[Boston] Legal Sea Foods

On our recent travels to Boston, we hit up one of the most famous seafood restaurants, Legal Sea Foods. We met several of our good friends here and had a wonderful group dinner.

Legal Sea Foods

There are actually several locations throughout Boston and Cambridge. We visited the Park Square branch, which had a really nice interior. S had also visited the one by MIT before on a previous trip.

OYSTERS ON THE HALF SHELL
Legal Sea Foods

We started the meal with a half-dozen oysters – we tried two varieties, one that’s slightly brinier and another that’s a bit more fishy. These oysters were delicious, but so far nothing has been as amazing as the fresh oysters I’ve had from the oyster farm in Tomales Bay.

CLAM CHOWDER
Legal Sea Foods

The most famous item here (according to S) is the clam chowder. I’m normally not a big fan of white clam chowder, but I must admit that this was really good. Smooth, creamy, with just the right amount of clams to add a touch of saltiness and seafood flavor.

LOBSTER BAKE
Legal Sea Foods

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Misc Pics Post, August edition

I realized that I have a smattering of photos from the past many months that never made it into full posts… So, I decided to do one of these “cleaning-out-the-memory-card (as Kirk of mmm-yoso calls it, “COMC”) posts. I’ve also included links to previous posts on some of these places!

PORK BELLY APP & SNACKSHACK PORK BURGER from Carnitas’ Snack Shack:Carnitas' Snack Shack Carnitas' Snack Shack

Carnitas’ Snack Shack is one of our favorite casual restaurants in San Diego. The pork belly app and pork burger, pictured above, are my two go-to items here, although we pretty much enjoy everything that we’ve tried on the menu.

Carnitas’ Snack Shack
Locations in North Park and Del Mar
http://carnitassnackshack.com

ZARU SOBA from Hinotez:
Hinotez

With all the hot weather lately, I’ve been craving cold noodles nearly everyday. …

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[Raleigh/Durham] The Pit BBQ

Earlier this year, S and I returned to our alma mater for our 5th year college reunion. Even though we love California, we’ve also really missed Duke, Durham, and the South in general. Needless to say, we planned a bunch of good ol’ Southern meals, including barbecue. 

If you’ve ever talked to S or me in person, one of us has probably given you a long spiel on all the different styles and varieties of barbecue across the country. (Sorry, if you’ve heard this speech several times; we get really excited about it.) I’ll spare you the long version and simply say that North Carolinian barbecue is quite different from Texas or Kansas City or Memphis – in NC, it’s all about the hog. There are even two distinct styles within North Carolina – Eastern and Western. Eastern style is chopped smoked whole hog, served with a vinegar and pepper barbecue sauce. Western, or Lexington style, is smoked pork shoulder, either sliced or chopped, and served with a tomato and vinegar-based BBQ sauce.

The Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill) area where we used to live was a crossroad of sorts, and plenty of restaurants served both styles of NC barbecue. On our trip, we visited one of the area’s most famous barbecue joints, The Pit BBQ. There are locations in both Raleigh and Durham (recently opened), and we actually hit up both of them because it was so good!

The Pit Raleigh 

The Pit features both Eastern chopped barbecue and Lexington pulled pork. On our first visit, we decided to go with their signature, the Eastern chopped barbecue.

CHOPPED BARBECUE – EASTERN NC STYLE
The Pit Raleigh 

The pork was SO GOOD. It’s not as smoky as, say, Texas barbecue – but the meat is tender, with just enough smokiness, mixed with vinegar and pepper flakes to provide a mildly spicy and tangy flavor. You really can’t find that vinegar-pepper barbecue sauce anywhere else. 

CAROLINA STYLE RIBS (SPARE RIBS)The Pit Raleigh 

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Mess Royale revisit

Mess Royale, which opened earlier this year, is a genuine “poutinery” that serves up some delicious poutine and other Montreal eats. We first visited a couple of months ago, but made another visit lately and tried some new items. On the day we visited, there was a special for items with bacon – I believe it was $2 off, which is a pretty great deal. So, we focused on bacon items.

BABE [$11.5]
Mess Royale 

The “Babe” is pretty simple – poutine with bacon. I really enjoyed the light smokiness of the bacon paired with the cheese curds, fries, and gravy. The sprinkling of chives on top was also quite nice and gave it a bit of a refreshing taste. 

MORNING RECOVERY [$11.5]
Mess Royale 

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The Mission (revisit)

The Mission is one of our favorite brunch spots in San Diego, but we haven’t visited in a long time – recently, S and I went out for a weekend brunch date, and I thought it’d be a good time to do a revisit post.

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We decided to visit the North Park location, since I also wanted to check out The Heart & Trotter butcher shop nearby (my name is on their founders’ wall because I backed their Kickstarter campaign!). There are also The Mission locations in Mission Beach and East Village.

ROAST BEEF HASH & EGGS [$10.95]
Roast Beef Hash & Eggs 

Roast Beef Hash & Eggs 

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The Whole Hog

The Whole Hog is a sandwich shop that S found on Yelp by searching for “pulled pork”. We’ve been really craving pulled pork ever since our trip to North Carolina in April. The Whole Hog boasts a “Carolina-style” pulled pork sandwich, and while I’m generally skeptical of Southern food in California, we decided to give it a try. Our friend A tagged along, too!

The Whole Hog

The restaurant is located in a small lot on Park Blvd. It was small and unassuming, yet quite charming in its own way.

