Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Daily Catch--Boston, MA (North End)

The main event: Black Pasta with Ground Squid 
A wrong turn in walking to The Daily Catch proved costly. The mistake cost us 15 minutes, so we arrived at 5:30 instead of 5:15. The one party ahead of us in line took their seats 20 minutes later and actually finished their meal and walked out before we got our table. The Daily Catch plays by its own rules, so no reservations and you don't even get a number or leave your name. You stand in line. For us the wait was an hour. And, do you think a place like this would accept your credit card?
Calamari meatballs, cut

So, was it worth it? Well, maybe, but to satisfy our curiosity more than anything else. We wouldn't stand in line there again. Our appetizer turned out to be the bargain of the night. A mere six dollars got us two calamari meatballs--a distinctive appetizer I'd never be able to find here in the Bay Area. They were delicious and tasted like, well, calamari. The texture was a little spongy and the flavor was largely of the tomato sauce.

Shrimp linguine
Next came the shrimp linguine. I barely had a chance to touch it, as the kids grabbed it and loved it, though more for the pasta than the shrimp. I liked the shrimp, though it's hard to make it stand out as spectacular in a linguine dish. So, it wasn't memorable.
Monkfish Marsala
The Monkfish Marsala was dominated by the wine sauce, which to many would have been fine, but I would have liked the dish to feature the fish, which was tender and juicy. Again, the boys really enjoyed the pasta that came with it.

Perhaps the most anticipated dish was the Black Pasta with Ground Squid. Here, The Daily Catch did not disappoint. Made with squid ink, the pasta was right on, being good and chewy. The ground squid went really well with it, but I would have still loved the greasy pasta on its own.

Perhaps the most important thing on this menu: Cash Only
I liked that the cook was there in plain view of the restaurant. His work in the kitchen was a show in itself and can't be discounted. It was fun watching his well coordinated dance, waving the frying pans, grabbing the right ingredients without looking and somehow knowing the dish in the oven was ready without looking at his watch (all while having two other courses going). I guess that's what cooking in a restaurant is about, but it was never presented so clearly to me before.

The Daily Catch
323 Hanover St.
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-8567

Friday, August 23, 2013

James Hook and Co.

Craving a good lobster sandwich, we walked over to James Hook and Co and ordered a "Large". At $17, the sandwich was a good value and was bursting with tender, sweet lobster meat. Thankfully, James Hook was considerably easier on the mayonaise compared to the Boston Chowda Co. which we tried earlier.

Though the boys really enjoyed it, the clam chowder was expensive at $7.50 per bowl. One wasn't enough to satisfy them, so we ordered another. The first bowl came with lots of clams; the second one didn't. 

The payment system could be more efficient. You order and receive your food at one corner of the restaurant, but have to go to the opposite corner to pay. So, the employee you settle up with needs to make a round trip across the diagonal of the restaurant before he can help the next person in line. And, with those lobster sandwiches, James Hook had a long line indeed at lunchtime.

James Hook and Co.
15-17 Northern Ave.
Boston, MA 02110
(617) 423-5501

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Mother Anna's--Boston, MA (The North End)

With seemingly every other North End restaurant overflowing with customers during the heart of the dinner rush last week, we ate at Mother Anna's, which didn't have a line. And, I can't figure out why. The service was fast and with a smile and they prepared basic dishes exceedingly well.
Gnocchi Juliana--a masterpiece
The lasagne was rich with the pasta baked to perfect doneness. The crusty outer layer went well with the soft pasta underneath. And, did you get a load of the number of layers they had? I counted ten.

The Fettucine Alfredo I didn't get a chance to try--the boys polished it off too quickly.
Fettuccini Alfredo

The only dish I can say was merely "good" was the calamari. It came to the table fresh, hot and lightly battered. Though it hit the spot, I probably wouldn't have remembered it had it not been for this dinner being made most memorable by...

...the Gnocchi Juliana. It was the best dish of the trip. And, we had many dishes on this trip. Jenny loved the lobster in this dish; I'll never forget the scallops, more than an inch thick. Everything was done to a perfect consistency. The giant prawns were solid and meaty.

Although Mother Anna's ended up being our last resort last week, the next time we go to Boston it'll be the North End restaurant we'll try first!

The salad that came with the gnocchi
Mother Anna's
211 Hanover St.
Boston, MA 02113
(617) 523-8496

Saturday, August 17, 2013

L.A. Burdick--Boston, MA

I had the best hot chocolate of my life earlier this week. To consume a Burdick Blend Dark Hot Chocolate is to drink a premium dark chocolate bar in liquid form and then some. It was rich, thick and definitely a drink to sip, not gulp. The four of us rotated the drink around the table and each one couldn't wait till it was his turn.
No clip stands here! Your order number is held by a cacao husk at LA Burdick.

