SKS Restaurant Review: Moonshine 152

Moonshine 152
152 Dorchester Ave.
http://www.Moonshine152.com

I admit it… this review might be slightly biased. I was a big fan of Franklin Southie, the restaurant that occupied 152 Dorchester Ave before Moonshine. In 2008, Franklin Southie opened and provided the neighborhood with one its first restaurants that featured exciting contemporary food.  Even as the quality slipped over the last few years, Franklin was still was still one of my go-to faves… that is until it was bought by Chef Asia Mei who replaced it with Moonshine 152.

Let’s get this out of the way – the food at Moonshine 152 is very good. Maybe not Franklin-circa-2009 good, but decent in its own right. Any issues I had with the restaurant were not related to the cooking. My big problem with Moonshine 152 is that it has a major identity crisis. It has no idea what it wants to be when it grows up.

wpid-032115202422.jpg.jpeg

Is it a restaurant or a bar? The bar was very crowded and the noise overpowered the room. Ironically it was really difficult to hear the other members of my table complain about the noise. Early into our meal the crowd was practically pushed up against the middle tables. Is it a casual or upscale price point? 3 of the 8 mains are $16 yet the fried flounder is $29. The steak is $32. Is the culinary style modern food with an Asian twist or comfort food?Some dishes are flavored with lemongrass, black bean sauce, nori, tea, and kimchi while other dishes include fried green tomatoes, stroganoff with spaetzel. and sunchoke hash.  Is it really supposed to be healthier eating as Chef Mei advertises? Most of the mains are pretty decadent (bacon cheese burgers, steak with pesto, fried fish, pork stroganoff) and the only salads are a mixed greens, a warm cabbage salad, and a quinoa salad.

The highlights of our meal were the drinks and the service. The wait staff is incredibly sweet and down to earth. You are more likely to chat with the wait staff for 5 minutes than you are to feel rushed.   All the drinks I had were excellent. A standout was the special moonshine (yes, the liquor is moonshine) drink which was an apple cider concoction. It was well balanced and not too strong, sweet or fruity. 

As I said before, the food was very good. All ingredients seemed fresh and the food was well prepared. The conch ceviche appetizer was excellent and I highly recommend it. The flavor was sweet and citrus with the perfect amount of  acidity and crunch. The pig ears were very interesting and had good flavor, but I would have preferred them to be crispier. The Hurricane Popcorn made in pork fat with Nori, Sesame, and Bonito was rich but crunchy and full of flavor – great to pick at while waiting for the food. Because we ordered so many appetizers which dominate the menu, we only ordered the smaller mains – burgers and flatbread. The flatbread was a small pizza-like dish covered in lots of cheese and veggies. The burgers of the day (cabbage, russian dressing and jalapeno bacon) were delicious with a really fresh puffy bun. The fries were very good and were clearly homemade.

The awkward menu really did make it difficult to order. My advice is to go tapas-style and skip the main. With so many interesting appetizers to choose from and only a handful of mains that are all fairly standard fare, I think the apps (with a few good drinks) are the way to go.

My hope is that over time, Moonshine finds its way. Cleary Chef Asia Mei has the creativity, skills and passion that are required. There is a tremendous amount of potential here. It just might take some time for Moonshine 152 to hit its stride. The food, drink and service were good enough that I definitely plan on returning to find out how they progress.

