For foodies, a handful of restaurant GREATS in the Boston area (10 to be exact) for those traveling through or who live in New England are below, including menu selections and photos. (please add your own thoughts and experiences if you live in the area or have spent some time eating your way through Boston and Cambridge).
Upstairs at the Pudding was always an old time favorite for many years, in the Harvard Square area: 91 Winthrop Street in Cambridge. Always known as a place with ambiance and a great menu, its selection does not disappoint. From yellowfin tuna sashimi served with avocado, Jicama & Tempura Snap Peas & Soy-Ginger Marinade to one of my favorites: Heirloom Pumpkin Ravioli served with a Meyer Lemon Fondue, Candied Bacon & Parmesan, there’s plenty of variety. Also worth noting is the the Potage of Native Celery Root, a Black Truffle Dumpling & Black Trumpet Mushrooms and Braised Rabbit Pansotti with Creamy & Crispy Chestnuts, Native Cranberries & Spiced Oil.
Other things on the menu include: Butternut Squash Risotto served with Native Foraged Mushrooms & Spiced Creme Fraiche, Olive Oil Poached Salmon with Horseradish & Green Apple and Native Root Vegetables, Brussels Sprouts & Mustard Cream, Atlantic Halibut with Lemon Lavender Potatoes, Cerignola Olives, Celery & Sweet Garlic, Juniper & Rosemary Brined Heritage Pork Chop served with a Black Quinoa, Heirloom Cauliflower & Quince Mustard, Charcoal Grilled Prime Sirloin & Pineapple Glazed Veal Cheek – Coconut Scented Parsnips – Macomber Turnip Gratin and Szechuan Peppered Duck Breast served with Vanilla Mascarpone Potatoes, Red Wine Roasted Figs, Turnips & Their Greens
For sushi, check out O Ya on 9 East Street and Oishii Sushi Bar in Chestnut Hill. In addition to sushi at O Ya, check out the Arm Braised Shiitake Mushroom, served with anise hysop and truffle honey sauce and Scarlet Sea Scallop served with white soy yuzu sauce, yuzu tobiko. There’s also the Bluefin Maguo with soy braised garlic and micro greens and the Soy Marinated Salmon served with truffle oil and green onion. Also try the Peruvian Style Bluefin Chutoro Tataki served with aji panca sauce and cilantro pesto. They also do a yummy set of Maine lobster legs served with white sturgeon caviar and tomalley aioli for $27.
A very down-to-earth must try is Hungry Mother in Cambridge. Think: catfish, pecan meuniere with red peas & lemon & brown butter, berkshire pork & grits with ham lock, BBQ dixie sausage and roasted Vermont quail, whole roasted Pompano with roasted beet relish and pea greens and bean vinagrette and French gnocchi with mushroom puree blanche and Swiss chard.
Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain is a small intimate restaurant that offers an amazing Cavatelli Verdi with Broadleaf Wild Boar Ragu, Grana Padano & Breadcrumbs, Seafood Cakes a la Chez Panisse with Scallop, Crab & Cod with Winter Salad & Meyer Lemon-Lucques Olive Salsa, Marseille Style Fisherman’s Stew with Silver Hake, Wild White Shrimp, Pat’s Clam, Mussels, Rouille & Sardinian Couscous, the Housemade Boudin Blanc with Red Cabbage Aigre-Doux, Pommes Puree & Mustard-Lager Sauce and also Skillet Roasted Gianonne Chicken with Traditional Garbure, and Smoked Duck Bacon & Walnut Oil.
Cafe Stoli was a favorite of mine when I lived in Coolidge Corner in Brookline. Located in the same place in Brookline Village, this intimate authentic Russian restaurant has hors-d’oeuvres, main courses and desserts from ancient times to the present.
Every aspect of Cafe Stoli shows an artistic touch – from the Russian decor to the refined service and presentation, from traditional Russian tablecloths to the intimate lighting and embrace of warm colors. Lots of choices, such as Golubtsy (cabbage rolls), Zapekanka (meat, potato and cheese casserole) and Blini – crepes filled with beef, chicken, vegetables or fruits, or sweet dumplings called Vareniki or Pelmeni, boiled dough filled with beef, chicken, potato, farmer’s cheese or cherries and topped with sour cream, borscht (beet soup), Chicken Kiev, Draniki (potato pancakes), Pirozhki (small pies).
