Thursday, April 29, 2010

Small Plates with Decent Prices

Personally, I think tapas can be hit or miss. Sometimes restaurants sell tapas for $2-6, and you get quite a bit of food considering the promise of a "small plate." Other times, however, you can pay up to $6 or more for a bite-sized morsel that defeats the purpose of sharing the tapas among friends.

Thankfully, places like Moonstones in Chelmsford exists. I ate at Moonstones (owned by the same people of Cobblestones in Lowell) last year soon after it opened, and was impressed by the smooth, modern decor and upscale bar/lounge area. Last week, my cousins and I decided to have dinner there again, to split some tapas, drink some wine, and relax after work. Moonstones serves full entrees (at dinner and lunch), soups, salads, and even sandwiches, but we went specifically for the tapas and homemade focaccia.

There were only three of us, but we all like to eat - so we ended up getting three tapas to share at first, and then ordered two more. We started with marinated olives, hummus, and focaccia ($4.50).

The olives were marinated in a light, citrus and herb dressing, which helped to cut the intense saltiness of the olives. The focaccia was also perfectly airy and crisp, and the hummus was silky smooth and full of fresh lemon flavor.

Next up was the white truffle and parmesan fries ($7.50), which is one of the more expensive tapas Moonstones makes, but also is the most delicious - and one of the largest. The thin, crispy fries remind me of McDonald's, minus the oversalting and fossil fuel. Moonstone's fries are literally addicting, thanks to the fluffy speckles of fresh parmesan that accompany each bite.

Mini cheese fondue ($9) was next, served with crostini, Granny Smith apple slices, and crackers. I admit $9 is a bit high, but you really do get a lot of food with this one. I'm pretty sure we didn't even finish the entire plate. Regardless, the fondue was delightfully rich, thick and creamy. It was so good, we ended up dipping half our fries in it!

My cousins and I love our carbs, and we couldn't resist ordering a plate of Moonstone's homemade focaccia. We tried their focaccia the last time we went, and I've been dreaming about it ever since. Moonstones has some fancier focaccia bread on the menu, but we opted for the simple version with olive oil, roasted garlic, reggiano, and sea salt ($4.50). The bread was incredibly light and airy, and had the perfect amount of olive oil and garlic - bread that light could easily be overpowered by such strong toppings, but Moonstones achieved the perfect ratio.

Finally, our last course was the Chinese chicken spring rolls with sweet and sour sauce ($8.50).

These puppies were incredibly crispy on the outside, but full of familiar, Asian-inspired flavors on the inside. It reminded me almost of a healthier General Tso's Chicken wrapped up in a light, crispy spring roll. Divine.

Overall, our second meal at Moonstones was a success, and I was also happy to see that their special Earth Day menu was based around organic, locally-grown ingredients (although we did not order off that menu). My only gripe: Our waitress was almost a little too attentive. I felt like half the conversations we started were interrupted. But, my glass of Pinot Grigio was always full - so I guess I'll let this one go. 


  1. great write up! where to next?!


  2. "fossil fuel" Love it! I also love the fact that you keep mentioning how your "cousins" love to eat. Maybe we should do Dali next.... :-)

  3. Yesss, I am dying to try Dahle! Just let me know when. ;)