Thursday, August 14, 2014

Over the Moon...

With both kids away for the summer, Mrs. Palate often take the opportunity to eat at places that we wouldn’t otherwise, if we had the kids in tow.  To that end, I was excited to have the opportunity to try Moonstones in Chelmsford, MA. 

With apologies to my good friends and fraternity brothers from Chelmsford, there is nothing in Chelmsford, except…well, nothing.  Having driven through there a few times, it is probably a great place to raise a family…a relatively quiet commuter community, away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.  Happily, Chelmsford can add “gourmet destination” to its community resume.

Moonstones was a strong recommendation from charter subscriber David, who had eaten there a few times for work.  I had heard about it myself through some avenue, and was excited when we had a warm, breezy Saturday night to try it; it would not disappoint.

The building housing Moonstones gives off a slight hint of a former Howard Johnsons…not sure if it was a HoJos, but it does sit in the front parking lot of a hotel…just sayin’.  While it might hint HoJos, it screams sophisticated cuisine.  Walking past an outdoor seating area (beautiful couches with a gas fireplace), we were greeted by a cheerful hostess warmly welcoming us. We were led past an open raw bar, past large dining room and a bar area, and seated in a more intimate, smaller dining room.  While we had an early reservation, the place filled up quickly.  Apparently, Chelmsfordians like this place…a lot.

Moonstones has an eclectic menu with appetizers, global tapas (small plates) and regular, full sized entrees.  At our table, we tried a number of things and we started with a few small plate appetizers.  We asked our knowledgeable waiter for some recommendations…how about froze grapes with candied pecans and feta cheese?  Can you say “unusually awesome!”? 
Frozen grapes with feta!
How about tuna tataki, served with 3 different sauces on a Himalayan salt plate?  Even for me, one who won’t eat cooked fish, let alone raw, I say “bring it on”.  The waiter bragged about the tataki being an award-winning appetizer, and he was not lying.  My mouth gives it an award for convincing me that raw fish can be delish!

Korean wings and braised Short Rib
We rounded out our meal with a variety of other selections.  I had “Fiery Sweet Korean Wings” and a “Asian BBQ Short Rib” braised with a five-spice rub. 
Tofu and bok choy

Mrs. Palate had a tofu dish over bok choy, and another of our dining companions, Critical Lynn, had salmon and Critical David had Thai noodles.  Despite our general emphasis on Asian flavors, the menu is broad and varied.  All of us were impressed greatly, and satiated.  By the time we were done, we were already talking about our next time.  Certainly a success, especially in my eyes, where people don’t call me “critical” for nothing.

While I didn’t have dessert at Moonstones, the added benefit of being in Chelmsford is being next door to Westford, home of Kimball Farms ice cream, THE favored ice cream of the Critical Palate, and apparently everyone else on the Route 495 belt, considering the lines at 9:15pm at night.  For your gastronomic pleasure, I post this picture of a small cup of Peanut Butter Cup…literally, the smallest size they have!  
Chocolate Peanut Butter and Mocha Chip!

A fine meal followed up with fine ice cream…a veritable party in your mouth!

Go to Chelmsford, for what else, I don’t know, but make a reservation and have a great meal at Moonstones.