Backyard Coffeehouse and Eatery – Ogunquit, ME

IMG_2331I’m not a fan of crowded tourist destinations. Waiting in long lines, crowded sidewalks, the noise and congestion, I might as well just stay home. My other option is to go out of season. Ogunquit Maine is a good example. I love it there but only when it’s quiet, and I’m not fighting for breathing space, the problem is many restaurants and business are closed during the off-season as is Backyard Coffeehouse and Eatery.

This place is one of the best coffee shops I’ve been to in a long time. They do everything right, from the rustic charm of the business to the friendly customer service, and fantastic coffees, pastries, and food. My first morning in Ogunquit found me there with a latte and pastry. The coffee was not over-roasted (i.e., not bitter) and the pastry was out of this world. It was deliciously sweet and chewy and made every bite a memorable one. I was so impressed with Backyard I went back for lunch the same day. Their lemon ginger iced tea was spicy and tart and sweet all at the same time and paired perfectly with their Village Green Salad consisting of spring mix, avocado, feta cheese, candied pecans and a honey mustard dressing.

My only complaint, if I had to make one, is that they are not open year around. I get it. I do, but it doesn’t make me happy as the next time I’m in town they won’t be open, and frankly there is no other place in Ogunquit to get a good cup of coffee and pastry. And yes I know there is another place down the road…well, that’s for another blog.

If you’re in Ogunquit or even just passing through, stop by Backyard, it’s worth it. Trust this little doggy, I know my coffee.

Online at: Backyard
Reservations Accepted: No

Food Rating: 5 paws
Service Rating: 5 paws
Rating 5 Paw
Overall Rating: 5 paws

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.


Pho House – Cambridge, Ma

images-2I can’t believe it’s been five months since my last post, so to everyone out there in Shata-land, I’m back! If I’m to be honest with all my fans out there, I took a break from the delicious world of food as this little doggy needed to lose a few extra pounds. You can’t do food and restaurant reviews if you don’t indulge, and I was doing some serious feasting. So with that said, let’s get back to the dog house and have ourselves some fun.

A few weeks ago, I ventured back into Pho House on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. I say back because I was there before. It was a few weeks after they opened for business, and it was without a doubt one of the worst meals I’ve ever had, and I swore never to slip my paw inside those doors again. As the old saying goes, Never Say Never…

I went into this meal expecting poor service, and equally terrible food, so my expectations were not high. I ordered the Rad Nah with vegetables. The service was friendly, and the food came out piping hot and in a reasonable amount of time. The noodles were cooked to perfection, the brown sauce had that wonderfully rich, smoky flavor you expect from a stir-fried noodle dish, and the vegetables were all cooked al dente. Was it the best Rad Nah I’ve had? No, but compared to what I was served the last time, it was good.

It was a simple meal, but it changed my mind about this place. Will I go back? Definitely, and this time, I’ll actually dig into their menu and see what other surprises awaits me.

Online at: Pho House
Reservations Accepted: No

Food Rating: 3.5 paw
Service Rating: 3.5 paws

Overall Rating: 3.5 paws


With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.


Cooking Tip – What no Eggs?

Tell me this hasn’t happened to you. You’re in the kitchen getting ready to make muffins, or scones, or any number of tasty baked goods and you suddenly realize you don’t have any eggs. Normally you have two options.

  1. Drive to the store and buy eggs
  2. Put the other ingredients away and leave the kitchen pouting

What if I told you there’s another option? You don’t need eggs, and you can still get the same tasty baked goods. And better yet? You most likely will have the ingredients on hand.

For each egg in your recipe, you will need the following:

2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of canola oil (or other light oil – don’t use olive oil in this recipe)
2 teaspoons baking power

And that’s it. Mix the three ingredients in a small bowl just before adding them to your recipe in place of the eggs.

And there you go, a simple and quick substitute for eggs.

With love from my dog bowl to yours…happy eating


Bark Out! – Mix It Sushi – Cambridge

imagesToday’s inaugural Bark Out (my new semi-regular post updating information on some of the restaurants and businesses I’ve blogged about over the years) is for Mix It Sushi Noodle Grill, and it’s not a happy one.

For a little brain refresher you can read my initial 5 paw review from March 16, 2015 here, Mix It Sushi

Two weeks ago, I didn’t feel up to cooking, so we went back to our almost weekly gathering place, Mix It Sushi Noodle Grill. It’s been our go-to place for sushi and noodle dishes since it opened in November of 2014. Oh, how the mighty has fallen in only a year.

The service was horrible. Long waits, with confused wait staff, who didn’t know the difference between vegetable tempura platter or the vegetable tempura maki roll. Yes, we ordered the tempura maki, and received the tempura platter instead. Generally, I wouldn’t mind the mix up, I love tempura, but this was the worst I’ve ever attempted to eat. The vegetable pieces were so large you could not pick them up with chopsticks, and they were swimming in a pool of grease congregating in the bottom of the bowl. They were inedible. We gave up after a while trying to explain to the waiter that we order the tempura maki, while he insisted that is what we got.

