Tag Archives: beacon hill

Fins, Beacon Hill

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Where: Fins - 240 Cambridge St Boston, MA 02114
When: March, 2012

March 1st was a pretty weird day. It was my company’s final packing day before our big move from First Street to Tech Sq in Kendall Sq. The fridges had been emptied and cleaned, all supplies had been packed up, framed photos of those we work for were taken off the walls and wrapped in bubble wrap, and rugs had been rolled up and taped. March 1st marked a day of great forward movement and accomplishment for all of us but it also marked the last day I was sharing an office with my office mate of almost 5 years, Alicia. I couldn’t help but get a bit choked up about no longer sharing an office with her – we had shared a lot of great recipes, food stories, heart to hearts and cries (mostly on my part). She had become a good friend and a phenomenal colleague. Alright, enough sappiness, I knew she would be just down the hall in our new place but it still felt like it was the end of an era.

We decided to go out to lunch on our last day as office mates and chose Fins, which had just opened its second location on Cambridge Street in Beacon Hill. I remember Alicia talking about how good Fins was when she lived over in Brighton so was looking forward to their grand opening!

It was pouring rain, naturally, so we hopped into a cab and across the river. The atmosphere and layout of Fins is really nice, I like how one of the dining rooms is separate from the main entrance as it was a cold windy, rainy day so it was nice not to get a gust of cold air every time the door opened. The restaurant was busy but we were quickly seated among all the other professional lunchers.

I started with the Seaweed Salad and Alicia with the Miso Soup. Both were good and pretty standard (no complaints, I don’t want my Seaweed Salad jazzed up too much). Alicia, having just recently had sushi delivered from Fins, ordered the Shrimp and Chicken Fried Rice which she loved. I had a bite (love dining with Italians who insist you try their food!) and can confirm it was really good. The rice was really good just on its own – plump little moist bites full of flavor. The chicken and shrimp just added to it.20120303-093616.jpg

I got the Spicy Tuna Maki and Fin’s Special Roll, per Alicia’s recommendation, which is shrimp tempura with peach, cucumber with mayo & bean sprout. The tuna was super fresh with just the right amount of spice. The shrimp tempura maki was delicious although always a bit of a struggle to eat those larger pieces. You never really know how something will work when they through something wacky like fruit in with sushi but this worked. My only disappointment was that one of the ends had just the tempuraed shrimp tail and I wanted more shrimp! It was a small disappointment though and the rest was delicious.

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Overall, the service was great, ambiance friendly and more sophisticated than a lot of the sushi places I go to, and the food was terrific. I think this is a great spot for lunch or dinner with friends and coworkers. Not particularly romantic but it might have a different feel in the evenings.

Alicia and I are have pretty much settled into our new offices in Tech Square (which is awesome, btw) and have made plans to go out for dinner once a month to catch up!

How does Fins measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Toscano, Beacon Hill

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Where: Toscano - 47 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114
When: February, 2012

There are two languages spoken within my office at work – “donor speak”, which is how we convey our mission and messaging to our donors and supporters, and “food speak” which is what Alicia, my office mate of almost 5 years, and I speak the rest of the time. We start the day asking about each others’ nights or weekends which revolves around what we ate or cooked and then we end the day by asking each others’ evening plans which involves what we are planning to eat or cook. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

It had been way too long since we had been out to dinner so we got a date on the calendar and decided on Toscano’s in Beacon Hill. I had walked by Toscano’s dozens of times before but never really noticed it or heard too much about it which, after having been there, I find surprising. The restaurant is a lot bigger than one would expect having been to a handful of the intimate (read: small) restaurants on Charles Street. It was modern but classic. The service was phenomenal with servers working together to make sure your glass never went empty and you had everything you needed. Looking around there was an elegant mother of three dining with her very well behaved kids, an older nicely dressed couple who looked as though they had been coming there for years, and a table of what appeared to be business men in suits. I could also see Toscano’s being a nice date place.Very versatile.

After debating between a bottle of wine and going by the glass, and choosing the glass, we were pleasantly surprised that their glasses of wine are actually Quartinos- a fourth of a liter. The perfect amount for a Tuesday night. I got the Sangiovese, Umani Ronchi which was just right with everything we ordered. Can’t go wrong with an Italian red when you are at an Italian restaurant really…

We started the meal sharing the Salumi Misti – Sliced Cured / Roasted Meats, Pecorino Toscano, Mixed Olives – and the Polpettini Fiorentina – Veal, Beef, Pork Meatballs, Florentine Style. The Salumi Misti plate was wonderful. I know there was prosciutto and salami on the plate but I am not exactly sure what the last item, at the bottom of the photo, was. We guessed that it was (obviously really) the roasted meat but what meat I can’t really tell you. This starter came with arugula and cheese which was a nice compliment to the olives and meats. I could have eaten an entire plate of the prosciutto alone, delicious. I had heard diners rave about the meatballs via Yelp before coming so I knew we had to order them. The meatballs, although impossible for a non-Italian like myself to pronounce without feeling silly (thank goodness for my Italian dinner date!), were delicious and huge. They were juicy and flavorful and the sauce was dynamite, a wonderful dipping sauce for the two kinds of bread that came out before our starters. Definitely a good choice.

