The Abbey

The Abbey in Washington Square was recently voted Boston Magazine’s “Best Neighborhood Restaurant – Brookline” in their Best of Boston issue. My friends and I needed to find out why…!

Bread: Three slices of soft doughy bread were brought with a side of hummus and EVOO. We were asked if we wanted bread while we waited for our appetizers which I appreciated; not everyone wants bread (surprisingly) and asking before automatically bringing it over avoids wasting unwanted food. I’m not sure that was their point, but I like that this simple question can help minimize food waste!

Menu: Small Plates, Apps, Entrees, Sides. This contemporary American menu is limited but innovative and still offers a variety of options. I wanted at least 2 items from each category! Good thing my friends are into sharing…

Food/Presentation:
Lobster & Sweet Corn Dumplings with lemon buerre
I wanted this app from the moment I looked at the menu online but the server sealed the deal when she mentioned they’re a must try. Perfect for me and my 2 friends, three dumplings were served in a pool of lemon buerre (butter sauce). Each dumpling was stuffed full of lobster and a few corn kernels. Besides the tiny piece of lobster shell I found in my dumpling (well, found in my mouth unfortunately), these were a great start to the meal!

Lamb Lollipops with goat cheese brulee, mint oil, aged balsamic
Drizzled with mint oil, these 2 lamb pops were covering the goat cheese brulee which I almost missed! The lamb was tender and easy to cut off of the bone. This app was good but I’m not sure the 2 lollipops were worth $13.

Pear, Arugula, Caramelized Onion Lasagna with cauliflower puree
The three of us were eyeing this dish but thankfully Ariane went with the Proscuitto, Arugula, Truffle Oil Flatbread so we were able to try more than one entrée. The lasagna sat in a bed of creamy and smooth cauliflower puree. Every other bite you could taste the sweet pear component which made this dish really special. Great portion size and appropriately priced at $17.

Service: The Abbey unfortunately doesn’t take reservations, I’m assuming due to their small size and heightened popularity, but they do allow you to call ahead 15-30 minutes to put your name on the list. Thank goodness we did b/c at 7pm on a Tuesday there were no open tables. We ended up only waiting about 10-15 minutes which wasn’t bad. Once seated we were given enough time with the menu to order right away, and all the food came out within a reasonable time. Our server was friendly and informative.

Restroom: There are 2 unisex restrooms; the one I used had light yellow walls with white accents. It was clean, and I don’t recall any decorations besides the bright blue soap dispenser.

Overall: The Abbey is the definition of a cozy neighborhood gem. The bar seats about 13 and there are 10 tables including 2 high tops and more outdoor seating. The Abbey serves both lunch and dinner with some overlapping menu items. The bar offers local, domestic, and international beers as well as original cocktails, an extensive scotch list, and plenty of wine. The dinner menu is somewhat limited but I didn’t mind since what they offer sounds so amazing. On my next visit I’ll be diving into the Zucchini & Fennel Bisque and/or the Bison Bolognese.

The Perfect Bite: Lasagna with cauliflower puree … a must try!

http://www.abbeyrestaurant.com/

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectBiteBoston

 

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Beacon Street Tavern

On this particular evening, OpenTable determined our dining fate; we were looking for something near by that had seating within an hour. Sure we could probably gone up the street to Devlin’s or Smokin’ Joes, but I want my points baby so OpenTable led us to Beacon Street Tavern in Brookline.

Bread: After ordering the chips & guac our server asked if we wanted bread as well, and we really only got it for the sake of the blog. Two rustic rolls were served with a small tin of butter. The bread wasn’t bad, but would have been really great if it was served warm.

Menu: This was an interesting menu with sections like Snacks, Shared, Platters, and Sides. Matt & I were given two different meus at first; our Snacks sections differed, which was disappointing because we had our eyes on the Smokey Duck Confit Grilled Cheese, but it turns out that was on the incorrect menu. I was tempted by the Salmon and Scallop additions but we opted for the selections below.

Food/Presentation:
Chips & Guacamole
It’s rare that we don’t give in to guac, and this was probably the one time we should have said no to the temptation. The chips were great, I love a salty chip! But the guacamole was way too smooth and almost tasted like a paste. It had little flavor and no chunks or texture. Not the best.

Hummus & Cheese Platter – grilled halloumi cheese, vermont cheddar, grilled figs with gorgonzola and balsamic reduction, quinoa salad, mixed olives, grilled pita bread with edamame and spiced hummus
I was pleasantly surprised by this Shared Platter! I’ve never heard of or tried halloumi cheese and will now be looking for it in the grocery store. The figs were warm, stuffed with cheese and topped with a sweet drizzle of balsamic reduction (my 2nd favorite item on the plate). The hummus was good but my favorite was the quinoa salad; it was tossed with corn and cranberries and had a hint of sweetness.

