Brunch: Served All Day Long!

20 09 2010

This is the Charles River Boat we used

Sound Bites- Somerville

A song about love for Rene and Lumina. Congrats on your recent engagement!

This Sunday, Rene, his girlfriend-recently-turned-fiancé Lumina, and my dear friend Ivana decided to go on the Charles River for a little adventure with nature. I always thought that the Harbor near Boston’s Government Center area was the only place from where one could take a boat excursion. Yet, we discovered that the Charles River Boat located right behind Cambridge Side Galleria Mall offers boat rides that take you all around the very popular Charles River along a beautiful view of the Esplanade, downtown Boston and Cambridge. The tickets were a gift from Lumina for my birthday (Gracias!), and we could not waste a beautiful afternoon like today sitting at home!

After a beautiful ride along the Charles and many pictures later, we all began to talk about how hungry we were, and Rene mentioned knowing of a place where breakfast is served all day long! Can you imagine this Heaven? Brunch! Mornings and Afternoons! Everyday! I am granting you access to Someville’s best kept secret—Sound Bites!

Now, you might have heard about Sound Bites not only for its amazing and very affordable timeless brunch but maybe also in relation to a not so pleasant on-going feud with its next-door neighbor, Ball Square Café. The story goes that owners Mr. Mirza (Sound Bites) and Mr. Moccia (Ball Square Café) started fighting back in 2007, when Moccia bought the space next to Sound Bites and convinced Sound Bites’ chef, Omar Djebbouri, to come work for him at his restaurant. The result: similar menu items from Sound Bites over at Ball Square Café, a couple of punches thrown between the owners, and several customers confused yet energized to try and rate both places due to the feisty competition.

I have yet to visit Ball Square Café, so I cannot compare and contrast the two establishments, but I’m sure some of you will let me know your thoughts after reading this entry.

In the meantime, let me tell you about our delicious 6:00pm brunch experience at Sound Bites where Rene decided to order the Caramelized Banana and Walnut French Toast, which was simply the perfect blend of crunchiness and sweetness….yet, probably a diabetics dream and, at the same time, worst nightmare. Using a very unique cooking and presentation technique, the chef encrusted the bread with honey and walnuts. Yet, one cannot simply finish the entire thing alone! This plate is extremely sweet and a bit overwhelming. Definitely, ask for a couple of extra plates to share this savory treat with friends and loved ones, which is exactly what my good brother did. Most entrées are also served with a slice of an orange, which you could pretty much call your dessert!

The right amount of crunchiness but watch that sweet tooth!

Ivana’s quest for her Huevos Rancheros continued (although, she admits that after trying many all over Massachusetts, she considers her encounter with H.Rancheros at Metropolis Café her favorite!), but she was sadly informed that they did not have “that” by a very confused waiter who asked us to repeat several times the name of this dish (Hue-vos Ran-che-ros!!). Finally, we found a similar version to her request in the Breakfast Burrito. Although this special is only served on weekdays, the nice folks at Sound Bites went above and beyond by accommodating my friend’s request to make her a happy customer. Avocado, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, and tomatoes all found inside a warm wheat wrap and served with cheddar cheese and sour cream on the side fulfilled Ivana’s Mexican craving along with a freshly squeezed orange juice that was delicious but maybe a bit overpriced.  Ivana was, nonetheless, very happy with her choice, since the fresh avocado added lots of flavor to the burrito.

Fresh ingredients served on a wheat wrap...Breakfast Burrito!

Moving on to the egg-corner, Lumina decided to try for the first time at a restaurant the brunch popular Eggs Benedict. These were covered with delicious hollandaise sauce that was “not too overpowering, very light and creamy but also tangy,” making it a table favorite.  The waiter also brought extra hollandaise without us having to request for more, and everyone agreed that the fresh avocado was the star of this entrée, as well. This order also comes with a side of perfectly seasoned, browned and crispy mashed potatoes, and although I am usually not a big fan of mashed potatoes, I have to admit that these had a special touch to them! You could even taste a hint of cinnamon that sparked so much flavor to this house specialty.

A first for Lumina at a restaurant, but certainly, not her last after this exquisite treat!

I also decided to try the egg section by going for The Green. This omelette comes with the right proportions of a variety of veggies: broccoli, spinach, onions, and green pepper. I decided to go for the healthier egg version by choosing the egg whites option with dark rye bread, but was disappointed by the fact that these veggies are sautéed in butter (a major pet-peeve of mine) rather than in olive oil. Yet, this was a delicious egg entrée that will keep you craving for more, and I would definitely recommend it since you will also get to the taste these incredible mashed potatoes. If you have a similar taste-bud like mine, then, I encourage you to ask the waiter for the olive oil sautéing preference.

My devotion to veggies: satisfied. Try The Green omelette next time you're craving vegetables during brunch.

Just when we thought we were done, the waiter approached us with complimentary fresh- sliced fruit plates that displayed a variety of colors courtesy of the pieces of mango, strawberry, grapes, watermelon, kiwi, pineapple, and papaya served.