We also got a milk chocolate cold. I'd tell you how it tasted, but the kids downed that one before I could get my hands on it. They tell me it tasted a bit like chocolate milk.

I loved the drink so much I wanted to get some chocolate there as well. However, with bite-size hand-made creations at $3.50 a pop and bars at $10 I just couldn't bring myself to do it. That amazing large dark hot chocolate at a mere $5.75, however? I walked out of Burdick's feeling like a shoplifter.
Iced milk chocolate
LA Burdick
220 Clarendon St.
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 303-0113

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Al's State Street Cafe--Boston, MA

Chicken pesto

We went to Al's today for lunch. The value was amazing at $8 for a large sandwich (about 12-inches--the small is a mere ten). We got two and they filled up this family of four. The servers there were very kind and helpful. One even gave the boys lollipops. Those making the sandwiches turned out their products with lightning speed.

The pesto chicken suited the boys fine, especially since it was good and oily. The steak and mushroom sandwich was a giant hit with Jenny, who's very hard to please. We got both sandwiches with provolone.

Sicilian steak

I'd love to go back! Al's has three locations. We went to the one on State St.

112 State St. Boston, MA 02109
Phone: (617) 720-5555


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Boston Chowda Co.--Boston, MA

Lobster roll and chowder combo
With our hotel close to Quincy Market, we grabbed dinner there in the late afternoon. The lobster sandwich was fantastic, with chunks of lobster bursting from the bun (which itself was soft as a pillow and a bit sweet). The mayo was a little strong, but given how great the sandwich was as a package, that was forgivable.
Baked mac and cheese
There lobster mac and cheese was OK. Tyler liked it, fishing out all of the lobster from the start.

The chowder was a bit of a disappointment. It had far more potato than clams and it wasn't even the best chowder we had that afternoon (the cup we had on Georges Island was better).

Boston Chowda Co.
1 Faneuil Hall Market Pl.
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 742-4441

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bakery Mexico--San Jose, CA

Last weekend we went to see a concert by Symphony Silicon Valley at San Jose State. With our family needing dinner during the performance, Jenny sent me to nearby Bakery Mexico on E. Santa Clara Street in downtown San Jose.

Note that from the street there's no way you'd know there's a restaurant at 87 E Santa Clara St. due to construction and the related scaffolding completely covering the storefront.

Once you fight your way through it, though, you'll be rewarded with a slection of rich, scrumptious tortas. Just half of one will fill you up. We got one pork and one chicken--the two sandwiches were enough for my family of four. The pork was sliced thin and I actually enjoyed the slightly chewy texture. The chicken ended up being a greasy mess, but nobody minded. Steeling the show was a white cheese (it's the default cheese) that was flavorful and creamy.

If you have room, try the pastries at Bakery Mexico. We tried a pound cake coated with chocolate as well as a muffin.

So, in all we got dinner and dessert for just over $15. Throw that in with a free concert (Look out for them! There are multiple performances during the summer and are sponsored by Target.) and our Sunday evening was an amazing value.

Bakery Mexico
87 E Santa Clara St.
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 920-2518

Monday, August 5, 2013

Go Go Gyro--Los Altos, CA

The wait was interminable and you could cut the negative energy at Go Go Gyro with a kopis. It took me five minutes just to get someone to take my order and I was first in line. After I ordered one customer complained that she just wanted some baklava, which was already made, yet the woman behind the counter took orders from three more customers. "OK, I'll be with you", she said, "just let me help the people behind you". "No, I'm not waiting any longer", was the response. "Give me what I ordered right now." The customer had a point.

The drama didn't even end there. Yet another customer complained that an order was placed half an hour earlier, yet her food wasn't ready.

Things got off to a slow start, as they say, and it was hard for Go Go to recover. From placing the order to walking out with the food took nearly 25 minutes. It would take one amazing gyro tonight to ever bring me back. Although it was good, the gyro wasn't amazing. I got the chicken, which was on the dry side. It tasted like tuna, in fact. Jenny got the beef and lamb gyro, which I finished. I liked it, but Jenny thought it salty.

In an irony of all ironies, Go Go Gyro's slogan is, "Real Greek, Real Fast". But with service like tonight's Go Go really opened itself to ridicule. Slow Slow Gyro would be more appropriate, but maybe a little too easy. How about Godot Gyro?

I bought the food using a Groupon. I've used them many times at other places, but was never charged tax. Until now. I forked over the money. Hey, by then I was just happy to get my order in.

Go Go Gyro
4546 El Camino Real
Los Altos, CA 94022
(650) 949-4976