The Whole Hog

We were given a quick introduction to the menu and settled on a few items to try:

PORK BELLY TACOS [$7.5]
Pork Belly Tacos

The pork belly tacos were a recent addition to the menu, I believe. The pork belly was cut into bite-sized chunks and were quite tender. I liked the pico de gallo and smoked salsa – the flavors complemented the pork belly quite nicely – but the cotija cheese and avocado crema were actually a tad overwhelming.

CAROLINA GOLD PULLED PORK SANDWICH [$8]
Pulled Pork

We learned that they actually use a South Carolinian mustard-based BBQ sauce for this pulled pork. …

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Blaze Pizza

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a pair of tickets to the Big Bite Bacon Festival!

Blaze Pizza is another one of those “build-your-own” pizza joints. S isn’t a big pizza fan, but somehow our friend A and I convinced him to try it with us.

Blaze Pizza

Blaze Pizza is located next to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit on Balboa Ave. The store was pretty empty when we visited just before noon on a Saturday – the lunch crowd started showing up as we were eating, though.

I didn’t get any photos of their topping selections, but it’s quite similar to most of the other customize-your-own pizza joints. There is a list of “Signature Pizzas” that have pre-set toppings, or you could choose everything you want from a large selection of meats, veggies, cheese, and sauces. Here is the menu:

Menu

I like that you could choose different toppings for the two halves of a pie, so that you could try more flavor pairings!

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Tabletop Commons

Tabletop Commons is a “board game bar” that opened up a couple of months ago in Hillcrest. Being lovers of board games, S and I checked it out along with our friend A shortly after their grand opening.

Tabletop Commons

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The main dining room is downstairs, and there’s a lounge area upstairs with a Wii. The board games are all displayed on a shelf:

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As you can see, the collection is pretty extensive. There’s a good variety of casual and more serious, strategy-based board games.

Onto the food and drinks. There is a list of game/geek-theme cocktails, including names like “Health Potion” and “Senor Mario”. I picked a Hibiscus Orange Margarita, which was obviously not geek-themed, haha.

Hibiscus Orange Margarita

Hibiscus Orange Margarita [$8]

 The margarita is made with Corralejo Tequila, Cointreau, orange juice, lime juice, and hibiscus. It was sweet and pretty strong. We noticed a lot of people around us ordering “The Dude Abides”, which is Irish Whiskey with Dolce Cilento Hazelnut Creme liquor, Caffe Borghetti (coffee liqueur), and cream, and also tried that on a separate visit (not pictured). That one is really smooth and creamy, pretty much an elevated version of Bailey’s.

We also ordered a few “Small Bites” to share:

Poutine with Duck

Poutine with Duck [$10]

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Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a sample of Nut Exactly snack bites and $50 Costco gift card! Ends TOMORROW night!

Frequent readers of this blog will know that S and I are pretty big fans of barbecue. I lived in Texas in my high school years – and that’s where my family currently resides – and S and I went to college in North Carolina, so I like to say that I’m from two barbecue meccas. After moving to California, we’ve really missed Southern food and have been on the constant search for barbecue. Recently, Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill opened a location in San Diego and invited us to check it out.

Wood Ranch BBQ & Grill

(Photo courtesy of Wood Ranch BBQ)

The menu was quite extensive and included barbecue items as well as burgers & sandwiches, salads, and steaks. Of course, we were just there for the barbecue. The manager was happy to have us try pretty much everything and offered to do a couple of 3-meat combos.

Brisket, Tri-tip. Pulled Pork

Brisket, Tri-tip. Pulled Pork

We were initially slightly worried when we didn’t see much of a smoke ring on the brisket, but it turned out to be quite smoky in taste. The tri-tip was also juicy and tender, even though it tasted more like steak than barbecue. We learned that the beef items were smoked with pecan wood, and the pork with hickory.

Baby Back Ribs, Beef Ribs, St. Louis Ribs

Baby Back Ribs, Beef Ribs, St. Louis Ribs

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Kitchen 4140 (Dinner)

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a sample of Nut Exactly snack bites and $50 Costco gift card!

Kitchen 4140 is one of our favorite brunch spots, and we’ve always planned to check out their dinner but never got around to visit. Recently, we were invited to try their dinner menu, and of course I gladly accepted.

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We took a look at the menu and were slightly overwhelmed – there were a certainly a lot of things we wanted to try! So we decided leave our dinner fate at the hand of the chef.

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Complimentary pistachios

Instead of bread, every table has a small jar of pistachios, seasoned with a variety of spices – I can’t remember all of them, but there was definitely cinnamon. I love pistachios and munched on these while waiting for our meal.

Homage a la Fromage [$12]

Homage a la Fromage [$12]

We started out with a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich – made with brioche bread and three types of cheeses: Humboldt Fog (my fave!), aged cheddar, and taleggio, and finished with a drizzle of truffle oil. As if that wasn’t decadent enough, it was paired with the best tomato soup I’ve ever had – the tomatoes are smoked, which gave the soup a rich and meaty flavor. S said that it was like we were drinking barbecue… haha.

Smoked Pork Belly [$14]

Smoked Pork Belly [$14]

Our other appetizer was one that we requested – the smoked pork belly. The pork belly was quite tender and had a light smoky taste. We also really enjoyed the crispy brussels sprouts, as well as the crispy polenta (which pretty much tasted like cornbread), topped with a confit egg yolk that reminded us of Chinese-style salted duck egg yolk, which was rich and delicious.

Our next course was seafood:

Sea Bass [$40]

Sea Bass [$40]

This sea bass was served in a light miso broth with wilted spinach and topped with crispy garlic slices. I loved the flavor combination and the perfectly-cooked fish.

Seared Scallops [$19]

Seared Scallops [$19]

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