Razzle's Travels

Myers & Chang – Fancy Asian in the South End
February 3, 2008, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Boston, Food, MA

For my birthday this year a few friends and I hit up the buzz of the South End, Myers & Chang. The pedigree of the chefs promises great things, although I am not entirely certain of the decision to not offer a dessert menu when Ms. Chang is known for her pastry skills.

The night started off very poorly with us being quoted a 45 min wait, which turned into an hour and half. There’s really no excuse for this, as numerous people who arrived after us without reservations were seated before us. We were a party of 4, it’s not incredibly hard to wait for 2 tables of 2 to be empty to seat 4. Plus a party of 4 that arrived after us was seated before us (because one member of the party was pregnant?). They lost many points for the poor handling of this, and for the lame excuses of it will be just a few more minutes.
I wanted to leave, as there are plenty of great restaurants in the area, but my companion K was determined to eat the food there since we had waited already.

Once we turned that corner and were seated the rest of the experience was all positive. Our server was funny and friendly and full of suggestions of what is good “my fault is that I am honest and will tell you what not to get”.

The food arrived super fast (as in under 10 minutes), which again, confused me as to why we had such a long wait.

We started with crispy spring rolls ($5) which were filled with chives, bamboo and shitake mushrooms. I didn’t taste the mushrooms at all, it was much heavier on the chives and bamboo. Good, standard fare.

We also had the scallion pancakes ($7), K liked them so much we ordered them again later in the meal. These aren’t your typical scallion pancakes, they are doughy, an almost foccaccia type of dough lightly sprinkled with scallions. Very yummy, and very filling.
Tiger’s Tears ($10). Oh my the yum! If you like beef, and spicy THIS is the dish for you! It’s a salad, so it’s cold, but the beef is so tender and flavorful and citrusy and just mouth on fire good! The basil and tri-color bell peppers were fresh and crunchy and delicious, and the khao koor (some sort of rice like thing) added a bit more crunch. Although I wasn’t a huge fan of the lack of flavor of that ingredient.
Our waiter recommended we have a couple of the dumplings. So we opted for the lemony shrimp ($13), which were interesting yet not particularly memorable or flavorful. Next time, I’ll skip this.
The girls also tried mama chang’s pork and chive dumplings ($11), I think they all liked them. I had a tiny bite, but not being a huge fan of pork, didn’t like these much either.

We had to try something from the middle page of the menu as well and so C asked for the Nirvana Chicken ($9) served over white rice. I loved this dish! It had to be the incredibly strong star anise smell and flavor that did it. One tender thigh and a good smokey flavor.

Onto the noodle portion of the menu, first up we have the Dan Dan Noodle Salad ($7). The waiter commented that this was a heavy dish, but I didn’t think so. The peanut sauce was tasty, and the cucumbers added a clean fresh flavor to the dish. K apparently got a bite that had all the sambal in it, because she suffered the mouth on fire phenomenon and yet the dish was completely not spicy to me or anyone else at the table. Perhaps I didn’t mix things up well enough. N also loved this dish and threatened to finish it off.

Thai ginger chicken salad was one of the dishes recommended by the waiter. The dish was very pale looking, white rice noodles, very white grilled chicken, pale cabbage. The girls dug in and ate it, I was a bit hesitant it would be too bland. However, I was wrong. The ginger and lemongrass flavor came through in the chicken and at the bottom of the bowl there were even some red pepper flakes.

Although the restaurant doesn’t have a dessert menu, before the check everyone is served a dessert. This evening it was a lemon mousse with small pieces of crystallized ginger on top. I am not a fan of the ginger and was able to pick it off, while totally enjoying the lemon mousse. K didn’t like it at all and had thought we were being served a bowl of parmesean, which she would have been very happy with. N didn’t like the mousse of the ginger on this.

And a special dessert for the birthday girl, a brownie with chunks of ginger. I’ll give the brownie yummy points, but the ginger was way too much for me to be able to enjoy it. N loved it and ate half of it.

Ambiance: The restaurant is cool and casual, very reminiscent of a diner. Complete with the counter seating overlooking the kitchen. The soundtrack is provided by an iPod, but the noise level in the restaurant makes it hard to hear what songs are playing unless you are in the bathroom.

Thier website is a myspace page, which is a bit odd. Just pay for a real website and design it so that the menu is easy to read. Speaking of menus they do have a vegetarian menu and a nut free menu. You need to ask for them seperately, but the items are all also on the main menu (which for some reason smells like crayons).

Our total bill pre-tip was $153, including 2 bottles of wine. A bit steep for the quality of the food and the fact that it’s basically chinese food in a very casual setting.


Swanky Modern in Motown – MGM Grand Detroit
January 16, 2008, 4:19 am
Filed under: Casino, Detroit, Fine Dining, Hotel, MI

I spent a couple days at the MGM Grand in Detroit recently. The hotel is only a couple months old and apparently the only luxury hotel in town. I took pics and then mistakenly deleted them, so you’ll have to take my word on it.
Holy cow is this place NICE!
The lobby lounge is called the living room, it has some suede armless sofas, and the coolest fireplace that runs through the middle of the length of the stainless steel wall.

