Crepes Taste Better With Hot Sauce

…Especially when you’ve braved a torrential downpour to get to them. Class ended at 11.40am today and despite the fact that I had a team assignment to work on, an interview call at 2pm, a two hour Spanish class to attend, three cases to read and a date with the gym pending, I decided to follow my two favourite girls across the bridge in search of crepes. It had been raining buckets all night and the wind was howling louder than ever, but nothing could shake our steely will (and resolute stomachs). We snubbed the dining hall suggestions of our well-intentioned class mates and, raising our (two) umbrellas high, stepped outside.

The Daily Menu @ Arrow Street Creperie

Where the magic happens

By the time we got to the Creperie, we were soaked to the skin and absolutely freezing. But oh what a feeling it was to walk into that charming, old-fashioned cafe and be greeted by the warm smell of sizzling butter and sweet sweet sugar. The Arrow Street Creperie is tiny and adorable with a few small tables and wrought iron chairs. We found a larger spot with a bench and stepped up to the counter to order. On the advice of my friends, I decided to try the St Martin Justin’s Delight – a savory crepe on the daily specials menu stuffed with walnut pesto, pungent gruyere, sauteed mushrooms and other goodies. Absolutely divine. The crepe itself was thin and crisp, the filling gooey and flavorful. The combination worked well, with the ingredients retaining their integrity in a complementary but un-confusing way. The friendly crepe man behind the counter laughed knowingly when I asked for tabasco and instead poured a smidgen of home-made hot sauce into a ramekin and handed it to me. My friends at the table were enthusiastically tucking into the Standard (smoked ham, baby spinach, two eggs, mozzarella) and the Biarritz (fresh asparagus, smoked ham, swiss and roquefort) but the menu near the counter listed a number of more traditional crepes as well.

Thai Chicken Salad

Strawberry, Banana, Nutella - a classic

The Californian - pesto, juicy tomatoes, mozzarella, walnuts and smoked ham (because I dont like turkey)

In fact, the Creperie offers a good mix of fun, creative fillings, traditional sweet crepes as well as hot drinks and smoothies. Definitely a great option for breakfast through dessert. At $8.99, my crepe was probably expensive for what it was, but I personally thought it was the perfect lunch. We inhaled our food in sync and, at 12.45pm, picked ourselves up, donned our rain gear and stepped back out into the storm.

Skipping the Pond

So its been a week (a great week actually) since school re-started and, as much I love the convenience of being able to run home to take naps / collect forgotten notes / make phone calls, I am strongly considering moving off campus. Several of my closest friends live across the “Pond” (Charles River) in Cambridge, in cute neighbourhoods adjoining Harvard Square and the appeal of a sub $1000 rent, a large kitchen and perhaps most importantly, a connection to the real food world, is starting to chip away at my moving inertia.

This Thursday after class, I was led across the bridge by two hardened off-campusers. After much debate about Indian buffet and Greek salad, we decided to head to Crema Cafe, an adorable little place on Brattle street, dearly-loved for its fresh sandwiches and mouthwatering deserts. As I tucked into my perfectly grilled crema chicken, I realized how happy I was. I leaned back in my chair, momentarily zoning out in order to soak up the happy sounds of clattering dishes, lazy conversation and Regina Spektor singing about a statue. Moving to a smaller table, we decided to stick around and get started on the next day’s homework. I downed a cappuccino and breezed through the first case. Working off-campus was easy! Moving off-campus should be easy too…hmm.

Recognizing that my productivity is significantly boosted by mildly frenetic environments, I decided, on Saturday, to head to another fantastic cafe, Dado Tea for lunch and some more work. I ordered the Cran Apple Salad and a chai latte and sat down with my friend, to wait. The food arrived within ten minutes and was absolutely delicious. The salad was huge and succeeded in balancing the (often tricky) ratio of feta, cranberries, apple and grilled chicken. The latte was foamy and unsweetened, the temperature was perfect. Dado Tea is busy on Saturday afternoons and tends to be dominated by laptop toting grad students who’ve perfected the fine art of pacing their bubble tea sippage with wifi consumption. The place still gets its fair share of tourists and townies though, seduced no doubt by the tempting array of Dado’s desserts and hot drinks.

Does any of this help my cause? Not really. Despite the universe’s impressive attempts to sell me on the across-the-pond lifestyle, I am still torn between that and staying in my uber convenient, roll-out-of-bed-fall-into-class situation. Will I find mi casa off campus? We shall see…

Hoorah for Restaurant Week 

Today was my first day back at the big H post Spring Break. I thought it would be a rough shock to my body. I was right. Waking up for 840am classes is never pretty for a night owl like myself. As I chugged a freshly brewed coffee (my first one in a week) I realized though, that I am happy to be back. Time away has left me refreshed, reinvigorated and perhaps, most importantly, re-employed (for the summer at least). Besides, seeing my friends and classmates after a week of separation has turned out to be a surprisingly emotional reunion! Emboldened by this new found exuberance, my friend Ram and I decided to venture into Boston for some restaurant week fine dining action.

Ram was very strategic in sending me an Open Table link with the details of participating restaurants. You see, outsourcing and delegating is a fundamental skill taught at HBS and Mr Lokan knows full well that the foodie in me would diligence every restaurant on the page to shortlist our top 10 choices. Having experienced restaurant week in NYC last year (which ended up turning into restaurant “month”), I was thrilled to discover that some amazing-sounding restaurants were offering three course meals for less than $35.

