Much of my early professional food writing was for the alt-weekly Boston's Weekly Dig, now known as Dig Boston. The restaurant reviews, food/drink features, and film writing I contributed there are no longer available online, thanks to a summer 2007 website redesign that vaporized its archives. Only my last piece for The Dig, a review of J.J. Foley's Cafe in Boston's South End, written just after the new website went up, is still online. Other pieces you can link to here are ones I have republished on this blog.
Here's a summary of my now-offline work; scans of the print versions of these pieces are available on request:
Coda – 18 Jul 07
A review of a casual bar/restaurant in Boston’s South End
Reviews: Coda Kitchen & Drinks
Mentions: Tim’s Tavern, Franklin Café, Aububon Circle, Charlie’s Kitchen, Rattlesnake, Daisy Buchanan’s, Taberna de Haro
Word count: 850
T.W. Food – 27 Jun 07
A review of an upscale bistro in Cambridge.
Reviews: T.W. Food
Word count: 1222
Ratatouille -- 27 Jun 07
My first professional film review, written from the perspective of a restaurant critic and cinephile. It’s a food-themed movie, Pixar’s computer-animated feature about a rat who dreams of becoming a chef. Oh, and one of the heavies is a restaurant critic.
Mentions: Tampopo, Big Night
Word count: 887
Discovering Another, Better North End at Lunch -- 06 Jun 07
A roundup of worthy North End restaurants serving lunch, with a look at why the neighborhood is often more enjoyable in daylight than at dinner.
Reviews: Volle Nolle, Pizzeria Regina, Massimino’s, Mangia Mangia, Neptune Oyster
Word count: 1313
Build Up Your Bar Bench with a Better Bottle of Vermouth -- 23 May 07
A look at vermouth as an aperitif and cocktail ingredient, with reviews of specific bottlings as well as some vermouth-based cocktails served at my favorite Boston restaurant/bars.
Reviews: Eastern Standard Kitchen, No. 9 Park, B-Side Lounge, Tremont 647
Word count: 851
Wandering Into (and Waddling out of) Roslindale’s Restaurants -- 02 May 07
A roundup of restaurants in Roslindale, an outer borough of Boston.
Reviews: Nuvo Kitchen & Wine Bar, Birch Street Bistro, Romano’s Pizzeria, Delfino
Mentions: The Cheesecake Factory, Fornax Bread Baking Co.
Word count: 1471
Learning to Take the Bitters with the Sweet -- 11 Apr 07
A look at bitters, a rarified corner of the drinking world that I’m fond of. I discuss both the potable kind (the sort you pour) and the non-potable kind (the sort you decant by the drop), both important ingredients of classic cocktails.
Reviews: No. 9 Park, Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks
Mentions: The Rat
Word count: 661
Newton Restaurants in a (Minor) League of Their Own -- 21 Mar 07
A roundup of four restaurants in Newton, a suburb of Boston, done in the manner of a baseball scout evaluating position players.
Reviews: Restaurant Pava, Ariadne, 51 Lincoln, The Biltmore
Mentions: Lumiere, Oishii, Karoun, Aquitaine Bis, Jumbo Seafood, Biba, Pignoli, UpStairs on the Square
Word count: 1445
Squeegee Your Anomie with Rye Whiskey -- 21 Feb 07
My first piece that focuses on a distilled spirit, specifically rye whiskey, and some cocktails made from it. I sample some rye cocktails at a few of my favorite Boston-area bars, part of a small group of establishments that take old-school cocktails seriously.
Reviews: Green Street, Deep Ellum, No. 9 Park
Mentions: The B-Side Lounge
Word count: 896
Relief for the Starving, Stingy Wine-Lover -- 14 Feb 07
A look at three restaurants with excellent mid-priced food and value-priced wines that aren’t marked up too much, a too-rare combination in Boston.
Reviews: Silvertone Bar & Grill, Taberna de Haro, Les Zygomates
Word count: 902
A Beacon of Deliciousness in the Suburban Heart of Darkness -- 10 Jan 07
A roundup of restaurants in Waltham, a small city about 10 miles NW of Boston, and a great dining destination for its size.
Reviews: Beijing Star, Mi Tierra, Domenic’s Italian Bakery, Taqueria El Amigo, La Campania
Word count: 893
Deliverance -- 10 Jan 07
A staff compendium of things you can get delivered to your home in Boston. My four contributions were on Smithfield ham, local real barbecue, wines/spirits, and Thai sukiyaki.
