Quality Ingredients Make a Quality Lunch

Since I rarely order lunch it always seems like a big occasion when I buy it. Lately I’ve just been working non-stop and the week prior to my event I didn’t have the energy to grocery shop, pack lunch, or make anything.
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When my office moved I knew I’d miss my favorite Thai and favorite Indian restaurants but that’s about all that prior location had going for it. Now, there’s a plethora of options!As an avid watcher of Phantom Gourmet I’d seen Al’s State Street Cafe featured on there. They feature a $6.25 special for small sub, chips, and a soda.
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I got the State Street Cafe Special with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, and prosciutto with balsamic vinegar on warm fresh bread.

These quality and fresh ingredients made this sandwich delectable. The bread was warm and soft. The experience is half of the fascination. They work the line and keep. it. moving.
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Stop by, but don’t linger at the menu board or it’ll be a no-sandwich-for-you situation.

I’m off to Florida for a long weekend, wedding, and hopefully some Chick-fil-A. Stay tuned!

A1 Gets an A+

A1 Diner
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Mr. J and I LOVE diners and it was always surprising to me that we hadn’t been to the famous A1 Diner in his hometown in Maine! Their website calls themselves “Maine’s Most Unique Restaurant”. I recently went to “Boston’s Friendliest Pub” so this amused me greatly.

During a quick visit a few weeks ago we stopped in right at the cusp of breakfast and lunch. We decided on breakfast and I loved every minute of it.
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I got an Orange Poppyseed Waffle. It was amazing. I never see orange and poppy seed as a combo but it was great! I liked the fluffyness of the waffle and the citrus flavor. It was a good deviation from my usual bfast choices since I tend to go savory rather than sweet.
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Mr. J got an egg, bacon, toast, combo which is his standard. Use your imagination since I deemed it not quite picture worthy, much to his dismay.

Mrs. C got an Orange Pecan or Orange Walnut waffle and real maple syrup. I forget which nut but how cool to put nuts in there?!
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They had some interesting dinner meals/specials that make me want to go back. I’m sure the grilled sandwiches and burgers are only as diners can make them.
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Their website has some recipes so maybe I’ll have to whip one of those up sometime. I’d like the Hungarian Mushroom Soup, but I don’t have tons of mushroom eaters in my life. Or crabcakes, or pistachio lime salad, or lemon sauce for dessert.

Just as The Terminator would say: I’ll be back.

My Anthem

Anthem Kitchen and BarAfter work I had plans to meet up with my friend Miss L for a drink and a bite at Anthem. I tried SO hard to get there ontime (seeing how I work practically next door). I was about 5 minutes late.
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We sat at the bar and soaked in the ambiance while sipping our beers. I loved finding and trying out this new spot.

I had my eye on a few different appetizers. I ended up settling on a flatbread with prosciutto, poached figs, tomato slices, and arugula. I loved it. The figs made it feel really special and I love arugula on pizza so I was sold. The prosciutto was dropped on after it was grilled, keeping it soft and salty!
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Miss L went with the award winning chowder. Anthem won chowderfest 2010! She also got a roasted beet salad with goat cheese.
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I was throughly impressed with the menu. “Twist on American cuisine” is something I see and hear all the time but there were fish tacos, cuban sliders, mac and cheese, and roasted chicken. It sounds eclectic but it works! Everything goes!

I think the prices were right on target. My flatbread was $13 and that seemed appropriate.

I should have peeked upstairs since we sat at the bar but I loved it and I know I’ll go back again.

Hope everyone has an enjoyable Easter! I’ll be coming up with an appetizer and reporting back!

Yak & Yeti: I probably couldn’t correctly identify either one

My favorite eaters of Indian food no longer work with me so I’m left on my own for Indian food since Mr. J doesn’t go for it. The one perk of working in Central Square Cambridge used to be all the Indian restaurants! I miss running to the buffet or smelling all their delicious dishes when somebody else got it. I’ll have to work that out…This post is super delayed so let’s start with some background, shall we? It was a FRIGID day for a work event outside. I wore the hood of my sweatshirt tied under my chin like a 3-year-old all day with lots of layers, and mittens. That’s right, from 7:30 AM until I got home around 3:30 PM I was cold. Layered and layered, but cold.

