Myers + Chang

IMG_5325Menu: The menu is set up Dim Sum style with offerings from $5 Crispy Spring Rolls to  $11 Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps to $18 Chicken and Waffles. You can also choose from cold or hot noodles, dumplings, rice, vegetables and sides. While this is an Asian-inspired menu, many items are American dishes with Asian influences that won’t be unfamiliar to the unadventurous diner.

Food / Presentation: 
Salmon + Green Apple Tartare – spicy soy, spinach, sesame crisps
One of the best tartares I’ve ever had! Each element in this dish really brought it all together. Even amount of apples and salmon. Touch of sweetness from the apple and just the right amount of spicy soy. And the sesame crisps were a great texture and large enough that you didn’t run out of a vehicle for the tartare. This is a must try!
IMG_5349Crispy Arctic Char Roll – nori, hot Chinese mustard
We at first thought this would be similar to a rice sushi roll, but I’m glad it wasn’t. Essentially this dish is 2 fried Arctic char rolls cut in half to create 4 “open-faced” rolls. Another great dish, with a spicy but not too spicy dipping sauce. I couldn’t figure out what the pink veggies were, but they offered a nice relief to the spicy mustard.
ImageDumplings-Potsticker Style – edamame, mustard greens, wasabi
I originally wanted the Mama Chang’s Pork + Chive dumplings, but ended up ordering another pork dish, so I went with this veggie version instead. Had we known there were 5 pieces we may have not have ordered this plate, as we clearly over ordered! Regardless, we had 3 and took 2 home (which was perfect for a late night snack). The dumplings weren’t bad, a pretty simple veggie dish with a bit of a spicy kick. I’d try the pork ones next time.
IMG_5347Wok-Roasted Mussels
To me, mussels are mussels. They really differ based on the bread served with it and the sauce they’re swimming in. This dish came with 4 slices of grilled garlic toast and a lemongrass broth. Pretty good as mussels go.
IMG_5338Fish Tacos + Kimchee Sesame Salsa – crispy hake, soft corn tortilla, whipped cilantro
Each of the two tacos came with three crispy chunks of hake. I love fish tacos, and I typically prefer grilled to fried fish, but these were really good. The fish pieces were thick enough that the fried part was really only a thin layer. The menu indicated this was a 1 out of 3 on the hotness scale which holds true.
IMG_5348Thai Ginger Chicken Salad – lemongrass, rice vermicelli, butter lettuce
Layered from bottom to top with lettuce, vermicelli, and chicken salad mixed with the lemongrass. This dish gave us light and refreshing flavors among the other sauces, spices, and fried pieces we ordered. Marked as a 1 out of 3 stars for spicy ness, I think it could have been a 2 for sure!
IMG_5334The General Lee’s Pulled Pork – collards greens, bean curd, pickled mustard seeds
We did not need this last plate, and I took 3/4 of it home, but I’m glad we ordered it. I loved pulled pork, and while it was served simply on a dish mixed with the above fixings, it would have also been great on a sandwich. 1 out of 3 hotness stars… My mouth/lips were on fire at the end of this entire meal.
Restroom: Full of Asian influences and decor, including the soap!


Service: I was thankful our server asked if this was our first time at the restaurant – which it was – because we definitely needed some guidance with ordering. He said typically people order 2-3 dishes per person. With that advice Matt & I ordered the above 7 plates, 3 each and then 1 to split. Dummies! We went home with 2 dumplings, 1/2 of the chicken salad, and 3/4 of the pulled pork. I wasn’t mad. We had our $100 OpenTable gift card to use up, and I now had lunch for 2 days!
Service in general was great. Keep in mind, when ordering, they bring out plates as they’re ready. Matt & I ordered everything at once and got a bit overwhelmed when we had 4 different items at once on our table. I think our server thought we were crazy when I listed off the 7 dishes. As soon as I finished he reminded “Ok, I think that’s good to start!”. Yes. That was good to start, and good for the night!

Overall: This was my first time at Myers + Chang and it definitely lived up to the expectations set by reviews, friends, and reputation. Chef/owner Joanne Chang (of the infamous Flour Bakery) created a menu inspired by Chinese, Taiwanese, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisines. The atmosphere is casual and the dining room is more of a funky diner adorned with some kitschy objects. An Asian tea tin held plastic and wooden chop sticks, as well as forks and knifes for those who have yet to master the sticks.

The food was great, but next time I would definitely space out my orders and pace myself. The only disappointment was when I ordered the Pineapple Express cocktail (pineapple-infused vodka, thai basil) only to discover they were out. Out of what?? House-made infused vodka? Make me more! I instead went with the Luckiest Kitty (herb-infused sake, St. Germain, grapefruit, smoked salt) which I was nervous about since I don’t like sake, but I love St. Germain and am developing a nice friendship with grapefruit, so this drink really worked for me.


The Perfect Bite: By far, the Salmon + Apple Tartare on a sesame crisp.


