December Round-Up

I know, I know! I can't believe it's been a month-and-a-half since I've written either! Just too much going on really - all of those holiday festivites. Felt the need for one last posting for the year so here is what has been going on since I last saw Roger:

Went to see Bruce Springsteen over Thanksgiving in Boston. As expected the show was great and I loved the Fleet Center as a venue (much more intimate feeling than MSG). The highlights for me were "Badlands", "The Promised Land", "The Rising", "Tunnel Of Love" and "Dancing In the Dark". The 2+ hour set list was a great survey of new and old and the crowd in Boston was CRAZY (especially when he broke out the rarely played "Jungleland")! I think they love Bruce more than people from N.J.!

Prior to the show we had dinner at Boston Beerworks. Years ago I used to go to the original in Kemore Square and really liked it (at least I think I did). Now, it's actually a chain with a bunch of locations around the Boston area. We started with nachos which were a bit too dried out for me. Then we had blue cheesburgers and I have to say I wasn't really impressed. The burgers were very formulaic and almost seemed like pre-made patties. The hight note was the Patriot Pilsner beer - ice cold with a perfect microbrew flavor - it helped make the 45 minute wait around lots of drunk people much more bearable.

Next up - Smith versus Smith, or should I say The Smith versus Smith's - two new restaurants that opened downtown almost simultaneously. First up was The Smith. I LOVED this place (as did everyone in the group of 4). Owned by the same people that own Jane, The Smith opens early and stays open late serving some MAJOR comfort food. The hardest thing about the menu is that there is WAY too many amazing things to choose from. Starters order around the table included the string bean salad (which was absolutely amazing, if a bit out of season - can't WAIT to go back for this one in the summer - $8), the homemade potatoe chips with blue cheese fondue (the chips were not greasy at all and the blue cheese fondue was over the top decadance - $6), the beer battered string beans (yes, we had a lot of string beans - this was a crazy heap of lightly breaded and pefectly fried tempura - $5) and the mac'n'cheese (sinful! - $10). I don't remember much about the mains except for that I had the pot of mussels (which was really a misorder for me - there were SOOO many other good things but I was overwhelmed with the heaviness of the apps so I tried for something light which caused me a bit of orderers remorse once all of the other great dishes arrived around me - regardless, they were still very good - $15) . Oh, and KK had the spaghetti and meatballs - something I never would've ordered in a place like this but turned out to be done right- in fact better than most Italian restaurants I've been to! - $13). The mains were paired with an order of brussel sprouts that were quite good ($5). All portions are very large at The Smith and the drink prices are very reasonable, with the house wines served by the glass, carafe or big carafe. The room was buzzing with young hipsters, Pulp played on the soundtrack and our service was nothing but spectacular (for a restaurant that had only been open for 2 weeks, everything was delivered quickly and correctly and our server was a total sweetheart).

A few weeks later I went to try Smith's. Owned by Danny Abrams (Mermaid Inn, Red Cat) and Cindy Smith (Raoul's), Smith's is a bit more upscale and intimate. For starters, we both had the artichoke pasta with black truffle, parmigiano reggiano and proscuitto ($11). Even though the portion was fairly small, the dish was very rich and we really could have split it. I was expecting some kind of a raviolli but it turned out to be angel hair. Loved this for a cold winter's night. For a main I had the grilled lobster served over brussel sprouts with almonds and a butternut squash puree ($32). The helping of lobster meat was definitely healthy and plump and perfectly cooked and I loved the brussel sprouts which were prepared as all leaves (not the whole sprout) with almonds. Mark had the boneless pork chop with celery root and apple puree and braised pork cheeks ( $24). He really liked it, although in the end said that it still couldn't compete with the chop at The Little Owl. Our waitress actually helped us make all of our choices since we were each torn between 2 apps and 2 mains and she was spot on (not to mention that she tipped us off that Mary-Louise Parker was sitting nearby!). The dining room is very black and grey with lots of iron and has a small square section up front with a railroad type setup heading towards the back. There is a very cute little bar area hidden in the back and I hear they serve really good lobster deviled eggs at it so I'll be back to check that out for sure!

Ok, so if this was a throwdown, I would have to give it to The Smith. The menu there just offers WAY too many comfort options with extremely reasonable prices and and super fun and hip vibe. Check this place out already!

The other big highlights in the month of December included the annual trip to The Rockhouse in Negril for the Lady Spence's birthday (it was JUST as amazing as usual, if not THE BEST trip there yet! and I still HIGHLY recommend this gem on the cliffs for a relaxing getaway) and a night out at SWEET, a dessert event that launced the Food Network's up and coming NYC Wine & Food Festival coming in 2008. Held in the old terminal building on 10th Ave in West Chelsea, SWEET showcased the talents of many of NY's premiere pastry chefs. The event was WAY fun and we sampled lots of weird dessert concoctions (although I can't remember too many of them since the champers was tidal all night). The Lady was super happy since she finally got to meet her culinary fav Giada.

And with that my dear friends, I sign off for 2007 and wish everyone a Happy New Year! See you in 2008!