In the past 13 months of motherhood, nights out have become a scarce commodity. When Leah invited me to a Parents’ Night Out at Trade, I jumped at the chance to enjoy delicious food and drinks with Dave, Debbie, Leah (and her daughter), Kim, Kimberly, Nancy, Phyllis, and Sharon. Bonus: no one threw their food on the floor, shrieked at the top of their lungs, or played peekaboo–though a toy fish did appear in one of the beverages!
Being out so late (7:30) on a school night made me feel like I did in the days before teaching and motherhood! So did the lively conversation, which was as full of sassiness as it was full of useful parent advice. My biggest takeaway: blogs, Twitter, and Instagram aren’t awesome just because of the information and pictures–they’re awesome because they help enable interpersonal connections to people with common interests (when you finally get to meet them!).
We toasted to our night out with the Beets by Trade, then sampled the following from the dinner menu:
Raw Bar and Small Plates
Salmon Poke with serrano, red onion, avocado and plantain chips
Buttermilk Fried Quail with harissa aioli and pickled root vegetables
Falafel Pancakes with tzatziki, serrano and scallion
Chicken Meatballs with tomato vinaigrette, garlic cream and pine nuts
Fried Sweet Potatoes with salsa verde and orange
Tasso Ham and Smoked Gouda Flatbread with roasted corn, pickled pepper and onion
Mushroom and Fig Flatbread with gorgonzola, sage pesto and walnuts
Lamb Sausage Flatbread with eggplant, Manchego, peppers and garlic yogurt
Seared Salmon with shredded kale salad, lemon-tahini vinaigrette and pistachio
Oven Roasted Half Chicken with fried potatoes, lemon aioli and charred romaine
Painted Hills Bavette Steak with arugula, french fries and 540 steak sauce
Baked Rigatoni with spicy lamb ragu and provolone
Just when we thought we couldn’t eat any more, out came a Not a Cloud in the Sky cocktail and dessert:
Milk and Cookies: chocolate shortbread, buttercream and crema spressa
Ginger Ice Cream and TRADE Brownie with chili-chocolate sauce, candied ginger, and dukkah
Thank you, Trade for the amazing parents’ night out! Looking forward to visiting again on a girls’ night out or a date night!
540 Atlantic Ave, Boston MA 02110
T: South Station
Parking: Atlantic Wharf Garage at 280 Congress Street or valet
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Some pregnant women crave odd combinations like pickles and ice cream. Because my regular food choices already included combinations like peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, I expected that I’d either be eating completely wacky foods or completely bland foods. My biggest pregnancy craving fell somewhere in the middle: for burgers. During my second trimester, I took a special education licensure course at Madison Park High School. That burger pregnancy craving got triggered by Beta Burger’s “opening summer 2015” sign every time I went to the neighboring Dunkin Donuts before class, so I was psyched to get invited to try out Beta Burger this past weekend!
Customization + Technology = Beta Burger
Founder Adrian Wong sought to bring innovation and culture to the food industry via customization and technology. He made a career change from advising startups at Morgan Stanley, adding to his finance experience by working at Chipotle and Grass Fed along the way. Chains like Chipotle can pre-cook proteins such as carnitas or barbacoa, enabling a fast customization assembly line process. However, burgers must be made to order for optimum taste. You can’t maintain the same quality and cut prep time by pre-cooking burgers and storing them before a lunch rush. Inspired by sous vide cooking, he did research to see if bulk sous vide cooking could be possible for burgers and settled on the CVap oven.
The CVap oven cooks burgers with water vapor. The burgers are then finished on the grill for 30 seconds. This searing with high heat creates the Malliard effect on the burgers. The combination of slow cooker and grill consistently yields juicy, non-greasy burgers quicker than a grill-only process. If I take a lengthy class at Madison Park again, I’ll definitely come here for lunch breaks—it’s fast enough to get a burger and fries during a 30-minute break! The process can be made even faster by ordering website or with their app (on the App Store or Google Play).
I liked the customization process much better than trying to pick from a long list of pre-made burger combos and having to make slight changes like “no tomato.” There were ample choices for bread and toppings, but not enough to be overwhelming. There are low-carb options such as the skinny bun or the “turn a burger into a salad.” There are two seasonal toppings (currently, there are marshmallows and roasted peppers).
I tried the Beta burger on a potato roll (with cheddar, Beta steak sauce, lettuce, and roasted peppers) and garlic parmesan fries.
My husband tried the limited edition Toasted Snowman and buffalo fries. At first I was skeptical of this Frozen-themed burger, but Adrian explained that the marshmallow adds a subtle sweetness that goes well with the salt and fat of the burger. My skepticism was proved wrong because the marshmallow does work well as a topping!
