Friday, July 30, 2010

Neptune Oyster

Well well well, look who finally made it to Neptune Oyster. It has been on my 'list' all summer long. Scratch that, it has been on my list all two years and four months long. (The amount of time I've lived in the North End!) In that time I've developed an infinite love for Salem Street and its restaurants. Pretty sure I've proclaimed my love countless times on III. But not only do I love the restaurants, cafe's and bakery's, I love the shops: Shake The Tree, Aquire, heck even the True Value on Salem is a huge asset to the neighborhood. How have I been literally everywhere else on this street except the beloved Neptune Oyster? Named for the Roman God of the Sea and one of the most delectable creatures to come from it, but today we weren't here for the namesake.
It wasn't a solo mission this afternoon as co-workers (not mine, each others) Gretchen and Lizzy of Clean Green Cuisine and Food to Run for, respectively, joined me on their lunch break.
As you can see, the restaurant is packed! A table for three in the back corner opened right as the girls arrived at 1:15. Good thing I was right around the corner, because without your entire party, you'll be denied a table. Reservations are not accepted here, but the woman on the phone whom I spoke with a few hours earlier was kind and helpful when she explained a party of three coming in at 1:00 would be a 0-20 minute wait. We lucked out with no wait time!If you do encounter a wait, it is without a doubt worth your while to stick it out.
A cold, refreshing Peroni on tap was necessary to compliment my first hot lobster roll experience.
You heard me. I said hot. Maine Lobster Roll ($25). As Gretchen would say, it's an investment.
The plate before me boasts a toasted roll, overflowing from its glistening walls are sweet succulent portions of lobster drenched in butter served along side well seasoned and deliciously crispy fries. The butter runoff seeped into the edges of the roll to form a soft cradle for the lobster, making each bite more delectable than the last. You do have the choice to order this delicacy cold with mayo, but how often are you presented with an option for the former?
The deep golden brown french fries are delightfully crispy in texture and well seasoned with salt and pepper. 
The service at Neptune was friendly and prompt. The place itself oozes class and character. Seating is shared in a long red leather booth with granite tables adjacent a bar that runs the length of the small space. I'm certain I'll be back for a taste of the raw bar, but in the meantime I'm happy to have experienced the incredible lobster roll. Even if it did put me out a whopping $25.
63 Salem Street is officially checked off the list!
Neptune Oyster on Urbanspoon

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Beautiful Days in the Neighborhood

July, glorious July. We've had some beautiful weather over the past few weeks, so I've made it a point to spend time outside. Outside doing none other than my favorite activity: eating. There are an abundance of quality spots in the North End to grab a bite to-go and plenty of outdoor green space and picnic areas to benefit from.

{Antico Forno at the Rose Kennedy Greenway Park}
A few weeks ago I had a craving for a simple, no frills, margherita pizza after a late Monday in the office. Straight from the T I headed to 93 Salem Street:I felt rejuvenated after sipping on a Peroni at the polished marble bar with unique light fixtures, while I waited for my brick oven Margherita Pizza ($12).
Antico Forno's pizza always seems to hit the spot, whether I'm dining in their rustic trattioria (Antico Forno is Italian for "old-stove"), or enjoying a pie to-go in the late afternoon sunshine at the park.

{Bova's enjoyed at North Square}
Bova's is located at 134 Salem Street, on the corner of Prince. Last Sunday I was craving an easy lunch so I walked down and picked up a slice of their famous Sicilian pizza and a little treat for dessert.I brought my purchases to the picnic tables at North Square.
Unfortunately, it was not the cleanest area in that moment. I am not sure who is responsible for the mess, or who is responsible for cleaning it up. There are even trash cans nearby so this is pretty awful!
The important thing was that the sun was shining and my slice of pizza, thick and doughy with sweet tomato sauce and bubbly brown melted cheese, tasted awesome.
From brick oven thin crust, to thick Sicilian crust by the slice, I believe I've got the best of the best at my disposal when it comes to pizza. Though in this post I've merely touched upon the variety served up here in Boston's Little Italy.
My eclair was pretty amazing too. Eclairs are not typically my dessert of choice, but today the pastry called to me from behind the glass counter of treats.
Rich chocolate icing coated over a puff pastry stuffed with thick creamy vanilla custard. Drool.

{Boston Common Coffee Company on the Rose Kennedy Greenway Patio}
I drank a 16 oz Iced Coffee ($2.25) with a flavor shot of Coconut and The Avocado Melt ($5.75) which was delicious with roasted chicken, dill havarti, tomato, chipolte mayo, and avocado on pepper jack bread.
On the side I have a White Bean Salad.
As you can see, I opted to make good use of the patio furniture that lines the Greenway sidewalk.
Speaking of beautiful days in the neighborhood, this weekend marks the first North End Feast. The "Feasts" are basically huge festivals that take place in the streets honoring the various Italian Societies and the Saints which they represent.
They've become like tradition now, as I'm going on my third season of enduring the madness associated. The local Italians live for these weekends, hoards of tourists flock, processions are underway complete with loud marching bands and ginormous patron saint statues, and lots and lots and lots of good food is served. I've almost gotten down which Saint comes when.July 23rd - 25th honors The Feast of St. Joseph. Tonight we'll head over and pay our respects. And by that I mean we'll stuff our faces, play some Carney games, and maybe even dance in the streets.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

