bill and i went to out Last Annual Lunch at the Pudding on Friday. (sensing a theme in the latest entries? i'm all about good food.) i'm glad we were able to go; we had tried last Friday, but the wait was going to be too long and we had meetings to go to. this time, we blocked out an insanely large amount of time to get there early, and assumed we might have to wait, as the seating on the garden terrace is highly coveted. i think the host remembered us from our first attempt, because he was quite happy to see us and put us at a nice shady table.
i've been to the Pudding a number of times, and i can only remember eating indoors once. and while it's often lunch, i have had dinner outside too. the garden terrace is a wonderful space; the deck is divided into two smaller spaces by a short trellis/wall, and the whole place is covered in flowering plants and herbs. it's still sort of early for most of the plants to be out, but the tangerine colored hibiscus right by our table was in full flower. i think they also haven't put as much effort into the garden this year because they're moving soon (more on that in a minute).
our waiter was wonderful; pretty sure he's the one who's waited on us (me, anyway) the last few times around. just the right combination of attentive and discreet. first order of business was water and iced tea, because it was *%#@! hot. if i could have convinced him to leave the pitcher of ice tea on the table, i would have. and when the other waiter brought by still water instead of tap water, he realized his mistake and was going to take the bottle back. 'noooo! bring it on, baby! it's cold and liquid. that works.' whoofdy. we went thru a lot of water just trying to feel human. i was mildly disappointed they didn't have limeade this time. they had it last summer, and it was a lovely change of pace. freshly squeezed lime juice with a little bit of sweetener... yum.
oh, so what did we have... they always bring good bread and leave a small pitcher of rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil on the table. tasty goodness. and it was hard to choose what to order; everything on their menu looks wonderful. i actually suggested that we just order 3 or 4 salads and call it a meal, since we were having trouble deciding, and that would have made a suitably light lunch. but we did actually have to choose something. ;) i got the summer gazpacho to start. it's more sweet red pepper and cucumber than tomato, and they finish it with a basil pesto, rock shrimp and fresh avocado. wonderful, light balance of flavors, perfect for a day as hot as all that.
bill got the chicken salad with sliced almonds, finished with fresh raspberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, blackberries and mango. hell, i would have had the fruit salad alone. they have a good supplier who gets them great quality produce. i had the Maine crab cakes, with a red pepper aioli. ooooo... yum. good thing bill took a taste when the plate first arrived, because i made short work of those puppies. i could have done without the pile of lawn trimmings in the middle of the plate (otherwise known as a petite herb salad), but only because it was a distraction from the main appeal.
and despite the heat, we did manage to find room for dessert. bill got a personal size cakelet... oh, um... feh. all i remember is that it was frosted with coconut flakes. think it was an angel cake, with a teensy scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on the side. i got the vanilla bean pound cake, with a strawberry rhubarb compote that they spiced with ginger and orange peel. yumdillyicious.
oh, hey - Happy Birthday, my man! quite the lunch to celebrate with, eh? by the way - stopped by Casa B for a quick dinner last night, and drew slapped down two napkins, assuming you'd be in shortly. they said you were a fool not to come in on your birthday. i suspect they would have been very good to you. maybe you can get a raincheck next time. ;)
back to the restaurant moving... seems Harvard has had quite enough of leasing the space to them. they close day after tomorrow, which is why this was the Last Annual. they'll open somewhere else, and i'm sure Mary Catherine will make it into another lovely space. but it won't be the same, and i'll miss the terrace. too many things are changing in the Square for my taste. seems like the whole damn place is under construction. i still miss the Tasty (where else would you go for hot dogs and fries at 3 in the morning?) and the bar upstairs at the Wursthaus, where we had one of the coolest bartenders ever. don let us set the bar on fire one night so we could recreate some stupid car stunt with a Matchbox car. makes me nostalgic for the old Square.
of course, change isn't always bad. we went to see Tomb Raider last night at a new theatre out in Framingham. they have recliner seats, a bar (with bar menu), and table service. it was kind of like seeing the inflight movie in first class, except without the wings. the four of us had a great night out.
driving out and back in the convertible was more fun than i've had in ages. man, oh man... convertibles rock. i ended up crashing at sonia's last night, because we went to see the late show and suddenly it was 2 in the morning. got up this morning on too little sleep and not nearly enough caffeine, but the ride home more than made up for it. rocketing down Storrow, stretched out in the back seat, wind rushing thru the little amount of hair i have, with tunes cranked on the stereo was just a happy, happy moment. perfect summer days should always be spent riding around in a convertible. whee ha!