Diner’s Drive Ins, and Dives and Boston Burger Company: Can we Trust Guy Fieri’s Judgment?

 

by Estefania Lahera ’20

I grew up with Food Network. Rachel Ray was my spirit animal, Emeril was my alarm clock with his “Bams!” and “Kick it up a notch!”. Saturday mornings were spent in the kitchen with a box of Kraft mac n cheese, where I would pretend to be Rachel Ray, standing on chairs to reach the stove.

In short, I believe in Food Network. So when I say that there was a new show, Guy’s Diner’s Drive Ins, and Dives, I was like…. wtf.

Who the heck is Guy Fieri? Where did he come from, this weird dude with porcupine hair and a smoker’s voice? How was he qualified to give anyone advice on food? He was literally like a bum in my eyes, some creepy stranger that lacked the authenticity and substance of the Food Network icons like Emeril or Alton Brown or Cat Cora?

It was karma that my sister and mom fell in love with the show, forcing me to endure hearing their oohs and aahs over what I felt was a mediocre restaurant with a perv for a host. But I got over my initial resistance, and while I am still by no means a fan of Guy Fieri, I’m in the habit now, when I travel or go anywhere, to look for restaurants that were featured on his show because many of them are often hidden gems.

The closest one to Harvard, besides Bartley’s, is Boston Burger Co, and given the opportunity to go, I was happy to try it out.

Having looked at the menu and the prices, I was expecting a chain like Shake Shack or Tasty Burger, but it was an actual restaurant ambience, a clean place with actual table service and tableware, which was really nice.

The menu was extensive, another warming sign; a menu that tries to much fails more than it succeeds. But my friend and I ordered without incident: the mac attack for me, because that’s what Guy Fieri had, and the Sophie for my friend. It was an excellent sign that the waitress asked how we wanted out burgers cooked.

The burger was supposed to come with chips, but my poor stomach couldn’t handle the prospect of more junk food, so I just got a plain salad.

Then the burger was brought, and my first thought was that wasn’t as big as I would have expected. I actually think that was a good thing, considering the powerful flavors contained. Meat, mac n cheese, and bacon. That’s it.

And the flavor was definitely there. Not, it wasn’t gourmet, wasn’t extremely sophisticated, wasn’t enveloped in layers of flavors. But it’s a $13 burger, and gourmet does not necessarily mean good. It was solid. The mac and cheese was the gooey, stovetop kind, not a particularly complex flavor but also not one-dimensional and fake. The bacon was crispy and well cooked. The bun didn’t give way, holding it’s body without being stale or bland (although it had a shiny, almost oiliness that was a bit off-putting). Overall, it was a good burger and I enjoyed it.

Then I just had to order a frappe. I couldn’t help myself. I got the strawberry one, and looking back that was probably a mistake. Most strawberry desserts, if they are on the cheaper side, are usually fake strawberry, syrup or canned or even extract, and this was no exception.

The frappe came with a grand entrance, but the flavor didn’t deliver. It was just a rather think syrupy drink. The whipped cream was normal, not especially fresh or special. The Nilla wafers that were glued via frosting to the glass were stale. It came with a piece of cake on top, but if you’re going to put cake on top, either make it good or just don’t put it. It doesn’t help your case to stick on there two stale, dry squares on plain vanilla cake with syrup, clearly canned strawberries in between that had the bitter taste of preservation.

Like I said though, strawberries desserts are always tough, always a compromise. I’m sure that any of the other frappes would have been better, especially the Nutella one. If only Boston Burger Co. would invite me back to do a sampling! **wink wink nudge nudge**

So is Guy Fieri’s judgment sound?

I would say yes. Relatively affordable complex burgers are not rare, but that doesn’t diminish their value, especially if they are done well. It’s a solid standby that won’t blow your socks off, but still has a bit of a wow factor if you order the right things.

Remember to follow the Crimson Crave on Instagram at @crimson_crave and if you to see more about my personal food adventures, feel free to follow me at @tinyfoodtraveler!

