Restaurant Review- Tiger Mama!

I’m so excited to share my experience at the newly opened restaurant Tiger Mama  in the Fenway area! Located at 1363 Boylston Street and a short walk from the Fenway T stop on the green line (D), this restaurant opened the second week of December 2015. Eater, Boston Globe, Zagat and Boston Magazine are among a few of the press that reported their anticipated opening! I feel quite lucky that I was able to watch this restaurant tick only days after their doors opened!

Tiffani Faison and her wife, Kelly Walsh imagined the concept for Tiger Mama through their travels in Southeast Asia. Their food isn’t strictly traditional to region but rather inspired by many memorable dishes and flavors. Tiffani opened Sweet Cheeks Q a few years previous and also competed on Top Chef- just a few drops in the bucket to prove her credibility!

My friend from college, Frank, is a true foodie so I love going out to dinner to try new restaurants and dishes with him! He used to work with two front of house managers at Tiger Mama, Dana and Heather, and wanted to visit! As soon as we arrived, the vibe was very cool, laid back and authentic. Eagerly greeted at the door by the hostess and a blinged out elephant, we were seated in the center of action allowing us a view of  either end of the restaurant.

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Super unique in design, there is an array of seating arrangements available for small or large parties. The menu is similar- full of small plates and larger portions meant to share. There are also two bars at either end of the restaurant. They  feature two different drink menus and are served across the restaurant. One of the bars even features a tiki drink menu!

At the rear of the restaurant lays an open kitchen with a chef’s table available for reservation. The decor fully matches the menu as funky and fresh- live palm trees, a living plant wall, and a cool neon sign reading, “TALK DON’T, COOK RICE”.

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Pleasantly greeted by our waiter, Patrick, we dove into the menu eagerly discussing what we wanted to try. Despite only being open two weeks, Patrick had many suggestions for both the drink and food menu and could recommend things based on our individual palettes. You could tell he was very passionate about the industry and was especially excited about the work happening at Tiger Mama.

Let’s get to the good stuff- the food.

As we were deciding what the order, the kitchen sent us the Lobster Fresh Rolls: charred lobster, bright veggies and spicy silky peanut sauce.

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This was the perfect introductory course to the rest of our meal. These lobster rolls were super fresh, crunch, sweet and the heat from the peanut sauce warmed the palette for an overall nice balance. YUM. I could probably eat a hundred of these and never get sick of it!

Crispy Garlic Prawns “LOS”: garlicky shrimp, crackly shells, brown butter

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This was INCREDIBLE. The shrimp were so delicious and the shells weren’t characteristically greasy like fried foods. The shrimp sat on top of charred and salted cabbage and scallions. The crunch to soft ratio of this dish was spot on!

Chili Spiced Short Rib Crudo: rich chili seared short rib, herb “salad”, black vinaigrette, charred leeks.

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Not my favorite dish but only for the fact that I’m really sensitive to spicy components. While the dish was very spicy, the short rib was tender and mellow and acted a great dish to share!

Lamb Roli: brickfields spiced and braised lamb, crispy roti, holy basil raita, mint cilantro jam

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Frank ordered this dish and was ooh-ing and ahh-ing as he ate it! It’s presentation was simple and could also act as a dish to share.

Pig Ricebacon, braised frilled pork, issan sausage, pork sung

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Despite how full I was, the rice was SO delicious. It was meaty and salty without being overpowering. The rice was perfectly cooked and supported many different textures.

Lastly, for dessert we ordered the Milk Toast! A piece of brioche soaked in coconut milk or an anglaise and then seared on a flat top. Simple, pure and delicious.

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Frank and I also ordered two rounds  of drinks throughout the meal! My first drink was fruity and girly with a twist of tang while Frank ordered a drink that focused more on the spirit.  The second drink we ordered was delivered with crushed ice in a large golden pineapple- equally delicious! And to top off the night, Chef Tiffani Faison made her rounds in the dining room connecting with guests!

Overall, I had an incredible dining experience at Tiger Mama! Everything from service, to seating and decor and especially the food, was outstanding. You could definitely sense the passion from the workers in both their service style and food. This is a restaurant you won’t want to miss! I can only imagine their success for the future and cannot wait to make my return trip soon.

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Thank you Tiger Mama! Kudos on a job well done!

Thanks for reading Food for Thought Thursday and don’t forget to check back on Tuesday for another look into my post grad life!

 

 

 

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Restaurant Review: Naco Taco!

Naco Taco was a food truck in Boston that recently took their success and transformed their ideas into a restaurant. Located on 297 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Naco Taco is easily accessible by T (short walking distance from Central Square or Kendall Square stops) and buses. They opened their doors while I was working at Flour across the street so I couldn’t wait to finally check them out!