 SKS Rating: 3 out of 5

SKS Restaurant Review: M.C. Spiedo

M.C. Spiedo
606 Congress St – Renaissance Hotel
http://www.mcspiedoboston.com

M.C. Spiedo, located in the lobby of the Seaport Renaissance Hotel, is an anomaly… and that is a very good thing. From their unusual (I’m still not exactly sure if it’s pronounced Speedo or Spydo…for the record, I much prefer the latter for obvious reasons) name, to their bold decor, to their meticulously crafted dishes, nothing about this restaurant bears any resemblance to your typical hotel lobby restaurant.
wpid-022015213722.jpg.jpegM.C. Spiedo has a fairly small and somewhat limited menu. It offers a handful of starters and salads and about 3 to 4 dishes for each of the menu categories: pasta, meat, fish and pizza. While the wine list is extensive, it consists of only Italian varieties making it very difficult for the average patron to make an informed decision. Luckily the wait staff is knowledgeable and eager to assist. Overall I found the service to be very good. The hostess and the wait staff were professional, friendly and accommodating. This made it easy to overlook the occasional long gaps in service, most likely a result of the very busy Saturday night crowd.
The decor and atmosphere at MC Spiedo is big and bold.  Large pieces of Italian artwork line the walls. Glowing  wine racks add a contemporary feel. The ceilings are high giving the room a wide open cavernous feel. The room is accented in red maroon which adds a bit of warmth. The open kitchen is adjacent to the substantial bar and small lounge area with couches.
Getting straight to the point, the food here is excellent. It is clear after only one bite that the restaurant prides themselves on using only the freshest ingredients. The eggplant soup (after being sent back for reheating) was a creamy delicious table favorite and I highly recommend it, especially piping hot. The seared tuna salad was very fresh and very tasty. The portion of tuna was large enough for 2, maybe even 3 to share. The accompanying salad had the perfect amount of acidity to balance out the dish.
All the pasta is fresh and handmade. For me, the pasta was easily the most impressive part of M.C. Spiedo. The tagliatelle bolognese is equal parts meat and pasta and was a standout dish. I am not a big pasta fan, so the fact that I was blown away by this dish says a lot. Unfortunately if you are looking for a lighter pasta dish you are out of luck. With only cream based options, it would have been really nice to see at least one red sauce pasta dish offered. For me, this serves as a major gap in the menu. It is hard to understand given that they already have the outstanding  pasta made, all they need is a wider variety of sauce.
The veal burger with polenta fries is very good as well. The veal was moist and perfectly grilled. Unfortunately the brioche-like roll was a bit too dry. The polenta fries that are served on the side are so good that they almost overshadow the burger. Crisp on the outside and creamy with bits of corn on the inside accompanied by a sweet tomatoey sauce. Note: These can also be ordered as an appetizer.
As an added bonus, the hotel bar on the other side of the  lobby has excellent live music on most Saturday nights. It couldn’t be easier to grab a drink and listen to some live tunes after you eat. You don’t even have to leave the building.
If you do dine at M.C. Spiedo, be sure to take an Uber. Street parking is generally unavailable and you will most likely want to valet park. For restaurant diners, parking is $17 for under 3 hours, but if you go literally one minute past (I learned this the hard way) the price shoots up to $38.
It is hard to believe that a neighborhood gem can be found in a hotel lobby, but that is exactly what M.C. Spiedo has managed to do. With limited options for Italian food in Southie, M.C. Spiedo help to fill that gap nicely with fresh, high quality, carefully prepared tuscan fare. That said, it would be nice to see a larger menu, specifically one that offers more varieties of their outstanding pasta.
If you haven’t already been to M.C. Spiedo, I highly recommend you check it out.

SKS Rating: 4 out of 5

The Big Dig Out

Here are some pics I took of Southie digging out (on Feb 3rd) from the record breaking week of snow that fell from Jan 26th to Feb 2nd, 2015.

Overall I think our neighborhood did a great job during a very rough and very intense week. And that’s not even counting the Superbowl – GO PATS! Based on what I saw we helped each other out, dug out hydrants, kept each other informed, and avoided violent confrontation. I think we should all be proud of ourselves!

Click on pics for high-res. 

DSC_1144
E 3rd Street

DSC_1141

L St

DSC_1137

E 4th St

DSC_1135

M St

DSC_1134_edited-1

E 4th and M St

DSC_1128

M St

DSC_1147

E 2nd St

DSC_1133

Sidewalk Cafe

10 Inventions That Should Have Already Arrived

This is a bit of a departure from my usual neighborhood rant. While I sit inside a ski condo due to the pouring rain outside, why not write a blog on my phone (no internet, please excuse the typos) about something total random while I wait for Pats game to start? Hope you enjoy!

