Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Transcript of Online Panel Discussion, October 25, 2012

Topic: Chat on Fall Foods, Area Restaurants

Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on fall foods and Boston-area restaurants, which took place on Thursday, October 25, 2012. As always, the panel included some panel members, with food writers and media people participating. The hour-long chat included talks with the panel about some of their favorite foods to eat during the fall, as well as a general discussion on Boston-area restaurants (along with some dining spots elsewhere in New England) that they have tried of late. And once again, the chat included some viewer participation. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]

Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, all!

Aaron K.: Hey!

Marc H.: Hi, Aaron!

Michelle Collins: Hello!

Marc H.: Hello, Michelle!

Patrick Maguire: Top o' the day to all.

Marc H.: Good afternoon, Patrick!

Marc H.: It looks like a few folks may be late, or checking in when they can, so perhaps we can start in a minute or two.

Marc H.: So while we're waiting, I wanted to welcome you to a new live online discussion, with this one being on fall foods as well as restaurants in the Boston area (and beyond) that you have been to of late. As you can see, we have a panel of people who you may know, including media folks and food writers. Before we start, why don't we do some introductions? I'm Marc, the founder and owner of Boston's Hidden Restaurants along with the news-based blog Boston Restaurant Talk.

Aaron K.: Aaron Kagan here, editor of Eater Boston:

Michelle Collins: Hello! I'm Michelle Collins, a freelance food writer and blogger over at

Patrick Maguire: Author of, Server Not Servant blog/book, advocating for service industry workers and civil humans:

Kara B.: Hi! Kara here from NY Magazine's Grub Street!!

Marc H.: Hey, Kara! Welcome to the chat!

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Hola!

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM:

Marc H.: By the way, not to put any pressure on you all, but I just posted this chat to The Daily Meal's Culinary Content Network, which I'm a part of. So chefs and food writers from around the country are looking in. And.....hold that thought.

Sharon Gitelle: hi, I'm Sharon from The Daily Meal

Marc H.: :-)

Marc H.: Hi, Sharon! Welcome to the chat!

Patrick Maguire: The extra time allowed me to finish my sub from J. Pace in the North End.

Marc H.: Oh, don't start. I was limited to a PBG just now.

Sharon Gitelle: thank you Marc

Marc H.: So why don't we get started...

Marc H.: As I said earlier, today's chat mainly deals with two topics: Foods that people like to eat in the fall and restaurants that you have recently visited. We'll start with fall foods first, then work our way to talking about dining spots.

Marc H.: A note to our viewers: Feel free to ask questions or join in on the discussions, but for the most part, I'll be talking first with the panel on each topic, then we'll open up the discussion to you.

Marc H.: So why don't we talk about some of your favorite foods to eat this time of year? What do you find yourself gravitating toward these days?

Patrick Maguire: Soup.

Marc H.: Definitely. I had a tom yum soup last night that was white-hot...good for a chilly night, though maybe a bit too hot.

Michelle Collins: Whenever it initially gets cold outside, I gravitate toward soups and comfort food like grilled cheese.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Poutine, or anything slathered with cheese, really.

Marc H.: I see a theme developing here. I'm big on the cheeses right now as well.

Patrick Maguire: Dumplings, pasta, chix + veal parm, and yes cheese!

Aaron K.: Got some harukei turnips roasting in the toaster oven as we speak. That's a favorite new trick of mine - they're so great raw in the summer, but this time of year I'm not so into cold roots.

Marc H.: Aaron, I think we need to talk after this. That sounds really good.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: I also had a really tasty hot apple cider (spiked, of course) from Christopher's in Porter Sq. last eve.!! Perfect on a crisp fall night.

Marc H.: Was the fireplace going at Christopher's?

Ann ONeill: Anything pumpkin!

Marc H.: I agree about pumpkin, though not everyone seems to think this way. I've made every kind of pumpkin dish over the past few weeks, with the tortellini in pumpkin sauce being my favorite, I think.

Aaron K.: Also like non-traditionally spiced hot cider, like w/ anise and black pepper, and I go crazy for just about anything warm and spiked these days: hot chocolate with tequila, hot toddy, you name it.

