Shameless Gourmand

Food talk from a person who enjoys eating (and often eats too much)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bugaboo Creek Steak House

A while ago, I said I wanted to compare Outback to Bugaboo Steak House. Well, I finally got to try Bugaboo for dinner and I have to say, I love it! You get more food for your money, the food tastes better and the wait-staff is much more attentive. Here's what we had:

Appetizer: We skipped a formal appetizer and asked for some bread and butter to start with. Served warm, the whole wheat bread was a perfect starter if you're not feeling hungry 
enough for a full appetizer. 
Main Course: The Portabella Bleu Cheese Filet was perfectly cooked and delicious. The bleu cheese wasn't too strong and didn't take over the flavor of the steak. For my sides, I ordered steamed veggies--which were good, but not fantastic--and a large loaded
baked potato, which to me is the match for a good steak. Bugaboo certainly met and exceeded my expectations. My friend ordered the Homestyle BBQ Meatloaf and literally was licking the plate it was so delicious. Topped with BBQ sauce, melted cheddar cheese, bacon and fried onion rings, this meatloaf is unlike any other meatloaf I've ever had. Needless to say, it was incredible!
Drink: What always goes great with a steak? BEER! Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat beer to be exact. Or, if you like a less exotic taste, a good ol' Budweiser will always do the trick.
Dessert: Bugaboo's signature Big Foot Chocolate Cookie was outstanding! Served warm, this cookie was still a little undercooked in the middle--no dry cookie here! When the ice cream melted into the cookie, it just got better and better by the bite. This dessert lasted about 4 minutes between my friend and I. I would highly recommend this dessert!

I really like Bugaboo Creek Steak House for both lunch and dinner. I think it's a great value for the amount of food they serve and the quality of the food. I won't even try to guess how many calories are in one meal here, but I will say there's enough to box up and take home for later. Bugaboo is a great place to eat when you're looking for homestlye food (or when you're too lazy to cook). Final Verdict: Bugaboo trumps Outback any day!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What to do when your food is just yuck

A friend and I started a conversation today about what to do when you're at a restaurant and something you order is just plain gross. I think it's okay to send it back and simply tell the waiter that it doesn't taste right. My friend said that you have to just deal with it. 

I think its important we make the distinction here that I'm not talking about when food is over/under-cooked. If something your ordered does not come as you ordered it, I think the rule is you send it back. Despite all the horror stories we've heard about what cooks do to returned food, I haven't ever met anyone (cook, chef, even fry cook) who actually messes with the food (as much as they probably want to). Flashback to Roadtrip and the French Toast scene comes to mind here. 

However, I still think that in most restaurants--and by most, I mean anywhere that your dish costs more than $8.99--it is alright to tell the waiter/waitress that your meal does not taste as expected. AND, they should allow you to order something else. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Japonaise Bakery & Cafe

A friend and I have been working on a project where we are studying Japan and their life expectancy. In case you didn't know, the Japanese have the highest life expectancy in the world! Today, I had a revelation--it must be their baked goods!

At lunch today, I stopped by a Japanese bakery to order some treats for our presentation next week. Located in Brookline, Japonaise (that's French for Japanese) serves up some very delectable treats. They have bread, rolls, pastries, specialty breads and cakes--some being traditional baked goods, such as croissants, others are Japanese specials, such as azuki cream and an pan. Most of the Japanese treats are filled with azuki, sweet red beans. 

I tried the Azuki Cream, which is similar to an American cream puff. Made with puff pastry, it has a small layer of azuki paste and the rest is filled with a light whipped cream. The entire puff is then coated in powdered sugar. Just in case your not drooling from the mouth already, this dessert was incredible! For anyone who has not tried azuki beans, I really suggest you do. Growing up, I remember eating azuki beans on my fried ice cream and how much I loved them! I'm glad to know that now I can have them at a great local bakery. I will definitely be back to get more treats from this bakery in the near future. 

Give it a try and let me know what you think of azuki beans!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Chain Restaurants

It can only be expected, that every foodie will get tired of cooking for a bit, every now and then. This foodie is going through that lately. I've been frequenting some chain restaurants (don't scowl yet) in an effort to save money and get a quick bite to eat. Rather than giving a top 5 or 10 list (even though you must have picked up by now how I love list-making), I thought I would talk about one place at a time. 

Outback Steakhouse: As a child, I loved to eat here. I would down about 4 root beers in one sitting (leaving 12x more hyper than when we arrived). Until yesterday, I hadn't eaten here in almost 3 years! So, I decided to give it a try. 

