Daedalus – Cambridge, MA

24 Apr

UnknownThere are a few places in Cambridge that have always been my go to place when I want good reliable food. Daedalus was one of those places. The food isn’t fancy, and it isn’t pretentious. That’s what I liked about it. Yes, you did read the past tense correctly, and for very good reasons.

Now I need to preface this by saying that it’s been a while since I was here. Perhaps a year or more, but I just always thought Daedalus was always going to remain true and not be one of those restaurants that try to “reinvent” themselves. This reinvention failed miserably in my opinion.

I knew something was askew when I walked into the restaurant and was greeted not with the smell of steaks, or burgers grilling, oh, no. It was garlic. The entire restaurant reeked of it. I probably would have walked out and gone elsewhere, but I was there to meet friends, so I lingered at the bar and waited with a very strong cocktail.

I ordered the Chicken Kabobs with vegetables and couscous. Of course, if I would have been blindfolded I would never have known what I was eating as everything tasted like garlic. There was no discernable difference in the taste between the chicken, the green pepper, or the onion. I’m sorry, I may be unique here, but I like to taste the various flavors of my food; the sweetness of the peppers, the smokiness of the grilled onion, and yes the flavor of the chicken – shocking I know.

The risotto was just as bad as the kabobs. Yes, I know risotto has garlic in it, and I’m totally fine to use garlic as a subtle flavor in the background. Again it’s about the balance of flavors. But there just isn’t any balance in anything. It’s all one note, garlic.

I have always been a firm believer that the only reason to douse your food with garlic is to cover up the fact that you are not serving fresh, flavorful food. Why else would you want to disguise the subtle nuances of food? It’s the blending of flavors that make good cooking, truly good cooking. And here is where Daedalus fails. There is no point for me to go and pay twenty dollars for a meal and only taste the garlic.

The only reason I’m giving them 3 paws is that the wait staff is fantastic. The service is top notch. You’re actually treated like someone, not just another possible tipper. At least they are still doing this part of their business right.

My rating…3 Paws

ShatasSignature_2-2-1

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

West Side Lounge – Cambridge, MA

21 Apr

ThumbHandlerOkay, I must confess something to my constant readers. I’ve been hiding a secret from the world. I know it’s a terrible thing I have done, but I just didn’t want the news to get out about this little gem of a restaurant called, West Side Lounge. I wanted it to remain my secret, but I can’t hold back any longer. I must share my absolute love of this place.

Picture a dimly lit restaurant, beautiful décor, local artist’s works hanging from the walls, a menu that doesn’t have one bad item on it, and a staff that treats you like you’re part of the family. That’s West Side Lounge.

My most recent visit was no exception. The waiter, sometimes bartender, sometimes host, Jeff greeted us with a warm smile and a handshake. He’s one of the reason’s I keep coming back. He’s a sweetie! I ordered my usual margarita and they know just how I like it, silver tequila, straight up, and no salt. This night, I ordered the Edamame Fritters and Favorite Chicken Ever (that’s the name of the dish, and there’s a reason why it’s call this). The chicken is always juicy and cooked to perfection. It’s sitting on a large bed of goat cheese whipped potatoes, which is sitting in this warm, silky gravy with mushrooms and artichoke hearts. It really doesn’t get any better than this.

In all my years of traveling and eating at restaurants, I have never come across a place like West Side Lounge. The food, the cocktails, the service is always spot on, never changing. You know what to expect when you walk in the door. There are a lot of place in Cambridge in Boston to get great food, but it usually comes with attitude, arrogance, and a price. But not here at West Side Lounge, it’s some of the best food Cambridge has to offer with none of the pretension. And when you go, say hi to Jeff. He’ll treat you right.

My rating…5 Paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

 

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

Pizza Sauce Recipe

11 Apr

And now for something completely different. To flush the negativity from my fur after my trip to Princeton, here’s a quick and simple recipe for one of the best pizza sauces you’ll ever find. Now I know some of you are going to want to load it up with garlic and onions, but please, just try it once. You’re going to love it.

Best Ever Pizza Sauce

6 ounces tomato sauce
2 tablespoons anchovy paste
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Combine all the ingredients in a small pan and simmer on low for 20-30 minutes. Stir occasionally. Spread over your favorite pizza crust and go from there!

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

Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger – Princeton, NJ

10 Apr

UnknownAfter the disastrous first day of dining in Princeton, New Jersey, I figured my luck had to change. For once this little puppy was wrong – oh so wrong.

For lunch on Wednesday, I thought I would treat myself to a cheeseburger. I rarely eat red meat so yes a simple cheeseburger is rather special for me. I had noticed this interesting “Diner” on Nassau Street and decided to stop in for lunch. I should have let when the waiter tried to convince me that I needed to order the two-pound special. “Anyone who finishes it gets their photo taken and placed on the wall of fame.” He said. “Wall of Shame” it should have been called. Really in this day and age you’re going to reward someone for eating that much? I politely refused and ordered a quarter pounder with Swiss cheese, mushrooms and onions. Fries of course were extra – a lot extra, but I splurged and ordered a small.

