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.
amrheins_lob_290_200Love love love that they garnish it with a fried lobster claw. How cool is that?! Also, I got mine without the peas. I’m pretty sure peas are the the only veggie I don’t care for.

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.

Fav Comfort Apps

A lot of restaurants seem to be advertising their 500-calorie meals or the weight watchers specials but sometimes, you just need serious comfort food. Tavern On the Square is one of my regular comfort food places, and Phantom Gourmet agrees!

#1 Risotto Fritters

Parmesan risotto stuffed with pesto and mozzarella lightly breaded and fried. Served with tomato cream sauce and baby arugula.

The risotto is nutty with the perfect amount of pesto. The arugula is peppery and added a nice contrast to the salty parmesan.

#2 White Truffle Tator Tots

A heaping portion of our tator tots drizzled with aromatic white truffle oil and Parmesan cheese.

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The tator tots are truly a heaping portion. I think the truffle oil is a bit lacking and I’d prefer a better ratio but I wouldn’t pass on these…they’re just too addicting.

#3 Tropical Chicken Skewers

Chicken tenders coated in shredded coconut and panko breadcrumbs, fried to a golden brown and served with a pineapple curry sauce and fruit salsa.

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I was pleasantly surprised by these. The coconut was perfect and a great sweetness with the zip of the sauce.

These apps are really fun and make a meal to share.

Ardeo Mediterranean Deliciousness

Our winter girls family get-away weekend included one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. We dined at Ardeoa Mediterranean restaurant with 5 locations in Cape Cod.ardeo_sign
I simply adored it. It was one of the best meals I’ve had in awhile and I can’t say enough good things. Mum, Sis, and I loved each bite.

Mediterranean cuisine is definitely a favorite of mine because of some of the spices and the unique flavors. There was such a great freshness and boldness that I was 100% content with my meal choice.I had lamb mousaka. I saw it and knew I couldn’t pass it up. Lamb is the only red meat I eat so I was pleasantly surprised to see this Greek classic made with a twist! Lamb instead of beef? Yes please! It was served on what would be a serving platter in my home. I ate it for two, albeit hefty, meals.

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The menu boasts: flash fried eggplant with seasoned ground lamb, sauce bechamel, thinly sliced potatoes, spinach and feta cheese. This doesn’t do the plate justice. I loved the eggplant, cooked perfectly and not at all bitter. The sliced potatoes were great since often they are whipped for mousaka. The feta was salty and there was a MOUND of fresh spinach barely wilted on top. I did have to dig a bit to get to my dinner beneath the leafy green. Delicious nonetheless.

Mum got a petit leg of lamb stuffed. The lamb was perfectly pink and stuffed with brie and asparagus. There was a sweet potato hash and a sauce beyond her words. Mum smartly didn’t try to take any home knowing it wouldn’t be the same reheated.

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Sis got Eggplant Rollitini. Her eggplant was also flash fried and then stuffed with garlic, basil, spinach, ricotta, and Romano cheese. It then is baked with mozzerella and pink sauce. Hers was also topped with a MOUND of fresh spinach too.
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This meal was really great. Fire roast anything and it’ll be better. I thought the ingredients were incredibly fresh tasting. How refreshing that they serve quality food done right. There weren’t any crazy surprises. Everything just worked and the talent of the chef was obvious.

Likes: oversized portions, freshest ingredients
Dislikes: no locations near me, too much spinach on some entrees.

Don’t Spare the Flatbread

Flatbread Company at Sacco’s Bowl HavenBowling and beer. What a great combo? Flatbread Company thought so for their newest location in Davis Square. This isn’t your average pizza and I was really impressed. Mr. J and I had a Sunday afternoon date and loved it! FYI, Sundays are QUITE busy. We reserved a lane and came back for our pizza before bowling time. We had been meaning to go for a while and our Groupon was just the motivation we needed.

The bar area was huge and since a large group was about to move into the dining area so we chose to sit at the bar. The bartenders were friendly and attentive.

We chose ½ and ½ from the specials menu. One half alfredo, chicken, and broccoli, the other half butternut squash, apple, ricotta, and dried cranberries. Wow. Delicious. The crust was crispy and had great doughy bubbles.

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The white side (contrary to the orange side) was definitely lacking in the chicken criteria. I loved the broccoli florets. The alfredo was creamy and the perfect amount.

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The orange side was my favorite. I was oooing and awwing so much I couldn’t bite as quickly as I wanted to. The butternut squash was sweet and nutty. I’m not sure, but I believe Flatbread Company made the ricotta. It was amazing, homemade or not. Apple slices rounded it out but our pizza was missing the dried cranberries.

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I’d definitely be back to Flatbread Company. These pizzas are delicious and worth it. I see a take-out flatbread in my future. I wish the server had mentioned that we’d pay a lot more to have half and half, but it was worth it.

On the way out of the bar we got a peek at the baked squash I had just enjoyed so much. Look how amazing they look!

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Bowling was fun but it was highly disorganized. Everyone’s games end at the same minute AND you have to keep score yourself. If you’re anything like me and have spent more bowling time tying laces on your friends funny shoes than learning the rules, then you too don’t know how to keep score. We just played until we had our fill and left our shoes to be sprayed.

The atmosphere is part old-school bowling ally, part stylish organic pizza. This is a genuine good time.

Likes: the specials are amazing, quality ingredients, comfortable vibe
Dislikes: 1/2 and 1/2 pizza costs more, bowling was disorganized

Adorable Betsy’s Diner

Betsy’s Diner – Falmouth, MAOn a family girls trip to Falmouth, MA we went to the legendary Betsy’s Diner. Sis, Mum and I had some great meals you’ll hear about later. We rounded out the weekend with a traditional diner breakfast.

I love diner food, especially breakfast. Betsy’s Diner was great. The inside was so adorable with  great vintage tables and accessories. There was a very cool, partly 3D mural that had some seasonal inserts. Santa was there now!

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Our server was prompt and kept the coffee coming. There were a few specials featured that day: some sort of chocolate chip pancake, eggs benedict, and a Portuguese eggs Benedict with linguica.

I chose my standard: sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. The bagel was grilled crispy and buttery. I love love love when I get to choose the cheese. My choice? Cheddar, obviously.

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Stuck on an island with only one meal I’d have sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel or croissant. This one was delectable.

The hash browns weren’t the best. At such a charming spot I expected them to actually make their own hash browns…what a bummer. Ohh well, can’t win ‘em all.

Likes: endless supply of coffee, cheddar
Dislikes: hash browns could be better.