The Mad Chef Cafe & Grill creates a menu with a little something for everyone, whether they’re a vegetarian, carnivore, or simply craving a home-cooked meal. Flavor explodes in dishes such as crispy tofu stir-fry, blackened rib eye topped with frizzled onions, and shrimp and calamari tossed in a sweet Thai sauce with sesame noodles. For lunch, cooks unveil a spread of paninis, wraps, and burgers. Regardless of the time of day, patrons have the option of dining inside or on the patio during spring and summer. The restaurant also hosts cooking classes both in-house or from the comfort of the student’s own abode, ideal for those who tire of commuting with a full set of pots and pans tied to their back.
Quinta Bistro's chef David Kiser draws on his European background to design a menu replete with Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian influences that emphasize seasonal ingredients that pop with fresh, warm flavors. Paella Valenciana ($15.95) packs centuries of Spanish charm into on-the-bone roasted chicken and chorizo resting on a bed of saffron rice studded with cushy pea throw pillows. Spicy crab linguini ($17.95) piques palates with a rich San Marzano sauce. Homemade desserts including flan ($5) and crème brûlée ($8) make for a creamy ending to a dashing dinner and send guests home to dream in Portuspanitalian. With an inviting family atmosphere and a casual BYOB policy, Quinta Bistro stamps palates' passports for a culinary tour of Western Europe without the hassle of having each taste bud searched at customs.
One of the quicker ways to acclimate yourself to Reimei’s contemporary Japanese cuisine is to order the sushi pizza—it’s a scallion pancake that’s cut into triangles and loaded with chunks of spicy tuna, mango, and avocado. As a matter of fact, avocados are a fixture at the sushi bar, where chefs make use of them in 12 of the 14 specialty rolls (you also can choose ingredients to create your own roll). Other contemporary takes on Asian staples include fried rice served with lobster or taiwanese sausage, and prawns topped with macadamia nuts and honey.
An alternative to these offerings is Reimei’s hibachi cuisine. In a room with 10 grilling stations, skilled chefs spin their spatulas and perform culinary tricks as they prepare meat-heavy dishes such as swordfish, smoked duck, chilean sea bass, and maine lobster tail.
The chefs at Crepe N Grill serve both sweet and savory crepes, thin pancakes crowned with fresh ingredients such as honey-cinnamon apples or braised pork. Freshly blended fruit smoothies, lattes, and cappuccinos from the espresso bar pair up with crisp salads, soups, and paninis.
The poultrygeists at Cluck-U glorify grilled, fried, and buffaloed bird with a Southern-style bill of fare devoted to the chicken. Diners debate dressings for buffalo wings, choosing from 15 different flavors such as Cluckster's hot, mustard barbecue, and Fiery 911 sauce, which requires a signed waiver and back-up set of taste buds. Six pieces of fried-to-order light meat, dark meat, or a combination of each come standard or, like an amicable bee, bearing a satchel of honey. Three buttermilk biscuits buttress main courses, and seven sides vie to rub elbows with entrees, prompting mac 'n' cheese to plump its profile with four types of dairy and mashed potatoes to reinforce its gravy boat with cannons.
For Sean Ulley, the owner Smokehouse Barbecue in Somerville, grilling meats is a family tradition; his father runs his own barbecue joint in Andover. To infuse ribs, brisket, and pulled pork with deep flavor, Sean seasons the cuts with a dry rub and smoke them for up to 17 hours—as deliciously described in the Somerville Today. The cooks also make good use of their fryer, deep-frying everything from corn on the cob to Oreos. Patrons can also opt for fried chicken, burgers, or Creole dishes such as the Louisiana Steampot—a medley of clams, mussels, crawfish, and shrimp served over rice and garnished with a strand of sautéed Mardi Gras beads. In the summer and spring, diners can head to an outdoor patio to eat in the warmth of the sun.