Those that have been following a while know that every year I try to go someplace interesting, somewhat obscure, and rather, well, offbeat for at least one vacation, like La Reunion or Iceland. Well, after a few years’ incubation, this summer we were finally able to work out the details and have a trip to the Faroe Islands (stay tuned for some reviews). But like a good number of the obscure travel destinations I’ve done, one doesn’t simply hop on a plane from Boston to Vagar (the airport of the Faroes). Only a few places (primarily Norway, Scotland, Denmark, and Iceland) even have flights to the Faroe Islands, so it’s necessary to take an intermediate stop. In our case, this meant a return trip to Reykjavik for an extended layover. Since our visit in 2012, the formerly obscure vacation destination of Iceland continues to be more popular, and as a result, Reykjavik’s tourist, and dining, scene, continues to evolve. Back when I wrote up my reviews in 2012, I was pretty much the English-language source of reviews for Iceland (and I still get a lot of traffic), but it’s definitely shown up on the radar for adventurous tourists. With that in mind, that’s how we found ourselves having beers and dining in a converted biscuit factory on the north side of Reykjavik: KEX.
Well, after a foray to South Burlington for beer and food trucks, we still found ourselves hungry for a little dinner, so we ended up heading up to Winooski. There’s a lot to like about Winooski: despite being a fairly small town (around 1.5 square miles), it has a surprisingly good restaurant scene. In particularly, Sneakers has been reliable for us for years, and quite a few Asian places have sprung up, including Pho Dong and Dharsan Namaste (neither of which I’ve reviewed yet, but keep tuning in…). But this time, we opted to try another place that’s reliably been getting some good word of mouth: Misery Loves Co.
While I occasionally make a few exceptions to this rule, I generally don’t review cocktail bars that are just cocktail bars. And indeed, that’s the case with Drink. Located in Boston’s Fort Point neighborhood, downstairs from Sportello (which I reviewed in 2012, and is owned by the same folks), Drink is primarily a cocktail bar, but they do have a limited bar menu. And while that bar menu has a few gems, that’s not why I’m reviewing them; instead, it’s one particularly off-the-menu item that drew my attention.
My extended weekend in Boston also provided me with a good opportunity to check in on a fairly recent discovery of our: Coda, in the Back Bay neighborhood (a short walk from Back Back Station). Coda is basically the little sibling of the more recognized The Salty Pig around the corner. While the Salty Pig focuses on “Salty Pig Parts of All Varieties”, with other menu items, burgers, and cocktails also available on the side, Coda is more relaxed, and is basically a “cocktail bar with a decent food menu.” Indeed, we first discovered Coda when rendezvousing with relatives in Back Bay, wanting to seek out a nice cocktail while we waited, and Coda was the find. But seeing the food emerging from the kitchen, I figured it was worth a revisit for some food.
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.
Corner House Inn Recently, I had an odd confluence of invites to an event. You see, it’s not every day when I get notices of a special event from (a) the mailing list of the Tamworth Lyceum, a small NH events center (b) the mailing list of a local distillery, (c) a notice from a mixologist I follow on twitter, the “Cocktail Whisperer” and (d) a specific mention of the event by Klaus the Soused Gnome. I figured that the confluence was a sign that I simply had to attend the event: an evening of cocktails at the Corner House Inn in Center Samdwich, NH, hosted by the Tamworth Lyceum and Art in the Age distilled spirits. Despite the rather remote (for us) location, we decided to make a day of it, check out some sights around Lake Winnipesaukee, and end up at what’s basically a pleasant country tavern in the quiet back roads of rural NH. Pairing Menu I’m usually a bit reluctant to review a place that I’ve only attended for a special event, since special events usually don’t show what a normal visit to a place is like (and often, especially for holidays, show places when they don’t have their A game). But this particular event was so remarkably, well, awesome, that it required a writeup. Bitters The concept was simple: a four course tasting menu, with each course paired with a custom cocktail. But therein lies the secret: these weren’t your regular cocktails, but custom-crafted concoctions made by Warren Bobrow, author of Apothecary Cocktails, and featuring high-end ingredients, hand-chipped block ice, unusual infusions, and, bitters. Indeed, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen another collection of bitters as extensive as that brought by Warren (and that includes visits to such well-stocked stores as Boston Shaker in Somerville, MA). All available for tasting and customization of your cocktails. Klaus meets one of my gnomes The event was off to a solid start right away, with us arriving in the dining room to Warren chipping away at a block of ice and making Root and Ryes: a pleasant cocktail based upon Knob Creek Rye and
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.
Well, it was just a few weeks ago that I did my review of Worthy Kitchen, but already I’ve got a good reason to do a re-review. In short, Worthy Kitchen does brunch on weekends, and I thought a quick re-review was in order. Last weekend, Carol and I were feeling a bit too lazy to make breakfast, and wanted to head over in the vague direction of Norwich, and we decided that a minor detour to check out Worthy Kitchen’s brunch menu was in order. On weekends, they open at 10am, and in addition to their normal bar, they also serve up Bloody Marys, Mimosas, and all sorts of other breakfast cocktails, and have a pretty decent brunch menu ranging from the basics (eggs), to the inventive (house-made hash), to the lunch-end of the spectrum (they still offer up their fried chicken, although with a biscuit and cream gravy).
Over the last month, I’ve spent a week in and around South Bend, Indiana. While I hadn’t found a lot of great culinary destinations, I did find two places my first visit that were both good, Fiddler’s Hearth (fish wrapped in newspaper), and Bare Hands Brewery (a great brewpub). But I was still searching for some other great places to eat, and while I kept finding some places that were good, most of them weren’t really anything to write about. For example, Hacienda didn’t exactly excite me with their Tex-Mex menu, but the beer I had there, a Lucky Dog from Evil Czech Brewing, was quite good, so I decided to look up where else I could find it. Turns out that the folks that own Evil Czech also own a restaurant in Mishawaka, called Corndance Tavern, so I decided to give it a try (their web site looked interesting, and they had some pretty interesting beer specials). With my coworker Cal in tow, we decided to drive over to Mishawaka and check it out.
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually do bar reviews on Offbeat Eats, but as I mentioned in my review of Soho last year, every once in a while I find a place that’s offbeat enough that it’s worth at least a mention. In this case, it’s Bare Hands Brewery, in Granger, IN (unless you are from the Michiana area, that in itself likely has you going “Where?”). It’s offbeat nature starts with a description of how you get there. From South Bend or Mishawaka, you take Highway 23 until you hit the edge of the suburbs and things start to thin out. Right before the highway turns north and crosses into Michigan, turn left on Princess Way. You’ll go past an odd little Italian restaurant, and then past a KOA campground. Behind the KOA is a small and nondescript industrial park, and at the entrance of the park, a small 8.5″x11″ sign directs you to the “Brewery”. And sure enough, one of the suites in the industrial park is Bare Hands Brewery. Without the internet, you’d probably never stumble onto this place unless you got lost at the KOA.