Thursday, March 31, 2011

Boston | Clink. at the Liberty Hotel

Typically when people say they're going to visit you from another city, they don't actually mean it, or they're just trying to be nice, i.e. it will never happen. However, it is not true for Caroline! A good friend from LA visited me for her spring break. For someone adventurous (or crazy) like her, she wanted to dine at the relatively new restaurant, Clink. at the Liberty Hotel. The now luxury hotel was the former Charles Street Jail, a historic jail built in 1851.

Clink., situated on the lobby level of the hotel, kept the original jail cells in this new American restaurant. Rather than having a creepy prison feeling, the restaurant sends a comfortable and modern vibe. I really like the warm hard wood furnitures and the open kitchen that showcases the preparation of the dishes.

Photo from Hospitalityonline

The Appetizers were perfectly prepared and gave a great start to our meal! The light salad was served with very fresh fatty salmon, torched and lightly glazed with miso sauce. I think I could've eaten another plate of those. The soft scrambled duck egg was delicious, too! The creamy scrambled duck egg (tasted exactly like chicken egg) topped with sauteed savory mushrooms complemented the soft and buttery brioche toast.

Torched Salmon Salad
cucumbers, miso, and shiso

Soft Scrambled Duck Egg
mushrooms and brioche toast

The fully cooked mahi mahi was accompanied by savoy cabbage, fingerling potatoes, smoked bacon, and sweet Maine shrimps.

Mahi Mahi

The green apple and rhubarb crisp differed with typical apple cobblers. The smooth sour taste of green apples added to the flavor of the dessert, and the rum raisin gelato on top just made it even better. I didn't like the butterscotch pots de creme at first, but the more I ate, the more I liked it.

Green Apple and Rhubarb Crisp

Butterscotch Pots De Creme

The dinner was very pleasant, and the staffs took good care of our needs. Caroline and I both had a great time catching up and enjoying the food. The architecture and interior design of this historic landmark hotel is definitely worth checking out!

The Liberty Hotel
215 Charles Street
Boston, MA 02114

Recommendation: 3.5 Stars
Experience the prison life and enjoy fine dining food!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boston | Meritage at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Meritage has always been on the top of my list of new restaurants to try. Not only does it have great reviews, but many of my friends also recommended me to try it out. To kick off 2011 Boston restaurant week, I decided to visit Meritage right away and figure out why people love it so much.

Located in the 5-star Boston Harbor Hotel, this new American restaurant offers an elegant atmosphere as well as some of the most beautiful waterfront views in Boston. Although we arrived Meritage a bit late, we were quickly seated and greeted by our server. Famous for its extensive collection of fine wines, I ordered additional wine pairing with my restaurant week menu. All three wines were excellent, especially the cabernet sauvignon - even for a white wine lover like me, I cannot put down the glass!

3 Course Wine Pairing

The portion at Meritage was quite generous, considering it was restaurant week menu. For my first course, I had the steamed lobster tail. The strong tangerine fragrance and refreshing citrus taste really whetted my appetite and prepared me for the following courses; however, the lobster itself was a bit over cooked. It could have been divine!

Steamed Maine Lobster Tail on the Half Shell
Buttered Snap Peas and Satsuma Tangerine Essence

Wood Grilled Fillet Mignon with Soft Whipped Potatoes, Horseraddish onion cream
Meritage Syrup

The tasting plate featured three small and playful desserts. The green apple was very tasty, but others were just okay.

White Fruit Tasting Plate of Bread Pudding, Green Apple Sorbet, Lychee Cream Eclair

For some reason, I wasn't exceptionally impressed by Meritage. It was probably because I had too much expectation for this restaurant. Meritage does have great food and attentive service, but it is just like any other fine dining restaurant, noting too special. Oh well, the wine pairing was awesome though!

Meritage, The Restaurant
70 Rowes Wharf
Boston, MA 02110

Recommendation: 4 Stars
Great fine dining restaurant with good food and service, but nothing too special.
Get their wine pairing!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Boston | The Oak Room at The Fairmont Copley Plaza

I'm sure we all have read The Great Gatsby some point in our lives. Ever wonder what life is like during the roaring 20s? The Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza takes you back to that glamorous era. Since the hotel's grand opening in 1912, it has represented Boston's rich history and refined taste. The restaurant prides itself as a traditional steak house but offers some of the best Bostonian flairs, such as lobster bisque, raw platters, and Boston cream pie.

The food experience at the Dining Room was absolutely surreal. I felt as if I was in an old movie set in the earlier days of America. The high ceiling is decorated with gold and delicate designs, framed by dark wood and grand windows. The atmosphere of the Oak Room is simply fabulous!

The Dining Room

Our waiter delightfully introduced us to the wide collection of champagnes as well as great red and white wines. I was really tempted to have a glass, but I had a lot of work to do later that night - we all know that nothing will be accomplished after drinking......