I was tired and it’s safe to say I was grumpy when I got home since I didn’t have lunch either. I tried to be a grown up and held off dinner until a early-bird special time of 5 PM instead of 3:30.

I ordered from Yak & Yeti around the corner from me and hoped for the best. With a name like that how could it not brighten my spirits?! (It sure did).
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Their menu can take a while to poke through with both Indian and Nepali sections. I got Chicken Palak for $11.95. It came with Basmati rice and chutney. I also ordered garlic naan and was SO glad I did! I had plenty for 2 meals.

The Chicken Palak is cooked in chopped spinach and curry sauce. It was so good. I liked the spice and the spinach without any flavor overpowering another. The garlic Naan was amazing. There was a ton of garlic and it was lightly cooked leaving the garlic with that zing it gets before it mellows when roasting.
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I’m not sure what the crispy and spicey one was that came with the meal. I was shocked how spicy it was…like a less eggy dosa. 5 points to anyone who can tell me what it’s called.  The chutney was ehhh. Ok, nothing remarkable. I thought there was a bit too much onion. I really love mint chutney.
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I’ll definitely go back and I’m glad to have it around the corner from home. Next time I’ll have to try Nepali cuisine. I am interested in some of the fish curries too! I read some yelp reviews about the spice level but I’m game as long as I have some naan to sink into and forget my chills of the day.

Guest Blog: Summer Winter

Since I’m in Houston this week, I’d like to introduce the first ever GUEST BLOG POST for The Three Bite Rule!Miss Liz writes:

To celebrate my friend’s brithday we decided it would be fun to go out to a new restaurant and one that was a bit fancier for the occasion. Because we are not city people, we choose Summer Winter in Burlington, MA. We liked the idea that they used local products and even had their own on site green house.  We had a full view of the green house from our table which was fun!

So how was our night? Fun, but the meal was overall rather bland.

I started with a Bibb lettuce salad with almonds and manchego cheese topped with tomato cumin vinaigrette. This was actually quite good all thanks to the vinaigrette which was the right amount of tangy and creamy.

My friend, Mrs E had the “Summer Winter Salad” with greens from the green house, local apple, Belgian endive, and cider vinaigrette, which she liked.
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Her husband, Mr. C opted for the split pea soup, but he though Mrs. E makes a better soup.
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For our main course, Mrs. E went with one of the specials. She had an Asian chicken dish which was the best dinner of the three. She got 5 pieces of fried chicken, fried rice and broccoli and a soy sauce dressing.
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Mr. C had the 16oz bone in rib eye with mash potatoes. Now, this part was fun: for each “grilled main” dish, you get to pick your our sauce! They have 6 choices, but our server recommended Mom’s sauce which is a balsamic base. Mr. C liked the meal, but didn’t think it was anything special.
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I felt the same way about my dinner. Everything was cooked ok, just nothing great. I had the roasted half chicken with lemon garlic and rosemary and for my starch I choose Mom’s corn custard.
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Well, it turns our the corn custard is really code for corn bread. This was also bland and I added some salt to give it a bit more flavor. I was actually really disappointed with the chicken. The skin was not crispy…it was basically limp and I decided to removed it.

That left me with very plan chicken, since all of the flavoring had gone with the chicken skin. So thank goodness for Mom’s sauce to rescue my bland meal.

