This past weekend, my wife and I attended a menu tasting at the newly opened Chopps American Bar & Grill in Burlington, MA, courtesy of Blog and Tweet Boston. We had a great time; from enjoying the venue, to enjoying the company (including Chef de Cuisine David Verdo and Consulting Chef Daniel Bruce), to enjoying the plate after plate of delicious food brought to our table.
While offering no shortage of prime cuts of meat, from simple lamb “lollichopps” to a an amazing 34 ounce “Tomahawk Ribeye Chop” (for two), what really surprised me was just how good I found the non-chop menu. Steaks and chops were fantastic as to be expected, but equally delicious was its seafood, like the Maine lobster cocktail, and the East Coast Halibut.
Nobody really goes to a steakhouse for the vegetables either, but when I look back on what I enjoyed the most; there’s one item that stands out most in my mind; the Chopps’ Tots. There’s just something about the preparation for this professional take on tater tots that elevates the entire meal. It’s not any special ingredient in the tots, mind you; Daniel Bruce revealed to me that it’s all potato inside and nothing else (although there are different consistencies of potato involved for texture), making it a side dish that stands on its own pretty much through technique alone! The tots are available as a side for most of the lunch and dinner menus and well worth the choice (and the crispy artichokes are pretty good as well).
Chopps is located at the Boston Marriott Burlington at One Burlington Mall Road, and in walking through the Marriott, we also lucked into finding an additional surprise with Readercon; an annual conference focused on “imaginative literature,” meaning science-fiction, fantasy, horror, and slipstream writing… HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?!?!?
Unfortunately, Danielle and I had other plans for the rest of the weekend, but now it’s on my radar for next year. We did manage to stop in the conference’s bookstore featuring a great list of booksellers from all over, and I did pick up a rather intriguing curiosity. While thumbing through a few old comics and sci-fi periodicals; I came across an original March 1969 print of Tolkien: A Look Behind “The Lord of the Rings” by Lin Carter.
Now, I may need to clarify my motivations for this purchase before any instinctual eye-rolling over buying a LOTR book at a fantasy convention takes place; I actually didn’t buy this for the subject matter – I bought it because of the author. I have a lot of respect for Lin Carter; I’d invite you to say what you will about his own fiction, but I do see Lin Carter as an important pioneer as an archivist of fantasy literature, as well as being an early figure in ensuring the continued release of classics to new audiences (kind of like how Henry Rollins and his Infinite Zero label saved Gang of Four). In particular, if not for Lin Carter, the world probably wouldn’t know as much as we do about Kull the Conqueror; the first Barbarian creation of Robert E. Howard, who became far more famous for is follow-up character Conan (in many ways Conan was a bit of a Kull knockoff; even with many of his successful adventures being repurposed from earlier and unpublished Kull stories… but I digress).
I exclaimed a bit of my love for Kull and Lin Carter to the vendor, who treated me with a story of how he met Lin Carter once at a past convention, and how he walked around with a black hooded cloak like some sort of deity (yeah… that doesn’t surprise me). It’s that kind of reminiscing that makes con-going worthwhile, so I already look forward to spending more time at Readercon next year.
So there you go; two excellent reasons to be at the Boston Marriott Burlington in one day… who would’ve thought!