Thanksgiving South of the Border
Patch heads to Boloco to find out if a Thanksgiving dinner can successfully be stuffed into a burrito.
Perhaps if a "director's cut" existed of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, Hollywood might CGI some burritos into the spread of "fowle" and "deere" on the table of the 53 pilgrims and 90 natives who attended.
Certainly these days, all sorts of Thanksgiving-themed sandwiches and wraps are popping up at Massachusetts Bay's restaurants, sporting historically festive names like "Mayflower" and "Pilgrim."
Now Boston's hippest burrito franchise, Boloco, has brought back the Late November Burrito, after a four-year hiatus. It's just another example of what marketing maven Sara Steele-Rogers refers to as the business's "appealingly off-centered" approach to their menu.
As one of the college students/young professionals that make up the majority of their clientele, I'll admit its attraction. Over the past year, I've consumed enough Mediterranean burritos to justify the privileged placement of my Boloco customer card in my wallet.
The staff is always friendly and the service fast, but I don't consider it "fast food." Breaking from my usual routine, I stopped in the other day to try the heavily promoted Late November.
Coming from a family that has seen more than its fair share of cancer, I was happy to know that 25 cents of my purchase would go towards fighting it. The return of the burrito to the menu is, in fact, a result of a partnership with the Movember Foundation, a global nonprofit organization based in Australia that encourages men around the world to grow mustaches in November on its website to help "change the face of men's health."
"We've targeted cancer fundraisers many times in years' past and continue to do so having raised nearly $30,000 in support of the Norris Cotton Cancer Center up at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital this summer," Steele-Rogers points out. Thus, Movember's fundraising event seemed a perfect opportunity to return the Late November Burrito to the menu for the month.
According to the menu, the burrito itself contains "house-roasted turkey, homemade stuffing, green beans and tangy cranberry chutney wrapped in a flour tortilla." Being rather large myself, I skipped right over Boloco's mini and small sizes to the largest "original" size ($6.25).
I was pleased to see the turkey itself in actual chunks rather than reconstituted deli meat. It maintained a good texture: not too dry or too wet. I also enjoyed the crispiness of the green beans, which were chopped in front of me rather than being reheated and dumped in from a bag, although they didn't really pop out during the first few bites.
As far as the chutney goes, if you like your cranberry from the can you'll enjoy it but if you prefer the more tart taste of the organic berry, it might be overly sweet.
Halfway into the sandwich, the contents more or less become mashed together in the stuffing, which together with the tortilla and cranberry chutney, gives it a sweet, doughy taste.
Once this happens the burrito sort of become one amorphous taste. But if you're a fan of heaping, microwaved plates of Thanksgiving leftovers in which all the distinct dishes congeal into a tasty melange, I think you'll still like the burrito.
Pursuing the Thanksgiving theme, I partnered the burrito with a Cape Codder ($3.50), a smoothie containing cranberries, blueberries, apple juice, raspberry sorbet and non-fat frozen yogurt. For me, the surprisingly subdued berry-ness, considering the ingredients, was preferable, although I didn't know frozen yogurt was capable of causing ice-cream headaches.
At 671 calories, the full-size burrito is hardly a low-cal diet staple, but for guilt-free eating just compare it to the caloric count of an actual Thanksgiving dinner.
So it's no substitute for your mom's dinner but what do you expect? It's a burrito. You don't go to Cancun looking for a turkey dinner.
Employees at the two Bolocos closest to the Hill say the Late November has been a big seller. Steele-Rogers says they've raised just a little over $1,000 from the sale of the burrito.
Visit Boloco at 2 Park Plaza across the street from the Common, 27 School St. or 5o Congress St. in the FiDi or 247 Newbury St. in the Back Bay.