American, boston, Burgers, Cape Cod, Italian, Seafood

Laurino’s- Brewster, MA

Home. A lot of people think of their family when they think of home. The atmosphere, the people, the food. The same goes for restaurants. Yes, you remember the food if you’ve been to a great place, but many of us also remember the experience we had. Were the waiters/waitresses nice? Did the hostess greet you cheerfully? Were you told a wait time that fit the means of a normal time frame? Those are things that can make or break a restaurant just as much as the food being good or not. Laurino’s checks off everything and does it with love. 

Just off Route 6A sits Laurino’s, a humble and welcoming establishment on Cape Cod. We came here as a second choice actually, after our first choice treated us less than spectacular. We learned our lesson and know to make Laurino’s our first choice. From being greeted with a smile, to delicious food, to seeing hardworking people work together, you feel better knowing your money is going towards a restaurant like that than one with snotty hosts. 

The vibe at Laurino’s is that of home, with fun posters and pictures all around and a community feeling. They welcome all, seeing that we’ve taken my autistic sister here and seeing an autistic boy the night we went. Our waitress was bubbly and happy, exuding vibrant colors that made us feel cheerful and happy to be there. She made our experience amazing and we noticed all the waitstaff helping each other, from running plates to cleaning and turning over tables. True teamwork.

The food, on top of everything else, was superb. The SOB Burger was juicy and delicious, all the ingredients cooked perfectly. The specials that evening made it difficult to decide what to get, but one special that night screamed incredible. Scallops with tortellini in a red pesto sauce was just too good not to get. The tortellini had to have been homemade, with ample filling and tasty pasta. The scallops cooked to perfection, complimenting the tortellini in a delicious sauce that popped with flavor and spice (and everything nice).

From now on Laurino’s is the place, where everyone is welcome to enjoy drinks, food, and company. Ultimately that’s what matters when you go out to eat, not necessarily where everyone else goes, but the place that leaves you feeling bright and your tummy full. 

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American, Beef, boston, lobster, Seafood, Uncategorized

Rapscallion- Acton, MA

My one and only request to my parents when I came home for the holidays was to go to Acton. Not to Lexington, not Concord, Acton. Why you may ask? We’re going back to Table and Tap.

For those of you who may not have seen my previous post about Rapscallion should go read it now. It will help you better understand why this place is so incredible. Aside from the fact that the restaurant is housed in a farmhouse from the 1700s and that they make and serve their own beer, the food is out of this world and the staff is like family. 

The hospitality level at Rapscallion is truly amazing. They take care of you and make your dining experience special. They don’t just take your order and go on with their day, they talk to you and engage in conversation. They always make sure you have a drink and check in to make sure you’re enjoying your time, and not just by your one waiter/waitress. Several people, including  co-owner Peter Daniel, took the time to make sure our dining experience was memorable. This is one of the many reasons we go back to Rapscallion and recommend it to everyone. Peter and all of the wait staff are passionate about what they do and what they represent, that’s what sets Rapscallion above everywhere else. 

Along with the amazing service is the food! Everything coming from farm to table, from local farms, makes it much more special. I say we dive right in, I’ve got my crisp, light flagship Honey ale in front of me and ready to devour all the deliciousness. 

Now in my previous post I talked about the poutine, and it’s still a family favorite of ours, but we also decided to try the Fried Brussel Sprouts. Let me just say tasty. The brussel sprouts were cooked perfectly and the fry was spot on, it wasn’t heavy at all. It came with a maple cranberry aioli that only enhanced the vegetable. It was such a great combination of flavors and it didn’t take long for them to disappear. 

Now onto the main courses. Grab an Acton Ale and sit down because we have a Mac and cheese battle tonight readers! Lobster vs. Beef. 

First on judges table is the Pulled Beef Mac and cheese. What we have is Rapscallion’s Honey Ale BBQ beef, smoked white cheddar and  yellow cheddar with scallions and jalapeños topped with buttery breadcrumbs. I know, try to control yourself. It really was insane. The beef is on the sweeter side, due to their Honey ale braise, but this sweetness combined with the smoky savory cheeses was harmonious. The waitress had asked if I wanted extra jalapeños or the dish as it’s served and I should have asked for extra. There wasn’t a lot, which from a chefs perspective is smart because you don’t want to overpower the dish or the customers mouth. So, if you like spicy and are adventurous ask for extra jalapeños. The beef was tender and with the yellow and white cheddars the flavor combinations were delectable. 