Reviews: Finchville Farms, Redbones, Bauer Wines & Spirits, Chilli Duck
Word count (of my contribution): 168
West Roxbury at the Culinary Crossroads -- 06 Dec 06
A roundup of restaurants in West Roxbury, another outer borough of Boston.
Reviews: Vintage Restaurant, Viva Mi Arepa, West on Centre, Masona Grill
Mentions: Orinoco, The Blarney Stone, Claremont Café, The Nightingale
Word count: 906
Beatitude on a Budget: The Dig Bánh Mì Survey -- 15 Nov 06
A roundup of places in Greater Boston that make bánh mì, the Vietnamese submarine sandwich.
Reviews: Lu’s, Ba Le Bakery, Mei Sum Bakery, Pho Viet
Mentions: L’Espalier, No. 9 Park, Clio, Aujourd’hui, Speed’s Famous Hot Dog Wagon
Word count: 898
A Soupçon of Soul in the Lusophone Bowl -- 18 Oct 06
A look at three East Cambridge restaurants featuring cuisines of Lusophone (Portuguese-speaking) countries: two Portuguese places and a Brazilian one.
Reviews: Casa Portugal, Muqueca, O Cantinho,
Word count: 890
Trailing the Cool Kids to Jamaica Plain -- 20 Sep 06
A roundup of restaurants in Jamaica Plain, one of Boston’s more multicultural neighborhoods.
Reviews: La Pupusa Guanaca, Zon’s, Costello’s Tavern, Ten Tables
Word count: 886
La Brace -- 06 Sep 06
A review of an Italian restaurant in Boston's North End.
Reviews: La Brace
Mentions: Mare, Umbria, Prezza, Davio’s
Word count: 874
Dining Out In Style with the Sox -- 12 Jul 06
A review of some places I favor when I want to catch the Red Sox on TV but want better food than is served at most local sports bars.
Reviews: Audobon Circle, Green Street, Pho Lemongrass, Caffe Umbra
Mentions: Union Bar & Grill, Stella, Sibling Rivalry
Word count: 814
Don't Be Balking at Balkan -- 14 Jun 06
A review of such Balkan restaurants as we had in Boston at the time, which included Greek, Turkish, and Albanian places.
Reviews: Brookline Family Restaurant, Café Apollonia, Meze Estiatorio
Word count: 840
Sudsy Grub (with Ruth Tobias) -- 31 May 06
A piece co-bylined with my friend and sometime collaborator Ruth Tobias, on neighborhood places to dine out after drinking. She did her neighborhood (Boston's North End), I did mine (the South End).
Reviews: Anchovies, Picco
Word count (of my contribution): 391
When I Hear the Word "Culture", I Reach For My Fork -- 17 May 06
A look at restaurants in unlikely places (museums, libraries), with a discussion of the untrustworthiness of most public reviews of restaurants.
Reviews: Bravo, Novel, Sebastian’s Map Room Café, Quotes Cafe
Word count: 831
A Jug of "Bull's Blood", a Plate of Pierogi, Und Zie -- 12 Apr 06
A roundup of Central European restaurants in Greater Boston.
Reviews: Oxford Street Grill, Café Polonia, Jacob Wirth, Jasmine Bistro
Restaurants Mentioned: Karl’s Café, Café Budapest
Word count: 874
5-Drink Minimum: Vinalia Restaurant, Lounge, & Wine Bar -- 15 Mar 06
For its periodic Nightlife Issue, The Dig sends its writers out to various bars to have five drinks in a row there and try to capture the atmosphere of the place while getting tipsy. I covered a fancy wine bar and restaurant in downtown Boston.
Word count: 436
Eastie Eats -- 01 Mar 06
A roundup of restaurants in East Boston, home of Logan Airport and a mostly working-class neighborhood with a huge Latino population and a longstanding Italian-American community. This piece appeared in the "Fashion Issue", hence its fashion-industry theme.
Reviews: Rincon Limeno, Taqeuria El Rancho Grande, Carmen’s Kitchen, Zafferano, Royal Roast Beef and Seafood, Santarpio’s
Word count: 1564
The New Dorchester Dining Scene: Like the South End, But Fun -- 18 Jan 06
A look at restaurants in Dorchester, Boston's largest residential neighborhood. This got some grateful letters from residents of Dorchester, which is largely ignored by local food writers.