Flour Settles in Harvard Square on Nov 1st

By Bovey Rao ‘19

Flour Bakery and Café will be open starting Tuesday, November 1st at 114 Mount Auburn Street from 7a-8p (based on website hours).

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From Flour Website

This past Sunday, Flour Bakery and Café held an open house event for their new Harvard Square location, and CrimsonCrave was invited to attend!

Entering Flour, we were promptly greeted by the founder, Joanne Chang, as she shook hands and welcomed everyone in. I instantly noticed the classic menu in the back and the counter that is normally lined with pastries like in the other locations. On the left, there was the ubiquitous wooden table alongside shelves stocked with cookbooks and prepared pastries like biscotti. To the right, there is the sandwich counter and seats alongside the windows and a small alcove with tables. Immediately, I was impressed with the modern space and relaxed environment. Natural light poured into the café as it bustled with activity. Friends, family, and staff happily engaged in conversation, while snacking on savory and sweet treats prepared by Flour.

While I was exploring the space, staff frequently came by and introduced themselves. Despite this being an open house, the staff was happy to converse with the guests and attentively monitored the many platters. The general manager was clearly excited about opening this store as she gestured for us to try the food that was prepared.

Savory items ranged from pizzas to their signature sandwiches and large bowls of their salads. As I began sampling through the selection, I noted the soba salad and the stuffed breads as some of my favorites. The roasted lamb sandwich with goat cheese and tomato chutney is one of my old favorites.

For sweets, there was a wide selection of Flour’s specialties such as muffins, brownies, cupcakes, mini tarts, and their famous sticky buns. These expertly crafted treats can satisfy any sweet tooth as there is such a large selection. My favorites include the pumpkin muffins, pain aux raisins, and obviously the freshly baked sticky buns.

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My criticism of Flour was the size; however, this may be due to the activity and sheer number of people at the store. When I sat to talk to my friends, the alcove seating area was relatively cramped, so this Flour location is likely better suited for smaller groups. Most of the tables are designed for two people, which makes Flour excellent for breakfast or lunch meetings with a friend. At these tables, I conversed with some incredibly individuals, so I included their picture.

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If the open house was a trial event for Flour Harvard Square, I can only say that it was a tremendous success. The staff were warm and welcoming, and the food was clearly prepared with care. I am beyond excited for the official opening of Flour and welcome it to Harvard Square.

However, these are simply my musings, so for a true assessment, you must visit it yourself!

Author’s Note (Bovey Rao)

Two years ago, I was in Boston for a high school research program. While working on my final paper, I tried to see the city that I had essentially ignored over the course of the program. After a productive morning at the Boston Public Library, I went for a lunch break and began wandering the streets of Boston. For me in high school, I was not yet the intense food lover as I would describe myself today, but I still sought a good lunch. While wandering the vibrant neighborhoods of Back Bay, I stumbled upon Flour Bakery and Café. Seeing the long line, I was enticed by the promise of a popular lunch destination. After receiving my lamb sandwich, I found a seat at the communal wood table, took a bite, and the rest is history.

Flour Bakery and Café has been one of the staples of my time at Harvard. While the nearest branch is near Kendall Square and MIT, I frequently made the trek for lunch with friends, grabbing birthday cakes, or indulging in a sweet morsel (normally sticky buns or banana bread). In my countless visits to Flour, I can happily say that I only have positive memories associated with the space. When I heard Flour was coming to Harvard Square, I could barely contain myself with excitement.

Last week, I became communicating with Joanne Chang about interviewing her about the new Flour, and she graciously agreed. Furthermore, she invited me, Richa, and Caroline to the open house on Sunday. Joanne Chang is the founder of Flour Bakery and Café and a Harvard graduate in Applied Math and Economics in ’91. She maintains a strong connection with Harvard by teaching lectures for the Science and Cooking series. This past Friday, I was blessed with the opportunity to have a conversation with her so we could discuss the path to opening the Harvard Square branch of Flour. Then on Sunday, we attended the open house to have a glimpse of what was to come. I cannot be unbiased when I talk about Flour due to my history of positive experiences, but I think it will suffice to say that I am exuberant to showcase the opening of my favorite bakery and café from Boston in Harvard Square.

