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Monday, July 16, 2012

Area Four: Pizza, Ice Cream and Salad oh my!

Area Four is one of my favorite new discoveries of 2012. It’s the second time I’ve been for dinner, and it is consistently tasty and well-priced. The restaurant is located in Kendall Square and is a bright space with beautiful exposed brick and many chalkboards around the restaurant.

We went on a Saturday night and arrived slightly before 7 after trying to go the Sunday before (they are closed for dinner). I was surprised that we had our pick of tables given how good it is. The highlight of my meal last time I went was the low fat soft-serve ice cream, so instead of ordering a drink to start, I asked about the ice cream flavors. Our server indulged me and brought me a taste of their berry ice cream. While it was good, it was more sherbet then it was ice cream and I didn't end up ordering it in the end. I was appreciative that they were willing to let me taste the sherbet even though I was acting out of order.

To start we ordered a watercress salad with farm fresh beets, feta and Greek yogurt dressing. Originally we were going to get the more simple salad with lemon vinaigrette, but after seeing the beauty of this salad at a table next to us, we ordered it. Given that the dressing was creamy, I was surprised at how light and perfect the salad was. There is something special about a colorful dish that makes the food that much more exciting. I appreciate knowing that whatever salad we ordered, it was all made with local ingredients.

Next, we ordered the summer vegetable and pancetta pizza. The pizza had a seasoned oil, cheese, pancetta, asparagus, peas and arugula salad on top. The combination was perfect. Coming from New York, I am extremely cautious when it comes to ordering pizza and this was some of the best pizza I’ve had in Boston. The crust was moist and flavorful, the peas that popped made the pizza that much more interesting. The pancetta added some extra flavor but not at the expense of added grease. The arugula salad on top had a bite the complimented the other ingredients well. The large is big enough to share!

I am a huge dessert fan and I love ice cream especially a banana split. Since my dining buddy and I were both going to order sundaes, we decided to up it a notch and share a vanilla banana split. This banana split was no plain vanilla dessert. The bananas came out caramelized with a crust like a perfect crème brule. There was hot fudge, candied nuts, fluff, whipped cream and liquor soaked cherries. The ice cream is dreamy and apparently is low fat!! This split was an adult version of my childhood favorites—creamy soft serve ice cream and cape cod banana splits—but better. I would say children beware because the cherries are soaked in some type of liquor and there was enough fudge to make a small child run around in circles for hours. It was my first ever fluff experience and I enjoyed the additional topping. I could go on and on about how much I love the ice cream at Area Four.

My advice to you—go to Area Four and run, this way you can eat more food because you burned the calories getting there. Just don’t run there for dinner on Sunday because you will find yourself sorely disappointed as they are closed. The food is delicious and affordable. The pizzas were low teens, ice cream sundaes priced comparably to ice cream stores and the salads are extremely sharable at under ten. The service was great, the manager friendly and I got to use Level Up to pay, which always makes me happy. I can’t wait to visit again soon and try what is supposed to be a delicious brunch. As long as I can get ice cream for dessert, I’m in!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Pop Pub was Pop-tastic

In a night out on the town I joined some friends for drinks and food at Pop Pub. It was fun and delicious. There are three locations around NYC that I've been to and I loved this vibe. Each one is slightly different. Pop Pub was very laid back and a great place for a gathering (on University between 11th and 12th).

When you walk in you think it may be just another dive bar with good burgers and beer, but in the front there's an order station for take out. I think that the counter may be set up differently for lunch but we got there at about 8:30. We sat down in the back of the beautifully wooden area and ordered the gobble gobble and the invisible burgers. I was so excited because two orders was the perfect amount to share and I think there's something really fun about mini burgers.

The gobble gobble are really great turkey burgers with lettuce, tomato and special sauce. The invisible burgers are fried portabello burgers with lettuce tomato and cheese. My dining buddy let me indulge with two of the turkey burgers while she had two of the invisible ones. We devoured the burgers and then ordered some homemade donuts for dessert. The donuts were warm served with hot fudge and strawberry jelly to dip. I wish I had enough room after my three burgers to eat the six mini-donuts myself, but I had to share! It was a fun way of making friends at this gathering by sharing my donuts.

Can't wait to visit Pop Pub again soon when I'm less beat from the heat to try one of their innovative cocktails. In the meantime I will just fantasize about the mini burgers and plot my next trip to NYC. Though, with the food truck craze in Boston, I wish that the Pop Burger/Pop Pub crew will decide to open a truck in Boston so I can enjoy their mini burgers in my two favorite cities.

On my next trip, I'll post some pics!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Michael's Deli, Delicious Sandwiches and Steve

Boston does many things well but a really thick juicy sandwich is a commodity in these parts. Whenever I'm missing a New York style sandwich I find myself wondering over to Michael's Deli in Coolidge Corner. This no frills joint is on the Trader Joe's side of Beacon Street on Harvard. The deli is delicious and often crowded and while being notorious for great food, they've also been notorious for rushed, slightly rude service. I will tell you though, that the food makes up for the fact that it's cash only and the service is inconsistent.

Sunday after a night out and discussions of favorite sandwiches the night before, we found ourselves in our favorite cash only local deli. I was debating between a sandwich with a pound of meat or nova, cream cheese and a bagel. In a game time ordering decision where I expected nova and cream cheese to be my lunch, my stomach guided my mouth towards ordering a sandwich with: turkey, pastrami, roast beef, lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing on challah. I was as surprised as my dining buddy when I was done placing my order. My dining buddy got a Jacob's Choice which was turkey, roast beef, Swiss and Russian dressing on rye. We got two sides of cole slaw and a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips.

The sandwiches were brought over by Misha, my favorite Michael's employee with tons of slaw and two full pickles! From the time that the sandwich arrived to when I had a quarter left, I don't remember what happened. I turned into a carnivorous silent animal who could only be fed with store roasted meats and really fatty pastrami. By the time I came up for air, without even tasting the other sandwich (very unlike me), I looked around and noticed that Michael was no where to be found. Usually he's at the front taking orders or running around bring up more salads or soup, but he was no where. There was this other guy there who looked like a younger Michael-- I thought for a second maybe his younger brother?

I asked this man where Michael was and he responded that Michael was off. Sunday strikes me as a big day for sandwiches so I was puzzled that the boss would be gone. Then Steve mentioned that he bought Michael's. My dining buddy and I were incredulous. The Corned Beef King left the building?! Not to worry though, Michael is working part time this summer to bring Steve up to speed with how to continue to make some of the greatest deli from here to NY.

While I am sad to see Michael phase out, I hope that he made a huge penny selling the place and is able to retire happily and have someone else make sandwiches for him while he lies back on the beach and drinks or splashes or does whatever he has missed out on from all of the summer Sunday sandwiches. Steve is really enthusiastic and seems to have given the store new energy. As we left and thanked Steve and Misha for a delicious lunch, we started fantasizing about all of the new possibilities like credit cards, more hot food items and dinner. As long as Michael's keeps the Corned Beef King's classic sandwiches, I think the possibilities are endless. Looking forward to watching an old classic take on a new life.