647The restaurant sports a large outdoor patio with the actual food truck parked right on the premise. While there was regular table-side service, the servers grabbed some of the food ordered from the windows of the food truck. Our waiter was super nice and attentive and did a great job at trying to up-sell the menu asking if we would want chips and salsa or second rounds of drinks.

646 648Their drink menu featured numerous Mexican beer, beer cocktails and a few wine/sangria options. What I really like about their food menu was that you can literally order as much or as little as you want. The pricing on the menu is based per taco so you can easily predict what you’ll be getting. I ordered an al pastor taco and a side of street corn to share with my friend.

The al pastor taco was made with spit roasted pork and burnt pineapple. It was the perfect size for a light lunch with my side of street corn. I think the taco could’ve been a little more flavorful or feature a sauce to keep it from being too dry. I would give the taco 3 Abby stars.

644The street corn is what got me. I love corn, especially in the summer. And I love nothing more than corn smothered in cotija cheese. Depending on the week, the street corn is prepared in different ways, but ours came with cotija, pine nuts and thin slices of peppers. I can dig it. 5/5 Abby stars.

645My friend also got their chips and salsa which was pretty good! I would definitely recommend this place as a meet up spot for after work drinks and light apps. The patio is awesome for the summer and the inside of the restaurant is pretty large with a cool, relaxed vibe. Definitely a great addition to Central Square!

As always, does anyone have a Boston restaurant recommendation? I’m always looking for new places to try! If you liked what you read, you can hit the follow button at the top of the page (for my fellow wordpress friends) or you can click follow by email on the right side of the web page to receive my posts weekly via email! Have a great weekend and check back on Tuesday to read about my first kayaking experience along the Charles River!

My new name is Baddy.

Guys, I think I’m slowly but surely losing my Amish-ness. When I was a freshman in college, I felt like I was in this protected bubble. My friends and I in high school really enjoyed playing Monopoly and eating mass amounts of pizza for fun. I didn’t understand how my classmates got their hands on alcohol or why they even wanted to drink for that matter! I was having the time of my life fake urban exploring with my friends and watching movies.But slooooowly and surely I’m changing my tune. Is that a good thing?

Going to college, I got the questions a lot, “do you drink? do you smoke? What do you even do for fun?” ALLLLLLLLLL THE TIIIIIME. I had made a conscious choice not to drink (I thought ever) but I slowly changed my mind once I turned 21 and felt more comfortable. I was always the DD for any party and I always could tell when things were just out of control as well as out of my comfort zone. The second someone spills jungle juice on me is typically when I called it quits for the night. When I was almost 21, I started to get really curious about what being drunk was like and why it seemed like everyone was having and experiencing some type of fun I didn’t understand.

I spent my first night being drunk at my friends house, just the two of us so I was really comfortable. I wasn’t traveling nor was I surrounded by a bunch of people I didn’t know or trust. We ended up buying pink lemonade vodka since I don’t like anything fizzy and of course, was the cheapest and girliest thing we could buy. As I became more intoxicated, I quickly found out that I was basically just a giggly, happy-go-lucky drunk. Probably the best kind of drunk you can be. And I had fun. No shame in my game! The rest of my drinking life then became history.

So maybe I wasn’t so hung up on the idea that I was never going to drink despite what I told my parents my entire life growing up. But I found a way that I felt comfortable and in control of the situation. The whole next year revolved around drinking with my friends on the weekends then. It was always about what party we were going to or what bar we were trying out. This isn’t a saga about how I’m an alcoholic now or anything because I’m probably the biggest lightweight you’ll ever meet with no social life. YAY!

For the past couple months, I’ve contemplated getting a ear pierced. OOOOH BAD I KNOWWWWW. I wanted to get my cartilage done just for funsies. My mom’s philosophy with piercings was and I quote, “If I were meant to have more holes, I would’ve come with them”. Not that she was forcing that philosophy on me and my sister, but we always played along with it. Buuuut now, I’m 23, I think it’s time to get a piercing if I want one. I think since my childhood was so picture perfect, I maybe am trying to break the mold a little bit. My roommate sent me this picture below and it probably couldn’t be more true. I even got a new nickname from my friend Laura replacing Abby with Baddy. I’m a bad-ass. Hellz yeaaaah

472All I’m saying is that I think it’s great for everyone to come into their own whatever way that means. You love body modification whether that means piercings or tattoos or both? Awesome. Are you more comfortable breaking the gender norms and wearing clothes that express who you really are? I’m in full support. I don’t believe in tolerating inequality no matter what form it takes and I think it’s amazing that society is finally starting to accept all different walks of life! Be nice to each other, okay? That’s really all I’m saying.

