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Looking for a "colonial" place in Boston for chowing

Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 01:18 AM

Howdy, Boston Area!

I normally post on the Southwest board but am looking for some recommendations on a place in the greater Boston area where I could get a "colonial" American dinner, like a meal that would be served around the time of the nation's founding.

It doesn't have to involve period dress or costumes or the like, as I am more interested in the food (wild/natural turkey, etc.).

Any such places exist in Boston?

Thanks for your time!

Best wishes!

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  1. Sgt Snackers RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 01:43 AM

    The only thing I'm aware of is the 'authentic' dining experiences at the Plimoth Plantation:


    This is a historically accurate recreation of 17th century Plymouth -- I went once (though not for the dinner) and got chastised by one of the theme-actors for not understanding the finer points of Puritan theological underpinnings. Fascinating.

    1. 9
      9lives RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 01:48 AM

      Durgin Park would give you a good taste...don't know about the costumes or "natural" turkey; but good traditional NE fare.

      1 Reply
      1. re: 9lives
        takeoutgirl RE: 9lives Oct 21, 2006 04:52 PM

        Second on Durgin - the most traditional NE in the city. Where else can you find Indian Pudding?? I'd avoid Union Oyster; friends were there last weekend and reported that the meal was nearly inedible.

      2. c
        clairelawlessboston RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 07:17 AM

        Try Locke Ober, Union Oyster House, or go West to the Wayside Inn in Sudbury. In the city, the other two just named might do.

        Turkey, that really is a Thanksgiving thing. Not often available on menus at other times of the year.

        Can be found in Sturbridge at The Public House, but it is awful.

        Also in Sturbridge, The Tavern at Sturbridge Village, but am not able to attest to the food. Probably as authentic as you will find anywhere.

        1. t
          TheScribe RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 01:48 PM

          Interesting question, as I made an authentic colonial meal in my home each winter for a number of years because it is difficult to find it in a restaurant. Besides Plimoth Plantation, you might try the Salem Cross Inn in West Brookfield. A bit of a drive from Boston. Also, once in a while the Paul Revere House in Boston will have programs that feature the authentic foods. Good luck!

          1. w
            Winemark RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 01:52 PM

            Hi Seth,
            I read your posts on the South West board alot. I am going to reccomend Union Oyster House. It is the oldest continually operating restaurant in America. While wild turkey probably is not going to be offered it is a slice of Americana in Boston.
            The suggestion of Plimoth Plantation is also a good one but it is an housr south of Boston so if you don't have a car you are out of luck.

            1. trufflehound RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 03:53 PM

              If you are referring to the Oliver Ames Tavern, I believe it closed last year due to dropping attendance. I would expect Legoland to take over OSV soon.

              The salem Cross Inn does do some Drovers dinners or some sort. Never been.

              1. b
                Big Momma RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 04:37 PM

                I would avoid Union Oyster house except for cocktails and an appetizer. I took a bunch of out-of-towners to Union and was embarrassed at how bad the food was. The old-world ambience is nice though. If you go, ask for the Kennedy booth.

                I second Durgin Park if you want to stay in Boston. I haven't had the turkey dinner and doubt it's wild turkey but I've never had a bad meal there. The fish dishes are always outstanding and colonial period dishes are represented to an extent.

                Sadly the Oliver Wight Tavern at Sturbridge Village closed last January. They did have some nice colonial period dishes.

                I'd also recommend Locke Ober if it's in the budget, but you wouldn't be getting colonial-inspired fare.

                1. m
                  mwk RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 04:50 PM

                  In Boston proper, your best bet is Durgin Park. They have many of the old fashioned colonial dishes, like Boiled Dinner, Roast Turkey and Indian Pudding for dessert.

                  Outside of Boston, about an hour west, there are two options, which were mentioned above, I think. The Salem Cross Inn, in West Brookfield, has a "Hearthside Dinner", which is all cooked over an open fire, and with a beehive oven for baking the apple pie. It's Clam Chowder, Roast Beef, potatoes, and apple pie for dessert. They also start you out with mulled wine or cider and hay rides first. It's fun for kids and adults. It's only on certain Friday or Saturday nights during the year:


                  The other option is dinner in a country village, which is a fun "educational" evening run at the Old Sturbridge Village. They actually cook dinner in one of the antique houses, using only utensils and methods which were available in the early 1800's. All the recipes for the food are from that time as well. Part of the fun is that you help to do the cooking, and learn about life back then. Afterwards, you all retire to the "parlor" and play parlor games from that time. It's a lot of fun:


                  1. z
                    Zatan RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 05:26 PM

                    The Wayside Inn is a great place for a Colonial experience, the building itself plus those surrounding (the little red school house where Mary's lamb went) are interesting, the countryside around there is beautiful (especially now I bet) and the Inn serves classic New England food. As I recall there's an old mill there that still grinds cornmeal that is for sale so you can have something to take away.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Zatan
                      Karl S RE: Zatan Oct 22, 2006 11:36 AM

                      Wayside is pretty, but the food is underwhelming even compared to Durgin Park, which actually has some excellent food. And much of the Wayside's dining space is a modern addition.