On both of our burgers, the ratio of burger : bun : toppings was appropriate. Adrian and his staff are very receptive to feedback about the burgers—the patties were initially smaller, and were made bigger after customer feedback. As a new mom, I now order food based on its spill potential. I’ve often spilled burger toppings all over my son when the bun couldn’t hold up to the burger or when the toppings slid around. I managed to eat my Beta burger with one hand while holding Parker with the other, and he remained spill-free! We also noted that the burgers were delicious without leading to the “slowies.”
The fries were well-cooked—very thin and crispy. The seasoning got distributed well by the bag-shaking process.
Beta Burger’s space is simple and clean, with lots of orange and little touches like Bob’s Burgers playing on next to the menu and an Ugly Sweater discount until New Year’s Eve. The bathrooms are large and clean. Though there aren’t any changing tables, I would be okay with changing a diaper on the floor. There is counter space and one table on the main floor, with additional seating downstairs. Street parking is reasonably easy to find.
Beta Burger 1437 Tremont St, Roxbury MA 02120
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Pondering these for Sunday night dinners.
Proud of Somerville for having so many on the list!
1. Highland Kitchen*
5. Casa B
9. Trina’s Starlite Lounge*
11. East by Northeast*
12. Santarpio’s Pizza
15. Hungry Mother
16. West Bridge
19. Craigie on Main
20. Neptune Oyster*
21. jm Curley
23. Taiwan Cafe
24. O Ya
25. Shanghai Gate
26. Island Creek Oyster Bar
33. Hamersley’s Bistro
34. Myers + Chang
35. The Gallows
38. Ten Tables
*already been to
Of the top 38, which ones are your favorites and which ones are you interested in trying?
Last night we went out to Sarma with my old roommate Chitra who was in town from San Francisco. She and I often bonded over our “Sunday night blues” (her: med school, me: lesson planning). It’s now wonderful to bond over Sunday night dinner. I’m digging the Sunday night dinner lately. Like many other teachers on Friday nights, I want to curl up on the couch in a fuzzy blanket and go to sleep early. Sometimes it’s hard to snag a dinner reservation at hip new places like Sarma (the newest venture from Ana Sortun of Oleana and Sofra). Most of all, I like the Sunday night dinner as a relaxing way to kick off the week, rather than saving those hours for a little extra lesson planning or grading. The Sunday ambiance at Sarma was perfect for a leisurely catchup meal with a great friend! I’d been curious to try it ever since hearing about it from several friends, including Denise.
The menu is arranged from lightest to heaviest, and it’s recommended that each person order an average of 3 meze to be shared, tapas-style. Servers also walk around with trays of special menu items, dim sum-style. We chose the butternut squash pancake with the date butter from one such server. It was good, but now I wish we’d held out for the fried chicken that got so many rave reviews on Yelp.
We ordered the following to share:
PORK BELLY BUNEULO rosemary, green olive, quince $9
HOT DATES goat cheese, pistachio, cranberry-harissa $6
SEVEN LAYER HUMMUS falafel crackers $11
FAVA BEAN PATÉ capers, red onion, soft-cooked egg $6
CRAB & RED LENTIL KIBBEH coconut, green papaya, zhoug $12
LAMB RIBS pomegranate, pita crumb $12
HALOUMI CHEESE vine leaves, roasted grapes, raisin emulsion $8
HARISSA BBQ DUCK carrot, orange blossom, almonds $16
I enjoyed all of them. They were all consistently good and worked well together (a la Oleana). My favorites were the harissa BBQ duck, fava bean pate, and pork belly buneulo. Looking forward to going back!
249 Pearl St
One perk of not yet being in school is the opportunity to explore new lunch places during the workweek. During the school year, if I didn’t bring lunch, I stuck to takeout within a half mile radius and never after 11:50 a.m. Flour (chopped Greek salad or BLT) and Berkeley Perk Cafe (California tuna melt) were my go-tos. I do love those places dearly, but I jumped at the chance to go to Toraya in Arlington this afternoon with my sister.
I also ventured out of my comfort zone to try the sushi moriawase (the chef’s selection of whatever is fresh that day). I’ve wondered about it at other sushi restaurants, but it was usually pricier and the “unknown” factor intimidated me a little. However, at Toraya during lunch, it was only $11.95 and came with a miso soup. Below are the tuna maki and nigiri from today. The mackerel, yellowtail, and salmon were particularly delicious.
We also each had a yellowtail scallion handroll. These were excellent…and made me wish that sushi handroll trucks could drive around the way ice cream trucks do.
Hoping to fit another Toraya outing in before school starts!