Salt and Olive, Cambridge, MA

10 Sep

saltOne of the things that make this little doggy happy is a good bottle of olive oil, and no I am not talking about the olive oils you get at grocery store chains. I’m talking about the olive oils with the rich, deep, grassy notes that linger on the food or on your tongue, the kind that has a bit to it as it slides down your throat. Do you know what I’m talking about? If not, you’re missing out.

One of the things that Cambridge has been missing is a store the celebrates olive oil, but that is no more, because Salt and Olive has opened up at 1160 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square, but wait there’s more. This isn’t just about the vast array of oils, oh no, they have vinegars, salts, spices and teas. This place is a piece of heaven and better yet you can sample the oils and vinegars.

I’ve been to other stores in Boston and in other city, that specialize in oils and vinegars, but none of them have compared to Salt and Olive. The staff here really knows their products, and are their to help the novice with understanding the subtle differences, while allowing the oil connoisseur to indulge on one of the most amazing gifts from nature, the olive oil.

5 paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

 

 

With love from my dog bowl to yours…happy eating!

 

 

Summer Shack – Boston, MA

6 Sep

imagesOne of the things I love about being back in the Boston area, is the fact that friends from all over the world eventually pass through our fine city for some reason or another, which gives me a chance to show them the city, or at least share some food, wine and conversation while catching up on both our lives.

This happened this past week. A former co-worker was coming in for a job interview, and as it was her first time in Boston, she wanted to go someplace that was “Boston-like” so I met her at the hotel and we walked to Jasper White’s Summer Shack.

All I can say is that I am sorry I’ve not been to Summer Shack before now. The service was friendly, personable, and not at all rushed; obviously not the norm for a lot of Boston restaurants. The food was fresh and well prepared. Oh, and can I stop here for a moment and say, the best freaking house-made potato chips on the planet – seriously.

Even with all my mad ravings about this place, there is one criticism I must discuss, because it’s a big issue for me. It’s called, “Portion Control.” I mean my fish sandwich filled a large dinner plate, no kidding; there was barely room for my 1/8 of a slice of a dill pickle. The chips had to be placed in a separate large bowl. The food is great, the prices are decent for Boston standards, but please why can’t we reduce the portions, perhaps cut the fish by oh at least a 1/3 and then add some fresh steamed vegetable? Does anyone need that much deep fried fat in one meal?

Okay, I’m done with my puppy rant for today. If you want some great seafood and fish, in a fun and lively environment, go to Summer Shack. There are four locations, so I can’t speak for all of them, but if you’re in the Back Bay check out their Boston restaurant. 

My rating 4 paws

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With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating!

Masa – South End, Boston

17 Aug

MasaLast night I went for a stroll in Boston for the first time since my little paws returned home to Cambridge back in July. It was truly a wonderful night to be out in the city. My destination for the evening was a southwestern restaurant called Masa in the South End on Tremont Street. It had been over two years since I had been here and I was anxious for my return.

I ordered off their 3-course prix-fixe menu for Dine out Boston. My spinach and artichoke flautas were out of this world. Two perfectly crisped tortillas stuffed with cheese, spinach and artichokes, were doused with a spicy, smoky red sauce that made my little tail wag feverishly.

The entrée was a slow cooked chicken adobado with black bean mole, jalapeno cream salsa, grilled peaches. Here’s where the tail stopped wagging.

Don’t get me wrong everything was expertly prepared, wonderfully flavorful, and beautifully presented. So why did my tail stop wagging? The portions were way skewed for my taste. The plate consisted of two very large, perfectly prepared portions of chicken (literally a half chicken), their grilled peaches should not be plural, I received ½ a grilled peach, and perhaps 6 wilted spinach leaves under the chicken. As I said, very unbalanced. Um, guys? How about some spicy pozole, mashed potatoes, or even some rice with the meal? Perhaps some steamed vegetables, anything, but a heaping plate of chicken with nothing else.

So there you have it. Masa is a great restaurant, don’t get me wrong, just be prepared. If you like all meat and little else, then you’re all set. For me, the next time I go back, and I will go back because it’s just that good, I will probably order a few items off their appetizer menu. At least that way I’ll be able to control the balance of my meal.

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy Eating.

3.5 paws

ShatasSignature_3.5

 

Fresca – Noe Valley, San Francisco

7 Jun

IMG_0136Friday the boys took me up 24th Street and into Noe Valley. After a few short stops along the way (there is plenty to see and do) we arrived at our dining destination, Fresca, a Peruvian restaurant with an amazing menu.

We split a trio sampler of their ceviche (you can actually choose between seven different options) We ordered the Ceviche Mixto with white fish, calamari, shrimp, and scallops; Ceviche Chifa with tuna; and Ceviche de Coco another tuna dish with coconut-jalapeno milk, cashews and jicama. The ceviche trio came with a small plate of house toasted corn nuts, and a basket of fried plantains. This could have been a meal in itself. Each of the dishes was fresh and bursting with an assortment of flavors and vegetables from sweet potatoes with cilantro and corn to a pondu-leche sauce with crispy wontons and avocados.