Reviews: 224 Boston Street, The Blarney Stone, Ashmont Grill, dbar
Mentions: The Paramount, Peking Thom’s, Icarus
Word count: 1537
Table for Everyone and Their Brother – 06 Dec 05
Just in time for the holidays, a roundup of good places to dine out with large groups. Its accompanying illustration was a clever parody of DaVinci's "Last Supper".
Reviews: Laurel Grill & Bar, Khao Sarn Cuisine, Eastern Standard Kitchen and Drinks, The Rendezvous at Central Square, Maggiano’s Little Italy
Mentions: Rod Dee, Dok Bua
Word count: 1525
My Dirty Secret: I Like the New Bar That Killed the Old Man Bar – 16 Nov 05
A roundup of bar/restaurants in spots once occupied by old-time dive bars. The local press had been rife with stories about how gentrification was ruining these beloved places, so I wrote about places I thought were improvements over the "Old Man Bars" they supplanted.
Reviews: B-Side Lounge, Mission Bar & Grill, Franklin Café
Mentions: The Littlest Bar, Alchemist Lounge, Sullivan's Pub (Charlestown), Jack Lynch’s Webster Lounge, Bukowski Tavern, Hammond Lounge, Washington Square Tavern, Windsor Tap, Choppin’ Block Pub, Waltham Tavern
Word count: 1526
Trattoria Toscana -- 26 Oct 05
My first traditional review of a single restaurant. Most of my restaurant reviews to date had been about collections of thematically-linked restaurants.
Reviews: Trattoria Toscana
Word count: 837
Pasta La Vista (with Michael Brodeur) – 26 Oct 05
A mini-review of five regional Italian restaurants, co-bylined with my editor Michael Brodeur, designed to complement my review of Trattoria Toscana. I wrote the first two items (Taranta and Umbria), and suggested the other three places that Michael covered. This piece ran again as the debut entry in a new weekly feature, “Top 5 List”, in the “Eats and Drinks” section, on 26 Jul 06.
Reviews: Taranta, Umbria
Word count (of my contribution): 190
Trading the Cow for the Magic Beans – 21 Sep 05
Reviews: Addis Red Sea, Fasika, Tamarind Bay, Kashmir, Oleana, L’Espalier
Mentions: Julien Room, Mantra
A roundup of vegetarian fine dining restaurants. This got some appreciative letters from the under-served vegetarian/vegan community.
Word count: 1508
Seasonal Comfort Food -- 14 Sep 05
An article on the autumnal changes to local food and drink menus.
Reviews: Tuscan Grill, The Helmand, Sandrine’s, Aquitaine, Brasserie Jo, City-Bar, Eastern Standard Kitchen & Drinks, Petit Robert Bistro, South End Formaggio
Mentions: Bolton Spring Farm, Cider Hill Farm
Word count: 1278
How Low Can You Go? – 10 Aug 05
A roundup of alternatives to luxury steakhouses. Not yet sold on the name "MC Slim JB", the publisher insisted on a slightly different byline, "JB Slim", for this one piece (he relented afterward). My original title was "Beef! How Low Can You Go!"
Reviews: Aquitaine, Brasserie Jo, Beacon Hill Bistro, Petit Robert Bistro, Midwest Grill, Green Field Churrascaria, Koreana, Apollo Grill, The Good Life, Lucky’s, Frank’s Steakhouse, The Stockyard
Mentions: The Oak Room, Grill 23 & Bar, Capital Grill, Morton’s, Plaza III, The Palm, Fleming’s, The 57, Dakota’s, Smith & Wollensky, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Abe & Louie’s, Bonfire, Davio’s Back Bay, Blackfin Chophouse & Raw Bar, Outback, Bugaboo Creek, Hilltop Steakhouse
Word count: 1480
FOR STUFF AT NIGHT (later known as STUFF MAGAZINE)
Five Reasons to Dine at the Bar -- 09 Jun 05
My first piece of published food writing was a cover story on why dining at the bar is sometimes a better idea than sitting in the dining room, illustrated with reviews of restaurants where I often do just that.
Reviews: Union Bar & Grill, Dedo, Caffe Umbra, Bonfire
Mentions: Oleana, Olives
Word count : 2088
(Special, undying thanks to Scott Kathan of Stuff At Night and Eric Solomon of Boston's Weekly Dig for plucking me from the ranks of amateur reviewers on Chowhound.com and giving me a shot at writing professionally!)
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