best breakfast in Boston--bar none !
- Betsy Aug 25, 2001 09:36 PM
I was scrolling down the list of e-mails regarding Boston restaurants and was fairly surprised that no one has mentioned Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe on Columbus Avenue in the South End.
This place has been around since 1927 run by the same family.
It is best known for its amazing breakfasts. They make the best pancakes I've ever had---and all types--cranberry, blueberry, banana, strawberry, plain, etc.
Their omlettes are also exceptional.
What I love about this place besides the food is that it is family owned and operated and it is a place that attracts a wide spectrum of the community.
Everyone can feel at home at Charlie's.
Not a cheap breakfast by any stretch of the imagination. It'll cost you at least 10-14 dollars to eat well, with sides of bacon or ham or sausage, or their famous hash.....but the food is so marvelous that you won't be bothered by the price.
This is a five star recommend from someone who has been going there for the last 19 years.
Not wanting to sound ticked off, can you give us a description rather than an advertisement?
I wasn't blown away by my Reuben at Charlie's, though it was fine. I wouldn't go to a place like that expecting to be blown away. It was fine, and I didn't care that much that it was pricey for what it was. I would have like to see that they had preserved the room all along--something about the place seemed partly (unfortunately) updated except for some signs and refrigerators.
IMO most places don't even do as well with their pancakes at IHOP. I like IHOP more than most places serving "great" homemade pancakes.
The best pancakes I've had were at a 1930s diner stall in the Los Angeles farmer's market. They were almost identical to what you would get if you followed the James Beard recipe for buttermilk pancakes. It has a lot of butter and buttermilk, and sits overnight. The end result is a thin and elasticy pancake with no trace of pastyness--almost seems uncooked the way it tears with the teeth, but in fact that's its cooked texture.
The next best were are La Bonbonierre on 8th Ave in NYC. Also, thin pancakes, but not quite as much butter as in the LA farmer's market or James Beard recipe. Most other places seem to use mixes, creating a pasty pancake with no balance of flavors--no real buttermilk or butter flavor, and too thick and mealy.
Adam, I thought Betsy's posting had plenty of specifics, and while we certainly value your input, there was no call for you to knock hers. Given that Betsy was recommending breakfast and you apparently had a reuben sandwich, I'm not sure there's any conflict between your two observations (and, FWIW, we have no reason to suspect that her enthusiastic review was shill).
As for the ability of a "place like that" to cook great food, I'm not sure what that means. I've been blown away by food in every sort of eatery. If there were a "type" of restaurant sure-fired to provide reliably good food, the world would be a vastly different place and this site would not be needed. Most places, generally, are lousy. A few places are great, because a chef has talent and cares...and that can happen anywhere. The only way to determine this is to go forth and eat...and compare notes with your fellow hounds.
Also, please don't change subject titles unless conversation has digressed. I realize other web discussions encourage posters to communicate via subject titles, but we ask people not to do that here. And you may want to consider, in selecting a nametag, that we have tens of thousands of users. Going under merely "Adam" will make it hard for everyone to get to know and remember you.
re: Jim Leff
Sorry, Betsy and Jim. My post came off pretty bad. I didn't want to knock someone's post, I'm just frustrated that there aren't more people on the Boston board who are obsessed enough to write about the details of some food they really love. Those kinds of posts may not be what everyone is looking for, I realize.
About my expectations at Charley's, it's just that at an old breakfast/lunch counter, part of the experience for me is the clientele, the vibes emitted by the waitstaff, and the interior. Not to knock Charley's, and I only went there once, but if one was looking for something really special within that genre of eateries, I would pick other places if even any exist in that genre any more in Boston.
I heartily agree that one can be blown away at every sort of eatery.
no sweat, Adam. Listen, we ALL like reading details! Best way to see more of 'em is to set an example and post those sorts of messages yourself. It will inspire others, and attract more detail-minded posters to the discussion.
Though, of course, we ALWAYS welcome plain old quick tips from people who don't have time/ambition to go on at length. i'd rather see a great coconut custard pie tip tossed out quickly than never learn about it at all!