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Salt Water Creek Cafe in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

7 Jan


As you know from my Saturday Short List, I’m welcoming in the new year from beautiful Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Whenever I visit I’m reminded of just how high the cost of living in Boston is compared to other parts of the country. Eating at Salt Water Creek Cafe is no exception – their early bird menu (4-6pm every day) is seriously a great deal. Every item listed below is from the early bird menu. Their regular menu features the same dishes, but with different price points and combinations.


The interior is modern in the first section with a bar and sushi bar; the main dining room has cozy brick walls and a fireplace in the center.


These homemade potato chips with a buttermilk chive dip are a must-try ($5). It’s a huge order.


Our server was excellent – super friendly, funny, helpful, and she even makes the drinks for her tables. I ordered the bloody mary, which was simple, but with a good amount of vodka and a nice kick of horseradish. On the right is the margarita – we ordered it light on the sugar and it was quite strong! What I can’t get over is how little these drinks cost during happy hour. $3. What?! How is that possible? I don’t know, but it’s awesome.


These are the oyster shooters (oyster, vodka, cocktail sauce), something I had never tried before ($6). I’m a purist – fresh, raw oysters on the half shell, with just a small squeeze of lemon. These were fine – I mostly picked the oysters out of them and then drank the vodka separately, but the oysters were plump and had a great mild flavor.


A salad or soup comes with the entrees – the caesar salad was simple and good. I had been craving one, so this did the trick.


She Crab Soup is a classic South Carolina recipe and they did a great job with it. Rich and creamy with subtle crab throughout (add $1.50 to an entree).


For my entree I ordered the lightly blackened salmon with basmati rice and the daily vegetable ($13). The salmon was slightly overcooked, but the seasoning was great and I enjoyed the light pineapple, tomato, and tangerine garnish. The rice was very plain and I would have liked even a bit of butter thrown in, but the carrots were great (and I would have liked more of them!). I was surprised by how large the plate was because the amount of food looks small, but it was filling.

With the name Salt Water Creek Cafe, I had no idea what to expect. Like so many restaurants in South Carolina, the atmosphere is easy-going, friendly, and the food is of good quality while still being down-to-earth. I’d love to come back.

Salt Water Creek Cafe, 4660 Highway 17 Bypass, Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

Salt Water Creek on Urbanspoon


Tasty Burger in Harvard Square

2 Jan

Burgers and fries. And an inexpensive place to eat these delicious late-night necessities after 3am? Enter the newly opened Tasty Burger in Harvard Square. I had to visit.

I’ve been tweeting @TastyBurgerUSA since I heard they were opening a Cambridge location and they’ve showed me no love, but I still had to try it out (and invite friends). Tasty Burger is also in Kenmore and South Boston, but Harvard is open the latest of the three (until 4am every night).

Renee from Eat.Live.Blog, Lara from Good Cook Doris, Taryn from Sweetly Serendipity, and Vijay from NoshOnIt and his girlfriend joined me for lunch at Tasty Burger Harvard a few days before Christmas.

Tasty Burger Harvard Square menu and interior

Tasty Burger Harvard Square Interior

The space has two floors – the first is a bare-bones, cafeteria-style area, and the downstairs is a full-service restaurant with decor similar to the Fenway location.

Tasty Burger Order

It was so nice to get together with bloggers to catch up and see what the menu had to offer.

Tasty Burger's Kahuna Burger

I ordered the kahuna burger (a 1/3 pound beef patty with pineapple, grilled onions, teriyaki sauce) and a chocolate milkshake. The burger was average. Each component felt thrown together without care: the pineapple was too thick and wasn’t grilled enough; the onions weren’t as flavorful as they should have been.

I had been looking forward to the milkshake because I’ve had shakes at their Fenway location, but this one fell short. It was too thin and tasted like plain chocolate ice cream – not nearly as flavor-packed and creamy as what I’ve had before. Plus, when a milkshake costs just about as much as my burger, it should be something to remember.

Service was fine. We were a group of six putting in a large order, so it would have been nice to get a little more attention.

To be fair – Tasty Burger in Harvard Square just opened and they might need some time for the cooks to adjust. I’d go back for a late-night snack, but probably not for lunch again until I hear some better experiences.

Tasty Burger: 40 JFK Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge

Tasty Burger on Urbanspoon

Unwanted at Osushi

27 Nov

I have a collection of bad restaurant experiences. Every place is entitled to a bad day and I’ll usually try the location again, but other times a visit is so disastrous that I want to forget I ever consumed the food. I rarely write about either of those on EatingPlaces. But sometimes my dining experience is in a different category. Sometimes the level of ridiculousness makes me laugh. So this I’ll share.

I met up with a friend for lunch at Osushi in Copley Place earlier this month for lunch. The interior is trendy, but comfortable, and the Japanese/sushi restaurant seats about 35 including a small bar. The menu is limited, there are no lunch specials (there’s a lunch menu on their website, but that was nowhere to be found during my visit), and prices are on the high end, particularly considering my experience.

Arriving before my friend, I stepped inside and looked at the menu. There were staff people behind the sushi bar, but no host or server in sight. A few minutes later a man comes in from out in the mall and says to me:

(Smiling, very enthusiastic) Oh hi! Are you Brandy?
No, I’m not Brandy.
Well are you meeting someone?
Yes…but she’s not here yet.
You’re not Brandy?
No. I’m not.