Now, because this was a birthday dinner we all had dessert. The birthday girl opted for the chocolate caramel tart with chocolate marshmallow ice cream. She thought the tart was too rich and was only able to eat a few bites.
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I had the warm sticky toffee pudding. It was good, but not what I thought it would be. It was expecting something gooey. It was more of a toffee muffin with caramel sauce, but the best dessert of the night, so the three of us ended up splitting it since it was also better than Mr. C’s pineapple upside down cake.
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Would I go back to Summer Winter? No. But I had a great night because it was fun to celebrate a friends birthday and we all dressed up for the dinner which made it more special.Each meal with starter and dessert probably ran around $50 which was why we tried Summer Winter on a special occasion. A few other groups in the restaurant seemed to be doing the same thing.

Special thanks for the guest blog post. If YOU would like to be a guest blogger, email emily@thethreebiterule.com!

Life Savor Fundraiser Event Meal

The other night I had the pleasure of attending a benefit for one of my favorite organizations: Community Servings. I got to know them because they are a beneficiary of the fundraising my organization works so hard to raise.

Community Servings provides THOUSANDS of meals to patients, their caregivers, and dependants battling critical illnesses. I’ve volunteered in their amazing kitchen and I’ve had their delectable catering. Their annual Life Savor event raised $445,000 this year!

A group of my colleagues and I went and had the greatest time. The event starts with a cocktail party generously sponsored by the Langham Hotel. I’ve been to events at this hotel so amidst the crowds, I brought the gang to the “promise land” as Mrs. A called it: the Grey Goose Martini bar. Yum. We munched and drank while checking out the silent auction items before dinner.

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Dinner is at one of 80 different restaurants providing a special three course meal. Do you see the speckles? It snowed! We are taken on trolleys to a meal I’ll remember forever at West Side Lounge in Cambridge.

We started our meal with an aperitif with house-made, organic, citrus vodka muddled with blueberries. It was so delicious and a great way to welcome us which GM Leo Crowley continued by sending out an amuse bouche of a Chatham Oyster with a dollop of avocado creme fraiche paired with lightly fruity & Loire Valley white wine. From here we perused our special menus.

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As a food blogger, I loved that the GM introduced himself AND took our order. He talked us through the meal as well as the wine pairings. I could tell he pulled out all the stops on this meal. That’s precisely the reason I don’t always love restaurant week with it’s dumbed down menus and annoyed staff. I love that I have a newly discovered nearby restaurant!
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Our first course was a choice of Asparagus Creme Soup or Baby Spinach Salad with strawberries and toasted walnuts. I got the salad and was impressed that the strawberries were perfectly ripe despite this time of year. I didn’t taste the champagne vinaigrette but thought the dressing was good. Chardonnay provided a cool and refreshing pairing.

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Our second course was a pasta course. GM Leo told us that they tried making their own pasta and just couldn’t compete with Dave’s Fresh Pasta in my own Davis Square! This pasta course was Tomato, basil, and ricotta ravioli or lobster ravioli. I never turn down lobster so that’s what I went with. These have huge chunks of lobster inside and you can tell Dave’s Fresh Pasta didn’t skimp on the lobster here. Pinot Noir is my favorite red wine so this was one of my favorite glass.

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The main course was a choice of Parmesan Cod from Gloucester with basil mashed, asparagus and a tomato white wine sauce or Lamb Lollies with whipped potatoes and pea tendrils. I can only eat very small quantities of very specific red meat varieites but I went with the lamb. This was a great cut of lamb cooked perfectly pink. I don’t come across pea tendrils often, but I’m not convinced they were really part of the simple salad…the leaves seemed to big to be pea tendrils but I’m no connoisseur so maybe I’m mistaken. This meal was paired with another red wine but I was more focused on the food so I left with wine alone.

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More…yes, there’s more food and wine to come.

Our last (count ‘em, 4 courses) was dessert. Somehow we chatted about figs on the way to dinner and they showed up! Warm chocolate and fig bread pudding or flourless chocolate cake. Thank you West Side Lounge for providing true desserts (each with chocolate). We were busting at the seams so we all shared bites of each one instead of ordering our own. Unfortunately there was so much wine with each pairing, I could barely enjoy the riesling.

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I can’t thank West Side Lounge enough for participating in this very special fundraiser. I loved the meal, I loved the staff, and I will love to go back.

