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Cambridge: Hungry Mother & Toscanini’s Ice Cream

For our last evening in Boston we headed to Cambridge. We decided to first check out a small restaurant called Hungry Mother that serves up seasonal southern grub. We ordered the following:

GREEN TOMATO GAZPACHO: maine crab salad, cherry tomatoes, cornbread crumbs
FRIED CHICKEN: sautéed collard greens, compressed watermelon, tabasco honey
LOCAL CATCH: summer corn maque choux, cherry tomatoes, lobster-basil emulsion
SKILLET CORNBREAD

All the food was very tasty and well prepared. My favorite was the compressed watermelon. Now I know why the locals love this place.

I highly recommend making a reservation because the space is small. There was a long line when we left.

Rating:
Website: http://www.hungrymothercambridge.com/

Hungry Mother on Urbanspoon


We took off without having dessert because I had read about a place a few blocks away that was named by the New York Times as having the best ice cream in the world!

We arrived at Toscanini’s Ice Cream¬†and looked over the menu of over 20 super unique flavors like bourbon flake, salty saffron, vienna finger cookie, bourbon chocolate chip & goat cheese brownie. After trying about 6 my head was spinning and in a hurry to order and not hold up the line any longer I ended up blurting out green tea and cake batter. Yes, two flavors I could easily find at home. Oh, well. Mike won on the selections … he chose salted caramel and fluffernutter which were incredibly good. The ice cream was sooooo rich and creamy that I barely made a dent in my one scoop. It may also be that I had been eating like a pig for 3 days so I had hit a wall…

Note: if you get a small you can still ask for two flavors!

Website: http://www.tosci.com/

Toscanini's Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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Lillie Mae’s House of Soul Food


Is there Soul Food in Santa Clara? You know the shabby looking wood building down the street from the San Jose Airport… well, they have a new tenant. Lillie Mae has moved in and is cookin’ up all your soul food favorites like BBQ ribs, brisket, catfish, collard greens, mac & cheese and of course fried chicken.

We arrived early on a Saturday night and as we got out of our car we were blown away by the intense aroma of BBQ. We knew we were in the right place. We headed to the counter ordered our meals then sat and waited for our # to be called. I knew things were going to go well when I saw a variety of hot¬†sauces on the table. The food arrived after about a 15 minute wait. I had the fried chicken with mac & cheese, boomin’ baked beans and cornbread along with sweet tea. Mike chose the beef brisket/bbq chicken combo with collard greens, sweet¬†potato¬†fries and cornbread along with grape kool-aid. Yes…we went all in, taking no prisoners.

Let me start with a blow-by blow of my dinner. The fried chicken was just how I make it. Nothing fancy just downright good. Salty crispy skin and tender chicken. My mac was peppery and super¬†cheesy and the¬†baked beans were some of the best I’ve ever had — very unique rendition that tasted like sweet chili with big chunks of hamburger. They should change the name to Bangin’ baked beans! I had enough leftovers to take home for lunch the next day.

Mike on the other hand cleaned his plate. The smokey brisket & chicken was demolished along with the vinegary collard greens that he adored. The fries were standard fare and the only downer for Mike and I was the cornbread. It had a weird yeasty flavor. Everyone seems to rave over it so maybe we just got a bad batch.

We were really¬†surprised to find tasty soul food in such an unexpected location (if you’ve been to Santa Clara you know what I’m talking about… let’s just say it’s not very soulful).¬†Next time I’m leaving room for dessert…love me some peach cobbler!

Note: If you are into chicken & waffles they have them on the weekends. To avoid lines come early (b4 7pm).

Rating: 

Website: http://www.houseofsoulfood.net/

Lillie Mae's House of soul food on Urbanspoon

Town Hall Restaurant


Mike and I hit up Town Hall before checking out a screening in the City. I had heard good things about Town Hall especially the fried chicken and the Pot de Crème.

After looking over the New Orleans inspired menu Mike immediately decided he wanted to start off with the Buttermilk biscuits with Johnston family country ham & red pepper jelly. I was worried that it would be a bit heavy since I was ordering the fried chicken, and there was a nice bread basket already on the table, but when it arrived I was pleasantly surprised. On the plate were 3 teeny tiny biscuits (smaller than a quarter), ham that was thinly sliced like prosciutto and some killer jelly.<sorry no picture>

For the main course Mike chose the de-constructed seafood¬†√©touff√©e. It looked lovely but I can’t tell you how it tasted because Mike inhaled it before giving me a bite.

Seafood étouffée -Louisiana shrimp, scallop, rockfish, crispy rice, scallions

Now on to my buttermilk fried chicken with¬†Anson Mills grits, bacon gravy & collard greens…¬†The chicken was sensational. Crispy and super salty – just how I like it. Mike’s reaction to the greens… “it’s like a 5 alarm fire.” It definitely brought the heat but was a nice accompaniment to the chicken cause I usually like mine with some hot sauce. The grits were creamy and delicious but the bacon gravy needed more bacon.

Then came dessert – we decided to get two because everyone says you have to try the¬†Butterscotch and Chocolate Pot de Cr√®me and the¬†‘Coffee and Doughnuts’ sounded too good to pass up. After trying both selections I’m not sure why everyone is so hyped up about the Pot de Cr√®me (it’s pudding people!). The dessert not to miss, hands down, is the coffee and doughnuts! That rocked.

Butterscotch and Chocolate Pot de Crème topped with buttercrunch

'Coffee and Doughnuts' warm brioche donuts, Blue Bottle coffee ice cream, chicory streusel

Rating:

Website: https://www.townhallsf.com/flash/

Town Hall on Urbanspoon

Wayfare Tavern


2010 has been a stellar year for Tyler Florence in the Bay Area. He has opened restaurants in San Francisco and Napa within the last 6 months with a third to come in Mill Valley in early 2011. Best know for his 14 year run on the Food Network with shows like “Food 911” and “Tyler’s Ultimate”, Wayfare Tavern is Florence’s first foray into the restaurant biz. I was intrigued to find out if the food that looked so good on TV could be pulled off in person so we made a reservation for my birthday.

We arrived at 6:30 pm on a Saturday night.¬†Unfortunately, Florence wasn’t in the house because he was out on his cookbook tour. We were quickly escorted to the 2nd floor to a table right at the top of the stairs. Wayfare serves up American comfort food in a chic rustic setting (think dark woods, leather, exposed brick and mounted animal heads). To start things off Mike ordered a half bottle of RIDGE red wine. Mike was very impressed with the wine offerings. Unlike some other high end restaurants in the area the wine list is not insanely marked up. We then perused the menu … I really didn’t need to look because I knew they had fried chicken and you all know I never pass that up. Mike decided to go with the steak.

We shared the beet appetizer which was very nice. Perfectly cooked and seasoned, and the accompanying ricotta was wonderful.

roasted local beets and housemade ricotta

The mains were masterful. My chicken was juicy yet crispy and the squeeze of lemon put it over the top. It did have herbs and I usually don’t go for that but for some reason it worked in this instance.

organic fried chicken, buttermilk brine, roasted garlic, herbs, lemon

You can’t go wrong with a Santa Maria tri-tip and a boat load of fries. Mike was in meat and potatoes heaven. He thoroughly enjoyed his meal.

grilled santa maria tri-tip steak, roasted heirloom onions, truffle butter, crispy fries

We didn’t have room for coffee and dessert but we got it anyways and didn’t leave a morsel. My favorite part, of all things, was the roasted pear. It was pure sweet goodness.

Hey, Tyler…can you hook a girl up with the recipe?

sticky toffee pudding, roasted pears, black pepper ice cream

Soooo did Florence pull it off? Indeed! Yummy food, big portions, reasonable prices, great ambiance, excellent service and a super wine list. What more can you ask for? I can’t wait to try Rotisserie & Wine in Napa.

Note: When we left at 8pm the first level of the restaurant was a mad house (glad we were upstairs). It was packed to the gills with a line of folks out the door trying to get a table …Seriously people?…MAKE A RESERVATION cause business is booming!

Rating:

website: http://www.wayfaretavern.com/

Wayfare Tavern on Urbanspoon

BarBersQ


If you’re looking for Memphis style BBQ in Napa look no further than BarBersQ. The place is rockin’¬† — literally. Mike couldn’t stop shimmying his shoulders as classic R&B and Neo Soul tunes piped through the restaurant.

