Top of the Hub: How I love thee! Let me count the ways…
Have you ever heard of Top of the Hub? It’s an award-winning restaurant on the 52nd floor of the Prudential Building in Boston, Ma. I’ve wanted to go to for a long time, but I had never had the chance to go… until last week!
My dad came to visit me in Boston in between two business trips. He was here for only two days, but boy, were those some fun-packed two days! When I was suggesting dinner locations to him a week prior, I included the Top of the Hub. I mentioned the amazing views and food he had (and that it was out of my budget), and he offered to treat me to dinner there. This is one of the many reasons he’s my favorite dad. 😉
And let me just say: Oh. My. Word. Top of the Hub was everything I had imagined and more. I’ve had a lot of good food in my life, and the food I enjoyed here was definitely some of the best I’ve had. Each and every piece I chewed was so incredibly amazing.
The view was incredible, the weather was beautiful, and we could see for miles…
The view definitely put us both in an excellent mood.
(Side note: Isn’t my Bambi necklace adorable? I got it at Forever 21 a year ago and it makes me smile.)
Top of the Hub features an impressive menu. There was a prix-fixe menu and two tasting options, but my dad and I decided to choose from the regular menu.
After ordering, we were brought fresh bread and butter. I ate a slice of bread (x3) with nuts (walnuts?) and dried berries (cranberries?). It was delicious! We don’t get fresh bread like this in our dining halls (or any other good bread really), so I was in heaven already!
To start, I had the Baby Spinach Salad with Roasted Walnuts, Pears, Vermont Goat Cheese, Port Wine Reduction, and Lemon Dressing. As soon as I read “goat cheese,” I knew this was the salad for me. Boy, do I miss good cheese!
I ordered the dressing on the side because I’m usually not a huge dressing fan. However, this dressing was special and deliciously tasty, and I dipped some forkfuls of salad into it. The dressing was sweet, creamy and slightly acidic and complemented the salad beautifully. I love salads that contain nuts, fruit, and cheese, so this was a great way to start my meal.
My dad ordered the Spicy Lobster Soup with Coconut Milk, Lemongrass, and Ginger. Of course, I had a spoonful or five! We agreed it was unbelievable and different from other lobster bisques/soups we’ve had – in a good way. The soup was creamy but not heavy, slightly spicy yet sweet.
Next, my dad and I shared the Jonah and Lump Crabmeat Cake with Avocado Cream and Roasted Pepper Remoulade. I love crab cakes, and this one was great! The creamy remoulade was perfect for the creamy, savory (yet almost slightly sweet), smooth-textured crab cake.
Now on to something truly phenomenal. I was soon presented with the best cooked fish I’ve ever had: Main Cedar Plank-Roasted Atlantic Salmon with Peppercorn Maple Pecan Butter and Heirloom Sweet Potatoes. Yes, it was as good as it sounds and looks – and so much more!
Let’s just start with the fact that it’s on a cedar plank, an actual piece of wood! This didn’t make the fish taste woodsy or anything, but the aroma was quite refreshing. My guess is the plank helped in the cooking of the fish. (The server said the fish was pan-seared, then baked in an oven.) It also made for great presentation.
That fish was pure perfection. It cut like butter, was so smooth, and did not taste overly fishy. The peppercorn maple pecan butter brought the fish to the next level in so many ways. I mean, just look at it…
The butter brought out and enhanced the natural flavors of the fish: the sweet, peppery, creamy butter brought out those notes in the fish as well.
My dad ordered the Block Island Swordfish au Poivre with Potato Gnocchi, English Peas, Morel Mushrooms, and Cognac Cream. He prefers firm fish, so he was very pleased with his fish choice. We both loved the gnocchi (one of my favorite foods) and morel mushrooms in the sauce, as well.
Now, the grand finale: dessert! This was by far my favorite part of the entire meal. Would you expect any less of me?
It didn’t take me long to decide what I wanted. I read the first item on the menu and knew it was destined to be in my belly: Valrhona Warm Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Ice Cream and Burgundy Sauce (freshly baked to order). My dad chose to try a local specialty: Boston Cream Pie with Raspberry Sauce and Crème Anglaise (upper-right corner of photo below).
Let’s talk about this chocolate cake, or should I say heaven?
