Dining at Atlantic Fish Co.

August 14, 2010 at 8:36 PM (Food) (, , , , , )

To say I went to Atlantic Fish Co. in search of the best seafood in Boston would be a bold-faced lie.  In truth, I really just wanted a beer.  After a long shift at Starbucks, it doesn’t take much to improve your outlook on life.

atlantic fish co logo bostonI strolled in one early weekday afternoon to find myself the only person at the bar (may it be known that I had stumbled in during a rare window of time: on weekends and during dinner time there’s rarely a seat in the house).  As I studied the draught  options, I saw a label I didn’t recognise: Hoegaarden.  Luckily, the bar manager is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to beer, wine and spirits.  He told me it was the beer that Blue Moon aspired to be (only more eloquently; I’m no good when it comes to describing beer) and I was sold.  Mission accomplished: it was the perfect thirst-quencher on that warm spring day.  Ladies and gentlemen, ask for Joe if you’re at Atlantic’s bar and need a drink recommendation.  He hasn’t failed me yet.

Given my positive first experience at the Fish, I figured I should revisit to check out the dining options.  It’s not like it was a difficult commute, being two doors down from Starbucks, and I’d been craving some fish for a while, conveniently enough.  I won’t bore you with the world’s longest narrative of everything I’ve tried and loved there, but I will tell you that I haven’t had a bad dish, yet.  Some details, however, that may be of interest:

oysters atlantic fish coThe food is a little pricey (entrees range anywhere from $24 to $32, on average), but well worth it.  Atlantic prints its menus daily, featuring several “Catch of the Day” options, which can be prepared almost any way you could want, along with a variety of specialty entrees, appetisers, side dishes and meals to share.  A couple of my favourite specialty dishes include the pan-seared seabass (served with a delectable lobster ravioli) and the lemon sole, served in a white wine sauce(? Not entirely certain on that) and pancetta.  If you’re not into the fancy-pants side of seafood, no worries: the fish and chips are pretty darned good, too.  Full menus are available for download on Atlantic’s site.

The service is the real reason why I keep going back (PR intern’s hourly wage really doesn’t justify the price).  However, while most (99%) of my visits take place at the bar, I often chat with a couple of the servers during the course of my meal.  Not a single person who works for Atlantic is rude or condescending – something I can’t say for several restaurants on Newbury St. that have similar price tags attached to their menus.  All of the hostesses and managers are incredibly warm and accommodating, and the entire bar staff has not only tolerated my incessant sarcasm and commentary, but has perhaps even encouraged it.  A little.  I always receive my drinks and meal in a timely fashion, even during weekend rushes.  These folks know how to keep their bustling establishment running smoothly.

Other small pros: two television sets that are ALWAYS broadcasting the current Boston sports game, nice interior with the suggestion of a nautical theme, great location on Boylston street.

Stop in and check it out!  They’re participating in Boston’s 2010 Restaurant Week, so take advantage of their 3-course lunch special!

Today’s Tunes
“The Middle,” Jimmy Eat World
“Never Let You Go,” Third Eye Blind
“How’s It Going to Be,” Third Eye Blind
“I Miss You (acoustic),” Incubus
“Alive with the Glory of Love,” Say Anything

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Lunch at The Whiskey Priest

June 29, 2010 at 1:23 AM (Happenings) (, , , , )

As I mentioned ever so briefly in my last post, I had a pretty good first day at Porter Novelli.  Lunch definitely didn’t hurt, either.

A couple of colleagues invited me out for lunch.  They of course had to twist this amateur foodie’s arm to get a “yes.”  Mostly unfamiliar with the area’s culinary geography, I left our dining destination to them.  Famished and none too picky, we made our way over to The Whiskey Priest, an Irish restaurant and bar featuring upscale gastro pub fare.  To cut to the end of this story, we all left very full, and equally happy.  But what good is an ending without a story?

whiskey priest draft beerWhile Whiskey Priest offers over 30 draft beers and even more whiskeys (can’t imagine why . . . ), my lunch dates and I limited ourselves to water.  After all, it was 1.00 P.M. on a Monday.  Although, those taps did look tempting, and I’m sure I’ll return after business hours soon.  But I digress.

We all ordered burgers.  I (and one of my colleagues) had the blarney burger: grilled Angus beef on an organic sesame brioche with Blarney cheese, Irish bacon and roasted garlic mayonnaise.  Man, talk about “just greasy enough to be freaking delicious.”  Irish bacon and Blarney cheese are foreign to me, which just make them more interesting.  And, to top it all off, the fries were pretty tasty, too.