Another long wait and we received two of the three additional maki rolls we ordered. The rice was not fresh, and the nori used to wrap the rolls was tough and barely chewable. We never received one of our rolls, when we inquired about it, they apologized and said they would put the order in, but then we were tired of the ordeal and told them not to bother.

This was always my go to place. The service was wonderful, and the food always fresh, but something has happened and this isn’t the first bad experience I’ve had here over the past month.

It will take a lot of convincing for me to step my paws back into this restaurant.

Food Rating: 2 paw
Service Rating: 1 paws

Overall Rating: 1.5 paws

1.5 Paw Review

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.


Thelonious Monkfish – Cambridge, Ma

oIt’s been a few years since I’ve dined at Thelonious Monkfish in Central Square. It used to be my go-to place for lunch when I worked in Central Square. I recently returned for lunch and was amazed and delighted to see that they have expanded their restaurant to include a full bar, at least doubling the seating capacity, and they have a stage for live jazz performances. The new interior is sleek and inviting, warm and comforting just like their food.

I started off with their Asian pickles and vegetable pot stickers. The pickles were what this little doggy dreams of. A blend of Asian vegetable pickled to a crunchy and tangy perfection. And unlike most Asian restaurants, they do not skimp on quantity. The vegetable pot stickers were one of the most interesting version of this dish I’ve ever experienced. Light, thin wrappers stuffed with an assortment of green vegetables.

Now on to their sushi. In a nutshell they were absolutely fresh and flavorful. For the vegetarians out there, they have a huge assortment of sushi options, including one of the most unique I’ve ever seen, and believe me when I say it’s out of this world. It’s called the Snow Queen and is part of their fairy tale selection. Picture it…shiitake mushrooms, green apple, cucumbers and asparagus all wrapped in rice and seaweed, then covered in thin coconut meat, a pineapple mayo and garnished with coconut flakes. This is worth the trip alone. And don’t let this unusual combination throw you, they have the basic and standard vegetable sushi, including sweet potato tempura maki, mushroom maki, and the every popular, cucumber, avocado, and asparagus. All of them, fresh, and delicious.

This place is going to be a regular spot for me, and I can’t wait to get back there for dinner and listen to some fantastic jazz.

Thelonious Monkfish is the best of the best, paws down.

Online at: Thelonious Monkfish
Reservations Accepted: Yes via Ureserv

Food Rating: 5 paw
Service Rating: 5 paws

Overall Rating: 5 paws Rating 5 Paw

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.


Sun-Dried Tomato and Mushroom Fettuccine

Sun-Dried_Tomato_and_Mushroom_Fe-818-102This recipe has become a standard of mine, whenever I want something warm and comforting, especially on these chilly winter nights. Okay, so lately it’s not been cold, but work with me here.

The recipe is vegetarian, and yet it has the deep, aroma and flavor you expect from a beef stroganoff. Don’t skimp on the heavy cream or the half and half, it’s necessary. If you feel guilty, go on a diet the day after. This recipe is worth it. Trust me.


2 tablespoons – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
8 ounces – Cremini Mushrooms, thinly sliced
3.5 ounces – Sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1.5 cups – Vegetable broth
1/2 cup – Half and Half
1/4 cup – Heavy cream
1/2 cup – Parmesan cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons – Fresh Basil, minced
1/2 pound – Fettuccine
1 teaspoon – Thyme
1 splash – Sherry


  1. Heat olive oil on medium-high heat, add sliced mushrooms and thyme. Cook for a few minutes then splash the wine. Cook for another minute and then add diced sun-dried tomatoes. Reduce heat.
  2. Add the broth to the skillet – continue to cook the vegetables in a chicken broth on medium heat until the mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes absorb some of the broth and the broth reduces somewhat. Add half and half, heavy cream and bring to boil just for a short moment. Add Parmesan cheese and cook the sauce, stirring, for a couple of minutes, on low-medium heat until the cheese melts. Add the basil.
  3. If your sauce is too thick at this point – add more chicken stock. You want the sauce a bit thin here, as the hot pasta will absorb some of the liquid.
  4. Cook fettuccine according to the package instruction. Drain and add the fettuccine into the sauce and continue cooking the sauce with the pasta in it, on medium heat, for a couple of minutes (or more – to achieve the desired thickness) stirring constantly to coat well.


Pepe Bocca – Somerville, MA

1.OutsideA few days ago my paws were getting itchy for a walk and like most of my walks, I found myself in one of the many specialty food markets in the area. This time it was Pepe Bocca in Davis Square in Somerville.

I had high hopes for this place, after all many people have posted rave reviews about the place, but personally I couldn’t see the attraction. Let’s start with the basics – bread. The selection of bread was impressive, however the breads that were wrapped and on a rack in the store were hard as a brick. After deciding I didn’t want to risk breaking a tooth, I opted for one of the baguettes behind the counter, thinking I’d be getting a better option. I didn’t realize it until I got home that the entire bottom of the bread was burnt, and I’m not talking about a little over done, I’m talking black as coal, scorched type burnt. It wasn’t edible. I threw the entire loaf out.

During that visit I also ordered one of their anise cookies. It was stale beyond words, and the anise flavor was so overpowering that the cookie was actually bitter.