Enough with my Golden Rule babble, you want to see a picture of my new badass piercing right? RIIIIIGHT!

473Whats your story? What kinds of rebellious things have you guys done? Check back on Thursday for my recipe of homemade oreos! THEYRE SO GOOOOOOOOOOD. Until next time!

Providence Guide 4 of 4: Prov Bar Scene!

Providence is definitely a place I call home. I spent four years living in Prov/going to school there so once I turned 21, I couldn’t wait to check out their bar scene. From mixology bars to music venues and clubs, Providence has it all. So check it out!

Wickenden Street Area:

Whisky Republic– This is a total college bro bar. A lot of people like it when they’re in college or very newly post grad because it’s full of drunken people and dancing. It’s also got a cool location right near the restaurant Al Forno’s and Hot Club!

The Hot Club– This place sits right on the harbor and overlooks the water on their outside bar. They also do industry nights for anyone who works in food service and puts their drinks at a discount!

Piano Bar– So. Much. Fun. This place has a cover most nights which makes it a little on the pricy side but it’s awesome for a friend’s birthday! Follow them on Facebook too, and you can get a free shot of the night! They’ll play anything you want if you tip them and you can also pay to have a message written on the board aka throw your friends number up to “have a good time”. Occasionally throughout the night, they also have a wheel to spin which makes you feel like you’re on Wheel of Fortune or Price is Right. But it might land on “give a lapdance to a stranger” or “Win $20!”. I’ve tended to find that the crowd there is on the older side but it’s still a blast regardless.

Federal Hill Area

Ogie’s Trailer Park– This just opened a couples months ago! Totally kitchsy and themed, I can’t wait to try it out again over the summer. They have a huge patio out back with firepits and cutouts of trailers to simulate a 50’s trailer park. Their menu is really simple but you gotta try their tater tots! You can’t go wrong!

The Avery– This place is one of the most hipster bars you’ll ever encounter. A little dark and a little speakeasy-esque, it’s got a real secretive kind of feel which is cool. Also, it’s right across the street from a North (a super great restaurant!) so put yourself on the waiting list there and grab a craft cocktail at The Avery!

Downtown

The Eddy– Hands down, my all-time favorite craft cocktail/mixology bar. This place is so great despite it being super small. The bartenders are really knowledgeable so if you’re adventurous, try the bartender’s choice! You might get a drink that used egg as an emulsifier but trust them, it’s bound to be delicious! Or you can try their house punch for a cheaper drink!

G Pub/Providence G Rooftop– I have mixed feelings about this place. G Pub is underground and hidden which makes it pretty cool with the exception that when it gets full, you can’t hear shit down there. They do have a couple private rooms where they do parties or karaoke, so overall it’s pretty popular! G Pub is in the basement of an apartment complex but they also have a rooftop bar! It shows a beautiful view of the city and has tons of lounge chairs and couches however it’s on the pricy side. I almost felt too young for the crowd there but it was still a cool experience.

Congress– Across the street from G Pub, Congress is super low key and a definite spot for people in the industry to hang. It’s got good vibes with good people! Definitely a place I’d check out right in the middle of Provi.

Trinity Rep– This place has a great craft beer selection. It’s also two levels with billards in the basement. Food is decent too, so it makes a great place for a casual dinner!

Aruba Steve’s– Oh Lordy, this place. Across the street from the JWU downtown campus, this place is always crazy on the weekends but especially on Tuesdays. They do karaoke there every week and it’s so popular! The same old crazy man comes week after week to sing “New York New York” and he’s hilarious. Aruba’s also is known for their fishbowls! You can get individual fishbowls for about $14 and it probably equals 2 ½- 3 drinks worth of booze. Don’t order anything off of the menu though! I don’t trust their kitchen!

The Dorrance– OOOH YOU FANCY HUH. Never technically went to this place yet, however I’ve walked by it a thousand times. You always see bridal showers or just people dressed in suits there. Maybe I’ll go one day and pretend to be a real life adult who has their ish together.

Thayer Street

Shark– This is a super trendy place up on Thayer Street which is right near Brown. They used to do hookah there but I’m not positive that they have the permits to do so anymore thanks to state ordinances. But they also do GIANT fishbowls but those are definitely to share!

The English Cellar– I’ve known the cellar to be packed wall to wall with all the “of age” college kids from RISD, Brown, JWU, etc. They also have pool tables and such in the back, but overall I’d consider this place to be semi-hipster. It’s definitely one of the bars that we considered one of our watering holes.

