No Beans in This Town

In food on 05/11/2009 at 7:26 pm

This weekend we trekked to Boston to pick up our new used car, but not before eating our way through my favorite haunts of Cambridge from my college tenure. I hadn’t been back for several years, so it was nice to see the new and take comfort in the old. And I was determined to prove to the other half that New England is where it’s at.

Our first stop was Bartley’s Burger Cottage, right on Mass Ave. Ma Bartley was outside managing the line of tourists, with locals tending the customers inside. The place was packed even after lunchtime. We came drooling hungry from South Station, bypassing a bunch of fast food joints for this real deal.

1lb of meatastic

It’s a grungy pub atmosphere inside, the grill sizzles madly and the din is a level above a diner. And the smell of charring meat? Incredible. The theme burgers are scribbled on a large chalkboard overhead so it was hard to decide, but I gravitated to the German one, which had sauerkraut. We did the takeout route, and headed on campus into the Yahd to sit on the steps of Widener Library, which is known more for the ‘activity’ in the stacks than anything else.

the best burger on the planet

Okay, so it didn’t travel too well, but that was only ‘cuz of the massive one pound of meat, coarsely ground, weighed down the puny bun. A bratwurst bun or a kaiser roll would have held up better, but the meat was so awesome I didn’t care too much. The sauerkraut added to the soggy yumminess, giving the burger a nice tang. They don’t season it, so if you go, definitely eat in to dress your meat with the works. I was too busy getting my monthly dose of iron/raw meat that I didn’t care that much. The meat was perfectly crusty from the grill on the outside and tenderly QQ on the inside. It had a lovely chew because of the rough grind; it wasn’t just some scrapple meat – definitely the best burger I have had in a long time.

To wash it down, we indulged in the famous raspberry lime rickeys – basically kool-aid flavored with lime seltzer. It was a bit heavy on the syrup but still refreshing after we watered it down a bit.

silver spooning

We walked around campus for awhile, me giving the insider’s tour to the other half to work up our appetites again as we moseyed towards Pinocchio’s Pizza, renowned for its Sicilian slices.

hidden gem in the shadows

The other half reports the crust is appropriately QQ, with just the right proportion of sauce to cheese. This ain’t no artisanal pizza like Bertucci’s around the corner in the heart of Harvard Square, but just plain ol’ good everyday pie. The ambience is not as gross as Tommy’s (which I’m sad to report, is gone, as is the mural I painted on the back wall); it’s actually just right, about 10 small tables, with pseudo-Italian decor. The pizza dude speaking Italian on the phone was a nice touch.

best friggin' pizza

High tea led us to Tealuxe, per the other half’s request, where we picked the most usual of the dizzying array of flavored and combo teas, including bubble tea. It’s the Urban Outfitters of tea, sort of trendy but still decorated in that faux Old World style. The chain started at the Harvard Square location and while not as authentic as Cafe Algiers around the bend, the vintage vibe is steeped into the copper countertops and mirror-backed booths. I had the Assam-English Breakfast iced tea, which was quite good. The other half had the Tippy Yunnan (as opposed to the Super Tippy Yunnan) which came with its own hourglass egg timer to mark the perfect brew.

A short walk up Brattle Street yielded Burdick’s Chocolates, which has gotten a makeover in recent years, but the chocolate mice are still around. It’s reminiscent of Jacques Torres. The cozy circular booths in front have disappeared, taking with it the Victorian absinthe bar vibe it used to have. They now have penguins and bumblebees to accompany the original tasty rodent.

how could you devour this cuteness?

Last stop for the day before we dashed into the T to meet up with our hosts was at Herrell’s ice cream shop, the forerunner to Cold Stone Creamery stores, what with its ‘smoosh-ins’. Although the walk-in safe was still open and the underwatery murals were still intact, I was dismayed to discover that my favorite shoe store next door, Le Foot Sportif, was no longer, soon to be an expansion of Herrell’s. The ice cream itself (blueberry cheesecake + vanilla malt) is still tasty, for now.

ice cream tastes better underwater

Now we come to the pontification portion of this post, wherein I will muse upon our hosts, who are related distantly to me. Something was nagging me in the back of my head for the rest of the trip, and yesterday it dawned on me – I am related to anti-foodies! Now, this odd creature is someone who not only doesn’t care about what he/she eats, but also doesn’t really care about eating at all. This attitude is perhaps the polar opposite of yours truly and it boggles my mind. What do you think about if you’re not thinking about food? I can’t answer that, for sure. After all, the motto of this blog says it all: Life is Food!

Perhaps my host finally took pity on me and my sullen-food-forlorn stomach and introduced us to something that is truly lacking in these Yankee states, good BBQ. Who knew Framingham was the BBQ stronghold of the Northeast? The other half is fascinated by their tidewater coleslaw, which is not creamy but still has mayo, and is seemingly mainly shredded broccoli stems. The green bits were definitely not cabbage, crunchier than cucumber or zukes, and not green beans.

carrots, finely grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
red cabbage finely shredded
broccoli stems finely shredded
½ cup white vinegar
1 Tbsp celery seed

Combine cabbage, broccoli and carrots in a large bowl. Mix remaining ingredients in a small bowl and pour over vegetables. Mix well. Refrigerate until serving time.

  1. cool… i gotta agree… it aint a day without a good bbq… sounds like you guys have fun…thanks for sharing this…

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