Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Restaurant: Lolita

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28NOV12

 

I first saw Lolita while wandering around the city with Mike, Chirag, and Big T. No, I don’t mean the movie. Nor the book. Not even the character in said book. I mean the restaurant, near Copley square.

It was the kind of place that you look at twice before realizing that it actually is a place. There’s no sign, no flashy lights or big windows. It’s just a doorway, with a menu in a glass case beside the door. A small red awning covers the entryway.

I wanted to check it out, but we had just started our wandering, and weren’t really ready to sit down for a meal. And by the time we were ready, Daniel had already called us suggesting California Pizza Kitchen.

So I stored it in the back of my head, waiting for a chance to bring it out and explore.

That chance came on the 28th, a Wednesday, when I had occasion to celebrate the fact that I’d started in on setting up a new apartment in Cambridge. I’d already had plans to meet a friend for dinner that night, so I suggested Lolita and no complaints were made.

We headed over, found that there was a line, and put our name down. Then they handed me the little buzzer thing that you see in every restaurant.

“How far does this work?” I ask, “I was kinda hoping we could wander around the city a bit, I’m feeling kinda restless”.

“Ohh!” the hostess replies, “Don’t worry about it. If you leave your phone number, I can give you a call when your table is ready”

And that’s when I realized that this place was freaking awesome.

Seriously. When we sat down, after getting a phone call saying our table was ready, the waitress offered shaved ice as a pallette cleanser. She also offered Tequila (on the house) to flavor said shaved ice. And it wasn’t served in a boring bowl, it was served in a bowl suspended over dry ice, which loosed a light fog over the entire table.

And that fit the atmosphere perfectly. I’ve described the place to friends as “A vampire club… but not stupidly gothy/twilight crap. It’s classy old-school vampire”. That’s really the most complete way to describe the place, in my opinion – it’s in the basement of one of the big buildings off Copley, with stone pillars and dark red walls. The walls have black roses stencled everywhere, and the lights are just low enough to give an edgy vibe, but not so low that you can’t easily see across the room. On the table there are roses (but just the flower) in a small bowl, arranged on top of dark red glass beads.

The food and drink matched – it’s Mexican themed, unsurprisingly, but not your standard-issue Tex-Mex fare. I had “Mexican Winter Stew”, which was a variation on the standard beef stew… all South American style ingredients with just enough spice to make things interesting.

And the drinks were awesome… I felt a bit girly ordering Sangria, but it looked so good… and tasted to match. Red sangria with strawberries and raspberries. It was excellent.

And for dessert? I finally found a place that actually serves good fried ice cream that isn’t Brown Sugar Cafe. No spicyness though… I could have gone with some kind of spicy shell to go with the cool ice cream and the cool atmosphere.

… I think I just wrote a restaurant review. Damnit.

My apartment search: the 2012 edition.

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26NOV12

 

I haven’t really looked for an apartment in years, at least not since I moved out of Miriam and Adam’s place back in 2009. I’d done some quick looking while in Christchurch, but nothing worked out enough for me to take it too seriously.

So when I finally accepted a position here in Mass, and it was time to really buckle in and find a new apartment, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

And whatever I did expect, was definitely not what ended up happening.

First off – I have a roommate. Marla. She’d actually given me a call a few months back asking if I was looking for a place. I couldn’t commit to anything until I had a full time position, but thankfully (for me) Marla hadn’t had any luck in the weeks between her asking me and me accepting the new job.

So, I wasn’t really expecting to find anything right away – Marla’d been looking for nearly two months at that point with no luck, and I’ve usually had pretty bad luck with apartments anyways (see Mafia landlord and the insanity of trying to renew a lease).

But, we found a few interesting places and scheduled times to look.

Marla had found an amazing 2-bedroom cottage near Alewife, complete with a wood stove and a back porch, and even with a small shed out back to store our bikes. I’d found an interesting one too – a place double-listed as both 2-bed and 3-bed, in Western Cambridge that came complete with off-street parking and a small front garden.

So we scheduled out times to meet the agents. Monday for my place, and Saturday for Marla’s. That’ll be important soon.

Monday rolls around, and we meet the agent. The downside of the place that I found was that it was through a rental agency – thus we had to pay a full months fee. But we figured that it would be worth it to find an amazing apartment, and sat down with the agent to figure everything out. Now, this guy was not what you would call a salesman. He was friendly and helpful, but aside from that he was kinda clueless about the place overall.

But whatever, he could still show it to us. So we headed off to view the place.

The place that was right near Alewife.

With two off-street parking spots, and a small front garden.

The place with a back porch, and a wood stove.

A place that even had a small shed out back where we could store our bikes.

If it’s not obvious at this point, it was obvious to us – we were seeing the same place that Marla had found earlier on in the day. The same place that she had scheduled us to see on Saturday, when we’d be meeting with the landlord. Who wouldn’t charge us a one-month rental agency fee.