The rooms are super cool, and technologically a bit too advanced for me and my friends. 42″ plasma tvs, a phone that shows your name on the screen, it also has some sort of touch screen functionality we couldn’t figure out. The hotel info book in the room also claimed there was a butler button on the phone for room service, but none of us could find the button. The phone had too many buttons. But no room service button.

The walls against the bed are some sort of bamboo textured wallpaper that I couldn’t stop touching for 5 min. The curtains were also a touchable silk crinkly material. A velvet couch which was comfy to lay on, silk throw pillows, and a velvety bench at the foot of the bed rounded out the textural furniture.

The bed, oh the lovely bed I didn’t want to get out of. Featherbeds, down comforters, soft soft cotton sheets. It got mighty hot in there at night, and my only complaint was that we couldn’t get the thermostat to go under 67 degrees. Yes, it was winter and there was a snowstorm outside, but that bed was just too hot.
The thick espresso stained headboard had a light in it that wasn’t controlled by any of the switches in the room. This was weird. And annoying while trying to sleep. It took 2 days to figure out the switch was on the side of the headboard.

More about the lighting, there is one lightswitch that controls all the lights in the room. Not your traditional sliding dimmer switch, this one gives you 5 options for controlling just how much light there is. I liked it. There is also a very cool orange light panel in the wall that separates the bedroom from the bathroom.

The bathroom was huge and marble. With two undermounted sinks, which was very cool. The shower and toilet were both behind frosted doors. This was so sleek that neither of us initially noticed the toilet wasn’t out in the open. The shower had two rainhead showerheads. Which makes for fun 2 person showers. Bathroom amenities were all h20+ brand, smelled soooo good! I forgot to take them home with me though. Lots of fluffy towels, and two very thick and comfy robes. There was a weird mirror within the mirror of the bathroom, which I found out after the fact was apparently a tv. See? Too much fancy technology!

Room service was from Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. We ordered a italian sausage, eggplant, carmelized onion and mushroom pizza and a couple beers. The pizza wasn’t all that great, the Italian sausage tasted a bit weird and there was cilantro on the pizza, which didn’t blend well with the other flavors. Service was very prompt, although they didn’t bring us any ice water with the dinner, which I’ve never had happen before.

The hotel also has two of Michael Mina’s restaurants, Bourbon Steak and Saltwater. I meant to try at least one of these as he is one of my favorite chefs, but both of us were under the weather most the weekend and room service was just easier.
There is also a Starbucks, which strangely enough closes at 7 pm.

The hotel staff and concierge were all very nice and as helpful as could be.

If you have to go to Detroit and want a truly luxurious stay, I highly recommend the MGM Grand.

Cutest Hotel Ever -Pod Hotel – NYC
January 13, 2008, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Hotel, Midtown, New York

I’ve never been compelled to review a hotel the minute I walked in the door, but the Pod Hotel did it for me.

Now, I tend to like the luxury hotels, and this certainly is not one. But it’s cute, boutiquey, has a great staff, and a total find!
I was looking for a cheap one night stay in NY, and stumbled across this place. It has bunkbeds (also, the cheapest room option) and I thought it would make for a fun stay with L. The room is tiny, as in I think my walk-in closet may be larger than this but, it is incredibly charming!The concept of a shared bath (they do have rooms with private baths, but not the bunk rooms) seemed a bit sketchy and weird, but as I was coming up the hall two bathrooms were being meticulously cleaned by the housekeeping crew. They bathroom may actually be larger than our room, but it’s clean, has one of those rain showerheads, music piped in and is not at all run down. The room has all the towels and toiletries and a sink. Picture an airplane bathroom sink.
They offer free wireless (yeay!), an ipod docking station/stereo, the rooms temperature control works well, and as I am using the air conditioning in January it really is individually controlled.
The lobby is large and very modern trendy, I shall go hang out there shortly.
So far the bed I am sitting on is comfy, with it’s own small tv screen.
This place gets an A+ rating from me.

Comfort Food in Boston – Silvertone
November 2, 2007, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Boston, Cheap Eats, Food, MA

Hidden on a side street in downtown crossing is Silvertone. It’s a bar with great food, and good drinks. Really, you can’t go wrong. Cocktails are in the $6 – $8 range, and beer on tap is $4. Food runs from $4 – 18 at dinner time, with the majority under $12.
The steak tips are great ($10) as is the mac and cheese ($8). Portion sizes are decent, and it’s a fun place to go with a group. Friends have had the meatloaf and raved about it.
One warning, if your party is arriving separately and they are busy, they will not let anyone who sits at the table later order. It is a completely retarded rule, and I can’t figure out the reasoning behind it. We’ve had that happen to us once, and luckily it was still not super crowded that the two that were half an hour late were allowed to order.
It’s kinda like that hidden dive bar, but with the law school in the area, it’s usually got a good size crowd.
Location: 69 Bromfield St (at Tremont) – Park Street T stop served by both the Red and Green lines, a short walk from the Downtown Crossing T stop for Orange and Red lines.
(617) 338-7887