Much love to Marcella Park and Cynthia Gu, who visited Flour with me this Sunday.

Cabot Culinaries: A Tasteful Treat

by Richa Chaturvedi ’18

The number one thing I crave at school (besides sleep) is home-cooked food. Don’t get me wrong, HUDS has some clutch items on their menu. But nothing compares to a meal made from scratch with love.

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You can find this simple delight at Cabot Culinaries, a student group in Cabot made up of people who really just want to cook and eat some good food. I usually fall in the category of people who show up just for dinner, after all of the cooking is already done. But I decided to take initiative and become an active player in my meals, rather than a passive eater.  Cabot Culinaries met this past Saturday to cook an incredible meal: beet, arugula, and goat cheese salad, roasted spiced cauliflower and asparagus, home made gnocchi made two ways (I couldn’t make this up), rhubarb bars, and coconut mousse. Naturally, I was in charge of the easiest dish – the cauliflower and asparagus recipe that my mom texted me, then called to ensure that I understood, then texted again demanding updates because she has a reputation to uphold. I quickly realized that I was in the kitchen with some seriously experienced cooks. One whisked together an amazing balsamic vinaigrette while another actually made gnocchi starting from scratch. Meanwhile, I was struggling to break cauliflower into florets. It’s more physically exhausting than you would think.

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Overall, we had about 12 people help cook the meal and over 20 eating. I was so stressed out at the thought of 20 people eating food that I made, but all of that stress fell away with my first bite of salad. Everything was so fresh and delicious and, not to brag, but I didn’t even burn the roasted vegetables. So I would call it a success.

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Coming from California, it is sometimes hard to go for long stretches of time without any home-cooked food.  Cabot Culinaries helped me get my home-cooked fix and get over my fear for cooking for a lot of people.  That being said, it didn’t help me conquer my laziness.  I think I’ll rest for now – at least until the next Culinaries comes around.

Fried Rice

by Michelle Chiang ’19

We’ve all been there – you walk into the dining hall, and nothing really piques your appetite. You could settle for a salad, but that’s hardly satisfying. You could splurge and eat out, but you don’t want to spend money. What to do?

Fortunately, there’s a third option that’s ALWAYS available: make your own meal. More specifically, make your own fried rice.
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Fried rice is unbelievably easy to make. At home, my family often makes it with whatever ingredients are at hand: rice (of course), steamed vegetables, egg, leftover meat. Here’s my dhall version of fried rice.
(Feel free to add, remove, or change any part or the recipe! Everything is entirely up to you and your tastes.)

Ingredients:IMAG1067

brown rice
over-easy egg (from the grill)
vegetables (whatever’s in the dhall that day)
sesame oil
soy sauce

Recipe:

1.Dump everything in a bowl.
2. Mix.
3. Eat and be happy.
Enjoy!

D-Hall Hack Competition Winner: Tomato with Balsamic and Feta Cheese

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Submitted by Lynette Bye

A simple, flavor-filled dish to add a bit of color to any meal. The textures of crumbly feta cheese and plump tomato contrast nicely, and the zesty balsamic is the perfect finishing touch.

D-Hall Ingredients:

-Tomato wedges
-Feta cheese, crumbled
-Balsamic vinaigrette
-Olive Oil

Instructions:

  1. Select tomato wedges and place in bowl.
  2. Drizzle with a dash of oil and a hearty dose of balsamic vinaigrette.
  3. Sprinkle with feta cheese.
  4. Enjoy!

Life Alive: Organic, Friendly, and Fresh

By Katja Lierhaus ’16

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It’s 7:30pm on a Thursday,and there is already a line out the door. Located on a street corner in Central Square, Life Alive might not seem like it would be a popular offering, since it serves what some people consider “hippie food,” but meat-lovers and vegetarians alike flock to feast at this laid-back and humble food joint.

