Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, you can begin it. For boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Nahita 5 months later

February 21st, 2019

Nahita Update, Complements of EATER / Terrence B. Doyle  Feb 20, 2019

It’s hard to imagine a space once defined by brutalist concrete columns and soaring ceilings could ever feel warm or organic. But the folks behind Nahita (which won the 2018 Eater award for Design of the Year) in Back Bay managed to transform the space at 100 Arlington St. — formerly home to Liquid Art House — from its old form (cold and cavernous) into one that feels like its diners are stepping into a natural landscape that just so happens to boast a bar and a dining room.


There is lots more to read with impressive photography of the space. click on link above to read the entire article.

2018 The Year in Review.

January 7th, 2019

The following link shows Ashling projects either completed or started in 2018.  Restaurants, kitchens and robots..  2018 Year in Review

Liquid Art House is reborn as Nahita tonight in Back Bay

September 5th, 2018

Compliments of Boston Eater

A Palatial Restaurant Filled With Latin-Asian Cuisine Debuts Tonight in Back Bay, the former Liquid Art House re-emerges as Nahita.

A dramatic restaurant space emerges renewed and refreshed, after a year of renovations and rebranding, on Tuesday, September 4, furnished with marble columns, an expansive bar, and a seafood-filled menu.

Read more of the story by clicking on the links below.

Restaurant website is http://www.nahitarestaurant.com


You are going to love our bar 🍹🍸🥂

A post shared by Nahita Restaurant (@nahita_restaurant) on

Will Anyone Stand Up for Boston?

September 5th, 2018

Complements of Boston Eater

A local chef (Will Gilson) speaks out on the relationship among Boston restaurants, the media, and awards

For a chef, restaurant owner, and member of the Boston restaurant community, it is a particular kick in the stones when you read that our local and national food media think that Boston is one big snooze fest when it comes to dining out. It would seem as though the perception of Boston from inside and out is that our restaurants need to emulate our local sports franchises. When a question is asked, “Why don’t more Boston restaurants win national awards?”, it makes each chef in this town want to throw a saute pan through a window, but hell, it’s 2018, and the press isn’t writing about bad-tempered chefs.

Read more of the story by clicking on the link below.



Toscanini’s Unveils New Location as Original Temporarily Closes Due to Construction

January 26th, 2018

Toscanini’s, the famed Cambridge ice cream shop known for its long lines and fun, extensive flavor list, has temporarily closed its Central Square location (899 Main St.) due to construction, but fret not: A second location is now up and running at 159 First St. in East Cambridge, near Boca Grande, the Similans, and the Helmand.

The above thanks to George Gambill of Ashling…read the rest via the link below.


Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar Opening 10/14/17

October 13th, 2017

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar Fort Point

The restaurant group behind Yvonne’sRuka, and Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar always goes big when it comes to design: bold colors, luxurious leather, flashy artwork, the works. The group’s newest restaurant, a second Lolita, is no exception.

Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar Fort Point

To find Lolita, look for these doors

Opening on Saturday, October 14, in Fort Point (253 Summer St., Boston), the new Lolita is twice as large as its older Back Bay sibling, sprawling through prime real estate right on the water in a space below the main street level, accessible by a staircase from Summer Street.

Read More at the link below


When Japan meets Peru on the plate

March 6th, 2017

Peru’s Japanese population dates back more than a century, enough time for two culinary traditions to mingle and become something new. Nikkei cuisine — a seafood-centric fusion of Japanese and Peruvian ingredients, techniques, and aesthetics — has been inspiring celebrity chefs such as Ferran Adria (El Bulli) and Nobu Matsuhisa (Nobu) for years. Now it comes to Boston in the form of Ruka, a restaurant at the new Godfrey Hotel in Downtown Crossing.

This is the latest venture from the group that owns Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar and Yvonne’s, with a strong team in the kitchen. The chef is Preston Miller, who comes to Boston from the Breslin, a New York gastropub with one Michelin star. Local sushi master Ting Yen of Oishii oversees the sushi program; Bing Liu is lead sushi chef. Yvonne’s pastry chef Liz O’Connell is in charge of desserts.

The place is beautiful, with carved dragon pillars, dreamy murals, Day-Glo potholder looms hanging from the ceiling, and a dramatic Murano glass chandelier over the front podium. Reservations are prized, there is always a crowd, and the noise level can be deafening.

The food echoes the room, a lush pastiche that can sometimes feel like an onslaught. The menu is divided into six categories: sushi rolls, Peruvian-style sashimi, “chilled + raw” ceviches and salads, grilled kebabs, “hot + wok” stir-fries and sautés, and “monumental.” (The last is composed of three dishes — priced from $75 to $150 — designed to feed four or five as an entrée. Otherwise, figure two to three dishes per person to share. Ruka also tacks onto the bill a 3 percent “Kitchen Appreciation Charge” to compensate non-tipped employees.) In addition to the Nikkei focus, several dishes — stir-fries, a roast duck — showcase Chifa, or Chinese-Peruvian cooking.

