Saturday, May 19, 2018

A TASTE OF PUERTO VALLARTA IN CONNECTICUT

Saturday, May 19, 2018
Puerto Vallarta has several locations in Connecticut including this one in Newington.
Camarones Mexicanos
Everyone gets bottomless chips and salsa!
One of their fine margaritas.
A good excuse to enjoy some tequila!

PUERTO VALLARTA 
Newington, CT
www.puertovallartausa.com

You don't have to travel to Mexico to experience the flavor of Puerto Vallarta. Eat Up New England recently enjoyed a hearty Mexican lunch at their Newington, Connecticut location.

Puerto Vallarta makes sure its customers don't go hungry. A waiter came rushing with chips and salsa before we had taken off our coats! When we ran out, they brought us more. 

Puerto Vallarta's menu is HUGE. Choose from tacos, enchiladas, fajitas, salads, soups, burritos and a long list of house specialties. I ordered the Camerones Mexicanos (Mexican shrimp) from their lunch menu. I was presented with a large plate of shrimp over rice with peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes. They are served with tortillas so you can make your own tacos. This large and delicious dish was just $9.99 at lunch. If you save room for dessert, they offer traditional favorites like tres leches cake, churros and deep-fried ice cream.

Puerto Vallarta has other locations in Avon, Danbury, Middletown, Orange and Southington. It's the perfect spot for a mouth-watering Mexican meal whether your group is big or small.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

CRAFT BEERS & LOCAL FOODS AT VERMONT'S KINGDOM TAPROOM

Tuesday, May 01, 2018
A stout with a sample of a vanilla porter.
Artichoke dip & chips
BBQ beef brisket with herb-roasted potatoes
Kingdom Taproom serves craft beer and locally sourced foods.
Kingdom Taproom
St. Johnsbury, VT
www.kingdomtaproom.com

Kingdom Taproom brings some of New England's best craft beers and locally-sourced food together. This gastropub is located in northeastern Vermont and is well worth a stop on the way to Canada.

At lunch, we were handed a beer menu which included an impressive selection of beers, many of them from Vermont and other New England states. I settled with a stout and was delighted when our server also presented me with a sample of a vanilla porter that they had on tap. Now, that's service. BTW, Kingdom Taproom always has a current list of their beers on their website.

The food is as tasty as their beer. We began with their cheesy artichoke dip and chips. I really enjoyed their BBQ beef brisket sandwich. I ordered it with herb-roasted potatoes, which were a tasty twist on regular fries. Also on their menu: several salads, flatbreads, mac & cheese and California BLT. For dessert, there's a root beer float but they also serve a Dark Beer Float with beer and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

INSIDE OF THE BRAND NEW WEGMANS IN NATICK, MASSACHUSETTS

Sunday, April 29, 2018
The new Wegmans at the Natick Mall is finally open.
This location has its own Mexican restaurant called Blue Dalia.
An impressive cheese section where there are plenty of samples to enjoy.
Fresh veggies on the second floor
Live lobsters and some creatively packaged vodka on the second floor.
The massive new Wegmans at the Natick Mall finally opened today. Eat Up New England stopped by this afternoon and there was plenty of parking in the parking garage. The store was packed with first-time shoppers, which is to be expected on opening day. 

This mega grocery store features two huge floors. Upstairs, there is a bakery, fruits/veggies section, prepared meals, hot/cold buffets, a large cheese section, seafood, and a restaurant called The Burger Bar. Downstairs, customers will find frozen & refrigerated foods, dairy, cereals and a large wine, beer and liquor section. 

The soon-to-open Blue Dalia restaurant is also on the first floor. Roberto Santibanez will serve as the Mexican restaurant's culinary director. He is the chef and owner of Fonda's third locations in New York City. Blue Dalia opens on May 4th.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

EAT UP ON THE ROAD: POUTINE IN CANADA

Saturday, April 28, 2018
BBP poutine from Mache in Montreal
Italian poutine from Dunns Famous in Montreal
Chicken poutine from stHubert
Eat Up New England is just back from a relaxing and food-filled trip to Quebec, Canada. Trying kinds of poutine at different restaurants was one of the many highlights. Poutine originates from Quebec and is made of fries, cheese curds and brown gravy. But, as you'll see there are many tasty variations in Canada.

The first place I enjoyed this dish was Mache in Montreal. This small restaurant was recommended to us because it's a place where the locals eat. They have several poutine dishes on their menu, but I settled for one that they call BBP where the fries are covered in ground beef, bacon, cheese curds, peas and house gravy. This dish was so large that I couldn't finish it!