And then he walks past me, picking up an order at the sushi bar, and serves a table inside. Do I not get seated if my name isn’t Brandy? The man doesn’t come back to the entrance, where I’m still standing, for a few minutes. When he finally returns, I say “I’m waiting for a friend, but I would like to sit down while I wait.” And that’s when the host offers to check my coat and I’m seated. Interesting start.

My friend arrives and we’re offered menus from who I think will be our server. He’s friendly and seems attentive. He brings water with the menus and we ask for tea. Nothing for 10 minutes. Our server comes back with the tea and takes our order. I ask for the ‘Mini Combo’, which comes with miso soup, salad, four pieces of sushi (saba, whitefish, tuna, and salmon), and a California roll or Spicy Tuna roll ($15).

30 minutes go by without soup or salad. When we first sat down about half the tables were full, but at this point (we had been there for 45 minutes) the lunch hour was passing and there were 8 or 10 people in the entire restaurant. Maybe they’re making the miso?…

Miso Soup with Mushrooms at Osushi

The miso soup arrives, which was the best part of the meal. Unfortunately.

Tiny salad in a huge bowl at Osushi

A tiny salad follows, brought over by someone else. I was still ready to devour 5 rolls of sushi at this point and a huge white bowl with tiny anemic end pieces of lettuce was not what I had in mind. For reference, that’s a cherry tomato in the photo.

The waiting continues for about 15 minutes, until we receive the sushi from a third person. And there is no soy sauce. So we wait another few minutes until we could get anyone’s attention (our server(s) had disappeared, I think I asked the runner from the restaurant to the hotel for soy sauce).

Sushi and Spicy Tuna Roll at Osushi

I start with the spicy tuna roll and it’s not spicy, nor is it flavorful or constructed with any skill. I could put together a better-looking pile of rice and tuna. Then I move on to the sushi – the salmon is great, the saba was a strange texture and seemed off, and I literally do not know which is the tuna and which is whitefish because neither look like tuna and both were the fishy smell you never want associated with raw fish. So, as you may have guessed by now, our server didn’t come back once to check on us. I ate the salmon and some of the Spicy Tuna roll, leaving the rest.

My friend ordered the Makimono Combo (one tekka maki, one California roll, and one una-avo roll with soup and salad), which was a slightly better choice because there was less raw fish, but we were both very unsatisfied by the end (because of the food; our visit together was great – how often do you get to sit in a Boston restaurant, completely uninterrupted, for nearly 2 hours?).

Our bill arrives from the original server who gave us the menus, we paid, and the Are-You-Brandy-Host/Server is still gone, so I picked up my coat and returned the coat tag myself. First time for everything! I’m not sure why they would offer to check my coat if they weren’t planning to return it. We left with significantly less money (especially for lunch) and I was still hungry. Thank goodness for fun company.

This place is only surviving on Groupon deals and unaware conference attendees. Don’t go to Osushi (it’s difficult to find in the mall, so maybe if you tried to go, you gave up and went somewhere else, anyway). There are plenty of less expensive sushi places in Boston that have fresh fish and good service.

Not that you need it, but:

Osushi, Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA

Visiting El Tule in Oaxaca, Mexico

6 Nov

Grounds around El Tule in Oaxaca Mexico

Grounds surrounding El Arbol del Tule

I spent two weeks in Oaxaca, Mexico this summer and, while it’s only been three months since I was there, I’m already excited to visit again. When I came back from Mexico I wrote about my food experiences, but I also traveled throughout the state and enjoyed much more of what Oaxaca has to offer beyond food. One day we traveled by bus to five different locations: El Tule, a mezcal refinery, learned about natural dyes and textile weaving, Mitla, and Hierve el Agua. Every sight was unique, beautiful, and extremely informative, so I’ll write about each visit separately.

El Arbol del Tule (The Tree of Tule) is a huge and very old cypress tree with a circumference of over 100 feet. The actual footage is debated because, as you can see from the pictures below, the trunk has many intricacies that make it difficult to measure, but it’s roughly 120 feet around. What about the Giant Sequoia trees in California, you might ask? I know, I thought those were the largest too, but turns out they are the largest in total volume (Sequoias are very tall), while El Tule is the largest in circumference. The size of the tree impressed me, but what I find to be even more fascinating is its age: this living tree is between 1,500  and 2,000 years old!

Child giving tour of El Tule to visitors and showing shapes in the tree

Arriving at El Tule, we paid the entrance fee for a few pesos and were assigned to our guide – a boy wearing an official t-shirt and carrying a small mirror. Using the mirror, the kids point out images in the tree’s trunk, such as animals and people. We saw around 30 images in the tree.

Child using mirror to highlight shapes in El Tule

See the sun reflecting from girl’s mirror onto the tree?

Section of El Tule tree

This is a small portion of the tree – it’s huge!

Entire giant El Tule tree from across the lawn

The whole tree.

Surrounding the tree is the community of Santa Maria del Tule, along with items for tourists to purchase such as souvenirs, food, mezcal, and sweets. This was our first stop on a day-long tour, so we moved on after viewing the tree and taking a few pictures in the beautiful area surrounding it (see top image), but it would be great to spend some time in the town as well.

El Tule, Santa Maria del Tule, Oaxaca, Mexico (a short drive from the city of Oaxaca)

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