for Thanksgiving. Nothing really noteworthy about cooking, unless you consider the sheer amount of food for just three people. Turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, green beans with almonds, parmesan asparagus, butternut squash, apple pie, pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan pie, Newton’s Folly cider, apple pie moonshine (which I will never have again), wine. I, of course, drank ate too much and got sick.

After dinner we watched The House of Yes, which happens to take place on Thanksgiving, but otherwise was not exactly a festive choice. Really weird movie. Parker Posey is cool.

On the way home, I just barely missed the train at each stop and had to wait another ten minutes or so. I was only thinking, “Come on, guys, it’s Thanksgiving. Can’t you wait an extra minute?”

Now, a brief story:

Trying to plan a time to refinish the wood of the kitchen floor is, to say the least, frustrating. Unless you’re going out of town, there is no such thing as a convenient time. The time we decided on was Friday after thanksgiving/Saturday, with the plan of having a working stove and fridge again on Monday.

Being kitchenless is also frustrating.

Can’t prepare food, and don’t have the ability to refrigerate leftovers, so you either have to buy non-perishable things that don’t need to be prepared, or go out. I of course did the former because it’s cheaper, but having the perfect excuse to go out, I wasn’t going to pass it up… Read the rest of this entry

Recent Food News


Do you ever have random cravings for foods you don’t usually eat? Mine lately have been butternut squash ravioli and, for some reason, French Toast Crunch cereal. Which I have not eaten in years.

I ordered a Thanksgiving turkey from Whole foods. While I’ve been near many turkeys during the cooking process, I have never actually done it. If I understand my Thanksgiving plans correctly, I will not actually have to cook it myself, although I suppose I should look up cooking times for turkeys just in case it would have to be started at 6 in the morning…

Is it stupid to plan what shoes I want to wear on Thanksgiving? I mean, I’ll be inside for most of it, I don’t really need shoes.

I ruined an omelet last night. I still ate it, but it was browner on the outside than I would have liked. Apparently I didn’t rinse my pan very well just before cooking, because the thing also tasted very mildly of soap. Unfortunately, a mild taste of soap is still enough to be kind of gross. I was not about to waste three eggs and half a tomato though. I will say that the cheese was perfectly melty. Next time I will make sure my pan is rinsed better and not be talking on the phone while cooking.

Now, in the midst of my three cups of coffee with Grey’s Anatomy playing in the background (yes, I watch it, and I will not apologize for it. Principal Feeney!), I am going to talk about Yesterday’s Lunch. Read the rest of this entry

Render and such


The reason I haven’t posted for so long is, as you might have guessed, that I haven’t eaten anything in all this time.

I’m kidding, of course.

Actually, a combination of procrastination and general bad-moodness is the reason. Luckily for those of you who are interested in reading my posts, that means I now have lots of posts to catch up on. Quite a bit of experimenting. Also other random eating. Last night was Halloween, and I ate a salad of lettuce, tomato, and dressing. That’s all I had for dinner. Exciting Halloween, huh? But I’m not going to talk about Halloween, and the fact that I didn’t do anything.

I did note that, after I asked people to actually click on my posts and come to the page, they did. Thank you! I appreciate you! I may or may not ever mention it again.

Catchup post #1:

Time to talk about one of the high-end, expensive coffee places in Boston: Render Coffee in the South End. I checked them out at a 50% discount by the good graces of Scoutmob. If you have not heard of them, you should check them out. They do deals in a number of cities, and if you live in one of them, I would highly recommend you get the app. It’s free to download and use. I have no idea how they make any money.   Read the rest of this entry

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