This photo says it all…
The (lava) cake was perfectly baked, rich, and not overly sweet. Baked and fluffy on the outside, molten chocolate batter on the inside. Oh, did it ooze with chocolate-y goodness!
I would have been quite happy with just the cake, but the blackberry ice cream in a sugar cookie crust brought it over the top. The ice cream was refreshing against the richness of the chocolate cake, and I ate the entire cookie base because it was oh so good.
My dad’s Boston cream pie was scrumptious. If you aren’t familiar with the dessert, Boston Cream Pie, it is “a round cake that is split and filled with a custard or cream filling and frosted with chocolate” (Wikipedia). The sponge cake was light and fluffy, the custard filling was light and vanilla-y, and the chocolate rounded out the flavors nicely. The petite cake was so cute!
I left the Top of the Hub very satisfied and not overly full, which made me even more happy when I didn’t think it was possible. Top of the Hub is absolutely amazing! I definitely recommend this restaurant if you are visiting Boston, celebrating a special event, or just in need of delicious food!
I hope you enjoyed my restaurant review. 🙂 As far as future posts go, I have a few ideas (trail mix chocolate bars, anyone?), but I’d love to hear from you guys! Please comment below on any topics you’d like to see me write on in a future post! Thanks!
PS. I’m inspired by the fish and dessert I ate and want to “recreate” them myself! Neither can be duplicated, but I’ll try my hand at sweet butter with fish and lava cake. The lava cake will be a tricky one to “master,” but I’ll be sure to write a post when I get close. 🙂 You’ll have to wait until then though. In five short weeks, I’ll be home for break and have access to a kitchen once more!
Question 1: What is the best restaurant meal you’ve ever had? You just read about mine. 🙂
Question 2: What is your favorite dessert to order at a restaurant? More often than not, when freshly baked chocolate lava cake or cookies are on the menu (with ice cream!), that’s what I’ll order.
I’m in love… with a cupcake!
Who needs men when I have chocolate and peanut butter, my two of my favorite things? As soon as I found this recipe on Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, I knew I had to make these cupcakes asap. Once you finish reading this (and drooling a lot), I know you will want to make them, too!
These are absolutely one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had or made. Chocolate cupcake + hidden Reese’s surprise + PB frosting + more Reese’s = foodgasm x 100!
So, without further ado, the recipe…
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes w/Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life
Makes 24 cupcakes
- 1 box Devil’s Food cake mix
- 1-1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup applesauce (or oil)
- 3 eggs
- 1 small bag small Reese’s peanut butter cups, unwrapped
- 1/3 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup milk (plus more to achieve desired consistency)
- If you are allergic to peanuts (or don’t like them), feel free to sub in another nut butter or sunflower seed butter.
- If needed, you can sub in another candy, like Hersey’s Kisses or another candy cup, for the Reese’s.
- Using apple sauce instead of the oil called for by the baking mix is a great way to cut extra fat. In this case, it worked super well and the cupcake was still moist. Score!
- To “healthify” the cupcakes even more, smear on some pure (pea)nut butter instead of the frosting.
Mix the cake mix, water, apple sauce, and eggs. This should take about 2 minutes on medium speed with an electric mixer.
Put liners into a muffin/cupcake pans and fill 2/3 the way full with batter.
Bake according to directions on package. My box says 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. It took me about 16-18 minutes since I used apple sauce. Remember: if the baking time is for a full cake, the actual time for these cupcakes will be shorter since they are smaller, so keep an eye on them.
Let cupcakes cool for about 10 minutes. While you wait, take 24 of these lovely bits and unwrap them.
Gently press an upside down Reese’s cup (fattest part on top) into the center of the cupcakes. Make sure the cupcakes are still slightly warm, so this can be done easily, but not too warm, so the Reese’s cups don’t melt completely.
Now comes the hard part, letting the cupcakes cool. I know it’s hard to resist a warm cupcake, but trust me, it’s worth the wait. Among other reasons, it’s easier to ice the cupcakes when the chocolate isn’t melty.
But I won’t blame you if you sneak a warm cupcake. 😉
Once the cupcakes have cooled, it’s time to make the peanut butter icing, aka icing of the PB gods.
Frosting: Blend the PB, powdered sugar, and vanilla (in the amounts from the frosting ingredient list). Add the milk and mix on medium speed until smooth and creamy. If needed, add a bit more milk at a time to reach the desired consistency.
