McGreevey’s, Boston

A lunch with friends is always fun, but recently I tried a new spot for a late lunch with some of my favorite people. With this group there’s always lots of laughs, catching up, and good food. But mainly, there’s lots of laughs.

McGreevey’s is on Boylston Street in Boston, right near some other notable night spots (Pour House – a personal favorite of mine, Dillon’s, Cactus Club, Whiskey’s, Lir). The bar has an interesting history, which you can find out about here, but the current reincarnation opened in 2008 and looks to stay as close to it’s namesake as possible. The walls are lined with Red Sox memorabilia and the layout is a replica of the originally McGreevey’s 3rd Base Saloon which opened way back in 1894.

We started with some classy beverages.

I was slightly disappointed with the beer selection on tap. There were a few good ones, but overall I had higher expectations for an Irish pub. Oh well, I was happy with my Gansett.

Then there was this face sitting next to me. Hence the abundance of laughing throughout our meal. Once we pulled it together, we all ordered food. I went with the macaroni and cheese which was good, not great. But the highlight of this meal was what Dane ordered.

The Beckett Burger.

The burger is named for Josh Beckett, #19 on the Red Sox. One pound and nine ounces of burger with cheese, lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Part of the proceeds go towards The Josh Beckett Foundation and if you finish you get a t-shirt to announce that you beat the Beckett burger. That was all Dane needed to take on the challenge.

When he ordered it, the waitress actually asked “Wait, are you serious?”. She’s only seen one other person order it, and they didn’t fare so well against it.

And there it is. Now, in this picture you can’t quite grasp the scale of this burger. It looks like it could almost be a normal size.

That’s better. It was pretty much bigger than Dane’s head. Oh, and it came with fries, in case you were wondering. Between the burger eating next to me, and this happening across the table…

… it’s safe to say it was an entertaining lunch. Seriously not sure what was happening here. Just normal time with this group.

And when all was said and done, Dane finished his burger (and I’m still grappling with whether to be proud of him or worried for him). This lovely t-shirt was his forever.

Such a happy man. Although not super blown away by the food, we definitely still had a great time. Always great to have good people to share a meal with!

The News Room, Minneapolis, MN

We ate a lot in Minneapolis. After Jucy Lucy’s and my first Sonic experience, we went into Minneapolis to enjoy dinner at one of Sam and Jason’s frequent dinner picks, The News Room. We unknowingly walked into what would be one of the more eventful dinners any of us had ever had.

First off, the News Room is really cool inside. The walls look like giant newspapers complete with headlines from history making events. It’s funky and comfortable and I was really excited to eat there. We chose to sit outside on the patio right on the Nicollet Mall because it was a beautiful night in the city. We ordered some drinks and started perusing the menus.

We chatted with the friendly and sarcastic waiter (definitely enjoyed his sense of humor) and ordered our meals. I think we were all very happy with our choices. The service was quick, but laid back enough that we could sit for a while and talk while we sipped our drinks without feeling rushed.

Dinner was great, and when we were all finished we ordered another round of drinks and had a little surprise come visit us. As I mentioned, we were outside on the patio. Our table was right next to the glass windows of the restaurant. This was apparently the perfect recipe for this little guy.

Chirpy got a little confused and flew into the glass window, landing right on our table. He looked a little discombobulated and confused, and just sat in this same position for about 20 minutes with us. Our waiter came by and asked “Do you want me to move that?” and we said no. We just wanted him to feel better and he really wasn’t bothering us at all. After about 20 minutes, Jason, being the caring person he is, asked out loud “Do you think he broke his leg?”. As soon as he said it, Chirpy stood up, shook himself off and flew away. I guess he just needed some time to regain himself.

So we continued enjoying our drinks and the company on the News Room patio. A few minutes later the patio got another visitor of the angry yelling kind. A man walked up to the patio and started yelling incoherently at another table of customers. The manager came out to talk with him and asked him to leave. After a few minutes he finally walked away, but then backed up, yelled at us, and continued on his way.

After that, our evening finished up pretty quietly. Dinner was fantastic, the service was great, and the drinks were delicious. If you’re in the area, stop by and enjoy!

The Nook & the Jucy Lucy, St. Paul, MN

Before I went to MN to visit Sam and Jason, I heard about the Jucy Lucy. How could a cheeseburger get any better? I wasn’t sure how, but this is the answer. I got really pumped when I saw the Food Wars episode on the Travel Channel with two battling restaurants claiming to have the original Jucy Lucy, Matt’s Bar and the 5-8 Club. Sam and Jason promised to bring me for a Jucy Lucy first thing after I landed in Minneapolis.

They kept their promise, as good friends do. We headed to their favorite place for a Jucy Lucy (not either of the sites featured on Food Wars) as soon as we picked up my luggage from baggage claim. Having tasted all three, their favorite is The Nook in St. Paul, and I trusted their burger judgment fully and ordered the Juicy Nookie Burger (with pickles, obviously).

No joke, that cheese will burn your face off. It’s best to use all your willpower and hold back a few minute while it cools. Learned that the hard way. I honestly didn’t expect to taste much of any difference from your normal run-of-the-mill cheeseburger, but I was wrong. The cheese in the middles seemed to make everything juicier and the cheese just got into every nook and cranny of the burger.

All I wanted for the rest of the trip was another Jucy Lucy. And now writing about this, I obviously want one. Every place really seems to have it’s own “thing”. NY and Chicago have pizza, Philly has the cheesesteak, and Minneapolis has the Jucy Lucy. If you’re in the area, go to the Nook and get one!