We said our goodbyes to the agent, and walked home. Talking about the situation we were in.

The place was, in a word, perfect. It was a full house, but small enough and cheap enough for two people. It had amazing bedrooms, tons of character, and even had a Kiln in the basement that we could use. We were in complete agreement that we wanted the place, and wanted it now.

But… there was the matter of the agency fee. We could, theoretically, wait for Saturday to roll in and just see it with the landlord then. Bypass the agency all together. But from what Marla’d been seeing, places like this go fast, and the agency could easily have it rented within a day or two if we didn’t jump on it right away.

So, we decided on full honesty and full disclosure. We called the landlord that night, since it was still pretty early, and told him the whole story. We all discussed, and he said that he’d prefer to call the agency himself, since he had been dealing with them so far. Painfully slow minutes ticked by as Marla and I waited by the phone (waiting by a cell phone isn’t nearly as dramatic as an old-school rotary phone, FYI).

Finally, he called us back. He’d discussed it with the agency, he said, and they may be willing to negotiate with us about the fee. He left it to us to deal with everything, saying that he liked how we’d dealt with it, and was definitely ok with us as tenants of his.

So, we planned, schemed on how to approach it, and finally called the agency.

I did the calling this time, since Marla had called the landlord, and through the two of us combining our amazingly shrewd negotiation techniques we found ourselves walking down to the rental agency, planning on signing the papers that night.

The crux of the deal was that we opened up with a fair offer – 50% of the intended fee. It wasn’t our fault that they’d double-listed the place, but we still wanted to be above the line and honest with the agent.

And they agreed. And we signed the lease. And that ended one of the shortest apartment searches of my life – from start to complete in a single night.

Post Halloween – Hanging out with the guys, almost the whole pack again!

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04NOV12

 

Any day that starts out with prank calls cannot be a bad day. That is, as long as you’re the one doing the prank calling.

It was the morning after my third Halloween party, and nobody was really very quick to wake up. Mike, Chirag, Big T and myself had all crashed at Mike’s place, after partying most of the night at Daniel’s apartment, and by the time I finally woke up Chirag was getting phone call after phone call from some government agency asking him about his “unique” internet usage. Mike was in the corner, playing around on his computer and trying to keep a straight face. T was completely passed out, if I recall.

After Chirag wouldn’t tell me what the calls were about, I walked over to Mike to figure out what we could do for breakfast – instead I found out what the calls were about: Mike had found a website that you could select a pre-recorded message, and then send it along to any phone number. It would even record the response for you, though the recording was only saved for a few minutes unless you paid up.

Needless to say, this prompted a torrent of prank calls – to Big T, to Daniel, more to Chirag… it was pretty juvenile and dumb… but at that point, before breakfast or coffee, it was the height of comedy gold to Mike and myself.

It did finally get old, of course, and so we convened the council of breakfasting and chose a spot to grab some wake-up food. We settled on the diner down the street that Mike and I usually head to, and finally started the day going.

Once breakfast was done, and a few episodes of Archer were successfully watched back at Mike’s place, the four of us packed into my car and headed into the city of a bit of adventure. It’d been ages since all four of us were together, so our plan was pretty simple – park somewhere, grab some more coffee, and wander around town until it came time to hunt down dinner.

And we set about it with a passion – Coffee was easy to find (this is Boston, after all), and from there we wandered around aimlessly. First Boston Commons, then some of the financial district, and finally back into the commons where we wandered onto a field just in time to watch the beginnings of a Quiddich match.

That’s right – Quiddich. The game from Harry Potter. With the broomsticks. Turns out it’s a real thing, with a few modifications due to our worlds distinct lack of magic.

  • First – there’s no flying, as jetpacks are still too expensive. Instead, everyone runs around with a broom between their legs. It must remain there at all times, though you don’t technically need to have a hand on it. Sounds dangerous…
  • There’s also no Snitch (the little golden flying ball they tried to catch). Instead, there’s a guy in a gold shirt, without a broom, who has a flag in the waistband of his pants. First team to grab the flag gets tons of points and the game’s over. A bit suggestive, but not a bad idea…
  • There’re also no magically evil smash-you-off-your-broom balls. Instead, there are dodgeballs, and angry people throwing them. The angry people are on brooms though, from what I can tell.

I’m sure there’s a lot of other special rules and interesting changes, but we honestly didn’t stay long enough to really learn the intricacies of the game. Instead, we kept wandering and chatting, catching up and exploring the city.

Dinner came in the form of California Pizza Kitchen, where we met up with Daniel and Erin. I’m sure a lot of fun stories were exchanged and jokes were told, the prank calls certainly featuring, but none of them are really transcribable – they were all “in the moment” humor. But suffice it to say that dinner was awesome, and a great time was had.

From there everyone went their own ways – I gave T and Chirag both rides to their car/house respectively, and then headed home to do some more prep-work for an interview I had scheduled the next day. A simple and fun day.