When I moved to Boston a little over 9 years ago, I discovered the world of farmer’s markets. They just weren’t popular, or I wasn’t aware of them, in my area of Florida. I instantly took to the idea of feasting on goodies that were grown or made right in my own neighborhood.
The box was fantastic, but even after splitting the goods with my friend, Karen, it was WAY to much food for someone who enjoys going out to eat as much as I did (still do?!).
Although I no longer buy all my veggies from the local farm, I do still enjoy and support eating in my community. I WANT to support local vendors, farmers, restaurants, crafts people and artists.
Places like the South End Open Market (SOWA), farmer’s markets throughout the week, and food trucks are fun ways to support all kinds of locals. But another way that I LOVE to support my community is to visit local restaurants. Local eats = Excellent treats!
Last week I had the opportunity to visit East Somerville, which is just a little hop from my house, for the East Somerville Foodie Crawl. It was like a good ol’ fashioned pub crawl…but with food!
The foodie crawl consisted of 15+ locations that were serving up small plates of everything from Ethiopian to Brazilian to Mexican.
It was a gorgeous night so it was really nice to grab a bite from the restaurant and then enjoy out on the street. There were TONS of people walking around and enjoying the tour too. It isn’t often that people just take time to wander around the neighborhood, but the foodie crawl was perfect for that.
As we did our crawl along Broadway St, there was live music and a few other fun surprises, including a caricature artist.
If I am being honest, quite a few of the restaurants on the tour are places that I probably wouldn’t have given a second look before this crawl. Seriously. They were by no means “dive” looking, but a few had smaller signs or maybe a generic name that didn’t catch me. But once we were inside? I was totally overwhelmed with great smelling food and friendly folks who wanted to give it to me!
By the end of the crawl we had hit *almost* every single spot and were STUFFED beyond belief. As the night went on the lines started to get a bit longer and we were a bit too tired to stand around.
The best bite of the night?! Our favorite bite of the night also ended up being our last bite. As we started to fall into a food coma, we came across Tacqueria Montecristo, a SalvadorianI food stop. They were serving some kind of tostada/fried thingy with all kind of veggies loaded on top with cheese and HOMEMADE SOUR CREAM. I apologize for not knowing the name. Ugh. So good!
By the time I was done eating I had sour cream on everything, including my phone and the BF’s jacket. Fortunately, he stopped me from licking it off. I go nuts for sour cream. Thank goodness I was in charge of the photos or there would be a seriously messy photo of me up above.
The tour was just $20 for 2.5 hours of eats and fun. I think the crawl was a fantastic idea and it was so fun to get explore East Somerville a bit more. I totally think other neighborhoods should take note and invite their residents to come explore the same way.
A few days ago I was giving my opinion on some popular breakfast spots to stop at to a friend coming to visit Boston in a few weeks. Each time I thought of a place I would instantly say, “Ooohh! They have the best brunch!” Boston is just a brunching kind of town. I’ve had my fair share (and then some) of fantastic brunches and many of them have been with the Boston Brunchers.
A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to join up with my Brunching friends after a long hiatus and check out Vine Brook Tavern in Lexington, Ma.
On a sunny Sunday morning I joined a few other brunchers at a beautiful wood table for a little community dining. The restaurant wasn’t busy, but there was a nice sprinkling of guests throughout the two store building.
The restaurant has a farmhouse type of feel with the wooden tables and textured cutlery, but is modern and cool at the same time.
There is a nice sized bar that would be perfect for enjoying a drink or grabbing a bite to eat.
The folks at Vine Brook treated us to a variety of their menu items including a few cocktails. Our server, Ashley, guided us through some of the history of Vine Brook while we waited for our food to arrive.
Vine Brook resides in a building that was built in the 1830s and was the site of the first post office in Lexington. They serve “Blunch” on Fri-Sun from 11:30-3 and start serving dinner at 5 every night of the week.
The first bits to hit the table were a few cocktails.
Latin Lebowski (cachaca, chocolate malted milk, agave, ancho chile)- This tastes just like chocolate milk. Which means that it goes down just as quickly as chocolate milk!
Elderberry Cocktail (St. Elder, Scharffenberger, soda)- I love a good soda based cocktail and especially one with elderflower, but unfortunately this one didn’t stand out as much against the group as the others.
Moscato Mist (Moscato, white grape juice, Prosecco, frozen grapes)- This was so light, but sweet and delicious. The sweetness of the moscato with the bubbles in the prosecco was perfect. The frozen grapes were like little bonuses!
