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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mr. Bartleys Burger Cottage

Right across the road from the sophisticated and elite Harvard University in Cambridge Mass, is the small and crowded, boisterous dive called Mr. Bartleys Burger Cottage. If you are looking for a quite laid back tea sipping lunch, then keep on walking because this is not your place. However if you want arguably the best burger you may ever eat in a crowded loud and kinda insane atmosphere then you have found your place.  About 50 or so burger combinations grace this menu and there is also some other stuff, but honestly who cares?  The burgers are ground fresh each day and start out by being formed into baseball size patties and then slapped on the grill and charred until a nice crust forms on both sides.  Simone and I hadn't even planned on eating here,  but were directed by the hotel concierge that this was the ONLY place to go if I wanted a great burger.  
We arrived at 1:00pm with a small line out the door, but we only had to wait 5 minutes before seats were found for us at one of the long community tables with 25 of our closets friends. Sitting across from each other, arm to arm with no room to move we were packed in like a sardine can. You have no choice but to sit, eat and be merry. And don't even try to talk with whomever you came with...just write your conversations on a napkin or learn sign language. The waitstaff literally yells out your order to the three short order cooks manning the grill who are also dropping some great fries (regular and sweet potato) and fresh onion rings in a culinary circus of madness. Simone ordered a soup that was very good..but really again...whos cares?

I ordered what you go to Bartleys for..a burger.  The Democrat to be exact, medium well ( as suggested by my concierge unless you like your burger mooing).  It arrived as ordered. It was an inch thick topped with about another inch of grilled sauerkraut, a couple slices of melted Swiss cheese and a good portion of creamy, tangy house made Russian dressing. The bun was mostly useless and disappeared under all the toppings. It was a dream come true. Fresh, Rich, Beefy, Drippy, Melty, Sloppy and Delicious. The kraut and dressing spilled down the sides of my mouth but I wore it loud and proud. I was able to finish the monster, and still had room to take on a milk shake to go. I choose the Elvis Frappe which included Chocolate Ice Cream, Bananas, and Peanut Butter blended up into a delicious smooth, rich coma inducing dessert. A perfect way to end the insanity. Overall the food gets 5 stars, the atmosphere 4.  I loved Mr. Bartleys Burger Cottage.  

JJs Eatery Too-Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Have you ever gone to the beach in early March in the state of Maine and then tried to find a bathroom? Unless you want to wait in line with twenty five or so disease invested teenagers then its virtually impossible. This is how my story of JJs Eatery 2 in Old Orchard Beach Maine begins. It was a rare 80 degree day in early spring and Simone and I just had to go....and JJs located right alongside the railroad crossing in OOB was open for Business (mine and theirs).  It is actually one of the only places open year round, and although from the outside it may not be the most inviting, the inside was clean and the people are friendly. After enjoying the pristine clean restrooms we felt obligated to eat something so we sat down and looked over the menus. Nothing on the menu will really grab you attention. It is basic bar food with lots of to be expected fried fish options. However the Turkey Vegetable Soup grabbed Simones attention and a Pork Quesadilla on special looked good to me. The food did not take long to arrive.  The Soup was served in a coffee mug or bowl and included fresh pulled dark and white meat turkey and large diced turkey, carrots and onion in a turkey broth. Simple and yet very well seasoned and tasty and Simone enjoyed it.  

My Quesadilla was also pretty good and grilled crispy.  It was loaded with diced roasted pork (I would have liked pulled better), a generous amount of mozzarella, tender apples, crisp smokey bacon and well caramelized sweet onions. They offered sour cream and salsa on the side but with this Quesadilla it was not really needed. Overall, this was a good choice for a decent meal in OOB when most other places are closed. The bathrooms and restaurant are clean, the staff is friendly and the food will not wow you, but it definitely will hit the spot. 3.5 stars for JJs Eatery 2 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sam Lagrassa's- Boston Mass

I am here to report, that everything you have heard in the food reviews and watched on TV shows is true. Sam LaGrassa's is for real.  I decided to go to this Boston deli located close to the theater district, when I saw it on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on the Food Network and then researched it on yelp. While on a weekend getaway in Boston with the wife I decided to give it a try. I had read about the huge lines that usually form at Sams   ( which is only open for lunch Mon-Fri) and decided to go after the lunch Break working crowds.

 My plan worked and when we arrived there were only about ten people
in front of us. Amazingly it only took about two minutes until we arrived at the front of the order counter where the now infamous owner was waiting for us. We barely had enough time to figure out what we wanted but I decided to order the Corn/Beef and Pastrami on Rye Sandwich Platter with Fries and Slaw.

Simone went with a vegetarian Portabello, Cheese and Pesto Sandwich.  I ordered my Sandwich and watched as about thirty pounds of house cured Beef and Pastrami was thinly sliced on the slicer and then slapped down quickly on homemade rye, topped with slaw and another slice of rye and quickly cut just in time to join the straight from the fryer french fries. The whole process took about 30 seconds and four people...amazing. Simone's sandwich took a few more minutes to prepare as hers was toasted in the Panini Press.
While they cooked her sandwich we found a seat with a street view and sat back and watched the sandwich magic continue. These guys operate behind the counter like a fine oiled machine and its entertaining to see. My sandwich was great, Corned Beef, Pastrami, Swiss, Slaw and Tangy Russian Dressing. Sams Corned Beef and Pastrami is described as Rumainian...whatever region of the earth it is from does not just going to call it friggin good.  The Slaw is also good , although not as creamy as I like and a little heavy in celery seed. The bread is made fresh daily and you can taste it. The Rye was excellent and laced with  plenty of seeds.My sandwich was huge but It was so good I couldn't help but finish it.

Simone's sandwich was also very good. Like almost everything at Sams, the Pesto is nothing short of perfection, especially if you are a garlic lover as it is pretty heavy in it. The sandwich was stacked high with Monteray Jack Cheese and Portabellos which also had a good amount of Garlic in them.  This may not be the best sandwich choice for a first date, but after 5 years of marriage my loving wife was not concerned with the abundance of Garlic. On a side note, after you have eaten at Sam's, take the long walk up two flights of stairs to get to the restrooms. Do this up and down a few times, and you will have worked off enough calories for maybe another sandwich !  Overall we ate great meal and had a great experience at Sam Lagrassa. Although it has had its share amount of fame, it still holds true to its neighborhood deli feel and it is truly a great sandwich. 4.5 stars.