Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Boston Dining: State Of Flux

It's a new year and that time when food writers and foodies in general think about what may be coming in 2020.  With the recent bombshell that Top Of The Hub will be closing all sorts of other things were called into question.  The moment after the press release arrived in our email the story was already going viral and was actually the top story on all of the local newscasts.  We have many happy memories of Top Of The Hub and it was always THE snag of the year to dine there late enough on July 4th to basically see the fireworks explode at eye level.  However, like most who are lamenting the loss, we haven't eaten there in years.  A venerable spot without doubt and for many a tradition or rite of passage.

Each year food writers predict that the bubble will burst, there are too many restaurants chasing too few diners, more people are eating delivery service at home from a favorite restaurant and with the worsening traffic and exorbitant parking prices who wants to drive into the city?  Can you blame them?  Yet each year seems to bring more new restaurants that overshadow the few that close.

Just in our own neighborhood we see Modern Pastry closed for renovations.  That's a good thing, right?  Business must be great.  Yet literally across the street is a sign for a new tequila bar that will be opening soon - in 2018!  It's owned by the same people who operate the very successful Tenoch Mexican eateries.

Modern is one of those places that has gone cash only in this increasingly digital world while other restaurants are going in the opposite direction and accepting no cash.

Then there are the food halls.  Faneuil Hall still gets a lot of foot traffic albeit tourists.  Then there is the much newer Boston Market just around the corner that seems to get a lot emptier every time we visit.  Add to that Eataly, Smith Center in Harvard Square and the new Time Out Market.  Also on the horizon are High Street in Downtown Crossing and yet another slated for The Hub On Causeway.  How many food halls can one city take?

There has been a plethora of West End restaurants opened in the past year or so and many more on the way.  If there is no event or game at TD Garden will people still flock there just to dine?  Yes, there is a lot of foot traffic through North Station but it's mostly running to get to the Commuter Rail from what we can see.  

Fine dining has also taken flight to the suburbs - Burlington and Lynn are just two of the areas where the rents are much cheaper (as are the liquor licenses) and the plentiful parking is free.  FREE.  Add in the minimum wage laws changing and the growing FOH/BOH dichotomy as some places sneak in service charges (yes, some are very upfront about it, too) and the uphill battle of converting the populace to accept no tip dining at all.  It seems to work in some places and fails miserably in others.

The Greater Boston food and restaurant world is notoriously tight-lipped and gossipy at the same time.  The national chains with deep pockets dot far more of the landscape than do independents.  And some of them are really cleaning up in Boston.  Then there is the Encore Casino, which is not.  Honestly, we don't know of a single person who has gone there solely to dine at all except for the buffet.  And what about that brilliant Cat Cafe idea?

The only thing that seems certain for 2020 is that there will be a lot of uncertainty.  So, we're not making any predictions at all.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Wine Of The Month And Yes Reservations

Crémant De Bourgogne from Henri De Villamont.

Pale pink and with a refreshing burst of fruit aroma and flavor this sip is made with a variety of Burgundy grapes,  Perfect for any occasion, dessert or just alone.  It's also quite affordable for any budget at approximately $14.00 per bottle.

We also want to start off 2020 by reminding all of our loyal readers and followers that, yes, we can make reservations for all your dining needs.  Please call or email us and we will be happy to confirm a table whether it's a special occasion or a casual meetup with friends.  There are all kinds of extras and benefits when making reservations with a personal touch and we have an extensive network of relationships with both restaurants and chefs.  So, please, always think of us if you are heading out to a restaurant any time soon.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The 12th Day Of Christmas

Today is the 12th Day Of Christmas, the last day of celebration in the European tradition.  In years gone by this was the day when, in Britain, gifts would be exchanged.  We decided to make it a new tradition here as well, saving that last bit of decor, maybe a candle or two and the enjoyment of sweet treats.  What new traditions have you begun this year?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Christmas 2019 - Hi Tech, Hi Touch

God knows, Christmas is a lot different today than it was when I was a kid but it's always fun and a great time to spend with family, especially the kids.  We always try to add a new tradition and this year it was a nice, warm mug of hot cocoa before heading off to bed for Santa to arrive.  

