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Boston has so many beautiful restaurants that are perfect for celebrations, and Barbara Lynch’s Menton is definitely tops when it comes to special occasions.              I first went to Menton right after it opened, and I have been back a few times since, every visit being perfectly perfect and very special.

wine at Menton Menton is a place to visit all dressed up with a special someone or group of people to spend a long, leisurely meal laughing and tasting and enjoying the knowledge and hospitality of their very well trained staff.

On Saturday night we were celebrating 35th birthdays. Mine isn’t until March, so it was fun to get a jump on celebrations. I always love an excuse to get together to toast with friends!

Our server was helpful in choosing a wine to go with the wide variety of courses we ordered. A light, dry Sicilian wine was a great choice, especially for this lover of wines from Sicily!

We did the four course tasting menu, each ordering different options and sharing bites along the way.

dinner at Menton {Yellowfin Tuna Crudo with Hearts of Palm, Truffle, and Soy}

Perfect tuna in a generous portion with fun, umami flavors kicked off the meal and got my taste buds ready for a feast.

 

dinner at Menton {Winter Bouillabaisse with Hake and Scallop and Celery Root Dulse}

This was such a fun take on Bouillabaisse, though since it was so cold out, I wouldn’t have minded some broth! The scallop and mussel were absolute perfection.

dinner at Menton {Roman Gnocchi, with Pumpkin, Kale, Poached Farm Egg}

Roman gnocchi is hearty and filling, but the star of this show was of course the poached egg. It broke all over the gnocchi and kale, making a rich, earthy sauce.

dessert at Menton

{Almond Brown Butter Cake with Concord Grape, Figs, and Lemon}

I was almost too full for dessert, but I am glad I went with this cake, which had a beautiful, light marzipan flavor, a spongy, buttery texture, and a perfect pairing with the chewy fresh figs.  A glass of pink Champagne made dessert extra special.

mini macarons Menton

{Mini Macarons}

Menton’s final, delicious touch is a container of mini macarons in flavors like pink peppercorn and chive. They are little bites of heaven that clearly take a lot of love and expertise to make.

It was amazing to get out with great friends at a restaurant that has become a Boston institution. Menton brings old fashioned, fancy dining into the future, with all of the impeccable service you would expect but also with a comfortable, un-stuffy vibe. After all, going out to dinner is meant to be enjoyed!

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Tags: Barbara Lynch, Boston, Dining out, Food, luxury, Menton, restaurant

Snugly nestled in Boston’s bustling North End sits Parla, an Italian speakeasy that opened in April. I got to check it out on a recent girls’ night out, and it is the perfect place for such an occasion.

image

The cocktail list at Parla is a ton of fun; classics like the margarita are mixed up with rye; I am a huge fan of rye and was excited to see this. To start off, I went with the Bee Sting Julep, a slightly spicy, slightly sweet blend of habanero honey infused whiskey with mint and lemon. It had a nice kick while also being refreshing!

 

bee sting julep cocktailAs it often happens when I am out with these ladies (which is not often enough!) we ordered lots of things to share. Parla’s menu is perfect for sharing, especially since you’ll have a hard time choosing what to order. What did we have?

arancini

Braised Oxtail Arancini – These were one of my favorites of the night. I loved the bit of meat in the hot and chewy arancini, and the sauce that came alongside would be perfect for mopping up with bread or just about anything.

quail egg carbonaraWe also had the Quail Egg Carbonara, which was topped with a runny quail egg just waiting to be mixed in with the hot pasta and salty bacon.

lobster ravioliThe Lobster and Uni Ravioli was as beautiful as it was delicious. Out of all of the pasta dishes (We had four, but my photos didn’t come out great.), this was my favorite. I loved the creamy pink sauce, and the addition of fava beans was nice for texture.

Secco You can’t have a dinner outing with the ladies without a bottle of bubbles, and we enjoyed a bottle of Secco Prosecco with the meal. Italian bubbly certainly goes well with Italian dishes and lots of chatter!

I would recommend Parla heartily; I sent some friends there the following night, and they loved it too. It’s a great spot in the heart of the North End, doing food that is fun, creative, and delicious!

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Tags: Boston, cocktail, Dining out, dinner, food blog, Italian food, North End, prosecco, restaurant, Restaurants, wine

Happy New Year! I hope you had great one! Did you go out or stay in? We made a fire, drank Champagne, and ordered Thai food. Being in a new home is interesting in that we are still figuring out what takeaway restaurants we like, but we lucked out with Kapow in Lower Mills. The avocado curry was to-die-for! We made it to 12:02 before shutting out the lights and promptly falling asleep. This holiday season was stressful for a number of reasons, and I am actually pretty glad to see it over. Next stop, a fabulous 2014!

Life has been moving quickly, and we have been out and about in Boston quite a bit here and there for drinks and appetizers mostly. Below are some photos from Barlow’s and Ward 8, two recent after work stops.

I always sort of forget about Barlow’s but on one particularly bad traffic night (Seriously, what’s up with Boston traffic lately?!), found ourselves off 93 and in South Boston, hungry and trying to wait out traffic. We ended up finding easy parking near Barlow’s, and we were delighted to find it festively decorated and bustling with great energy. Their cocktail list is long and really fun, and the appetizer menu is the same. We ordered up drinks and then shared a few really delicious items: Thai Chicken Dumplings, Short Rib Tacos, Pretzels with Sam Adams Cheese Fondue.

dumplings

I didn’t expect too much from our bar food items, but everything was so good! The tacos, especially, wowed me, with tender and flavorful short rib meat

short rib tacos

And we were practically fighting over the fondue. Once we finished the warm, soft pretzels, our server gave us house made chips to dip in the decadent fondue. Barlow’s is sort of on our way home, and I would not hesitate to stop again for snacks and drinks or dinner.

soft pretzels

Another place we visited recently was Ward 8, which took the spot of Nebo in the North End. I followed the progress of Ward 8 as they worked on the space, so I was excited to finally sit at the beautiful, huge white marble bar. The space is fantastic, and the cocktail menu is really great. I had a Ward 8, naturally.

Ward 8

We decided once again on bar snacks, and we really enjoyed the Bacon Cashew Caramel Corn (Really, how can you go wrong?) and the 3 Cheese Spinach Dip. The full menu looked great as well, and Ward 8 has a raw bar I would love to return for

Ward 8

The Fry Sampler was just kind of meh. You know I love my fries, and these were kind of underdone. The lemon aioli was good, but for a fry fix in the area, Saus has my heart.

fries

I think Ward 8 has some real potential once they get a good rhythm going. Service was great but not very friendly; other than that I would definitely say it was a good after work experience.

I’ve said it a million times, but Boston is chock full of great restaurants, new and old, and snacks and drinks are a great way to be able to experience more but within a budget. We’ll often go home and make a dinner with food we already have after sampling a few things out.

In this New Year I am hoping to cook more at home and to move more, plain and simple. I have a good feeling about 2014 and hope yours started off fabulously!

What did you do for New Year’s? Do you have any resolutions?

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Tags: Boston, cocktails, Dining out, Food, restaurant, Restaurants

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