Second up is the Lobster Mac and cheese. They are quite clever at Rapscallion, they took their lobster grilled cheese (love, read about it in my previous post!) and turned it into a more hearty choice. A great move because the reason we were first drawn here from the start was because of that menu item! I almost started crying again. Thanks to Table and Tap fontina and lobster is my new favorite combo. With that being said, this item has lobster cream as its base and herbed cream cheese in there too, and of course topped with breadcrumbs. They must have made their own lobster stock because the lobster cream enhanced the lobster flavor and it came across when you tasted the cream by itself. The cheese blend was out of this world and there were chunks of lobster throughout. I couldn’t stop eating it, it was like the grilled cheese, “I never wanted the taste to leave my mouth.”

Shall I reveal my favorite Mac and cheese now? Let’s keep reading to find out because we had to have dessert too! Rapscallion is probably the only restaurant I’ll get dessert from because I know it’s that good. Just like their dinner menu, the desserts are all homemade. We had trouble deciding what to get so we asked our sweet waitress her opinion, “chocolate mousse hands down” she said. “It’s a recipe that was left from the previous restaurant and we’re happy they left it with us.” Chocolate mousse it was then. And oh my gosh if you could take fudge and make it into a soft mousse this is it. It didn’t seem possible, it was so chocolatey and rich like fudge, but it wasn’t dense, it was light! Thank goodness for the previous restaurant and for chef Ian Michaud and sous chef Ryan Flisher for perfecting it.

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten while my mouth’s been watering. It’s time to reveal my favorite Mac and cheese! I’m sure you could guess, but hands down Lobster wins. Trust me you should get both and share with the family, but it was creamier and just that much more flavorful. 

At the end of the meal Peter Daniel came by again to thank us and talk to us, he seemed to recognize my parents from the many times they’ve been. Even if he didn’t he was incredibly gracious and eager to share his passion for Rapscallion Brewery (located in Sturbridge, MA) and Table and Tap. Once I came up with the courage to tell him about my extracurricular activity of blogging, he was curious and wanted to know more about it! He said the staff loves hearing good feedback and I know from day job it’s the best feeling, too. It was really cool, me being a quiet blogger, to have an owner curious about my blog and getting the opportunity to talk about food with him! 

So to everyone and the Daniel brothers at Rapscallion thank you, you’ve done it again. I can’t wait for March when I’ll be back in New England again, because Rapscallion Table and Tap will be the first thing on my to do list. I hope some readers take my advice and head up to Acton to experience the wonderful hospitality of the Rapscallion family.

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American, boston, Ice Cream, lobster, Seafood, Uncategorized

Rapscallion- Acton, MA

This is the story of how I found my last meal. Last meal referring to ones final meal before departing Earth. People sometimes talk and joke about this after a meal they have, saying they will return to have that meal. I will tell you now that that meal could not compare to the food of Rapscallion.

It’s a restaurant that just pops up when you search “nearby restaurants” on Google. You drive up to the house, built in the 1700s, and it’s quaint and New England-esque. The smell from the smoker is most inviting, especially after a long day of furniture shopping. A lovely outdoor seating area is enticing, being in nature and looking out across the street into a green forest. The inside is rustic, the bar completely full of who appear to be “usuals”. Little rooms in the house divide the dining areas, lending an intimate setting with only a few other tables along with yours. 

The atmosphere is incredible, with amazing background music of Southern rock and a vintage homie feel. The staff is excited to serve you the astounding creations of Chef Ian Michaud (read his bio located towards the bottom of the attached link). They are equally as excited to serve you the beer of the Rapscallion brewery, located in Sturbridge, MA. The model of the brewery and restaurant are liberating: “Rapscallion is a MA-only microbrewery that puts freshness, quality and consistency above all else, honoring the craft, the Rapscallion customer and the communities we call home.” This home is where I intend to not only have, but share my last meal. 

Because all the beers not only sound delicious, but are also brewed by these guys, we wanted to try a couple before picking just one. We got a flight of four, left to right: Honey, Lager, Blonde, and White IPA. My favorites were probably their flagship, the Honey, and the White IPA. From the photo you can tell how different they are. The Honey was crisp, light and refreshing. The IPA is cloudy and almost looks like orange juice, but the hops were equally as refreshing and ended up being my favorite.