Hamersley’s Bistro

Bread: The bread basket had 3 varieties, wheat slices, rustic rolls, and a small onion loaf. I only tried a piece of wheat with a smear of the softened butter, and it was a bit plain. Would have been much better toasted! Matt wasn’t a huge fan of either of the other kinds as well. A bit disappointing, but I do appreciate the variety.
IMG_5200IMG_5201 Menu: Small Plates, Appetizers, Vegetarian, Entrees, Sides, Desserts. My eyes went right to the soup in the Vegetarian section, which offered appetizer sized plates. I eat meat and fish but again I was drawn to the vegetarian entree. I saw “artichoke” and couldn’t look away! There were quite a few fish dishes that looked amazing (such as the Skillet-Cooked Arctic Char with orange, radish, and red currant salad, quinoa and aged sherry vinegar), and 1 option each among popular meats (chicken, pork, lamb, beef).

Hamersley's Bistro menu

Hamersley’s Bistro menu

Food / Presentation:
Spring Dug Parsnip Soup with Crème Fraîche and Basl-Pistachio Pesto
I love soup! Especially purees. Among the smooth but slightly grainy consistency, the pistachios added a subtle crunch which I enjoyed. When delivered, the server instructed me to stir all of the components together to bring out the intended flavor. A good start to the meal.
Roasted Artichoke and Ricotta Crêpes with Spring Vegetables, French Lentils and Parmesan-Chive Sauce
Two savory crêpes, stuffed with ricotta cheese and a few artichokes, were divided by lentils and surrounded by cut carrots, peppers, asparagus and peas. The dish could have use more artichokes in my opinion, but either way this was a light and satisfying vegetarian entrée.
Service: Our server was really great. We didn’t have too many questions about the menu but you could just tell they are well trained to know their stuff. Specials were memorized, crumb scraper cleaned our tabletop after entrees were cleared, and each course was delivered at appropriate times. She was also friendly and quit personable which is always a plus.
Bathroom: A single individual bathroom, one for women, one for men, one handicap. The women’s room was clean, mostly white with a emerald green door. And a lovely piece of art above the toilet 😉
Overall: The menu has a nice variety, including multiple veggie, fish and meat entrees. The dining room is sophisticated and just casual, with wood accents, high ceilings, and simple chandeliers. Hamersley’s Bistro has been in the Boston restaurant scene for 20+ years and is constantly being reviewed as one of the top restaurants in Boston.  I think because of it’s longevity it tends to attract an older crowd, people who have been fans for years and years (I’d say the average age this Friday night was 50+). If you’re in the mood for a lively and energetic atmosphere this may not be the first restaurant I’d suggest, but if you’re looking for solid service, a menu filled with fresh & local ingredients, and food that won’t disappoint then Hamersley’s Bistro is the way to go. It is and always will be a Boston classic!
The Perfect Bite: Crêpe, ricotta, artichoke, peas, lentils.

Aquitaine vs Gaslight: Brunch

Brunch is arguably one of the best meals of the day; you have multiple options of eggs, waffles, omelets, french toast, fruit, sandwiches, and more. And unlike breakfast, brunch allows a socially acceptable alcoholic beverage to be consumed before 12 noon. Win!

I’ve recently been on a brunch kick and visited Gaslight and Aquitaine within a week of each other. These sister restaurants are part of The Aquitaine Group, along with Metropolis CafeUnion Bar & Grill, and the most recent addition Cinquecento.
What Gaslight and Aquitaine have that is unique to Boston brunches is a $9.95 Prix Fixe menu (also offered at Union Bar & Grill). Each offer slightly different options but the outcome is the same: a delicious and filling meal for under $10, which is hard to find anywhere, never mind in the city.

GASLIGHT Prix Fixe Brunch
All day Saturday; 10:00 – 11:00 am Sunday
Glass of fresh squeezed orange or grapefruit juice; coffee or tea; Julia Child’s Spiced Shortbread with raspberry jam
Choice of one of the following:
  • Vanilla French Toast with Blueberry Compote
  • Omelette Lyonnaise with Gruyere Cheese, Potatoes and Caramelized Onions
  • Scrambled Eggs & Cantal Cheese served over toasted brioche

If none of the prix fixe offerings interest you there’s always the option to order from the regular brunch menu, which has items ranging from $7.75 for an omelet to $15.75 for steak & eggs. I arrived at Gaslight intending to participate in the prix fixe but just couldn’t resist the Truffled Scrambled Egg Tartin with roasted asparagus off of the regular brunch menu. I also opted for a cappuccino and a Bellini instead of the coffee / tea and juice which is included in the $9.95, oops! 🙂 No worries though, as this dish alone was $8.50 and really excellent. The sauce was a little heavy for me but it was easy to scrape to the side. The toast was slightly softened by the eggs (which I like) and still had a bit of crunch on the edges. I love my eggs scrambled and am a fan of asparagus, so this was a perfect meal for me! I would go back to Gaslight and probably order the exact same thing.



