Posts Tagged restaurants

The Laurel Grille and Bar

This was not my first time at the Laurel Grill and Bar, and it is still not going to be my last time either. As it always has in the past, the meal exceeded my expectations and was a delightful treat for the taste buds.

I had only previously been to the Laurel on the weekend while taking my mother to a show, or celebrating a birthday with family. So a Thursday night experience was a new one for me, I felt a little foolish when we arrived and said we had a reservation. The restaurant was less than half full. Not really surprising though but better to have been safe than sorry, I know if we did not have a reservation the place would have been packed and we never would have gotten a table.

I had a tasty cocktail called a pink lemonade to start off the meal with, I forget what exactly was in it, but it tasted great so that’s all that matters. Then we had some calamari, which was very good as well it tasted extremely fresh.. I would have skipped the banana peppers that were mixed in, but I was easily able to pick around them.

For dinner, I had the lobster risotto and Kate had the stuffed pork loin, and they were both awesome. The pork loin was stuffed with italian sausage, onions, and cheese. The risotto had lobster, asparagus, fresh tomato, sun dried tomato, and Parmesan cheese. I really liked how they cut the asparagus up into tiny pieces making it part of the meal instead of putting it on presentation style by laying 2 or 3 pieces on top of the risotto, it was also cooked perfectly by still being crisp instead of the over mushy that so many places end up having.

The bartender was a bit loud, and I think a bit tipsy, but it wasn’t anything that would disturb the meal, plus it was obvious he was dealing with a few regulars with his boisterous actions.

Always a win here, and I will be back… again… and again…


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Joe Tecce’s Ristorante

Now, normally I don’t like to write a bad review of any restaurant, I will generally just keep my opinion to myself and save my posts for praise of a good or great meal/restaurant. I need to make an exception this time for Joe Tecce’s Ristorante on the edge of Boston’s North End. I write this as a customer with extensive experience as a waiter in a restaurant who knows what it takes to wait on a table especially a large party that you are virtually dedicated to because of it’s size.

We headed there for dinner this past Friday night with a group of about 16 people. We were seated at 2 different tables and were working on 2 separate checks, our choice on the checks. One table was basically the kids table with their wranglers and one table the adults table.

First off, the menus are completely screwy with how they are laid out. They lack order and don’t follow the general flow of a meal the way a “normal” menu would be laid out for an Italian restaurant. Antipasto, then salads/soups, pastas, entress, desserts. Theirs had some entrees on the first page, salads/soups on the second, antipasto on the third, pastas on the fourth, and then some entrees and then desserts. Confusing to say the least!

Drink orders went sorta mostly ok, the service of them was very slow. Refills for water or soda were no quicker, and she didn’t seem to be able to remember who ordered what drink.

The ordering of the meal went mostly ok, the waitress did the normal start with one person, and then work your way around the table getting everyone’s orders. Then came the wait, it seemed like forever for the meals to come out, and when it did it was pure chaos! She had no idea who ordered what! She had a list in front of her, with everyone’s order, in order from first person to last person. She couldn’t figure out who ordered what, so she was yelling off what she held in her hand while waving it around hoping someone would tell her “hey that’s mine” meanwhile she is staring right at her list of who ordered what. It had been so long since we had ordered that many people forgot exactly what they had ordered, so meals got mixed up when one person was given a chicken marsala when they ordered a chicken parmesian because all they could remember was they had chicken in the name of it. Also unfortunately, the kids, usually the most anxious group of people while waiting for dinner were some of the last people to get their food.

The food itself, well, it gets a giant MEH from me, it wasn’t bad, but for the $30 that I dropped for the Veal Medallions with Proscuitto and Mozzarella, I was extremely disappointed. The medallions themselves were good, but when the waitress was rattling off the specials to us from memory instead of having them written down, she somehow failed to mention they were going to be covered in a mushroom and artichoke hearts sauce. I was certainly shocked when it arrived that way. I was also disappointed when I ordered and was told that it did not come with a salad since when she was rattling off the specials she said that it came with a salad and choice of pasta. The choice in pasta did not come with a choice of sauces though, and along with incredibly small size of the side of pasta, this was an extreme disappointment.

While other people’s meals were larger, I did try some of the chicken parm that kate had ordered, while it was tasty, it didn’t really strike me as anything exceptional.

Overall, underwhelmed doesn’t even come close to describing my experiences at Joe Tecce’s Ristorante. I will not be back.


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Dinner in Washington at D’Acqua

So… I am way behind on this, as well as my posting of my photos from the trip… it’s been a month and they still aren’t up? I am just terrible.

Anyway, dinner in Washington at D’Acqua was amazing.

When we were planning our trip it was decided that we would go out for a “nice” dinner one of the nights, when looking at our schedule, we realized it was either Monday Night or Friday night for this nice meal since we would be at the Red Sox/Nationals games Tuesday through Thursday, and arriving Sunday night we weren’t in the mood to get all dressed up after traveling to go out for a nice meal.

We didn’t check places out ahead of time, we sort of just winged it the whole time while there. Before I get into D’Acqua though, I need to explain the other 2 meals we had out in the city.

The night of our arrival, we kind of just wandered to find a place, we were staying at a hotel up on the northwest side of the city, so we were close to what is called “The Golden Triangle” in Washington. So we went and wandered around a little bit til we found something that looked good, we stumbled onto a small place called Luigi’s Famous, not sure how famous it really is since I have never heard of it. Although the whole famous thing is always interesting since it seems like so many places are “famous”, but that’s beside the point. We had a really nice meal, we split an appetizer of calamari and then shared Assaggini luigi – combination of the tortellini, agnolotti, & ravioli in three different sauces. These were just awesome and totally hit the spot after traveling all day, even though we had some tasty peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch on the train, this was really nice. The atmosphere was quaint and quiet for a real nice end to the evening.

Then the next night we were wandering around the city, and came up to the White House, took some pictures and then realized it was time for dinner, so what better way to find a place than to ask someone who’s local, and who’s more local than a cop, right? Turns out the cop isn’t local either, turns out he’s from MA and works down there for the Capitol Police and actually knows someone who also works with Kate up here in MA, who woulda thought, right? So brief moment talking with him and then he tells us about this nice little place down the street, The Old Ebbit Grill. We get there are just the right time and put our names in, 30 minute estimated wait time, that’s nothing from our point of view. Ten minutes later and we were hearing the hostess tell people it would be an hour or more for a table.

This place was really cool, you could tell it had been around a really long time, it had that old feeling to it where you know that some major people had been sitting in those seats way back when, concocting deals and bargains in the background of the political landscape of the city. One thing I really really liked was the atmosphere that was created by the restaurant still using the very old gas powered chandeliers and lights. We had some delicious calamari as an appetizer(can you tell our favorite appetizer yet?) and then I had grilled salmon and Kate had a jumbo lump crab cake. Both were terrific!

Funny thing while we were sitting and enjoying our dinner, I kept glancing at the table to our left on the other side of a support pillar trying to place why the guy I could see looked familier. Eventually, right at the end of the meal it hit me and I turned to him to say hello. The person I could see was Ben, and the guy I could not see was Bryan. Both of these guys were part of the team who runs the Red Sox Fantasy Baseball Camp that I went to this past February. They also work with the “get away” trips put on by the Red Sox, and are lucky enough to get to go on the trips themselves. They appeared to remember me, or if they didn’t they faked it really well.

So those were our early week meals, the mid week meals were all at the National’s Park. To be honest, the food at the park was pretty tasty. Although, with record crowds all 3 nights, the staff at the stands were definitely not ready for the demand of the crowds!! Major props for the burgers and fries from “Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries“, there’s that “famous” again!! There burgers were pricy, but they were worth it, so were their fries. The delivery method after ordering was interesting, but still better than some other places I have been.

Then came D’Acqua on Friday.

We decided we wanted seafood, and then searched for a place through Yelp to find the right place, menu looked good and we got ourselves all gussied up for a night out to dinner!

We had a reservation, but we were early and they seated us anyway right away, it wasn’t nearly as busy as we had expected for 7pm on a Friday night, I think Washington might start a little later than Boston. Also interesting, there was a small area near the end of the bar, closest to the kitchen, with fish and other seafood items laid out on ice, apparently you can pick a fish to be your dinner and they will cook it for you. We stuck to the menu in front of us.

We started off by ordering a salad and an appetizer of pan friend mozzarella. The mozzarella was delicious with the flaky crust it was in. The salad was interesting, they actually just left the romaine lettuce leaves whole, piled them on the plate, then draped the anchovies and dressing over it.

Then our meal came, Kate dined on Beef Tagliata with basil flavored mashed potato and mustard sauce, while I had the olive crusted roasted lamb rack with potato rosti, carmelized shallots and garlic.

Blown away is about the only way to describe the meal, presentation was interesting as well. When they brought my lamb out, it was still in the full rack on a cutting board with a garnished plate as well. They actually cut my lamb next to the table, and laid it out for me on the plate before putting it in front of me. A bit extreme from my point of view but bonus points for the style.

Really though, the food was delicious, it melted in your mouth and the flavors of the sides combined with the main dish to compliment one another perfectly.

We savored our meal as we ate it, and were so happy throughout the whole meal.

Then came dessert, we went for it because while delicious, our dinners were not the normal tons of food that fills you up like a gut busting chain in the local strip mall. Dessert was their Chocolate Mousse Cake, and it was delicious as well, and a perfect ending to one of the finest meals I have had in a very very very long time.

I still slightly salivate when I think about this meal…


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So last night, I was on the way home with my GF who helped me and my siblings take a picture together to give to my mom as a mother’s day gift, and then picking up a new rug for the living room at Building 19 3/4 – yes, it was actually a spur of the moment stop and impulse buy, but it looks really good in the living room, I will post a picture in another blog or in my pictures at some point.

So prior to that stop we were cruising homeward bound and we were hungry, so we were trying to figure out where to go…

First, we ruled out fast food and pizza places for the obvious reason, then we ruled out a chain because that just wasn’t worth it and she wasn’t in the mood for chinese or japanese etc, so those were ruled out, however we had one last resort option if we couldn’t find someplace, and that was Chipotle, which is both a chain and sorta fast food, but it gets an exemption, tough to explain but it is just different so it gets one.

So we were cruising up RT 1 and seeing what is around and we finally get to RT1/128/95 and realize we have 2 options, Joe’s American Bar and Grill(technically a chain but not a big one so it is exempt) or Finz which is a semi local seafood sorta chain place, there are more than one of them anyway.

So we decide on Finz and make our way over there, it was only about 5:30 so we were pretty much still in old person time which is fine by me since it meant easy to get in and get a table and not too much noise, and yes, there were many an old person in there at the time.

I started off with a sour apple martini which was really good, we got some fresh rolls which were really warm and just plain awesome. Then we had the crispy calamari for an appetizer. WOW, that was the most tender and well made calamari I have ever had, it was crisp on the outside with a light flaky batter which had flavor but not so much as to overwhelm the flavor of the calamari, and the inside was soft and the furthest thing from rubbery you can imagine, it was perfectly cooked. The marinara and garlic butter dipping sauces were great compliments to it as well.

I chose the pan seared scallops with a cider reduction, with bacon whipped potatoes on the side. I was supposed to get a roasted corn and mushroom ragout, but I swapped it out for the much simpler asparagus spears. This dish was FANTASTIC, the scallops were fresh, perfectly cooked and the cider reduction complimented it perfectly. The potatoes were great and while there were no chunks of bacon, you could really taste the bacon in them, I am guessing they had bacon fat added to them for the flavor.

She had the pan seared shrimp wrapped in prosciutto, with pesto Israeli cous cous, and those were delicious as well, nicely cooked and the flavors mixed really well together.

THEN, we had dessert too to make it a perfectly decadent night, we got a square of chocolate marshmallow cheesecake which was absolutely divine, the layer of fudge-like chocolate on the top could have been sliced to about half thickness since it was a bit over powering, but man, even with that, the marshmallow flavored cheesecake center with the graham cracker crust was to die for, and glad we split it because I never would have been able to eat it myself, just too big.

I have eaten up at the one in Salem before, and I know at least one of you has as well, although you may just drink there, not sure exactly. While this one is not on the ocean, the atmosphere is great and the food just plain awesome. Definitely will be back at some point, but not too often since it can be a bit pricey, but definitely worth it if you want a nice, quiet, quality meal to treat yourself with your $$.


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Pretty Disappointed

So, I had a craving last night and went north from the airport instead of west to home…

I picked up a roast beef sandwich and chowder at Kelly’s Roast Beef on rt 1.

The sandwich, as always was great, the meat, the roll, everything was perfect.

The chowder however, left a lot to be desired.

Plenty of clam, that is for certain and the potatoes were a good size, however… it was far far too thin, far too few onions, and WAY too much sand!!


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To Semi Quote Denny Green – “It was what I thought it was”

That’s what I have to say about the Mexican Place called Hacienda’s here in Warsaw, IN.

It was exactly what I was expecting from a mexican resteraunt here in the state if Indiana.

I got the fajitas, tough to really screw it up… and they did not but it just was severely underwhelming of a meal… I skipped the beans, and no peppers with the fajitas.

I got 3 strips of chicken, and 5 strips of steak. but they gave me 5 fajitas wraps. Do they really think I can stretch that out to many wraps? Also, the onions, normally you would expect some nice slices or rings all saute’d up? Not at this place! Super high class! Ya know those micro-sized diced onions you get on a McDonald’s hamburger? Picture those saute’d up underneath my heaping portions of meat. Yeah, that REALLY got me all kinds of excited when it arrived to the table!!

The salsa tasted more like Hunts Tomato paste mixed with some jalapeno juice…


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ALMOST!!! I Almost Let It Happen…

I almost let laziness and desperation allow me to completely abandon my personal standards for dinner and food…. There is absolutely NOTHING around here to eat for dinner, fast food is basically it! Not even a Chili’s or Applebee’s around here!

So yeah… I ended up getting a Little Caesars pizza and some crazy bread…..

However, I almost let my standards drop due to curiosity… similar to last week when I pulled into the wrong parking lot and almost ate at a Red Lobster instead of going to the correct parking lot, tonight, I almost went to a Long John Silvers tonight.

My God I am from NEW ENGLAND, I have always refused to eat at a seafood fast food restaurant chain, and I almost let myself… I was strong though… I resisted the laziness and found something else… not exactly healthy… but something that does not compromise my own personal standards of places to eat….

I couldn’t even find a local place to eat that did not look totally rat or cockroach infested or cost $50 a plate for dinner.


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Cool Crowd VS. Weird Crowd?

From what I can tell here in California, the cool kids hang out at the In and Out Burger on Friday nights, take up space, make a mess, and eat fries and burgers while drinking as much free refill soda as they can..

and the weirdo crowd… well from what I can tell…. they work at In and Out Burger, cooking the cool kids food, taking their money, and cleaning up their mess.

Interesting dynamic I think, don’t you?

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One Nice Thing About California

Sushi, Sushi Sushi

The quality and volume of sushi places out here is really really good, plus they are imaginative and have some really cool combinations that we just don’t have at most places around us, and it is a ton cheaper!!

I think I am gonna OD on Sushi while I am here, i have had it for at least 3 meals this week already! Plus at least 2 or 3 times the previous 2 weeks. I am almost out of things to try at Imura here in Watsonville! Hopefully I will not be back next week so I won’t have to worry about having something a second time, or getting sick of it

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A Week Since My Last Update

Yeah.. busy week… to summarize….

I am back in California this week, same place as last week and it will be the same place next week.. I am coming home for the weekend though since I have a bunch of things to do and want to go get my newsed car registered on Monday.

Still trying to deal with VW on the situation with my car but I bought a Saab in the mean time to get me around when I am home. I figure once I get my car back I will either go enter a demolition derby with the Saab, or sell it. Depends on my mood at the time.

So CA is not all that interesting, I am working 11-17 hour days while I am here, and working is not really working since I sit here, and watch a computer screen and try to clear up any problems that happen.

Their system keeps locking up because of the way our programmers programmed the system, they fucked up so I need to sit and keep this thing on life support while they write new code to try to compensate for the problem.

Fuck, but on the upside, I am earning a ton of FF miles, Holiday Inn Priority points, I am not spending any of my own money on anything, and I am really cranking up the billable hours!!! I think I might almost be at my quarterly amount and I am only a couple weeks into the year!

What I am really waiting for is 11 days from now for my paycheck, that is gonna be the nice one, my 4th quarter bonus and then all the leftover from my 2nd and 3rd quarters that they held back from me last year.

I had tried to write a couple blogs earlier this week but the damn thing kept screwing up on me so I could not post em… oh well….

if you are ever in Watsonville, CA – then definitely check out Green Valley Grill and Cilantro’s Mexican restaurants. They are both really good. I had a very nice double breast of duck with a juniper, raspberry and red wine reduction with saphron rice and then at Cilantros I had some soft tacos ‘con carne asada’ and orange rice, and they were all really really good!

I am on the red eye home tonight, same as last week and same as planned for next week. That was the reason I did not make it to the show last week, I was totally drained and slept off and on Sat afternoon and was just too wiped to go out in public!

have a great weekend and hope all is well with all of you!

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