The menu has such an array of foods, from BBQ out of the smoker to chickpea fritters. One appetizer that caught our eye was the poutine. Poutine is a French Canadian dish that is French fries in gravy sauce with cheese curds. What caught our eye about this poutine was the use of their Black IPA. Let me just say that I want that gravy on everything. It was tangy and luscious, it took all the class not to drink the remains out of the dish. They use cheddar cheese curds, which isn’t common for poutine, but it was a light cheddar and worked perfectly with the IPA glaze. Other notable appetizers are the mussels, cooked similarly to cataplana style, and the chickpea fritters which were cooked perfectly and sat on a bed of smoked tomato sauce from the smoker.

The entree that practically brought me to tears upon the first bite and is, what I have decided to be, the best meal I have ever had is the Lobster Grilled Cheese. It is exactly what it sounds like: “fresh shucked lobster, herbed cream cheese, fontina, baby spinach on toasted sourdough with a cup of lobster bisque”. Let’s just start with the first bite, heavenly. The cheeses were light and there was just a perfect balance of both that it didn’t overwhelm the lobster meat. The herbs and spinach, which you don’t typically put with lobster, worked harmoniously with the meat . And this was all in the first bite. I tried so very hard to savor each bite and not just gobble it down. I knew that I wanted this to be my final bite of the meal, so I started on the sides. The pickled vegetables were delicious, especially pickled asparagus. They weren’t extremely vinegar tasting, adding a refreshing bite to the meal. The bisque was sublime, so thin and full of lobster flavor. I think the best bisque I’ve ever had. However, I never wanted the taste of the grilled cheese to leave my mouth, I kept saying that I wouldn’t eat again so as not to lose it.


We asked the waiter about the meal and once he informed us that everything was made from scratch and the ingredients were all local, we had to ask about dessert. Those, too, were made from scratch. We had to keep this spectacular meal going and after the waiter relayed the dessert menu, which consisted of an IPA crusted chocolate cheesecake, we went with a Massachusite choice of blueberry crisp. As we ate lunch everything certainly tasted homemade, from scratch, and local, but this crisp was all of that and more. You could tell that they had just made the crisp to order. The blueberries were so plump and full of flavor you wondered whose farm they came from. The fresh apples in the crisp were also mouth watering and whole walnuts added an amazing crunch. The crisp topping was divine and the ice cream tasted like home.

Just writing this post makes my eyes and mouth water, causing me to contemplate getting in the car and going a mere two days later. This is a top notch restaurant, and if it wasn’t for the drum shop we had to stop at down the road, if we hadn’t searched for nearby restaurants, if we hadn’t given the colonial house a chance, we never would have had the best meal of our lives. All this in Acton, just 40 minutes from Boston. If anyone from Rapscallion who may come across this amateur blog, thank you for honestly the best American meal of my life. To those reading this, make the trip. 

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boston, Seafood, Tacos

Pier 6- Charlestown, MA

Over the river across the way from Boston is Charlestown, where the American Revolution began at Bunker Hill, where Paul Revere stopped at his favorite tavern, and where delicious foods can be found. One of the restaurants that is becoming a fan favorite is Pier 6.

Just a few piers down from the USS Constitution is the little waterfront restaurant Pier 6. It’s location is extremely ideal, with a fantastic view of Boston and the harbor. The atmosphere is fun and the staff is inviting. The food is equally as inviting. 

When you come to the Boston area it’s hard not to get seafood. Fish tacos is always a good choice and Pier 6 is no different. They use mahi mahi, a very mild fish, so it’s inviting for even new fish lovers. The corn salsa is very delicious, packing Mexican infused flavor and fresh vegetables. The avocado on top is always a bonus. The dish comes with fries, which isn’t amazing, but certainly a little addition that didn’t go unnoticed.

Pier 6 is becoming a popular lunch and dinner spot, especially since they are open year round. It’s a stop every foodie should try to make…be sure to enjoy the view with the food and grab a well mixed drink, too!

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Cape Cod, Seafood

Orleans Inn Waterfront Dining- Orleans, MA

It’s summertime and that means one thing for this Critiquing Carnivore- Cape Cod. I spend most of my summer up on the Cape, living in Orleans. We have our favorite spots (see my Cape Cod Food Trail post) and I’m surprised at myself that it’s taken me this long to post about The Orleans Inn.