Not Crazy about Crazy Dough

I bought a Groupon for Crazy Dough and after some time went by, all of a sudden, I realized it was about to expire! Literally, it was the last chance so Mr. J and I got it for a weekend lunch. It was about 2:30 so I contemplated if we were old farts and it was early-bird dinner or if we were fashionably chic having a late lunch.
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Mr. J gets Crazy Dough for lunch sometimes and loves it so I was excited to try it. The menu looked great. I was intrested in a few I knew Mr. J woudln’t be as excited about so we each got our own personal pizza.I thought the Eggplant & Roasted Red Pepper sounded good. Tuscan Tomato Basil caught my eye. It was Balsamic Glaze and Ricotta that I came back to on the menu.
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Mr. J loooves the Potato Bacon Cheddar pizza but decided to change it up with Chicken Parmasan.Maybe because we got it to go, or maybe because we got traditional instead of Sicilian, but I wasn’t amazed. I popped into the Harvard Square to pick it up and was so excited as I passed the slices of Sicilian. I thought mine would be just as delectable.

The Balsamic Glaze and Ricotta on wheat dough was thin with crispy crust. I thought it was too thin. The balsamic glaze was good, but nothing to write home about. I thought it was flavorful but needed more to absorb it. It was too runny since there wasn’t much cheese or crust. Apparently my pizza was finished with olive oil and fresh basil…I missed that.

The Chicken Parmasan wasn’t anything stellar either. The chicken was in tiny pieces. I prefer to be able to see that the chicken is white meat and not mystery leftovers. The sauce was too sweet…too ketchup-y.
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I’ll give it another go, but I’ll probably eat there and I’ll probably choose Sicilian.

Is it weird that the box boasts best pizza of 2004 & 2007?

Likes: the possibility of great sicilian pizza, interesting toppings
Dislikes: too thin crust, not great sauce

If Phantom approves Amrheins…

So work gives me the day off for by birthday (yes, the bday posts continue) so I spent a leisurely day off before a celebratory bday dinner with Mr. J. They day wasn’t actually very lazy since I was cleaning and prepping for the Mac & Cheese taste off.Anywho, after feeling like a 50s housewife waiting for the man to get home, we went to dinner of my choosing. I love Phantom Gourmet and had seen Amrheins and really wanted to try it. I had seen Lobster Mac & Cheese and some steaks they boasted as better than downtown’s steakhouses.
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This Southie original was full of historical charm. They have the oldest hand-carved bar in America. Since they don’t take reservations for parties fewer than 6, we took our chances. We only waited about 15-minutes…just long enough to grab a drink at that bar I was talking about!

Our waitress had an intense Boston accent which added to her charm. The wait for our meals wasn’t as charming but since it took so long, they threw in another round of drinks-on the house. The menu is pretty sizeable. I thought it was cute that they had some unexpected specials like boiled dinner.

I got the Lobster Mac & Cheese despite the fact that I’d be having the taste off the following day. Since I was privy to the sizeable portions mentioned on Phantom Gourmet, I went with the half size and it was perfect. Perfect in size, perfect in noodle texture, perfect in lobster quantity.
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Mr. J got the Cowboy Steak. He was going back and forth and went with this one and steak tips. The Cowboy had blue cheese and carmelized onion butter on top. Yum! He really liked it and thought it was cooked perfectly.
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When I heard his came with mixed veggies I was thinking what you are probably thinking: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots? Nothing of the sort! The peapods, shreaded carrots, and onions looked amazing. His mashed potatoes were also, very noteworthy.

We had already thought about dessert but since the meals took so long, and we had some drinks, we decided to skip it. Since we were pleasantly full, keeping it that way was the right choice.

Outside the restaurant I lost my camera case taking a photo. I took it as a sign for a new one and everytime I see the new one I’ll remember this birthday!

P.S. Birthday meals are official concluded. I bet you wish yours was as long and delicious as mine was!

