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Boston Restaurant Blog -- July, 2013

Below are blog entries from July, 2013. Use the links in the left column to do a quick search of blog entries, or to see blog entries from other months. And feel free to use the "Comments" links under each blog entry to reply to us; your comments just might end up in our Boston restaurant blog! (Note: This page is part of our restaurant features section.)

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July, 2013

Wednesday, July 31, 2013
A Bit More on Twitter Questions

For those of you on the Twitter site, you may have noticed that over the past few weeks people have been asking questions about restaurants on the hiddenboston Twitter page, with the answers being posted for all to see. And using the hashtag #BHRquestions, folks can not only see the latest questions (and answers), but can also see earlier questions from others. So what exactly is a hashtag? Well, it's a word or phrase that starts with the "pound" sign, which turns the word/phrase into a live link that people can click. By using the hashtag "BHRquestions" (which stands for "Boston's Hidden Restaurants questions"), the questions and answers can easily be found within the Twitter site.

Here's an example of how it works--say you have a question about restaurants in Allston. All you have to do it ask a question (including @hiddenboston in the question) and the answer will be posted as a RT (retweet) or an MT (modified tweet). If the question (from a person named @blahblahblah) is worded as:

"@hiddenboston, any good cheap eats spots in Allston? #BHRquestions"

The answer might come back as

"Shanghai Gate is good.
RT @blahblahblah any good cheap eats spots in Allston? #BHRquestions"

That's about it! It's very easy to do. Just remember--our Twitter page is at @hiddenboston and all the activity for the hashtag can be found at #BHRquestions.

Related Blog Entries: Twitter

Thursday, July 25, 2013
Highlights from a Recent New Hampshire Trip

I got to spend some time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire last week, checking out several restaurants along the way--most of which I had been to before. Since the restaurants have already been reviewed on this site, I'll post brief recaps of each, including some of the highlights.

As is often the case on trips up to the White Mountains, we stopped by the Pizza Barn in Center Ossipee on the way up, and once again, the pizza was terrific, with the medium-sized pie having a moderately thick crust and countless slices of crusty pepperoni on top. (The Caesar salad that we had there was good as well.) For dinner that night--and lunch the following day--we hit the Thompson House Eatery in Jackson, with dinner including an appetizer called "Zorba the Grape" (which featured goat cheese in grape leaves, marinated red peppers, Greek Gigandes beans, grapes, crostini, and more) as well as a mushroom ravioli dish and a black angus steak, both of which were excellent. Lunch at the Thompson House included an angus roast beef sandwich with herbed cream cheese and a baked ham, brie, and apple sandwich on a croissant (the latter sandwich was outstanding). We went to Maestro's in North Conway for dinner on the second night, and while it was hot inside (the air conditioning didn't seem to be working well), the authentic Italian fare was marvelous, including cacio avvolto (breaded house-made Mozzarella cheese with prosciutto and pesto), castellammare (orecchiette pasta with mushrooms, onions and sage in a truffle cream sauce), and pollo al zungoli (chicken breast with eggplant and fontina cheese in a marsala wine sauce). For breakfast we went to Yesterdays in Jackson, where I had their tremendous corned beef hash and fresh bread, while one final lunch was spent across the White Mountains at Rustic River in North Woodstock, where we sat on their outdoor deck overlooking a quickly-moving stream and dined on cheeseburgers that were juicy and tasty, with high-quality meat used.

If I had to pick a food highlight of the trip, it would either be the ham, brie, and apple sandwich at the Thompson House Eatery or the cacio avvolto at Maestro's, though the pizza at the Pizza Barn is always tough to beat. I hope to be heading back up to the area over the coming months, so expect another recap of where I end up on the next trip.

Related Blog Entries: New Hampshire restaurants

Tuesday, July 9, 2013
A Visit to Sichuan Gourmet in Sharon

For those who have had authentic Sichuan cuisine (or Szechuan cuisine, depending on how you prefer to spell it), you know that it can be really hot, as the use of chili oil is pretty big when it comes to this style of Chinese fare. One of my personal favorites for this cuisine is Sichuan Garden in Brookline Village, with the heat of the dishes generally being rather high there, but not so much as to kill the flavors of the food. Well, Sichuan Gourmet in Sharon, which we recently tried, appears to be pretty similar to this restaurant, though the heat factor seems higher, at least on our visit.

photo of Sichuan Gourmet, Sharon, MA If the name "Sichuan Gourmet" sounds familiar, it might be because there are a few locations in the Greater Boston area, including ones in Billerica, Brookline, and Framingham. The Sharon location resides in a rather generic-looking strip mall about midway between the center of town and Route 95, and the generic feeling extends into the interior for the most part. The dining room includes a mix of tables and booths, with larger tables in the middle of the space for larger groups, and the combination of ceiling lights and wall lights keep the room bright, though not overly so. The room is not unattractive, but the rectangular shape and views of the parking lot outside never let you forget that you're in a shopping center.

The food items that we tried at Sichuan Gourmet in Sharon were mostly similar to dishes that we've had at the aforementioned Sichuan Garden in Brookline. The spicy wontons here, for instance, were a bit like the pork dumplings with chili vinaigrette at Sichuan Garden, but the wontons were red-hot, though the flavor of the pork and sesame seeds sprinkled on the outside came through just enough to make these a worthwhile option. Even hotter was the glass noodles and minced pork dish, with the food literally swimming in chili oil, and it continued to get hotter with each minute as the oil continued to seep into the pork. Unlike the wontons, the flavor was mostly drowned out by the heat, though what flavor could be had was very good. The chicken with napa cabbage didn't seem quite as hot as the noodle and pork dish, and the cilantro on top added a nice brightness to the soup-like meal. Service was friendly and quick overall, and the prices were about what you would expect from a suburban Chinese dining spot.

It was an impressive first visit to Sichuan Gourmet, as the food seemed fresh and put together well, and it wasn't really Americanized at all, unlike so many other Chinese restaurants in the suburbs. Future visits may include a few dishes that tone down the heat a bit, however, probably avoiding those items that have two or three chili peppers next to them on the menu.

If you would like the address for Sichuan Gourmet in Sharon, here it is: Sichuan Gourmet, 388 South Main Street, Sharon, MA, 02067. Phone: (781) 784-6698

Related Blog Entries: Chinese restaurants

Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Twelve More Classic American Dishes from Boston-Area and New England Restaurants

photo of fried clams from Kool Kone, Wareham, MAAbout a year ago, we posted a photo slideshow on classic American foods, focusing on items that seem to go with July 4th, beaches, road trips, and all things summer, with such dishes as fried clams, burgers, hot dogs, and the like included. We now have a "Part 2" of the slideshow, with the aforementioned foods shown along with various desserts, fried and grilled items, chicken, and more. Most of the foods come from Boston-area restaurants and food spots, with a couple toward the end of the slideshow being from places elsewhere in New England (and definitely meant for road trips).

Below is a link to the brand new slideshow. More slideshows will be coming, by the way, so keep checking back for new ones!

Slideshow for Twelve More Classic American Dishes

Related Blog Entries: slideshows