Some of the newer angles were more hi tech in nature, like one of the younger boys asking Alexa to set a timer for four minutes as he was on his way to the naughty spot for acting up.  There were also Christmas morning face time discussions about what Santa brought.  No matter what the future brings, however, I'm sure there will always be laughter, new clothes, a few toys and lots and lots of good food.  Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 23, 2019

Christmas Cheer

One of our favorite traditions is to check out all of the cool decorations like the upside down trees in the massive lobby at Liberty Hotel.  Everyone is celebrating Christmas.  

The lights, the sips, the food, it's such a festive time in these cold, winter months.  My tradition is to spend Christmas Eve at my niece's beautiful home with her husband and five children.  We watch a movie, sing Christmas songs as someone tries to play the piano, enjoy hot mugs of cocoa then read books that the kids pick out, whatever they like.

After exploring the Christmas stockings in the morning I am the chef.  It's typically lots of buttery scrambled eggs, bacon and a good pastry made earlier in the morning.  Then we get dressed for church and head out to visit.  What are your favorite Christmas traditions?

Merry Christmas to all.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Wrapping, Cooking And Laughing All The Way

Today we are wrapping a few, small presents for the children.  We don't really give gifts in my family.  It's pretty much about the food.  So, I am stewing up all the things that my family loves.  We shut off the TV and listen to radio Christmas tunes, the classics and lots of London and Vienna. 

Traditional foods in my family include roast lamb, a turkey with sausage stuffing, mashed potatoes and lots of sweets.  What is your Christmas family food?

Monday, December 16, 2019

With Santa At Cambridgeside

A select group (much smaller than last year) of bloggers, food and fashion writers recently enjoyed an early Christmas media party at Cambridgeside last week with great food, Christmas cheer and, yes, Santa Claus.

It was really interesting to me because last year there were over 50 "influencers" and sure they look great and all of that but none of them really write anything.  So, it was quite nice to meetup and connect with a smaller group who actually talk to each other and write about food and events rather than just snap instagram pics.  It was great to be included in this group of very fun people.

Thanks to Cambridgeside for hosting us with peeks into all the great shops and fashions.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Swimming With The Spicy Shark

The Twelve Days Of Christmas are upon us.  It is cold and snowy and blustery.  Who doesn't need a bit of heat?  Enter The Spicy Shark.

We get all kinds of treats and samples here at TBF International Headquarters and at this time of year the foodie vaults are overflowing with all sorts of hack and quack devices and food samples so blah we don't even write about them.  The Spicy Shark, however, is a new, great quality line of hot sauces that you will love.  From mild to wild we have been trying the whole spectrum of products on just about anything edible.  Eggs are just one of those foods.  The Spicy Maple is great on pancakes with bacon.  The list goes on and on.  Go ahead and get creative.  What could you do with Blueberry Hot Sauce?

Anyway, take our word for it.  We so often get asked for gift ideas for men at this time of year.  Well, this is one of them.  He will not be disappointed.  These products are local and best found at local food festivals and fairs.  A list of upcoming dates is available on their website:  The Spicy Shark.


These products were provided to us as samples for media use only without promise of any editorial consideration.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Dinner At Colette

We headed over to Colette at Porter Square Hotel recently for a little touch of France in Cambridge.  For a Tuesday night there was quite a crowd out dining here and it seemed an eclectic mix of local Cantabrigians and visitors staying at the hotel.

It's a sleek, contemporary boutique hotel with the restaurant fronting Mass Ave. and the staff as international as the guests.  Our servers were from Columbia and Algiers who spoke fluent French.  The menu featured classic French dishes with a modern twist.  The restaurant is a sister to Frenchie Wine Bistro in the South End with family ties to a hotel and restaurant in Toulouse, France. 

The Escargot, our beginning, for example was served atop a roasted garlic brioche French toast with a basil cream sauce.  While good we actually would have preferred the traditional way, still sizzling and generously garlicked up.  

Chicken Leg Coq au Vin

The Coq au Vin on the other hand was perfection.  Deliciously, subtly spiced and herbed the chicken fell off the bone and melted in one's mouth.  The twist here was that house made fettucine, the wine braised mushrooms and bacon in a shallot jus.  A great dish for a cold night and paired with a glass of wine a classic French bistro dish.

Boneless Braised Lamb Shank.

My dining companion was Greek and she went for the lamb.  Offered a taste I found it to also be excellent and would definitely order this on my next visit.