This is a great frosting that can be used for all sorts of recipes!
If you like to keep things simple, use a knife to frost the cupcakes. If you like to be fancy, you can use a pastry bag. If you are somewhere in between and like easy clean up (like me), put all the frosting in a medium-sized plastic bag and cut a small piece off of one the bottom corners. Squeeze out the contents slowly as you make whatever frosting form or design you desire.
Now, frost to your heart’s content!! Be creative with it!
Little swirls of heaven!
If you so desire (and why wouldn’t you?), use remaining/extra Reese’s cups as extra toppings. Cut one in half, and top each cupcake with either one or two halves.
That looks absolutely divine!
Since I made these cupcakes for a potluck I attended, I transferred the cupcakes to baking pans for easy transportation!
And there you have it: chocolate PB cup cupcakes with PB frosting!
You’re welcome. 😉
Now go out and make them. I demand you!
… And feel free to ship me some (since I’m back at school with no oven). 😉
Question: What is your favorite kind of cupcake or cake?
I’ve been home for a couple of days and have thoroughly been enjoying it! Part of the reason is because I’ve been eating a bunch of good food! Here are a few of my recent restaurant eats…
Friday’s lunch was at The Cheesecake Factory (CF) in San Francisco. We went to SF for a mini girl’s day and we girls gotta eat! Lunch was delicious. I munched on two of CF’s Small Plates and Snacks. I love that CF has these smaller portion options for times when I can’t eat a lot or want multiple things. I ate a Greek Salad and a Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Pizzette.
Greek Salad = Feta Cheese + Tomato + Cucumber + Kalamata Olives + Red Onions + Vinaigrette (on the side).
This was so satisfying and crunchy! I didn’t need the vinaigrette because the salad had so much punch and flavor already.
Roasted Pear and Blue Cheese Pizzette w/ Pecans, Argula and Caramelized Onion
Oh my gosh! This was so delicious! So cheesy! I loved the combination of all the flavors, the sweet and the savory. (I only ate half because I was full.) I will definitely try to replicate this sometime soon.
Saturday lunch at L&L Hawaiian Barbecue after my dad suggested we go there. (He like that kind of stuff.) I got the Healthier Salmon Patty, which came with a salad, brown rice, and dressing on the side. It was actually quite delicious! I loved the salmon and the salad was huge (yay veggies!).
My family at The Counter on Saturday. Basically, it’s a build your own burger joint. They have so many great options and their quality is exceptional. Here is what I got…
1/3 lb veggie burger on organic mixed green salad + danish blue cheese + dried cranberries + grilled onions + sliced cucumbers + tomatoes + country buttermilk ranch (on the side)
It was so so good! Their veggie burgers are amazing. And I can’t argue with melted cheese and grilled onions!
Last but not least, Sunday’s breakfast was enjoyed at Rick’s Cafe in Los Altos, Ca. I got the Salmon Bene “Cayenne” but made some changes to the original.
Lox salmon + two poached eggs + english muffin + hollandaise sauce (on the side) + capers and salad on the side instead of potatoes.
The lox was a bit dry (probably from being on the stove), which was a bit disappointing. However, the eggs and salad were delicious and I love all lox salmon no matter what. This restaurant is oh so delicious normally, very friendly, and has so many options!
Question: What has been your favorite meal over the past week?
Coming soon: Recent things I’ve baked and recipes!
“Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest.” (Larry Lorenzoni)
I love birthdays? Who doesn’t?
Stupid people. Not only do I love celebrating my own birthday, I love celebrating other people’s birthdays as well. There is just something about growing a year older, wiser, closer to 21, etc, etc that makes me excited!
One of my favorite parts about birthdays is birthday cake. Who’s with me? No matter what kind of cake it is (cheesecake? traditional with lots of frosting? chocolate? vanilla? carrot?), birthday cake is the bomb.
When I learned about a week ago that a friend’s birthday was coming up, I knew I had to make one. Baking a cake was out of the question. Buying one was a “maybe,” but I didn’t necessarily have time to go out to a grocery store and purchase one. So, instead, I got creative! I started with Monica‘s recipe for Raw Chocolate Oat Cookies and adapted it to suit my needs and wants. My friend loves Nutella, so I came up with a No Bake Nutella Chocolate Cookie Birthday Cake. (How’s that for a mouthful of words-and food?) Sounds absolutely amazing, doesn’t it? Want to make your own? It’s super, duper easy and requires only 4 ingredients. Let’s get started!