The next poutine I enjoyed was at a place called Dunns Famous in Montreal. They are known for their smoked meats. I loved their "Poutine Italienne," which substitutes the traditional gravy with their homemade meat sauce. Amazingly good and filling.

I also LOVED a chicken poutine at the chicken restaurant chain StHubert. This dish was made of breaded chicken chunks drizzled with BBQ sauce, plenty of cheese curds and gravy at the bottom of the dish. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

FREE CONE DAY 2018

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Free Cone Day
It's that magical day that ice cream lovers look forward to every spring. It's Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Every April, the Vermont-based ice cream maker says thank you to all of its customers at all of its stores by giving them free ice cream cones or cups. I enjoyed their cookie dough today at their store in Natick, Massachusetts. I arrived just before the line started stretched around the corner. Going back for seconds or thirds is actually encouraged by Ben & Jerry's as long as you don't mind waiting in line again.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

LARGE, FLAVORFUL MEALS AND A BIG BUDDHA AT SAMBA STEAK & SUSHI

Sunday, April 08, 2018
Samba specializes in Japanese and South American fusion.
One of Samba's hibachi plates.
A koi pond surrounds their massive statue of Buddha.
Samba Steak & Sushi
Framingham, Massachusetts
sambaframingham.com

Cultures come together at Samba, where Japanese and South American flavors are influenced by each other. This restaurant is huge. There's a large hibachi section where chefs cook for small and large groups alike. Their gigantic Buddha statue watches over diners here. There's also a bustling bar and a more intimate dining area.

We started out with vegetarian spring rolls, which were delicious. There are countless apps like vegetable tempura, chicken tempura, edamame, and buffalo tuna rangoon. Sushi fans will love Samba. Order it a la carte or as part of a meal. They even have a Party Boat for 4 with 57 pieces of Sushi for $99. Special entrees include their Mango Filet Mignon with fresh mango, Seafood Jambalaya and Miso Chilean Sea Bass. Samba also offers several salads, rice & noodle dishes and clay pot curry.

I was thrilled to find out that customers can order from the hibachi menu even if they're not sitting in that section. I enjoyed a heaping plate of salmon with vegetable rice, fresh vegetables, shrimp and salad. The flavors, the portion, everything about this meal was so satisfying.

Friday, March 30, 2018

REIN'S DELI: A TASTE OF NYC IN CT

Friday, March 30, 2018
Ham & cheese sandwich
Vegetable chili
Pickles start off every meal!
Rein's has been in business since 1972.
Rein's Deli
Vernon, CT
www.reinsdeli.com

You don't have to drive all the way to New York City to find the perfect deli. Just head to Vernon, Connecticut for a meal at Rein's Deli.

This restaurant is massive. If you go for breakfast or lunch on the weekend, don't get turned off by the line. It goes fast and there's plenty of room for everyone. Once you sit down, it's time to conquer Rein's menu. There are hundreds and hundreds of dishes. For breakfast there are omelets, egg sandwiches, French toast on challah bread, pancakes, bagels, cheese blintzes, sour cream coffee cake. You want it? Rein's has it.

For lunch, Rein's has so many soups that they publish a soup schedule on their website! Rein's makes ever sandwich under the sun from peanut butter & jelly to their famous pastrami sandwich. I ordered their fantastic ham & cheese sandwich. The ham and cheese were piled high and the bread was perfectly soft. Rein's also has a huge dessert menu with lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, apple pie and a warm noodle pudding made with egg noodles, sour cream, cottage cheese and raisins.

Rein's Deli's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. On Fridays and Saturdays, they don't close until midnight. They have a full bakery and deli, along with a refrigerated section allowing customers to take home their flavorful foods.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

CLASSIC ITALIAN DISHES AT ERICA'S

Thursday, March 22, 2018
Meat Lasagna
Erica's is open for dinner only.
Baked Goat Cheese
Every meal begins with this delicious bread.
Erica's
Ashland, Massachusetts
www.ericasristorante.com

Don't drive too fast or you'll miss it! Erica's Ristorante is nestled in on Front Street in Ashland, Massachusetts. Open for dinner only, many locals enjoy grabbing a seat at the bar for a drink or two. Eat Up New England ventured into their dining room for a tasty Italian meal.  