I settled on Meritage, which 95 Yelpers have awarded an average of 4.5 stars, and booked a table for six at 830pm. The Meritage is located on the second floor of the sumptuous Boston Harbor Hotel but, unfortunately for us, it was too dark to indulge in the supposedly breathtaking views. The first things I liked were the prompt and professional service and the classy bar at the entrance. It is a large and grown-up space, with mostly older patrons (but then that’s Boston) and a modern, minimalist decor. The restaurant week menu is fabulous and is perfectly complemented by a three course wine pairing for only $17. I ordered the Salmon and Avocado Creme Fraiche Tower to start but was first presented with an amuse bouche soup and a few rolls of warm bread. Delicious. My appetizer arrived on a beautifully decorated plate and was surprisingly filling despite its small size. A few bites into my Diver Scallops, I was really feeling quite sated but happy to continue sipping on the Rhone Valley white pairing. We ordered all four plates for dessert but my favourites by far were the chocolate and the red fruit tasters.

The Damage: $0 as the two alpha males of the group decided to surreptitiously pay for the entire thing.
The Verdict: Meritage you are delicious. You’re older and a little out of my league but anything goes during restaurant week and I shall definitely be seeing you again.

Lured in

Lure Fishbar that is.

About 30 minutes after I finished my 14 hour journey back to New York this Friday, the bf announced he wanted to go out to dinner and celebrate our new jobs. Being the fatty that I am, I jumped in the shower and threw caution (and sleep deprivation) to the wind as I revved my jetlagged appetite for a long night out. Unfazed by our utter lack of a reservation, we decided to resort to our foolproof strategy of walking into restaurants and asking to be seated at the bar. So much for that… After striking out with Peasant, Balthazar and Cafe El Portal, we followed Yelp’s directions to Mercer and Prince and were warmly welcomed into Lure’s boat-like Fishbar.

One of the first things we noticed about Lure was the sheer volume of alcohol being consumed. Dozens of wine glasses littered the tables and there was a relaxed yet convivial air to the place. Its a large large space, much bigger than I thought when I first walked in. The lighting is dim and the acoustics are perfect with catchy 2005 tunes on the ready (if you need them) for awkward silences. The crowd is pretty mixed in age – some groups of 20 somethings, a few large tables of older couples, a few girls’ nights and some small tables with dates. Definitely a higher end crowd but without the aspirational element of some other Mercer Street establishments…

I’m a huge fan of eating at the bar. Not only is it prime real estate for watching elaborate cocktail mixage, but if you’re lucky enough, you can witness the creation of every piece of mouthwatering sushi, every plate of delicately shaved carpaccio, or in our case, every glistening oyster arranged perfectly upon a bed of salt.

We ordered mostly large appetizers (the bar menu is identical to the standard dinner menu), choosing to start with the shellfish plateau, followed by the fluke ceviche, yellowtail & scallion roll and lastly the octopus salad. The service was attentive and friendly with a busboy appearing after each course to change our silverware and our waiter apologizing for something being slow even though we hadn’t noticed. The dishes were beautifully presented, the portions larger than expected and the food was fresh and absolutely delicious.

I savoured my standard (seafood) accompaniment – a lychee martini – which was muddled and strong, but fell slightly short of the Bond Street version. The boyfriend loved his Dulce Caliente. Thoroughly stuffed, we decided to skip dessert and head instead to a friend’s party.

The Damage: $100 for two people who ate mostly appetizers, with two cocktails and no dessert.
The Verdict: classy ambience, warm service, delicious food … bonus points for hosting your menu on tumblr, well done Lure. Not bad at all for a celebratory dinner.

Two Speedy Brunches and One Magical Neighbourhood

After a week of brochette de marisco, chuleta de pescado, gallo pinto and, of course, tostones (thanks Timur) I returned to New York on Friday hungry for brunch. So on the first sunny Saturday morning of 2010, the bf and I met three friends at La Crepe Parisienne on Spring and Mulberry. I don’t know how I’d missed this place but one nutella-banane crepe later, I knew I was in love. The crepes are large, messy and utterly lovable. The place is tiny but bright and airy with cute, grunge-free tables. Perfect for a quick stop-and-go brunch despite what you may hear from Yelp’s whiny reviewers. Besides, when the weather’s as nice as it was yesterday, skipping the two hour brunch is a great call.

In the spirit of speedy brunches, we decided today to try Parisi Bakery, also on Spring. Having recently discovered several vintage boutiques on Mott, I am increasingly convinced that the square mile between Houston, Kenmare, Lafayette and the Bowery is the most precious little neighbourhood in downtown NYC. Poo-poohing gelato stores and pancake-seeking hipsters lined up on Prince, we ordered Parisi’s only brunch sandwiches (spicy, please) and some rainbow cakes. Our food arrived in less than 10 minutes and was lipsmackingly delicious. Light eggs, spicy potatoes, juicy red peppers and young provolone have never been so happily ensconced in soft white bread. By the time Niraj’s cappuccino arrived, I had housed my sandwich, washing it down with Dr Brown’s diet cream soda. Yum!

Nicaragua was absolutely amazing (thank you America for inventing Spring Break) but my taste buds are certainly enjoying getting back to brunch basics.