                      1. re: Karl S
                        Lilibet RE: Karl S Oct 23, 2006 03:45 PM

                        You don't go there for the food... it is Yankee cooking, plain and simple. It's the Inn you go to see - a total experience. BTW, the dining space isn't modern.. where did you get that information? The main dining room was added by Henry Ford in the 30's. It is an open space and less cozy than other rooms. There is the Tap Room and several small dining rooms (Old Kitchen, etc.)off to the right of the main entrance that are period. You just have to know to ask as to where you'll be seated. Reservations are a must, especially at this time of year.
                        The Inn experienced a bad fire in 1954 and was rebuilt using all of the remaining beams. You can see scorch marks on them in the Old Bar. If you want to have a total "colonial" experience, have dinner on Wednesday evening. The Sudbury Fyfe and Drum reenactors walk through the dining rooms in full costume, playing their instruments. Always makes the hairs stand up on my neck!!

                        1. re: Lilibet
                          Karl S RE: Lilibet Oct 23, 2006 04:00 PM

                          The 1930's addition is what I meant by modern; it's not colonial and doesn't feel it at all, other than colonial-esque furnishings. It feels like a Hitchcock showroom.

                          1. re: Karl S
                            Lilibet RE: Karl S Oct 23, 2006 07:08 PM

                            Yes, I can understand what you mean: the main dining room is more Colonial Revival than full of bonafide antiques.
                            What I was suggesting was that there were more intimate, out of they way rooms to eat at the Inn. The reason we always request one of them when making reservations.
                            I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.... sorry to rub you the wrong way.

                    2. Seth Chadwick RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 06:58 PM

                      Wow! Thank you all so very much for the input. It is greatly appreciated. I am doing some planning for a trip to Boston next year, so this helps me out immensely.

                      Again, your input is greatly appreciated. If any of you are ever over Phoenix way, I will be more than happy to return the favor (although I will state up front that you won't find *any* colonial type restaurants here (for some odd reason :o).

                      1. 9
                        9lives RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 21, 2006 07:12 PM

                        If you want to stay in downtown, a nice way to go would be Union Oyster for oysters first..sit at the bar only..rest of food is pretty mediocre..and then it's a short walk to Durgin Park.

                        1. MB fka MB RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 22, 2006 01:25 PM

                          For colonial food, you could just eat salt cod, cornmeal porridge and baked beans all day. :-)

                          Brown bread (steamed) was a big deal as was baked beans (into the oven on Saturday night to cook overnight, because there could be no labor on Sunday).

                          There used to be a breakfast place in Kingston, MA - now moved to downtown Plymouth - called Persey's Place. I haven't visited the new location, but it was always a favorite breakfast spot and (at least in the former location) they baked all their bread and you could get brown bread and baked beans along with your breakfast.

                          1. CocoDan RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 23, 2006 04:07 PM

                            A good spot for traditional American food is "The Old Mill", Westminster, MA. It's directly off Route 2, and easy to get to. A nice experience. Enjoy!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: CocoDan
                              hargau RE: CocoDan Oct 23, 2006 04:26 PM

                              yuck! It is owned and operated by Cracker Barrel and tastes it! Been about 6 times a dissapointment each one.

                            2. w
                              wontonton RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 23, 2006 05:33 PM

                              I can't say I'd recommend eating there, but if you are into the colonial period and want to visit a building from the era for a drink, you might look up the Warren Tavern across the harbor in Charlestown.

                              1. CocoDan RE: Seth Chadwick Oct 23, 2006 05:46 PM

                                I wasn't aware that The Old Mill was owned by Cracker Barrel. Won't be going there any time soon. Thanks for the warning.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: CocoDan
                                  hargau RE: CocoDan Oct 23, 2006 06:02 PM

                                  I was just looking at their website and they say they pride themselves as being individually and not corporate owned, yet the pub section is called cracker barrel. If you do a google search on old mill cracker barrel westminster you get tons of hits. So i dunno perhaps it is a different cracker barrel? Either way, i dont like the food!

                                  1. re: hargau
                                    Karl S RE: hargau Oct 23, 2006 06:47 PM

                                    It's a Cracker Barrel operation in some part, that's for sure.

                                    I would only go there on a cold snowy night to have a drink by the fire.

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