Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Boston Restaurant: Douzo

Posted by Katie

What: Douzo Modern Japanese Restaurant and Lounge
Where: South End next to the Back Bay Orange Line station
Honeys Heart: Sweet Potato Tempura maki

Last Saturday night, the roomie and I met up with Katie H, Anna, and Anna's friend Jason for sushi at Douzo. 

At first, Shannon and I were a little worried that our meal would cost more than we hoped because Douzo has some pretty intense "modern" decor going on and attracts a well-dressed, 40ish crowd. However, once we opened the menu, we happy to find that the prices were reasonable, with basic maki running in the $6-$8 range. 

Shannon and I decided to share the eel avocado roll, sweet potato tempura roll, California roll, and the Alaskan roll (salmon, avocado and bonito flakes).

The first two were great. Shannon had never had eel before so I was glad that her first experience was a good one. And really, how can you go wrong combining sweet potatoes and tempura?

The California and Alaska rolls, however, did not live up to my expectations. I've had many a California roll in my day, and these just had a weird lingering flavor that I didn't recognize. Not good. The Alaskan roll would have been fine if Shannon and I liked smoked salmon...but we don't. Now we'll know for next time that if Douzo doesn't mention whether their salmon is smoked or not, it very well might be.

Anna, Katie, and Jason ordered some maki too, which they all liked. Jason also tried out the delicious-looking crispy shrimp with creamy spicy sauce.

Now I love sushi, but it's not exactly something that fills me up so I suggested that we get some dessert before we called it a night. Anna and Jason had never been to Finale so we headed there. Great way to end a fun night out with friends.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Boston Restaurant and Bar: Lineage

posted by Katie  

What: Lineage's Lineage of the Cocktail
Where: Coolidge Corner, Brookline
When: Fridays and Saturdays 9-11:30pm
Honeys Heart: Chocolate Pot de Crème with Chantilly Cream

The Friday before Spring Break I thought it would be fun to get the girls together to try out Lineage's exploration of classic cocktails which they appropriately call the Lineage of the Cocktail.

Each week, self-taught mixologist Ryan Lotz picks two cocktails from Ted Haigh's book Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails and puts his own spin on them. From 9-11:30pm every Friday and Saturday, Lineage offers Ryan's weekly specials for $8-10 for a regular-sized cocktail or $5 for a smaller sample size.

The weekend we went the specials were the Bebbo Cocktail ($5/$8): gin, lemon, honey, and orange, and Curacao Punch ($5/$10): Jamaican rum, Curacao, brandy, lemon, soda and sugar.

 I ordered the Bebbo Cocktail and thought it was pretty good. Shannon and I agreed that her Curacao Punch was lacking in flavor and was little watery for $10. 
The other girls chose drinks off the regular cocktail menu. Anna went with a Champagne Cocktail and Katie H. tried the Spiked Cider.

Their drinks were decent too but I think we would all agree that the real highlight of our trip to Lineage were the desserts.

Shannon and I shared the Chocolate Pot de Crème with chantilly cream ($8) and it was absolutely heavenly. Rich, creamy, and smooth, it tasted like the perfect cup of hot chocolate with a dollop of not-too-sweet cream on top...yum.

Anna tried out the Meyer Lemon Cheesecake with shortbread crust and vanilla bean-ginger syrup ($8). Also delicious.

Katie H. picked the Warm Gingerbread with spiced walnut ice cream ($8). The ice cream was the perfect companion to the warm gingerbread cake.

I should also mention that, because Shannon and I are good girls, we made sure to eat dinner before moving on to dessert. We ordered the Flatbread Pizza with herb crust, potato, mushrooms (we omitted these) and truffle oil ($11).