For dinner, I decided to go on the lighter side. I ordered the El Toro Steak Salad. First of all, their salads are huge. Enough that two people could easily split. The steak was melt in your mouth tender and juice. It sat on a bed of mixed greens with tomatoes, avocados and onions. All topped with a creamy cilantro dressing. This little doggy had her tail wagging the entire evening.

Fresca’s food is amazing. It’s inventive, fresh and, exploding with flavor. Alas, sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. The bad part of the evening came from our waiter who just couldn’t keep it together. Twice we asked for sparkling water, we never did get it. When we first got seated we ordered a couple of glasses of wine, we waited and waited. I happened to look over, our wine was sitting on the bar waiting to be served. Our waiter was off in the corner of the restaurant laughing and carrying on a conversation oblivious to why he was actually there…to serve his customers.

If I were rating this restaurant on their food alone, I would gladly give it 5 paws, but I am a bit picky when I go out to a restaurant, I want to be treated like they want me there. And no it wasn’t due to a shortage of staff or a busy evening. We ate early, about 6:0pm. There were only four tables with customers and it wasn’t like he was the only waiter there.

From my dog bowl to yours….Happy Eating.

My Rating

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Triptych – SOMA, San Francisco, Ca

6 Jun

TriptychWednesday evening we went out to dinner with some friends. Instead of our usual haunts, we decided to check out a restaurant in the South of Market (SOMA) area of San Francisco. Our friends made the reservation at Triptych on Folsom.

The reservations were for 6:30, a bit early by San Francisco standards, and when we arrived the restaurant was empty. If it was not for the large table setting for 20 people, I would have been a bit worried about the choice of restaurants. Even without the table setting, the food would have eased anyone’s mind.

This place is great! The sweet potato fries, which are served with a sweet chili aioli were hot, and delicious. If I were to nitpick about anything is would be that they were not as crispy as this little doggy would have preferred.

As an entrée I ordered the shitake ravioli with artichoke hearts in a warm brown butter lemon sauce. This was the highlight of the evening. The pasta was done to perfection, the artichokes hearts were pan seared until crisp on the outside while maintaining their moist delicate flavors. Other entrée’s ordered at the table must have been just as good because no one would share Shame on you! They consisted of Butternut Squash Ravioli, and the Pork Osso Buco. On a side note, the salads are large enough for two people and at a price range of under $10.00 they are well worth ordering. If you love beets you’ll want to order the beet salad.

Triptych was a great find. I will definitely be back. The owner and waiter got to know each of us at the table by name by the end of the night. They treat their customers like family and that above the delicious food will keep my coming back.

From my dog bowl to yours…Happy Eating.

5 paw rating.

ShatasSignature_2-5

Arlequin Cafe – Hayes Valley, San Francisco

4 Jun

UnknownTuesday afternoon after an enjoyable morning at the Asian Art Museum, I took my owners for a stroll through Hayes Valley for lunch. We ended up at Arlequin Café. It had been a few years since we’d eaten there, but our memory was that it was a great lunch. Either the restaurant has gone down hill, or our memories are failing us.

I ordered the Croque Arlequin (basically a grilled ham and cheese sandwich). The fancy name I guess is used for the fancy price! It came with a side salad that was bland. There was no flavor at all, and my bet is they misted the lettuce with water to make it look like there was dressing and to keep it moist. The sandwich itself had flavor thanks to the over use of Dijon mustard. The entire package was greasy and unbalanced. At $10.50 is was the most overpriced crap I’ve ever been served.

Save yourself some extra cash and find another place for lunch. This place isn’t worth it.

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy Eating!

2 paw rating

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Cha Ya, San Francisco, CA

3 Jun

IMG_0126Oh, my little paws were quivering with excitement as I was escorted down Valencia Street on our way to Cha Ya, a vegetarian Japanese restaurant. But this in not any ordinary restaurant, oh no, this place is a slice of heaven.

The staff is always friendly and attentive. The food is prepared fresh upon ordering, so some dishes may take some time to arrive at your table, but oh is it worth the wait. I’ve been here numerous times over the last five or six years and have tried countless menu items, nothing is brought to your table that isn’t a perfect harmonizing blend of flavors and presentation.

Last night I decided to try something different and I’m glad I did. It is now my favorite on the menu. Taku-Sui is served in a stainless-steal pot that is filled with vegetable gyoza, glass noodles and an array of vegetables. All of this deliciousness is gently swimming in one of the most delicate broths I’ve ever tasted.

Cha Ya is in a class by itself. I will leave you today with one word of caution. This place gets busy quickly and it stays busy, so go early or plan on waiting for a table. But don’t fret you won’t be disappointed.

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy Eating.

5 Paw Rating.

ShatasSignature_2-5

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