Restaurant Reviews

Review: Tornado in Malden

Since I had to work a night event on my birthday, a friend and I decided to check out the new Tapas bar near our meeting for an early dinner.

Outdoor seating: coming in the warmer weather.

Tornado opened just a few months ago in Malden, which is apparently gaining a reputation as the next culinary hot spot. (Woohoo for our property values!) I really hope this place can stick it out, because lots of new apartments are being built nearby, and it’s right next to the subway. There should be plenty of foot traffic around this corner. Plus, the city of Malden itself is just getting more and more popular with young families and urbanites; every time I turn around, someone I know is moving here or neighboring Melrose (another foodie haven with top-notch downtown restaurants).

Anyway, here’s what we ate:

Oyster shooters with soy sauce and hot pepper flakes, with a guava sangria
Oyster shooters with soy sauce, sake, tabasco and fresh chive, with guava sangria.


Corn on the cob with sweet BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and cilantro
Corn on the cob with sweet Asian BBQ glaze, soft goat cheese and fried garlic


Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart whipped cream and pistachio gelato.
Key Lime pie bites with fresh berries, tart Yuzu whipped cream and pistachio gelato.


My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!
My birthday surprise: fried tiramisu ice cream!

We also had edamame topped with sea salt and grated lemon zest, and bread with cinnamon-sugar butter (yum).

My verdict? I really liked this place. It’s owned and operated by graduates of Malden High, and I’m really rooting for them to succeed. They describe the food as a “mashup” of Eastern and Western cuisine, and I’d say that’s about right. There were other things we would have tried with unlimited time and stomach space: the Caesar kale salad, seared avocado with truffle salt and furikake, steamed pork buns with hoisin glaze and pickled vegetables, and crab cake fritters with wasabi-cucumber dip. I mean, right? Lots to pick from here.

And that’s just tapas! You can see the full menu here, but there’s a whole side of dinner entrees that I didn’t even sample. The sangrias we had were excellent, so I’m dying to try some of their other concoctions as well. And the fact they even call out a fancy mocktail on their drink menu earned huge points with me — I learned that you can almost always gauge the level of service you’re about to experience by how enthusiastically the bar crafts an alcohol-free drink for you when you’re visibly pregnant. (I had one place flat-out refuse to make something for me! Not so much as a cranberry juice. But I love the place, so I won’t call them out here).

The service was OK. Not inattentive, just not overly informed about ingredients we asked for, which I’m sure will come in time. We also came at a slow hour (5-6 p.m.) and they’ve only been open a few months, as I said. The decor is really cool; we enjoyed the modern vibe and can imagine it being really nice for drinks or a late dinner. The bar looked good too.

All in all: had a lovely time, definitely coming back.

Oh, and if you were hoping for a Cinco de Mayo recipe, you’re in luck! I posted these ideas last year, and then this weekend I spotted this handy recipe for restaurant-style Mexican rice. Last but not least, since it’s Monday and we all need cheering up, I give you this: an 8-legged octopus my brother made for Georgia’s 8-month birthday. Enjoy.



Celebrate Cinco de Mayo!

Just like the Americanization of the holiday itself, these recipes are only marginally authentic — but man, are they festive. Cue the mariachi music and host your own fiesta! 

photo & recipe:



  • 1 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1 quart warm water
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Whole cinnamon sticks, optional, for serving


In a blender, combine the rice and warm water. Blend for 1 to 2 minutes until the rice breaks up but does not form a powder. Let the rice mixture stand in the refrigerator for 6 hours or up to overnight.

Strain the rice mixture into a container through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth to remove the rice solids.

Pour the rice water into a blender and add the milk, vanilla and almond extracts, cinnamon, and sugar. Blend for 1 minute until well combined and smooth. Serve the horchata over ice with cinnamon sticks as stirrers.

Mexican Baked Eggs & Homemade Tortilla Chips


  • Olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin (more or less to taste
  • jalapeno peppers to taste (I went light)
  • 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or you could use fresh)
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese like  jack & cheddar or a Mexican blend


Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.Add the garlic, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and jalapeno saute until fragrant, about a minute.Add the tomatoes, black beans, oregano, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 20 minutes.Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro.Place half of the mixture into one or more baking dishes, top with the eggs and spoon the remaining mixture around the eggs.Bake in a preheated 350F oven until the eggs just start to set, about 5-8 minutes.Top with the cheese and broil until it melts, no more than a minute or so.

For the tortilla chips: cut a stack of corn or flour tortillas into wedges (I used 8-inch rounds, and cut up about four of them) and brush with olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet, sprinkle with kosher salt and a squeeze of fresh lime (you could also add cumin), and bake at 350 for 7-8 minutes. Turn the pan around in the oven and give the chips a stir, then put the pan back in for just a couple more minutes until they are crisp but not burned. Let them cool briefly before serving.

Spinach Enchiladas


  • 1 package of large flour tortillas (you can also use the smaller 6-inch size, but I prefer to make mine a bit larger)
  • 1 package (10 oz.) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (I buy one small container and reserve the rest to serve alongside the enchiladas)
  • 1 can enchilada sauce (I used green)
  • 1 package shredded monterey jack cheese (2 cups)
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 a cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • butter, for cooking
  • optional: 1 small can of green chilis or a sprinkle of hot sauce


Start by preheating the oven to 375. Prepare the spinach (thaw, rinse and squeeze dry), and set aside.

Next, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and then the garlic (so it doesn’t burn), cooking until fragrant but not browned. Stir in the spinach. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring, then remove from heat. Mix in the ricotta cheese, sour cream, and half the monterey jack cheese.

Prepare the bottom of a glass baking dish by pouring about a third of the enchilada sauce in the bottom, making sure you spread it around to coat the bottom of the baking dish evenly.

Now, assemble the enchiladas. Take a tortilla, spoon some of the warm spinach mixture into the center and fold into thirds, placing the rolled-up enchilada face down in your baking dish.

Repeat, laying each enchilada side by side until the dish is filled. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce on top, spooning it evenly over each tortilla and making sure it gets down in between the seams to nothing sticks while cooking.

Sprinkle the remaining monterey jack on top of the enchiladas. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the whole thing looks browned and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, guacamole, rice … you name it!

Restaurant Style Salsa


  • 2 1/2 cups tomatoes (about 3 heirloom) or 1 28-oz. can whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (10 oz) Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, mild or medium
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • jalapenos to taste (start with a few slices and add if needed)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • juice of 1 lime


Using a large food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients until you get the consistency you desire. I err on the side of chunky and not smooth. Test the seasonings, refrigerate for an hour and serve! This makes a pretty good-sized batch, so you can definitely bring plenty to a party and still have leftovers (or, if you have a huge family, just eat it all at one sitting).

Mango Margarita


  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 cups ice
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 orange, juiced
  • 2 cups mango nectar
  • Tequila (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish


Spread the salt out onto a small dish. Dip the rims of 4 margarita glasses in water and then dip them into the salt.Into a blender, add the ice, lime juice, orange juice, mango nectar, and 4 shots of tequila, if desired. Blend until smooth. Pour into the prepared glasses and garnish with a lime wedge.