 

The moment IMG_4141you enter the comfortable yet quirky space, you can’t help but feel relaxed. As their menu reads, you truly cross into a “world of delicious, organic, and therapeutic food, created with love to feed your vitality.”The food here is meant to heal, nurture, and strengthen the body. Everything is fresh and wholesome, but also incredibly delicious. With options for omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, macrobiotic, raw, gluten-free and other diets, fantastic taste is never compromised.

 

Life Alive offer a wide assortment of teas, fresh pressed juices, smoothies (made coconut ice cream instead of milk), salads, wraps, udon noodle bowls, and side snacks.

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However, their main dishes and most popular items are the rice/quinoa bowls with steamed veggies, topped with a certain je-ne-se-quoi, kick-ass, unbelievable, out of this world, #yourtastebudswillthankyou sauce. Trust me, I’ve tried to create their bowls at home: I can’t come close to the awesome goodness they somehow incorporate in their sauce.

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Miso Soup

You won’t find any meat options here, but I am certain anyone can find a dish they are crazy about. I brought my big, Rugby-playing, protein-loving friend here before, and he loved the “Hot and Healthy Bachelor,” which consists of melted cheddar, hardboiled egg, broccoli flowers, dark greens, Braggs and nutritional yeast, all nestled in a soft whole-wheat tortilla. He also downed the “Elvis Alive” smoothie: peanut butter, cocoa, banana, coconut ice cream, and rice milk. I swear, anyone will love this place.

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Swami Bowl

I have tried almost every main dish at this point and I have never been disappointed. All of the veggie bowls offer something different. This time I chose to sit in the basement where they have live music is played every Thursday night. Here people are chatting about the week on couches topped with pillows, against a backdrop of empowering aphorisms and colorful, geometric art.

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My thoughts about midterms and p-sets melt away. A waitress brings my “Carrot Cake Alive” smoothie and “Rebel Bowl” and I am in a total bliss. The Rebel Bowl is both juicy and crunchy, oozing with sesame ginger nama sauce with flax oil, enlivening carrots, beets, broccoli, dark greens, legumes and hijiki, which is all over quinoa and short grain brown rice. I slowly devour this beautiful display of food as I sip the not-too-sweet smoothie.

Rebel Bowl

I could eat there every day, which is why I am often thankful it is located in Central Square. (It is about a fifteen-minute walk from the yard going east on Mass Ave past Berry Line, and Crate and Barrel.) Any closer, and I would seriously eat there every meal, which would mean I would be broke in no time.

Life Alive. Go, and you’ll never look back.

Beyond the Salad Bar: Arugula and Sweet Potato Salad

sweet potato d-hall hack

By Dana Ferrante ’17

Many times, the salad bar in the d-hall seems a bit lackluster. After looking at the same vegetable options each day, it often feels like there isn’t a single thing you could put on your greens to make them taste better.

It is for this –and many other reasons– why sweet potato night is one of my favorite days of the week. Each perfectly browned cube holds the potential to make your salad the best one you’ve had all week. Not only are sweet potatoes a super-vegetable, packed with vitamin A and vitamin C, but they are also an oh-so-sweet source of fiber.

 

You’ll need:

-2 bowls (for optimized salad tossed-ness)

 

Ingredients:

-2 cups of arugula

-1 cup of sweet potatoes

-one large serving spoon of feta cheese

-one large serving spoon (or however much you can personally endure) of red onions (either raw or in olive oil)

-olive oil to taste

-grounded black pepper to taste

 

Directions:

1.) Take a large bowl, and fill it with arugula, sweet potatoes, feta and red onions.

2.) Season with olive oil and grounded black pepper.

3.) Grab another large bowl. Cover the salad with the bowl, and holding down the sides, gently toss the salad.

4.) Enjoy!

 

Inspired by a recipe from the kitchen of Chef Diane Kochilas. Check out her website here: http://www.dianekochilas.com/.