Eating their way through Boston with BeantownEats

10 Dec
Click for photos from an evening at Oak Long Bar + Kitchen, recommended by BeantownEats bloggers.

Click for photos from an evening at Oak Long Bar + Kitchen, recommended by BeantownEats bloggers.

Boston is a city full of numerous restaurants, fun bars and delicious food. Because of this, the city is home to many food bloggers, but none do it quite like BeantownEats. The website, which covers food and drink, was created by Jon Berkowitz, a graphic and Web designer, and Lindsey “Lin” Lavoie, a physicist by day and blogger by night. Berkowitz and Lavoie, a couple living in Boston, strive to bring the latest in Boston food and drink, including restaurant and bar reviews, as well as different recipes.

The website was created in March of 2010, Berkowitz said, after the couple had decided to share a list of their favorite restaurants with each other.

“Somehow from that act and our love of dining out became the idea of BeantownEats.com,” Berkowitz explained.

Berkowitz’s background in graphic design led to a relatively easy creation of their website on WordPress.

“It was the logo design and colors that took some time,” Lavoie said, as they wanted to focus on attractive colors that complimented each other, not a typical Boston color like red of the Red Sox.

Although social media wasn’t a main concern when Berkowitz and Lavoie first developed their website, they recognized the importance that social media had on gaining the popularity their site sees today.

“At first, we weren’t really looking to get our website popular,” Lavoie said, “it was mainly for us to share our dining experiences with our friends and families. We quickly realized how important Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are.”

Despite an initial lack of interest in gaining popularity, they quickly saw success. One month after launching their site, Berkowitz and Lavoie received their first invitation to a dinner event.

“Since then, the number of invitations has steadily grown as our followers and familiarity has increased,” Lavoie said.

Attending free dinners and events is not the focus of BeantownEats, just a perk of the website.

“We are not able to attend every event due to our work schedules, and we really try to only attend those that we think our readers would want to know about,” Lavoie said, as they focus on creating a quality website.

Lavoie also explained that when her and Berkowitz are invited to an event, they make it clear that it doesn’t mean they will be writing a review on their website. This is because they don’t like posting negative reviews; they want their website to focus on good places to eat in Boston and what bars have great cocktails. It isn’t simply restaurant reviews, so they don’t want to promote a restaurant they weren’t satisfied with.

Independent food bloggers like Berkowitz and Lavoie, are becoming big contributors to restaurant reviews, but BeantownEats “tries to only focus on the positive experiences,” Lavoie said.

“We don’t consider ourselves food critics,” Lavoid said. “Instead, we simply want to share with our readers the places that we have enjoyed and would recommend. I think most people with food blogs and websites realize that a negative review can have a real impact on a business and we keep that in mind when we write our opinions.” Lavoie said. This is why BeantownEats doesn’t carry a review on every restaurant they go to.

This attention and care that goes into selecting restaurants to review is why Rebecca Traverse, a graduate from the Culinary Institute of America and baker at Flour Bakery and Café, is an avid reader of BeantownEats.

“Finding a great restaurant can be hard; there are a lot of good or decent restaurants, but you never know if it’s going to be great,” Traverse said.

“I’ve come to trust the reviews on BeantownEats, I’ve tried out new restaurants based on their reviews and none of them have let me down so far,” she added.

Although Berkowitz and Lavoie have a relatively large group of followers, with over 2,200 on Twitter, and constantly receive dinner invitations, they have yet to sell any ad space on their site.

“We have always been open to the idea of advertising if it was for a local product that made sense to be on our website,” Lavoie said, but they haven’t found the right advertiser.

“We love supporting local products that people in Boston know and can find. After all, the website is dedicated to the city,” Lavoie added.

Despite fully enjoying their experiences with BeantownEats, both Berkowitz and Lavoie have full-time jobs, so the website can get to be a bit much.

“At times, it can be very tough and a bit demanding,” Berkowitz said.

“There are times where we are just too busy with work and our personal lives that we get overwhelmed and need to take a step back with BeantownEats stuff. We never want to get burnt out from our website and always want to have fun with it,” he added.

Berkowitz and Lavoie have tried many restaurants throughout the city, but there is one that sticks out to both of them: Clio.

“We went there over the summer for my birthday dinner and it was the best meal I’ve had thus far,” Lavoie said.

“For those that have yet to experience a Todd Maul and Ken Oringer evening, I urge you to give Clio a try,” Berkowitz added.

Food blogging is becoming a popular tool for restaurant reviews and ideas. Watch the video below for a look at how people within the restaurant industry feel about these bloggers. 

Holiday party haven

4 Dec

With the holidays coming up, so does our stress level. Hosting a holiday party can be a big undertaking, so I thought I would share this link from the food section of Boston.com. Whether you’re hosting a party, or attending and bringing a dish, this article is full of great recipes for party snacks and spreads.