For our entree we ordered the Gnocchi Quarttro Formaggi – Handmade Potato Gnocchi with Four Cheeses. The chef split the order for us which is always so nice instead of making a mess doing so at the table. The portions, again, were very generous. I noticed with the entree how simple the food is here. You won’t get some fancy inedible decorative piece on your plate. You won’t get some mile high presentation or anything that doesn’t need to be there. The food is honest, clean, well prepared, and delicious. The gnocchi, even in its cream sauce, were light, delicate, and well seasoned. It took everything in me to eat them one by one and not stab at my plate until I had a line of 4 on my fork to pop in my mouth.

Would you like to look at a dessert menu?” Bahahah. Of course.

As tempted as I was to get the Tiramisu the reviews were so mixed that I didn’t want to take the chance. Instead we ordered the Ricotta Cheesecake which was delicious. I know its not easy to have so many courses with cheese but we managed to power through it. The cake, like the gnocchi, gave the impression of being light and fluffy. It was just the right amount of sweet with the slight lingering tartness of the ricotta.

With dessert we ordered coffees and I have to say this is one of the best coffees I have had in a while. I’m not a coffee connoisseur or snob but this was truly delicious. I was raving about the coffee for days after wards, I need to find out the brand although I’m not sure I need a reason to be drinking more coffee than I already do.

Overall, the food was no frills, simple, delicious Italian fare (and large portions), the service was phenomenal, and the coffee alone would keep me coming back.

How did Toscano measure up? 4.5 Spoons!

Ristorante Toscano on Urbanspoon

Alibi & Bin26, Beacon Hill

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Where: Alibi - 215 Charles Street, Boston MA 02114
When: November, 2011

Built in 1851 as a prison for some of Boston’s most notorious inmates, what was the Charles Street Jail shut down in 1990 after the prisoners revolted against the poor living conditions. It then reopened, after a $150 million acquisition, renovation and construction project, in 2007 as the Liberty Hotel. The hotel, along with its 5 restaurants and bars, have been buzzing since and I finally found out why last night – it was so cool! I regret not having wandered through the hotel and other bars while I was there but now have reason to go back.

After work I met up with Libby and Mr. S at Alibi on the entry level of the hotel. The bar consists of two long brick walled rooms, like wide hallways, divided down the middle with a large brick wall with a few openings and “windows” with prison bars. On one side of the room there are low tables and couches and on the other (the bar side, where we were) there are high tops and stools. We could see the diners on the other side of the wall through the prison bars which I thought was pretty neat. They stuck with the prison “theme” with the decor with wanted posters of well known people on the walls.

Their cocktail menu looked really good with some fun names like “Jailbait” and “The Scurvy Elixer” but knowing I was having wine at dinner I started off with the same – a glass of the Pinot Noir Balleto, Russian River Valley – which didn’t disappoint.

How did Alibi measure up? 4 Spoons!

Where: Bin2626 Charles Street Boston, MA 02114
When: November 18, 2011

After drinks at Alibi we said goodbye to Mr. S, who was probably happy to not have to hear us talking about the RHOBH any more, and headed to Bin26. We were surprised by how large the restaurant actually is when you get inside as it looks quite small from the street. We got a great seat right by the window, a tip of the hat to making reservations.

The wine menu here is impressive; the hostess explains how to look through the 20+ page book of wines when you sit down. They have over 60 wines by the glass and over 200 wines by the bottle. I have to say I got a little nervous when the first few I saw were over $120 a bottle (I’d love to roll that way but not quite there yet with my career in the non-profit world) but we found a nice bottle of Sangiovese that was a little closer to our budget. I don’t think I had had Sangiovese before so that was exciting. I was declared “the mouth” and tasted the wine for the table. Yep, tastes good to me! It was around this time we declared that we should go to more wine tastings to know how to actually do it right.

Ok, time to look over the menu. Everything looked really good but we had been warned to stay away from the Risotto by Mr. S who found it too salty. We still had plenty to choose from. We had narrowed down a few options when our waiter, who seemed to find us amusing for some reason, let us know they were out of the Caprese salad. That was one of the items we were going to get so when he saw we were disappointed he told us there was one more and he could run to the kitchen and get them to hold it for us if we wanted. Yes please – run!

The service was great, another one of those places where you have 4 people coming and going from your table but you barely notice them, very seamless.

We ordered four items , creating a bit of a tapas theme, which came out in intervals which was perfect for our small table. We started with the Caprese Heirloom Tomato Salad with Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil. (pictured). Simple enough but, wow, was the mozzarella fresh. It was almost the consistency of a poached egg, firm on the outside but soft inside. The salad was lightly dressed and the perfect amount of basil to tomato to mozzarella.

