Went to the Taste of Allston in the Doubletree on Storrow Drive last nite and it wasn't quite as good (or as expansive) as I thought it would be ($25 adv/$30 at the door). Unless Reef Cafe and Sammi's only brought two falafel sandwiches and ran out 10 min after starting time, they never set up their tables. The restaurant in the Doubletree had little fresh made lobster cakes w/ red pepper sauce that were nice. I had the following: Carlo's manicotti and a stuffed rolled chicken breast; Pad thai and some appetizers from the Thai Place (I think that's their name); fried rice, chicken and thin noodles from Aneka Rasa; chicken wrapped in bacon, sliced beef and rice from Cafe Belo; turkey kebabs in bacon and rice at Green Field Chur.; a mild beef dish w/ rice and fried yucca from Camino Real; caesar salad from Big City or Sunset; a bit of red bean pastry from Seoul Bakery; and a tiny blondie w/ hot fudge from Herrell's. Skipped Rangoli (had eaten Indian at the Harvard Sq. street fair), Grasshopper, appetizers from the Kells Chinese menu, ribs from Sunset, hot dog from Spike's, noodles from an Asian place I didn't catch. My fave was the turkey kebab from Green Field and Cafe Belo tasted good but I was losing it by then. I think I ate more than my (guy) friend who appreciated the variety but nothing knocked our socks off. There was some belly dancing and tango that we didn't pay attention to, plus I know Menino was supposed to be there and saw a photographer who works for the city, but we didn't see him.
Three of us went to Umbria in the financial district on Mon. to catch up and hit a spot offering a Boston Bakes for breast cancer dessert. It's a nice room and was relatively busy for a Mon. Waited at the bar and ordered a way overpriced "pineappletini" (how stupid do I feel ordering one of those?) for $12. No drinks on the drink list were less than that, yet we paid it. Nice bread with a white bean spread started us off along with huge mussels in a tomato broth ($11). These were impressive unlike other orders I've had. Also split the caesar salad with fried sardines ($9) which was very good. The winner of the entrees was a pasta dish called gocce (I think), basically ravioli with a creamy sauce and a huge sea scallop in the middle. My canneloni w/ rock shrimp and roasted red pepper sauce was a little underseasoned/dull. Pastas ran about $16-20. My bite of veal chop was very good. Their special dessert was a lemon one which we wouldn't have normally ordered but it was nice. Also split mini cannolis with chocolate semifreddo, very tasty. I wish I'd stuck with my original inclination for pasta with pancetta, sweet onions, and tomato and red wine, but it was an enjoyable meal.
Got takeout from the W. Newton Blue Ribbon for my brother's family and their new 12 day old baby. They ordered from the takeout menu but there are always some good specials so I was glad I took a look when I got there, went with a salmon sandwich w/ chipolte mayo and the 2 sides of beans and slaw. Actually tasted better as leftovers. I like the beans but my brother says they seem to be different, smaller and harder than normal. Pulled pork sandwich, big green salad, and pulled pork platter were the other dishes along w/ sides of rice & beans and black eyed corn for the 3 year old (who doesn't eat). Not bad for $31.