switching gears

It is no secret that donlan loves pancakes. However, donlan loves The Paramount on Beacon Hill, and the pancakes there are hit or miss. If one orders a pancake “well done”, one can get an acceptable flapjack, but for the most part, they are forgettable.

Recently, donlan has swapped out the pancake order for a waffle. It’s made with the same batter as the pancakes, but when ordered (of course) well done, it comes out crispy and dark brown. Add syrup, and nirvana is achieved.

Donlan’s new breakfast order consists of a waffle, an egg, and sausage. Syrup mandatory.



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Unexpectedly good lunch location

donlan has had cause to visit Man’s Greatest Hospital, and wanted a better lunch option than the hospital’s own cafeteria (which, like everything else at MGH, is head and shoulders above its peers).


donlan likes Whole Foods Market and stopped in to the Charles River Plaza location recently. While the vast majority of the store is given over to typical grocery purchases (including an excellent fish counter, meat counter, and deli), donlan will focus on the prepared foods.


The store always has two cold food bars, one full of traditional vegetables for salads and one of composed salads. There are also three (one large, two small) hot food stations each with a variety of selections. A soup station is nearby with 8-10 offerings (even at odd hours, catering to the hospital crowd where some people eat lunch at 8 a.m.). There’s a sushi counter, a pizza counter, and a huge cold prepared food counter.


At the very end of the prepared food counter (nearest the deli), there are prepared sandwiches and donlan has had cause to sample a few selections, most recently, the roast beef sandwich. Between slices of flat bread you can find well done roast beef, cheese, lettuce, and tomato. The sandwich is quite large, and donlan divides it in half. The cheerful counter staff will pop the sandwich into the pizza oven to warm it (donlan found while this is excellent, taking the sandwich home and heating it in the toaster oven for 20 minutes at 400F is even better).


The sandwich itself is very tasty, and donlan adds a cup of tomato soup, dipping the sandwich into the soup.


The Whole Foods location is clearly set up for large amounts of small purchases, as they have a corral of 20 or so basket-sized registers, so if you’re coming in to grab lunch, you can be out in a flash.


The only minus is the on-site eating location (it’s not very nice, although the cars on the adjacent plaza can often hold donlan’s interest). Still, lunch for $15 for a sandwich, soup, and a couple of drinks: that’s not bad!


donlan will return.

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Sebastian’s (lunch)

donlan has eaten at Sebastian’s in Kendall Square many times. After some experience, donlan has learned to avoid the pasta, as it can be greasy and heavy.


LAN got a salad (lots of veggies) with grilled chicken, cheese, and a bread roll. It was just okay, a B. Sebastian’s doesn’t have cheddar cheese, and LAN has to settle for parmesan.


DON got a turkey and cheddar sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and mayo on focaccia. DON also too some of LAN’s salad, tucked it into some of LAN’s pita bread, and ate it (with LAN’s permission). The sandwich was good, not great. It would have been better heated up. Grade: B+


Service: donlan likes to beat the crowd and arrived at Sebastian’s at 11:40. Oddly, that seems to be the time that many Sebastian’s staff members get their lunch breaks. As a result, there were very long lines for sandwiches (with just one person making sandwiches) and salads. It seems odd that Sebastian’s staffs this way. Grade: C+


Total cost: $24, which seeems very high (even though LAN got to take half of the sandwich home).


Overall: going to Sebastian’s is mostly about the walk back from campus to the office. The food itself is an excuse to go on that walk. As a result, donlan will return, but it certainly isn’t A#1 destination.

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swiss bakers Allston

donlan gave Swiss Bakers a try for lunch.


donlan split a raspberry berliner while waiting for sandwiches.


LAN ordered a ham-and-swiss sandwich on a pretzel roll with lettuce, tomato, and dijon-mayo. Grade: B+


DON ordered a turkey-and-swiss (no cheddar) sandwich on a swissie roll with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. Grade: A-


Place was nearly empty at 11:30. Service was impeccably cheerful (almost to the point of being grating). The decor was typically swiss (very clean lines). The view was absolutely terrible.


Still, the food was good enough that donlan plans to return.

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flour bakery (but this time, for lunch)

In an attempt to evaluate other turkey+cheddar+mayo sandwiches, donlan recently ate lunch at flour bakery.

The cafe is in a thriving area of Cambridge not far from MIT, and the secret to flour (as it is to everywhere) is to arrive early, where early is before 11:45 (before 11:30 is even better).

