Tag Archives: calamari

Trendy and Yummy: Cook, Newton

8 Feb

Newtonville finally has a spot worthy of gastronomes, and it’s called Cook. It’s no wonder this place is packed on weekends, even when it’s bitterly cold outside. It can sometimes take a while to be greeted by a host when you first walk through the door, and then wait times for a table easily exceed half an hour.  But it’s all worth it. After my husband and I first visited Cook, we came back for a second meal within a week!

While waiting for a table, we’ll usually grab drinks at the bar – I love the unique habanero blood orange margarita (which I ask for on the milder side because I’m weak sauce when it comes to spice). Cook’s beer and cider list has many of our favorites – Jack’s Abby’s Hoponius Union, Kentucky Bourbon Ale, and Downeast cider, to name a few.

We always kick off our dinner with a couple shrimp tacos – the best I’ve had in the Boston area. The lightly breaded shrimp are delicate and fresh, with avocado, red onion, and crema on a soft tortilla.

Cook, Newton - shrimp taco

The fried calamari is a large portion, with fried pickle slices and mild peppers. Again, lightly breaded. It’s a solid dish, though it doesn’t particularly stand out against the versions at other good restaurants.Cook - calamari

One appetizer that does really stand out is the French onion soup, where melt-in-your-mouth beef accompanies the Gruyere and bread.

Hubby always orders the Bolognese for his main. Hand cut tagliatelle is tossed with veal, pork, beef, and marscapone. We can’t order Bolognese anywhere else now, because it can’t come close to the version at Cook!

Cook - Bolognese

Every night there is a list of specials. I’ve had haddock with hearty heirloom carrots, a chorizo flatbread with goat cheese and cute fingerling potato chips, as well as this lamb sandwich on pitas that are fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside. Yum!

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One popular dish which I forgot to nab a photo of is the NFC – three gigantic pieces of delicious fried chicken with a flaky biscuit, fluffy mashed potatoes, and awesome coleslaw. During a recent visit to Cook, 3 out of 4 patrons at the next table all ordered the NFC!

My husband and I usually don’t order dessert at Cook (because we’re stuffed after the appies and mains!) but on one occasion we got the brownie sundae – a big brownie square topped with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, crunchy chocolate pearls, and a cherry. Definitely large enough to share, though you might not want to.

Servers and bartenders are always attentive each time we’ve dined at Cook .The decor is unpretentious and the atmosphere is warm and lively. My only gripe is that the bench seats at Cook are a bit low and soft, making me feel a bit like a child when I first sit down. All in all, Cook is one of my favourite restaurants in Newton – that ‘s why I keep going back!

Info: Cook, 825 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02460 USA

Cook Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Asian Fusion burgers at Blue Ginger

27 Sep

Sometimes, packing a bagged lunch full of leftovers gets old, and battling the crowds in the workplace cafeteria isn’t all that appealing. So I decided to visit Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA, for a weekday lunch, to changes things up.

The restaurant is very large – upon entering, you see an open kitchen, followed by a dining room. At the front of the restaurant is a long bar facing a row of high tops lined by a booth, along the windows. Along the hallway to the restrooms are three sets of large doors opening into a large private dining room that would be great for parties.

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We started with the calamari, which consisted mostly of rings – good for those who don’t like the tentacly parts.  It was lightly battered with a hint of cumin, served with a lemongrass dipping vinaigrette with green onions.

Blue Ginger - calamari

Both my boyfriend and I ordered the burger, medium-well. Mine was exactly that; his came out more like well done, though still yummy. The house-made bun with a shiny top reminded me of Chinese bakery buns. The juicy patty sat on bed of diced tomatoes and purple cabbage. It was topped with crispy fried onions and a bit of wasabi mayo. Instead of cheese, there were Parmesan crisps with shiitake mushrooms to give a flavourful crunch. I appreciated the unique idea, but found the crisps a little thick and the choice of Parmesan a bit strong and perhaps not the best complement to a burger with a supposed Asian twist. I did enjoy the tangy and slightly peppery slaw.

Blue Ginger - burger

The burger typically comes with taro chips. My boyfriend asked to substitute his for sweet potato fries and they ended up making the change for both our burgers. I didn’t want to bother asking for my taro chips back, though I was a bit disappointed that I wouldn’t get to try them. In any case, the sweet potato fries were absolutely perfect – some of the best I’ve ever had.