The third member of our party ordered a veggie burger (black bean Chipotle on organic sesame brioche, roasted peppers and provolone), and I can’t lie: as a borderline carnivore, even I thought it looked pretty palatable.  Perhaps one day I’ll try it myself.  Highly unlikely, but not impossible.

Final verdict: I’ll be back.  Most definitely to try out those taps, but probably for lunch, too.

Tonight’s Tunes
Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd
August and Everything After, Counting Crows

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Beer and Cheese? Yes, Please!

June 27, 2010 at 10:13 PM (Events) (, , , , )

Not too long ago, my parents and I had dinner at Morton’s The Steakhouse in Boston’s Seaport.  While the meals were delicious, there are much more important items to discuss.

Like two of the greatest culinary gifts to mankind, for instance.  On July 21st, from 6.00 to 7.30 P.M., that very steakhouse will bebeer cheese hosting “Hoppy Hour,” a marriage of fine cheeses to Dogfish Head beers.  Can you say “Christmas in July”?

Admittedly I don’t think I would have paired the two on my own.  Both beer and cheese are capable of ridiculous orchestras of flavour, which could result in epic clashes of taste.  On the other hand, if a pro is going to put them together for me, then yes, I’m sure it’s going to be brilliant.

For $45.00 (including tax and gratuity), one will not only experience glorious beer and cheese pairings, but also a variety of Morton’s hors o’doeuvres: tuna tartare canapes and petite lamb chops with brie, for instance.  In addition, our hosts will be doing something nice (on top of the feeding us delicious food and beer bit): for every ticket sold, Morton’s will donate $5.00 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Beer, cheese, apps and a good deed.  What are you waiting for?

Tonight’s Tunes
“Blue Eyes,” Timmy Curran
“Wake For Young Souls,” Third Eye Blind
“Winding Road,” Bonnie Somerville
“So Long Sweet Misery,” Brett Dennen

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NYT: “Gilt for Restaurants Comes to New York”

June 6, 2010 at 8:18 PM (Happenings) (, )

On May 26th (I know, old news, but I’ve been busy), The New York Times Bits Blog posted about a pretty nifty new business venture: VillageVines, a dining site that allows foodies to take advantage off off-peak dining times to enjoy fine cuisine at a discounted rate.

Following the suit of sites that allow members to purchase overstocked luxury products and services through private limited-time sales (a la Gilt Groupe, for instance), VillageVines extends a similar offer to its members.  Beginning in New York, subscribers receive invitations to make reservations at high-end restaurants, usually between Sunday and Thursday.  After securing the reservation with a $10 deposit, the party receives a hefty discount – typically 30% – on the entire tab as a reward for booking a meal during the week.

Hello, win-win.  Not only do foodies have yet another means of justifying dining out, but the restaurants have a better chance of  filling tables.  The hospitality industry is far more time-sensitive than retail.  If a department store doesn’t sell a pair of shoes on Monday, it can still profit by selling that pair on Tuesday.  If a restaurant doesn’t book a table at 7.00 P.M. on Monday, it can’t make up for it at 8.30 P.M. on Monday, never mind at 7.00 P.M. on Tuesday.  As a result, restaurants need to do everything they can to keep their tables full all night, every night.  VillageVines, assuming it takes off (which I’m sure it will), will be an excellent asset to the industry.

. . . Now if only it was to add some of our delicious Boston restaurants.

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“Quick Ragù Bolognese:” Perhaps Not So Quick

June 2, 2010 at 3:55 PM (Happenings) (, , )

I was going through my freezer in search of meals for the upcoming week when I unearthed a pound and a half of ground beef.  While I have yet to cook a bad dish, I’m no culinary mistress and couldn’t think of any use for the meat outside of meatloaf (ew), burritos (meh) and hamburgers (just didn’t feel like it).  At the recommendation of a friend who is a culinary master, I directed my browser to Epicurious.com, a recipe site that allows you to search for recipes based on ingredients and/or various categories . . . such as “Quick and Easy.”  Bing-0.

Search: ground beef + quick and easy.  Dumplings . . . meatloaf . . . burgers . . . taco salad . . . meatloaf . . . meatloaf . . . burgers . . . burgers . . . burgers . . . meatloaf . . .  This subtle pattern continued for a couple pages until I stumbled upon “Quick Ragù Bolognese.”

This seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, however, I was under the impression that “quick and easy” constituted “30 minutes or fewer.”  Such was not the case, and it took me about an hour to get dinner started and finished.  On the other hand, it was my first time on the recipe, and it wasn’t bad (but I do have some additions in mind for next time).  Moral of story: allow more time.