From my experience and browsing through the store, this place is over priced and under quality. The only redeeming quality of my entire visit was that the woman behind the counter was very welcoming and with no attitude. With all the other great specialty markets in the area, I can’t imagine why anyone would choose this place. It was my first and last time.

Online at: Pepe Bocca

Food Rating: 1 paw
Service Rating: 2 paws

1.5 Paw Review

Overall Rating: 1.5 paws

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.

Joe Coffee and Cafe – Provincetown

b174be1aef6bb984cfa8b0a53bd5bbf6After an uneventful drive to Provincetown and checking into our guest room, I desperately needed a cup of coffee to perk me up. Plus there’s nothing better than a good cup of hot coffee on a fall day in Provincetown, well that is if you get a good cup of coffee.

Joe Coffee and Café is a mecca in Provincetown and always slammed. But for the life of me I can’t figure out why. The employee behind the counter (employee is the nicest description I have for her, as she obviously wasn’t a barista, or a customer service professional,) but I digress. I had to give her my order three times because she kept forgetting it while she chatted and talked about dates, pets, and plans with her co-workers. It was as if we were all interfering with her social life.

I finally received my croissant and small coffee and went outside and took a seat on the brick wall to bask in the chilly sunshine. The croissant was dry and in no way resembled what a croissant should taste like. It was obviously a poorly made bread dough shaped to look like a croissant. I realize this is not Paris or even London, but it’s an old Portuguese fishing village, surely someone can put together a better pastry than what they serve.

Now on to the topic of coffee, it’s just plain terrible. Bitter, over-roasted and mine tasted as if it had been sitting around for several days and then warmed up. It was undrinkable.

If you want to be with the in-crowd, then go to Joe Coffee and Café, but if my experience is the norm, don’t expect good service or a decent cup of coffee.

Food Rating: 1 Paw
Service Rating: 1 Paw

Overall Rating: 1 Paw

Rating 1 Paw

With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.

Lorraine’s – Provincetown, MA

oI have been a big fan of Lorraine’s for more years than I can remember. It has always been my go-to spot while staying in Provincetown, sometimes dinner every night of my stay. Yes, it was that good. And yes, my little doggy paws used the past tense.

As usual for any trip to Provincetown, I went there for dinner on my first night. It’s always been a tradition of mine. I feel starting out on the right dining paw so to speak sets the tone for the rest of the trip. I should have known something was wrong when I saw that they had moved to a new location. Don’t get me wrong the new space is okay, it’s just not Lorraine’s. It’s very small. They lost at least 50% of their table space, and the décor has been updated, meaning sort of trendy and sleek. Again, nothing like the old Lorraine’s with that warm, cozy, I’m back in Provincetown feeling.

The service was as always, warm and friendly. Lorraine herself even welcomed us back. But there was something missing that night – the old recipes – or at least the old chef. I don’t know what the problem was, but the food was plain bad. The chile relleno was so spicy hot you could barely eat it, and the green sauce (I’m assuming tomatillo) was flavorless and watery. The salsa was also not as I remembered it, lacking any flavor resembling Mexican food. The tostada was not a tostada but a salad that had crumbled tortilla chips on it.

I was, to say the least, heartbroken at how far the food had fallen. I only wish when they had moved, they had remembered to grab the recipe book. It’s not the old Lorraine’s, and it’s certainly not a Lorraine’s I’ll go back to.

Online at: No Website
Reservations Accepted: Yes via (508)-487-6074

Food Rating: 1 Paw
Service Rating 3 Paws

Overall Rating: 2 Paws


With love from my dog bowl to yours…Happy eating.


Pop + Dutch – Provincetown

Unknown-2It’s been a few years since I’ve been taken to Provincetown, and I was quite excited when I heard about going back for Spookybear. There is really nothing quite like Provincetown during Halloween, and yes I packed my Halloween cape for the occasion.

Saturday afternoon I was getting rather hungry and decided to stop in at Pop + Dutch at 147 Commercial Street. I knew I had chosen wisely when I saw their slogan, “Sandwiches, Salads, and Lube.” Seriously it could only happen in Provincetown. The deli and general store literally has a little bit of everything, from suntan lotions, to waffle bats, to specialty grocery item, and yes lube. They also have a great selection of made-to-order deli sandwiches.

I ordered the Danny DeVito, which included shaved mushroom, zucchini ribbons, marinated artichoke hearts, provolone, hoagie relish, arugula, red onion, drizzled with oil and vinegar on Iggy’s ciabatta roll. I normally don’t get too excited over a deli sandwich, but this thing was out of this world. I mean fireworks good. My paws were tapping a happy tune the entire time I was eating it. Yes, it’s that freakin’ amazing.

Next time you’re in Provincetown, get yourself Pop + Dutch and get one of their sandwiches. It will probably be the best food you’ll find in Provincetown. More on that note in a later post.

Online at: Pop + Dutch

Food Rating: 5 Paws
Service Rating: 5 Paws

Overall Rating: 5 Paws

Rating 5 Paw

With love from my dog bowl to yours….Happy eating.