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Service was terrific – our waitress was very polite. She checked on us just the right amount and made sure our water glasses were never empty. All in all, we had a very satisfying weekday lunch!

Info: Blue Ginger, 583 Washington Street, Wellesley, MA 02482, USA

Blue Ginger on Urbanspoon

Promising: Vine Brook Tavern, Lexington

16 Mar

The Vine Brook Tavern (20 Waltham St., Lexington, MA) outside of Boston is a fairly new restaurant – the sign out front proudly announces that it was just recently established in 2012. Walking into the restaurant, I was impressed by the warm atmosphere created by the dark wood ceilings and accents. On this level there were high tops and a U-shaped bar. Spacious booths, more tables and another bar were upstairs.

Unexpectedly, the host was dressed like an average Joe, rather than someone who actually worked at the restaurant. He seated us upstairs, and we sat awkwardly without menus for a while. Occasionally he would come back upstairs and walk around for a few seconds before disappearing down the stairs again.  Service was agonizingly slow at first – we waited 10 minutes before our water glasses were filled. However, our waitress was very friendly and apologetic about the wait. The manager even came by to say hi.

Vine Brook Tavern - Chedder bacon biscuits

My boyfriend’s diet coke didn’t arrive until the appetizers did. Luckily the food more than made up for the slow start. The basket of three chedder and bacon biscuits was heavenly. The biscuits were light, fluffy, flakey, and studded with green onions. They were in stark contrast to the sad, complimentary bread basket – a measly two slices of dense, dark brown bread that was cold and tasted like Raisin Bran.

Vine Brook Tavern - calamari

Sweet ‘n sour calamari fries were springy with a good amount of chewiness, though I was a bit disconcerted by their perfectly square cross-section – squid isn’t naturally shaped like this. The shredded lettuce and carrot salad underneath gave the appetizer a unique Vietnamese twist, so overall this dish was pleasant.

cassoulet

Cod cassoulet was served in an oval, cast iron dish that kept it warm throughout my entire meal. The cod was cooked to flakey perfection, and served on a bed of kale and white beans and bacon bits. Yellow and purple potatoes and carrots, smokey, spicy sausage, and 3 local clams rounded out the dish.

Vine Brook - burger
My boyfriend ordered the burger, medium. It was served covered in melted cheese. on a brioche bun. The sweet potato fries served in a measuring cup were terrific – crisp, not oily, and accompanied by a trio of ketchup, plain mayo and chipotle mayo.

The desserts sounded tempting but we were too full to order any. As for libations, there were two pages of wines by the bottle, ranging from $25 to $100, and a good selection of whiskey, bourbon, and scotch.

The Final Word: Definitely a lot of potential here. Service needs some work – it tended to be slow, and the host didn’t even say goodbye when we left – but the food was solid.

Vine Brook Tavern on Urbanspoon

Tasty International Dishes: Gypsy Cafe

8 Sep

On our way to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, my boyfriend and I stopped for dinner at Gypsy Cafe in Lincoln (Rte. 112, Lincoln, NH). Service was spotty – regulars were attended to promptly, but as we were not regulars, we were left standing awkwardly in the middle of the restaurant (there isn’t really any dedicated waiting area) as the hostess and a waitress bantered about where to seat us. It was fairly early on a Friday evening (just after 6 pm) and there were many vacant tables, but we were told that most had been reserved. Sure enough, by 7 pm, the place was packed.

Our food took almost an hour to arrive. In the meantime, we snacked on the complimentary bread, and tried many times to catch the eye of a waitress to refill our water glasses. The staff was always in a hurry, rushing to the regulars, and trying their best to avoid eye contact with the rest of us.

Luckily, the food was worth the wait and the cold service. Gypsy Cafe’s menu is like a round-the-world tour, with Asian, Mexican, French, Mediterranean, and Caribbean-inspired dishes.  Calamari was tender and lightly spiced and fried, served with a cool yogurt dip.

Enchiladas Rojas:  A colourful dish of three chicken enchiladas in corn tortillas served with rice and salad.


Gypsy Nicoise: A perfectly grilled yellowfin tuna steak on a bed of salad greens, with grilled asparagus, red peppers, onions, olives, and hard-boiled egg served with a cumin lime vinaigrette in a cute mini glass pitcher.

The Final Word: Unexpectedly delicious food in a small town. Slow and cool service, but I would still go back. I hear the quinoa fritters are great and would love to try them!

Gypsy Cafe on Urbanspoon

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