Archive for the ‘Wednesday Night Dinner’ Category

WND Classics Month

Thursday, July 3rd, 2008

June was Wednesday Night Dinner Classics month, an attempt to increase the number of people coming to dinner by going back to old favorites instead of trying out newer, ever more unknown places. I’ve been remiss in my reviewing so I’m going to cover them all now in one fell swoop. The roster:

  1. Pizzeria Regina in the North End, Boston.
  2. Guanachapi’s Restaurant in Waltahm.
  3. East Coast Grill in Inman Square, Cambridge.
  4. All Star Sandwich Bar in Inman Square, Cambridge.

Pizzeria Regina in the North End, Boston

Pizzeria Regina is a Boston based chain, which means we can go there, but we make a point to goto the original one in the north end. it is the kind of place that has pictures of all the famous people that have been there on the wall. At our table was a signed picture by the cast of The Practice and Leonardo DiCaprio. I was unaware that The Practice was set in Boston until the presence of the picture implied it. I was also unable to identify the picture myself, but I was not alone, we had a group of four that night. We got two pizzas, which were good, but not enough to stratify me. I would go back, but I would order more food if I did. We did have room afterwards for some Gelato afterwards. I’m not sure, but I somewhat doubt, if I’ve ever had Gelato before. I took the initiative and ordered first selecting watermelon flavor, which was good, but I should have gone with multiple flavors as it got old after a while.

Guanachapi’s Restaurant in Waltahm

Wednesday Night Dinner rarely ventures out beyond the reaches of the T, in fact, we almost never leave Boston, Cambridge, Brookline, & Somerville. There was one place in Waltham though, that Priam insisted was part of classics month. It is a little hole in the wall, authentic Guatemalan place, complete with soccer and Spanish soap operas on the TV. The food was well prepared and tasty. I got the Pollo Asado, which came with lots of rice. It is generally very difficult to find good latin food in Boston (although not as difficult as BBQ), and this place was certainly above average. Now, I’m still not convinced that it was worth driving all the way to Waltham for, but I did enjoy it.

East Coast Grill in Inman Square, Cambridge

This was an interesting place; a restaurant specializing in BBQ and seafood. All five of us ordered from the BBQ side of the menu. I got an Eastern Carolina style pulled pork dish. It tasted very much as it should with all that vinegar. It actually is the best BBQ I’ve had in Boston if you are comparing to how it is supposed to taste, although; I do prefer the Texan style. As usual in Inman some of us, but not I, got some Christina’s ice cream afterwards, I just drove home.

All Star Sandwich Bar in Inman Square, Cambridge

We apparently really love Inman Square, despite that it is hard to get to. This time I walked, it took less time than expected, only 30 minutes; I’d estimated 45mins. I was quite early, and everyone else was late, we sat down around 8pm. I ordered the Cuban sandwich, which was a good somewhat mustardy hot sandwich with pickles. I don’t like pickles so I asked for it without. I was told that the pickles were not removable; a fact I found hard to image. This leads me to doubt the hand made-ness of the sandwich. If you hand make a sandwich how hard can it be to not put pickles on it. Once I got the sandwich they were easy enough to remove, and it was acceptable. The French fires were excellent, having obviously entered the store as potatoes! They are the best fries in Boston that i have found so far, from my perspective. Unfortunately my negative impression of the rest of the place may prevent me from going back. On my walk back home I called up my parents who told me all about their recent Mediterranean cruise.

Kingston Station

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Well, that last post is pretty lame, so I’m gonna roll this one out pronto. Tonight’s WND was at a surprisingly spacious bar/restaurant near the Financial District. I chose Kingston Station at about 10pm last night. The place was dressed up to look like subway station, with white tiles and a mosaic plaque spelling out the stations name over a doorway. The main bar was loud (as tile does little to absorb sound), but the dining area was spared all of that noise. It was, however, somewhat of an upscale place, for a bar. Just behind our table was seated a group of maybe 16 men who were quite obviously from a law firm. It was also the kind of place that serves Absinthe, apparently legal now. This extended to the value proposition of the food, which was a little less than you’d expect for your money. The dishes were mostly enjoyable despite this.