No Bake Nutella Chocolate Cookie Birthday Cake
- 1/2 cup Oats
- 1/2 cup Nutella – You can substitute another chocolate hazelnut spread or any nut butter for this.
- 1/2 cup Agave Nectar – You can use honey, maple syrup, or another liquid sweetener.
- 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder – I used unsweetened
- Optional: Extra Nutella (for frosting)
- Optional: Toppings (like chocolate chips, sprinkles, marshmallows, candy, and cookies)
You can double or triple the recipe if you want to make a bigger or thicker cake.
Photo of Nutella for your drooling pleasure…
Step 1: Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
Oats + Agave + Nutella + Cocoa Powder = Chocolate heaven!
Mr. Smiling Cat-Duck says, “Hi!”
Or maybe he said “Bye” since he turned into…
Step 2: Flatten into an even circle on a small plate.
Before plating the dough, I coated the plate in coconut oil (you can use cooking spray), so the cookie wouldn’t stick to the plate so much.
If you want to make multiple, smaller cookies, you can just form them into even balls/flat cookies.
Step 3: Frost and decorate the cookie with Nutella and other toppings.
I used white chocolate chips to make a ’19’ on the cake (the friend’s new age). I love the look of white on black.
>> End <<
This cake is easy to make and requires very few ingredients and supplies. It’s very rich, chocolate-y, and somewhat chewy. The birthday girl approved, and I think you will, too!
Question: What’s your favorite type of cake?
Reminder: please submit your Reader Requests! I’ll be home in less than a week, meaning kitchen access!
You may be asking me, “What kind of combination is that? Bread, cottage cheese and vegetables!”
Just trust me, it’s delicious! I made this in the dining hall for the first time about a week ago. Inspired by the cucumber sandwiches commonly served with tea, I made this protein-packed open-face sandwich in hopes of enjoying a refreshing, filling lunch. In my opinion, this sandwich works well because of the combination of flavors and textures. The cottage cheese takes on and enhances the flavors of the refreshing cucumber and hearty whole wheat English muffin. The salt really magnifies the flavors. There is a nice mix and ‘opposites’ of flavors: chewy and grainy (bread), creamy and smooth (cottage cheese), and crunchy (cucumber).
It’s a super simple, quick sandwich to make, but I will write a recipe for you anyway.
Cottage Cheese and Veggies Sandwich
- 1 Whole Wheat English Muffin
- 1/3 – 1/2 Cup Cottage Cheese
- Sliced Cucumber
- Optional: Sprouts
- Optional: Salt + Pepper
Feel free to sub the regular bread for the English muffin and other veggies (like spinach or lettuce) for the sprouts. This recipe also tastes great when you add hummus, guacamole, mustard, and/or any other condiments you like. As for the cottage cheese, I prefer fat-free, which is also the only kind offered in our dining halls.
Step 1: Toast bread.
Step 2: Top each side with 1/6-1/4 cup (or whatever makes you happy) of cottage cheese.
Step 3: Top with sprouts.
Step 4: Top with sliced cucumber.
Step 5: Sprinkle with salt.
Step 6: Eat and enjoy!
>> End Recipe <<
See! How simple was that? Super. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think.
As I mentioned, I created this sandwich in need of a protein-packed meal. Most of the protein is from the fat-free cottage cheese. I only recently started eating cottage cheese (after a year of trying to decide if I like it or not…
Ya, I’m weird). I love cottage cheese! Not only is it packed with protein and other nutrients (see below for nutritional information), it’s also extremely versatile. It can be used in sweet and savory recipes. For example, mix 1 serving (1/2 cup) with 2-3 tsp peanut butter and 2-3 tsp jelly for an easy snack.
Here are the great nutritional stats for the fat-free kind (from Hood):
Hood Fat-Free Cottage Cheese
14 grams of protein, fat-free, low in sugar, and only 80 calories! Wonderful!!
(If you’re watching your sodium intake, please be aware that companies sometimes add extra salt to the fat-free kind to add to the flavor. )
Question: Do you like cottage cheese? If so, what is your favorite way to eat it?