Capital Grill

I’ve never been to a steak house for Restaurant Week, and have never dined at Capital Grill in general, so was really looking forward to this meal. Hitting up a steak house – or any fine-dining, high-priced restaurant – is my new game plan for Boston’s Restaurant Week, as this is the best way to get your bang for the ($38.13) buck.

Capital Grill‘s Restaurant Week menu has a few options per course, and offers its steak house classics. While the salmon did sound excellent I couldn’t not have steak during my first Capital Grill experience. Below is the Summer 2013 Restaurant Week menu and the dishes I chose.

APPETIZER
Caesar Salad
Clam Chowder
Fields Greens with Shallot Champagne
This salad was simple, light and delicious. The greens were perfectly dressed with the shallot champagne vinaigrette. The dish really only consisted of greens, carrots, and tomatoes, but it left an impact! I’d order this again in a heartbeat.
IMG_5679ENTRÉE
Breast of Chicken Confit
Bone-In Dry Aged Sirloin Steak 14oz
Seared Citrus Glazed Salmon
Parmesan and Herb Marinated Tournedos
Filet Mignon 8oz
At non-steak houses I always order steak medium rare and they typically come out looking more like medium. Here I ordered my filet medium, knowing that it would come out perfectly pink and juicy on the inside, which it did. My friend ordered her filet medium rare and she got just that, with the inside of the steak mainly pink with areas of rare red meat. The filet was not only cooked perfectly but was well seasoned and better than I expected.
IMG_5680Capital Grill offers a choice of 2 sides to accompany your main course: Sam’s Mashed Potatoes, and French Green Beans with Shallots and Heirloom Tomatoes. I was intending on ordering the green beans but the waiter said he’d bring us a side of each for the table to share. Can’t argue there! I’m glad I had a chance to taste the mashed potatoes because they were excellent; smooth and creamy with a few chunks of potato skin in the mix.
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DESSERT
Classic Crème Brûlée
Strawberries Capital Grill
Handcrafted Ice Cream
Flourless Chocolate Espresso Cake
This was kind of a no brainier for me. I don’t frequent steak houses often but hear they typically make a mean chocolate cake. The flourless chocolate espresso cake was dense, and smooth like fudge.  Paired well with the whipped cream and raspberries.
IMG_5683I have to also mention the bread basket. The dark brown pumpernickel-looking slices were incredible, warm and soft with a few specks of raisins. I didn’t try the rolls but the cracker bread was also top notch. The bread was served with softened salted butter.
IMG_0002This was my only Restaurant Week reservation this season but I was 1 for 1, with a successful meal at Capital Grill! I didn’t inspect the regular menu but would highly suggest heading here for Restaurant Week.

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.
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Restroom: Full of Asian influences and decor, including the soap!
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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.
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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.

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

http://www.myersandchang.com

PARK

Bread: Homemade cracker bread was served with 2 kinds of house cheese infused with thyme. This wasn’t your typical bread basket, which I liked. The thin and crispy cracker bread isn’t as filling as standard rolls or slices, which I was happy about as we had 2 apps and our meal coming!
IMG_5265Menu: Starters, consisting of salads, appetizers, chowder, seafood etc; Tasting of Toast; Bacon 3-Way; Entrees, including burgers, fish, chicken, different types of meats, and a pasta option; Sides, ranging from potatoes to greens to farro.

Food / Presentation:
Tasting of Toast (from top to bottom):

  • Fig, ricotta, honey & pine nuts
  • Salmon rilletes & pickled mustard
  • Duck pastrami, stone ground mustard, arugula
    For $10 you’re served 2 each of the above crostini, not bad considering some restaurants will give you 1 slice for $6+.  My favorite was definitely the fig spread dolloped with a soft, fluffy mound of ricotta. The duck pastrami was good, and the salmon wasn’t bad but I think the mustard left a somewhat odd taste in my mouth.
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Lobster & Crab Dip served with seasoned pita chips
A small cast iron pot came piping hot filled with cheesy lobster & crab dip. The pita chips were extra crunchy which I loved. I noticed a few small chunks of seafood, but not many. This didn’t really bother me though, as the flavor was there and the gooey & stringy cheese paired great with the crunchy pita.
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Chickpea-Lentil Burger: celery root-apple slaw & Harissa served with mixed greens
The chickpea-lentil burger was topped with thinly sliced slaw, and the toasted bun was smeared with Harissa (similar to chipotle mayo). The burger was soft in consistency which I credit to the chickpeas, and was scattered with whole lentils. It was actually perfect to cut up and eat with the lightly dressed greens, which I did. And while I didn’t eat the whole bun I was psyched that it was perfectly toasted!
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Restroom: Terrible photo, but the wooden stalls were painted a dark green, and the walls were lined with white brick tiles. 3 stalls, 2 sinks.
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Service: Our server was attentive and did his job well. The glass bottle of water left at our table was immediately replaced as soon as he noticed it was empty, each course came out at appropriate times, and he made a point to tell us that he had “checked on the entrees and they should be out momentarily”. We were well taken care of.

