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Disappointing....B & G Oysters

Since B & G seemed to get such great reviews on this board, we ate there on one of our 2 nights in Boston, visiting from NY. The fried oyster app was ok, a bit on the salty side. But the lobster roll was ice cold as if it was just taken from the fridge, and as a result lacked the expected sweet lobster flavor - and the fries were soggy. It was especially disappointing being in New England and expecting a great seafood dinner. Someone on the board said it was similar to NYC's Pearl, but I have to say it's no contest - Pearl's lobster roll is a couple of bucks cheaper and in a different league - sweet tasty lobster, perfect dressing and the fries rule.

We were also blown away by the incredible high cost of your good restaurants.

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  1. Sorry to say that B&G is really not that special. I have never figured out why it gets so much hype on this board. Sorry you didn't have a great time!!!

    1. I did Pearl's and B&G's on back-to-back nights to compare the lobster rolls, and there was no comparison: B&G won hands down. There's a thread somewhere on this board about the comparison.

      11 Replies
      1. re: Blumie

        I wasn't impressed with either. Was so looking forward to Pearls as I have often visited Kennebunkport and received their cookbook as a present....

        Pearls - simply unimpressed

        I work in Boston and tried B&G a few times...overpriced and a short pour on expensive wine by the glass.

        And then I arrived at Neptune in the NorthEnd. This was exactly what I had hoped from the other two. Excellent Lobster rolls and perfect fried clams and crisp tasty fries.......

        1. re: Blumie

          So I went to Neptune tonight for the first time ever, so I could include it in my lobster roll comparison. We arrived between 8:30 and 9, and gave our name and cell number to one of the waitresses. When I asked how long the wait was, she shrugged and said, "I don't know. Maybe an hour and forty-five minutes." So we left unsure we would return, and within 10 minutes (certainly no more) they called us with a table. Unfortunately they had sold out of the lobster roll much earlier in the day, so although we had a lovely meal, the lobster roll review will have to wait.

          1. re: Blumie

            Sorry to hear about that. I love Neptune, but them running out of lobster rolls is absolutely ridiculous. It is one of their staples and I'd argue their main draw.

            1. re: Gabatta

              Our waitress told us that it's not unusual for them to run out on weekend nights. (I also think they were unusually busy yeterday due to the unseasonably warm weather.)

              1. re: Blumie

                Sounds like a good reason to avoid Neptune on weekend nights going forward.

                1. re: Gabatta

                  Well that plus the out-of-control crowds. Anyone know what it's like during the week?

                  1. re: Blumie

                    During the week it is not bad at all. You can usually get a seat in 30 min or less. We have been there about a dozen times (all during the week), and they have never run out of lobster.

                    During the summer, 30 min is fine to stroll around a bit. In the winter, you can go to Bacco a few doors down for a drink if you have to wait.

                    1. re: Gabatta

                      What's more, it's open all day, every day. My sweetie and I often linger from the late afternoon until well into the evening over oysters, then kitchen dishes, then more oysters, etc...

                      1. re: tatamagouche

                        And in fact I went for lunch today. My report, which I am sure will generate much further discussion, can be found here: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

            2. re: Blumie

              Man, the restaurants in the North End need to get their acts together. Not all of them, of course, but at a lot of them, all too often it's amateur hour in the front of the house. There's no excuse for a host/ess telling someone that there's a 105-minute wait when it is really 10 minutes. Of course, what often happens is the opposite. What happened to professionalism in the dining room?

              1. re: seefood

                When we first got there, the two waitresses -- who, together with two bartenders comprise the entire front of house -- seemed competely overwhelmed. When we were called back and seated 10 minutes later, the place was no less crowded, but I noted how good and how cheery the waitresses appeared to be (I even commented to our waitress how good of a mood she seemed to be in for someone who had been in the weeds from the moment she arrived at 4:00 that afternoon).

                Sure it would be great if they could have been even a little more accurate, but being told 105 minutes and being seated in 10 is infinitely more preferable than the reverse. And once seated, the service was top notch.

          2. Next time you're here check out the real deal at Neptune, B&G is good and popular for many reasons but I prefer Neptune - it actually reminds me of Pearl, a better Pearl. ;)

            1 Reply
            1. re: steinpilz

              I'm with you. B&G is good, but the menu is pricier than Neptune's without half its inventiveness, and it's neither as comfy or neighborly as Neptune (to be fair, the latter's in my actual neighborhood, the former's not, so I may be defining "neighborly" a bit too literally).

