Have eaten out a ton lately and had almost all great meals. Started on Valentine's Day when a friend and I made the mistake of planning a dinner out which was hard to do at the time and price we wanted. Ended up at about our 10th choice, the Cottonwood on Berkeley but it was very good. They had both their regular menu plus a 2 for $65 V. Day menu which we chose. It consisted of two nice salads w/ grilled fennel and a grapefruit dressing, we could split one appetizer, we chose ostrich quesadilla w/ dried cherries which was very good but it could have been anything inside the quesadilla. I chose yummy duck w/ chiptole mashed potatos and green beans and my friend had lobster and shrimp pasta which was perfect, not heavy or gummy at all. We split brownies w/ pecan crusted banana ice cream and caramel. Service was nice on a busy nite, a pretty comfortable room. It was a surprisingly good meal after making a million calls.
Finally ate at the Columbian place Camino Real on Harvard Ave. in Allston which is a bargain and a half. Except for the fish dishes, I don't think anything's over $9.50. I'd bought a postcard of the national dish in Venezuela cuz it made for a good tacky card, not a pretty sight. But boy did it taste good. My friend got the regular and I got the mini ($9.50/$7.00) and the mini was a normal size plate anywhere else. Red beans, rice, a thin steak, fried pork cubes, tiny bit of salad, a weird cornmeal thing and sweet plantains. It was delicious, esp. the rice, meat and plantain. Got a flan type dessert (they called it something else) which was great but the "cream filled tart w/ mixed fruit" sure wasn't what we thought it would be. More like a tasteless mold w/ raisins. It was funny. Service was a little lackadasical (sp) but fine. Mostly all Spanish speaking people there.
Took a drive up to Portsmouth and wanted to eat at a place recommended in the Globe, but it was early and pretty dead so we opted for the brew pub. Split perfect fried calamari (except came to the table a little cool), a nice salad w/ blue cheese, pears and pecans, white pizza w/ caramelized onions and mushrooms which tasted good but was a little gloppy and less than perfect crust, and a nice berry cobbler w/ ice cream.
Stopped in Malden on my way back from President's Day shopping on Rt. 1 and almost ate at the Vietnamese place but was more in a burger and fries mood. Ended up at a local joint on the corner of Main St. and Rt. 60 where everyone else was drinking Bud and playing Keno. But the cheeseburger was perfect and came with a mound of okay fries and a few good onion rings ($5.50). How do you play Keno anyway?
The B Side (Windsor/Hampshire St. Camb.) provided a couple delicious meals. I got appetizers of fish cakes w/ white beans ($9) and arugula salad w/ goat cheese, pecans and pears ($6) (I love that combo) and he got a spice rubbed steak w/ roast potatos and veggies ($18). Their prices have gone up a little but it's still great. Even tho we were full, we split the warm homemade cookies w/ ice cream and berries. Good service and if you can sit right down in a booth, it's a comfy place. We almost went to 608 instead and should have, they've already closed the kitchen there I think.
Last Thurs. was the Ethiopian place Fasika at South Huntington/Hunt. Ave. That was a deal too, the combo for 2 was $18 and included 4 veggies and 3 meats. I esp. liked the beef cubes (lega tibs?), spicy lentils (misir wet), yellow peas (yekik alicha) and a ground meat dish. Perfect for 2 hungry people. My friend got the honey wine which he liked, the waitress was helpful explaining things and it was a good time.
Fri. was dinner in the suburbs, the Rat Pack across from Shopper's World. It's a comfortable place w/ big rounded banquette booths, a little bar, some guy playing piano, Frank quoted at the bottom of the menu, a hangout for 40 something suburban folks. But man, why are so many restaurants barely lit these days? We could barely read the menu even next to the little lamp. One person got lasagna w/ spinach noodles for an app. and entrees were scallops, tilapia and a fish stew. Everyone was happy with food and drink choices, altho the apple martini could have used a slight more apple kick to it. We got a cinnamon choc. cake w/ berries for dessert. The waitress was nice but a tad spacey. Our entrees were about $22, dessert $7, a good place if you're out Framingham way.
Hit the Linwood a couple times. The first nite was a couple orders of beef ribs, one steak and I had burnt ends w/ cheesy grits and grilled vegetables. Pretty tasty, very filling. Guess it's just as well that the corn bread had some funky thing going on that nite. Too much baking soda or something. Disappointing cuz I love corn bread. We split the choc. cream pie to end on a sweet note. My other dinner was their choc. peanut pie which is pretty good but didn't need caramel sauce on it. They should change their pie choices a little. It's always choc. cream, choc. peanut butter and key lime.
Hopefully Troquet is next.
I have to put Fasika on my to-try list. You should give Sagla, on Washington St. in JP a try; Eretrian food run by a women's cooperative. The Linwood suffers mightily from its location in the Fenway; forced to compete for student dollars (and conform to student tastes) rather than aiming for the higher-end diners that they want to attract. The bar side is fun tho.