We’ve been having some difficult over the past five months getting a large group together for dinners and so we’ve decided to go on a recruiting mission. For my part, I hope Kelly and some of her intern friends will join us while they are in town. As part of the recruiting drive we’re going to make June a best of Wednesday Night Dinner month. We’ll select restaurants from the early history of the group, of which some still present members have fond memories. We’ll give them a second shot to impress us for the benefit of the new people, and people like me who weren’t around back then. Sounds like fun. If you’re some stalker in Boston reading this (and I know there are some of you) and you want to come, let me know, and prove you’re not a creep :-)

WND Cookout

Friday, May 16th, 2008

Wednesday Night Dinner this week was a cookout potluck and Aaron and Amber’s place. There was a better than usual showing owing to the draw of ribs and the coincident celebrations. The cookout coincided with Amber’s complementation of Harvard law school and with Paul’s annual departing to Tallahassee. The cookout lasted much longer than a usual dinner. I wasn’t the last one to go and I left at 11. It was a good time. I didn’t manage to get a picture of the ribs, they didn’t last that long. But I did snap some shots some of the other food:

The French fries were my contribution. They are an old standby for potlucks for me. They are good because the unique, eliminating the primary problem with potlucks being duplicated dishes. I start with potatoes and just use a large pot and cheap-o vegetable oil to fry them. They are, however, not easy to make and offer a very short shelf life. They are best eaten within an hour or two of being made, and they don’t reheat well so you have to make them immediately before leaving. They are also very difficult to cook properly. The primary cause here is the difficult of judging the temperature of the oil and wide variance in the size of fries. I would prefer to make large or normal sized fires, but make smaller Steak and Shake style fires is much more reliable. Of course like actual Steak and Shake fries their small size contributes to the short shelf life.

Also, you must be careful to not allow the oil to boil over the side of the pot as you dump in fries. If this occurs you instantly have a large oil fire on your hands. I have made French fries 4 times (including this one) and this is the first time I’ve managed to avoid an oil fire. The irremovable black charing on my stainless steel pot is an ever present reminder of my past attempts. Avoiding oil fires significantly reduces the time required for preparation, and is therefore recommended. I’m sure my former room mates can attest to other reasons to avoid such fires.

2008 Boston FIRST Robotics – Sunday

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

EC Coding as a Senior

EC stayed an extra day, taking up the spots on the couch vacated by Rob and Josh as they drove back home on Sunday. It has been a very long time since EC and I talked. She is one of my girls from the team. Pretty much anyone I directly mentored falls into that category, but the more I was able to teach them more I consider them in that group. She was the first, and I probably taught her the most. She was so easy to teach, and so eager to learn. A teacher’s (or mentor’s) dream student. Its just amazing how far she has come. For the uninitiated EC has come to be a pillar of the team. From two years as a student to two years as a mentor and now, already, one year of leading the team. She has come a long way from when I met her, and the team has come with her. This was made clear by her winning of the Woodie Flowers’ Award, which goes to in simple terms, the best mentor at the regional. It has been fun to watch, and I’m very proud of her.

On Sunday after dropping of another my girls, Katie, who had some special return trip circumstances EC and I made our way to a meeting with a CSG and team 677 alum, Mikell who was part of the team running the regional and also won an award. EC was really looking for some direction on how to take the team to the next level and win the highest awards, that have, in the past, felt out of reach. At least from my perspective. Mikell had some excellent advice that I won’t bother you with. Sitting in on the meeting made me want to get back in to volunteering with FIRST, although maybe not on a team. I think I picked up a bit of EC’s wanting-to-be-Mikell virus.

Afterwards EC and I attempted to get a beer and a burger at Harvard Square’s Bartleys’ burgers, but apparently they are closed on Sundays. What kind of hippies run that place I’m not so sure about anymore. So we stumbled upon John Harvard’s Brew House, which had beer, but no burgers. Their microbrews were interesting. Not being a beer person I didn’t like all of them, but the Pale Ale was alright. EC was fond of that and something that was essentially a hybrid between an Irish Red and a Guinness. We talked there engaged for hours, oh how I wish that was a more common occurrence.

It was so great, that I didn’t notice that my dinner group, who came up many times in conversation, was actually coincidentally sitting at the table behind me. Granted, if I had been facing them I would have seen them, but I was not. Carney came over while EC was in the restroom to say hi, I was so surprised. Apparently they had been there for quite a while. They were trying to discern my relationship with the girl across the table, was it a date, was it not, who was this girl. They arrived at the conclusion that she was most likely my sister. Score, that made my week, go WND Group! That is exactly the kind of relationship I strived for with the girls I was mentoring. Although, it did make me a little self conscious that I was talking a little too loud, as have a penchant to do.

2008 Boston FIRST Robotics – Wednesday

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

On Wednesday of last week I got a surprising IM, EC and my former FIRST Robotics team were in town. I expected them Thursday, but they decided to come a day earlier for logistical reasons, and so began a long, hectic, fun week. I left from work to Coolidge Corner (where their hotel was) directly. Coincidentally WND was also in Coolidge that day, which made for easy planning. I went and said hi to EC and Mike who were already at the nearest Radio Shack (of course), but they had eaten, so I went and had dinner with my dinner group at a run of the mill Indian restaurant called Rani. I didn’t think it was as good as India Quality from a few months back.

After dinner I went up and lent a mentoring hand to Tessa with the robot code. Tessa, on her first year programing was doing impressively well, and she had at least one well organized component design team member helping her out. The programing mentor for this year didn’t make the trip, so Tessa has some questions, which I tried to clear up. I wasn’t much help. She fixed it the next day, and it wasn’t anything I said it might be. I was also happy to see echo’s of the methods and design I tough two years ago had been passed down by the girls, and were evident in this years code. I had tired really hard to find an easy, straight froward design to weave together the code the girls were writing. This was for the very purpose that, with a good design (the hard part) laid out the girls could take more ownership of the code, and not have things bog down as they easily could with a bad design. That this is exactly what has happened makes me very happy. More to follow as I have time to write it.

Harvard Square Chipotle

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Harvard Square Chipotle

About a month or so ago, on March 12, Chipotle finally opened a restaurant in the most brain dead obvious place in the entire city. This, more than a year after opening their first Boston restaurant in what amounts to the middle of no where. It was a Wednesday, and WND can’t go to a (non-local) chain, so we had a pre-dinner at Chipotle to check it out.

The Harvard location holds a lot of promise. Like Davis Square, and just about every where else in Boston there is stiff burrito competition. Of course, Chipotle tops them all, but they pulled out all the stops on the first night. They were ready to go with tons of food and enough people to keep everything on the line fresh, continuously, as people streamed by for hours. I have to say the freshness made a lot of difference; it was the best burrito I’ve had in quite some time. That will hopefully convince everyone who was there of Chipotle superiority.

I say hopefully because I don’t have to stand in line at the Harvard location — I’m going to still be going to Davis because its much closer to me most of the time. Davis, does have some problems, that the Harvard location would do well to solve. Davis lacks room, and they often have just one employee on the line, and at most two, even at peak times. Also, Davis lacks seating, it can seat about 34 people by my rough count, but only 16 of those are in chairs; the rest are stools. The Harvard location is much more equipped to handle lots of people. In fact we didn’t even have trouble finding a seat in the free-for-all. They also have a huge 8 person table, which is a good addition.

After pre-dinner we went to Lizzy’s Ice Cream, my choice. It was small, but kind of alright, sort of. It was better than Herrells, but just goto JP Licks, you’ll be happy you did.

Bartley’s Burger Cottage

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

Bartley’s Burger Cottage This past week’s Wednesday Night Dinner was at Bartley’s Burger Cottage, a self proclaimed and somewhat accurately so, Harvard Landmark. As you can see from the larger version of the picture, they lay claim to having the best sweet potato fries and onion rings in the country, or at least Boston (it’s somewhat ambiguous). The burgers were, as claimed, scrumptious. Aaron got The George Bush Jr Burger, which was larger than a fist, but not quite as large as a head. They have a whole menu page of politically named burgers, which is quite up to date. I had the Condleeza Rice burger. I’m sorry, but the Obama burger looked awful (had mushrooms); the Hillary Clinton burger looked worse (had mushrooms and sour cream ewww!). The walls were covered with what looked like 50+ years of trickets and junk, like an overdone Applebees, but authentic.

The onion rings, which only Martin got, seemed over breaded and way too oily leading them to become inedible beyond a certain depth. The sweet potato fires tasted exactly like sweet potatoes, and not at all like fires, though, they did appear as fries. That is not exactly what I am looking for in a sweet potato fry, but I can see why they might be considered good. We postured that they would be better with a more traditional sweet potato topping, such as butter and brown sugar, than ketchup. This lead to a rather lengthy discussion of all sorts of food combination, mostly centered around burgers. Notes were even taken, but I don’t have them, lucky for you. The highlight, I think, was severing a bugger, like the huge The George Bush Jr in a bread bowl, so as to reduce mess and maintain taste and size.

