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Boston Restaurant Blog -- December, 2012

Below are blog entries from December, 2012. 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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December, 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012
A Few Restaurant and Food "Predictions" for 2013

Today is the last day of 2012, and what better time than now to make some food and restaurant predictions for 2013? Below you will find a list of 10 such "predictions," though you *may* want to take most of these with a grain of salt. Happy New Year, everyone! Here's hoping for a great 2013 for all.

1) b.good to Launch an Entire Restaurant into Outer Space
This fall, it was reported that the local restaurant chain b.good had launched one of their burgers into outer space via a weather balloon, and now it appears that they may be ready to take that next giant leap, sending one of their Boston-area restaurants into orbit. It is not yet known where it would launch or where it would land (and which location would be sent up), though if it ends up in the Charles River, it would become Boston's first floating restaurant.

2) A 500,000 Square Foot FroYo Emporium Will Open in Cambridge's Kendall Square
Taking the frozen yogurt craze to a new level (literally), a multi-story froyo food, drink, and entertainment center will open somewhere in Cambridge's hottest neighborhood for dining. The first floor will feature a cafe that will offer items such as frozen yogurt, while the second floor will be more of a full-service dining area that will focus on frozen yogurt. Finally, the third floor will be a bar and nightclub with live music and a menu that features frozen yogurt.

3) Baby Formula Will Become 2013's FroYo
With 2012 seeing an upscale restaurant on the Boston Waterfront offering baby food and baby formula to folks who take their little ones out to eat, other eateries will decide to ride this trend over the next year, with some of the more cutting-edge spots offering formula flavored with such items as lardo, coppa, and duck tongue.

4) Route 20 Will Become the Next Restaurant Row
Waltham's "restaurant row" may be suffering a bit these days due to the economy, but developers are looking into creating a new restaurant row along Route 20 from its eastern terminus in Boston's Kenmore Square to the New York border. Plans have been stalled a bit because the towns of Becket and Fiskdale have not yet voted on the proposal, but if both communities approve, the longest restaurant row in the country could indeed become reality. On a side note, sources tell us that the new restaurant row could be anchored by a Wegmans.

5) A True Chef-Driven Restaurant Will Come to Boston (In the Form of an RV)
With all the talk of chef-driven dining spots opening in 2012, there is word that 2013 could see the development of what would literally be a chef-driven restaurant, with a well-known Boston chef taking folks out into the country in an RV and setting up inventive American meals on large picnic blankets in places such as Carlisle and Sherborn.

6) In-N-Out Burger Will Continue to Not Expand Throughout the Boston Area
It appears that the California-based burger chain will usher in 2013 with plans in place to avoid opening any locations in and around Boston. Rumors abound, however, that these plans could be delayed or even derailed, in which case In-N-Out Burger would have to push back the ignoring of the Boston area until 2014.

7) Fort Point to Become the Next Seaport District
Now this one might actually come true, with well-known chefs and restaurateurs of all kinds looking to open upscale and high-end eateries in a number of old warehouses and factory buildings, turning this quiet artist colony into a potential world-class spot for dining.

8) Seaport District to Become the Next Fort Point
With rents shooting sky-high in the Seaport District, 2013 could see the closing of every restaurant in the neighborhood, which in turn would cause rents to collapse and artists to move into the vacant buildings. This would likely cause the Seaport District to undergo its 18th name change in the past 24 months (possibly being called "Fort Point Redux").

9) A New Restaurant to Open within a Still-Working Substation
Earlier this month, we reported that a new restaurant, cafe, and market were being proposed for a former electrical substation in Roslindale. We hear that this trend could continue in 2013, with a new dining spot possibly opening inside a substation that is still in operation. Sources tell us that the proposed eatery would probably focus on Cajun food, with blackened everything being on the menu.

10) Farm-to-Table Is Out; Table-to-Farm Is In
This one also has a grain of truth to it (give or take), as more and more farms are featuring outdoor dining under the stars where folks sit at communal tables and enjoy inventive American dishes of all kinds. Some farm-to-table spots will also likely jump onto the bandwagon in 2013, creating the first farm-to-table-to-farm dining experiences.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Favorite Dining Spots (and Dishes) of 2012 from Restaurant and Media People

The end of the year is quickly approaching, and a few "best of" lists for restaurants and food have already come out (including a "best dishes of 2012" and a "best restaurants of 2012" from us). In keeping with the spirit of things, we are compiling a list of favorite restaurants--and specific dishes--as picked by folks in the restaurant biz and the media. Below is a running list, which will continue to be updated over the coming days, so keep checking back for updates.

Dave Andelman
(The Phantom Gourmet)
If the governor is going to fry me at midnight like a French Fry, my last meal would be the pan roasted lobster at Jasper White's Summer Shack...with a side of fried chicken.

Kara Baskin
(Editor of New York Magazine's Grub Street Boston)
Taqueria el Amigo, Waltham; Winsor Dim Sum, Chinatown; Flo's Hot Dogs, York Maine (a bit of a haul, but ever so worth it...); The Helmand, Cambridge; Trade, Boston; Christina's Ice Cream, Inman; TW Food, Cambridge; La Posada, Arlington

Jacqueline Church
(Independent Writer/Private Cooking Instructor,
Favorite dishes that stand out from this year:
Oysters at Mare Oyster Bar - selection that's hard to beat, perfectly shucked. Cassoulet at Les Zygomates - just wonderfully rendered version of this home-style dish, the tagines are pretty terrific, too.
Sichuan dumplings at New Shanghai. The Sichuan chili oil defines tantalizing. Ramen at Pai Men Miyake - okay it's in Portland, but it takes less time to drive their than it does to wait on line at any top ramen spot in Boston. The Soba is possibly even better than the ramen and the yakitori is cooked over binchotan coal. Dreamy food, raised by the restaurant owner himself.
Red Wattle heirloom pork and barley dish at Russell House Tavern. An off-the-menu item that is worth asking for.
Clams at Enzo in Newburyport - off the chart umami, a perfect marriage of sustainable, local ingredients, contemporary preparations of traditional Ligurian dishes.

Aaron Cohen
(Founder of Eat Boston)
This year was when I first had the Tasty Burger chicken nuggets and I LOVE them. Love them so much I put them on my list of 10 favorite things of the year.

Michelle Collins
(Local Food Writer, Blogger at The Economical Eater)
Journeyman in Union Square was one of my favorites! We had the 5-course vegetarian menu when we dined there. Every single bite was worth the extra money - it was a very memorable meal.

Steve Garfield
(Boston Food Blogger and Founder of Boston Media Makers, Off On A Tangent blog)
Turkey and Cranberry grilled cheese sandwich at Cheeseboy Boston was one of my favorites. Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale is a great bar for beer enthusiasts who are also hungry. They have a great selection of beers on tap, and for food I enjoyed a a grilled cheese and turkey sandwich. See a pattern here? Best treat? The Original Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins at Jordan's Furniture, no longer confused with Jordan Marsh.

Susan Holaday
(Editor and Publisher, Foodservice East)
Definitely a favorite this year was the guacamole at El Centro in the South End! For new places, JM Curley, BoMa, Cinquecento, Sip Cafe & Wine Bar.

Aaron Kagan
(Editor at Eater Boston)
The one cocktail that most stood out for me this year was a pisco sour mixed by Brother Cleve himself during his stint at First Printer. Sure the taste was superb, but it was the thick, creamy texture that made it the most memorable drink I had in all of 2012. Runner-up: the Sister Mary at Brick & Mortar.
The best burger I had all year, in a burger-mad year, was at Strip-T's. If clouds could be made out of beef, this is what they'd taste like. It was also one of the best dishes I had at Strip-T's period, which is saying something.
As a Sichuan fiend, I'm still flagellating myself for not having made it to Chilli Garden in Medford sooner. This was my favorite restaurant "discovery" (to me, anyway) of the year, it was the best ma po tofu I had all year, and I think their take on that dish is the finest in the area.
The award for most profound depth of flavor goes to a special I had a few months ago at Coppa. The pigs head rilletes with horseradish had utterly bottomless, almost unfathomable umami. I think one of the great separators between home cooks and pros is depth of flavor, and this dish had it in scores.

Leah S. Klein
(Blogger at Pearls and Oysters)
Most frequent and delicious meal out for our family is Little Q Hot Pot in Arlington. I'm also always a huge fan of the mezze at Sofra, my standby falafel at Fordees, and the corn at The Painted Burro.

William McAdoo
(Blogger at The Boston Foodie)
My favorite dish would have to be the S'more Verrine at West Bridge in Cambridge: Chocolate, Marshmallow, Miso and Graham.

Michael Moxley
(Salty Pig)
Well...if I didn't say the Roast Beef 1000 at Cutty's in Brookline I'd be lying. It's a great sandwich. I enjoyed the overhaul at The Oak Bar as well. They did a nice job and the flatbreads are tasty. JM Curleys are the newest kids on the block and their staff is top notch....but their burgers keep me coming back again and again. Glad they are here. Finally...the Brisket Hash at Eastern Standard. A Must have....oh...and the new Karl's Sausage Kitchen with the beer garden. That place rocks.
Happy New Year Everybody!