Michelle Collins: I live right by Christopher's - I will have to try that cider, Kara!

Marc H.: Christopher's is a really neat place. I may have to try that one as well.

Marc H.: Are any of you into the "football" foods that you tend to have outside of the stadiums, like pulled pork, chili, brisket, etc.?

Aaron K.: I like to prove my highly masculine and competitive nature by just eating whole footballs.

Marc H.: You too, huh?

Michelle Collins: I make a mean vegetarian crock-pot chili. It's my favorite dish to make on a lazy football Sunday!

Marc H.: Is that recipe on your site, Michelle?

Michelle Collins: Yes! It's right here:

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Bill Cosby's four alarm chili. It's lethal.

Marc H.: What kinds of peppers, Kara? Habaneros?

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Ancho and Pasilla baby!

Michelle Collins: I made pumpkin, onion, mushroom and Gruyere quesadillas last night. Really good, but I think I'm starting to overdo the pumpkin already.

Ann ONeill: I added sugar pumpkin, butternut, crimini, chorizo and Brussels sprouts to a roasting chicken, w/wine and vinegar. Insane.

Marc H.: By the way, speaking of fall recipes, if there are any that you want to post here, please feel free.

Patrick Maguire: That sounds amazing, Ann ONeill.

Patrick Maguire: Does a pepperoni pizza from NE Regina delivered thru DiningIn during the Patriots game count?

Marc H.: Sure. Anything from Regina's counts in my opinion. I may actually be having some Regina's pizza this evening.

Michelle Collins: Love Regina's!

Michelle Collins: I'll be having pizza and beer at Newtowne Grill tonight - which is good and cheap, and I will pretend a football game is on....

Marc H.: You don't have to pretend. I believe there's a game on tonight. :-)

Michelle Collins: Haha...I knew that........

Marc H.: Do any of you have gardens? If so, what are you using from your gardens for cooking these days?

Michelle Collins: We have a bunch of rosemary and some leftover basil that we've been using. I just made roasted potatoes with some of the fresh rosemary last weekend!

Marc H.: I love rosemary but seem to have trouble growing it. Do you bring it in during the winter?

Aaron K.: Just herbs - sage really comes into its own this time of year. Had some good mushroom foraging scores a few weeks back: chicken of the woods and chantarelles, mostly.

Marc H.: Sage is a really underrated herb. It's great in ravioli and in various Italian sauces.

Ann ONeill: Nice, Aaron!

Patrick Maguire: Scary article in the Globe about foraging...

Marc H.: Yes. I'm a hiking leader in my spare time (leading one in a few hours, actually) and brought up that article on the last hike.

Michelle Collins: My fiance's mom gave us an already-grown rosemary bush to plan in our backyard last spring - not sure if that was what made a difference? But it's since expanded, and has stayed really healthy.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: No room for a garden in the big city! :(

JeffersonHelicopter: I love to grow cuban oregano

Marc H.: Nice!

Aaron K.: True. With mushrooms I stick to the "foolproof four" which are easily recognizable and have no poisonous counterparts. Wouldn't mess with the rest.

Marc H.: We're going to be moving on to restaurant talk in a couple of minutes, but any other fall foods that you'd like to mention?

Marc H.: I feel like I'm all about pumpkin this year, and I also have been into spaghetti squash. It tastes so great with marinara.

Marc H.: And the fall beers have been good as well. Southern Tier Pumking may be my favorite of them all right now (and it's really cheap at Wegman's, by the way).

Ann ONeill: Just that everyone should experience a cider press and picking apples at least once

Marc H.: It's great going to the orchards and cider mills to drink cider right off the press. Cold Hollow in Waterbury Center, VT, is one of my favorites for that.

Michelle Collins: Love Southern Tier Pumpking. We age a bottle every year and open it on the following Thanksgiving. It's even better aged 1-2 years!

Marc H.: Really? I didn't know that! I'll have to pick up some extras to do that.

Patrick Maguire: I had a nice chat with Sarah, a server and cheese buyer at The Butcher Shop in the South End on Tuesday night. They are now buying all of their cheeses from Formagio on Shawmut Ave. around the corner. What a tremendous selection of cheeses, and the wine doesn't suck there...

Marc H.: I need to get to both of those places soon. Formaggio is a must for people who like to cook.

Marc H.: All about some restaurant talk?

Marc H.: We haven't gotten together for a chat in awhile (since June, I think), so lots of catching up to do. What are some of the best dining spots that you have been to in the Boston area over the past few months?

Aaron K.: Had a fun meal at DooWee & Rice recently.

Marc H.: What did you have there, Aaron? I miss East Asia, which was in that spot, but have heard great things about DooWee & Rice.

Aaron K.: I know, I loved East Asia too. Loved seeing them stuffing dumplings at the back table. No notes on actual dish names at DooWee, but: Vietnamese squid salad, baby clams and rice crackers, egg roll, steak and rice plate, pork bao, seafood soup, wings... think that was it.

Ann ONeill: Whenever Bricco has the wild boar ragu...

Marc H.: God, that sounds good. It must be very rich, no?

Ann ONeill: Yep, lol.

Michelle Collins: I recently had brunch at Back Deck in Boston Common, which was fantastic; have also been loving Mead Hall in Kendall Square, and Five Horses Tavern in Davis Square

Marc H.: All three of those places have a good beer selection, don't they? I really want to go to Meadhall for their brew.

Michelle Collins: Yes! Back Deck's was OK, but they offer pitchers of everything, which is a plus.

Marc H.: If only they had pitchers of Chimay, I'd be there within minutes. :-)

Marc H.: Oddly enough, the best meals I've had of late have all been outside of the Boston area, but I'll get into when we talk about places away from the city.

Marc H.: One of the best meals I've had lately was from Pho So 1 in Randolph. Their brisket and flank pho was absolutely stellar.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: I had a fantastic sweet potato sandwich at 3 Little Figs not long ago. What a cute place.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Also had a really fun meal at Gustazo in Belmont, although the service was painfully glacial.

Marc H.: Does 3 Little Figs have seating? And yes, Gustazo. One of my top 5 dining experiences of 2012 in the Boston area. Service was ok when we went.

Michelle Collins: I adore 3 Little Figs!

Ann ONeill: Does anyone remember Scalinatella (now Marco)? Is Paolo D. ever coming back? I loved that place. Never saw a menu.

Marc H.: I remember hearing great things about that spot. They had a fireplace inside, didn't they? Never had a chance to check the place out.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: I also can't rave enough about La Posada in good ol' Arlington Heights. Chilaquiles for lunch! That place has rendered me husky.

Marc H.: Ha ha, me too. Decent prices at La Posada, too.

Ann ONeill: What else was w/ sweet potato, Kara?

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Arugula, goat cheese, olive oil, honey -- SWOON!

Ann ONeill: Wow, yum! As I am obsessed w/ arugula I will make at home. Ty!

Aaron K.: Had Clover's latest fennel sandwich - better taste than texture, but was still pretty into it.

Marc H.: Was it pickled fennel root, Aaron?

Aaron K.: Seemed braised to me. Here's the official update:

Marc H.: Thanks!

Patrick Maguire: Really enjoyed the $35 Prix Fixe at Monica's on Richmond Street in the North End last night. They serve their bread with a white bean dip that includes garlic, parsley, olive oil and white wine. I used the bread and dip to sponge up the sauce the mussels are cooked with. #1-Mussels w/smoked tomato, garlic and herbs. #2-Housemade pumpkin ravioli, brown tarragon butter, crumbled amaretto cookies and grated Grana Padano cheese. #3-Roasted Haddock, little necks capers and tomatoes. A tremendous value for the money. The thin raviolis were some of the best I have ever had. Price does not include bev, tax or tip.

Marc H.: I used to go to Monica's back when they were....Monica's, if that makes any sense. They had a truly amazing red sauce back then. Brown.......tarragon butter? Oh, man.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Also, if anyone is on the prowl for amazing Indian food, might I suggest heading North to Burlington (MA, that is)? The Mughals is superb. It's in a bland strip mall, but worth seeking out.