Today’s Tunes
103.3 WODS-FM

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A Cheap Bottle of Wine: Villa Cerrina’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

May 26, 2010 at 3:06 AM (Musings) (, , , )

While reviewing the recipe for a “Quick Ragù Bolognese” (details in next post), I saw that I would need some red wine.  Given that I’m a college graduate who is still surviving off a part-time hourly wage, I was in no way going to waste any of my precious $10+ wine on an experimental recipe.  Clearly I would have to buy more wine for this particular purpose.  You know, a two-buck chuck deal.

It wasn’t that simple, though.

I easily could have bought a box o’ wine and called it a day, but given how little I cook with wine (where I actually use it in the food, anyway), most of it would likely go to waste.  I wanted to find something that would serve as both an ingredient and as a palatable beverage.  As much as I love the kind people of Best Cellars, I knew I would have to sojourn elsewhere to find a wine within my budget of $6.00, so I went to Trader Joe’s (home of my favourite $4 bottle of wine, but unfortunately, it’s a white and therefore useless in this scenario).

Villa Cerrina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo red wine labelI walked into Joe’s not entirely sure of how I would select my first bottle of cheap wine.  Luckily, the store sorts its wines by region.  I figured that since it was an Italian recipe, what better place to start?  Apart from that the search was uneventful.  I went with the second cheapest red I found: Villa Cerrina’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2008 ($4.99+tax – score!).

I brought it home and used it to make my bolognese, which turned out tasty enough.  After I got the stove fires under control, I poured a small glass to see if I had found my “best of both worlds” wine.  The verdict?

I’m going to keep looking.  It wasn’t awful, but if I plan on an extended wine night, this won’t be the first bottle I open.  It’s pretty light, a little juicy at the start, and I’m not crazy about the dryness that hits me in the back of the throat.  In addition, I don’t really notice any really distinct flavours. Granted, I am far from having wine connoisseur taste buds, but even I notice when the wine is lacking in such a defining characteristic.

On the bright side, I did find an interesting-looking site looking for the picture of the label. CheapWineRatings.com may hopefully save me the effort of making a bigger mistake in the future.  Regardless, the search continues . . .

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Today I Learned . . .

November 10, 2009 at 1:25 AM (Musings) (, )

Today, I learned that I do not like salt and vinegar potato chips.  However, it seems a waste to discard a newly opened bag . . .

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Tossed Salads at the Prudential Center

July 1, 2009 at 3:35 AM (Happenings) (, , , , )

I have a new culinary love in life: the salad creations of Tossed in the Prudential Center.  This comes as a surprise to me.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy salads, but I’ve never really considered them an outstanding food personality, and under no circumstances would I ever have chosen one over, say, a porterhouse steak when it came to filling the black hole that is sometimes known as my stomach.

Until now.

Once upon a time, our blogger was frolicking through the Pru for some reason or other (after a moment’s thought, I recalled that I had been taking advantage of a sale elsewhere in the vicinity) when she suddenly realised that she was a touch on the ravenous side.  She considered visiting the Cheesecake Factory to take advantage of the bar menu until remembering that she’d need to wait an hour to do so, so she instead meandered through another arcade in the shopping center, vaguely recalling the existence of a decent salad joint that may be worth her patronage.

Tossed salad logoSuffice to say, the patronage was well earned.  Not only are the salads scrump-diddly-uptious, but they’re filling!  The first salad I ordered was a cobb (baby field greens, crisp hearts of romaine, freshly roasted chicken, grape tomatoes, avocado, smoked bacon, roasted onions and crumbled blue cheese with blue cheese dressing).  My plan had been to have a light, early dinner so that I wouldn’t feel lethargic later on when I wanted to swim.  A salad would be perfect.

Oh, how wrong I was.  Perhaps it had to do with the mass quantities of blue cheese, but not only was the salad filling – I couldn’t finish it.  People who’ve known me for more than one meal know that I could probably polish off an entire goat, yet, I had discovered the David to the Goliath of my stomach.  I tried to finish that salad.  I really did.  It was delicious, and I absolutely hate not cleaning my plate when it’s decorated with good eats.  While humbling, the experience was also surprisingly satisfying: after all, since when have I considered salads to be acceptable meals?  Oh, that’s right: never.

My second visit to Tossed took place less than a week later, and I arrived prepared (read: starving and eager to merit wearing my fat pants).  This time I ordered the apple walnut salad: crisp hearts of romaine, freshly roasted chicken, apples, crumbled blue cheese, walnuts, golden raisins and honey balsamic vinaigrette.  I had more success with this attempt, only leaving a few large crumbles of blue cheese and perhaps a golden raisin or two, but I still have yet to finish an entire Tossed salad.  Luckily, the nice people who work there have given me a nifty little card that receives a hole-punch with each salad I purchase: after six, my next salad is free.