 The food is unusually complicated, chockablock with spices, fruits, and vegetables. Menu descriptions barely scratch the surface, and the waitstaff can’t always help.

Sea bream sashimi.


Sea bream sashimi.

Is that zinnia-looking blossom the “ginger flower” mentioned in the description of Japanese sea bream sashimi (madai usuzuki)? Our server’s not entirely certain. The blossom decorates a plate of thinly sliced white fish, sprinkled with crunchy black bits, arranged around a pool of carmine red, Peruvian pepper sauce. What are those bits? No one knows. Nonetheless, the fish is pristinely fresh and delicious dipped into the bright sauce.

 Some dishes have also changed or disappeared since the restaurant opened in early December, without update to the menu. Pomegranate has been axed from Nantucket Bay scallop ceviche because of seasonal unavailability, we are told. Regardless, the scallops are wonderful, tossed in homemade yogurt mixed with leche de tigre (“tiger’s milk,” the citrus marinade used in making ceviche).

Everything from the sushi bar tastes as good as it looks. Hamachi amarillo is a yellowtail-wrapped roll of rice, avocado, and corn, arranged on creamy jalapeño-corn puree. Dabs of Peruvian red pepper mayonnaise dress up a platter of spicy tuna roll, studded with Asian pear and jicama, and dusted with texturally terrific “crispy rice dots.” Texture is half the fun of crunchy salmon tacos — fried shiso leaves mounded with salmon ceviche, avocado, and pickled peppers.

Is New England Nikkei the next step for this evolving cuisine? Vinegary shrimp sunomono — shrimp and cucumbers tossed in tart yuzu-lime vinaigrette — is topped with fried clam strips and a squiggle of tartar sauce for a clam shack-meets-Lima treat.

Sweetish golden, cherry tomato-esque fruits appear on skewers of grilled chicken thighs drizzled with piquant yellow pepper sauce: They’re pichuberries, an Andean berry, chock-full of vitamins and antioxidants. Meaty Sichuan king trumpet mushroom kebabs are slathered in garlicky-hot mustard dressing.

Sushi rolls, sashimi, salads, and skewers are better bets than “hot + wok” dishes. There are almost no noodles in the overly fishy, too soupy “green noodles,” and the chicken fried rice is mushy and inexplicably sweet. I liked octopus lomo saltado, a riff on a classic Chinese-Peruvian stir-fry of beef, onions, soy, rice, and French fries. In Peru, the fries would have been mixed in, not a garnish.

A bowl with four miniature sweet potato dumplings, a smattering of black trumpet mushrooms, and a poached egg in smoky dashi is bland. This is an unapologetically expensive restaurant, but it’s hard to justify the $11 price tag for papas chongo — a paltry portion of pan-fried purple potato slices dolloped with garlic mayo.

The “monumental” tea-smoked Long Island duck is a spectacular presentation: slices of perfectly roasted breast, a scoop of confit, and a fistful of tangy kohlrabi, carrot, and red onion slaw, scattered with tiny, pickled Amazonian peppers. Make yourself a duck sandwich with steamed Chinese buns and garlicky aioli. But I wish the confit wasn’t so salty, and that they’d swap out the aioli for more-traditional hoisin.

Desserts range from a nondescript moon pie to delicious, pretzel-esque fried dough, glistening with miso-
butterscotch glaze. The classic Peruvian dessert Suspiro Limeno (“Sigh of Lima,” meringue-covered dulce de leche) is reimagined as a dulce de leche patty, lemony sponge cake, and beet meringues. Beets and meringues don’t mix.

Ruka draws fashionably dressed 30- and 40-somethings, many of whom come for the lively bar scene. The beverage program includes a smart sake selection and a wine list organized by the altitudes where the grapes were cultivated. A 24-page cocktail booklet annotates every drink with factoids about Incan mythology, Andean botany, and Peruvian pop culture.

“PLEASE DO NOT STEAL BEFORE READING THIS,” reads the last page. “These cocktail menus are available for sale for $20 with all proceeds going to local charities . . . Please think about purchasing a copy rather than just slipping one into your pocket or bag. You monster.”

Red-faced, I’ve subsequently donated $20 to MSPCA-Angell.


505 Washington St., Downtown Crossing, Boston, 617-266-0102, www.rukarestobar.com

All major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.

Prices: Appetizers $9-$30. Entrees $14-$150. Desserts $7-$16.

Hours: Daily 5 p.m.-1 a.m.