AQUITAINE Prix Fixe Brunch
Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm; Sunday 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Warm house-made cinnamon buns; glass of fresh orange or grapefruit juice; bottomless coffee; brunch potatoes, seven grain toast
Choice of one of the following:
  • Omelette Alsacienne with Mushrooms, Leeks, and Boursin Cheese
  • Omelette Basquaise with Ham, Gruyere and Parsley
  • Omelette a La Greque with Spinach and Feta Cheese
  • Omelette De La Maison with Bacon, Tomatoes, and Gruyere Cheese
  • Three Eggs Scrambled with American Cheese
  • Eggs Piperade with Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes, and Ham

Again, I was intending to partake in the prix fixe menu but the Benedict Provencal with Avocado, Tomato, Hollandaise & Fines Herbes, and Brunch Potatoes was really speaking to me! Poached eggs aren’t my favorite but I can tolerate them, and this whole dish was so good that I didn’t once wish they were my typical scrambled. The Benedict Provencal was $9.95, and as I ordered a Bellini and no juice, the only thing I really missed out on from the prix fixe was the cinnamon bun. Lucky for me my parents ordered the Spinach & Feta Omelette and I was able to taste their cinnamon bun which was really tasty! Even though I missed out on a few added bonuses I was still happy and more than satisfied with my brunch choice. The eggs were poached perfectly, the tomatoes were fresh, and the potatoes were well seasoned and slightly crispy. Next time I’m going for the Croque Magret: Duck Confit and Gruyere Parisian Pressed Sandwich with Tarragon Mustard, Watercress and Pommes Frites – oh yeah!



Bread: Small slices of white bread, with no accompaniment. At first I was upset, but after ordering the tuna tartare realized it can be utilized for future dishes!

Menu: Pinchos, which are snack size; Tapas Frias, more bar snacks but slightly larger than the Pinchos; Jamones y Charcuteria, cheese & meats; For Two, larger dishes like fish plates and paella; Tapas Calientes, hot tapas, app size for 1 or 2 to share.
This was my first time at Toro and I didn’t know where to start! I’ve had tapas before but there were so many options, including some exotic dishes like Uni (sea urchin),  tuna belly, veal sweetbreads, smoked beef tongue, roasted bone marrow, and so on. They offer some veggie selections as well as more mainstream bites like mini burgers, tuna tartare, short ribs etc., but I was determined to be adventurous and try at lease one item that scared me.

Atun Tartare – coconut milk, lime, mint, cilantro, and grilled toast
This tuna tartare was a great size for the two of us. The tuna was diced up small and it had a great refreshing flavor. The mint was a nice touch! They only supplied 4 pieces of grilled bread but we hadn’t touched the ‘bread basket’ so I quickly dove into that. It was also great just on the fork!

Uni Bocadillo – pressed uni sandwich with miso butter and pickled mustard seeds
I announced on Instagram earlier in the day that I was excited to try Toro for the first time and my friend, The Rooftop Gourmet, commented that he highly suggested the Uni sandwich. I knew uni was something creepy and it was confirmed by our waitress that it is in fact sea urchin. She also recommended the dish so Shannon and I went for it! It was definitely rich as she said, and the miso butter had a strong flavor. I don’t know that I would ever try uni on it’s own, but if you’re looking to try something adventurous I would suggest this Uni Bocadillo. It reminded me of pâté, in the sense that it was a very different, strong & rich flavor.

Panza de Cerdo – crispy pork belly with roasted pumpkin, chestnuts, chantenay carrots and kimchi vegetables
Typically when I’m eating any kind of meat I avoid the fatty pieces, but in ordering pork belly we essentially ordered fat! The top layer was perfectly crispy and crunchy which countered the chewy fatty belly. The roasted pumpkin puree was the most flavorful pumpkin anything I think I’ve ever had. This wasn’t the easiest dish to share since it was tough to cut the fatty parts in half, but we were eventually able to shred it apart and enjoy!

Empanada de Pollo y Papas – housemade chicken & potato empanada with tomatillo salsa y alioli
I love empanadas but am always hesitant to order them in restaurants. I’m not trying to be ‘too cool for school’, but on my honeymoon in Costa Rica my husband and I went on an ATV excursion and as part of the tour you stop at this shack-like bar at the top of a mountain. Inside were 2 women serving up the most fresh and authentic Costa Rican cuisine you can get. At the suggestion of our tour guide we ordered 1 bean empanada and 1 cheese empanada. The food was simple but so incredible. Ever since, no other empanada has compared. Toro‘s version was great though and I wouldn’t discourage anyone from ordering it!