Being a hotel restaurant Colette offers breakfast, lunch and brunches in addition to dinner and also has a more private alcove area that accommodate smaller groups, families and, of course, lovers of every description.

1924 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA  02140
Telephone:  617.576.2222


As always, we are happy to make your reservation for dining here.  Simply send us an email indication date, time and number of guests.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Yes Reservations

With the rise of "Influencers" on social media, mostly Instagram, we tenured bloggers are having a tough time competing.  Of course one can now buy thousands of followers on some apps but we have grown our faithful audience organically over many, many years.

We have consistently sent lots of family, friends and followers to the restaurants we have featured on the blog while the real influence of others is often dubious at best.  It may be impressive to see one with 50,000 followers but our readers actually show up.  They want new restaurants and food experiences and events.  We merely lead them to where they want to go.  The problem is that restaurants rarely ask how the diner found them, an all-important marketing strategy we highly suggest to everyone we consult with.

So, I am happy to announce that we are now able to make your dining reservations, confirmed in advance at the restaurant of your choice from Newport, Rhode Island to Portland, Maine and, of course, everywhere in the Greater Boston area.  We often have special relationships with the chefs and managers at the best restaurants in town.

Just email us the name of the dining establishment, number of people and the date and time.  We will confirm your table within 24 hours through The Boston Foodie concierge account we have set up with all major restaurants.  Simply type "Yes Reservations" in your email title and you're good to go.  Happy Dining and Happy Holidays.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Holiday Gifting

Yes, it's that time of year.  Although many people in our social remit are turning away from the more materialistic side of the holidays in favor of dinners, get-togethers and events it is always nice to have a small gift for the host.  Food-related and edible gifts of quality will never go out of style, especially when it's one that you just know they will enjoy but never get for themselves.

Here's a great one from local candy company McCrea's.  They make superior quality products.  There are many others that we will be featuring over the coming weeks, not to steal the idea of "favorite things" but simply to feature all of things available locally.  It is our preference that all gifting should be from local vendors including home-made gifts that really mean something.  

We make be kicking off the holiday season early but when we find something nice we just want to share it.  Happy holidays!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Head Of The Charles Regatta 2019

Paul Cho and Yejin Song.

It was crystal clear, beautiful autumnal weather for the first day of the Head Of The Charles Regatta 2019, the largest rowing event of the year and a grand tradition in Cambridge.  We mixed and mingled with a truly international crowd and lots of friends attending at the Cambridge Boat Club and in the Directors Tent, a comfy front row seat for all of the festivities.  

It's not over yet, though.  The 55th annual HOCR continues tomorrow, predicted to be another spectacular day.  Don't miss this.  It's like going to the Olympics right here in Boston.  If you can't make it, enjoy the pics!

Evan Zarba and Martha, Betsy, Mary and Julie Sampson.

With Beverly Bourell.

We attended this event as members of the press/media.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Buffalo Chicken Pull-Apart Bread

This is a great fall snack, perfect for those cool weather, last picnics of the season you want to squeeze in like the one you may be having this week at the Head Of The Charles Regatta (where we'll be).  It is different, delicious and sure to be a hit with everyone who likes buffalo chicken wings.  Let me know how long your loaf lasts.  It's addictive!

Buffalo Chicken Pull-Apart Bread


Cooking spray
6 tbsp butter, melted
⅓ cup Moore's Original Buffalo Wing Sauce
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 ½ cups shredded cooked chicken (Perfect for leftovers from a roast chicken dinner).
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 (16 oz) container jumbo biscuits
½ cup blue cheese, crumbled


1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 9x5-inch loaf pan with parchment and coat parchment with the cooking spray.

2 In a large bowl, stir together the butter, hot sauce, garlic powder, and salt. Add the chicken and green onions, tossing until well coated.

3 Separate the biscuits into 16 rounds of dough. Working with one at a time, flatten with hands and spoon 2–3 tbsp chicken mixture onto center. Flatten another biscuit and place on top. Continue filling and stacking, and then arrange biscuit loaf horizontally in loaf pan.

4 Drizzle any leftover butter mixture from bottom of bowl on top. Sprinkle with the blue cheese. Bake 20–30 min., until top is golden brown and dough is cooked through. Serve warm.