One perk of going at 6pm was also the fact that we had the full attention of all of the staff during our entire meal. The staff was attentive and personable. Rene and Lumina, who have visited the restaurant at regular brunch hours in the morning, do advise, however, to be ready to wait in line since the popularity of Sound Bites increases by the day, and it is speculated that during winter time, Mr. Mirza, feeling bad for those who have to wait out in the cold, tries to rush table service so that everyone gets a fair chance to try the delicious brunch options.

Sound Bites gets our vote, for now. But, I am certainly looking forward to a future visit next door.

For the complete article on this on-going feud, visit: http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/04/26/cafe_owners_come_to_blows_in_somerville_square/

Signing out, one brunch at a time.

Sound Bites

704 Broadway

Somerville, MA 02144





Around the ‘Hood

12 06 2010

Here\’s today\’s track for your enjoyment

The Neighborhood Restaurant Somerville, Cambridge

A couple of weeks back, I found myself living (a much better term than “crashing”) at my brother’s apartment…a graduated senior…employed (luckily!)…but without an apartment to call my own since I had to wait until June 1st to actually move-in to the place that I will be calling “home” for the following year, according to my contract. And, so, just like that, I became a resident of Somerville, and I have to tell you what an ethnic, picturesque neighborhood it is, full of its own charm with beautiful houses and tons of Brazilian influence. I couldn’t even resist myself when I passed one of the many Brazilian grocery stores and just had to buy a couple of Garoto Bombons, which you will always crave after trying one for the first time.

To further introduce me to their ‘hood, Rene and his girlfriend Lumina invited me to go to The Neighborhood Restaurant, a Portuguese jewel causing a sensation around Somerville.

The patio area at The Neighborhood will brighten up your day!

Having opened 28 years ago, the Neighborhood Restaurant is still run by members of the Borges family, who will greet you in their very hospitable Portuguese ways by offering complimentary coffee and a delicious kind of soft Portuguese bread (careful! It is addictive!) to sustain you as you wait in line at this popular spot. Come prepare to start eating even before you sit down, but do not forget to leave room for the large portions that you are about to encounter during this meal.

To enjoy the beautiful summer weather, we decided to sit at the patio area of the restaurant, which has colorful picnic tables that will make you think that you are actually dining in Miami Beach or California for some reason. I guess sunshine and lots of color has that effect on some of us to dream that we are really elsewhere, allowing us to escape reality for a bit.

Any brunch meal is served with complimentary coffee or tea and orange juice, and the prices for the menu items range from $5.99 to $13.99. To start off, you have your choice of cream of wheat or fruit with most of the options listed on the menu. Rene and Lumina opted for the cream of wheat, a hot breakfast cereal that is made with ground wheat instead of ground corn. Both seemed to like it very much noting that it was not too sugary, and that it was nicely topped with cinnamon to add more flavor to it. I on the other hand, opted for the plate of fruit since those who know me know that I am not a big fan of hot oatmeal at all….(unless it is Trader Joe’s organic instant oatmeal J). On top of all of this, you also get to taste complimentary toasted bread served with jam.

Then, the time came to order the real meals–I immediately told Rene that he needed to try to the Portuguese platter (since I wanted a

Cream of Wheat for thee?

piece of that bad boy, as well), and since one should never argue with a man’s appetite, he happily accepted my suggestion. Now, I have to warn you that you should come with hunger to be able to eat this delicious and massive entrée. First of all, you will get a taste of linguica—a Portuguse pork sausge seasoned with onions, garlic, and paprika—eggs (cooked to your liking), tasteful red beans with white rice, filled baked puff pastries, and homemade potatoes. Wow! I think that we are getting closer to beating Man vs. Food, Rene.

Lumina did not fall behind on the food race by ordering flavorful banana-mango pancakes that are also served with a side homefries and eggs. The French toast topped with strawberries also served with eggs and turkey strips became my selection of the day, and jointly, the three of us indulged in a Portuguese breakfast to be remembered for many more days to come, both in the emotional aspect of sharing with others and in the physical aspect thanks to the lack thereof our gym memberships.

Portuguese platter--for food afficionados and challengers alike

sooo much food!! remember this when you are ordering!

Delicious banana-mango pancakes...what a great idea to put mangos on everything!

After a delicious brunch, which we could not fully finish, a walk to the Somerville castle was in the works. Located between Prospect

Prospect Hill Castle with a great view overlooking the city

Hill Avenue and Munroe Street, Prospect Hill Castle adds a historical touch to the city of Somerville as it was the place where, on January 1, 1776, General George Washington ordered that a new flag be raised to represent the 13 united colonies during the Revolutionary War, making this the first true “American” flag flown in [what is now] the United States.

Take a walk around the Somerville neighborhood to reach the castle not only after such an elaborate breakfast but also to enjoy a mesmerizing and gorgeous panoramic view overlooking Cambridge and Boston altogether once reaching its top.

Thank you Rene and Lumina for making me feel welcome around your ‘hood at The Neighborhood.

Meanwhile, enjoy the World Cup opening games and a fanatic basketball weekend!

Signing out, one brunch at a time.


The Neighborhood Restaurant and Bakery

25 Bow St Somerville, MA 02143

(617) 628-2151