Hemingway Daiquiri (rum, maraschino liqueur, lime, grapefruit)- This was my favorite of the bunch. It was a just a touch tart, refreshing, and filled with crushed ice. This sounds silly, but I LOVE crushed ice. This makes a huge difference in a drink and this made it perfect for me!
Caipirinha (cachaca, lime, sugar)- Traditional drink, but a little too much lime and sugar for me. It seemed to be a favorite for the table though!
After a few “CHEERS!” around the table it was time for some food.
Sopressata Flatbreadwith cherry bomb peppers and aged provolone.
This pizza was one of my favorites of the morning. The crust was the perfect combo of crunch and doughy. The cherry bomb peppers added a touch of heat that was on point when paired with the aged provolone. This sucker could easily be split between a few people too! Typically when we are at brunch I take a little piece and move along so I can have enough room to taste everything. I loved this one so much that I took two pieces and could have had more!
Smoked Salmon Clubon everything bagel with scallion cream cheese.
This was a fantastic brunch sandwich. The savory salmon made a great combo with the slightly garlic everything bagel. The only thing that was a bit…odd…was that this sucker was HUGE! It is a double decker and a bit hard to handle. It was nice to get a big taste of the cream cheese in on the second layer though. Hard to handle or not, I would definitely order this again and messily gobble the whole thing up.
Crispy Challah French Toastwith maple pecan butter, blueberries and maple bacon.
Thick slices of challah are coated in cereal to get a nice crunch on the french toast. The maple pecan butter was a lovely sweet addition to the plate. I’m usually a savory person for breakfast, but I thought this was delectable.
Shaved steak sandwichwith horseradish dijon, sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions, sharp American cheese and house chips.
I’ve never been a fan of shaved steak. There is something about the texture that throws me off. For me this sandwich just kind of blends together with no flavor that stands out. The chips are dynamite and I would love to add these to the side of any meal they serve at Vine Brook.
Turkey Burgerwith avocado, house mayo, munster, and fries.
If you ever wondered if I was being honest when I review something that I was given for free, then here is where I prove that I am always a woman of my word. This turkey burger was so disappointing. It *looks* absolutely stunning when it came out. There was melty cheese, tons of avocado and fantastic fries. Unfortunately the turkey burger itself was a funky texture that was entirely too mushy. It tasted more like a homemade veggie burger than a turkey burger. I couldn’t really taste the munster either. Combined with a soft bun and this was just a fail for me.
Lets end the review of the food on a good note though!
Farmhouse Pizzawith runny eggs, corn, onions and other fresh vegetables from local farms.
I never really understood the big hub bub about runny eggs until about a year ago. Now any time I see them I get all kinds excited. I loved the idea of a runny egg on top of a pizza! There were so many little fresh bits on this pizza and the amazing part was that I could taste all of them. Sometimes flavors become muddled when too much is together, but in this case it was the exact opposite. They all worked together to create a great blunch pizza.
While we were hanging out enjoying our food we were treated to a little entertainment from another server. Joel Edwards is a trained opera singer and put on a bit of a show for us. It was such a fun surprise! (PS. This was filmed for Vine so that is why it is a bit weirdly cut.)
After our meal we were given a tour of this gorgeous restaurant. Our brunch was on the first floor so we went to check out the second floor where there is a more table seating for smaller parties, another bar and a room that can be used for special occasions.
I love the light fixtures and all the wood flooring. It adds to the charm and cozy feeling of this large restaurant.
There is also local art, historical photos and décor that make this place feel like it could easily be your “local” hangout where people remember you when you come back over and over.
I absolutely adored this restaurant. The food, the cocktails, the atmosphere. A note on the staff…I know they picked their best servers for our visit, but all staff that I came in contact with was just as friendly and helpful. Five stars all the way around!
I will DEFINITELY be returning to Vine Brook Tavern and look forward to trying out their dinner menu. Save me a spot at the bar Vine Brook?!
Many thanks to Boston Brunchers and Vine Brook Tavern for a wonderful brunch!
*Just a Note: Brunch was provided to me free of charge by Vine Brook Tavern. As always, all opinions are all my own!*
Well hello there! Another beautiful weekend has come and gone. This was my first weekend during my 30 Day Spend Less Challenge and I’m happy to report that I was successful!
MOVIE NIGHT! I went to see Iron Man 3. Final review: Pretty good, although Iron Man 1 was my favorite. There were too many similarities with the Boston Bombing for my taste in this one. Not their fault, but just another example of using too many real life scenarios for movies. Not my fave. I didn’t buy the tickets, but I did treat us to dinner which ended up being just a small $20 because we split a dish.
I dropped $49 before I even started my day. I had to replace my broken iPhone so I consider this money part of my necessity fund. It was necessary for me to not cut up my finger every time I wanted to scroll down the screen.