Erica's offers small plates and appetizers to start. The baked goat cheese was a star. The cheese was bubbling hot and is perfectly complimented with the tomato and basil it's topped with. Other apps include (vegetarian) arancini, pappardelle with veal meatballs and steamed mussels.

For dinner, I ordered a large portion of meat lasagna. Lots of ricotta. Lots of meat. Just like lasagna should be. There are so many pasta dishes on their menu - from orecchiette with sausage to butternut squash ravioli. There are also 14 inch pizzas, sandwiches and dinner salads. There is a fabulous-looking tiramisu for dessert, but I had no room left after that lasagna.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

BRUNCH WITH A FREE BLOODY MARY OR MIMOSA AT THE LOCAL

Saturday, March 10, 2018
Chicken and waffles with sausage gravy
All brunch main courses come with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa
The Local
Wayland, Massachusetts
www.liveeatlocal.com

I've always been a fan of The Local's West Newton, Massachusetts location for dinner. They have a hip, nighttime vibe with delicious flatbreads, burgers, salads and mac & cheese dishes. Today, I was excited to try their Wayland restaurant for brunch.

All of their main courses cost $16 and come with a complimentary mimosa or Bloody Mary. I loved their refreshing Bloody Mary, which had just enough spice. Choose from their Brunch Burger, avocado toast, pancakes, smoked salmon lox, classic eggs benny, short rib skillet hash OR be like Eat Up New England and indulge in their fried chicken & waffle. The boneless chicken and waffle is topped with a SAUSAGE GRAVY, making this one filling and fantastic meal. The gravy is sooo good.

There are also smaller portions like a cheese omelet, pancakes, scrambled eggs and a Belgian waffle. They come with apple slices or fried potatoes BUT do NOT come with the free alcoholic beverage.

Brunch is served at all of The Local's locations on Saturdays and Sundays. 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

A VENTI-SIZED SURPRISE AT STARBUCKS

Thursday, March 01, 2018
My free iced latte thanks to a stranger with a warm heart.
Last Saturday, I stopped by the Starbucks in Newington, Connecticut for my morning coffee. I stood in line as usual. I placed my order for a grande iced vanilla latte as usual. But then, something unusual happened.

The barista said, "Your coffee is free today. A nice lady paid for everyone's breakfast." She quickly flashed a Starbucks gift card, implying the woman placed a large amount of money on the card. I was stunned. So was everyone else.

With politics and gun control dividing everyone, how nice that an anonymous stranger tried to bring everyone together, if only for a moment, with a random act of kindness.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PULLED PORK MAC & CHEESE AND FOOD THAT WILL FILL YOU UP AT 110 GRILL

Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Pulled Pork Mac & Cheese
110 Tater Tot Poutine (with the gravy on the side)
Apple Cider Sangria
110 Grill in Wayland, Mass.
110 Grill
Locations across Massachusetts
www.110grill.com

110 Grill is not one of those restaurants that has been around forever. Its first location is opened in Chelmsford, Massachusetts in 2015. Since then, they have been quickly expanding. With its spacious dining rooms and outdoor seating, 110 Grill is the perfect place to spread out with the family. Its large bars, high tables and large drink selection are welcoming to the after work crowd.

Comfort food is where it's at 110 Grill. Just look at their appetizers. There are BBQ chicken nachos, crispy fried pickle chips, tater tot poutine. For dinner, there are salads, steaks, sandwiches, burgers and flatbreads. Chef specialties include shrimp & clam linguini, Cuban swordfish, sesame ginger chicken and chicken caprese parm. I overindulged in the ever-so-outrageous pulled pork mac & cheese. Dig for the cavatappi pasta under a pile of crispy onion rings and BBQ pulled pork. They should hand out medals for people who can finish this behemoth.

110 Grill is quickly expanding across Massachusetts and New Hampshire. In Massachusetts, locations are planned for Worcester, Wrentham, Woburn, Maynard in 2018. They will open in Manchester and West Lebanon, New Hampshire this year. 110 Grill is also opening a location in Albany, New York this year.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

BEAT THE WINTER BLUES AT THE WAYLAND WINTER FARMER'S MARKET

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Bagels from Bagel Alley
Cannolis filled right in front of you!
Seafood chowder - enjoy some there or bring a bag home.
A large crowd on the first Winter Farmers' Market of the season.
New England winters can be brutal. The cold. The endless snow storms. It starts to feel like spring is NEVER going to be here. Every Saturday this winter, Russell's Garden Center in Wayland, Massachusetts is giving everyone a break with their Wayland Winter Farmers' Market. Each week, dozens of local vendors fill their greenhouses with fresh food. If you're a good lover, than THIS is the event for you and the perfect way to get rid of the winter blues.