Noise level: Loud

What to order: Crunchy salmon tacos, chicken thighs anticucho, octopus lomo saltado, Ruka spicy tuna maki, Japanese sea bream sashimi (madai usuzukuri).

Mat Schaffer can be reached at matschaffer@yahoo.com

Roxy’s Central & A4cade get the high score

February 28th, 2017
The Double Fried sandwich at Roxy’s Central & A4cade.


The Double Fried sandwich at Roxy’s Central & A4cade.

If you’ve ever wondered what a deliriously happy hipster looks like, head over to Roxy’s Central & A4cade. A collaboration between the teams behind Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Area Four, it is part counter-service and takeout restaurant (in the front) and part raucous game room (in the back).

Don’t expect to just waltz in to the 21-plus arcade; as early as 6 p.m. on a Monday, the line of beanie-clad post-grads can snake down Mass. Ave. We’ve never waited more than 20 minutes — but that’s long enough to realize it’s been at least a decade since we last contemplated standing in the cold to get in somewhere.

The Roxy’s side is a fine spot for a workday lunch — get the turkey Caesar, with tender baby kale and shaved Parmesan ($8.15), and treat yourself to a dulce de leche frappe ($4.69) — but it’s no match for what lies beyond the metal meat-locker door.

Flash your wristband and toss a total stranger’s coat to the side so you can settle into one of 20ish seats scattered among vintage video games like Ms. Pac-Man and Nintendo. “People just throw their stuff wherever, doesn’t mean the seat is taken,” the waify hostess yells over the cacophony of ’80s pop music, pinball machines, and dozens of 20-somethings laughing as they share tater tots and strong cocktails in vessels shaped like R2-D2.

Start with a large order of crisp, golden fries for the table ($4.15) and a flight of dipping sauces — barbecue, vegan ranch, a mustardy house blend called Justin’s Sauce, and chipotle and truffle mayos — while you work out what you’ll be drinking.

If you’d like to pretend you’re on a tropical vacation with your sweetie, you can’t go wrong with the Kill Screen 2 player ($18, $9 for a single serving), from a slushie machine emblazoned with the words “DRINK ME!” What’s swirling around is a frozen painkiller, the tiki favorite made with a mix of rums and coconut.

There is a whole section of the menu devoted to fried potatoes. If fries aren’t your thing, try tater tots ($3.15). We had ours topped with cheese ($4.29), despite our server’s warning that the smoked gouda sauce quickly coagulates. “We should have listened,” we said, dragging the crisp cylinders through the gloppy paste, and returning to our small order of rosemary truffle fries ($3.95).

The festive vibe might have you contemplating another drink. Maybe this time it’s Worst. Drink. Ever ($10), the arcade’s answer to the most love-to-hate-it cocktail of mixologists everywhere: the vodka soda. This version is delicious, with St. Germain, cranberry, and citrus shrub ($10).

The food here is mostly much better versions of what you might find in a boardwalk arcade. The West Coast dog ($12) comes split down the middle and filled with more gouda sauce (it stays hot and works well here), with caramelized onions and pickles. The BLT ($7.49) is a gut bomb, with a fistful of shredded North Country bacon on a Portuguese roll with lettuce, tomato, and chipotle mayo. The LTO burger ($6.49) is a tasty, thin griddled patty in the style of Tasty Burger or Shake Shack, and the Double Fried ($7.29) takes fried chicken to new levels of crunch. It takes two dips in the fryer before it’s served on a bun with lettuce, Grillo’s pickles, hot honey, and ranch dressing. Of course, you’ll also find the grilled cheese sandwiches that Roxy’s became known for.

But A4cade is as much about the atmosphere as the food. You didn’t queue up in the cold for a fancy hot dog. You’re here to stuff gold tokens into 25-year-old gaming machines with terrible graphics and discover you still stink at skeeball. You’re here to drink a brandy cocktail called Your Mom’s Basement and to notice that no one is looking at his or her phone. The delicious vanilla soft serve with cheery yellow sprinkles ($3) and fried chicken sandwiches? They’re just a player’s bonus.


292 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-714-3960, www.roxysgrilledcheese.com or www.areafour.com

All major credit cards accepted. Wheelchair accessible.

Prices Sandwiches $4.49-$8.99, burgers and hot dogs $4.19-$12, sides $3.15-$8.15, desserts $3-$4.69.

Hours Daily 5 p.m.-midnight

Liquor Full bar

What to order Fries with a flight of sauces, LTO burger, the Double Fried, West Coast dog, Kill Screen cocktail

The Critics Ate Makimono, Squid Ink Noodles, and Tater Tot Poutine This Week

February 28th, 2017

At Ruka, Porto, and Roxy’s Central / A4cade

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