This past December 17th - 19th I spent 72 hours with two of my most favorite relatives, my cousins Carly and Cassie who were in town from Boca Raton, Florida. Our time together proved an adventure filled whirlwind beginning Friday with an early lunch Downtown at Woodward at the Ames Hotel, followed by drinks at a classic Boston Irish Pub, The Black Rose. It was here where Adam met up with us to partake in the Miller High Life and shots of Jameson filled afternoon. Joined by Leah, Tray and our friend Doug for dinner in the North End at Bricco and drinks out in the South End at Delux with even more friends made for quite an evening. Day number two we shopped the North End boutiques and then checked into The Liberty Hotel in Beacon Hill, enjoying complementary champagne and the fantastic Bloody Mary Bar at Clink. That evening we dinned at Cuchi Cuchi in Central Square Cambridge, compliments of a gift certificate from my Mom. To close out cousin time on day three we hit up Harvard Gardens for brunch before checking out of the Liberty. We strolled down Charles Street, making our way to the Back Bay neighborhood through the Public Garden and onto Newbury Street. Our final outing was at the rowdy Football fan infused Pour House, where it was clear we didn't want our time together to end. We sipped, we shopped, we dined, we made friends, we painted the town orange, red and green gallivanting via the T and on foot. Is anyone else tired just reading that?! I already know I won't be able contain all this fun and food in one post, but here goes nothing.....For one of the most indulgent lunches, liquid or otherwise in Downtown Boston, Woodward aims to please. Be prepared to spend as salads and entrees don't come cheap, nor do their specialty cocktails. We left satisfied with our lunch, feeling rejuvenated by the polished scene and well taken care of by the hospitable waitstaff. Carly and I sipped a 1692 Brew ($11) Old Monk rum and Laird's Applejack with honey simple syrup, smoked cinnamon bitters and cold mulled apple cider. Now that is a cold weather cocktail at its finest. Cassie, a girl after my own heart went for the Hot Nantucket Night ($15) Milagro silver with muddled cranberries, jalapeno, agave nectar and fresh lime juice a drink you may remember I had a love affair with of over the summer. I was happy to discover it remains on the menu year round. Much to our delight, a chefs tasting of in-house pickled fruit and vegetables were served as a a starter including and array of sweet and tangy grapes and onions with briny carrots, cucumbers, and cauliflower.We began with salad of Grilled Chicken over baby arugula ($18) with local blue cheese and crispy shallots tossed with balsamic vinaigrette. Eighteen dollars seems crazy for a salad if you ask me, but now that I think about it, the menu listing of sirloin was substituted by us for chicken. Money aside it was a well prepared heaping portion with fresh ingredients. The Hamburger ($17) was juicy and cooked to our liking, served on a rectangular shaped bun with a smoked tomato jam and lots of melty Vermont aged cheddar. The thin cut fries that came piled alongside were well seasoned and addictive. Good to know that Woodward can stand up to the always questionable burger task. The Grilled Cheese ($14) with gruyere, comté, bacon and tomato soup is a sophisticated version of the lunch staple. That bowl of tomato soup, a luscious velvety pool of light orange, achieves a nice balance of creamy tomato to a slightly frothy and ever so sweet finish in every spoonful. The accompanying grilled cheese held up its end of the bargain. Thick slices of toast surround savory strips of bacon and soft musty-sweet gruyere and comte cheese. The crust was overwhelmingly crispy, which is quite perfect for dunking in its smooth creamy counterpart.We weren't through catching up on the latest and lounging comfortably in the deepset black leather booths just yet. A bottle of Pinot Grigio, Tolloy ($36) Alto Adige, Italy, 2009 was ordered to share. A fruity light bodied white to wash down a filling lunch was just what we needed before a shopping jaunt around Downtown Crossing.
Located in historic Faneuil Hall, The Black Rose is a favorite Irish Pub of mine with a spirited atmosphere and friendly staff. Gaelic tunes play in the background and decor of old Irish times line the walls. We sipped shots of Jameson Irish Whiskey ($6.50) and Miller High Life bottles ($4). The hours passed, life talks ensued, Adam joined us for a Bud Light draft ($4.50), I ordered a Magners Pear ($7) and the cousins a Spinach Dip ($8). For a lively local Irish Pub scene in Faneuil Hall, head to the Black Rose at 160 State Street.
Bricco Enoteca and Lounge located at 214 Hanover Street was our dinner destination after a cat nap and an evening attire refresher session at our apartment. Serving sophisticated Italian cuisine in a boutique nightclub setting, I had high expectations for this spot I'd been meaning to dine at for quite sometime. (Stumbling into the bar after a long night of drinking is all I'd managed to count as having "been" to Bricco.) Now in this case I was stumbling in after a long day of drinking, but at least I was in the mindset to order food. To say Bricco was bustling with activity would be an understatement, it was jam packed. Upon arrival for our 8 pm reservation, we were greeted with smiles and our coats were taken care of by the maitre'd. We were seated promptly no less than a minute later. I had an expectation in my head of a table for 7 amidst the dim trendy nightclub setting, perhaps a spot overlooking Hanover Street, or a square top in the center of the action. We were lead upstairs into a back room and seated at a table in the corner amongst plain white walls, a space that lacked much of an atmosphere at all. Feeling slightly disapointed in the moment, however, I do realize I can't fault them for seating a large party where they did. In retrospect, I am sure the bright lighting made for much better quality food photos. I sipped a potent Boston Manhattan ($12) Michter’s bourbon infused with cherries, vanilla and pomegranate. We shared two appetizers to start; the Zucchini Flowers ($19) stuffed with truffle ricotta cheese and a tempura of grilled vegetables was tasty but slightly underwhelming. The serious wow factor needed to justify spending $19 on an appetizer was lost on us. My picture quality is not up to par, but neither is this appetizer. The Frittura Mista ($16) calamari, scallops, shrimp, pickled jalapeno, tartar dip was a successful dish with a plentiful bites of delicately battered seafood. But it was not until the entrees arrived that I finally found what I was looking for in Bricco. Fresh pasta dishes bursting with true Italian flavors, boasting hearty organic meats and exciting presentations. Adam and Tray both ordered the "Big Night" Timpano ($23) drum-shaped stuffed pasta, organic meat balls, slow braised meat ragú. This dish was as inventive as it was delicious. A remarkable presentation if you ask me. Carly and I shared the Pappardelle al Cinghiale ($22) wild boar braised in red wine with porcini mushrooms. Understandably a traditional Italian dish, it served to showcase a meat otherwise unfamiliar to us in a brilliant light. Wide perfectly prepared ribbons of Pappardelle pasta were folded among a flavorful red wine sauce and chunks of boar so fresh and tender they fell apart to the touch. Doug enjoyed his Seasonal Risotto. Cass and Leah seemed content with their choice as well. On a whole, the evening at Bricco flowed smoothly. They understand how to cater to a lively crowd on a busy evening. The service by our waiter garnered no complaints, as fuzzy headed as I was I recall him being attentive and pleasant. Dessert came in the form of cappuccino and espresso! Fond of the uniquely molded ceramic cups and the chewy cookie that accompanied, we ended on a high note. (And presumably a high bill. Many thanks Adam!) Post dinner drinks at our usual hangout Delux, the cousins enjoyed the record wall avec le large naked woman painting.
What a day! Cousins Do Beantown Part 2 up next!