            2. I had a lovely meal at B&G Oysters the other night: shared a couple dozen oysters from Martha's Vineyard, New Brunswick, Long Island Sound, and somewhere on the Pacific Coast. Sorry not to be a local booster, but the West Coast ones were my favorites, tasting the briniest. Good mignonette alongside; I was pleased that the red glop and horseradish weren't automatically offered. We then proceeded to a spicy seafood stew with cod cheeks, shrimp, and squid.

              An interesting Muscadet to start (the middle of three levels of dryness from the same vintner), then an unusual red from Leon in northwestern Spain, made entirely from the Mencia grape, a new one to me, and a very nice complement to the stew. Terrific service, allowing us leisurely pacing, helpful and knowledgeable on the food and wine. Not cheap (oysters $2.50 a pop), but a very pleasant evening. I like Neptune a lot, too, though the two feel like night and day, atmosphere-wise, and Neptune is a lot more interesting if you're looking beyond seafood.

              Compared to Manhattan, Boston dining is pricey, of course, especially in our middle tier, and we have nothing to compare to the New York's top tier. The scale economics are an obvious reason: 8 million people vs. 600,000. There's no way we can duplicate that level of demand and competition. New Yorkers are the luckiest diners in North America. That comes with its own price, of course (sorry about that World Series drought), but we're happy to jump on the Acela and visit regularly. Try not to rub in your good fortune too hard with us provincials, okay?

              1. To Brooklyn Linda: I can understand your comments about price. I would guess that there is a tremendous amount of great food in Brooklyn, at much lower cost in comparison to Manhattan.

                B&G Oysters is part of the overly-hyped Barbara Lynch empire in Boston. The Butcher Shop is another Lynch spot that is way overpriced (search the board for rants about the $17 hot dog).

                That said, next time you come up to Boston, try checking out the chow-ish places in the surroundings towns/cities, particularly in Cambridge and Somerville. I think you'll find food to be excellent, and more reasonably priced.

                1. I don't think B & G is one of the top restaurants in Boston, but I do think it's good, and it's lobster roll is one I'd certainly recommend to an out of towner looking for the best roll in Boston. I'm surprised to hear of your report. I haven't been recently but the few times I went I enjoyed a really delicious roll (and the lobster blt was great too) and the fries were perfectly cooked. If I were you, i probably would have complained. I'd be surprised if they don't make the rolls to order (for $24 bucks or whatever they are, they certainly should) and there's no excused for soggy fries. They could have whipped you up another batch in just a few moments. Not making excuses for them, but it certainly sounds like you caught 'em on an off night. Sorry.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                    sitting at the bar, you can watch them make all the food, and the lobster roll meat is premixed in a huge bowl from the refrigerator. however, i still found my roll to be delicious with some of the best fries i've ever had.

                  2. Wow - that's unforunate. I've had the lobster roll at B&G 10+ times over the last 3 years and NEVER had soggy fries or fridge-cold lobster. Must've been an off night or someone new in the kitchen. Very sorry to hear that as they remain my favourite Boston seafood spot.

                    1. I hav enjoyed the oysters there but feel that everything on the menu is overpriced and the service EVERY TIME has been horrendous. Sorry.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        I've been happy with the service, I usually go on weekend afternoons and have only sat at the bar.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          I agree that the prices are a little bit higher than I would prefer, but everything else about it has been first rate in my dozen plus visits. To me it is one of the most comfortable restaurants in Boston. The service has always been great with informed, friendly, and hip waitstaff. The food has always been delicious.

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Hamster: Over the summer I had a lobsta safari and ate as many lobsta rolls as I could. B&G came in #2 for the for the lobsta meat and the bun. Not traditonal but excellent. If you think it's horrendous, why do you keep going back?

                            1. re: Chicky

                              A lobster safari sounds great! As a reference for future visits, could you share your top five - or more? Thanks.

                              1. re: chowfamily

                                Here is the thread:
                                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                                But, Chicky, I could not discern what was your #1.

                          2. bklynlinda, I hear you! I moved from NYC to Boston and had sticker shock. The cost of eating out is incredibly expensive in comparison!

                            1. We went to B&G for my birthday on Saturday and also found it to be a disappointment. We shared the fritto misto, a bowl of lobster bisque and their infamous lobster roll.

                              Apparently, if you take a fisherman’s platter and call it fritto misto, you can charge $45 dollars of a small assortment of fried oysters, clams, grey sole and calamari. I don’t know who was on the fry station that night but they had no clue what they were doing. The temperature on the oil was clearly too low, the batter on the seafood sucked it up like a sponge. They served it on a platter lined with brown paper which was saturated with oil. Greasy, oily and gross. Pescatore Seafood in Somerville charges 1/3 the price and is easily three time better.

