Monday, November 30, 2015

Friendly's - Logan Airport Boston Massachusetts

You can find this Friendly's at Logan International Airport, Terminal A, past security near Gate 1. This is right across from a seating area so you can relax while munching on food and a great shake.

I first learned of Friendly's via my friend Alec P - we stopped when I helped him move to Atlanta many years ago. When I spotted this location at the airport I just had to order something. When looking at the menu I spotted something unusual, a Lobster Roll - well we are in Boston so of course I had to order this. I questioned the staff-member behind the register and she was quite helpful, especially in recommending an ice cream flavor for a Fribble - what's this you say? This is Friendly's name for a hand-spun milk-shake! I went with the cookies-and-cream and both it and the lobster roll were quite good and much more than I expected.

So what are you waiting for? If you're reading this review you're probably either in the same Terminal or you're standing in front of Friendly's trying to figure out what to order. You won't be sorry with either of the selections I made - can't wait to hit this place during my next Boston trip!

-- John 

(also posted to Yelp)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Strega Waterfront - South Boston Massachusetts

You can find Strega Waterfront at 1 Marina Park Drive (56 Northern Ave via GPS), Boston, MA 02210 right on the water. The restaurant is at the ground-floor of the One Marina Park building or Fan Pier Marina if traveling by boat.

This was the crowning dinner from my visit to Boston where our entire team met within walking distance from the office. It turned into a wet evening so we didn't take in any waterfront views, unfortunately and it was a bit wet walking from the office to One Marina Park but the restaurant itself was warm and very inviting.

The interior is a mix of old-school charm and modern with a large dining hall with flat-panel TVs lining the walls near the high ceilings. White tablecloths and napkins are the norm with great seafood options, decent wines and good service. We were served a good Italian baguette with oil-infused olives with our glasses of a good Bordeaux.

Nice touch on the stemware - I totally fall for stuff like this.

The menu was interesting, short-and-sweet with a page of salads/apps/antipastos and another of entrees, mostly Italian-based or inspired. I guess the chef/owner has another place in town that's a bit famous? A local team-member mentioned this to us.

Here's a run-down of what was ordered by the handful of people on my end of the table:

Spinach and Pear Salad - baby spinach, sliced pears, candied pistachios, gorgonzola, crispy pancetta, raspberry vinaigrette. I normally don't go for the sweet fruity salads and almost made an exception with this. Unusually, you get a whole pear halved and sliced on the plate. Great balance of sweet-savory in this salad.

Strega Salad - baby arugula, sliced grapefruit, walnuts, shaved parmesan, citrus vinaigrette. This was my selection and it was quite good - lighter than you would expect and a good foundation for the seafood to come.

Risotto di Mare - chef's daily selection of fresh seafood, risotto - this was my original selection before hearing about the the Zuppa de Pesce. Clams, muscles, calamari and quite good.

Penne Arrabiata - penne with garlic, oil and spicy tomato sauce - this was a favorite with some of the vegetarians at the table. This was spicier than I expected and quite satisfying. All the pasta I tried was cooked perfectly - a good sign.

Pappardella Funghi Selvatica - homemade pasta served with wild mushrooms and black truffle oil - another vegetarian option - I'm not sure how well this went with some of our Indian diners - mushrooms aren't common in their traditional food so for some the flavor is off-putting. The bit I sampled was very flavorful and delicious thought.

Veal Saltimbocca - prosciutto di parma, fontina cheese, sage, white wine demi glaze,  roasted potatoes and a couple of asparagus - I didn't taste this one but those who ordered told me it was quite good.

Zuppa de Pesce - all I heard in the description was "tomato stock with fettuccini, clams, muscles, calamari, fish" and then they bring out the crackers and an extra napkin. Next this gigantic wok comes out with half a lobster - wow, what a dish. For business occasions I try not to over-indulge and unless I'm paying my own way, order something moderately priced. I'm not sure how much this beast added to the bill but I'm sure I didn't succeed on being moderate. It was entirely delicious though, with so much seafood I was set for at least a week. If you want to get a feel for this restaurant's cuisine, THIS is the dish to order.

Service in a word was fantastic - several employees coming to our table took care of anything we asked for and handled all our questions with extensive descriptions (we are a picky crowd as you can imagine). I'd like to try this restaurant again when the weather is a bit nicer. I can imagine the terrific aromas on an open patio overlooking the bay - maybe someday!

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Strega Waterfront Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mellow Mushroom - Lavista Rd Near Druid Hills and Emory

You can find this location of Mellow Mushroom at 1679 Lavista Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329 right next to Whole Foods and Post Briarcliff. This location is one of the older, longer running Mellow Mushrooms in Atlanta, at one time threatened by Post Apartments (who coveted the land and seemed to buy out all the nearby businesses). I'm happy that it has both survived and thrived.