Champagnes and Wines

Bread Basket

In addition to the typical butter, the restaurant brought us olives and hummus spreads. They complemented so well with the flavorful selection of warm breads.

Three Spreads: Olives, Butter, Hummus

The lobster bisque was definitely the best I have had for a very long time. The creamy bisque gave a strong and tasty lobster aroma - which I absolutely loved!

Oak Room Lobster Bisque

Grilled 7oz Tenderloin
Au Poivre Sauce, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Root Vegetables

As recommended by my friend, I ordered an additional side of truffle mac and cheese; it was light and tasty with a strong scent of black truffle - an interesting dish to try.

Truffle Mac and Cheese

Oak Room Boston Cream Pie & Cappuccino 

Rice Pudding, Poached Pears and Passion Fruit Jelly

Complementary Cotton Candy!

The Oak Bar is such a classy spot to drink. Just look at the room! I think they are famous for their excellent martinis.

As part of my restaurant week adventure, the check ended up $33.11 plus tax and tips. The service was excellent and on par with the food. The place can be pricey without the restaurant menu, but I think it's definitely worth it just for the special experience.

Well, now I know I can also live the life of the old money.

The Oak Room at The Fairmont Copley Plaza
138 St. James Avenue
Fairmont Copley Plaza
Boston, MA 02116

Recommendation: 4.5 Stars
For the decor and atmosphere, the restaurant is definitely a Boston top choice!
The lobster bisque is simply awesome. I still think about the soup!

Monday, March 14, 2011

New York | Dos Caminos

I think global warming is real - it was insanely cold when I visited New York City in January, and the snow was just ridiculous! At times like this, I think the best way to cope with this depressing weather is to have some spicy Mexican food to heat things up. I decided to meet up with an elementary school friend for dinner at Dos Caminos in Soho.

Dos Caminos is a very hip Mexican restaurant with modern finish and (very) dimmed lights. Many people dine here for great food and drinks, as well as for people watching. The place is usually packed - you have to make reservations if you don't want to wait, but the bar seems great. I wouldn't mind getting a drink and wait while I catch up with my friend or meet someone new.

The restaurant is famous for their guacamole - made fresh to order. It was flavorful and deliciously prepared. I could taste the generous amount of avocado mixed with fresh tomatoes, cilantro leaves, and white onion. must order!!

Guacamole made fresh to order

comes with tortilla chips too!

For my main course, I ordered ribeye steak alambre. Since I am not a big fan of Mexican food (except for Chipotle), I wasn't expecting too much for my entree. Turned out I was wrong. The premium ribeye was tender and juicy, and surprisingly, the apple wood smoked bacon wrapped around the ribeye multiplied the taste of the meat and made the steak even better!

Ribeye Steak Alambre
brochetta of ribeye steak, apple wood smoked bacon, cipollini onions, poblano chiles, arroz con crema and chimichurri sauce

The check turned out to be around $75. The meal was great, and the server was very nice to us. I had a good time with my friend who I haven't met for a while. The only downside is that the restaurant is too packed; the small spaces between tables are a bit uncomfortable.

Dos Caminos
475 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Recommendation: 4 Stars
Hip and relaxing Mexican restaurant, great for after work drink and dinner.
Don't forget to try their guacamole!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Los Angeles | Bouchon Bistro

I knew I had to visit Bouchon Bistro when my favorite food network show host, Giada, recommended this restaurant back in 2009. The elegant restaurant is one of Thomas Keller's more casual creation - the same chef who brought us the high profile Per Se in New York City and The French Laundry near Napa Valley. Thanks to Restaurant Week in Los Angles, I finally get to have a taste of it!

Bouchon serves casual French cuisine but promises high quality food and atmosphere. You can find food like steak frites, quiches, corque madame, and oysters on their menu as well as an extensive wine list. While the dining room is architected as a quaint and grand cafe, we decided to sit at the patio, where we can enjoy the soothing California sun.

The DineLA menu featured an appetizer, an entree, and a desert for $28.00. The food was fresh and delicately prepared. Most importantly, the portion was generous, and I was really full after the meal.

Despite the interesting shape, the French bread they serve was delicious. The spread is the perfect mixture of butter and cream - smooth and tasty.

French Bread with Salted Cream Butter

The best of all is the Corque Madame, which was recommended by Giada. It is basically grilled ham & cheese sandwich on brioche, topped with a fried egg & mornay sauce.

Croque Madame

The sandwich was probably the best I have ever tasted in my life. Not to mention, the fries was pretty awesome too!

Tarte du Jour - Smoked Salmon Tart

Overall, the restaurant attracts a good crowd of people and serves excellent food. The waiter was attentive and very knowledgeable of the menu. I will definitely visit again if I'm craving for something simple and comforting.

Bouchon Bistro
235 North Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

My Recommendation: 5 Stars
Awesome place for some delicate comfort food and experience the Beverly Hills casual.
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