Herrell’s Ice Cream The conversation continued to Herrell’s Ice Cream, which has the novelty of being located in a former bank building, and allowing you to eat in the now aquarium themed vault. Herrell’s runs a deal (at least in the winter) that for every ice cream you buy, you get a “Herrell Dollar,” which is as good as cash there. They proceeded to complain, however, when we took the obvious tactic of spending the one “Herrell Dollar” the group had, to get another for the next person to use. If you are going to offer such a deal with such a blatantly obvious optimal strategy, you can not complain when the strategy is used. The ice cream, which had limited flavors to choose from, was the worst I’ve had from an actual ice cream shop in some time, certainly since 2005. I will not bother to go back, despite the rest of the group’s fandom of Herrell’s.

Cafe Kiraz

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

Catching up from last week, the first WND (Wednesday Night Dinner) of 2008 was at Cafe Kiraz, a sandwich and pizza shop sort of in the middle of East Cambridge. I had been there before, and had a good sandwich so this time I ordered a calzone, a Hawaiian large one. It was awful! There was way too much cheese, the ham and pineapple were substandard at best. The crust was strange, not your traditionally pizza bread. I had ordered a large so that I’d have leftovers, which I managed to eat about half of over the next few days, boy was that a mistake. Some of the other guys got small buffalo chicken calzones, which they liked better than I liked mine. Aaron got a sandwich, the safe play, which he said was good. So go there, get a sandwich and you should be set.

Aaron also had some great stories to tell, the best of which was about how his neighbors threw a new years eve party and burned their house down! Apparently the kid, who lives with his grandmother often has parties to which the police are called. This time the grandmother was out of town, and someone at the party managed to start a fire in the garage, which had two cars in it. They quickly exploded and the fire spread. It didn’t appear that anyone was hurt; all of the party goes managed to leave before the firemen arrived. At one point half of the house was engulfed and the lights were on and everything seemed calm in the other half, which I think would have been a strange dichotomy to see. On one hand, I’m glad no one near me’s house got burnt down, but it does make my new years eve party seem just a bit more tame.


Monday, December 31st, 2007

Alfesco I’ve had a pretty busy holiday, and unfortunately I never got around to that last Wednesday night dinner post. We went to a new Italian place I picked in Davis Square; I was particularly proud of the invitation:

Twas the last Wednesday Night Dinner before Christmas and all through the city the dinners were chanting, “lets go someplace that’s not shitty!” When what to their wondering eyes should appear but an invitation to Alfresco…. my dear.

The menu was hung on teh interweb with care, In hopes that they all soon would be there. The dinners were rushing (to make it by ~7:30) in their Keds, while visions of yelp reviews danced in their heads.

He whistled and shouted and called them by name, “now, tell me if you can make it by 2 o’clock.” He spoke not a word but when straight to his work, providing directions from Davis. Just head down highland two blocks.

I had scallops in pasta (how not surprising), and wow the scallops were awful and dry, but the pasta sauce was yummy, and everyone else liked their meal. Its close to home, is always empty, and good enough that I may go there again.

India Quality

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

India Quality India Quality was true to its name, and its sign, it did indeed have “excellent north India cuisine.” The service was also quite good, I came in after pacing about in the cold still waiting for my compatriots to arrive, and they immediately took care of me despite my not knowing even how many of us there would be. It turns out, only three of the many many people in the group could come. It is, of course, finals week, so that had a significant affect on attendance.

I have this problem, where by I am always early or at least on time to things. I check how long it should take to get there adjust a bit for unknowns, variability, and errands intend to run and set out. Of course, I always get there way too early. This time I got there at ~7:10 for a 7:30 dinner. This is not a problem specific to Wednesday Night Dinner, and as such has no bearing when others arrive. I do specifically remember one time where being way too early went a long way to impress a landlord and may have helped me cut a deal, but beyond that I can’t say as being early so often does me much good. My usual delay tactic is to walk aimlessly up and down the street. This time it was interesting because I had never ventured towards town from Kenmore square, and I had my camera with which to amuse myself, so I did:

Looking Down Com. Ave. The lights are on @ Fenway

They are not particularly stunning pictures, there were other good city skyline shots, which I always like to take, but always turn out badly at night. I swear Boston looks like a jewel on every clear night as I drive home, but the camera just can’t capture night scenes as well as I would like. Most of the best of those shots were marred by the elevated highway, so I didn’t even waste flash disk space on them.