What’s not to like?

Tonight’s Tunes
“B.O.B.,” OutKast
“Ms. Jackson,” OutKast
“Morris Brown,” OutKast featuring Scar & Sleepy Brown
“Hey Ya!” OutKast
“The Way You Move,” OutKast

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Today I Learned . . .

April 19, 2009 at 5:53 PM (Musings) (, , , )

(Last night, actually, but I like to try to keep a few things consistent around here) I learned that I not only make a mean porterhouse steak, but I also know my way around bacon wrapped filet mignon.  It’s a crazy thing, but I don’t think I’m going to starve when I  eventually have to cook for myself – because face it: I can’t live off Domino’s cheesy bread forever . . .

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Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine: Steak Tips Dijon

April 10, 2009 at 12:13 AM (Happenings) (, , , , )

I’ve discovered the secret to what makes LeanCuisine effective: they manufacture products so vile that even goats won’t eat them.  I wish I was kidding.  I knew I was in trouble when my lunch had been in the microwave not five minutes and the smell started to nauseate me.  I knew I was in a LOT of trouble when I took the tray out of the microwave a couple minutes later and was reminded of a colourful letter of complaint sent to Virgin Atlantic’s Sir Richard Branson regarding the terrible “food.”

I don’t purchase Lean Cuisine frequently, nor do I actually think it will help me lose weight (I eat what I darned well please more often than not), but because occasionally it’s on sale, and it requires less effort than preparing the perfect medium-rare porterhouse steak.  I’ve bought some really unappetising selections, but usually I can manage to finish about half of the dish.

Not this time.

Never have I had second thoughts about a Lean Cuisine before I took it out of the microwave. It smelled like – well, I won’t go into detail, as I don’t know how many of you are planning on eating later on.  Suffice to say that I was regretting my purchase already, regardless of the fact that it was free with the purchase of four other Lean Cuisine products.

The microwave chirped at me a couple minutes later.  The deed was almost done.  I needed only to let this mystery dish sit for two minutes before I got to peel back the plastic to see what I’d won.

Two minutes later, it was clear that I’d won the booby prize.  The green beans looked pitifully devoid of nutrients in the side dish on the right, having been shrunken to occupy maybe a quarter of their compartment.

As for the items in the left-hand compartment of the dish, the “main course” . . .  Well, pardon my bluntness, but I don’t know how else to describe it:

Some folks at Lean Cuisine must have thought it would have been a good idea to have a cow defecate into the dish, coat it with gravy, freeze it and sell it to unsuspecting consumers.  Cautiously, I tried to poke a shriveled up piece of I-don’t-know-what (Lean Cuisine labeled it “red skin potato”), but it resisted the fork’s prongs.  After a brief battle, I finally stabbed the bugger and shoved it into my mouth.  I immediately regretted my decision.  During this encounter I was providing a friend of mine with the play-by-play via Google Chat.  Here’s how I described the potato incident:

Me: What the [expletive] is that!? A potato!?
Friend: starch? how is that lean?
Me: ::tastes it:: Evidently by making you have absolutely no interest in finishing it . . .

The actual “steak tips” were no better.  I went to spearhead a morsel with my fork, only to have it fall apart.  I scooped up a shred with much less bravado than I had the potato . . . thing.  If a hot dog and cheap corned beef were to somehow engage in illicit relations, then the result would be the flavour and texture of what I had just ingested.

Dear readers, it pains me to say that the pathetic pile of green in the corner of my dish was the most painless part of that “meal.”  They tasted like, well, nothing, really.  Nothing with a hint of texture.

I’ve never been wild about Lean Cuisine, but it’s usually served some kind of purpose.  After this incident, though, I will be hard-pressed to ever consider purchasing their products again in the future.  I’ll suck it up and spend an extra 20 minutes making myself pasta.

Today’s Tunes
“I Don’t Wanna Be a Soldier Mama,” John Lennon
“How Do You Sleep?” John Lennon
“Meat City,” John Lennon
“Aisumasen (I’m Sorry) (Home Version),” John Lennon
“Bring on the Lucie (Freda People) (Home Version),” John Lennon
“John Sinclair (Live),” John Lennon
“What You Got,” John Lennon
“Watching the Wheels,” John Lennon
“Real Love,” John Lennon
“Imagine (Live),” John Lennon

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