The burger came out. The bun was cold. The cheese had congealed on the burger as if it had been sitting out. The mushrooms and onion were cold. Really? Couldn’t they have bothered to stick the mushrooms and onions in a microwave and pretend they were fresh? The portion of fries was enormous, I mean enough to feed six people, and that was their small. Oh, and did I mention the fries were barely warm and soggy.

All of this with a soft drink was $16.50. I’ve never paid that much for a burger anywhere, and I’ve had better at McDonald’s.

If you want a great burger and fries, this is not the place. Frankly, I’m not sure you can find an acceptable burger in Princeton.

My rating…1 Paw

Shata's Signature

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

Thai Village – Princeton, NJ

8 Apr

large_extPicture it. My little belly is grumbling. Tomo Sushi was a no go, and now I’m standing in the cold, rain dampened evening wondering where to eat. I do need to interject here that I find it really strange that most restaurants in this college town close at 9 p.m., but I digress. I wandered a few blocks farther and came upon what appeared to be an acceptable place to eat. Thai Village. What could they do to Pad Thai? I asked myself as I scampered across the street.

The restaurant was empty, except for a table of very loud, very obnoxious customers. I was seated promptly, by a not so pleasant older woman and handed a menu. I ordered the tom ka gai soup, and vegetable pad thai. Oh, where do I begin?

The soup came out and to my shock, the broth, or perhaps a better word for it is “the base” was pink. Yes that’s right, pink. One cannot call this a broth as it was too thick. My mind immediately went to the Dairy Queen commercial about how their blizzards are served upside down to prove how thick the ice cream is. I’m not exaggerating. The flavor was okay, but I just couldn’t deal with the thick pink cream. After a few bites I pushed the bowl aside and hoped that the pad thai would be better. It wasn’t.

The noodles were overcooked. Some of the vegetables were also overcooked to the point of being mushy, while other vegetables were nearly raw. A couple of broccoli stems were actually cold. Oh, and can we talk about the greasy broth that everything sat in? Let’s not because it wasn’t a pleasant.

The only reason this place gets 2 paws is they actually had tables.

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My rating…2 Paw

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

Tomo Sushi – Princeton, NJ

8 Apr

UnknownIt’s been just over fourteen hours since my little furry paws stepped foot in Princeton, New Jersey and already there is so much to say about the food scene here. Unfortunately, none of it is good.

After a very long, very rainy drive down from Cambridge, we were anxious to get checked in and make our way to TOMO Sushi. And yes, before any of my followers ask, my little paws spent time researching restaurants in the area. Tomo’s website looked promising, a wide selection of Japanese dishes and an amazing assortment of vegetarian rolls. Some reviews said the place was small. Um, hello? Small doesn’t even begin to describe this place. I hesitate to even call it a restaurant, because in order for that to happen you have to have more than one table. Yes, one table directly under the only counter. I’ve seen outhouses more spacious than this place, and perhaps cleaner.

We took one look at this “hole in the wall” is being too generous and turned away. There was nothing inviting about the counter, and it looked very old and… how can I say this politely…not a place I would feel safe eating raw fish.

Yes, I know that perhaps the food might have been good, just as I might have gotten food poisoning from the place. My point here is about appearances. And this place, no matter how hungry I was, couldn’t lure me in. Hell, I’m not sure they could have paid me to eat there.

Shata's Signature

My rating…1 Paw

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating – Someplace else of course!

Mix It Sushi Noodle Grill – Cambridge, MA

16 Mar

IMG_0776Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Square and Porter Square has been, in my humble opinion, lacking for years in the area of good reliable restaurants. Don’t get me wrong there are some great restaurants along those miles of Mass Ave., but the terrible ones have for too long outweighed the good ones, but now the odds are shifting. In comes, Mix It Sushi Noodle Grill.

I must admit that I was a bit hesitant at first. The name alone brings visions of too many menu items to do anything well. I will be the first to admit and proudly so that they do it and do it like no other.

The sushi is always fresh and always beautifully presented. And for you vegetarians out there they have an amazing assortment of vegetarian rolls. My personal favorite is the Veggie Combo #2, which includes an asparagus roll, veggie salad roll, and a sweet potato tempura roll.

On one of our bitter cold evenings between two snowstorms I slipped on my little boots and trudged through the six foot snow banks to get something warm to eat. Crazy I know, but this place is worth it. I ordered the Pad Thai with vegetables. Now Pad Thai has been a staple in my diet for many years and in many of my travels, but this without a doubt was one of the best Pad Thai’s I’ve ever had. Everything was cooked to perfection.

For you Cantabrigians who have not been here yet, shame on you. You won’t get this quality of food or great service in too many places around town. If you’re visiting, make the short walk from Harvard Square. Do what you have to, but pay a visit to Mix It. You won’t regret it.

My rating…5 Paws

ShatasSignature_2-5

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

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