Shannon thought the pizza was great but personally, I like to really taste that truffle oil and it wasn't coming through as much as I hoped it would. Service was also a bit slow that night but if you're just planning on a leisurely night of desserts and girl time, Lineage would be a great choice.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Portland Restaurant: Santa Fe Taqueria

Posted by Kelly

What: Santa Fe Taqueria 
Where: 831 NW 23rd Ave, Portland
When: Didn't make it to HH, but it happens Mon-Fri 4-7pm, 10-12pm
Honeys Heart: Ceviche ($5)

Recently I started a new job with PUNCH Event Marketing in Portland. I love my boss and my new responsibilities but I am still on a serious budget, therefore I am loving Groupon! I have already blogged about how I love groupons, but if you haven't already checked it!

A couple months ago I bought one offering $10 for $25 worth of food at Santa Fe (a steal right?!) I finally remembered to ask Adam to print it and we tried it out. Living just off of NW 21st it is pretty crazy that we haven't made it here already, but now with our groupon we had extra motivation. 

After about 10 minutes of staring at their unique menu written on the wall we made some decisions and ordered at the front. We shared the Ceviche appetizer and a side of guacamole ($2.75). This combination of shrimp, tomato, avocado, onion, cilantro, and lime juice was really good and probably my favorite thing we ordered.

For my main meal I chose the Fajita Dinner ($9.50). A sizzling plate of peppers, onions, and chicken, paired with some sour cream, guac, lettuce, beans, and rice is never a disappointment! Served with your choice of black, pinto, or refried beans, and an option of corn or flour tortillas these fajitas are pretty great.

Adam chose the Brazilian Wrap ($8.50) filled with rice, beans, spicy Brazilian meat, chipotle sauce and topped with a fruit salsa. The oranges balanced well with the spice of the meat and it was definitely filling!

Finally, feeling happy that we were saving, we both got margaritas. I ordered the house marg and Adam went for a cadillac. The margaritas were good and finished our order out at $36. This means we paid $21 for $36 worth of food. Not too shabs! I am definitely looking forward to my next groupon experience!

Vancouver (WA) Happy Hour: Chevy's

Posted by Kelly

What: Chevy's
Where: 4315 NE Thurston Way, Vancouver, WA
When: Mon-Fri 3-7pm
Honeys Heart: It's fast!

Living in Portland for the last 5 years has made me, well, a bit of a restaurant snob. Yeah, it's true. In Portland there are endless restaurant options, all equally as delicious as the last and usually priced more reasonably than chain restaurants. My favorite examples of this are Pause, where a half pound, organic, fresh ground beef burger and fries is like $8.95, try finding something that delicious at Red Robin. Or check out Justa Pasta in NW for some great homemade pasta dishes, Olive Garden has nothing on them.

Okay, enough chain restaurant bashing. They're not THAT bad. They actually have some benefits:

1.) They are predictable: You know exactly what you're going to get every time. They don't really change based on geographic area. It's like going to Starbucks in a foreign country. You know that you're going to get a coffee that tastes the same as it does in your home town.

2.) They have big dining areas: There will likely be open seating, if not in the restaurant then in the bar. Meaning you can get in, get served, and get out.

...okay so they have at least 2 benefits. Whatever. Point: my new job is taking me to new exciting places like Vancouver, WA. Well, maybe that's not very exciting, but we do have to go there for meetings about the Discovery Walk Festival happening at the end of April. Expecting traffic from Portland to Vancouver to be dreadful (the usual) we left with plenty of time to spare. Rocking the car pool lane we arrived in Vancouver 50 minutes before our meeting was planned to start. Time for HH? Yes.

We walked into Chevy's which was busy, but there was room at the bar. We sat down, each ordered a $3 blended original margarita (can't be bad!) and briefly reviewed the 50% off appetizer menu.

Five minutes later we ordered the nachos and chicken flautas. Fifteen minutes later we had our food. Twenty minutes later we were full. Five minutes later we had paid our bill and five minutes after that we were promptly arriving at our meeting.

The nachos were unique in that each chip was individually covered in beans, meat and cheese. In this case every chip is the best chip!

The chicken flautas claim to be "crispy," but I didn't find them incredibly crispy. They were filled with chicken and served with a unique dipping sauce (aka not salsa). Tasty. I feel like Mexican food (much like pizza), is generally satisfying and hard to completely ruin, so we left quite satisfied.

Overall not bad, no Por Que No?, but it's not trying to be. After we ordered we noticed people heading over to a "do-it-yourself" taco bar...this looked even quicker and probably no more expensive. I'm pretty sure we'll be back at Chevy's before our next meeting trying out the taco bar and enjoying a post long day, pre-meeting marg! 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Monterey Restaurant: LALLAgrill and Monterey Crepe Company by Lauren from 32 Above

posted by Lauren of 32 Above

What: LALLAgrill
Where: 1400 Del Monte Shopping Center, Monterey, CA
When: Mon-Sun 11am-11pm

I am so thrilled to be posting on HHH! I love all of Katie and Kelly's posts, especially the how-to ones they have started adding. I believe I was the first official follower of this blog, but I am not sure. If you are following anonymously, please don't! Follow them publicly!  

Anyways, when Katie told me that she'd be coming down to Monterey to visit during her spring break, I got very excited. She took it to a whole new level when she suggested doing a blog swap! In college, each visit I made to Portland included a trip to at least one fabulous restaurant. A few favorites include Sagittarius and Por Que No. Now it was my turn to find a restaurant gem to take her to.

I googled and yelped various places, but eventually I went with my roommate Sarah's suggestion of LALLAgrill. She lauded their drink selections and told me how it had been the perfect pick for her 21st birthday dinner. After Katie arrived, the three of us made the short drive from Seaside to Monterey's Del Monte Shopping Center.

As mentioned on their website, "LALLAgrill offers a totally 'MOD' dining concept that encourages guests to linger and indulge in California’s finest food, wine and spirits. LALLAgrill’s concept revolves around the meaning of the word 'fresh' and fresh ideas can be found in every aspect of this restaurant —from its architectural and interior design to its fresh, organic and house-made menu items."

The menu included casual, California cuisine as well as an assortment of small plates and bigger entrees. They claim to have "fresh, never frozen [ingredients and] local, organic fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs picked from the restaurant's garden wall."

While reading through the extensive drink menu, we ordered the grilled garlic cheese bread, which is freshly made on the premises. 

LALLA's has a gorgeous, 20 foot tall, full spirits bar that offers martinis, fruit-infused specialty drinks, 8 beers on tap, house-made Sangria, and 40 different house wines. 

Our drink choices:   

Lauren- The Paloma: tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, soda water

Katie- MOD Mojito: mojito with house-infused pineapple rum and cinnamon 

Sarah- LALLAjito: mojito with vanilla rum 

After tasting them all, I'd suggest going with the mojito bearing the LALLA name. It was deliciously easy to drink. It seemed a bit sweeter than Katie's MOD Mojito, probably due to the vanilla flavors? My drink was good and strong, the tequila jumped out at me! In a good way!

For food, we settled on:

Goat Cheese Ravioli: House made with a crushed tomato sauce ($8)

Crab Cakes: Panko crusted sweet crab served with mango salsa and wild rice ($11)

Strawberry Salad: Mixed organic greens with feta, candied pecans, roasted corn, cherry tomatoes, sweet onions, dried cherries, and escabeche with raspberry vinaigrette ($7)

Hold on one second as I swipe away the drool landing on my keyboard. Just thinking about those goat cheese raviolis gets my salivary glands all fired up! I love it when you can tell that you are eating fresh pasta! Too many restaurants do not take the time to create their own pasta noodles. The strawberry salad was fresh and delicious. However, it is only 1 of their 13 decadent choices. How does this one sound: Pistachio Crusted Chicken Salad (Chicken breast strips rolled in pistachio nuts and grilled, served on a bed of mixed organic greens, roasted onion, granny smith apples, dried cranberries and cherries, and crumbled goat cheese tossed in a honey mustard dressing for $12). So many reasons to give LALLA's another visit!