My personal favorites are the artichoke dip, french onion dip and cheesy focaccia!

Behold the Brussels sprout!

3 Dec

IMG_0959I have been a fan of Brussels sprouts my whole life; I remember being a little kid and my mom getting annoyed that all I wanted to eat was this atypical vegetable. Little did she know, I was just very ahead of my time. The Brussels sprout has made its official comeback!

I’ve been seeing these pop up on menus this fall, something that isn’t unheard of but not all that common either. But it seemed like everywhere I went, there they were! After having lunch at The Met Back Bay this weekend and seeing their delicious Brussels sprouts (photographed above), I decided to do some digging.

I’m not sure how I missed it, but The Globe had run an article all about Brussels sprouts! They really are making a name for themselves on our dinner plates.

Another great place to find information is The Food Network’s blog post “Brussels sprouts, 5 ways” as it offers up some great recipes and tips.

So keep your eyes peeled for these little green vegetables- restaurants are getting creative with their ways of cooking them and the presentation. They are delicious and good for you, so order them the next time you’re out!

A night out on the “towne”

2 Dec

151090_3983400957816_350191378_nTowne stove and spirits is a must-visit restaurant in Boston. A huge, double floored space with a cozy atmosphere, delicious food and friendly service makes for a great evening out.

When we first arrived, the hostesses were friendly as they wished us a happy meal, followed by a great introduction from our server. She quickly took drink orders, offered up some great suggestions on the wine list, then gave us some space to browse the menu. We ordered an order of fries for the table while we were deliberating, and they arrived quickly.

The fries weren’t your ordinary fries; they were coated in truffle oil and topped with rosemary. Rosemary is something I had never had on fries before, but it is something I will definitely do in the future.

Although I ordered a standard mesclun salad to start, I should have ordered a cup of the pumpkin bisque. I was able to try a spoonful of my friend’s and it was heavenly. It was a perfect mix of pumpkin and spices, nothing too overwhelming or overpowering.

The main attraction was my chicken dish. The giannone roto chicken is a must-try on their menu. It has a very classic chicken flavor, but nothing boring or too typical. It’s a rotisserie style chicken, served with delicious mashed potatoes and carrots.

I’m not the only one who enjoys a night out at towne! Food blogger Tracey, of 40-Something Life, said towne “is welcoming, spacious and offers great food that will be enjoyable to anyone’s palate.”

The Yelp rating isn’t very high (3 stars), though, so this restaurant might be a “hit or miss” type place. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone, but it seems like others might have something different to say.

A picture’s worth a thousand words; Oak Long Bar + Kitchen

1 Dec
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Steelhead Salmon

A night out at Oak Long Bar + Kitchen is something that needs to be experienced. The food is delicious, the mood is fun and lively, and the people are friendly.

I’m going to let the pictures do most of the talking for this place, but I will say that if you’re looking for a quiet night out, Oak Long is not the place for you! Located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza, this resto-bar is lively, upbeat and very loud. Despite the noise, I promise it will be a fun night full of great food and great drinks!

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Local Butter Lettuce

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Roasted Beets

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Roasted Chicken

Nothing better than homemade

28 Nov

IMG_0950A classic and tasty cookie, like the Oreo, shouldn’t be messed around with, but nothing beats homemade. So why not recreate a family favorite in your own kitchen.

A big hit from Flour Bakery + Cafe is their homemade Oreos, so I decided to take a stab at making these delicious cookies myself.

This recipe is relatively simple and was published in The Globe a few years ago. It’s also really convenient because you can bake it that day (the dough will need to settle a little before baking) or, after you roll the dough, freeze it to bake another time. This is the great thing about baking cookies- they freeze really well!

You also need to make sure you don’t slice the cookies too big- it’s not a major problem, but they will just taste better. Remember that you’re putting two cookies together in the end!

Let the cookies cool completely before you add the icing! This is really important, so make sure you have the time and patience for this recipe! The cookies aren’t too difficult to make, but they do require the appropriate amount of time to make them well.

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When you’re putting the frosting on the cookies, I used a piping bag to make them look nice and pretty. If you don’t have a piping bag, there are some great sites with tips on making homemade bags!

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These cookies are sure to be a hit, so if you have the time I highly recommend trying this recipe out for yourself!

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Giving thanks for good food

24 Nov

I came across this “15 Boston restaurant dishes to give thanks for” article from The Globe’s food section while I was away from the city, filling my plate with delicious thanksgiving food. I hate to admit that I haven’t tried any of these restaurants, but I thought I would share the article anyways. So go out, try these apparently tasty dishes and let me know which ones are the best!