Monday, June 28, 2010

Boston's Top Outdoor Eateries

I love cooking but every once in a while, on a steamy summer night, all I want is for someone else to work over the hot stove. During the summer months there are lots of restaurants that accommodate outdoor dining, which is my favorite way to feast. Here are Boston's top restaurants with water views, side walk patios, green gardens, and roof top terraces. Don’t forget to check which restaurants have heat lamps and fire pits for those chilly New England nights.

Roof Top Dining
Blu Restaurant
Perched on the fourth floor at the Ritz Carlton in Downtown Crossing, the modern, metropolitan roof top patio is great for enjoying urban outdoor dining.

Thanks to the high wooden fence, comfy patio furniture and plenty of greenery, the rooftop dining area at dbar has a cozy backyard feel.

Poe’s Kitchen
The roof deck, outdoor bar and full menu makes the Rattlesnake at Poe’s kitchen one of the most popular summer dining spots in Boston.

Ocean Views
606 Congress
Head down to the Renaissance Boston Hotel in the Seaport District to dine on contemporary American cuisine while cooling off with the crisp sea breeze.

Rowes Wharf Sea Grille
Situated in the Boston Harbor Hotel, Rowes Wharf Sea Grille is the perfect spot to enjoy seaside dining in the heart of the city. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The sophisticated but casual stone terrace at Sensing’s is the ideal setting to enjoy seasonal and lighter fare by the harbor.

Rain or Shine
Bistro 44
Located at the Doubletree Bedford Glen Hotel, Bistro 44 boasts a beautifully landscaped stone patio, with giant umbrellas to provide shelter from the afternoon sun and a fire pit for New England’s cooler nights.

The South End’s premiere outdoor eatery showcases a plant-lined, bricked patio. At brunch catch some sun or cool off in the shade under big umbrellas. During dinner hours, ask the waiter to fire up the heat lamps to chase away the chill.

The patio at Harvest is as close to an urban garden in the center of Harvard Square as you’ll get. Lush green trees and oversized umbrellas offer plenty of shade during lunch hours, and powerful heat lamps are on hand for the unexpected cool summer evening.

Green Gardens
For an authentic Provencal experience, the patio at Miel’s is surrounded by fragrant greens like basil, rosemary, thyme and lavender. Enjoy a meal overlooking the promenade, the Intercontinental gardens, and Fort Point Channel.

Aka Bistro
Secure one of the 28 seats in the outdoor dining area, at one of the wrought-iron, umbrella-topped tables, and enjoy your meal overlooking the manicured lawns along Lincoln Road.

Located in the heart of the Financial District, seats on the terrace overlook the Norman Leventhal Park. Seats are available Thursday through Saturday on a first come, first served basis, weather permitting.

People watch on the patio
Kingfish Hall
Faneuil Hall is full of tourists in the summer months, but locals know the best place to eat is at Kingfish Hall. Enjoy Todd English's praised menu on an umbrella covered, mosaic topped patio table.

Om Restaurant |Lounge
Located in the middle of Harvard Square, this tranquil outdoor dining area is adorned with
sandstone wall figures from Northern Thailand, and Nepali hand-carved woodwork.

Stephanie’s on Newbury
If you love to people watch, Stephanie’s in Boston’s Back Bay claims the best sidewalk seating on swanky Newbury Street. Exhausted shoppers can take in the high-energy scene while refueling with Stephanie’s tasty comfort food.

Find some quiet in the city
Henrietta’s Table
Overlooking the plaza at the Charles Hotel, this Harvard Square eatery is removed enough to be a relaxing, quiet spot to enjoy farm fresh eats.

Olean’s lush, flower-filled patio is one of Cambridge’s favorite outdoor dining spaces. Enjoy award-winning chef Ana Sortun’s al fresco fare while escaping from the bustle of the city.

Stanhope Grille
Located at the Back Bay Hotel, Stanhope Grille’s expansive, stone terrace is located just below street level, offering patrons a cool and removed spot to enjoy their dinner.

Special Occasions
La Voile
La Voile channels its homeland with its authentic menu and informally elegant outdoor dining area. Guests will think they are dining on the French Riveria and not on Newbury Street.

Located in the South End, Masa’s intimate sidewalk patio offers patrons southwestern-inspired fare among a handful of candlelit two tops.

City goers looking for after dinner entertainment should head to Pigalle’s outdoor patio, which is in walking distance of the bright lights of the Theater District.

Monday, June 7, 2010

From our Table: One Pot Wonder

I love seafood, especially in the summer. Last night for a gathering we made Cioppino and it was a definite crowd pleaser. It's a one pot meal and can feed a large crowd; so invite all your friends over and serve this for dinner tonight.

Cioppino is a fish stew originating in San Francisco and derived from the various regional fish soups and stews of Italian cuisine. Cioppino is traditionally made from the catch of the day, so there’s no right or wrong combination of fish to make this dish.

My one suggestion is to buy seafood that’s not overly delicate. Firm fish like haddock, red snapper, salmon and wild striped bass usually work well. Clams, mussels, shrimp, lobster, squid and scallops are fantastic additions to this recipe too.

Although not completely traditional (I add meat to mine!), here is my favorite version of Cioppino.

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups dry white wine
2 cups shrimp stock or vegetable stock
2 cups canned plum tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon honey
Few dashes hot sauce
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 pounds haddock, cut into 2-inch squares
32 scallops
32 Mussels
32 littleneck clams
2 links of spicy Chorizo sausage, sliced
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Lightly oil the bottom of a Dutch oven and place over medium heat. Saute the haddock, scallops and chorizo until golden brown on each side. Do Not Cook All The Way Through. Remove from pan and set aside.

To the Dutch oven, add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft. Deglaze the pan with a splash of wine.

Once the pan is deglazed, add the remainder of the wine and cook until reduced by 3/4. Add the stock, tomatoes, honey, hot sauce, bay leaf and thyme and bring to a simmer. Add the clams and mussels, cover the pot, and continue cooking until the shellfish have opened, discarding any that have not opened.

Remove the shellfish with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and cook until reduced by half. Whisk in the butter and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Place all the seafood back into the broth just to warm. Serve immediately.

Serves 8

The best way sop up the broth is with sourdough croutons. If you have a bread maker it's worth making your own bread for this, if not, a store-bought sourdough will do just fine.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 loaf sourdough, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat butter and oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the bread cubes and thyme, toss to coat, and then transfer to a baking sheet, spreading in an even layer. Bake until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes, turning once.