Russian dishes include: Russian appetizers (salads) look and smell very delicious, and stimulate appetite, Russian soups are served as the first course, Russian meat dishes are served with vegetables (mostly fried) or with mashed potato, noodles or cereal as well as Russian fish dishes ( sturgeon, salmon are delicacies).
Toro (left) is a Spanish tapas place that serves Barcelona-style tapas and is located in Boston’s South End. They use locally sourced and sustainable ingredients and their beverage program features classic-inspired cocktails and an eclectic, all-Spanish wine list.
Metropolis Cafe is on Tremont Street in Boston’s South End. Small and intimate, it is also known for its wines and has a fabulous appetizer list including Belgian Endive with Smoked Bacon, Cave Ripened Roquefort and Parsley, and Roasted beet carpaccio with shaved fennel, honey, herb chevre crumble and natural vinaigrette.
They have great Salads including a baby greens salad served with Parmesan Crostini, Toasted Walnuts and Dijon Shallot Vinaigrette, Rope Grown Mussels with Toasted Garlic, Tiny Tomatoes, Basil and Dry White Wine, Arugula Salad with Toasted Almonds, Fresh Apricots, Chevre and Tarragon Citrus Vinaigrette, and Asparagus Tartare with Avocado, Tomato, Minced Capers, Aged Balsamic, and Fried Leeks.
I love, love, love the ambiance and is one of the places I missed when I moved away from Boston.
More upscale is Troquet on the Commons. French in every way, they specialize in French dishes and wine. Note that this place is expensive, with entrees ranging in the $30-40 range and appetizers in the $19-28 range. Examples of the latter include: Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with ginger, scallions, tarot crisps, & green apple wasabi granite, Braised Spanish Octopus with chorizo, fork-crushed potatoes, & espilette pepper sauce, Spicy Hamachi Sushi with winter radish, edamame puree, & miso vinaigrette, New Zealand Langoustines with green mango, finger lime, & red curry broth, Nantucket Bay Scallops with coral chitarra pasta, chilis, & sea urchin, Celery Root & Lobster Bisque with cherry tomatoes, tarragon, & butter-poached lobster, Duo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras with apple confit, caramelized Seckel pear, & elderflower gastrique and Ricotta Cavatelli with wild mushrooms, parmesan, & black truffle.
Mains include: Crispy Atlantic Halibut with puy lentils, celery root puree, wild mushrooms, & artichoke barigoule, Roasted Dover Sole with baby spinach, romanesco cauliflower, & citrus caper brown butter, Roasted Black Sea Bass with razor clam risotto, & a black garlic-infused romesco broth, Roasted Giannone Chicken with crispy polenta, sugar snap peas, & a trumpet royal Madeira jus, Bacon-Wrapped Veal Sirloin with braised veal daube, Parisienne gnocchi, creamy spinach, & winter root vegetables, Assiette of Vermont Lamb with saffron farro, anise caponata, & rabe with marcona almonds, Painted Hills Beef Rib-Eye with potato cepe gratin, glazed baby carrots, cipollini, & bordelaise sauce, Roasted Jurgielewicz Duck with braised red cabbage, heirloom cranberry chutney, lentils, & sauce poivrade and Roasted Suckling Pig with Anson Mills grits, smoked ham hock sauce, & celery root coleslaw.
Craigie on Main is actually located on Main as its name suggests. They do something called the Craigie Experience” which has Six and Eight Course Tasting Menus, a Brunch Menu well known on Sundays, which offers yummy dishes like Country Style Organic Whole Wheat Pancakes, Grass-Fed & House-Brined Corned Beef Cheek & Smoked Beef Tongue Hash, Chicken-Fried Country Pork Terrine and a House-Made Spaghetti Carbonara “Noir” served with guanciale, boudin noir, farm-fresh egg.
Top photo left credit Troquet’s website: New Zealand LangoustinesCucumber, mango & Thai basil.