>> Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Back when I was in college, there was a restaurant called Jae's Cafe in Inman Square that served Japanese inspired dishes, sushi, and the like. It had a sign right outside its door that said, "Eat at Jae's, Live Forever."
Next door to Jae's was an old sign from Dixie's BBQ (now part of East Coast Grill), which said, "Eat BBQ here, die happy."
Since then, Jae's Cafe (which used to have multiple locations in Chestnut Hill, Cambridge, etc) has shrunken down to a single location in Boston. The "healthy" sign is no longer in Cambridge.
East Coast Grill changed its focus to seafood in 1996. Though the "die happy" sign is still on the wall, the window reflects perhaps a motto truer to their current focus: "East Oysters, Love Longer."
There was a time when we visited East Coast Grill all the time. How could you not? Their barbecue is excellent, they dabble in all sorts of interesting flavors (especially more exotic hot peppers!), and they even have a cool vegetarian platter that's really good.
Maybe it was the difficulty of parking in Inman Square, or perhaps the fact that you could never just show up and get in since it's so popular. It somehow fell off our radar for the last couple years (I know, terrible, can you believe it?).
Just a couple weeks ago Bryan and I got out of church early because of a special earlier worship service they were doing for the Christmas holiday. We showed up at East Coast Grill just a hair past their opening time of 11AM and easily got seated without a wait.
Of course, within half an hour, the place was packed. Thanksfully, by that time, we were well into enjoying some really fun, creative, and downright delicious brunch.
One of the most fun things to get at East Coast Grill is the "make your own Bloody Mary." They give you a TALL glass filled with ice, vodka, and a little spiced salt around the rim. A small costs $9, a large costs $11 (I'm pretty sure that's a large that you see in that pic).
Then you get to go to the "bar" and add whatever you want. The choices are dazzling and seemingly endless. Check it out - from left to right: Ghost Chile Jam, "Inner Beauty" Hot Sauce (Scotch Bonnet Chile and fruit puree), Smoked Chipotle Puree (smoked jalapenos in adobo sauce) . . .
Sambal Olek (Southeast Asian raw chili paste), Chile-Garlic Puree, Banana Guava Ketchup, East Coast Grill BBQ Sauce . . .
Plus all sorts of pickles and hot peppers.
Add whatever you want to your glass filled with vodka. You are the bartender. Of course they give you a huge pitcher of tomato juice, which acts as your starting base.
Voila! I loved the Bloody Mary that Bryan made. It was packed with flavors and tons of heat from the various chilies and other ingredients that he added.
We enjoyed the Monterey Jack Grits which came with crispy smoked bacon and toasted hazelnuts.
Sweet Chili Glazed Smoked Pineapples ($2) came gorgeously seared and definitely had a slight kick, though the sweetness of the pineapple was much more pronounced than the spiciness.
Banana Rellena ($6) is one unique dish, comprised of a smoked pork stuffed banana topped with a generous helping of Inner Beauty Hot Sauce. Made from scotch bonnet, this sauce is really, really spicy. The sweetness of the banana is a welcomed relief to the intense heat of the rest of the dish. It's very good, but you definitely need to have heat tolerance. I could only eat a little before needing a break. Bryan loved it.
Two "Wicked Hot Links" ($4) were most definitely spicy and very good. They also sell normal sausage links if you don't like heat. Please ignore the weird neon green reflections. There was a green light above me that cast a funny reflection in all my photos. Rest assured the food is not psychedelic!
Special Breakfast platter of the day ($10) consisted of 3 eggs (scrambled), roasted sweet potatoes & red peppers, a sweet Italian sausage link, grilled toast, and garlic-sauteed kale.
I absolutely loved the kale, which was seasoned really well and had a hefty garlic flavor to it. The grilled bread was lovely, having an intense smoky flavor that I just can't recreate in the toaster oven. Everything else was solid as well.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal. We especially liked trying so many different kinds of hot sauces and chili peppers. Even with that huge Bloody Mary, our entire meal cost only around $40, which we thought was extremely reasonably considering how much extra food we ended up taking home.
It's quite clear why there's always a wait here. East Cost Grill has fantastic food at very reasonable prices. It's rare that I get to come here, but I'm thrilled I had a chance to enjoy a fantastic brunch here.
If you're really into spicy foods, you should try their "Hell Night", a night when only "wicked hot food" is served. You'll most likely get to try the "Pasta from Hell", made from the super hot Inner Beauty hot sauce. Rumor has it that you have to sign a waiver in order to participate - the food is that hot.
Even if you're not into such spicy food, everything at East Coast Grill is executed well. We've never had a bad meal there, and more often than not, I come away pleasantly surprised at the interesting and unusual combinations of flavors that come out of that kitchen.
East Coast Grill
1271 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139