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Brick and Mortar (Cambridge, MA)

When I was in Boston a few weeks ago, I decided it was time to go find a burger spot I had been looking for in Cambridge. But this was not your usual burger spot. I first found this place when looking for a cocktail in Cambridge, having gotten a recommendation for “Brick and Mortar” along with an address of 567 Massachusetts Avenue. Heading there, however, I only found Central Kitchen, a fairly well-recognized dinner establishment, and no cocktails. But…. see that unmarked door next to Central Kitchen? Through that lies Brick and Mortar, one of Cambridge’s Speakeasies, known for interesting cocktails and good bar food. Brick and Mortar is actually a rather cozy little bar (which makes for a pleasant drinking experience during the early evening, but by late evening the place quickly becomes crowded, with a long wait list to get in). The cocktail list at Brick and Mortar is quite impressive, and they are definitely in on the current trend of using bitters, gins, and other botanicals to make some very interesting cocktails. Past victuals that were particularly pleasing include the “Lido Shuffle” with Cocchi, Aperol, Chartreuse, and Lemon, or the “Gail Collins” with Mezcal, Sloe Gin, and Bitters. But on my first two visits, it wasn’t just the (excellent) cocktails drawing my eye… I noticed that several of the other diners had ordered burgers, and the burgers looked quite good indeed. So this trip, while I did get a “Sister Mary” (with Tequila, St Germain, Aperol, and grapefruit) my primary goal was to get a burger.

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Roast Beast (Brookline, MA)

One of my annual traditions is volunteering at one of the local FIRST Robotics competitions, usually as a Robot Inspector or a Judge. This year’s volunteer assignment was for the New England District Championship at Boston University’s Agganis Arena, and that gave me another opportunity to check out some of the Brookline area dining options. One particular place had caught my eye since I had walked by it several times on last year’s “Death March” (my annual tradition of walking ~20 miles through an urban area, exploring neighborhoods and eateries that I normally wouldn’t visit). That place is right in central Brookline in the basement of a building: Roast Beast.

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Brookline Lunch (Cambridge, MA)

About five years ago, I was exploring the area around MIT before one of my many meetings, and while ducking down Brookline Street, passed by an unassuming little storefront on the side of a fairly industiral-looking building. But looking inside, it was a little diner, absolutely filled with students having breakfast. It looked interesting enough that I vowed to come back and try it sometime. There was just one one little detail. Brookline Lunch isn’t open on Tuesdays. And, somehow, that seems to be when the majority of my visits to MIT are. So for about two years, Brookline Lunch has been on my hit list, but it wasn’t until I had a visit to MIT on a recent very cold Monday morning that I finally had a chance to check them out.

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Tepthida Khmer (Lowell, MA)

Earlier this year, I went out with several friends to The Elephant Walk in Cambridge, MA for Cambodian food, and that outing reminded me how much I like the traditional dishes and flavors of Cambodia (similar to Vietnamese, the combination of French and Southeastern Asian influence makes for some particularly tasty dishes). In any case, as I was heading back from last week’s trip down to MIT, I decided to take a small detour and check out Tepthida Khmer in Lowell, MA.

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Kolbeh of Kabob (Cambridge, MA)

Earlier this week, I had another of my periodic trips down to MIT to visit with collaborators, and, like usual, I used it as an opportunity to check out some additional restaurants, since Cambridge and Somerville have all sorts of great dining spots. This time, I was craving Persian food, particularly since rural NH is particularly lacking in Middle Eastern places. Looking over the offerings near MIT, I ended up picking Kolbeh of Kabob, across the street from Cambridge Hospital.

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The People’s Pint (Greenfield, MA)

It’s turning out that 2013 is one of those “revisiting old favorites” sort of years, with my traveling back to well-loved institutions in several states. Often, I’ve been surprised that some of my favorite haunts from before I started blogging seemed to have gotten missed out, often since I’ve assumed when visiting these places that I had already written them up. The People’s Pint in Greenfield, MA, is one of those places; I’ve been going there for years (since 2002), and eaten dozens of great meals there, but never got around to writing them up.

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Sandrine’s (Cambridge, MA)

In late June, a friend of mine, Jeff, had come to Boston for an extended weekend of, well, food and beverages. We decided it would be good to drive down and meet up with him for some light tourism (see my previous review on Modern Pastry), some cocktails (at Brick and Mortar, a rather nice speakeasy in Cambridge), and finally dinner. We ended up at Sandrine’s in Cambridge. Located about two blocks from the Harvard Square T station, Sandrine’s is pleasant bistro focusing primarily on French cuisine, but dabbling in a few other European cuisines as well; a good chunk of the menu is Alsatian, giving a nice blend between French and German cooking.

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Modern Pastry (Boston, MA)

There are all sorts of famous rivalries out there in existence, especially in the food world. Geno’s vs Pat’s in Philly (although I’m more of a Tony Luke’s guy myself). American Coney Island vs Lafayette Coney Island in Detroit. Pepe’s vs Sally’s in New Haven. The rivalries go on everywhere. The Boston equivalent that I run into the most often involves cannoli, with the two most-celebrated places being Mike’s Pastry and Modern Pastry, located within sight of each other. After my last two visits to the North End involving a stop at Mike’s, I figured it was time to check out Modern as well.

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Catalyst (Cambridge, MA)

As I mentioned in previous review, I’m regularly visiting MIT’s Technology Square, and that usually gives me a decent opportunity to check out some nicer lunch places I can go with clients and subcontractors. While Area 4 and Legal Sea Foods tend to be the more usual business lunch places, sometimes we mix it up, and this time we ended up at Catalyst.

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Cafe Luna (Cambridge, MA)

A few weeks ago, I had one of my frequent trips to MIT for work. In addition to my actual work, I look forward to these trips since they give me a good chance to check out places to eat. My actual destination was Brookline Lunch, a nice little diner joint a half block off of Mass Ave in Cambridge with some above-average diner fare. I had eaten there a few years back sans camera, and wanted to go back and try them out for an actual review. Well, Brookline Lunch is closed on Tuesdays, so instead I decided to check out a nice looking place I passed while walking to Brookline, Cafe Luna. Cafe Luna is a modestly-sized joint just a few doors down from Toscanini’s, and they’ve got the basic “breakfast joint” menu down pat, with breakfast all day and a smaller lunch menu (aside from special events, they aren’t open for dinner). But there are two things that really grabbed my attention right away: the iced coffees, and several people ordering up various waffles and French toast covered with fresh berries.

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