LAN ordered a stock turkey+cheddar+cranberry chutney on whole wheat (a very enjoyable choice), while DON selected his “standard” sandwich: turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

Flour’s bread is one of the best parts of their menu; if only they sold it by the loaf for home consumption (or perhaps not; LAN might be 200lbs if that were the case). More than once, the sandwich has been made on bread still warm from the oven.

After ordering but before the sandwiches arrived, donlan shared a low fat fruit scone, which is nowhere near a scone in texture (see Petsi Pies for the closest to a scone that can be had in the Boston area), but if one thinks of it as a cake with fruit and a bit of glaze, it’s a bit easier to understand. If Petsi’s scones are a B+, the flour scone is more like a C.

Joanne Chang, founder of flour, knows how to make sandwiches that are well balanced. Each bite has a mixture of tastes and textures: salty, sweet, and either sour (cranberry chutney) or tangy (mayonnaise). There is the perfect amount of turkey (not too much), perhaps the cheese is a tad excessive (two full slices for one sandwich seems overboard), and the greens top off the composition.

All in all, the sandwiches get a B+ (turkey+cheddar+cranberry) and A- (turkey, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, mayo).

The flour atmosphere is not very pleasant. The view is utterly awful, and cafe often crowded. C+ grade overall.

LAN often gets a cookie to take back to the office and eat later. The ginger molasses is a particular recommendation (grade B, plenty of ginger, but quite soft and pliable. LAN prefers one with a snap).

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snow day!

donlan had a day off work today due to snowstorm Nemo. Instead of the usual trip to The Paramount on Beacon Hill, donlan changed gears and decided to try something entirely different.


donlan’s absolute favourite breakfast is at the Wenham Tea House. Rather than go back there, a decision was taken to try a different diner-style restaurant a few towns up from Wenham.


Arrived at 8am, restaurant was already open but nowhere near full. Hostess put donlan at a table in a corner. The waitress took her sweet time getting over to take donlan’s order.


Coffee: DON gave this an A for quality, although B in delivery. Waitress did not refill it often enough, and there was no yellow stuff (splenda) on the table.


Water: LAN gave this a C. Two tiny glasses, waitress had to be asked for a refill.


Three pancakes: small in size, and presented with the under-done side facing up. Grade C+. Had they been presented with the more well-done side face up, the score could have gone up to an A-.  Pancakes had butter on the side.


Syrup: Grade B, table syrup (but lots of it).


Omelet with cheddar and well done bacon. Grade: B. Very well cooked, bacon done to perfection.


Home fries. Grade C. Too much garlic.


Service: C+. Waitress had to be asked to bring things. The food arrived quickly, at least.


Odd complaint: Plates. They were oval shape, with very high sides. This made sharing things between plates very difficult.


Overall: A C+, no better than that.


Donlan does not plan to go back.

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Petsi Pies (Putnam Ave)

donlan has found the perfect breakfast (Wenham Tea House: pancakes, cheddar & well done bacon omelet), so it’s only right to branch out to another meal.


donlan has had very delicious breakfast sandwiches at Petsi Pies (Putnam Ave location), (referenced here). Almost by accident, donlan decided to try the lunch options, given that every single comestible consumed at Petsi has been far above average in quality.


Petsi Pies has a regular lunch menu plus a rotating set of specials (viewable on twitter @putnampetsipies). After much experimentation, donlan has found the ideal lunch menu.


One lemon scone. The scone itself has a hint of lemon flavour, but the lemon icing on the top really makes this pastry exceptional. donlan consumes the scone while waiting for the actual lunch item to arrive. Scone score: B+. About as good as it gets for a scone made in the USA.


Turkey, cheddar & avocado with greens & tomato on ciabatta. Since LAN doesn’t like avocado, donlan asks for mayo instead. The combination of the crunchy bread and tangy mayo makes the sandwich quite exceptional. One would rate it an A, in fact.


While donlan enjoys the scone and sandwich, a Nantucket Nectar red plum cocktail is consumed, nicely tart against the sweet lemon scone.


After finishing the first two courses, donlan shares a second pastry, either a cookie of some kind, or a small slice of cake. Aside from the time donlan ordered the wrong cookie (LAN’s fault, the sign was in the wrong location), every other cookie or pastry has been A or better in grade.


donlan likes to sit at the window and look out on Putnam Ave. The atmosphere at lunch is different than breakfast, but the place just as enjoyable.


LAN usually gets a pastry to take back to the office and enjoy later. Lucky LAN.

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