Tortilla Flats– Now this place brings back SO many memories. This was what I would’ve considered our real watering hole. We’d always snag a corner table, order pitchers of margaritas and get tons of nachos to share. I also went on a first date here once and sat around the bar which was also great because you can watch the tvs or people watch if it’s really dull! Their margs are really strong- so take that as a good or bad thing depending on your style!

I hope you enjoyed my incomplete list of bars around Providence that I frequented back in my college days! Providence will forever hold my heart so it’s great that it’s just a short drive from Boston! While you’re there, maybe you can hit up Allie’s Donuts like I had previously suggested! Have a great weekend and check back on Tuesday for another (non-Providence) blog about my post grad life!

Boston Bar Scene

Maybe I shouldn’t be writing this post right now given that I’m extraordinarily hungover. Yep, I threw up twice last night. UuuUuUUuUuuuUUuugggggghHHHhhh. I’m surviving though; champing my way through this hangover! It’s not even my fault; I met this group of people at the bar and they just kept buying shots of all these different types of things and who am I to say no? Right? *Crying deep inside for all the bad decisions I made last night*

But I’ve lived in Boston for almost a year now and I’ve frequented a myriad of bars that are definitely cool places to check out. And of course, my list of places I want to try is always growing but I figured I’d share what I know based on area!

Brighton/Allston:

Lulu’s– awesome place for apps and a drink! Get the pretzel bites with cheese cause DAYUUM. They have a pretty decent selection of craft beers too if you’re into that!

Sunset Cantina– Biggest beer selection I’ve ever seen. I was so overwhelmed by the menu and the options but it’s got a pretty cool vibe! You can grab a table or sit at the bar to drink in a pretty casual atmosphere.

White Horse– This is the place that made me a complete wasteoid. They have some billards and pinball games and then a section of the bar turns dance-y later in the night!

Common Ground– I haven’t been here yet, but my roommates always talk about how fun it is! They host Millenial nights and 90’s throwback nights so the music selection is pretty clutch! I need to go sometime soon!

Tavern in the Square (TITS)– TITS is a chain bar in Boston and can be found in a couple different areas. This one in Allston is pretty huge but you get a cool mix of college kids and young post-grads who wish they were still in college (ME) who just wanna drink and dance. It’s pretty casual living in Boston now to hear someone say, “Hey, lets go to TITS. I really can’t wait to dance at TITS”. Maybe it’s just an excuse to say TITS. Heyoooo.

Deep Ellum– Are you a hipster? Do you like craft cocktails and beers? Are you a huge fan of cheese and charcuterie plates? This place is for you. When it’s nice, there a TEENY TINY area in the back to sit on their porch. Also, get the truffle fries. You won’t regret it.

Lonestar Taco Bar– The people who own Deep Ellum (right next door) also own the taco bar. You can get tacos for 3 bucks a pop and try a whole bunch of different funky tacos. You gotta get the charred corn on the cob here too! The bar is mostly focused on tequila based drinks but if you want anything else, they can grab it from the bar next door!

Devlins– This is one of my favorite casual patio bars for the summer time. They have a huge back patio for outside drinking/nomming including a portable bar in the back. It’s a great place to go on a date! (True life, my roommate and I went on a double date there with these guys we met in the park once!)

Cityside– Second favorite patio bar! Apparently this place gets pretty crazy at night as it’s not too far from Boston College, but the roof deck is pretty sweet!

Green Briar– Classic Irish pub. Pretty good clam chowder and onion rings! But cheap drinks and sometimes they host trivia nights or have a DJ play some music at night! Overall, pretty laid back!

Cambridge (Central Square):

People’s Republik– Very communist Russia feel at this bar! They have darts and some pretty cool memorabilia to look at but overall it’s a pretty laid-back, hipster bar.

Other places I want to go are: Miracle of Science, Middle East and MiddleSex.

Rosebud Cafe-This is actually in Davis Square right near Posto! Their service is pretty great; everyone is super friendly! In the mid-price range for drinks although they’re quality cocktails but the menu is pretty good too! The brussel sprouts were amazing! Their dessert menu is all pies too so go in with an appetite! I’d recommend the turtle pie a la mode!

**Sidenote: I work in Cambridge and don’t go back there too often to go out at night but I’ve heard that there are also great places in Harvard Square,Porter Square and Davis Square as well!

Fenway:

Cask N Flagon: This is where I had my Quincenera! It’s definitely a bar/nightclub at night so bring your dancing shoes! Drinks can be on the more expensive side too but it was super fun!

Bleacher Bar: This place was awesome. I went here before a Red Sox game once to grab a pre-game drink and they have windows that look right onto the field. If you get there early enough, you might be able to snag a spot to watch the game for free!