Veggie Burger – black beans, guacamole, arugula, on ciabatta & fries
The burger was topped with guac and served with fries (we substituted for the sweet potato version). Unless it’s dry or falls apart, it’s hard to really screw up a veggie burger. This was pretty decent but the fries stole the show. It’s difficult to get a good crispy sweet potato fry and each one of these were just that.. not one limpy fry in sight!

Bathroom: 2 stalls, 2 sinks, 2 mirrors. I didn’t expect much decor for a bar/tavern, but it was clean, had a pretty tiled mirror, and cheerful purple walls that held black & white photos.

Service: The fastest service in the history of dining. We sat around 6:50pm and maybe ordered everything within 10 minutes, asking that the chips & guac come out as an appetizer. The bread & app were brought out one after the other, and as soon as we finished the guacamole the Hummus & Cheese and Veggie Burger were immediately delivered. We were done eating by 7:28pm. Perhaps they were rushing us b/c there were people waiting for tables? Either way I wasn’t disturbed by it, just surprised by how fast everything happened!

Overall: Beacon Street Tavern has a great outdoor patio, a lounge/bar area, and booths, tables and high tops for indoor dining. The menu is different with a few salads and soups, sandwiches, and entrees, but mostly appetizer type offerings made for sharing. I don’t think you need to rush there for dinner but it’s a nice spot for some decently priced good food and drink. I really enjoyed their cocktail menu because they told you what drink is served in what glass, which makes it easier to determine what’s a martini, what’s on the rocks etc. They had an extensive beer selection as well. Overall a good meal!

Kool Mo Tea

Kool Mo Tea


The Perfect Bite
: That Hummus Platter was pretty good. I liked everything on it but really loved the quinoa salad! Who knew a bar/tavern could whip that up.

www.beacon1032.com

For photos and more food info, visit my Facebook Page:
http://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectBiteBoston

Regal Beagle

Sister restaurant to Church in the Fenway area (which wasn’t a favorite), Regal Beagle does everything right that Church neglects: good service, fantastic food, tasty cocktails. Located in the busy & popular Coolidge Corner of Brookline, this neighborhood eatery is a must try.

Bread: A sliced white loaf and bread sticks were served with scallion butter. I’m not a huge bread stick fan but the slices weren’t bad.

Menu: Bar Bites, Appetizers, Entrees, and Sides. There were items from each section that I couldn’t resist but wasn’t able to order or consume all of them! We settled on the Dates to share (my mother has been craving them since they were featured on The Phantom Gourmet), and I went with a couple apps as my meal.

Food/Presentation:
Dates: stuffed with gorgonzola cheese and wrapped in bacon
Four warm  dates came stick side up, drizzled with a balsamic reduction. I’m not a bacon fan but I forced myself to try a bite without undressing the date. Fortunately the strong bacon flavor wasn’t as prominent as the sweetness of the date and pungent gorgonzola. The Phantom did not steer us wrong!

Duck Confit Soft Tacos: foie gras cider vinaigrette, Brussels sprout slaw and tarragon aioli
Two soft tacos came piled with green apple/carrot/Brussels sprout slaw next to a drizzle of tarragon aioli. The slaw was a bit overwhelming (I couldn’t fit it into my mouth for 1 big bite!), but the app was so good that I literally almost choked as I inhaled it.

Mixed Greens: molten goat cheese, roasted beets, candied almonds, pomegranate seeds, and Zinfandel vinaigrette
It’s hard for a salad with these ingredients to be bad; I loved the addition of pomegranate seeds to this classic combination. A refreshingly light & delicious app, just as I was expecting!

The Girl Next Door: Absolut Ruby Red, orange liqueur, fresh squeezed grapefruit, and sparkling wine
This is their signature cocktail for a reason! Fruity without being too sweet – a perfect “girly” drink.

Bathroom: The restroom was small but cute; the wallpaper is felt silhouettes of different breeds of pooches, like a children’s touch & feel book!


Service
: Our waitress was friendly, engaging, and was able to make suggestions when we were having trouble deciding between certain entrees and specials. The GM stopped by to make sure we were enjoying our meal and he revealed that their Executive Chef Laura Henry-Zoubir recently appeared on the Food Network’s Chopped… impressive!

Overall: I recommend this comfortable neighborhood gem for brunch, dinner, or for a couple of cocktails at the bar. The menu is always changing and providing plenty of appetizing options. Prices won’t hurt your wallet either, with Bites/Apps under $12 (except for the $14 cheese plate) and entrees topping out at $25. I suggest stopping by Regal Beagle on your next visit Coolidge Corner!