Toro's Empanadas

Toro’s Empanadas

Costa Rica mountain top

Costa Rica mountain top

Rancho Shadday

Rancho Shadday

The owners, making the best bean & cheese expands I'll ever have

The owners, making the simplest/best bean & cheese empanadas I’ll ever have

: Deep red walls, warm lighting, bull-fighting posters… the private-room uni-sex restrooms had themed decor which I alway love. Extra points for the Xlerator hand dryer!

restroom wall

restroom wall

Service: Our waitress was informative and helped me pick out a dry white wine when I didn’t recognize any on the list. She made great suggestions, like the uni sandwich. All of our food came out in a steady series with good timing, which is always a challenge at tapas restaurants; you don’t want all of the dishes at once but you also don’t want to have a long wait in between receiving the plates. Toro did a great job with this.

Overall: Shannon and I had a really great time at Toro! It’s lively and incredibly busy on a Saturday night, and ever other night I hear. There are tables, high tops and bar seating. Because it is so popular and not that big of a restaurant you don’t have much personal space and the tables (at least the one we were at) are small. None of this bothered me though; it’s a fun atmosphere, the food was awesome, and the service was on par. If you haven’t been I highly recommend it. They don’t take reservations and there’s often a long wait so be prepared!

The Perfect Bite: Cripsy pork belly with roasted pumpkin puree.


courtesy of Cinquecento

courtesy of Cinquecento

Cinquecento is the Aquitaine Group’s newest addition in the South End, replacing Rocca‘s old spot at 500 Harrison Avenue. The space has a whole new look with wooden floors and tables, brown hues, pillars of wine, dark leather booths, and creative lighting. Walking up the illuminated staircase to the space shuttle-like hostess stand we were already excited…

courtesy of Cinquecento

courtesy of Cinquecento

courtesy of Cinquecento

courtesy of Cinquecento

: Slices of soft, fresh Italian bread was brought to our table in a cloth wrapped basket. I dipped a piece in the EVOO that was poured at the table, and sprinkled a bit of salt from the small wooden bowl. Great bread, and would be perfect for mopping up pasta sauce!


Menu: Antipasti, Zuppa e Insalate, Salumi, Paste, Pesce e Carne, Piatta del Giorno, Contorni. Each menu item is listed in Italian with English descriptions. There were a few apps I wanted to try and couldn’t decide between a pasta or fish for my entree. Luckily my friends wanted to split some starters so I was able to try a few items.

Bruschetta con Burrata e Speck – Burrata, Speck & Pignoli-Currant Marmellata
This may be one of my biggest pet peeves… Based on the Bruschetta description any diner would assume this appetizer would come with a few pieces of bread. I can’t understand how any restaurant can justify selling 1 slice of bread (with toppings) for $6.75. Plates like this should be adjusted based on the number of people in the party. Or reduce the size of the bread/ingredients and give us 2 freakin’ slices on the plate at least! I love burrata, which is why I wanted to try this app, but overall I don’t think it’s worth it (especially if you’re not dining alone!).

Ricotta Fresca – Warm Ricotta, Olive Oil, Grilled Bread
This was the best of the 2 apps we tried. The ricotta was warm and drizzled with EVOO, perfect for spreading on the grilled bread. The cheese/bread ratio was off but thankfully we had enough in the bread basket.
Branzino con Scarola Brasata e Funghi – Sea Bass, Braised Escarole & Wild Mushrooms
I asked to replace the mushrooms with brussels sprouts, and the waitress was honest with me and said the amount of mushrooms in this dish is so small that I wouldn’t receive many brussels sprouts. Instead they gave me a full side of Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta for $2 (rather than the $5.75 it is listed for). The sea bass was great and the sauce it was soaking in was excellent, you could have dipped just about anything in there. The brussels sprouts were also a good choice, with tiny chunks of pancetta and seasoned with some lemon.


Service: Our waitress was great but the timing at the beginning was a bit off. Our appetizer order was taken and the plates were delivered before the bread. We also had not ordered our entrees yet so we still had our menus which made for a cluttered table. Once the bread arrived I was even more overwhelmed but eventually our waitress came over and apologized for not being on top of things. Everything else was cleared and delivered in a timely manner so the slight misstep wasn’t a huge deal.

Restroom: The women’s room has 4 stalls with white titled walls and dark brown wooden doors. A white ceramic trough sink sits underneath 2 large mirrors. There’s also a full length mirror which I always appreciate.


Overall: My girlfriends and I really enjoyed our evening at Cinquecento. We all started with the Minuetto cocktail (Grey Goose Vodka, Elderflower Liqueur, Grapefruit Cordial, Lemon & Prosecco) which was a hit. We split the 2 appetizers and agreed the Ricotta stole the show. Among my entree, the Veal & Prosciutto Saltimbocca, and the Sogliola al Cartoccio (Fluke in Parchment), the majority preferred the latter but everything I tasted was really good. I didn’t love the Grilled Calamari that Angela got with the Endive Salad as her entree, but that’s more of a texture issue for me then the taste of the actual dish.
Prices aren’t cheap but they’re also not too outrageous; Antipasti, Soups and Salads ranges from $6.50 – $13.50, while the Pastas and Entrees are between $14.25 – $28.50 with the Rib Eye taking the top dollar spot. We all agreed we need to return to try different dishes, my choice being the Gnocchi al Sugo di Cinghiale (Gnocchi with Wild Boar, Golden Raisins, Pignoli & Pecorino).

The Perfect Bite: Warm ricotta spread on grilled bread with a sprinkle of salt.


For more food photos from the evening visit my Facebook Page, Twitter feed, or follow me on Instagram (@theperfectbiteboston)!


Coppa (and Ken Oringer in general) has been on my list for quite some time. This Origner/Bissonnette owned South End eatery focuses on Italian style tapas with a multitude of small plates, charcuterie, small & large pastas, pizzas and more. Thank goodness I’ve grown to love tapas because this was quite the feast.

outdoor place setting

outdoor place setting

Bread: A few small slices of white bread were brought with a side dish of EVOO. This was fine as is but served us better to accompany some of the small plates.

Menu: This tapas style menu consists of: Stuzzichini (Italian small bar snacks), Salumi, Antipasti, Wood-Fried Pizza, Pasta, Piatti (plates), Formaggio. I was pleasantly overwhelmed with all of the options. If you’re not a fan of small plates it’s still easy enough to have a normal sized meal as they have entrees and full orders of pasta. My debate was deciding between an app and pizza or small plates and some pasta. Since I was with 1 other person we decided to share as much as possible!

Arancini – traditional fried risotto balls with fontina
Two arancini came in a bowl with a light red sauce and sprinkled with cheese. Cut into the crispy risotto ball to find warm rice and melted fontina cheese. Quite delicious, especially dipped into the sauce.

Baccala – warm salt cod crostini
A ½ piece of bread came topped with the salt cod, seasonings, and chopped chives. For $6 I expected at least a full piece of bread, but at Coppa you’re paying for quality not quantity. The cod was at least piled high and tasted excellent, warm & soft, almost like a spread.

Local Burrata – Prosciutto di San Daniele, Higher Ground Farm lovage and black olive
A gorgeous presentation of smeared olive that I originally thought was a brush stroke plate pattern, topped with a lovage (herbed) spread, a generous portion of creamy burrata, and thinly sliced prosciutto. Eating a forkful of each component sufficed but I used the extra bread we had as a vehicle for the burrata and prosciutto. My mouth is watering just writing about it… the best plate so far!

Strozzapreti con Pesto – pasta with pesto, pine nuts, Piave and fingerling potatoes
This short pasta was tossed with classic pesto, small rounds of fingerlings, and shaved Piave cheese. I thought the potatoes would be strange in this dish but I actually enjoyed it as they were cooked well enough that they were soft but not too mushy. This ½ portion was a decent size, perfect to end our meal. Pesto pasta is one of my favorites and this did not disappoint.

Bathroom: A small unisex 1 room restroom with a pretty chandelier, red walls, and tiles bordering the mirror.

Service: Our server did a fine job, describing the 3 additions to the menu (each of which sounded amazing), and taking our order after each course so that the plates were delivered one after the other rather than all at once. Friendly, pleasant, and informative, which is all I ever ask.

Overall: I’m upset it’s taken me this long to get to Coppa! Similar in style to a favorite of mine (La Morra in Brookline), Coppa offers an array of small Italian plates as well as full and ½ size pastas, pizzas and entrees. There was also a great cocktail menu from which I ordered the Italian Sangria (different, with a bit of a kick!). It was a beautiful night and luckily there was available patio seating so I didn’t get a good feel for the interior; however from what I saw it appeared cute & casual with chalk board drawings, a few free standing tables and a small bar. I’m looking forward to returning, but only after I try Coppa’s sister restaurant Toro, serving Spanish style tapas.

The Perfect Bite: It’s between the Burrata/Prosciutto and a bite of the Strozzapreti and shaved Piave. I ended up dipping the burrata in the pesto which was also pretty incredible. I recommend trying both dishes!

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page:

Stephie’s on Tremont

OpenTable (yet again) led me to this 1,000 point reservation at Stephie’s on Tremont in the South End. I’ve been to its sister restaurant Stephanie’s on Newbury a few times, many years ago, but haven’t returned as it tends to be typecast as the (expensive) “place to be” on Newbury. The menu style remains the same between the two and the food items are actually quite similar; what sets these two apart is the atmosphere & ambiance, type of clientele, and (slight) price different.

Bread: This sliced loaf of warm bread was wrapped in paper and smeared with herb butter. It was a bit messy as the top of each piece was covered in melted butter, but it wasn’t overly buttered so I wasn’t complaining.

Menu: The dinner menu consists of Appetizers, Signature Salads, Comfort Food Classics, Dinner Specialties, and Sides. A couple of the entrees looked enticing but I wanted to dabble in a few different plates so I went with an app, salad, and side to share.

Duck Confit Spring Rolls: tender duck, shredded vegetables, noodles, peanuts, lemongrass, fresh ginger & sweet chili wrapped in rice paper and pan fried, served with hoisin barbecue sauce
Four spring rolls came next to diced scallions and what I believe was shredded pickled beets. Matt & I were really excited for this app but it was just ok; the sauces weren’t bad but the actual rolls lacked flavor and needed more duck meat.

Roast Turkey Club Goes Salad: house roasted turkey, aged cheddar cheese, thick sliced tomato, ripe avocado and brioche croutons served with romaine & iceberg lettuce, whole grain mustard vinaigrette
What a salad! From what I first saw, the lettuce was topped with thick slices of roasted turkey, ½ an avocado, croutons, and was drizzled with mustard vinaigrette. After slicing and chopping away this salad really came together. The vinaigrette was amazing (I’m obsessed with mustard – except yellow mustard, waste of time!) and I could have bought a case of the dressing on the spot. The salad itself was large, hearty & healthy, with a lot of flavor and substance. Really excellent. I know “salads” can be boring but I’d order this again in a heartbeat. FYI, this salad is originally served with bacon for all you piggie lovers out there.

Rosemary Parmesan French Fries
A pile of thin cut hot fires came in a cast iron dish topped with sprinkles of parmesan. I didn’t really see or taste the rosemary, which is the part I was most excited about. But I adore thin cut fries and these were pretty good with the perfect amount of crisp & crunch!

Bathroom: The restroom was nice with a marble countertop, trough-type sink, oversized mirror, subdued earth tones, and 2 stalls. Nothing necessarily stood out but it was clean and had automatic faucets!

Service: One thing that Matt loved is that our bread came out before we placed our order. Typically most restaurants wait to deliver the bread until after people have decided on food; I figure they want people to remain hungry and order appetizers, so they wait to bring the bread until after everyone has chosen their apps/entrees etc. Either way doesn’t matter to me, I just want the bread, and I want it to be warm & delicious!

Overall: Stephie’s on Tremont certainly has a more casual, laid back vibe compared to its sister spot on Newbury Street. Prices are moderate with apps & salads ranging $8-$19 and entrees $15-$27. Stephie’s has a long bar with multiple TVs and a dining room with a majority of banquette seating. I may not rush back (since I’m always looking to try something new) but with their outdoor patio and great food I’d suggest you give it a shot if you haven’t already. They also have a decent cocktail list, including this Spiced Pear Martini.

The Perfect Bite: Salad with turkey, avocado, and mustard vinaigrette. The leftovers were amazing as well!

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page:


I’ve been to Masa once in the past, possibly 2-3 years ago for Restaurant Week. When I looked at the menu last week it was nothing like what I remembered from the RW menu on my first visit. Offering South Western cuisine with a contemporary American flair, Masa‘s Executive Chef Philip Aviles has created an inspired menu with twists and classic favorites.
The restaurant is dimly lit with chandeliers and sconces, and the dining room holds booths, banquette seating, and free standing tables while the bar seats about 10 and has high-tops for apps or dinner reservations. We’re led to a high-top banquette in the bar area, closest to the open windows so we could feel the cool spring breeze.

Bread: Country bread and corn bread were served with molasses- honey butter, red pepper cream cheese, and habanero hummus. Both breads were great but the corn bread was amazing, especially with the molasses-honey butter. The hummus was my favorite to pair with the country bread. Really great bread basket and accompaniments, I just wish they gave you more than a tablespoon size of each spread.

Menu: The Tapas menu (served only in the bar area) offers $1 bite-size tapas and $5-$14 Picaditas which are more of an appetizer size dish. The Dinner menu consists of First Course, Main Course, and Sides. Luckily we were seated in the bar area so we had access to the Tapas menu, which was a blessing and a curse b/c it provided too many sections to choose from! Do I go with 3 Tapas and an Entrée? Or maybe a Picadita and a First Course dish? There were a lot of possible combinations which made for an interesting meal.

Shredded Chicken Taquito with Chipotle Aioli (tapas menu)
I decided to order a couple of tapas items to start, one being the chicken taquito. If you order tapas it is presented family-style on one plate; the taquito can be seen in the back of the photo. The chicken was wrapped in a tortilla, fried, and placed on a dollop of chipotle aioli. I could have eaten many more of these, but there was more food coming!

Tuna Tartare Taco with Chile Lime & Avocado (tapas menu)
Along with the taquito I ordered 2 tuna tartare tacos (the other 2 were for Matt). Chopped rare tuna and avocado always pairs well with a crispy taco shell and chipotle aioli. I enjoy small bites and this was a great way to start the meal without leaving me prematurely full before the entrees.

