My take on the sights around town:
8.6.13 THE BEEHIVE, SOUTH END.
Jason took me to this funky, eclectic establishment for my birthday. It is just my style with the eccentric decor, mood lighting, live music, bar scene and fun bathrooms. The menu was on the smaller side which I prefer to a large, complicated menu and consisted of three main areas: Appetizers, The Grill (choice of four proteins accompanied by your choice of four side pairings) and the main dishes. I went with the Skirt Steak on the grill menu with frites (worth the trip alone) and green beans (the menu describes the dish much fancier but this way you know what I’m talking about). Jason went with the burger which you can personalize and he said it was one of the best he’s had. The menu was a little on the heavy side for me with the amount of red meat, but I’ve sensed that is the case here on the East Coast…so far anyway. I guess I’m just used to the ultra light California cuisine. It was delicious nonetheless! Here are a few snapshots for ya:
The view from our table of the painted brick-wall-turned-movie-screen and the downstairs dining area and stage.
Behind our table, facing the railings around the main staircase. Great drapes!
Upstairs bar area.
Love a great bathroom! Favorites in this one were the singular antique mirrors and huge fair-style sink.
8.1.13 “BACKYARD GRILLING” IN CHINATOWN.
After attending a networking event near Chinatown, I made it back to a fun looking spot I had passed earlier called Back Deck. It has an awesome, home-style “back deck” area that is complete with wood panel floors. Despite being fully covered, the deck feels as if it’s outside with the floor to ceiling, garage style doors, rolled all the way open. The front door is actually on the side, facing the alley and had a cool view of some of the murals across the street at the book shop.
Being by myself, I chose to stay at the front bar. Andy was the bartender and was awesome; polite and professional but fun like you want your bartenders. The area lends itself to tourists and traveling businessmen and when one such fellow came in asking for a “Sierra Nevada type pale ale” Andy was more than happy to pour him three tasters before the patron decided. He was happy to offer up suggestions and explain some background on the place (ie, they cook all their meat over an open flame).
I opted for one for their “small plates” which was anything but and at $9 was a great deal. Called the “Sausage with Mash”, it was just that plus some yummy collard greens. It was de-lish! Back Deck had some good local microbrews on tap, a decent wine list, and plenty of items on the menu I’d love to come back and try. Next time I’ll definitely be grabbing a spot on the deck.
7.31.13 LUNCH AT ZUZU’S.
I go to Zuzu’s at least three times a week to enjoy an iced-coffee and work on Massifornia. Every once in a while I’ll treat myself to one of their delicious sandwiches or salads for lunch. Today, I went for the Southwest salad with black beans, corn, tomatoes and a yummy raspberry vinaigrette. It was so refreshing on a warm day. Tip: they cater so check them out next time you’re having an event!
7.16.13 RICHARDSON’S MINI GOLF AND ICE CREAM.
Jason and I decided to have some good old-fashioned fun at Richardson’s Mini Golf at the Middleton Golf Country. It’s a great, cheap way to spend some time outside. As you can see by the pictures, the course is really well maintained and surprisingly scenic. They have two 18 hole courses, $7 each. We played the Stone Bridge course and, with waiting at almost every hole, it took us less than an hour. I’d recommend playing both courses for $12 to get a full evening in. Make sure you bring bug spray in the summer…I luckily had some but on some of the holes, they were quite a nuisance.
We played loser buys ice cream so after we finished we walked over to the Richardson’s ice cream “stand” that is about 100 yards from the mini-golf/driving range. My expectations were high since it was almost 10pm and there were at least 10 people in each of the dozen outside lines. They had about three dozen ice cream flavors with some special ones like “crunch a saurus” and “turtle time”. I opted for my all time favorite, chocolate peanut butter and was more than pleasantly satisfied. It was so creamy and rich and yummy!
The best part about both places is the hometown feel. The mini-golf course was filled with mostly high school kids and it reminded me so much of my teens, hanging out with my friends. There were a few families and a few couples like us and it was fun to watch everyone have some good, clean fun. The Ice Cream stand was full of the golf patrons as well as families. Almost every employee were high school kids working their summer job. Overall, an awesome, affordable way to spend and evening!
6.24.13. BROWN’S LOBSTER POUND, SEABROOK, NH.
Seabrook, NH is a super small beach town off Route 1 that sits on the border between New Hampshire and Mass. We went through for some lunch on our way to Newburyport, Ma. There are two main lobster hut’s in town: Markey’s Lobster Pool and Brown’s Lobster Pound. They are directly across from each other and sit on either side of Route 286. They both have 4 stars on Yelp and we ended up at Brown’s really by default. They both offer parking although Brown’s lot appeared slightly larger.
The majority of Brown’s-goers ordered off the main menu which is outside and creates the appearance of a long line out the door. The line isn’t really as long as it appears since it doesn’t extend indoors. Inside they have two more ordering stations; one for whole lobster and another for steamers. We waited to order for probably about 15 minutes and then about the same for the food…really not bad We got there about 2:00pm and it was obvious they were just finishing up their lunch rush (probably 12pm-2pm)…it was pretty cleared out by the time we left about an hour later. We found a table on the patio easily.
I noticed as we first walked in a sign that reminded customers not to bring in their own beverages. Then, to my surprise, I noticed almost every table with their own personal coolers. And inside those coolers, not only drinks brought from home but ice-cold, frosty beers! I was extremely envious, myself stuck with a puny, over-sweetened iced tea :(. My guess is that Brown’s tolerates the beer-bringing tradition due to a lack of liquor license themselves and probably keep the sign posted so that should the authorities show up, it becomes the patron’s problem and not the establishments’. We will be back with brews next time!
Jason and I shared a small order of fried clam strips (not the same as fried clams as the not-so-friendly cashier made apparent) and we each had our own lobster roll. With the aforementioned iced tea, our order was $40…pretty standard for these lobster huts. Although I’ve only had fried clams a few times, these were definitely my favorite so far. Their tartar sauce was really good too but next time I’ll be sure to ask for extra since they give a tiny portion. The lobster rolls were yummy and had tons of meat. They’re served in a buttered and grilled hot dog bun and although the lobster portions were quite healthy, I could have easily eaten two (but that might just be me and my big appetite).
Overall a great experience. The food was tasty and although the window cashier wasn’t the friendliest, the rest of the staff (mostly high-school aged kids) were awesome. The atmosphere was very friendly and community-like (we even saw one table share their cooler with another table so they could keep their beers cold) and, in whole, it was quite convenient. Two thumbs up
6.24.13. OLDIE’S MARKETPLACE, NEWBURYPORT, MA.
We came upon Oldie’s Marketplace in Newburyport by chance but it is clearly a landmark establishment. It’s quite clear from the outside what you’re getting into on the inside. It’s a warehouse size barn full of thousands of items ranging from pre-1800’s to late 20th century. They have everything from furniture to books to posters to jewelry. We spent over an hour inside and had it been a little cooler, probably could have spent twice that.
Although the amount of items may seem overwhelming, they have it sectioned off by theme and the setup provides an easy flow from one area to the next. A few helpful hints: they take credit cards and they’re open year round, weather permitting. There’s an adjacent parking lot so if you were buying larger items or just a lot, you could easily park close by. There’s no AC so be prepared to sweat a bit (in the warmer months of course). But, the barn is completely open on either side so there is a nice breeze when you’re not tucked away in the nooks. All in all, it was a great way to kill a few hours…whether you spend any money or not. Once Jason and I have our own place, we will surely be back.
6.16.13. BREAKHEART RESERVATION.
If you’re looking for easily accessible hiking near the city, checkout Breakheart Reservation in Wakefield. As it states on the website created by volunteers, it’s a “sudden step into nature”. Although we hiked The Fern Trail which was quick and flat, there are about 20 trails that span over 10 miles. It took us by the beach area along Pearce Lake that seemed to be a good family spot. You can get to it from Elm Road that is off the parking lot which makes it easy for the little ones to walk in and to bring along coolers and such. There’s even a lifeguard on duty. We saw hikers, bikers and fishing (although I’m not sure it’s legal).