The Perfect Bite: Even though I unwrapped my date so it was bacon-free, it was still so delicious!

gorgonzola inside the dates!

gorgonzola inside the dates!

www.thebeaglebrookline.com

La Morra

 La Morra has been on my list for a while now but I was hesitant to try it as I used to fear small plates – I like my food and I rarely like to share! That mentality has changed now that I realized with tapas/small plates I get to try more dishes. My mom noticed La Morra in Boston Magazine’s ’50 Best Restaurants’ issue and suggested we go… I wasn’t arguing!

Bread: A server carrying a large basket delivered slices of homemade fresh bread, 1 for each of us. On the side was a ramekin of ricotta with sea salt, cracked pepper, and EVOO. The bread was excellent-warm, doughy, & hearty, and I really enjoyed the ricotta spread.

Menu: Cichetti (small tastings from $3-$4), Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, Contorni, Dolce (and a pre-fixed 4-course menu for $35). I wanted to try everything, especially the pastas in the primi section. I ended up with the items below, and thankfully my parents ordered a few other things I was eyeing.

Food/Presentation:
Chickpea Salad (compliments of the chef) – chilled chickpeas, celery, wood grilled peppers, oregano
Although it was a little too salty for my taste, this was a great ‘palette cleanser’ as it was crisp and fresh in flavor. A nice addition to the start of the meal!

Ceci FrittiChickpea Fries
I imagined these to look more like a thinner French fries, but 4 thick ‘fries’ came arranged like Stonehenge, balancing on one another. The outside had a thin crispy crunch and the inside was soft and piping hot. A really excellent side dish.

Insalata di Barbabietole – roasted beet salad with apples, goat cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, and walnut puree
A stack of alternating slices of apples and beets came topped with goat cheese. The apple beet combo is always refreshing and pairs well with the goat cheese. The walnut puree added a tasty light dressing.

Tagliatelle al raguhomemade pasta with bolognese
Praise the food gods for the ½ portions! For $11 I ordered the ½ size of the Bolognese which was the perfect amount for me (I even took ½ home). The meat was pulled rather than ground and topped with grated cheese. I typically like a tomato based sauce, which this was not, but it was still amazing, especially the al dente tagliatelle!

Bathroom: There are two unisex single rooms/stalls in the upstairs dining room, each with a home-y touch of a small area carpet, Italian artwork, and aroma oils.

Service: The service was excellent; our waitress has clearly been working at La Morra for some time now and it showed. She was able to describe the preparation & presentation of each dish we questioned, was attentive when our wine was running low, and was personable & helpful. I hope to have her again next time.

Overall: This is honestly a new favorite! I love Italian food, I recently found a love for small plates, and who wouldn’t like a warm, cozy, casual atmosphere? The prices are reasonable with Antipasti and half pastas topping out at $11, and full pasta portions and Secondi ranging $19-$24. Fantastic value for price in my opinion. The downstairs seats about 30 and has a small stone bar, while the upstairs can hold about 60 with tables and ½ table/booths lining the 2 side walls. I highly recommend La Morra and already can’t wait to go back!

The Perfect Bite: Honorable mention of my mom’s ½ portion of the Risotto with roasted local squash, brown butter, sage, and aged balsamic. Wow, was that delicious!

www.lamorra.com

Umami

Located at 1704 Beacon Street in Brookline, Umami serves “Asian inspired global cuisine with a creative twist”. A smaller restaurant, the dining room can sit maybe 35 people not including seats at the bar. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual, perfect for a week night meal. Thank you to BuyWithMe.com for providing us with the 4 coupons (pay $20, receive $40) – and thank you to Umami for allowing us to use all 4 in one sitting!

Bread: Instead of bread we were served crudités of red peppers, carrots, and zucchini with a dipping sauce. Not so much “Asian inspired”, but I’ll take it!

Menu: There are 2 sections: Starters and Entrées. The in-house menu varied slightly from the online version with a couple exciting additions, including a “1,000 year old egg” fettuccini dish. The couple we were with had been before and recommended a few starters that I couldn’t choose from, so we all split 4 apps. Each entrée has its own America base with a splash of Asian cuisine, whether it be edamame, soba noodles, bok choy, or sake etc. The list isn’t too extensive but I found a couple of items to ponder over and eventually went with the Seabass for my main course.