Negra Modelo Braised Pork Shoulder & Sauce Borracha with Port & Fig Jam, Baby Arugula, & Garlic Whipped Potatoes
A small mound of pork shoulder sits on a scoop of whipped potatoes and is topped with the arugula mix; three spoonfuls of fig jam were dotted around the plate. The pork was excellent and fell apart nicely with zero fatty parts in sight. I adore anything fig but for me it felt like an unnecessary addition to this savory dish. I enjoyed it with the pork every other forkful but didn’t love when it mixed with the potatoes. A minor criticism for this truly enjoyable entrée.

Chipotle Chocolate Ice Cream, Papaya Sorbet, Hibiscus Sorbet
One small scoop of each came dusted with powdered sugar, the two sorbets together and the ice cream in a separate ramekin. The sorbets were excellent, with the Papaya’s strong fruity flavor stealing the show for me. The ice cream was different but we knew it would be when ordering Chipotle Chocolate. It had a somewhat cakey consistency, and didn’t seem to be cold (although I’m pretty sure it was) b/c after each bite my mouth was pretty much on fire. The chipotle chocolate was a confusing contradiction of hot & spicy ice cream, something I’ve never experienced before! It was interesting, great for a small taste, but I’d never be able to eat an entire bowl/cone.

Bathroom: Mirror, mirrors, on every wall! Maybe I’m obsessed with full length mirrors b/c I don’t have one at home, but I always appreciate seeing the full picture, head to toe. Besides seeing my reflection every where I turned (I swear I’m not a narcissist), the women’s room had 2 stalls and 2 sinks, and a couple of decorations to match the restaurant’s décor.

Service: We were seated at a high-top in the bar area, which I originally was slightly disappointed about, but it worked out for the best b/c this section was a bit more upbeat and it allowed us to order off of the Tapas menu. Our waitress was friendly, informative, and delivered everything in good time.

Overall: When we arrived at 7pm Masa was lively and energetic with a packed bar. As the night went on it emptied out a bit by the time we left a little before 9pm. I love Masa’s multiple menus, and would from now on request to sit in the bar in order to have Tapas as an option. I’d like to also note that the Tapas are 50 cents on Thursdays, and every other night from 4pm-7pm and 10pm-close. Makes for a great happy hour spot, especially with their tasty beverages like the Raspberry Mojito. I am looking forward to returning; there are so many tapas, picaditas, and apps I need to try!

The Perfect Bite: It’s hard to beat a tuna tartare taco when it’s done right.

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page:


The Butcher Shop

If you weren’t looking for The Butcher Shop you’d walk right by and probably never know it existed. Marked only by an unassuming pig sign, the restaurant is located across from B&G Oysters (another Barbara Lynch eatery) on Tremont Street in the South End. We walked in and were greeted by the hostess clutching an iPad that held the reservation info; there’s no room for a stand or computer as the place only holds a bar and about 8-10 high tops. A wooden butcher’s table is located in the back where customers are brought to order a glass of wine while they wait for their table. This giant chopping block is illuminated by a refrigerator containing a variety of different cuts of meat, pates, sausage links, and small containers of soup, pulled pork, hummus etc that you can purchase. Doubling as a meat market, The Butcher Shop is small restaurant but has a lot of character with a clear culinary message.

Bread: Three pieces of soda bread and six pieces of white bread were delivered on a small plate with a mini ramekin of salted whipped butter and a side of honey. The bread was decent but was clearly just a vehicle for the spreads; sweet honey and salty butter made for a great pairing.

Menu: The Restaurant Week menu was limited with 2 appetizer options, 3 entrée choices, and 2 dessert selections. I convinced that my mom, that while there were only a couple of options, I was confident that we’d enjoy any one of Barbara Lynch’s creations. There was also a hand written Artisanal Cheese menu waiting for us on the stone table top.

Lamb Carpaccio – quail egg, pickled baby artichoke, shallot mousse
Seven small thin slices of lamb were topped with artichokes leaves, quail egg, and shallot mousse in a perfect linear presentation. I first forked the egg to determine the runniness of the yolk; after seeing that it was in fact poached, I immediately ate the egg and piece of lamb in one big bite. I’ve never had lamb prepared that way and I really enjoyed it. I wish I had spread out the mousse into multiple bites, but thinking it was another egg I popped the entire thing into my mouth. Not a terrible idea though… it was soft, smooth, and melted on my tongue.

Shepherd’s Pie – parsnips, cauliflower, curry
An oval cast iron baking dish came overflowing with a blanket of pureed potato. Hiding beneath were large chunks of lamb and scarce pieces of cauliflower. The mashed potato was indeed smashed and whipped into a smooth topping. This entrée was pretty good, a smaller portion size, and had a bit of a spicy kick to it.

Chocolate Mousse
Typically mousse is light and fluffy but this version was dense and thick. Topped with a dollop of whipped cream, I actually enjoyed this more solid mousse which made for a richer dessert after a somewhat light meal (my Shepherd’s Pie wasn’t necessarily light, but the size wasn’t exactly overwhelming).