Appetizer: Bloomin' Onion- although I'm a huge fan of onion rings, this restaurant specialty didn't impress me. The onion was so deep fried, it was hard to taste anything outside of the oil it was cooked in. Plus, the sauce was odd (it had bubbles in it).
Main Course: 12 oz. Outback Special- the sirloin center cut was mediocre. This could have been due to the fact that it was way overcooked, despite me asking for medium. I imagine the steak would have been quite tastey if it hadn't been overdone. The dish also comes with two sides: I picked Fresh Steamed Broccoli and a Loaded Baked Potato. The side dishes were great, perfectly cooked and delectable. 
Drink: Pinot Grigio, Estancia, California- Not bad for $7!
Desserts: Chocolate Chocolate Tower- A towering (this is not an exaggeration) chocolate layer cake with raspberry sauce. I also added whipped cream, which really added to the cake. The cake was so big, we took it home and saved half for later. 

I actually took half of my meal home and reheated it tonight for dinner. As a fan of leftovers, I think Outback reheats extremely well! So if the large portions are too large for you, don't be afraid to box it up and take it home. I think next week I'll try Bugaboo Creek for dinner and compare the two...stay tuned!

UPDATE (4/14/08): I gave Outback another chance this last weekend and tried a burger. What a difference! The Bacon Cheese Burger was phenomenal and cooked perfect. I would recommend the burgers over the steaks here any day! 

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Better than the Yellow Pages

Being a shameless gourmand, I'm constantly on the look out for new places to eat and drink. I came across this new site that's a Boston wiki (something like wikipedia). Currently, there are 1,795 restaurant listings! You can also break down the restaurants by neighborhoods, type of food, delivery, etc. There's even an interactive map that shows the location of the restaurant as your mouse scans over the listing. 

Check it out and tell me what you think. You never know what you'll come across and what new foods you may find!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mmm...Cherry Beer

I promised to write about food and drink, so here it is-Cherry Beer!

Introduced to me by a beer connoisseur, this Lindemans Kriek Lambic is a great drink to have alone or pair with just about any food. This beer is definitely different from your typical Budweiser. The Kriek Lambic is fermented and then black cherries are added to obtain the sweet flavor. Lindemans also makes other flavors of Lambic, including peach ("Pecheresse"), which is also a great beer.

I also like that Lambic's are low in alcohol, so you can have more than two glasses and not be knocked off your feet. They're a great drink to offer at cocktail parties too, and not very expensive. I got this bottle at Whole Foods for just $10! Not bad for the quality of the drink. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Lunch: perhaps the most difficult meal

I've always had some sort of love/hate relationship with lunch. What kind of food to eat, where to eat, how much to eat, light or heavy, hot or cold, leftovers, cafeteria, restaurant? Making all of these decisions within your short lunch break time can cause the even the wisest foodie to get frustrated. I often find myself pushing back the lunch hour because I can't even make a decision before I leave my desk! 

I thought a lot about where I could go for my 45 minute lunch break--somewhere that was fast, but not fast food, tasty, but not too fattening, and had a nice atmosphere, but wasn't too popular to have to fight for a seat. And of course, the most important factor: location. If you can't find a restaurant/deli/bar/eatery that is close enough to work/school, you can simply cross it off the list. 

So far, I've found a few places that work for me. I work in Brighton, bordering Allston and Watertown. Three of these places are chains, so if you can find one around your work/school, I'd say its your best bet for some good food at lunchtime. 

Top 5 Lunch Places
1. Panera Bread- With a huge menu, Panera has a variety of items to order from so it doesn't get old. Many of the sandwiches have distinct tastes which you won't find at usual deli's. Soups and salads are also reliable, always tasty and surprising low in calories. 
2. Bugaboo Creek Steak House- After avoiding this place for months due to its funny name, I finally gave it a try and decided I was the crazy one! Great food from sandwiches to salads to soup. The service is quick and food is always served hot. They're also good about letting you customize orders--ex: grilled salmon instead of chicken on salads, etc--which is always a plus.
3. La Casa de Pedro- A great place for salads and light lunches, especially if you're tired of the same old lunch options at other places. The Latino flare is sure to give your taste buds something new to savor.
4. Marty's Liquor, Allston- As odd as it sounds to have a sandwich shop in a liquor store, Marty's certain does it right! Best sandwiches and alcohol, all in one place, what's there not to love? Order up one of the Marty's specialties sandwiches or make your own.
5. Whole Foods Market- Did you see this one coming? Whole Foods is, not only one of my most favorite places on earth, but also a great place to get lunch. Most locations have a counter for customers, so you don't have to eat in your car. They carry everything, from pre-made salads to tuna salad to soup to BBQ sandwiches...and on and on and on. If you can find a Whole Foods near you, consider yourself lucky!

If you know of anywhere that you think belongs on my Top 5 list, tell me! I'm always up for trying new places. Also check out my past post with a list of great restaurants around Boston, if you have more time for lunch and want some really top-notch food. 

UPDATE: If you're eating anything resembling this Pancake-Sausage on a Stick, I would like to personally offer my condolences, and severely urge you to try one of the above restaurants.