Food/Presentation:
Honey, Ginger Glazed Chicken Wings, lyche / pineapple / chili puree: On the bone, so not my favorite, but the puree added a nice kick.
Hand cut Sweet Potato Fries, house made spicy ketchup: Standard sweet pot fries, could have had a bit more crisp/crunch to them.

honey chicken, sweet pot fries

honey chicken, sweet pot fries

Asian Black Tiger Shrimp, garlic butter / smoked cayenne / lemon thyme: Not a huge shrimp fan but I tried one and was pleasantly surprised. I mostly ate the veggies out of this dish – the sauce was delicious!

black tiger shrimp

black tiger shrimp

Pan Roasted Mussels, sauce of pomodoro / sake / fresh bay leaves / grilled crostini: I do like mussels but their texture can be creepy and I truly think I just like the sauces they come in. This dish is no exception – the mussels/sauce tasted of a light tomato sauce. A couple tasted like the ocean but that tends to happen with mussels.

mussels

mussels

Chilean Sea Bass, simmered with sake / shiro miso / sweet potato “pomme puree” / Asian greens: The sea bass, topped with crunchy noodles, was placed on top of the sweet potato puree and bok choy. I usually have problems with bones in sea bass but that was not the case with this dish. Really excellent meal – I liked having the smooth texture of the puree with the crunchy noodles!

chilean seabass

chilean seabass

Bathroom: One room/stall. Besides the wall ornaments, nothing special. But clean and polished, so no complaints.

bathroom decor

bathroom decor

Wait Staff: Our waitress was really cute/nice and patient as we studied the menu. She was also able to answer all of our questions about the dishes with odd ingredients.

Overall: You can’t beat the prices, with entrées topping out at $21! The menu is a bit limited, but I thoroughly enjoyed everything I ate. A nice quiet spot outside the city.

The Perfect Bite: Sea bass with sweet potato puree. I cleaned the plate!

www.umamiboston.com

Lineage

3rd stop: Lineage on Harvard Street in Brookline.

This was my first time at Lineage, and it won’t be my last. The menu, which is printed daily inspired by local fresh ingredients, boasts modern American cuisine. Behind the bar, which over looks a large wood burning stove, are tables & booths separate from the main dining area where we were seated. I must make a note that I loved the sea shells on the table that held the loose salt & pepper.

Bread: We were each given 1 roll on our bread plates and a tiny ramekin of soften butter for the table. Topped with a sprinkle of sea salt, the roll was soft & I believe a type of egg bread which I really enjoyed.
 
Menu: Ugh, decisions, decisions. I could not for the life of me decide between the 4 entrees. Well, I could easily rule out the Pork Loin since I had a similar meal at Clink (even though I wanted the polenta!). I originally asked for the Chipotle Marinated Flank Steak, but then my friend ordered it, and my other friend ordered the Seared Atlantic Salmon that I was eyeing… so I had no choice but to order the pasta! My final decision:
  • Summer Tomato Gazpacho, avocado, cilantro
  • Vermont Goat Cheese Pasta, ratatouille, pesto
  • Chocolate Pot de Creme, chantilly cream, toasted almonds
gazpacho

gazpacho

 Presentation: The gazpacho was a generous portion, served in a large bowl topped with a spoonful of avocado. We all ordered it, and all enjoyed it (this was Angela’s 1st time trying the soup and Ariane was pleased that it tasted similar to the way her mother makes it – always a plus!). The pasta dish was a gnocci/cavatelli type of full pasta, served with small chunks of goat cheese, drizzles of pesto, and an array of fresh vegetables. The dish was really great, gone within minutes. I appreciated the small amount of goat cheese, but was disappointed that the pasta came with a light tomato sauce & drizzles of pesto, rather than pesto pesto pesto! The chocolate dessert came in a small round ramekin, topped with whipped cream & toasted almonds. I love chocolate, and the dessert was great, but it doesn’t compare to Angela’s White Melon Sorbet (unbelievable flavor) or Ariane’s Blueberry Bread Pudding (tasted like a hearty muffin).

Vermont goat cheese pasta

Vermont goat cheese pasta

Bathroom: A one stall/one room bathroom with a nice home-y feel. There were frames on the shelves that held pictures of a family & a couple which made me feel like I was visiting a friend. Just switch out that ‘public restroom’ looking sink and it’s the complete package.
 
Wait Staff: Our waiter was a delight, even after dealing with my indecisiveness! He was able to describe each meal, how it was prepared, and what it came with, which made it a bit easier for me to make up my mind. It was a lovely surprise to run into an old college/volleyball friend who happened to work at Lineage.
 
Overall: Really charming & comfortable atmosphere. Thank goodness we all ordered different entrees & different desserts, b/c we all got a little taste of each dish. We decided that we’d have to go back – the lobster tacos on the daily menu were calling our names!
 
The Perfect Bite: Don’t make me decide. The grilled corn & avocado salad that came with Ariane’s steak was to die for. The white melon sorbet was like nothing I’ve ever tasted. You’ll have to head to Lineage, try both, then decide for yourself 🙂
dessert!

dessert!