Welcome back to The best things the Eater Boston team ate this week. This is a special edition covering the best things Eater Boston editor Rachel Leah Blumenthal has eaten over the past decade.
I’ll keep the nostalgia short so we can get straight to the good stuff – the food – but today is my last day at Eater Boston after nine years as editor and about a year freelancing for the site before that . (Do you want my job? Apply now!) As such, I thought I’d briefly revive our occasional The best things the Eater Boston team ate this week column for a special version highlighting a few of my favorite dishes during my time here.
First, a very quick trip down memory lane. I dug through some of Eater Boston’s stories and maps from 2012-2013 to remember what was happening when I started: an ice bar. A bit like the golden age of pop-ups, like Whisk, the precursor to Jamaica Plain’s excellent Brassica. The closing of Upstairs on the Square, Harvard Square’s fanciest icon. The debut of current stars like Sarma, Giulia and Sycamore.
The food scene has certainly seen quite a few changes over the past decade (especially, of course, over the past two and a half years). Food trucks were big business for a little while. Different neighborhoods have come and gone to become the hottest new dining destination. One day in 2017, a waiter asked me if I had “experienced a small meal” — at a time when just about every restaurant was avoiding large plates. Through it all, Greater Boston has had a really exciting food scene, and it’s been exciting to eat through it.
Here are some of the most memorable things I’ve eaten at Boston-area restaurants over the past decade, listed in no particular order.
- Belly of salmon flambéed with Ebi Sushi: If it hadn’t been in the midst of a global pandemic, requiring strict hospital restrictions, this is what I would have had delivered to my hospital room after I gave birth. (Instead, it was the first thing I ate when we got home a few days later.) I’ll eat and love the torched salmon belly at any restaurant that serves it, but something about Ebi’s version – a mainstay of his special menu – has always been the absolute winner for me. Made with a honey-lime marinade and topped with a dollop of chilli oil and crunchy garlic, this little piece of burnt fish brings me back to Ebi again and again.
- Everything to United: On the subject of sushi, a special occasion at Uni was the highlight of my meals of 2022. The restaurant does not currently offer traditional omakase, but diners can opt for the chef’s choice, a style tasting menu family run which includes some of Uni’s cooked options as well as sushi. From start to finish, every course of this meal was amazing; I wish I had the budget to end every special occasion with wagyu hot rock.
- slug to Pammy’s: It’s almost a shame that the lumache at Pammy’s – served with gochujang bolognese sauce – is then good, because it means I want to eat it every time I go, which makes me miss trying other dishes. The few other things I managed to try are also great! But this dish is my favorite for both happy and sad occasions. It’s hearty, it’s a little spicy, it’s pure comfort food. I’ve also started putting gochujang in my pasta sauces at home, but that’s just not the same as spending time at this lovely Cambridge restaurant with top-notch hospitality.
- Ramen – and the marriage proposal that wasn’t – at Yume Wo Katare: This little restaurant in Porter Square has been around long enough that you probably know the deal by now: it draws long lines for its bowls of pork and garlic ramen, but it’s really known for cheering on diners to get up at the end. meal and share their dreams and goals out loud. That’s if they’ve finished their bowl, anyway. On one visit, I saw a young couple finish their bowls. The man stood up to share his dreams and talked at length about how wonderful things were going with his girlfriend; you could feel all the guests holding their breath, waiting for a ring to appear. “My dream is to spend the rest of my life with my amazing girlfriend,” he said. And sat down.
- sourdough bread The season: Sometimes, even before you’ve eaten there, you feel like a place is going to be special. Whether you can predict the taste from the photos, or the owner’s story moves you, or other factors, you know it. That’s what I felt when I went to La Saison to interview the team and take photos for our opening report on the bakery; afterwards, arms laden with bread and pastries, I rushed to my husband’s workplace nearby to taste it all. A pittance had us running around the place tearing off pieces for everyone to try. The textural balance was perfect: crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. The flavor was rather subtle for a sourdough: pungent enough to assert itself as a true sourdough but sweet enough to accompany butter or jam or sandwich fillings. Another day I walked five miles in the pouring rain to get a loaf.
- Ceviche, lomo saltado and maracuya sour to Celestial: I can still smell the lomo saltado sizzling in the pan as I took pictures for an opening feature before Celeste’s 2018 Union Square debut. Meeting the team, experiencing the vibe, I knew this would be my type of place, and after it opened, my first meal – and second, third and 10th – confirmed that feeling. . Many restaurants talk about being neighborhood spots; some succeed. Celeste is the kind of neighborhood spot where you feel like you’ve been invited to dinner with very trendy neighbors in their sleek and minimalist kitchen. The pisco is flowing and the music will make you want to dance – but after eating another serving of crisp, sour ceviche.
- Khao se and sai ua to Dakzen: I try not to be that person who goes on vacation, comes back, and doesn’t shut up about the trip and kind of tell it all for years to come. I try, but failed miserably on my trip to Thailand a few years ago. I probably eat Thai food more often than any other cuisine; I spent more time researching our Thai food menu than probably any other menu on this site. My husband and I decided to make the trip over a meal in Dakzen – a steaming bowl of spicy tom yum noodle soup, sprinkled with fish balls and sweet barbecue pork – and returned to Dakzen immediately upon our return. at home. The khao soi and the sai ua are among the best around; one bite, and I’m back on the trip. I am boring person. I can not help myself. Go to Dakzen.
- Mussels and ice cold beer the public house: I think I’m misleading the timeline a bit and that my days living near Publick House and hanging out with them were actually just a bit before my time at Eater, but please do me a favor. During the Publick House era of my life, I was one of those inexperienced drinkers who ordered the strongest beer on the menu because I thought it was the cool thing to do. Thus began my dangerous love for Aventinus Eisbock, a 12% dessert beast. A romantic date? Mussels in a beer broth with fries and Eisbock. Friend in town? The same. One friend in particular has always had a way of convincing me to order a second Eisbock, making it my most and least memorable Boston meal over the years.
- Late night slices, a Hoodsie and an interesting beer at Pizza A4: It’s been about seven years since the closure of A4 Pizza, the mini Somerville branch of Area Four, and I honestly still haven’t gotten over it. It opened in Union Square around the same time I moved to the neighborhood, and it was my spot. The wood fired pizza was amazing, and if you stopped late enough at night there were half price slices. The staff was friendly, the dessert menu was spot on (Hoodsie cups) and the beer list was always interesting. You can still get the fantastic pizza at Area Four in Cambridge, but the vibe at the Somerville spot was just perfect for a neighborhood hangout, and while Union Square continues to have more and more great options restoration, I will always mourn the loss of A4.
Thanks for reading all these years! I’m sure you’ll be in good hands with the next editor; maybe it’s you? Here is that job posting again. You can continue to follow Eater Boston on Facebook (page, band), Twitterand instagram, and subscribe to the newsletter below. Contact the Eater Boston team via email here.