Mooo Restaurant, Boston

Ever since we found out that Mooo had a Kobe beef steak on their menu G had planning on celebrating his MBA graduation there.  So, we made reservations for the Saturday in question and were looking forward to a nice celebratory dinner.

We were the first of your party to arrive for our 6:30pm reservation.  The restaurant is located on Beacon Hill with as side entrance that faces a parking area.  Once you enter you take a small step down into a modern, sleek room decorated in white and gray.  The soft, warm lighting makes the room feel inviting and comfortable.  We were seated at our table while we waited for the others and looked over the menu.  The menu is typical for a steak house with various cuts of beef for entree choices and side dishes which can be shared for the table.  The wine list is extensive without being overwhelming.  They offer a nice variety of choices though most were beyond our price range.  The waiter was helpful with our menu questions and also guided me through the wine list.  I particularly appreciated that he respected my request to stay within a certain price.  After some discussion, we decided on the Mount Veeder Winery, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  It was delicious!  A beautiful big, bold, full bodied, smooth cab!

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Oishii Boston, Boston

During our last visit to Boston our flight was canceled due to snow (in Raleigh, not Boston!) and we ended up having an extra night in town.  We took advantage of the opportunity to try Oishii Boston.  We have often eaten or gotten take out from Oishii in Chestnut Hill but this was our first time to the newer sister restaurant in the South End.  The Boston version is nothing like the small hole-in-the wall version in Chestnut Hill.  The Boston location has a sleek, modern interior with much more space and offers a full menu not only sushi.

We started with the Grilled Black Cod with Sweet Miso Sauce.  It was delicious as usual!  As I have mentioned, black cod is the perfect fish.  It is delicate, yet firm with just the right oiliness.  It was served in a miso sauce (which is how it always seems to be served).  After this we tried some sashimi and a few specialty maki rolls.  They were all very well prepared.  The rolls were tightly wrapped and perfectly balanced in flavor.  The presentation was elegant and simple.  One highlight was the Oishii Spicy Tuna Tempura Maki which is bluefin tuna sashimi, fleur De sel and chives, wrapped with seaweed.  It was delicious!  All of the fish used was high quality and very fresh.

Overall, it was a truly lovely sushi experience!  It is a much nicer space though the sushi is just as delicious as that of Oishii in Chestnut Hill.  The dishes are not as inventive as O Ya.  But, Oishii Boston it is definitely one of the finer sushi restaurants in Boston.

Oishii Boston
1166 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118-4113

Gran Gusto, Cambridge

A couple of weekends ago, G and I were in Boston for a weekend.  It gave us a chace to have a lovely dinner at one of our old favorites, Gran Gusto.  It is a wonderful, family run Italian restaurant in North Cambridge.  The restaurant itself is on a side road in an office building.  We discovered it a few years ago as we often used to pass the place.  Gran Gusto was the first restaurant that managed to last in this odd location for more than a few months.  We were often concerned about whether it would last as we were often one of only a few full tables.  This time we went in early a Saturday evening and the room was buzzing.  We were asked if we had a reservation and since we didn’t were offered the option to sit at the bar.  Looks like business is booming!  The space is a little odd since it is in an office building but quite comfortable and cute.  The walls are painted to make it feel as though you are outside in an Italian courtyard.

We shared a lovely stracciatella and prosciutto appetizer.  Stracciatella is a lovely cheese which is the inner core of bufala mozzarella and according to the waiter was flown in from Italy.  It was so delicate, rich and creamy!  G had the rigatoni with sausage and mushrooms which he loved!  I had a linguini dish with baby calamari and tomatoes.  It was tasty although the baby calamari were a little fishy for my taste.  We ended with a light and smooth tiramisu.  It was wonderful!  Gran Gusto’s popularity is well earned though it is out of the way it is well worth the trip.

Gran Gusto
90 Sherman Street
Cambridge, MA 02140
(617) 441-0400

O Ya, Boston

Rarely does a restaurant live up to the hype generated by the media but in this case it certainly did.  Since being named the number one ‘Coast to Coast, Restaurants that Count’ 2008 by the New York Times’ Frank Bruni, O Ya has been on my radar.  We had wanted to try it for quite sometime however, given the expense felt we needed an occasion.  We decided it would be a perfect place to celebrate our 8 years in Boston and the last night in town before we flew down south.

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Farewell Tour

Over the eight years that we have lived in Cambridge, we have developed so many favorite places and in some cases specific dishes.  During the last couple of months in town we tried to enjoy as many of these locations and dishes as our stomachs (and waistlines!) could handle.  Instead of going into detail, below I list the places we returned to our favorite dish that we visited for in particular (in no specific order).

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Teranga, South End

Our final NRT gathering was held at Teranga in the South End in July.  It was bittersweet to be ending such a fun tradition.  Teranga is a small Senegalese restaurant with a warm and simple décor with exposed brick and simple African artifacts.  I had called ahead and told them our group was coming even though they only take reservations for large parties.  The owner was quite generous on the phone and said if there was any problem she would call me back.  We arrived at our usual 7pm and the tables were set up for two large groups and our only seating option was the bar.  This was a bit frustrating but we decided to stay and sit at the bar.  After about 15 minutes they broke up the tables and asked us if we wanted to take one, apparently the large party was not coming on time.  This was much more comfortable as it was difficult to hear each other across the bar.

The menu is quite heavy with fish and meat.  We started with a couple of fish appetizers; the fayata (pastry filled with fish) and poisson croquettes.  Both were similar in flavor and served with the same sauce which was disappointing.  There was an extremely long lag as we waited for our main dishes.  The waitress apologized and gave us another appetizer.  The large party, which they had originally saved the table for finally arrived, and were ordering which created the delay.

We finally received our main dishes, which were a bit disappointing.  I ordered the national dish of fish and vegetables and barley wheat.  The fish itself was overcooked and quite chewy.  The barley wheat and the vegetables were tasty and quite satisfying with cassava, eggplant, and carrots among others.  The rest of the group had ordered a chicken dish, another fish dish, and a lamb dish.  While the others enjoyed their dishes more than me none of them were wowed by them.  The combination of flavors and ingredients were quite interesting demonstrating the French and Portuguese influences.

The two large groups that evening lead to an overall disappointing experience for us.  The restaurant was extremely loud, the kitchen and staff were not able to handle the food orders leading to long waits and tired diners.  I believe that the food could have been much better if not hurried.  I do believe this could be a much better experience on a less crowded evening.

1746 Washington St.
Boston, MA 02118

Silence explained

I have owed a post for quite some time.  To be honest, what I thought would be an easy post to write became cripplingly difficult; when should I post, what should I say, how should I say it?  Instead I just got wrapped up in planning, organizing and to-do lists and avoided posting all together.  As a result, it has been months and difficult for me to get back into the blogging world.  Now that we are settled and comfortable, I feel that I have time and energy to get back into the blogging.

So to make a long story short, G and I have moved to the Chapel Hill, NC.  In May I completed my PhD and received an offer for a post doctoral position.  Career wise it is a great opportunity for me.  But, we also thought it would be a chance to explore another region of the country and a whole new food culture.  We are trading in lobster rolls for fried chicken.

We moved a few weeks ago and as G says, “We have been setting up base camp, and haven’t yet ventured into the wilderness.”  Before we left the Boston area we did enjoy a final NRT, visited some of our favorites haunts, and had a celebratory meal marking our time in Boston.  So, stay tuned for a few more posts on the Boston area before I transition to posts on the Triangle (Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh).  We are feeling somewhat settled now and are looking forward to some great food adventures!