                              The bisque was okay, but it was strangely rust colored, yet I tasted no tomato or anything else that would make it that color. It was a little gritty and the potato croquette in the middle did not work for me all at.

                              Lastly, the infamous lobster roll; it was another disappointment. I guess at $29 a roll, you are setting yourself up for high expectations. The lobster meat was plump, sweet and fresh, but there was a seasoning in there I didn’t like (celery seed?). It just threw the whole thing off for me. And, big surprise, the fries that came with it were greasy. We barely touched them.

                              I realized that for my birthday last year we went to No. 9 Park, another Barbara Lynch enterprise. I had basically the same opinion of it that I have for B&G: over-hyped, overpriced and disappointing.

                              gltsoi.livejournal.com

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: gltsoi

                                Two of us went by B+G on Sunday around 2 in the hope of an outdoor seat and we were lucky enough to find one. As we were being seated we were warned that this 4-person picnic table was 'communal seating' and could have 2 people sharing the table with us. Another party of two arrived right at that time and it was clear we were going to be spending our afternoon with them. I didn't really feel like being elbow to elbow and 'cheek to cheek' with strangers (this is a small table) so we left. The staff was very polite about explaining the place is small etc, but it struck me as strange. Given the money we were probably going to spend at B+G we were happy to get a table outside at Petit Robert and spend at least 50% less. We had the Guigal Rosé, the three different Pâtés, tasty as always, smoked herring fillets (oily and delicious) and a hot dog and fries for a total of $47. So in the end it worked out well - we got a seat in the sunshine, a bottle of wine and tasty food. Plus, we know for the future to go as a party of 4 if we have a hankering for an expensive lobster roll.

                                1. re: jonship

                                  That's odd. The outdoor area/tables at B&G don't really strike me as the communal seating type. Guess they're trying to squeeze every possible $ out of their seating.....I also don't really see B&G as the type of place where you'd have communal seating. Yeah, you're just eating a lobster roll, but if you're paying $29 for one, you should be allowed to eat it in peace if you want.

                                  1. re: twentyoystahs

                                    My thoughts exactly - hence our leaving. I don't see a 4 person picnic table as communal seating. Maybe at Woodman's on a busy day you might ask someone to scoot over, but this isn't Woodman's.

                                    1. re: jonship

                                      In a very big way, the restaurant business is a real estate business, and that's even more true for a tiny place in a high rent district like B&G (their high prices notwithstanding). They could have told you that the four top was reserved for parties of four, or they could have given you the option of sitting there with strangers. I don't blame you for not wanting to share, but it's hard to blame the restaurant for not wanting two valuable seats to go to waste.

                                      1. re: Blumie

                                        I have only been to B+G twice, but that was enough. The restaurant business is one of hospitality, not real estate. The hubris of the staff is enough to kill the quality of the food, which isn't very high to begin with.

                                        This place succeeded intially because of both media and chowhype. I am so surprised that is continues to chug along.

                                        1. re: aadesmd

                                          I had dinner there on Saturday. In the week leading up to the dinner, I read the posts with increasing trepidation. The actual experience wildly exceeded my expectations. The staff was cordial and gracious. We enjoyed our meal. We started with a selction of four varieties of oysters. The oysters were great. Our entrees were sea scallops and Portuguese style clam stew. The scallops were very good but the stew was the best version of this dish I ever had. We had the ricotta bomboli with chocolate sauce. The bomboli were great and the sauce was good.
                                          We avoided the lobster roll - at $29 it is nearly impossible for it to justify the price. While I appreciate that at B&G's prices one might expect sublime food, my experience was quite different than the majority of posts.

                                2. re: gltsoi

                                  Yowzer, $29 for the lobster roll now. I had a lobster BLT w/ fries at Bravo in Prov. for $14 and it was mighty fine. Maybe even worth the gas money for the trip.

                                  1. re: Joanie

                                    Interesting that this thread should resurface. I had my first meal at Neptune yesterday, and it was fabulous. Succulent crabcakes and oysters for apps, with as little filler as I've seen in any crabcakes. I had the veal and tuna sandwich, for which there are no adequate words to describe how unusual and delicious this was. My dinner partner had the lobster roll with mayo and it too was delicious. We can't wait for our next meal there.

                                    1. re: greenstate

                                      right on - I have neptune cravings almost daily.

                                      1. re: gramercyfoodie

                                        I've long been a champion of B&G but had been dismayed in the last year by a gradual slipping in quality.

                                        However, after two recent meals, I feel like it's better than ever. The menu looks refreshed, and the staffing changes have been good.

                                        The lobster roll is a ripoff, perhaps, but I don't think it's even the 10th best thing on the menu.

                                        Just my opinion.