Blue Dragon

After being thoroughly impressed with my meal at Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger in Wellesley, I’ve been dying to get to his Boston based restaurant Blue Dragon. While both of Chef Tsai’s locations boast East-West tapas style menus, I found Blue Ginger to be more of a casual yet sophisticated environment, and Blue Dragon had more of a comfortable neighborhood  -joint atmosphere. I personally preferred Dragon’s decor, covered in wood and warm earth tones. We also dined early on a snowy Saturday night, which added to the cozy feel.

Matt and I were joined by our two friends for dinner, and we did the tapas menu right! We ordered from just about all 7 menu sections (Snacks, Dim Sum, Veggies, Plates, Rice + Noodles, Platters, Dessert), and were pleasantly stuffed at the end of the meal.

DRINKS
Let’s start with a mocktail, shall we? This one is a take on their Hurricane cocktail, which typically comes with Mt. Gay Black Barrel, passion fruit, bitters, and citrus. Mine was perfectly delicious without the alcohol.

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VEGGIES

Wok-Charred Cauliflower with Thai Chile Harissa
Grilled vegetables with a flavorful dipping sauce? I don’t really care what it is, I’m in. This wasn’t my favorite dish – mainly because we tried incredible plates, and how mind-blowing can cauliflower really be? – BUT it was good and a nice start to the marathon meal.
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DIM SUM

Pork and Scallion Wontons
These wontons were stuffed full of slightly spicy pork and still managed to be light. Granted I only had 1.5 pieces, but I could have easily had all 6 to myself.
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Mushroom and Garlic Chive Potstickers (left)
Braised Short Rib and Chinese Celery Potstickers (right)
I’ll eat some mushrooms in some dishes, but they still aren’t a favorite of mine. I definitely preferred the short rib version of this appetizer.

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PLATES
Indonesian Curried Lamb Shepherd’s Pie
Mmm, shepherd’s pie. What a lovely surprise to see that it was topped with both white and sweet potatoes! Covering the ground curried lamb, the potatoes were whipped and smooth. Comfort food at its best.
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Red Roast Pork Tail with Mango Sticky Rice
Now I know what you’re thinking, because we were thinking it too: a) what the hell did we order, b) something dirty. Luckily the waiter came by and told us what to do with this… thing. It comes on a soft bone and we were instructed to shred the meat off the bone, mix it around with the sauce on top, and eat it with the rice. Once we did that it looked more like edible meat and was actually quite tasty. The pork tail has a lot of flavorful fat so you really have to shred, mix, and combine all components well.
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Duck Confit Rillettes with Scallion Pancakes
At this point there were so many plates on the table that I don’t think I focused on this dish as much as I should have. I grabbed a crispy scallion pancake, topped it with some frisée, a mandarin orange, and a spoonful of duck. This dish was a bit out-shined by the shepherd’s pie and mini burgers…
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Teriyaki Bison Mini Burgers with Smoked Gouda, Caramelized Onions & Shiitakes
I’m a sucker for burgers, and who doesn’t love a mini-burger? These little guys were stacked with flavor, a favorite of mine for sure. We weren’t sure what the sauce was exactly, but it was amazing, tasted great on the burger and as a fry dip. We cleared the plate then kept the remaining sauce to put on whatever we could.
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Vietnamese Chicken Wings with Spicy Caramel Glaze
Chicken wings aren’t my thing, so I didn’t try these, but the general consensus was that they were worth the order.
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RICE + NOODLES

Dan Dan Noodles 
I was craving noodles, and to mix it with ground lamb? It’s a Asian bolognese! This dish had a nice kick to it all well. Definitely one of the top 2 dishes of the night for me.
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Kimchee Fried Rice with Lobster
Unfortunately the fried egg had to be removed before we mixed up all these goodies (pregnancy problems), but everyone else was able to enjoy that part. Fried rice with lobster sounds so appealing, but this wasn’t a table favorite. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that it was the last plate of the night and we were all pretty stuffed (this was the only dish we didn’t lick clean). Each one of us also had a few bites that tasted a bit too fishy for our liking. It may not have been a crowd pleaser, but I certainly had no problem taking home the leftovers 🙂 
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DESSERT
The Cookie: Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie Served Warm and Topped with Ice Cream and Soy Caramel Sauce
The largest chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever seen was served warm in a hot skillet, topped with vanilla ice cream and a soy caramel sauce. Parts of the cookie center weren’t fully baked, leaving a cookie dough consistency which I think was part of the point. Chocolate chip cookies aren’t on the top of my cookie list, and I typically say vanilla ice cream is a waste of time… but this dessert is a must try!