OSushi

The other day I got an email with the following information. I usually ignore these monthly statements, however, check the date in bold below. US Airways Dividend Miles E-Statement:
Member since: 2008
Last activity date: 03/27/2009
Beginning balance:10,973
Miles deposited:0
Ending balance: 10,973
To keep your account active, earn miles before 09/29/2010.
_________________________________________________
Dear US Airways,
If your flights weren't so damn expensive all the time, I would fly with you more frequently and therefore earn frequent flier miles. Now you are threatening to take away my hard earned Las Vegas and San Francisco miles? How is that fair? It's like encouraging me to never fly with you again.
Sincerely,
Daisy

All jokes aside. I'm in dire need to keep my account active. Luckily I am a member of US Airways Dividend Miles Dining Program. There are actually a lot of restaurants in the area that I can dine at to redeem miles. They even have a special going on this month: "Change of Scenery Bonus: Spend $30 at a restaurant, bar, or club where you've never earned miles before and become 500 miles richer."

I purchased a $30 Groupon t0 OSushi some weeks ago, which just so happens to be on the Dividend Miles Dining list. This means I need to "spend" $60 on lunch! $30 to cover the Groupon, and the other $30 on my credit card so I can become 500 miles richer, ensuring I don't loose the hard earned 10k in the bank.
OSushi is located at 10 Huntington Avenue, inside the Westin Hotel, Copley Plaza.
I was greeted right away by the woman who would end up being my waitress. She sat me in the corner next to the sake case and presented me with both a drink and lunch menu.
History: I have been to OSushi before. Twice in fact, both times for dinner. The first time when My Mom, sister, Aunt Cheryl and cousin Cayla were visiting in the summer of 2005. Fun fact: I didn't technically move to Boston until 2006, however that summer I lived 4 days out of the week in Allston because I was completing an internship at what is presently the company I work for. The other 3 days of the week were spent on Cape Cod. Gosh, that was an awesome summer. I digress. The second time was a date night way back when Adam and I first got together. As a result of these two outings, I am a big fan of their sushi.

I guess it has a lot to live up to today! They have an extensive wine list by the bottle and a fun martini menu too, which I debated over. In the end I chose to start my afternoon with a carafe of cold Nigori Sake.
It drank light and smooth with subtle hints of juicy pear and apple. I appreciated the waitress letting me know upfront that my Groupon did not cover alcoholic beverages, even thought it made no difference in this situation. 
Originally, I was not going to indulge in a bowl of Miso Soup ($3), but it was quite chilly in the restaurant. Not uncomfortably so, but the perfect temperature to sip on a warm bowl of soup indeed. If you're a longtime reader you know I evaluate all Japanese restaurants first on the quality of their Miso.  Piping hot, full of salty soybean flavor and plenty of scallions, thick strips of seaweed and tofu chunks, Osushi does a great job on this staple starter. They even add baby mushrooms to the mix earning them extra credit.
Large floor to ceiling, wall to wall windows provide the only natural light, looking down from the second story over Dartmouth Street. Come dinner time, the restaurant is almost completely dark, which makes for a romantic setting, especially when nestled in those high suede booths. 

Lunch.is.served. 

The Tako ($4), a smooth, glistening slice of fresh, clean tasting octopus sits fastened by a belt of nori atop a block of compact sushi rice. 

In stark contrast to the Tako, I couldn't pass up a longstanding favorite in the form of another Unagi ($6). It is delicate as opposed to firm, soft as opposed to chewy, sweet and melt in your mouth.
I savored the sushi in between bites of my almost-too-pretty-to-eat lunch rolls.

The Hamachi Hako ($12) is yellowtail, garlic, scallions, shiso, topped with daikon and jalapeno served on top of pressed rice. Pealry pink and super smooth yellowtail tops a block of sticky rice where the strong flavors of garlic and jalapeno give off just the right touch of heat.

You better believe I was feeling pretty full right around now:
Don't worry, I ate it all, even though this was easily a lunch for two. So was that never ending carafe of sake. It's fine. I enjoy and am completely OK with getting buzzed by myself at 1:30 on a weekday. It's good for me.
But alas, the roll that's been hiding behind the likes of all the others. The roll that gave me my obligatory avocado fix. The TNT Maki ($8.5) is baked spicy salmon, avocado and cucumber served atop a homemade hot sesame oil. This roll kicked things up a notch. The spice was powerful, the salmon was soft and warm, the avocado, cucumber and even those beautiful stalks of lettuce added cool contrasting elements. And once again, the detail with the sesame oil and those crunchy black sesame seeds added another layer by which to impress.
Speaking of impress, OSushi, once again, did just that!
Osushi on Urbanspoon
Do you have a favorite Sushi restaurant in Boston?