Overall: I hadn’t heard much about PARK but for whatever reason it was on my list, and the online menu looked great so we made a reservation. I’m really glad we did because I would definitely go back in a heartbeat. It may not be the best summer spot as it’s located underground and has somewhat of a speakeasy feel with its vintage decor. There are 4 different sections of the restaurant: The Dining Room, The Classroom, The Den, and The Back Room.  I’m assuming we were sitting in The Den, which consisted of a bar and a few low tables with plush old-school leather chairs, which may just be the most comfortable restaurant chairs ever. The food was great and the menu is diverse enough that I could take basically anyone to PARK (parents, friends on a budget, vegetarians) and they wouldn’t be disappointed. The prices are reasonable which is another plus; the veggie burger was $11 and the Lobster & Crab Dip was $12. Most cocktails are $10 while my Lavender Moon (gin, st. germain, lavender rose honey syrup, lemon juice) was $11, typical cocktail prices. It’s a unique spot, as you don’t really feel like you’re in a restaurant, at least not where we were sitting. The atmosphere is relaxed and casual. I think a must try in Harvard Square!
IMG_5275The Perfect Bite: Toss up between the chickpea-lentil burger with mixed greens and Harissa, and the fig/ricotta/honey/pine nut crostini!

http://parkcambridge.com

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.
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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.
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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 😉
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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.

Strip T’s

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This past year I have been slowly hearing more and more great things about Strip T’s in Watertown. It all started in 1986 as a sirloin strip sandwich concept, which is where the somewhat provocative name came from. With its friendly staff, affordable prices and quality food, Strip T’s quickly become a favorite neighborhood sandwich shop. Years later the owner’s son Tim Maslow joined the business and expanded the restaurant’s offerings to include dinner as well as lunch. Both menus have a wide range of meal styles ranging from a Fried Cauliflower to a Lamb Shoulder Sandwich for lunch, and a classic Fish & Chips to a Glazed Veal Breast for dinner. The sides and condiments also really intrigue me: carrot jam, barley, hay yogurt, kimchi squash, fried japanese sweet potato wedges, their famous Moxie sauce, and the list goes on.
IMG_4319On this particular Saturday afternoon my husband and I arrived around 12:30 and as there were no available tables, we sat at the counter with a view of the dining area and bar. There were definitely a few sandwiches that sparked my interest but the one at the top of my list was the Fried Cauliflower with Provolone and Broccoli Rabe. The sandwich came open-faced, provolone melted onto the bread topped with cauliflower florets, chopped broccoli rabe and sliced peppers. In my first attempt to tackle this monster I lifted a 1/2 and took a bite, but that clearly resulted in vegetables falling everywhere. I eventually asked for a steak knife and cut each 1/2 into 3 small pieces, which made it much easier to handle. This may be a veggie sandwich but it’s hearty, flavorful and filling. The Fried Cauliflower is definitely one of the best sandwiches I’ve had, and will join my top 3 among the Roast Beef 1000 at Cutty’s, and the Tuna, Avocado, Cheddar Panini at Temptations.
IMG_4328Matt and I also ordered a side of the Fried Japanese Sweet Potato Wedges. I typically don’t care for steak fries / wedges, but these were not fries. The outside had a slight crisp but the inside was all soft and creamy sweet potato. Most were plump and thick but there were a few extra thin fried potato skin pieces that were just as tasty. Some sort of house aioli was served on the side.
IMG_4323On top of Matt’s roast beef sandwich he also ordered the Wicked Small Caesar, which is a lie in size but truth in it’s $3 price. This is different than a traditional Caesar salad with creamy anchovy dressing, but I tried a bite and liked the lighter approach.
IMG_4321Strip T’s also serves wine and beer, a variety of sodas, sparkling juices, and coffee / tea / espresso. I opted for a cappuccino as I had yet to consume my 1 cup of caffeine for the day.
IMG_4330I highly recommend Strip T’s for lunch, and I’m sure I’ll be saying the same thing about their dinner once I experience it. We left full and more than satisfied. I was really impressed with my sandwich and everything else I ate that afternoon. Matt’s Roast Beef Sandwich with Cucumber, Horseradish and Moxie sauce was no joke. Next up I think I’ll try the NYC’s Pho Real Sandwich with grilled chicken, thai basil, bean sprouts, and avocado.