10 Inventions That Should Have Already Arrived

It is the year 2015. It is the future. We carry super computers in our pocket. Our cars park themselves. We can video communicate (Jetsons style) with anyone around the world, for free, instantly. TV’s are paper thin, flat (or curved), and have 4k resolution. We access movies, music, books and TV shows on demand at the push of a button.
Yet, every now and then I am shocked at some of the more simple aspects of our life that have not yet evolved. Here Is a list of the 10 that most surprise me.

1. Gum that Keeps Its Flavor – I wasn’t really expecting a real life Everlasting Gobstopper by the time I was an adult, but with the big business ($3.5 billion big in the US) gum companies always promising lasting flavor, you would think some advancement would be made to prevent gum from losing it’s flavor in 5 minutes or less.
2. Virtual Reality – I know it’s coming (Facebook’s Oculus Rift, Sony’s Project Morpheus) but it’s at least 25 years delayed. I mean, Pierce Brosnan was actually young in Lawnmower Man. They clearly had the technology back in the 80’s, so what are they waiting for?
3. Cure for the Common Cold – With the incredible advancements made in modern day medicine, you would think something better than Cold Eeze (zinc) would be available.
4. Mustard Containers that Don’t Squirt Mustard Water – Hey Mustard, Ketchup has it all figured out. WTF is your problem?
5. Something Better than Passwords – For the past 20 or so years we have lived in a password world. Almost everything we do requires a password. There is only one problem… they don’t work. They can be easily hacked and people aren’t capable of organizing the hundreds of passwords they need across all the sites they use, plus the additional 30 passwords required for work. Fingerprint scanners, eye scanners, mind scanners… I don’t know, but we need some kind of an improved standard security framework… and pronto.
6. A Cure for Baldness – Balding effects half of all men before the age of 50. Unless you look like Bruce Willis, this is never a good thing. And the worst part is the irony. These days, everyone is trying to eliminate hair from every part of their body – except their head – and the technology exists. Not to mention, scientists can now 3D print organs and perform facial transplants, yet they still can’t seem to get to the root of the hair follicle? Pun.
7. Diet Pills – yes, we know, diets don’t work. But diet pills might. Given an obesity epidemic due to an abundance of available (and often shifty) food, sedentary desk jobs, and automation of life tasks, maybe technology can solve a problem it is responsible for creating. 
8. Automated Movie Theaters – There is so little need to go to a movie theater these days. I went to a theater recently for the first time in almost half a year. Afterwards, I remembered why it’s been so long. The volume was so low that I could hear the stomach noises of the other movie watchers. Popcorn crunching drowned out the acting. Unlike at home, you are a prisoner… at the mercy of a 17 year old. Someone complained and they made it louder. But only a little louder. Are they trying to save energy? Since the guy who’s job it is to push the start button and make sure the picture is in focus and the sound is good is often not up to the task, how about automating the controls? Systems can perform checks from within the theater to make sure everything is perfect – sound, picture, temperature, etc. I’d rather the humans worry about the crowd (cell phones, talking/yelling, smoking, etc) and the computers take care of a consistent movie experience.
Disclaimer: the AMC Superlux theaters aren’t automated, but they have it all figured out. If you can, go there.
9. The Hangover Pill – Hangovers feel a lot like you have been poisoned… which is actually sort of accurate. At the point you feel the effects of a hangover, it is already too late. You can kiss a day of your life goodbye. The following things do not actually work: hair of the dog, vitamins, greasy food, water, sports drinks and coffee. So where is the pill (that actually works) for the folks who had a little too much fun last night?
10. Sliding Doors That Work – They literally NEVER work. I have never come across a patio door, in any house I have ever been in,  that can effortlessly slide from right to left, without you throwing your shoulder out.
11. Hoverboards – Couldn’t resist.