Bathroom: Located down a narrow stairwell in the basement, there’s 1 unisex room/stall that created a little bit of a line. The wall was adorned with a round mirror and framed drawings of different types of meat. A large scale was in the corner, clearly not intended to tempt/torture customers as it was “zeroed” at 150 lbs.

Service: We arrived on time but the couple at our table was just paying their bill, so we were escorted to the butcher’s chopping block in the back where we ordered a glass of wine. We sat 5-10 minutes later and ordered shortly after. My only complaint is that our first course came out 30 seconds after the bread. I like to enjoy my food, and never like being/feeling rushed; this wasn’t a huge deal, but give me a minute to enjoy your delicious bread before you clutter our small table with more plates!

Overall: One of the high lights of the evening was the wine; I wasn’t familiar with any of their offerings but told the server I liked a dry red. I ended up with the Bordeaux which was excellent. As the restaurant only had bar and high top seating it wasn’t necessarily the most comfortable/cozy spot, but no restaurant can compare in terms of décor and the actual butcher shop atmosphere. The regular menu is limited and specific, so just know what you’re getting yourself into before reserving here. I’m glad I tried The Butcher Shop but I won’t rush back for dinner, only because I generally like hearty meals/portions and more of a variety (as do the people I typically dine with). Although if I’m looking for an evening of apps and great wine this may be the first place I turn to! I look forward to trying the other restaurants in the Gruppo (I’m looking at you No. 9).

The Perfect Bite: Lamb carpaccio with quail egg and a piece of pickled artichoke.

For more photos & descriptions of what everyone in my party ate, visit my Facebook Page:


Tremont 647

I’ve driven by Tremont 647 multiple times but have never had an impulse to go in and try their food. Thanks to Ben’s favorite reservation mechanism (which charges you to make a res. but then discounts you 40% off the food bill) we opted to try the South End restaurant, a first visit for all four of us.

Bread: A bunch of mini focaccia bites were served with what the waiter called “white bean puree”, which was in fact orange and had more of a sauce-like consistency. The bread was ok and the sauce was pretty decent, with a strong curry flavor.

Menu: Appetizers, Entrees, Sides. The options weren’t fantastic and there wasn’t one particular meal that I HAD to have, but a couple of dishes seemed interesting. There was certainly a slight Asian flare to the menu with options like fried pork dumplings (Pork Momos), Tempura Soba Maki, fried rice etc.

647’s Signature Pork Momos: soy sake, sriracha
Four fried dumplings were served with a side of sauce; they were pretty tasty and had a balanced ratio of crispy exterior and warm pork interior.

Crispy Pork Belly Tacos: yuzu aioli, red jalapeño
Two soft shell tacos came topped with aioli, pork belly, lettuce, and jalapeños that were oh so spicy! The pork was great, well cooked with a slightly crispy lining.

Roasted Beet, Squash & Pear Salad: feta, candied almonds, sherry vinaigrette
Beets, squash, and pears were assembled in a small mound topped with cheese and vinaigrette, with a few nuts (that were not almonds) off to the side. This salad was quite good and I unfortunately wolfed it down without noticing any squash.

BBQ fries with Andy’s BBQ sauce
A large bowl of fries came with a side of Andy’s BBQ Sauce. The fries were well seasoned and had great flavor without being overwhelming.

Roasted Cauliflower
The cauliflower was roasted with some peppers, onions, and an unidentifiable Middle Eastern flavor. This side dish was ok… I just didn’t love the particular spices used.

Chocolate Almond Bacon Bark
I loved chocolate and nuts but I can’t stand bacon so this wasn’t my favorite, but everyone else at the table really enjoyed it!

Pomegranate Flan: pomegranate seeds & sauce
I’m also not a fan of flan 🙂 Let’s just leave it at that…

Bathroom: This 1 room/stall unisex restroom was a bit trippy! Every inch of the wall space and door is covered with an underwater themed mural featuring fish, seahorses, and waves. I really liked the basket-weaved mirror!

Service: The service was great; the bartender steered me towards a delicious martini, our entrees were delivered after our apps had been cleared, and our waiter took our entire order, at once, without a pen/pad (3 apps, 4 entrees, 2 sides) – impressive!

Overall: I really like the space and atmosphere of Tremont 647, but the menu didn’t excite me. The food was good, and I left satisfied but I don’t have any reason to go back for that particular menu. I really enjoyed my 647 Pineapple Martini (house infused pineapple and vanilla bean vodkas, pineapple juice, simple syrup) and I know Dave loved his Harvest Sidecar (jim beam red stag, liquor 43, grapefruit, perchaud’s bitters), so perhaps I’ll stop in again for a cocktail. I wouldn’t tell you not to try Tremont 647, but my personal feeling is “been there, done that, moving on”.

Harvest Sidecar

Harvest Sidecar

The Perfect Bite: Beets, candied nuts, sherry vinaigrette.