Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Over the moon for Moonstones in Chelmsford, Massachusetts

Every now and then we like to venture over the border into Massachusetts where we have found some really great eats. A short ride from Nashua you will find Moonstones, a restaurant that we had tried before and knew that we had to visit again.

Although I made a reservation I had not requested one of their nicer tables that includes cushy red chairs. Because we arrived slightly before our reservation time, we lucked out and were seated in a small room right in front of the fireplace. Ten minutes after we had sat down and ordered our drinks the crowds arrived and no surprise that there wasn't an empty seat in the house and the bar was also mobbed. Since this is a very popular dining establishment, you will want to be sure to make reservations in advance.

We love the atmosphere. It will come as no surprise that you will find glass moons all over the place. There are hanging moons over the bar and behind with glass that gives it a neat shimmering effect and pictures. They keeping the lighting low which is very nice for the patrons but not the best when you are trying to take pictures of food.

To give you the lay of the land, they have a small event area to the right as you walk in. Down the long hallway you enter the main dining room. Along the way there is a raw bar with several seats. The main area can get really noisy so if you are looking for a more intimate area ask to be seated in the smaller dining room.

After ordering our drinks it was time to look at the menu. Our server, Chris, told us that they had just changed the menu. Not to go off on a tangent but this is something more restaurants should do. Yes, it is hard and some customers may not like it but is it important to stay fresh not boring and some new menu items are just the way to do it.

First you should know that they specialize in tapas but you can get a full size entree if you prefer. From our past experience you will not be disappointed either way. I love pork and on our last visit sampled their chop and it was amazing.

For you carb lovers, they offer a choice of three breads with three accompanyments – focaccia, pita bread, or cibatta with your choice of hummus, soft whipped ricotta or olive oil with roasted garlic. While there is a charge for this, the choices are spectacular and we went with the ciabatta and olive oil with roasted garlic.

To all those who don't want to pay for this I am sorry but it doesn't get any better. Along with the bread we also split a ceasar salad which was also very good.

When we order tapas we usually start with cold appetizers and then move on to hot. For cold there were two choices.

These are baby beets with Vermont goat cheese and mint olio, unbelievable.

And not to be outdone, how about some hummus and olives.

I am not a huge fan of hummus but this was excellent. The olives were delicious and pitted, thank you! The pita bread was probably the best ever. I don't know if they make it themselves but it certainly tasted like it.

Now on to the hot tapas, in the back we have the chicken spring rolls, front right scallops and front left the BBQ short ribs.

All were exquisite and strongly recommended.

And finally for you chocoholics, a chocolate p√Ęte. This was a piece of very dense dark chocolate which was fantastic.

Our waiter did an outstanding job. For that matter we were very impressed with the entire front of the house staff. Sometimes it really is the little things that make the difference. It seems that the whole staff has received excellent training. Everything from making sure the water glasses were always kept full to the hostesses taking the extra step. When my wife had to use the facilities the hostess actually walked her down to show her where to find the ladies room. I don't know about you but this doesn't happen very often at restaurants we visit.

Moonstones seems to have it all, a great atmosphere, food, service, everything a foodie would dream of. Check them out when you have a chance. For those of you in the Merrimack Valley Area they also have a sister restaurant, Cobblestones in Lowell.

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