Luke O'Neil
(Journalist [Boston Globe, Boston Phoenix, Boston Metro, etc.], PTSOTL and @lukeoneil47)
Being someone who covers the industry, people ask me all the time what my favorite restaurant and bar is, and I have to say I honestly don't even think I have one. The problem is, any free night I have to go out to dinner or drinks it has to be somewhere that's just opened, or somewhere I'm specifically going to do a story on. It's a lot like how I ruined my enjoyment of music by becoming a music critic years ago; now every time I go out to eat it's work. I think my only next logical course of action is to become a football player porn star now so I can ruin the only other enjoyable things in my life.
That said, there are a couple places that have caught my eye that I would like to go back to. Kitchen, in the South End, has a good cocktail program, and I was pretty impressed with the menu.
Puritan and Company looks like it's going to be a stand out for the year's openings as well.
And I've gone back to Park and Hawthorne multiple times for cocktails over the year, so that's probably a good sign. I'm also really excited for the restaurant at the Sinclair to open, particularly since they've got a sort of all star lineup of bartenders I've liked from around the city for years.

Walt Perkins
(Sports Director, WBZ News Radio 1030)
Some of our favorites include Romaine's in Northboro. We were very happy that the food and service was at the same high level we enjoyed several years ago.
We also love Bullfinch's in Sudbury. Much like Romaine's, excellent food and top-notch service.
Two other places we have tried and enjoyed are Lotus Blossum and Lavenders, both in Sudbury.
There are still more we need to visit but we both like to cook and usually enjoy as good a meal at home as we could find at a restaurant.

Henry Santoro
(News Director/Morning Presenter at RadioBDC)
Here are a few of my fave dishes from the year: The Lobster Roll at James Hook & Co., The Curried Meat Pies and Sausage Rolls at KO Pies, The Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner to go from The Summer Shack, and my new fave - the Duck Confit Spring Rolls at The Publick House.

If you are in either industry and would like to tell us your faves, send us a note over on Facebook or Twitter, thanks!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012
A Brief Recap of Several Restaurants in Southern Maine

As many of you know by now, every year I get up to the Kennebunkport Prelude in Southern Maine, and I always try to get to some restaurants along the way. Well, this year was no different, though this time around all of the places I went to were "repeat" visits, with no new spots on the agenda. So instead of giving detailed descriptions of eateries that I have already written about, I'll just give a brief recap of some highlights instead.

One restaurant that was basically a huge highlight from start to finish was When Pigs Fly Pizzeria in Kittery, which we had visited last year. Everything there--from the warm dates with blue cheese and honey to the fried Brussels sprouts in a ginger/sesame sauce to the pepperoni, coppa, and mushroom pizza to the "cookie trio" dessert, was mind-blowingly good. Nearly as good was Angelina's, a quiet and cozy Italian restaurant in Ogunquit that served us a fresh Caesar salad, a marvelous plate of house-made tagliatelle with meatballs in red sauce, and a heaping plate of mussels. On the opposite end of the dining spectrum (in terms of atmosphere, that is) was The Ramp in beautiful Cape Porpoise, which was loud, busy, and filled with drunk people even though it was around noontime. But this bar is a real charmer, with its spectacular ocean views and memorabilia on the walls, and the food was quite good once again, with the onion strings, Greek/Mediterranean plate, and fish and chips all being better than your typical pub grub. Back in Ogunquit, Jonathan's was memorable in so many ways once again, with its classy and elegant surroundings, friendly staff, and wonderful food (pumpkin bisque, lobster bisque, chicken piccata, and jaeger schnitzel) impressing as it did over the past couple of years. And finally, we had an excellent breakfast at Bintliff's in Ogunquit, with the Georgia caramel pecan waffle being nicely presented--and out of this world in the taste department.

Not every restaurant I have been to in Southern Maine has been good over the years, but the ones that we went to this year were all good in their own ways. The standouts here were definitely When Pigs Fly and Jonathan's, but the others weren't too far behind, either.

Related Blog Entries: Maine restaurants

Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Twelve More of the Best Food Dishes of 2012

photo of macaroni and cheese from the Ashmont Grill, Dorchester, MAIn June, we posted a slideshow of ten of the best dishes that we had tried (so far) in 2012. Well, since then we have had more outstanding food items from various restaurants in and around Boston, including comfort food meals, ethnic dishes, and much more. The best of the best have been compiled here in a brand new slideshow of twelve dishes, though there are at least a couple that we haven't been able to include because reviews of the dining spots have not been posted yet (those may have to spill over into a 2013 "best of" list a few months from now).

The link below will get you to the latest slideshow. Have you tried any of these items, or been to any of these restaurants? Let us know!

Slideshow for Twelve More of the Best Dishes of 2012

Related Blog Entries: slideshows