Saltie Girl

There is nothing more quintessentially New England than a seafood feast in the summer. In early June, restaurateur Kathy Sidell teamed with Kyle McClelland to open a seafood bar next to her MET Bar Restaurant right off of Newbury Street.  The space is very cozy with capacity at 30 seats spread among 4 tables and the bar. You can count on a bit of a wait during peak times because this place is first come first serve.

I tend to avoid most Back Bay restaurants because of the onslaught of tourists and really just prefer my comfort zone otherwise known as the South End. I surprised myself when I suggested this to Mr. E  for lunch one weekend, but felt I was grasping at the straws of the fleeting summer heat.

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again.  The place is cozy. We got lucky and arrived to an open booth near the entrance. It took some maneuvering, but I was able to hoist myself into my seat.  The decor in this place is incredibly lively and bright. The bar is adorned with the most beautiful aquamarine tile that look like the scales of a fish.

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Behind the bar was one of the most magnificent collections of tinned seafood I’ve ever seen. I’m talking mussels, oysters, tuna, octopus!  I think canned seafood gets a little bit of a bum rap. Instead of thinking of your childhood tuna, think chic Europeans sipping on vintage wines and eating canapes topped with seafood canned with the purpose of capturing that pure seafood essence. Without a doubt, it reminded me of our trip to Barcelona earlier this  year.

For this trip however, I was on a mission to eat raw things… lots of raw things.

OYSTERS – local, briny and beautiful.  I could have easily put down another half dozen of these fresh, plump babies.

TORCHED SALMON BELLY avocado / cucumber / green apple / miso glaze – we got this flavor packed dish right after the oysters came out.  It was an overwhelming burst to the senses after eating delicate raw oysters.  While it was delicious and had very deep flavors, it totally downplayed the flavors of our next few dishes.

HAMACHI LOIN pineapple & cucumber water / meyer lemon & shiso oil / blood orange gelee – on paper this sounded so refreshing.  In real life, this was pretty tasteless.  I can’t , say for sure whether it was completely overtaken by the salmon belly right before but this one was pretty bland.  Maybe it is just something I should make a mental note for next time not to order the salmon belly until later in the meal.

SMOKED ATLANTIC SALMON pumpernickel everything bagelette / green onion cream cheese / trout roe / yolk – by the time Mr. E ordered this, they’d run out of pumpernickel everything and only had plain bagels left.  It came out with smoked salmon piled high, speckled with small dollops of roe all around.  He got quiet and ate it swiftly, which can only mean it was good.

ORANGE CLAM – We ordered this because it was a special for the day. This was quite the mound of chopped clam, which arrived to the table quite a bit later than the other items.  At first, I thought they’d forgotten about this completely and would have been ok with it given how full I was feeling after my eating sprint with the occasional Veuve Cliquot hydration breaks.  When it came, I gave myself a mental groan, knowing full well that Mr. E would not be eating this with me.  The texture of the clam varied based on what body part I was working with, but I loved the pieces that had the nice crunch.  It was so subtle and sweet that I nearly shed a tear at the thought of wasting what I couldn’t finish it.

Next trip, my goal is to drink wine and eat a healthy sample of their tinned goods.  I will be reporting back!

Saltie Girl
281 Dartmouth St
Boston, MA 02116
617) 267-0691

Brunch at Coppa

It’s tough to avoid those Sunday crowds when the ladies and gents who brunch are out in droves. Over Labor Day Weekend, Mr. E and I took advantage of the mass exodus and headed over to the South End to visit one of our old favorites, Coppa.

Knowing so much delicious food is on its way, it’s so tough not to fill up on bread and EVOO.  So good!!!

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Bacon and Eggs rosemary potatoes, over easy eggs, Coppa bacon, pepper vinaigrette, toast

Pancakes Mais corn pancake, shishito, maple butter

Look at those delicious peppers

In my last post, I mentioned the corn pancake at Coppa is better than Alden & Harlow’s. No competition. It’s huge, in your face, and the shishito peppers add a nice bitterness that balances the summery sweet corn.

I’d say this past visit, Mr. E and I ordered a rather pedestrian meal. Honestly though, the simple dishes are just so darn tasty, I think that’s the way to go!

The menu does include some pretty flashy items.  You can get breakfast pasta or Italian sandwiches, zeppoles. I was hit with a heavy, heavy case of food envy when our table neighbors ordered this insane looking breakfast pizza. Another mouthful of my corn cake justified my decision.