Sonic really does exist

As a kid, I remember seeing commercials for Sonic on TV. They were always pretty funny and I remember wanting to go to a Sonic. But on Long Island, there was not one Sonic.

After years of commercials without seeing a single restaurant to show me that they exist, I began to think it was one big prank. The makers of Sonic were just messing with my head, trying to force the public into wanting food from a place that isn’t real. I shared this conclusion with my best friend, Sam.

Then Sam moved to Minnesota. While gchatting one day, she mentioned she was going to Sonic for lunch. Great, I thought, now even my best friend is in on the joke. But no, she insisted, there was a Sonic less than 5 minutes away from her new apartment. Not only was it close, but the tots were amazing. Right Sam, I’ll believe that when I see it.

I took a trip to Minnesota to see Sam and her husband Jason in May. Lo and behold, there was actually a Sonic. A real one, with real food! I had to experience it for myself.

So I obviously documented the entire trip to Sonic and created a video. Now you can all be part of my first mind blowing trip to a Sonic, the restaurant that really does exist.

Burgers and Summery Strawberry Salad

Last week my wonderful friend Sam came to visit for some quality time together (and to see me model in a fashion show, who says 5’2 girls who loves food can’t be a model?). It was a beautiful weekend in Boston, with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s which totally put us in the mood for some great summer food.

While shopping Sam mentioned having once had a salad with strawberries in it that a friend made. I had my own salad with strawberries already in mind, and was so glad she had suggested it. We picked up what we needed for a delicious salad, and also got everything we’d need to make our own burgers and some corn on the cob. Perfect makings of a summery meal.

Something to note, when strawberries and corn are in season, they can be so cheap. I know I paid $4-$5 for a container of strawberries in the grocery store over the winter. Now they are about $1.50. Plus they are so yummy because they’re fresh and in season! Just another reason to buy fresh and local.

And we obviously stopped and got Sam Summer on the way home from the store. No summer grilling could be complete without it. There is nothing better than a Sam Summer on a hot day when it finally comes back out for the season.

So here’s two recipes for you. One for burgers and one for that Summery Strawberry Salad.

Burgers (makes four 1/4 lb patties)

  • 1 lb of ground beef (I used 93/7, which is leaner)
  • 2 tbsp minced onion (I used the dry kind, but you can actually chop up fresh onion)
  • Salt and pepper

This is super easy, you just can’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty (and when I say dirty, I mean covered in raw beef). Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix using your hands (or a utensil if you are completely anti putting your hands in the meat). Don’t overmix everything, it will make the meat tough, just until the onion, pepper and salt are distributed evenly.

Now roll the meat into 4 balls. I just measured using the size of my palm. Each ball should be about 1/4 of a pound if you have a pound of meat (if you are doing more, you can actually weigh the meat or just eyeball it to make sure each patty will be about the same size). Then press each ball to flatten it into about 1/2 inch thickness (or however thick you’d like your burger).

Once they are patties, they are ready to grill! Cook them up the way you like and enjoy.

Summery Strawberry Salad

  • 1 bag of spinach
  • 1 container of strawberries
  • Crumbled goat cheese
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing

While your burgers are cooking you can whip up this salad. Wash and dry the spinach (I use a salad spinner which I LOVE) and add to a large bowl. Cut up 7-10 strawberries into quarters. Add the strawberries and crumbled goat cheese (as much as you’d like) to the spinach. Toss with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Another optional thing to add would be some candied nuts, or just nuts in general. I’ve had this salad with almonds before and it’s very good, I just forgot to buy them at the store.

Now grab your burger (which we finished with cheddar cheese), your salad, and some corn on the cob (which I cooked by just boiling it for about 10 minutes). Cheers to a delicious and fresh summer meal!

Three Burger Places You Should Probably Visit Immediately

I feel like I’ve had an incredibly unhealthy diet lately. My job is been crazy, I’ve worked late every night this week (except for Tuesday, which is conveniently the same night Lost is on), and when I’m home it seems like there’s always something else to do. Because of this I’ve been eating at the grill downstairs from my office, and that’s been a bad idea. The only positive outcome of this is that it made me think about my favorite burger places. And now I’m going to share them with you. It all works out for the best.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

I’d like to personally thanks President Obama for introducing us to this place. I once heard an interview with him and he was asked his favorite fast food, to which he answered Five Guys. About a year ago, we found out there was one in Dedham, so we gave it a try. Good decision.

Every burger is cooked to order and fresh. There are no additional charges for toppings, and they have a ton to choose from. My personal choices are cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles (lots and lots of pickles). The small fries are definitely big enough to share, and they’re also known for their Cajun style fries.

Just a note, they serve peanuts that you can snack on while waiting for your food. Great if you like peanuts, not great if you have a peanut allergy. They also make their fries using peanut oil.

Eagles Deli

Home of the Eagles Challenge, this deli is a well established landmark in Brighton, MA. They were recently closed for renovations and just reopened a few weeks ago with a new look and an expanded menu. We had been to the old Eagles Deli, so we went after the reopening to see what had changed.

The deli looks completely different, much more modern. For me, I go there to get a good burger, so I didn’t care much about the remodel as much as I cared about the burgers staying just as great as they were before. And they were.  I had the Kiddie Burger, a 1/4 lb burger. Dane was extra hungry, so he got the Godzill, which is a 1 lb. burger made with two 1/2 lb. patties. One day I hope to see someone actually attempt the Eagles Challenge while I’m there.

The Knotty Pine

I’ve written about this place before, but what can I say? I love it. It’s the perfect greasy spoon burger joint. It’s cheap, fast, and delicious. I won’t go on about it, but here’s where I wrote about it.

Where else should we try for a great burger?

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