Good news for ampersand fans who like to dine out

Boston Restaurant Talk reports that Back Bay Harry's is going to close and turn into something called Citrus & Salt, which apparently will be a Mexican version of Buttermilk & Bourbon, which, of course, is a Southern version of Emack & Bolio, which is the ice-cream version of Myers + Chang, which is the Chinese version of Smith & Wollensky, which is the steak version of Crimson and Clover, which was Tommy James and the Shondells's big hit in 1968.



Free tagging: 



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Best restaurant post ever!


Ampersand Head Shop

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In the early 70s there was a headshop called Ampersand on Tremont near Boylston, in the area where the Emerson radio station is now, and which was the Tussaud Wax Museum back then. Mosher Music Store was also right there. Ampersand was in a basement down the stairs like all such cool places were in those days. First time I walked in there a Rolling Stones bootleg album was playing. I doubt anybody remembers Ampersand now, I'm not sure many knew about it then. Great place!

Homer says

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Grand Funk Railroad paved the way for Jefferson Airplane, which cleared the way for Jefferson Starship. The stage was now set for the Alan Parsons Project, which I believe was some sort of hovercraft.

Who is Homer and how did he get it so wrong?

GFR wasn't formed until 1969. Airplane formed four years earlier, and had huge hit records starting in 1967. Starship was an awful ripoff of the Airplane legacy, and should not be mentioned in the same breath, if at all.

Deliveries. Prepared foods/restaurants.

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What are the better deliveries for prepared food/restaurants around Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Charlestown, Somerville?... particularly with rewards programs, savings programs, points programs, discount offers, etc.

Foodler points/savings/discounts are no longer available.

Planning ahead is required for Macro-Mediterranean

In the 80's

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Joan Jett did an excellent cover of crimson & clover


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All these ampersands, I expect this post to run in the background


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Brick&beam down here in Quincy

Ampersand fans should visit

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Ampersand fans should visit Montreal. They have LOTS of ampersands, because a name like "Emack & Bolio" can be read in either French or English, and the restaurant can get on with the important business of cooking well.

But weird-to-American-palates flavor combinations

can be really good, too. I'm sure you know some of these:

-- Chocolate in Puebla-style moles.

-- Smoke and salt in desserts, like at Alden & Harlow (callback!).

-- Pork and clams in Portuguese cuisine.

-- The sweetness contrasted with the raw garlic, capsicum heat, and numbing, mentholated, icy/hot quality of Sichuan peppercorns in Sichuan wontons with spicy chili sauce (like at any of the Sichuan Gourmets).

-- Sugar starkly contrasted with fierce bitterness in Italian amari like Fernet Branca. If you're not familiar with this essential class of spirits, without which I could not do my restaurant-critic work, I'd recommend starting with the bitters from the south of Italy, like the Sicilian amaro Averna, which add more sweetness than their more northern counterparts to balance the bitter botannicals that make these things such an effective herbal medicine for overindulgence at the table. Many cultures produce these digestive drinks, but the Italians are the masters, to my mind.

-- The sweet/savory/tangy goodness of Afghani kaddo, roasted sugar pumpkin topped with ground beef and yogurt.

-- Chardonnay and fried chicken. I don't love the over-oaked Cali chards that sell by the gazillions of gallons in our restaurants and retailers, but that's one pairing that really works for me.

-- Dark chocolate and port wine. Semi-canonical, I'll admit, but lush richness on top of richness doesn't often work for me, yet this one is very sexy.

-- Sweet corn ice cream. Not crazy when you think about it, but I still had to stifle an internal "Ick" before I tried it.

I was a very timid eater as a kid. Business travel abroad, especially to mainland China -- where out of politeness and business necessity I was obligated to eat many things that tortured my low strangeness threshold -- forever crushed my reticence to try new things, however gross-sounding to my Western sensibilities.. I quickly figured out that if I didn't know what was in it beforehand, I usually relished dishes that foreknowledge of their composition would have made me gag.

Life is short. Try the jellyfish, the stag-penis soup, the roasted head of sunflower, the horseflesh, the cow's-foot, the pig trotter, the chitlins, the calf brains, the fresh durian, the fish-head curry, the Texas fry, the balut, that Martian-looking fruit in the hotel-room basket, the grated cured sturgeon egg-sac.

I'm not a novelty-chaser like I was when I was younger: I still love classic, beautifully done American classics like a great burger, and keen with nostalgic joy at the trashy foods of my very modest upbringing. Hello, chow-mein sandwich and Coney dogs and chouriço-topped Greek-American pan pizza; thanks, Mom, for making me another bologna-and-egg-salad sandwich on squishy white bread. But I still take incomparable joy from chefs that find ways to surprise my jaded palate. I've had enough grilled luxury beefsteaks to last me a lifetime already.

Getting over my dumb cultural prejudices about food in my late 20s was easily the most rewarding, pleasure-enhancing leap I've ever made in my lifetime. Asking out that girl in high school who later became a prosperous stripper is a close second, but at my age, the pleasures of brilliant, unfamiliar flavors in food are a lot easier to land, and stick with me longer.

A friend of my dad, back in the days before we

understood that peptic ulcers are a bacterial problem -- the doctors that figured it out won a Nobel Prize -- drank Scotch and milk lowballs in the then-popular but groundless belief that it would somehow ease his suffering when he was boozing.

Pretty sure the buttermilk there is just used to marinate the fried chicken, which is an ancient, really good Southern idea, in both my home-cooking and dining-out experience. I haven't tried Santos's version there, but Highland Kitchen does it right, and it's the one notable addition they made to the East Coast Grill menu after they bought it.