Time to Meet ‘No Boston Olympics’

NBO_Logo_Color
This post was written by local Southie resident Rory Francis. Rory attended the No Boston Olympics (couldn’t they have come up with something catchier, like ‘Boston NOlympics?) meeting last night and was kind enough to post his first hand account of the meeting.
 
You can email Rory at  roryfrancis@gmail.com and follow him on twitter at @rorydfrancis.  

No Boston Olympics Meeting – 1/14/2015

Boston 2024 has been thrust upon us and there is no shortage of criticism of the event already.  While the cities elite seem gung-ho on hosting the summer games in and around Boston, there is a grassroots movement to shut the bid down.  No Boston Olympics hosted a public meeting Wednesday night at The First Church in Boston.  Professor of Economics Andrew Zimbalist (author of Circus Maximus – The Economic Gamble Behind Hosting the Olympics and the World Cup) spoke as well as Chris Dempsey, a co-chair of the organization.  Many valid points were brought up about the effects of hosting the games in and around Boston.  The main points re-iterated by Mr. Dempsey were the lack of transparency around the bid (including Mayor Walsh), and the question: “is there a net-gain from hosting the Olympics?”
Many concerned citizens seemed to give their comments rather than ask questions.  Some valid points included modernizing and upgrading the MBTA and affordable housing and education.  Mr. Dempsey’s argument is that Boston is already a world-class city, and we are the lucky benefits of infrastructure built by previous generations that provided us with public transportation, hospitals and universities.  A soccer stadium for the New England Revolution would be nice, however it should not take the Olympic bid to accomplish that.
Several citizens from neighboring locals, Brookline, Cambridge, Newton and Revere and asked questions about the impact to towns on the border with Boston.  Effects would likely be felt within the entire hub/I-95 corridor.  The Commonwealth as a whole would also most likely be on the line for cost over-runs.  The Boston 2024 team is proposing a “cheap” low-cost Olympics, something London tried to do however could not.  The Cambridge City Council has supposedly already voted against the Olympics.  Legality of offering our public space without use of the democratic process also seemed to be a major issue.
Supporters of the movement are very worried of the “Police State” mentality that surrounds the games.  One of the bigger appeals to the IOC it seems, is the ability to “Lock-down” the city in the instance of a terrorism threat, as shown possible after the marathon bombings. wpid-img_362722.jpg.jpeg

The question and answer session quickly became another round of soap-boxing, however, there were some valid points and there should be a public debate.

While comparisons to previous Olympic game white elephants may or may not be comparable arguments, several people brought up the 2004 Democratic National Convention that “promised’ positive economic impact.  In reality it shut the city down for 4 days and many local businesses closed during that time frame.  It was difficult to order a pizza let alone commute to your office.  How will this affect small local businesses while the city is overrun with tourists?  A representative from a local car dealership who asked not to be named claimed 500 people on their campus would be sitting idle for a month.

Another huge concern is the Newmarket area of the proposed temporary stadium.  The food wholesalers in the area are crucial suppliers to Boston supermarkets and restaurants and provides several hundred year-round stable jobs.  If eminent domain forces these wholesalers outside of city limits, what happens to those jobs?  Will food costs increase?  Similarities were brought up with the West-End redevelopment during the 20th century.
Ultimately, on the surface, it seems that John Fish has the most to gain from a Boston Summer Games, not necessarily the citizens of the city.  As CEO of Suffolk construction, he likely stands to benefit from the vast construction projects both before and after the games.  What happens to the city owned land and private land used after the games?  Will developers take control of that land and further gentrify Boston’s historic and culturally important neighborhoods?
Organizers of No Boston Olympics are not anti-Boston.  They are proud patriots who love our city and want to see stable economic growth and improvements made by the citizens for the citizens.  They want the bid unsealed and answers to their many questions.  They are trying to educate people to make a smart decision and not buy into the hype.
There is an upcoming public forum on January 27th at 6:30 pm Suffolk Law School hosted by the Boston 2024 committee.

All stuff #Southie.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 735 other followers