The inn, not only an award winning restaurant but also a beautiful hotel, sits on and overlooks the Orlean Town Cove. It is the quite the view to take in while waiting for your food! The interior of the inn is very classy and the restaurant and grille certainly has the best seating, whether you’re on the deck downstairs or inside upstairs. 

Now onto the food! Again, I’m shocked at myself that it’s taken me this long to write a post on the infamous Lobster Ravioli. This ravioli is the main reason I have my family go to this restaurant. Besides awesome service, a beautiful view, and plenty of other fantastic food the Lobster Ravioli is amazing. Always cooked perfectly filled with lobster meat and sitting on a base of bisque…I always end up licking the plate, no matter if I look classy or not. 

The latest meal I had was the Coquille St. Jacques, which with Google I found to mean or refer to “King scallop”. The dish is described as “a richly savory gratin of scallops and mushrooms broiled to perfection, served with orzo and vegetables”. Now a gratin is a type of culinary technique where an ingredient (scallops) is topped with a browned crust by broiling it using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg, and/or butter. This certainly was a true gratin, the scallops topped with cheese and swimming in butter. The dish was quite rich as described and there really was a lot of butter, but the scallops were cooked perfectly and the mushrooms were chopped finely, you hardly noticed them but they are still in there! The orzo served with it was delicious, being served in a tomato type of sauce along with broccoli rabe. 

Orleans Inn is such a beautiful Cape destination, how could you pass up a fantastic dinner with a great view! The food truly is fantastic, no matter what you order you’ll get a delicious meal served with great service and hospitality. You feel at home when you stay here and special when you get a five star meal here, too.

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Burgers, Cape Cod, Seafood

Orleans Public House- Orleans, MA

Vacations are a time to relax, be with the ones you love, and enjoy your favorite places to eat. When it comes to food, we tend to go to the same places because they are our favorites, they make great food, tradition, etc. It can be hard sometimes when you go on your yearly vacation to try a different place. It’s like “why would I go here when I need to get this dish at this restaurant?” Well, for you Cape Codders I have the restaurant that you need to make an exception for. 

I too fall victim to the ‘tradition restaurants’, but now that going to the Cape is a more frequent thing I can afford to save the favorites for actual vacations and try new places on the short trips! So this trip we decided to try Orleans Public House

Located on Cove Road, a bit off the beaten path, sits the little restaurant OPH. At first glance you can tell it’s a nice place, not necessarily made for the six crazy kids kind of place, but perfect for a casual yet fancy dinner. The main parking lot is pretty tiny, but there is additional parking across the street.

Upon walking in you immediately feel the warmth of the restaurant. Don’t worry there is air conditioning, but it has a sophisticated, welcoming feel to it. The dining area is pretty small, but there is a bar and outdoor patio, when available. The waitstaff were just darling, girls from Eastern Europe who come to America to work over the summer and pay their way through university. Props to them and their work ethic, the tips go a long way and I know makes me feel good knowing what the money is going towards. 

Onto the food: the restaurant had just changed their menu to the seasonal fall menu. I’m sure a good amount of the menu items are year round though. We started with the Shrimp and Grits. Living in Texas now, I said to my parents “I come all the way to Cape Cod to have grits” but these grits were something else. They were crispy and divided into three triangle patties. They were cooked beautifully and tasted amazing. The shrimp was also cooked beautifully. I’m not the biggest shrimp fan, but I could have ordered this as my meal and be happy as a clam. In the dish was also ham and fried brussel sprout leaves. Now ham is ham, hard to go wrong, but brussel sprouts can either be really good or not, depending on how you cook them. When you fry them, how could you! Again, not a brussel sprouts fan, but I could have eaten a plate of them. The sauce they came in was extraordinary too, be sure to save some bread to eat it all up (since licking the bowl is socially impolite). The chef really wowed us with this dish, and it was only the appetizer!

  
As a family we decided to order separate dishes, but we almost always share them around. We settled on the house made gnocchi, Public House burger, and cod cake sliders. 