The Farmers' Market is a wonderful way to sample many tasty local flavors. There are wines, fruits, vegetables, bagels, popovers, even a nacho grilled cheese sandwich. I enjoyed some seafood chowder for lunch, along with some perogies. For dessert, I chowed down on a cannoli, which was filled right in front of me and dipped in chocolate chips.

The Winter Farmers' Market is going on through March 10, 2018 every Saturday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Follow "Wayland Winter Farmer's Market" on Facebook to see photos from each week's event and for a look at the vendors who will be there.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

SUNDAY BRUNCH AT BULFINCHS IN SUDBURY, MA

Sunday, January 28, 2018
Everyone gets a plate of pastries to kick of Sunday brunch.
Farmer's Omelet
Huevos Rancheros
Bullfinchs serves brunch on Sundays only and dinner nightly.
BULLFINCHS
Sudbury, Massachusetts
www.bullfinchs.com

Sunday brunch at Bulfinchs in Sudbury, Massachusetts is like dining in the the city, without the long ride and the meaty check. Throw in their LIVE jazz band and you have the recipe for the perfect Sunday morning.

Brunch at Bullfinchs begins with a complimentary plate of pastries. There are scones, a muffin, coffee cake and a croissant. It's served with just enough butter and strawberry jam. For a moment, it felt like we were in France!  Enjoy a cocktail, coffee or some juice as you want for the main course. 

There are many filling favorites for brunch, meals like sausage & potato waffles, smoked salmon & bagel and a belgian waffle. I enjoyed their "Farmer's Omelet," with cheddar, mushrooms, ham, tomatoes and onions. The cheese was oozing out of the side, just the way I like it. If you're in the mode for lunch, try their mussels, pecan chicken, salads (apple, Caesar or beet) or pizza. 

Brunch is served every Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. It gets busy, so Eat Up New England recommends reservations.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

BOOZY MILKSHAKES & BIG BURGERS AT BRGR BAR

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
"The BRGR"
Thin Mint Adult Milkshake
BRGR Bar in Portsmouth, NH
The BRGR Bar
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
www.brgr-bar.com
 
The BRGR Bar in Portsmouth, New Hampshire specializes in burgers that are so BIG, you may need to cut them in half with a knife. This is a family restaurant, but it also has a full bar that makes many adult milkshakes. I loved the thin mint milkshake with brownie bits, rum and peppermint schnapps. Other boozy milkshakes include an apple pie ala mode, "The Oreo Lift" and special Christmas milkshakes around the holidays.

Knowing that the burgers are huge, we skipped on the appetizers like buffalo brussel sprouts and mac, cheese fritters and poutine. I ordered "The BRGR," TWO patties with American cheese, crispy bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion and a special sauce. Fantastic! It came with a pile of fries, which you can substitute out for a salad or tater tots. Also on their menu, a burger called "The Mac Daddy," which is topped with mac & cheese. Or try one of their  tuna, turkey or duck burgers. Vegetarians have not been forgotten about. There's a "Just Beet It" burger and an "Earth Burger" made of quinoa. 

The BRGR Bar has another location in Portland, Maine with another restaurant opening soon in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

THE J&M DINER IS BACK OPEN AND BETTER THAN EVER

Sunday, January 07, 2018
Welcome to the new J&M Diner!
Pull up a chair at their coffee bar.
Wicked Monte Cristo
Massive pancakes
J&M Diner
Framingham, Massachusetts
jmdiner.com

The J&M Diner in Framingham, Massachusetts has been a favorite since it opened in 1998. Last March, the family-owned breakfast spot suffered a major setback when it burned down. Its sign was about all that was left. Now, it hangs proudly in their new location on Worcester Road.

The new J&M Diner's menu has all of the hearty breakfast favorites that regulars have come to love over the years. There are massive pancakes. One is enough, unless you just ran a marathon. To them with fruit, whipped cream or chocolate. They also cook up several specialty omelets and egg dishes. I enjoyed their Wicked Monte Cristo this morning. This monster is packed with turkey and ham in between cinnamon and sugar French toast.

The service couldn't be any better at the J&M Diner. A word of warning, wait time on the weekends can be over an hour, but the food is well worth it. J&M Diner is open everyday from 6am-2pm, except on Christmas.