LALLAgrill also has a huge outdoor patio with a "living wall, a water fall and an outdoor fireplace with lounge area." On a warm afternoon I'd love to come back to LALLA's, sip on a LALLAjito, and sample more of their yummy cuisine. The patio is covered by a large, tent-like structure and there are heat lamps for colder nights.

What: Monterey Crepe Company
Where: 321 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA

Hoping to catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood, we drove over to Whole Foods after dinner. Unfortunately they were closed! This meant no Clint AND no visit to the Whole Foods bakery. Planning to show Katie what downtown Monterey looks like (FYI - downtown is NOT Cannery Row), I headed towards Alvarado Street. When passing Monterey Crepe Company, my car broke down! Just kidding. The truth is that I've been wanting to hit up this creperie since last December, when I tried to convince my sister to go halvsies with me. (She refused, some sort of crepe aversion.)

The three of us walked in to an almost empty Monterey Crepe Co. Lucky for us they stay open pretty late! We ordered the King Zakara, a crepe with nutella, strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream ($7.75). Those are my four favorite crepe ingredients BTW. Snippity snappity that crepe made my stomach smile for hours! The crepe was gooey and the fruit oozed out in plentiful clumps. Shoot! More drool on the keyboard!

They offer both sweet and savory crepes, paninis, ice cream, coffee, and tea. Apparently many Crepe Co customers have had a less enjoyable experience, including long lines and poor customer service. We had no issues at all. Have any of you been to either of these fine establishments? Would any of you like to? I want to go back to both... Tonight!

Thanks to the Happy Hour Honeys for letting me take over on this post, and thanks to Katie for visiting!

Friday, March 5, 2010

DIY Happy Hour: Tom Collins

posted by Katie

A few weekends ago Katie H, the roomie, and I hosted a cocktail party at my apartment. I decided to make Greyhounds because they're so easy and so good (recipe coming soon), but I also wanted to try something new, preferably with gin to mix things up a bit.

My first idea was to do Southsides which were introduced to me by Josey at Drink. They're basically mojitos but with gin instead of rum. But mint is super expensive, especially when you're buying enough for a party of 12, so I had to nix that idea. 

I decided to turn to Lucy Brennan's book Hip Sips for some inspiration. Lucy is the mixologist at Mint and her book is great.

Her Tom Collins recipe looked pretty simple to make and sounded good too so I decided to go with those...and I'm so glad I did because Tom Collins is officially my new favorite drink.

Simple, refreshing, and pretty darn cute when you add a cherry and a colorful straw, this drink was a hit with my guests and will definitely be one of my go-to drinks from now on.

What You'll Need: 
- gin (as usual, I went for the cheapest brand and it was just fine)
- lemons and limes
- sugar and water (for simple syrup)
- club soda
- ice
- maraschino cherries (for garnish)
- straws

 Step 1: Make the simple syrup

You'll want to make this first because it needs to cool down before you use it.

Step 1A: Combine 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan.

Step 1B: Stir with a wooden spoon over medium heat until the sugar has completely dissolved.

You'll know when that's happened because the mixture will go from looking like this...

to looking like this:

Step 2: Juice the lemons and limes

I'm convinced that the freshly-squeezed lemon-lime juice is what makes this drink so good so I would advise against taking the easy route and going with store-bought juice.

Lucy's original recipe calls for equal amounts of lemons and limes but due to our budget we ended up going with a 3:1 ratio of lemons to limes. Our limes were pretty big though so you might want to think more like 2:1 if you're using small limes.

Katie H. and Avi juicing it up. 
I love my Cuisinart juicer and everyone kept volunteering to take a turn so I guess they loved it too.

Step 3: Put it all together over ice and stir

- 2 oz gin
- 1 oz lemon-lime juice
- 1 oz simple syrup
- splash of club soda

Step 4: Garnish with a cherry, add a straw and enjoy!

And some pictures from the party just in case you wanted to see everybody dressed up in their cocktail finery: