Bon Caldo in Norwood, MA

On New Year’s Eve we did what all the kids do. We went to IKEA, stopped for “early-bird” seating dinner and were home in time for me to have a nap before waking up on the couch at 12:02 to wish Spencer a Happy New Year, give him a kiss and tuck my old body into bed for a good New Year’s kick off sleep.

We sometimes watch Phantom Gourmet on My38 on a Sunday Morning and the Stoughton Area (IKEA’s neighborhood) often has a featured restaurant. We are happy to report: we agree with the Phantom’s sentiment on Bon Caldo. Located at 1381 Boston-Providence Turnpike‎, Norwood, MA 02062, the facility is beautiful. This is a business owned by people who surely care about small details. We arrived about 6pm to a crowded entry way where large parties were congregating. Within a minute we made our way to the host who kindly informed us that he could not seat us in the dining room. (We learned later that the restaurant had more than 350 reservations for the evening.) He did, however, offer us two open seats at the bar. There, the beautiful bartender was waiting with a huge smile, ready as ever to treat her next two guests like princes. She was wonderful.

We chose a light dinner of salads and a shared pizza.

Salads:

  • 2013-12-31 18.48.24barbabietola ∼ ruby red and golden beets – fresh fig infused goat cheese – baby greens – balsamic drizzle
  • caprese ∼ fresh house made mozzarella – hot house tomatoes – basil leaf – aged balsamic drizzle – evoo

2013-12-31 18.49.04The portions were exceptional. Large slices of in-house prepared beet topped with delicious goat cheese and thick tomato and mozzarella slices and a small amount of tender, sweet baby mixed greens to dress the plate. Seriously the opposite of what I’m used to. Usually one gets a big pile of greens accented with the main point of the story. We received big portions of what we wanted: roasted beets, goat cheese, delicious sweet tomatoes and fresh flavorful mozzarella. The balsamic was not sticky or thick. Exceptional culinary talent at Bon Caldo. These photos could never do the flavors and freshness justice. YOU MUST SEE FOR YOURSELF!

Pizza: rustica ∼ artichoke hearts – porcini mushroom – fresh mozzarella – cherry tomato – truffle oil

The pizza was tremendous. Each ingredient was positioned and portioned to evenly mix together. Like the notes, rhythms and thoughtful lyrics of a love song; the pizza and our taste buds met in true love at the first bite.

We cannot wait to return with some friends to enjoy more of the menu. The dining rooms are gorgeous, like Disney imagineered gorgeous, and the large farmhouse tables and rustic Italian options on the menu are still on my mind.

New Year. New Desires. New Experiences. Enjoy!!

The Corner Grille – Worcester, MA

A little over five years ago, a friend treated me to lunch with the most incredible pizza ever encountered. No Joke. This pizza may have coined the phrase “out-of-this-world!” (in reference to itself, of course)

Raena HeppenstallSuch A TREAT! So DELICIOUS!! I don’t wait until I get home. I eat The Corner Grille‘s most incredible pizza in traffic. This pizza makes me and my heart smile. When time permits, I think nothing of stopping in for a lunchtime chat with Tova, a long time employee, who makes me smile, too (and laugh myself to tears). Speaking of smiles, this beautiful girl (pictured) is Raena Heppenstall, the mastermind behind the most incredible pizza. Encountering Raena is always exciting; she’s happy to see all of her customers and usually takes the chance to check in for feedback on fan favorites or, this past Wednesday night, to tell us about the new ideas that are bouncing around her test kitchen. I’m not into insider trading, so all I’ll say is good things are coming.

This week, two close friends and I enjoyed these two pizzas:
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Chicken Caesar Salad Pie: Caesar dressing / chicken / tomatoes / parmesan-mozzarella cheese / topped with a cool chopped caesar salad
Tatnuck Engine #9 Pie: Red sauce / roasted red peppers / sweet Italian sausage / caramelized onion / mild garlic peppers / cheese
14" Pizza Pies: 13.99

The Corner Grille offers a unique thin-crust styled pizza, as well as wraps, salads, soup and some well-known prepared foods in their ‘market’ cooler. All options are available for take-out or eat-in enjoyment. Take-out orders of 6-10 pies are not unusual for neighborhood fire fighters, college students or large families who clearly can’t get enough.

So, let’s talk about this most incredible pizza. The crust is paper thin and deliciously crunchy. The sauce is like your Nonna would make if she was making this most incredible pizza for you. The toppings are not overdone, not overwhelming and not skimped. They are ingredients and flavors rather than foods coupled with a cheese pizza. The sausage on the #9 is delicately thin because it is bountiful with flavor and its thin-ness balances with the sauce, veggies and cheese. The Caesar salad that tops the sweet tomato, parmesan-mozzarella and tender chicken pizza isn’t overdressed and doesn’t weigh it down.

My friend Ed had a couple questions for Raena while we were visiting after dinner.

  1. Why the delicious thin crust? R: Because no one was doing it this way in Worcester.
  2. What’re you eating, over there? R: The Chicken Curry Pie; want a slice? (and then she walked away and came back with two slices.)

Raena knocks it out of the park, day-in and day-out. The Corner Grille has an iconic following because we always receive the same delicious product.

“Tell your friends about The Corner Grille – they’ll thank you.”
– A Happy Customer (read more)

Spencer is sitting here, watching me type and formulating our next order. We will be having the Chicken Caesar and the Chicken Curry.

Did I mention this is the most incredible pizza? Get to The Corner Grille! Enjoy.

Photos borrowed from The Corner Grille’s Facebook Page.

Oh Boy! The Boynton

boynton-family-restaurantOn certain Tuesday nights, my friend Tina and I go to “get soup” at The Boynton. Truth is, for me, it’s soup for the soul. It is for her, too, but she also loves their Chicken Rice Soup ($3.99). A Comforting Chicken Stock with an abundance of Rice, Chicken and bits of Carrots.

The Comfort continues in our conversation. Tina is a life gift. She’s a lady that leaves a mark on a person’s life. A good woman. No doubts here. We are growing people and we cheer each other on. We take time to talk to each other and listen to each other too.

The Boynton has grown quite a bit during its time in Worcester. I started enjoying their good food when they were a pub and a neighboring pizza shop. The bartender or, on certain nights, a waitress would assist with food. As you know, I am here for food, so all I’ll mention about the drinks is: they don’t skimp.

The Boynton’s food is indulgent. In the last 15-20 years, the growth of the business has been revolutionary. They’ve:

  1. Remodeled and reorganized.
  2. Rebuilt the pizza shop into a full-sized state-of-the-art all-stainless-steel, shiny, new kitchen.
  3. Implemented an entirely new menu.
  4. Purchased neighboring property to increase the size of the parking area.
  5. Grew more and more. They even put dining room additions onto the dining room additions!

It’s great!! This growth was mandatory. The Boynton is packed on most Tuesday nights at nearly 10pm. The energy is high and environment relaxed with populations of all ages and walks of life coming together. The table and bar service is really good. I’ve never been wary of this destination. Click here to make a reservation and beat the crowd.

boynton_barThis past week, we ventured there after Tina got out of work. I arrived first and secured a table on the outer border of the main bar area. Our waitress, Nikie, greeted me within a few minutes and was knocking my socks off from the very beginning. I ordered our beverages and an appetizer. We were off to the races. I was feeling a win coming my way.

What did we eat? Tina had her soup and shared the appetizer with me. I was craving pizza and decided that I would chance a suggestion from the waitress. I was thinking she’d suggest something healthy and she delivered. A small pizza with eggplant, broccoli and garlic. I added onions, peppers and feta. Y’all know how I feel about Feta.

Spinach Artichoke Dip ($10.99) Spinach and Marinated Artichoke Hearts blended with Garlic and Herb Cheese topped with Parmesan Cheese and oven baked. Served with Pita Chips. I asked Nikie to replace the chips with simple pita bread wedges. I can’t get the thought of deep fried bread into my wellness plan. LOL. She was happy to help.

Sm. Cheese Pizza + Broccoli, Feta, Garlic, Eggplant, Onions and Roasted Red Peppers = a mound of a pizza prices fairly at $13.73. This pizza was 4 meals. Very pleased.

We love to chat with servers. We also learned that Nikie is a vegetarian, a factory farm activist and a climate activist.

For those of you reading my meanderings, you may remember The Sole ProprieterThe Boynton is directly across the street. This Highland Street neighborhood must have good eating in the water or something. Try The Boynton – you can order online and pick up or eat in the brick-walled comfy space you see here. They are always going to make you happy with your decision.

This is direct from the Boynton website and I AGREE: “Highly recommended for a night out with friends, dinner with the familly and a popular spot for students. Named after one of the founding fathers of Worcester Polytech, the Boynton Restaurant is located at 117 Highland Street, (Route 9), ample parking in the back.”

Go. Experience. Enjoy!

photo credits: http://www.boyntonrestaurant.com/

Winnipesaukee Weekend

We enjoyed Labor Day Weekend 2013 with our friend Lillian at her home on Lake Winnipesaukee.  Lillian’s family has a reputation for great eating, hospitality and guided tours. Tapas dinner on the deck when we arrived, kicked off the weekend. Prepared by her parents, who were surprise guests! After dinner one of the couples headed home and the rest of us headed into town for ice-cream and planning of the next day’s itinerary. Ben & Jerry were still open and we were quite pleased to dodge puddles and a little bit of thunder and lightening to access our chilly treat! The No Sugar Added Vanilla Fudge Chip is my all-time favorite.

The clear blue sky of morning brought us coffee and breakfast on the deck followed by a boat ride to town for antiquing, shopping, lunching, walking, more shopping and taking in the sights of beautiful downtown Meredith, NH. One highlight was a brief visit with a Lab-Doodle named Bananas.

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Lunch was at Lago inside The Inn at Bay Point with our friends Libby and Galen. Our lunch was excellent. Service was quite good. Libby had the INSALATA DI FINOCCHI Fresh fennel, roasted and tossed with orange segments, crisp greens and our garlic croutons. White balsamic vinaigrette dressing. 9. plus chicken 4. Spencer requested the PANINO GRANCHIO Blue Crab cake, assorted greens, vine-ripe tomatoes and shallot caper aioli on grilled ciabatta bread. 11.

Bites and tastes made their way around the table and let me say, pictures do say many words, BUT one that needs to be repeated is “Delicious!”  I enjoyed the same salad chosen by Libby with out the chicken for my appetiizer. The greens were complimented by the delicate dressing, which can be overpowering if over-abundant. The orange segments were fresh and the croutons were very subtle. The portion was enough to take the edge off and with protein added, a perfect meal option. Next time I will go Libby’s way of adding chicken. The portion of juicy chicken was ample.

2013-09-01 15.06.062013-09-01 15.06.50 My entree was a flat bread pizza with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil. 11. Very easy share with another when an appetizer or salad is also ordered. I was able to eat half of the pizza by picking out the smallest of the slices and after our return trip across the lake I reheated it for Lillian’s parents. The pizza reheated well and pleased me that a fresh, delicious and affordable lunch option could easily be made into another meal later that day or the next.

Lillian and Galen both enjoyed the PANINO POLLO Grilled chicken breast with pesto, arugula, tomatoes and onions on ciabatta bread. 9. The tuscan fries or fried baked potato wedges served with both sandwich options were lightly salted during preparation and were a welcome replacement to their high calorie french cousin. Lunch was completed with a walk around the Bay Point property to get a close up of the balcony flowers which are abundant and clearly loved. Purple flowers as far as the eye can see. Kind staff everywhere and guests smiling and relaxing inside and out.

Libby and Galen with their pooch Boris headed home mid afternoon. More resting and lounging took place and we returned to town for Dinner and Karaoke (the sign at the American Legion suggested tonight – we think that tonight was really last night or another night). We traveled down the road and back again leading this set of three Golden Girls to the start of the Weirs Beach Fireworks display. They threw a party and invited every one they knew. 😉

2013-09-03 15.22.29Dinner was at Camp, a restaurant styled to help you experience the feel of eating in a camp lodge with down-home cooking.

Lillian opted for two appetizers for her meal  by combining the Stack O’ Rings (Hand-battered with Common Man Ale and Southwest seasoning. Served with Dijon bistro sauce. 6.99) and a crock of Baked Onion Soup Gratinée (Toasted crouton, Cheddar and Swiss. 4.99). Spencer started with the New England Clam Chowder (Cup 3.99) and then a salad ($3.99) with steak tips ($6.99), which was remarkably tasty. I tempted fate with the Meatloaf dinner. Well, temptation delivered nirvana!! The mountain of Meatloaf served with pan gravy ($15.99) was just as delicious as my dearly departed Dad’s and brought me back to the many meals that I shared with my friends at Boy Scout Camp. The entire staff was wearing uniforms that resembled those worn by Explorer Scouts and everyone was helpful, friendly, courteous and kind, just like the Scout Law suggests.

2013-09-02 17.16.08There was a lot of eating scrumptious food during our weekend vacation. Lillian and her Dad prepared bacon and eggs Monday morning.

After helping prep the house for the next guests we were off on our third day of adventures to help a friend in Salem, MA. After our errand was complete were swam (torrential rain and flooding) over to Finz in the historic Pickering wharf area. Here we definitely busted our belt with Lobster Mac and Cheese, Haddock Burrito, Baked Haddock Sandwich. This was the follow up to Baked Goat Cheese with roasted garlic and calamata olives, buffalo spicy calamari, edamame and oysters appetizers. None of us finished much of anything without struggle and every single bite was enjoyed. Lillian’s mac and cheese was more of alfredo style sauce with a lot of lobster meat and a large enough portion for her to bring home for at least one or two more meals. Spencer’s burrito was overflowing with fish, avocado, black beans and flavor. My sandwich was so huge that I ate the fish and the bottom of the toasted bun and had to leave behind the top of the bun and didn’t eat more than one french fry. The meals were plentiful and portioned heavily with fresh, moist and exceptionally prepared fish. Nothing was rubbery or dry. Fresh. Fresh. Fresh. Thank you Finz!!! Thank You!

This was a second visit for Spencer and me but Lillian’s first. Our first visit was in October of last year which was the happy chance to try them out with a $10 coupon that we received while watching the Halloween Parade. Finz isn’t a restaurant that needs to be passing out coupons. For these travelers, the coupon was a great choice. We might not have wandered all the way to the end of the wharf. Finz is a beautiful restaurant situated on the waterfront allowing almost every table a picture perfect view of the harbor. The service is impeccable and the food is top quality. Our waiter reaped 30% for a job well done.

The weekend was a huge success with many hours driving in the car, talking and sharing, long and lively conversations over lunches and dinner, crashing waves, boat rides, and evening strolls; all time well spent!