I believe the building was already here before MM decided to make it it's own, with  some parking in front, a large neon mushroom sign and an expansive patio. The interior is old-school, more bar than restaurant with plenty of raw wood finishes and tile floor. Tons of nostalgia here for me as it's been many years since I last visited, then most recently I've been by twice in the span of a few months. Both times I've had consistently good service and food.

For me, Mellow Mushroom is about a good, consistent product with tons of flavor, a salad to split and a few pints of beer. Secondary is the hippy-dippy 60's decor and of course, great service rounds out the trifecta. This location still has plenty of attitude while serving up what you would normally expect from a well established pizza chain with beautiful wheat crusts and amazing fresh toppings.

It's pretty much the same menu here as at other locations with all our favorite pizza combinations - I'm particularly fond of the Kosmic Karma - but most recently went with the old standby, pepperoni and mushroom. This location also gets kudos for having a good beer menu with plenty of local craft.

 So what are you waiting for? Care to join me for a pie?

-- John

(also posted to Yelp)
Mellow Mushroom Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Yard House - Atlantic Station - Atlanta Georgia

You can find Yard House at 261 19th Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30363 in Atlantic Station - Midtown near the Publix and LA Fitness. If you haven't visited Atlantic Station, this is a sprawling mixed-use development with restaurants, shops and housing nestled in the old Atlantic Station railway complex, thus the name. There's some limited parking on the streets but they really get too jammed up to use so just park on the Publix end of the underground deck.

 The restaurant is located on one end of a block-long row of buildings with both exterior (via patio) and interior seating. The appearance is retro-brownstone meats industrial loft and will be sure to get the nod from any hipster. The interior bar is rather spectacular with beer? tubing along the ceilings leading to the many taps around the center stage - while there is a full bar, this place is really about the beer and there are many options, many on draft. I found the selection exceptional with many things to try - some of my favorite locals were on hand as well as some well-seasoned regional craft.

I've had occasion to visit a few times and in every case it was fairly easy to find seating at the bar. The bartenders do a great job once you get their attention - the times I've gone this took a few minutes, not that they were that busy but the bar is massive and it's easy to miss someone newly sat (so make yourself a bit obnoxious and flag someone down!). Once you get that first draft and order up some appetizers you'll be feeling fine and can take everything in - at least everything you can see. This place is dark as Hades, so to speak, so keep the flashlight on your phone handy while looking at menus.

Speaking of menu, it's fairly extensive with many options - on the occasions I've visited (once before a movie - there's a large Regal cineplex in the same long row of buildings - quite handy to have a bar so close, actually; and a couple of other times while hitting technology meetups in nearby venues) I've tended to feed on bits of spicy chicken - they have these boneless firecracker wings - they're supposed to be hot but they're more spicy than hot if you know what I mean. I've also had the calamari and the moo shu eggroles - all of these were good and satisfying. Nothing great, mind, but still worth giving a whirl. I've also had the :Gardein™ Fried Chicken Strips" with fries and thought them almost inadequate - tons of breading and cold fries.

All this being said, while Yard House hits things off well it finishes a bit flat. I think the service and food can be a bit better - it's not horrible but not what I would call great. Still, it's worth dropping in, especially if you're waiting on a movie, happen to overlap the happy hour and want to sample the exceptional beer selection. I think it's a pub that wants to be a restaurant but needs a little shake-up or maturing. I have high hopes for it  and it's certainly competitive to the nearby Meehan's.

-- John

 (also posted to Yelp)
Yard House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato  

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Draft - Holiday Inn Somerville - Bunker Hill - Boston Massachusetts

You can find Draft in the ground-floor of the Holiday Inn at 30 Washington St, Somerville MA 02143 at the Eastern edge of Bunker Hill. I stayed in this Holiday Inn for several days with a coworker while visiting my firm's Boston office. I normally would not have spent much if any time in the hotel bar but it doubles as the breakfast location in the mornings and interestingly, was recommended to us by the server at Tavern at the End of the World as a covert local, quiet watering hole.

The room is on the ground floor to the right of the lobby and is also used for breakfast in the mornings in an adjoining space. The breakfast buffet is nothing to write home about - more like the "freebie" breakfast you get at Holiday Inn Express (it's it odd how the more expensive the hotel, the more you have to pay for stuff that's free at the lower end?). I'm not sure if it's worth the $10 you pay if you order it with your room, but it's certainly a better value than the $13 you pay if you don't.

At night it transforms into a a cozy small full bar serving a decent selection of booze, beer and tavern food. There are multiple screens behind the bar so you can keep up with your favorite teams, or on the night we visited the Republican debate. This night I stayed with the very excellent Harpoon Take 5 IPA while my friend Sid had some low-end Scotch (my advice, stay away from brand you aren't familiar with).

I only managed to visit during one evening while in Boston but liked the feel of the place quite a bit. Service was exemplary and when we had an issue with the Scotch the manager came out, was very apologetic and took care of the problem for us. Kudos to the staff at this Holiday Inn and in particular Draft. I'm looking forward to visiting again.

-- John

(also published to Yelp)
Draft Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato