Tag Archives: Boylston Bars

Poe’s Kitchen Nacho Average Monday #2: A Veggie Tale

27 Jan

Having little else worthwhile to do on Monday evenings, Nachopatrol returned to the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill to have another go at their Nacho Average Monday specialty nachos. We love how Brian Poe is serious and vocal about making interesting food, and while it was rainy and we were tired and still slightly hungover and bruised from the weekend’s birthday celebrations, the description of these nachos was too good to pass up: Nachos con Sweet Poe-tato, topped with caramelized Spanish onions, gorgonzola cheese crumbles, frisee in watercress vinaigrette, and roasted sweet potato tomatillo salsa with rosemary sea salted corn tortillas

  • Appearance: ( 8 ) A muted green and orange color palette that vaguely reminded us of the 1970’s. We like the 1970’s.
  • Quality of Ingredients: ( 9 ) Once again, the salsa stole the show. The tomatillos in the salsa were cut into sizeable chunks that added a delightful tartness, working well with the sweet potatoes. The frisee added another layer of tart freshness. A sweet potato soup was used as the sauce in these nachos, and while it would have been delicious on its own, combined with the roasted sweet potato chunks it was just a little too sweet. Hankering for a little more zest, we made liberal use of the Cholula bottle and the chopped jalapeno and poblano chilies that our ever-accomodating waitress, Laura, brought to the table. The cheese, when we finally found it, was the missing link that these nachos needed.
  • Distribution of Toppings: ( 7 ) Everything was wonderfully arrayed, but for the cheese. There was very little of it and it was all in one slab in the center of the nachos. We would have loved more crumbles to add a little more savory.
  • Overall: 24/30. A meat-free nacho with substance, and a delightfully sneaky way to get in a serving of veggies. We could eat these five days a week, with only a little more cheese…

Poe’s Kitchen Nacho Average Monday: Light on the Wild, Heavy on the Boar

21 Jan

It is a rare, yet special day when we discover a kindred spirit in our quest to find the perfect nacho. More often than not, people stare in horror when we tell them we’ve eaten and reviewed some seventy different nachos. As amateur food critics and professional Tex-Mex connoisseurs, we were absolutely overjoyed to discover that someone in Boston–and not just anyone, but an actual chef at a popular restaurant–shared our affinity for the ooey, gooey, draped in protein goodness known as the nacho. Though we haven’t yet had an opportunity to speak with said chef–since he is a man after our own clogged arteries, we suspect he would love to speak with us–we have decided to dabble in low quality podcast-esque media productions, the result of which is included below:

On the table this night: Wild Boar braised in Southern Comfort, coffee beans and jalapeno with poblano blue cheese, winter greens in jalapeno vinaigrette with salsa fresca:

  • Appearance: (9) Compared to a “work of art” when they first graced the table, we loved the elegant heaping and the deep, rich colors.  The white, runny cheese sauce was a little unnerving, however…
  • Quality of Ingredients: (7) While a good idea, nothing was as bursting with flavor as we had expected or would have liked.  The meat was definitely tender and had a deep flavor from the SoCo/coffee, but could have used a touch of salt to really bring out those flavors and counteract the sweetness of the SoCo. Winter greens were decidedly a step up from your average bland lettuce topping, nicely complemented by the vinaigrette.  The cheese sauce was tasty but not particularly inventive.  Our favorite part was probably the salsa fresca, the least creative of the components, but done right.
  • Distribution of Toppings: (7) The cheese sauce was runny enough to coat everything, but the other ingredients were so heavy that they fell off of the chips when you tried to lift them out. Perhaps some real melted cheese would have provided some welcome glue.  In the end, we were left with a soupy, saucy mess…that we still dipped our forks into.
  • Price: We’re not sure of the market price for wild boar, but it must be up there to justify $14 for these nachos.  We won’t be giving them an actual score in this category, because as this is a weekly event and we’d like to be there most weeks, and most nachos will likely cost $14, it’s a bit of a null category.
  • Overall: 23/30.  A decent start, but Brian Poe is really going to need to kick it up a notch in the coming weeks.  While this was a decent nacho, if you had put it in front of us with no explanation, we might have mistaken it for just a normal pulled pork nacho with fancy lettuce.  We want our minds blown, our horizons expanded, our taste buds challenged!

See you next Monday!

2009 Nacho Round-up

10 Jan

Well folks, it’s been quite a year, especially in the world of nachos.  After 12 months, 62 reviews, and approximately 7,428,391 calories, we’re reflecting on our year, and this is what we have found:

Fenway News: After a year and half of dedicated reviewing, we can safely say that there simply aren’t good nachos in the Fenway area. Trust us, we have done the leg work. After our disastrous 2008 review at Beer Works (23), we didn’t have much luck at Lower Depths (27), Cask & Flagon (28), or at Fenway (18) itself. The closest we came was Uno’s (30), and since it’s a chain, we tend to not count it as an independent “Fenway area” bar. In short, stick to hot wings, Bud Light, and street vendors. It’s what Fenway does best.

Boylston News: Avid readers will know that we’ve tackled many of the most famous restaurants on Boylston Street in something we’ve called the five-part Official Boylston Epic. This doesn’t include anything in on Newbury or the surrounding area…not that there’s much going on to mention. To be honest, everything is overshadowed by Pour House (number 1 with 36!), but if we had to recommend others, we’d probably have to go with Whiskey’s (29) and their extra spicy chili and Cactus Club’s (29) super cheesy nachos.

Best “Foreign”: Over the year, our crack team of Foreign Correspondents has circled the globe in hope of finding good nachos. So far…well, take a look for yourself. Apparently, the farther you get from Mexico, the worse they get. The two bright spots have to be Jordan’s (31) Irish Specialty Nachos just outside of Denver University and the Big Four Nachos at Bryant Lake Bowl (30) in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Best Specialty: sometimes, getting away from the typical bar nacho can be an enlightening experience, and after all the great specialty nachos we’ve had this year, we feel practically blissful!

  1. Big City Mediterranean Nachos (34): pita chips covered with spinach and artichoke dip, jack and feta cheese, chopped balsamic tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted peppers, and hummus on the side. Greek and unique!
  2. Christopher’s Yuppie Nachos (31): sour cream, guacamole, jack and cheddar cheeses, goat cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes. It makes our mouths water just thinking about it!
  3. Jordan’s Irish Nachos (32): kettle-fried potato chips topped with corned beef, swiss cheese, horseradish dijon, tomatoes and scallions. If your nachos aren’t fattening enough, get them with potato chips.

Best bar nachos: Let’s start off first with a definition–bar nachos are any plate with tortilla chips, cheddar cheese (or equivalent), chili or chicken (or similar protein), salsa, guacamole, and sour cream. Maybe some jalapenos and black olives for good measure. That said, we can say unequivocally that Sunset Cantina and Sunset Grill & Tap (35) have the best, most reliably good bar nachos around. With a variety of interesting proteins and an eye for brilliant distribution, we have never been disappointed with Sunset nachos. Our only complaint is the shredded lettuce on top. However, the keenest readers among you will notice that we’ve given Harry’s Bar and Grill (35.5) a higher total score. All we can say is that this score is up for reevaluation after a particularly unpleasant nacho experience we had at the aforementioned bar…Nonetheless, we will leave it up for the time being.

Excellence in Mexicana: no, nachos aren’t Mexican. We’ll admit it…begrudgingly. Nonetheless, 2009 saw some great nachos at Boston’s “Mexican” restaurants. Cantina La Mexicana (32) in Union Square and Cafe Sol Azteca (32) on the edge of Boston University campus may have had tied scores, but we’ve got to give Cantina the number one spot simply for their amazing waitstaff. Still, both restaurants had great foods, great drinks, and a great atmosphere. Viva Mexico!

Best Nachos on a Mediocre Internet Date: Cambridge Common (31). Self explanatory.

Best Nachos with Cheese Sauce: Nachopatrol is divided on the issue of cheese sauce.  Some like it, some hate it, but all came together to hail the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill (28) for their legitimately cheesy, obviously homemade sauce.  Although their sauce tasted from a can, the friendliness and persistence in following our blog that the fine people of JJ Foley’s (also 28) have demonstrated gives them an honorable mention.

Biggest Disappointments/Hall of Shame: Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (21).  After bragging about their nachos, and hearing about them from many others, we were disgusted to find a towering inferno of burned, greasy chips and lackluster toppings. Sometimes we can be accused to bias, but in the case of the CCC, the coffin has been shut, nailed closed, burned, and the ashes buried under six feet of earth. We will never return.

Nacho Patrol of the Year: Every now and then we get on our knees and thank the stars that Border Cafe (32) in Harvard Square exists, so maybe it’s not surprising that most fun we’ve ever had while Nacho Patrolling was at this upbeat, friendly, and always-packed Tex-Mex restaurant. And that’s not just the margs talking! After order $15 worth of dips and sides, we created our own nacho plate, and even got a manager to discuss with us why a Tex-Mex joint doesn’t have nachos. As she explained it, Border only deals in “original” Tex-Mex. We’re still not sure what that means–it must be ego that allows them to call enchiladas and fajitas original. But whatever. It was worth the doubting looks. Bring back Cholula and we’ll be there every day.

Review of the Year: It goes without saying that our favorite review had to be of Nachopalooza ’09. What will become a yearly tradition (and by yearly, we mean weekly), Nachopalooza allowed us to express our nacho love with our 20 closest friends, while drinking jello shots (SPRING BREAK) and taking pictures with our homemade Carson Daly. So, if you’re thinking of hosting your own very classy, very tasty nacho party, read our syllabus.

2009’s Most Controversial Nacho: The review hasn’t been posted yet, but trust us. It will get violent.

Best Comment: This year’s comment award was a tie between Mama S, who hated our blog so much it made her puke and the good people of J.J. Foley’s, who gave us hope that perhaps our reviews will one day change the world of nachos. Unfortunately, Andi was the tie-breaker, and because of a possible conflict of interest (Mama S=her mom), she had to bow out of the race.

Worst: That’s right, these are our worst nachos of the year. Avoid like SARS (or maybe Swine Flu)…

  1. Other Side (17): Technically, The Other Side had a higher score than El Paso and Casa Bonita, but we hate it so much that we gave it the honorable position of #1 Worst Nacho Anywhere in the World. Congrats, you over-rated piece of shit, hipster hell hole.
  2. Casa Bonita (10): The lowest nacho score to date, but no one was expecting much.
  3. El Paso (15): Only slightly better than a poke in the eye.
  4. White Horse (21):  We’re ashamed to admit we even considered this American-cheese monstrosity.
  5. Coolidge Corner Clubhouse (21): A low-down, dirty punch to the aorta.

Top Ten Nachos of 2009:

  1. Harry’s
  2. Sunset
  3. Big City Mediterranean Nachos
  4. Fajita’s and ‘Ritas
  5. Cantina La Mexicana
  6. Sol Azteca
  7. Crossroads
  8. Cambridge Common
  9. Christopher’s Yuppie Nachos
  10. Bryant Lake Bowl