Marc H.: I read the headline for The Mughals in Chowhound the other day. I think it was titled, "The Mughals--WOW, OH WOW IS IT EVER GOOD."

Marc H.: How about we go outside of the Boston area now? Any really good dining experiences elsewhere in New England (or beyond) of late?

Michelle Collins: Hey Mark, Got to step out for a meeting, but thanks for inviting me to this chat! Great time, per usual.

Marc H.: Thanks so much, Michelle! Have a great rest of the day.

Ann ONeill: Ty Michelle!

Ann ONeill: Tanjore, Harvard Square, even though spiced cashews are gone. Good Korma.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: It's wonderful! Outside of Boston, I had a foolproof meal at Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery the other day.

Marc H.: Kittery and York have a number of good restaurants, especially if you're looking for clam shacks and the like.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Also had a handsome eggplant parmesan sub at Centre Deli in Chelmsford -- definitely a hidden gem.

Marc H.: I had an absolutely sublime meal at the Wild Coyote Grill in Waterville Valley, NH earlier this month. Generic name, and it's above an athletic center(!), but high-end dishes with nice presentation. The smoked duck breast with fettuccine was mind blowing.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Marc (and other chatters) -- ever been to Flo's Hot Dogs in Cape Neddick? It's my most favorite place on Earth. Almost.

Marc H.: My food pal Rich O (who couldn't make it today) loves Flo's. I've never been, though I'm in that area a lot.

Ann ONeill: One more Indian. Kabob and Curry, Thayer Street, Providence. Mango Curry (with paneer instead of chicken) and Peshwari Naan.

Marc H.: Oooooohhhhh.

Marc H.: Kabob and Curry is a must. An absolute must. Real-deal Indian food at its best.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: For shame, Marc! Ya gotta go next time.

Aaron K.: Kara - never been, would love to check it out.

Patrick Maguire: Gotta like "handsome" to describe a sub!!!! Nice, Kara.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: There is really no other way to describe this sub: It reminds me of a handsome old Army colonel. A bit crusty, a bit saucy, very sturdy.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Also had a sublime experience at Nudel in Lenox. Charming, transporting, friendly, succulent.

Marc H.: Kara, I wish I had had time to get to Nudel this summer, though where I did go--the Barrington Brewery--had a grass-fed burger that I'd definitely drive 132 miles for once again.

Aaron K.: Good fish tacos at Lure Fishbar in NYC, tons of crazy Persian food at Bijan in Great Neck, NY.

Marc H.: Once again, Aaron, we need to talk after this. I need to try that taco place when I hit NYC soon.

Aaron K.: Also Abyssinia in Providence might be my new favorite Ethiopian in all of New England. Big Addis Red Sea fan, but loved that Abyssinia used some local produce/dairy and roasts their own coffee daily.

Marc H.: I didn't know Providence had an Ethiopian place. Learn something new every day...

Aaron K.: Also some kind of refuge work training program, which is awesome.

Marc H.: That is really great.

Ann ONeill: Have not been, Aaron. Thanks for the tip!

Marc H.: So we only have a few more minutes before it's time to go. Are you hoping to get to any specific restaurants over the coming weeks?

Marc H.: I really want to try Kitchen in the South End.

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Absolutely: I really want to try Shojo.

Marc H.: Also Yumewokatare in Cambridge.

Aaron K.: Some friends piqued my interest in Firebox in Hartford - good to know if one ever flies from there. Also pretty psyched for Puritan & Co. to open.

Patrick Maguire: The new Banh Mi joint in DTX and Tres Gatos in JP.

Marc H.: Tres Gatos is a great space, but it can get crowded.

Marc H.: I'm looking to try Tenoch in Medford and Max and Leo's in Newton as well.

Marc H.: All right, folks. Thanks for a terrific chat today. Enjoy the rest of the day, and I'm sure we'll be doing this again soon!

Patrick Maguire: Thank you, Marc and everyone.

Ann ONeill: Tyvm all. I'll do this again for sure!

Kara B. Grub Street/NYM: Thank you guys! Fun Marc!