Gnocchi can be a hit or miss, not every chef is capable of cooking them properly. However, this gnocchi was cooked to perfection. I’m going to use that word a lot in this post, but this meal truly was perfect. It came in a fall vegetable ragout with pan roasted mushrooms, parmesan, and truffle essence. Now I would say, if you’re not a truffle fan (truffle=mushroom), then I wouldn’t recommend this dish. Between the amount of mushrooms and the extra essence it was very ‘truffly’. If you are a fan, though, I highly recommend this fall menu item.  

I’ve had my share of burgers, as you can see from my past posts, so when this burger came out I was truly amazed.  I ask that you all, before, continuing to read, quickly refer to my Cape Cod Food Trail post and read about the Rock Harbor Burger. Have you read it? Proceed:

The Public House burger was better. From the first moment it was placed in front of me to the last bite, this burger was better. The meat was cooked superbly, each ingredient complimented each other, you got everything in one bite and it worked harmoniously. The house pickles were definitely house made, they were actually sweeter pickles than I expected, but they weren’t overly sweet. The bacon bourbon aioli and smoked jalapeño ketchup really gave the burger a nice smoky flavor, so much so you would have thought they had a smoker in the back. The bun was also very complimentary, it wasn’t dense and didn’t make the burger feel like this huge monster as you ate it, it just condensed and fluffed up as you enjoyed it. With the burger we got the parmesan truffle fries and they were fried exactly the way you want them. Not as good as the Sesuit Harbor fries (see previous post) but very close. The truffle wasn’t overpowering either, which can be another thing chefs tend to overuse, but this chef really knows his stuff and knows when to stop adding.  

   

The third entree we ordered was the Cod Cake Sliders. How can you not eat cod on Cape Cod? The sliders were an excellent portion, three was even too much! Of course you nibble on the fries at the same time, which are equally as delicious. The cakes were cooked beautifully, they had a nice crispy fry. As you bit into the slider, the inside was soft and full of tender cod. The funniest thing about the cod cakes was there was something the chef used, a spice, that we just couldn’t figure out! Our last prediction was thyme, but please if you go and get it, comment what you think it may be! 

  
Being that this was their fall menu, the dessert and drink menu had fall inspirations. Everything was pumpkin spice and fall flavors. With that being said, how could we even pass over the thought of Pumpkin Spice Gelato? Now, let’s be real, pumpkin doesn’t really have a taste. It’s the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and other fall spices that makes it ‘pumpkin’. Still, it all tastes of fall and it’s hard to resist those flavors. The gelato was very delicious, it was denser than ice cream however it certainly didn’t take me back to Italy… For those who don’t know gelato starts with the same base as ice cream, but has a higher milk proportion and less cream and eggs (or no eggs at all). Gelato is also churned at a slower rate so there is less air being incorporated into the gelato leaving it denser than ice cream. Again, it was delicious, but I think they used the word ‘gelato’ to make it sound fancy. The spices were not overpowering, there was a nice hint of them. It came with a delicious ginger snap that was soft and complimented the ice cream wonderfully.

  
Orleans Public House is definitely going to become a regular vacation restaurant, at least the fall menu convinced me! I am assuming, with having a fall menu, this means it’s a year round restaurant. You never know with the Cape though, it may close come October/November. When it’s the Cape Cod season it may be hopping, but we won’t know until next year! It’s off the beaten path, but Orleans Public House is worth the adventure…and the food! 

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Cape Cod, Seafood

Sesuit Harbor Cafe- Dennis, MA

I think all of my followers can make this conclusion: I love Cape Cod. It’s always been the one constant home in my life. On top of the amazing beaches and atmosphere, the food is amazing (refer to my Cape Cod Food Trail post). 

This visit we decided to try a classic fish shack or ‘cafe’ as they call themselves down in Sesuit Harbor in Dennis, MA. This little place is right on the harbor, having you drive past docked boats and even working fishing vessels. 

To sample all the delicious food, we got a plate of their best fried seafoods: scallops, cod, and clams. Along with that we had to try their lobster roll and clam chowder. 

The lobster roll was pretty good, wasn’t all mayo, but it wasn’t anything memorable. The plate of fried seafood was really good though! The fish was delicious and the scallops were cooked to perfection! And funnily enough the french fries and coleslaw were amazing! If anything I would go back just for the fries, but they are known for their scallops and like I said, they were perfect. 

I highly recommend stopping in Sesuit Harbor for a bite to eat here at this little cafe and the bonus is there is great scenery looking out into Cape Cod Bay!  

    
    
 

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