Kingfish Hall – At which Todd English joins us for dinner
October 27, 2007, 4:02 pm
Filed under: Boston, Food, MA

Ok not really, but he was at the next table. Kingfish Hall is his seafood restaurant in the heart of Faneuil Hall. Since this area caters heavily to tourists, I tend to not eat at the restaurants, I figure overpriced and mediocre. But last night my favorite neighborhood restaurant was booked solid and I wanted something good to eat. And in my world, one cannot go wrong at any of Todd English’s restaurants. I did like that he was there, popping in on the kitchen and watching the goings on in there. It’s good to know he still takes the time to keep an eye on his restaurants.

The menu is very expensive for such a casual place. There was an incredible sounding crispy lobster, which is basically a de-shelled lobster tempura fried, for $49. Other entrees were all over $28 and fairly basic. And since I wanted to eat more than one dish, I opted for some Kumamoto Oysters served with a cocktail sauce, I opted for just some lemon juice squeezed on top. I ordered the tuna tartare, a starter which I thought would be small. I was wrong. This was a lot of tuna, served on a lot of sushi rice, with a thin layer of seaweed in between. Basically a deconstructed tuna roll. And completely delicious! There was a hint of Sriracha on top which nearly burned my tongue off. I also ordered a side of the mac and cheese, which was served in the cutest cauldron, but lacking in cheese flavor and left a filmy layer on my teeth. I took a few bites, brought it home and reheated it with additional cheese. Sadly, I can make a better mac and cheese myself.

N ordered the fried calamari and the seafood gumbo. The calamari was delicious. It was covered in sauce, which resulted in it becoming soggy rather quickly. The seafood gumbo was served in a shallow skillet and was good, although over salty. You definitely tasted the seafood in the stock, however it looked and tasted as if it was thickened with black beans. Something we both found odd.

The service was a bit slow, even though there was enough staff and the restaurant wasn’t very crowded.

A cool thing about the space, if you get a seat on the second level and can get into one of the booths that look like giant clam shells, they turn. So you can opt to sit facing the open kitchen or you can face the dining room. The light fixtures are also all funky and I would love to have one in my house.

Overall, I would not go here again for dinner, our total bill was $90 (including 2 glasses of wine) and for that much money there is far better food in the area at less casual places.

Small and Classy – Melt Spa
October 24, 2007, 12:18 am
Filed under: Boston, MA, Spa

Are you looking for a small, intimate day spa? Melt is your place. Yet another spa on Newbury street you say? Yes, but this one is different.
The waiting area is small, just three chairs, meaning it’s not the type of place that is so busy you have to wait around. There are 2 side by side pedicure stations (great for bringing a friend!), and from what I could see 3 treatment rooms. Satin sheets on the bed for facials, soft cotton flannel sheets for massages. The odd thing is there is one bathroom, no shower, and I had to change in the treatment room. There was a closet in the room for my clothes if I didn’t want to leave them on the chair.
I was offered water, wine or champagne after my massage.
The massage itself was incredible. Sheila listened to me and avoided the areas I was uncomfortable with. She asked me about the pressure more than once, leaving me comfortable to indicate if it was too hard or too soft. There was music in the room from an ipod. Next time I will ask if I can use my own tunes.
Their prices are on par with most places, but the intimate aspect of the spa and the great service is priceless.

Breakfast in Eugene – Glenwood Restaurant
September 30, 2007, 5:35 pm
Filed under: Brunch, Cheap Eats, Eugene, Food, OR

If you are looking for a healthy breakfast look no further than Glenwood Restaurant. I am sure there are other breakfast joints in town, but this must be the best. Seriously. On a Wednesday morning at 11 am this place was completely packed. And this wasn’t the location on the U of O campus. So you know it’s good.
The menu is pretty typical, scrambles, pancakes, egg dishes, and sandwiches. But the food is anything but typical.

I was torn between french toast and pancakes, as I usually am, but decided on the pancakes. To make matters more complicated there were three options. Buckwheat, honey and wheat, and some other natural grain one. None of that white flour boring pancake stuff here. I opted for the honey and wheat flour one, and am so glad I did. There was no need for maple syrup on this, even though a small pitcher of it was brought out. The pancakes were already slightly sweet and the butter made them perfect.
My companion got the eggs benedict, which were also quite delicious, although surprisingly a bit heavy on the hollandaise.

We also ordered a side of the home fries, which were of the red potato variety. Not overly greasy, with a a good sprinkling of herbs and garlic. The bacon was cooked well and not greasy. I don’t know how they manage to make breakfast food taste so good and yet go light on the grease!

The price is pretty reasonable, our breakfast including coffee and juices ran just $20.
Next time I’m back in town, I will be trying the biscuits and gravy. I couldn’t stop wondering about them the rest of the day.

You can find the Glenwood in two locations: 1340 Alder Street (541)687-0355 and 2558 Willamette Street (541) 687-8201.