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The bathrooms were awesome and kept with the “lodge-y” theme and feel of the restaurant. There are 3 private bathrooms (men, women, unisex) which I love. The unisex one has a 1-way mirror over the sink that looks into the kitchen!
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I don’t repeat restaurants often but I hope to go back to Blue Dragon sometime this winter. If not for the incredible food, then for the great cozy atmosphere and friendly wait staff. It’s a bit off the beaten path in the Fort Point area, not directly surrounded by much activity. Perfect for a cold winter night. I hear it’s typically quite crowded, and they don’t take reservations so you may have to wait for a table. But trust me, it will be worth it.

The Perfect Bite: Between the Dan Dan Lamb Noodles and the Lamb Shepherd’s Pie.

http://www.ming.com/blue-dragon.htm

Trade

The first time I visited Trade was back in May 2012, about 6 months after the grand opening. My friend and I split a few items, including the burrrata, tomato & fennel soup, Trade’s famous lamb & sausage flatbread, and a chocolate budino for dessert. I enjoyed everything we ordered but never found my way back to 540 Atlantic Ave. This is no way reflects the menu items, but has more to do with the fact that the Boston restaurant scene is booming, and I’m trying (and failing) to keep up with all of the new openings.

I was lucky enough to recently meet Meghan Brady at last month’s Helping Hands event, sponsored by the Columbus Hospitality Group. Meghan is Trade’s Events & Marketing Manager, and she invited me into Trade last week to chat with her and indulge in some of Trade’s signature fall favorites.

Pumpkin Soup with pickled apples, pepitas, and honey
I just adore soup so I’m typically a tough critic when it comes to this fall / winter staple. I prefer purées topped with some sort of added crunch or texture, and that’s exactly what I got with Trade’s pumpkin soup. The consistency was perfectly smooth without being too thin or watered down. The honey added a slight sweetness, and the apples and pepitas provided that level of texture I always look for.
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Chicken Meatballs with provolone, sage, and pine nuts
Three meatballs came in a cheesy tomato sauce. Not only were the meatballs surrounded by pine nuts, but they also contained pine nut purée, adding flavor and moisture to the meat. Chicken meatballs aren’t a menu selection I see often, so I’m glad we ordered these. Highly recommended!
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Farrotto with squash, raisins, and pecorino
I have never heard of Farrotto before, and that’s because it’s a hybrid of farro and risotto. Brilliant! This dish is exactly what I’m looking for on a cool fall day: packed full of winter squash, cheesy, buttery, and a great comfort food appetizer. I highly suggest ordering this as a starter or side to split; it’s decadent and a must try.
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Mushroom, Fig, Sage Pesto, Gorgonzola, Walnut Flatbread

I really wanted to try a flatbread, and this one sounded so tasty. Too bad I can’t have Gorgonzola cheese (damn pregnancy rules); so in its place I substituted ricotta salata. It was definitely good, but I’m pretty sure it would have been 10 times better with the Gorgonzola. You just can’t substitute that type of flavor!
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Ginger-Braised Beef Short Rib with turnips, curry carrots, and orange
I couldn’t leave without trying at least one entree, so we ordered the short rib. The picture doesn’t really do it justice since you can’t get a good view of the meat, but just as you’d hope and expect, it pulls apart easily and basically melts in your mouth. This dish had great levels of flavor with the curried carrots, tangy orange, and savory meat.
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And last but not least, I was kindly treated to a birthday Apple Cake, as it was the day before my big 30th. What a great way to end a ‘flavors of the fall’ inspired meal.
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Trade has a great menu for splitting dishes among a group, but also offers enough entrees so you don’t have to feel pressured to share. The restaurant space is an open concept, so the bar and lounge blend into the dining area, which keeps the entire atmosphere lively and energetic. Trade’s private dining room is separated from the restaurant by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. When it’s not occupied by a large group, the space is available for every day diners.

Serving lunch and dinner daily, Trade has a variety of options that can please everyone in your crowd. Keep you eyes peeled, possibly next summer, for some potential outdoor patio space!

http://trade-boston.com