Coppa
253 Shawmut Ave
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 391-0902

Alden & Harlow

Mr. E headed back home after a week long frenzy of travel. Friday evening, I picked him up from Logan and we we made our way to Harvard Square. Neither of us went to Harvard, but the area is practically a hallowed ground of some of our happiest moments. We had our first date at Cambridge 1 many moons ago. Mr. E also proposed to me in Harvard Square in a scenario quite similar to this past Friday.  I’d returned from a work trip and we were going to have a late dinner at Cambridge 1, that sneaky guy.  Before we arrived at the gates of the holy slices, Mr. E got down on one knee and popped the question.  I said yes and we went on our merry way, splitting a pie and sharing some old and new laughs like we’d done for years.

This past Friday, we ate a late dinner at Alden & Harlow.  I’ve realized under no normal circumstances have I ever eaten at Alden & Harlow.  It’s always after picking someone up from the airport at odd hours that I can manage to get in.  I’ve tried a few times walking in with no reservation on a Saturday night only to have the hosts smugly tell me it’s a 1.5 hour wait. Yeah cool, thanks guys.

Your best bet is to go late, bee line straight past the host stand and grab seats at the bar. Do not make eye contact, just keep walking with conviction until those damn seats are yours.

Once seated, we were greeted by Dan, our friendly bartender who was happy to prepare “whatever!”.  I had a wonderful gin cocktail and a mezcal cocktail to follow.  Mr. E had two awesome tiki inspired mocktails. Dan was kind enough to breakdown the ingredients of both the cocktail and the mocktail to me and Mr. E, which is something I respect in a bartender. We’ve had experiences where bartenders will just throw the mocktail down on the bar without a second thought and not bother explaining what they just mixed together.

We ordered and the kitchen sent over a few extra treats —

Black Bass Crudo Popcorn Crema, Basil, Lime & Calabrian Chili – Mr. E and I agreed this didn’t stand out all that much.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great. I normally love Calabrian chili, but we must have gotten a pretty mild bunch on our plate. I wanted more acidity and brightness. The crema and the actual popcorn threw me off. Also, the texture of the popcorn after sitting on the wet fish wasn’t for me.

Charred Broccoli Butternut Squash Hummus, Bianco Sardo & Cashew – Incredible flavor on the charred broccoli. It’s definitely one of my tried and true dishes. It’s really well balanced and the charred smokiness, while prominent, does not completely dominate the other flavors of the dish. This is the one dish I suggest to both vegetarians and meat eaters alike when I direct them to Alden.

Chicken Liver Pate Grilled Radish, Basil Oil, Salt & Vinegar Chicken Skins – Favorite dish. If you like chicken liver, you have to get this.  Plus, salt and vinegar chicken skins???  Are you kidding me? Loved this.

Pickled Verrill Farm Corn Pancakes Buttermilk, Maple, Shishito – Again with the popcorn. Not following this trend? The pancakes were really delicious, but I’ve had a version at Coppa that I like better.  That said, it’s still worth ordering.

Blistered Cherry Tomato Toast Burrata, Garlic Chips, Tomato Leaf Vinaigrette – Fun extra from the kitchen. It was a nice way to get the sweetness of summer while tomatoes are still in season.

Eggplant a la Plancha Smoked Peanuts & Tahini, Ricotta Salata, Jalapeno Seeds – The eggplant was halved lengthwise and dolled up with the works. It was a very hearty dish that made me just sit back in my chair and say, “aaahhh.”   The intensity and crunchy texture of the smoked peanuts with the mild nuttiness of the tahini and the meatiness of the eggplant was really pleasant.

Blistered Shishitos Grilled Haloumi, Pickled Eggplant, Spicy Honey & Sunflower Vin – Another extra from the kitchen. Can’t say no to shishitos. The combination of salty, sweet, acidic was nice on this dish. It was impossible to stop nibbling on these guys even after feeling ridiculously full from the entire meal.

Overall, the meal was solid. The bartenders and the chef garde manger were all so friendly. Never once did I get a look of judgment for whipping out my new toy and snapping close to 10 photos of every dish. They were fun, informative, and really enhanced our experience. As we were leaving, Dan bid us adieu and told us to come back soon, which we will definitely be taking him up on that offer.

Alden & Harlow
40 Brattle St
Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 864-2100