Side note: I need the new iPhone that has the camera with flash, the photos I took all look terrible.

We then got the Grilled Octopus with Fava Beans, Olive Oil Poached Potatoes & a Limoncello Vinaigrette. I’ve been obsessed with octopus since Libby introduced it to me this summer so get pretty excited anytime I see it on a menu. We both thought the salad was a little too lemony which I now understand why, its not just lemon vinaigrette but lemoncello which is sweeter. The potatoes were really good as were the fava beans (something I don’t eat enough of) but we both wished there had been more octopus. There were maybe 4 small bite sized pieces which left us wanting more.

The next thing we got was the Mussels with White Wine and Spicy Tomato. I loved this which is funny as later in the night I couldn’t remember what the 3rd dish we had was. I don’t think that’s indicative that its a forgettable dish though, I blame the Sangiovese. The mussels were fresh and the sauce was just the right amount of spicy. We had to ask for more bread around this point so I could mop up the sauce at the end.

We then (does it ever end?) shared the Homemade Ricotta Gnocchi with Cherry Tomato, Basil and Baby Calamari. We both agreed that this was our favorite item of the night. Not that the others were delicious but this one went the extra mile. The gnocchi were big soft pillows of cheese perfectly complimented by the calamari and tomato. More bread please as I have to eat as much of this sauce as possible.

We weren’t planning on getting dessert but the waiter twisted our arms by exclaiming “You two are too skinny, of course you are getting dessert”. Okay, fine. As if we hadn’t had enough cheese we got the Manchego cheese plate. It was served with a small side of honey and some walnuts which was the perfect combination with the saltiness of the cheese.

Bravo, Bin26!

How did Bin 26 measure up? 5 Spoons!

Where: Trina’s Starlite Lounge- 3 Beacon Street, Somerville MA 02143
When: November 18, 2011

After dinner we payed an unexpected visit to Trina’s in Inman Square. Its always a fun place to go late night (10pm is considered “late night”, right?) as we tend to run people we know. I’ve had dinner here before, which was excellent, but just stuck to the champagne of beers, High Life, this time. Go for their fried chicken though, it was rated one of the top 10 places for fried chicken in the country by Bon Appetit.

After my 1.8 mile walk home I had to top off the night with a cupcake. Not just any cupcake but a yellow box birthday cupcake.

How did Trina’s measure up? 3.75 Spoons!

Bin 26 Enoteca on Urbanspoon

Grotto, Beacon Hill

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Where: Grotto - 37 Bowdoin Street Boston, MA 02114
When: October, 2011

A friend of mine took me here for lunch right before my birthday. I had never been to Grotto so didn’t know what to expect but as soon as we walked down those step and pulled the curtain back to enter the dining room I knew I was in love. The restaurant is small and cozy and you really feel like you stepped off a side street in Rome. Two walls are lined with bottles of wine and brick. The staff was friendly and service quick but not rushed (not always the case during week day lunches). Beyond all this, it was romantic. At lunch! The light was dim but bright enough to see what you were eating, it was warm and cozy, and it wasn’t too loud.

With the afternoon sun and little wine (don’t judge, it was a special occasion) I forget it we ordered an appetizer but the entrees sure do stand out. We agreed to get two items and share but we ended up liking our dishes so much we didn’t swap halfway through. He got the Gnocchi, Braised short ribs with Mushrooms and Gorgonzola which was rich and something you would crave in the middle of winter. I got the Crab ravioli with Asparagus, Almonds, and Saffron which was light, warm and super flavorful.

It was the perfect hideaway.

How did Grotto measure up? 5 Spoons!

Figs, Beacon Hill

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Where: Figs - 42 Charles Street Boston, MA 02114
When: September, 2011

Libby and I went to Figs for dinner before a big karaoke night out in Allston. Pizza is always a good way to start off nights that you know will be long and involve boxed wine and whiskey.

Located on Charles Street, which I have grown to love, in Beacon Hill this place is teeny tiny and they really pack you in. The noise levels are on the higher side and there is barely any floor space to drop your bag but its all well worth it. Its snug, our waitress was friendly and boisterous and the thin crust pizza (the only way to have it in my opinion)was great.

We ordered a pizza with half Fig & Prosciutto (crisp rosemary crust with fig & balsamic jam, prosciutto & Gorgonzola cheese) and half Spicy Shrimp spicy (gulf shrimp with caramelized leeks & tomato sauce). I love the idea of being in love with figs but I realized that night that I am not sure I actually love figs. The pizza was great and I enjoyed it but I have to admit that Libby’s half looked much more appealing than mine. No worries, I am glad I have a good excuse to go back and try something new.

Our karaoke friends were very appreciative of leftover pizza a few hours later. Unless you want leftovers for a week, split a pie.

How did Figs measure up? 3.75 Spoons!