Downtown:

Julep: Drinks here were SO expensive. And there was a cover to get in. But it had two floors with a different music selection on each level which was kinda cool. But it’s in the more expensive part of the city so be prepared to shell out. Definitely more of a nightclub than a bar.

Howl at the Moon: Boston’s piano bar! I tried to go here once but the line was WAY too long to wait in. But I eventually do want to get there to check out the live music and sing the crap out of some throwback songs!

Hopefully these suggestions could come in handy to anyone visiting Boston! Maybe I’ll even run into one of you one night! Food for Thought Thursday post coming up in a couple days! I’m going to go crawl back into my bed and nurse on some water now… Until next time!

L8tr sk8trs!

Restaurant Review- Park

I know I know, it really seems like I’ve been going out to dinner a lot. But hey, I like to eat. Who doesn’t? A friend from work asked me to grab dinner with her at a place in Harvard Square called Park. Her boyfriend is the sous chef there so he said he’d send out a couple appetizers on the house (PERK) and also it was Dine Out Boston which is basically Boston’s restaurant week with different featured deals.

Park is at 59 JFK Street in Cambridge, MA or just a short walk off of the Harvard Square T stop (red line). It was super easy to get to and it was kind of tucked away in the lower level of a huge building that houses other restaurants and a parking garage. My friend Cathy accurately described it as having a speakeasy feel. There were a couple different rooms with themed old-timey pictures and articles in each other with a range of different seating options- booths, bar stools, long hightop tables, or even a lounge-y room with high back, comfy chairs. Even though I’m not the biggest fan of dim lighting in a restaurant, I’d give the atmosphere an A++.

236235Park is mostly open for dinner service with the exception of brunch on Saturday and Sunday where they apparently do a decent amount of covers. Before Cathy and I could even figure out what we wanted to drink or whether we were going to order from their Dine Out menu, Corey (Cathy’s boyfriend) brought us out two appetizers: A cheese plate with different jams and the duck confit egg rolls. These cheeses came from Vermont; one was similar to a hard white cheddar, another a soft brie and a crumbly blue cheese. They were paired with fig jam (YUM, my fav with the brie), a tri-berry jam, and candied apricot slices.

237The duck confit egg rolls didn’t even have a chance of me getting a good picture of them because we dug right in. They came with an Asian slaw and a sweet/tangy dipping sauce. The duck was really tender and it complemented well with the crunch egg roll outside. They also brought us out housemade “chips” and another soft cheese that kind of resembled Boursin cheese. So we nibbled on those things, ordered some drinks and then kept perusing the entrees on the menu.

I decided to try a fancy drink before going to my regular (a madras or a bay breeze) and went with one called Lavender Moon. It was made with Greylock Gin, St. Germain, Lavender Rose Honey Syrup and lemon juice. I’m really not a fan of gin, I’m usually a rum or vodka girl all the way, but was told that the bartenders make a banging, well-balanced drink so I went for it. It was SO good guys. It was a strong drink, but nothing like a pine tree punching you in the jaw. It was fresh and sweet and flowery from the St. Germain and lavender rose honey syrup. I could’ve drank those all night but they were kind of expensive and lets face it, I’m a broke college kid so I only had one.

We finally ordered entrees, and I wasn’t too hungry since I had just eaten my weight in appetizers but basically I just said “hey girl, treat yo self” so YOLO. (Forgive me for just saying YOLO…). I ordered the Butternut Squash Risotto and Cathy got the Braised Pork Shank. Of course, we shared with each other so I got to try some of the pork shank which was pretty delish! Definitely well cooked and tender on the inside. It came with a olive, bacon, pearl onion and mushroom hash on top of a bed of arugala.

234The Butternut Squash Risotto came with local apples, brie and red wine reduction. I ate a lot of cheese that night apparently. The risotto was really creamy with pieces of squash in it adding a touch of savory sweetness to the dish. They julienned apples on top for crunch and the reduction kept the dish in balance with it’s acidity. I definitely couldn’t eat it all but it’ll make for some good leftovers!

233I was really excited to go out with Cathy because we had always been friends at work but now we were also friends outside of work. We ended up being out for 6 hours between eating our apps and meal, and then having after shift drinks with her boyfriend once he was done. Although the food wasn’t blow my mind incredible, it was well prepared and came out in decent portions. The atmosphere and cocktails were my favorite part of the night but overall, I had a good time with great company! Harvard Square is such a cool place to check out in Boston during day OR night so add it to your places to check out if you ever come to Boston!

Check back on Tuesday for a new blog about my post grad life! L8tr.