I also had a major sweat session at Total Body Melt. Kettle bell swings were our primary focus. I pushed through and used a heavier weight than I have ever before. Progress!
That night I attended a Cinco de Mayo party. So fun and so free! 😉 Kidding. I brought goodies that I bought before the first day of May.
After sweating to the Zumba Gods, I was treated to brunch by the fine folks at BOKX 109 American Prime in Newton. Thanks to the Boston Brunchers I was given the opportunity for myself and a guest to enjoy our choice of their brunch items and a drink. My BF agreed to join me on a sunny Sunday morning to check it out.
Located in the Hotel Indigo, BOKX 109 is literally right in my neighborhood, but for some reason I had it in my head that it was difficult to get to. As we pulled in I realized that I was totally wrong. It was super easy to get to and plenty of parking.
The interior has a little bit of a classic steak house feel because of the rich leather seats and booths. One side of the restaurant was all glass overlooking the pool area so there was plenty of sunshine coming through to make it feel not as dark. I can imagine dinner would be pretty cool and kind of cozy, but classy feeling. Very Mad Men-ish.
While we gave the menu a good review, I sipped on a Bloody Mary that our server recommended.
Um, whoa. I love goodies in my Bloody. This one had cucumber, lime, Slim Jim, prosciutto wrapped stuffed olive and string cheese. Yup. String Cheese!!!!
I couldn’t decide on what I wanted so we decided to get one entrée to split like an appetizer and then one of our own to try.
Ok, these oysters literally had me speechless. They were absolutely decadent and divine. There was tons of topping, but also huge oysters hiding under there. Six HUGE oysters! I gobbled up my first one so fast that I had to physically tell myself to slow down. I would return to BOKX if this was the only single item on their menu. Rename your restaurant to Grilled Oysters and I will still follow you!
We both agreed that we could have eaten the entire plate all by ourselves. I’m glad we didn’t so I could enjoy my other dish, but I just can’t praise these oysters enough. Oyster lovers unite!
Our main dishes…
Steak Bomblete- frittata style omelet with tenderloin, smoked gouda, mushrooms, and caramelized onions
I enjoyed the idea of a frittata style omelet. It was fluffy and stuffed with perfectly cooked tenderloin and melty good cheese. The only part that threw me off a little was the salad that was on top of the omelet. The description on the menu is listed exactly as it written above. No mention of salad and no mention of balsamic reduction. Unfortunately, my BF is not a fan of balsamic. He still enjoyed the dish, but probably would have picked something different or asked for it to be left off. I enjoyed the salad and balsamic, but I also have a strange addiction to these things.
This dish was huge! And I loved it. The eggs were cooked perfectly and ran like liquid gold when I cut into them.
The ratio of crab to egg to bread to sauce was perfect. I could definitely taste the crab and it wasn’t totally masked by the aioli or béarnaise. Does the dish really *need* both the aioli and bearnaise? Not exactly, but it certainly doesn’t hurt!
I was pleasantly surprised that the bread wasn’t totally soggy either. It had a nice crush to it and held up well because of the shaved lettuce under the crab and egg.
In between the eggs was a little trio of sliced potatoes with parm cheese and truffle oil. Again, a wonderful addition to the dish, but not listed on the menu and I know quite a few folks who are not truffle oil fans. Fortunately, I am not one of them so I gobbled them up. I am a fan of all components of the dish being listed on the menu. Am I alone in this?
The service was the right mix of attentive but not intrusive. The food came out quickly, but didn’t taste or look like it has been made earlier and was just sitting around. It was definitely fresh and well made!
As we waddled out we took a look at the pool area that they are in the middle of getting ready for the upcoming summer season.
The pool features private cabanas, fire pits, and a full service outdoor bar. Perfect for a hot summer night! I’ve heard that it has a very South Beach Pool Party vibe. I have to come back to see it in action.
As I looked back at our meal I had to think back to the description of BOKX 109 on their website.
“Welcome to BOKX 109 American Prime, where exquisite dining and professional service work together like fresh sea salt and cracked black pepper. At BOKX, we take the most local farm to table ingredients and choicest selection of all natural meats and fish and celebrate quality recipes that will leave you satisfied, healthy and eager to return.”
Yes, their dining and service were harmonious. Every bit of our dish tasted like quality products that were fresh and treated well. I was more than satisfied with my meal too. But healthy? No exactly. I suppose I could have ordered the “Healthy Breakfast Panini”,but that didn’t seem nearly as fun as buttery panko, béarnaise sauce, and smoked gouda. Eager to return?! Absolutely!!!