Noms: The Local, Wellesley

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To celebrate Jonah’s birthday, we decided to venture out to The Local, a restaurant that just opened up in Wellesley last November.  Per usual, we went for an early dinner (5:30  pm), so when we arrived, there weren’t many patrons.  Suffice it to say, the place began to quickly fill up, and as we walked out the door at 6:30 pm there were people waiting for tables.  The Local’s menu is divided into clever sections such as “Snack Things,” including warm potato chips and dip and spicy Chex mix, “Mac and Cheese Things,” which allowed the diner to customize his or her mac and cheese, and “Bigger Things,” which was comprised of larger entrees including chicken cacciatore, short ribs, and semolina-crusted fish and chips.  Impressively, none of the appetizers is more than $14 (most were $5-8), and none of the entrees costs more than $19.

To start our meal, we had the fried pickles, which were crispy and delicious and not greasy in the least.  For our main meals, Jonah had the grilled cheese sandwich with a cup of tomato soup, while Joanne had the Atlantic salmon, which came with roasted Brussels sprouts and parsnip puree.  Although Jonah’s grilled cheese was smaller than others he has gotten at similar restaurants, he felt it was the perfect amount of food and was comfortably full by the end of the meal.  Joanne’s salmon was perfectly cooked, and the contrast in flavors among the salmon, Brussels sprouts, and puree was addictive.

While our meal was tasty and uneventful, it appeared as though the couple dining next to us were not happy with their orders.  We overheard them telling their waiter that the steak tips they had ordered were not cooked to their liking, so they sent them back.  In addition, it looked like there were other issues with that couple’s meal, including missing meal components.  Our guess is that since the restaurant is still only about a month old, it is working out the kinks.

All in all, The Local was a pleasant surprise for its delicious food at very affordable prices.  It will surely be added to our favorite restaurants rotation!

Noms: Zaftigs, Brookline

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Zaftigs Delicatessen is hardly a new kid on the block when it comes to affordable, addictive Jewish- and American-style food.  Since opening up in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner in 1997, the restaurant has received numerous awards and recognition for its impressive menu of comfort food favorites.  Since Zaftigs is merely a five-minute drive from our home, we often go there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at least once a month!

The menu at Zaftigs is large but not too overwhelming, separated into Starters, Salads, Sandwiches, Entrees, and Breakfast sections.  We often find ourselves ordering the same things over and over, but we occasionally will go out on a limb and try something new.

This past Friday evening, we were in the mood for sandwiches.  Joanne ordered her usual Nanny Fanny sandwich, which typically is made with corned beef, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese on marble rye.  This time, however, she swapped out the beef and had roasted turkey instead and asked for a small salad as her side.  Jonah went for his favorite grilled cheese on challah bread (pictured above), asked them to throw some tomato slices in there, and also had a side salad.

The turkey Nanny Fanny was a really nice change from the usual corned beef version.  The turkey was tender and juicy, and the coleslaw in the sandwich added a wonderful amount of sweetness and crunch.  Zaftigs is known for its generous portions, and this overflowing sandwich was no exception. Jonah’s grilled cheese was ooey gooey and delicious, definitely a warm and comforting choice for a chilly December evening.

Given the size of Joanne’s sandwich, she was fully satisfied with eating half for dinner that night and saving the other half for lunch the next day.  And since the whole meal came out to only about $27, it was a real deal, as we basically got three meals out of it!

Zaftigs is truly a gem in Coolidge Corner (A new one opened up in Natick recently and is equally delicious.) and we will continue to go there for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between!

Noms: Cook, Newton

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Last weekend, we decided to branch out and try a new restaurant.  Cook, located on Washington Street in Newtonville, opened its doors this past September.  This New American Bistro serves a wide variety of dishes, including snacks such as bacon-caramel popcorn, wood-fired flatbreads, appetizers like shrimp tacos, and a number of entrees for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

We went to Cook on the early side, as we had gleaned from the numerous Yelp reviews that the restaurant can get very busy very quickly.  When we arrived, we were surprised to see a number of television cameras and bright lights – Chronicle, Boston’s daily TV news journal, was shooting there!  We saw Anthony Everett, the host of the show, talking with the head chef, and the cameramen were taking footage of the restaurant patrons, too.  You might just see us on that episode of Chronicle, so keep an eye out!

While there were a number of items on the menu that looked delicious, Joanne ended up going the rather unadventurous route of having the roasted chicken.  It came with a parmesan polenta cake and sautéed broccoli rabe.  The chicken was juicy and tender, the polenta cake was creamy and delicious, and the broccoli rabe was cooked to perfection.  Jonah got the grilled cheese sandwich which was accompanied by a small side salad.  We decided to also share an order of French fries that came with three dipping sauces: a sriracha ketchup, a curry honey mustard, and a creamy bacon dip.  The grilled cheese was excellent, right up there with Rox Diner.  We both enjoyed the French fries with the various dips, although at the end of the meal, we felt like we could have skipped them because we had no room for dessert.

There are a number of dishes we would like to try upon our return, including some of the sumptuous- looking desserts, so we will definitely be going back to Cook sometime in the near future!