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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
INCLUDES:
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.

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AQUITAINE Prix Fixe Brunch
Saturday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm; Sunday 10:00 am – 11:00 am
INCLUDES:
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!

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Mooo….

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When my good friends from the Columbus Hospitality Group asked me to come in and try Mooo‘s new Sunday Brunch I absolutely could not resist. I have only been to Mooo once, and it was for dinner about 5 years ago. I can’t remember what I ordered but I know I left impressed and more than satisfied. As Mooo is located in the XV Beacon Hotel, it is open 7 days a week and offers breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The brunch menu has been recently revamped and I was one of the first to try the new offerings.

Let begin with cocktails! The drink menu features 3 signature concoctions as well as a variety of Bloody Mary’s. I’m a huge Bloody Mary fan but wanted to try something outside my comfort zone and went with the Honey-Bee: Hendrick’s, house-made thyme honey syrup, and St. Germaine. Luckily my husband ordered a Bloody Mary that I was able to taste, however he went with the classic version. I personally would have tried the Bloody Caprese with an addition of fresh mozzarella. I’ve never had cheese in a drink before but I’m not one to turn down mozz.

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cocktail list

cocktail list

The menu is broken down into sections: Juice Bar, Appetizers, Eggs, Specialties, Steak & Eggs, Sandwiches, With Maple Syrup, Sides. If it wasn’t for my cocktail I would have ordered the Lean & Green Monster Smoothie. I was thinking of making that my appetizer but instead we ordered the Kobe Dumplings, a Mooo signature dish. Four steamed dumplings stuffed with Kobe beef sat in a salty soy broth. Every part of this dish just about melted in your mouth! Next time you’re at Mooo I suggest trying the Kobe beef in any fashion it’s offered.
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In place of a standard bread basket we were served warm Cinnamon Rolls. I don’t think there are enough words to describe how incredible these were! Doughy, soft, topped with crystallized sugar, lightly swirled with cinnamon, this may have been the best part of the meal. I tried unbelievably hard to only have one but ended up putting down a second at the end of the meal. I just couldn’t resist…
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Whenever I go out for brunch I always want to order a sweet meal like Belgian Waffles, but always end up ordering a savory egg dish. This time was no different as I picked an item from the Specialities section, the Poached Eggs & Salmon complete with savory bread pudding, dill crab hollandaise sauce, and roasted tomatoes. The eggs were perfectly done, soft and fluffy on the outside and runny on the inside. There was a large amount of salmon under the eggs which topped the eggy bread pudding.

Poached Eggs & Salmon

Poached Eggs & Salmon

Matt ordered the Egg White Frittata which came with goat cheese, roasted tomatoes, and basil. This would have been my second choice, and I probably would have ordered it had he chosen something different. The creamy goat cheese melted into the thin omelet-like frittata. I wasn’t able to steal a bite but Matt cleaned his plate which can only mean one thing 🙂

Egg White Frittata

Egg White Frittata

Overall Matt & I really enjoyed the brunch experience. Our server was great and checked in on us at just the right times. He even placed a warmer over Matt’s dish since Matt was in the bathroom when our meals arrived. The menu had a nice variety of options, the high-backed chairs made for a comfortable meal, and the live mood music in the background was a perfect touch. Next time you’re planning brunch I suggesting making a reservation at Mooo. Order the Bloody Mary Flight and tell me how it is!

www.mooorestaurant.com
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