You’d think this being a barbecue joint I would order ribs or pulled pork but I had heard they had fried chicken and I NEVER pass up fried chicken. Mike chose the Caesar salad (very nice) and the Q combo with brisket and chicken. My 4 pieces of Southern fried chicken arrived with a side of collard greens and mashed potatoes. The chicken was hot with a light crispy skin that had a hint of sweetness. Compared to competing fowl I’d put it above Ad Hoc but just below Boon Fly’s versions. It comes with a vinegar hot sauce that looks more intimidating than it is. It actually could be hotter.


Mike enjoyed his BBQ but preferred the chicken over the beef.


We finished off our meal with a hefty slice of chocolate bundt cake from our favorite ABC Bakery.


We were beyond stuffed…it took days to digest.

Although it’s not located in the most prime location (in a strip mall sandwiched between a Target and a Whole Foods) I’d go back in a heartbeat. The large portions, tasty eats, reasonable prices, casually chic decor and jazzy music make up for the lackluster outdoor setting.

Rating:

Website: http://www.barbersq.com/

BarBers Q on Urbanspoon

Boon Fly Cafe

Boon Fly is a cozy cafe located in a bright red barn facade at the Carneros Inn (a Plumpjack resort) in Napa. It is a casual set up with a homey menu. The night we went I ordered the Fried Chicken and Mike had the Meatloaf special. Mike’s meal came with a large carafe of wine, salad AND dessert for $29. Great deal! It took some time for our meal to arrive. We found out it was due to the chicken being made to order. I was surprised by the huge serving size. The chicken was amazing. Just like I make it at home…it had a crispy light batter without any fancy herbs and spices but to give it a little kick they added a hint of hot sauce to the batter. Brilliant! It is the polar opposite of Ad Hoc’s famous thick buttermilk battered herby creation. To all those folks who think Ad Hoc’s got the best fried chicken in Napa, think again…they’ve got some serious competition! Mike gobbled down his meatloaf within minutes without any complaints. We finished things off with an awesome slice of banana creme pie.

Boon Fly is a great place to grab a tasty bite for a reasonable price. We look forward to coming back to try the breakfast. We hear it is out- of- sight.

Note: This meal took place in May 09.

meatloaf

Rating: drumstick ratingdrumstick ratingdrumstick ratingdrumstick rating

Website: http://www.thecarnerosinn.com/

Boon Fly Cafe on Urbanspoon

Ad Hoc part II – Fried Chicken Night

THE Fried Chicken everyone goes gaga over

Typical conversation about Ad Hoc:

Have you been to Ad Hoc?
Did you have the fried chicken?
Oh, my gosh it’s the best chicken I’ve ever eaten. It’s life changing bla,bla,bla

Back in May we did go to Ad hoc but not on fried chicken night. We instead had a marvelous pork dinner. If you are not familiar with Thomas Keller’s beloved restaurant in Yountville, Ca read this past post.

Mike and I returned to Ad Hoc to finally try the legendary fowl. We arrived on July 28 super syked and ready to devourer some breasts and wings. Here was our menu for the evening:

First Course - Baby Iceberg Wedge Salad with house cured speck, sweet 100 tomatoes, red torpedo onions, herb-cream dressing

Second Course - Buttermilk Fried Chicken brentwood yellow corn & yukon gold potatoes

Third Course - The Cheese Board with berry jam & medjool dates

Fourth Course - Pecan Tarts with whipped vanilla cream & caramel sauce

The answer to every ones question…Did it live up to the hype? Unfortunately for me – No…as I have stated in the past I like my chicken with a thin salty skin. Keller’s chicken didn’t have either of those components. His chicken has a thick herby skin. Good, but not my style. Mike enjoyed it. At least I can now say — been there, done that!

My favorite parts of the meal were the two sides. The corn was so sweet I didn’t mind the kernels stuck in my teeth and when I die I want to be buried in a vat of that creamy buttery mash. Just because I wasn’t crazy about the chicken doesn’t mean I like Ad Hoc any less. The food is amazing and I love the concept of the restaurant. It still gets 5 drumsticks in my book and I will be back. I look forward to trying a fish and beef menu.

Tasty Tip: If you want to try it for yourself a fellow food blogger has a calendar that lists all the monthly Ad Hoc fried chicken nights. For those of you who can’t make it to Napa Keller’s chick recipe can be found here or to try my version go here.

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