Figs Does Pizza Right

Miss L and I love food more than the average people. We also LOVE birthdays. She took me out for an early birthday dinner at Todd English’s restaurant Figs. It was as amazing as ever.Want to know what else is amazing (other than a race)? I won another blog’s giveaway! Yesss! I have a b.good gift certificate coming my way!

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Mid week, the small Beacon Hill location was bustling. At 6:30 PM on a Tuesday we could wait 20 minutes or sit at the bar. To the bar we went! Miss L ordered a sangria as I peered at the open kitchen.

We decided you cannot eat at Figs and not order the Asparagus Frites. The asparagus spears are blanched, breaded in Panko, and lightly fried. They are served on arugula with honey mustard aioli. It is an amazing appetizer because the asapargus flavor comes through with a delightful crisp exterior. It is a simple but well executed idea!

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As good as the other dishes sound, pizza is the specialty so that’s what we got! We each chose our half. I got Portabello. It has garlic, oil, mushroom puree made out of Portabello stems, Fontina, roasted red onion, and truffle oil.

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At first sight, I thought the red onion was going to take over. The pieces were huge! These pieces might be big but the mushroom puree was amazing and was hidden but an awesome flavor. Also, you could put truffle oil on a flip flop and I’d love it.
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Miss L got a four cheese with Mozzerella and Ricotta. Also, some pieces were cut beyond my half of the pizza, giving me a bite of the sweet marinara and rich cheese. Miss L enjoyed it.
The pizza is thin but holds up well to delicious toppings. I want to try several of the others.Miss L, Mr. J, and sis ALL don’t care for mushrooms. Since they are the most common eaters of my meals it makes any dish with mushrooms shine with a halo on a menu.

A few ladies next to us at the bar were served very efficiently since they were heading to a show. Miss L and I lingered a bit but weren’t at all forgotten. I really should eat at Figs more often.

New Neighborhood Burger Joint: Boston Burger Company

Mr. J and I had a simply wonderful day feeling famous during our engagement photo shoot. Seriously. At times the lens on the camera was about the length of my arm and people were looking to see if we were famous. I was nervous but it was SO fun. Afterwards we were “all dressed up with nowhere to go”. Well, we weren’t super dressed up so we could pretty much go anywhere! We broke out a Groupon for Boston Burger Company and could just stroll there from our apartment.
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We got even more excited while we waited in a crowded hallway of the tiny restaurant. We scoured the menu while we waited so it definitely felt like we earned it.Our meal started with an appetizer of mac and cheese bites. So amazing and cheesy. The noodles were the slightest bit al dente. Marinara dipping sauce always seems weird to me with these but the citric acid is a great contrast.
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We got fries, not because we actually needed them but how could we pass on one of the 12 variations? Most of ‘em came home with us but they were delicious! We got garlic Parmesan and really loved them. They were thick cut and had a strong zing of garlic which I love!
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I chose “The Pilgrim” which is a turkey burger with homemade cranberry mayo, stuffing, and American cheese. I swapped out the cheese for cheddar 1) because I like it better than American cheese and 2) because I thought the sharpness would be nice against the sweet and tart cranberries.
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It was so great to see such a substantial amount of cranberry spread on there. I was really impressed and loved every bite. Ohh, you’d like to see a cross section? Sure!
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Mr. J got the “Ranch Burger”. It was a beef patty with bacon, American cheese, and ranch dressing. He really loved it. The bacon was piled high but didn’t seem like it was over the top. Normally he leans towards burgers with without cheese but with blue cheese crumbles or blue cheese dressing. Did you notice the buttery grilled bun? Yum!
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The burgers come with coleslaw or baked beans (we went with the slaw, which was good). They also come with homemade potato chips. These were really impressive! I loved how much the rich potato flavor came through!

The waitstaff was so great. I’ve waited tables and these ladies knew what was up. It is such a small restaurant but there was a really bubbly vibe.

Luckily we could mosey on home after filling up while toting to-go boxes. I already know what I want to get next time.