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A tourist's review...

  • m

Just visited Boston for the first time. LOVE your city. Before going I did my research on where to eat. I’ve detailed my food jaunts below for anyone who is interested in what a Canadian has to say.

Lobster rolls: Kelly’s v. B+G.
I tried two lobster rolls: Kelly’s and B+G Oyster’s. I definitely thought Kelly’s was the winner. B+G’s was good but Kelly’s rolls just overflowed with nice sweet lobster, which I loved. B+G’s ‘bun’ itself was tasty but I found it a bit too bready, which, along with the nice sweetness of the bun kind of interfered with the taste of the lobster meat. B+G’s meat was nice but truthfully a bit plain tasting. Eating Kelly’s roll you knew you were eating lobster, the nice robust sweetness shined though – not so much at B+G. Kelly’s bun, although Wonderbread I’m sure was grilled and buttery and crispy and instead of interfering with the taste of the lobster meat, complimented it. So, while B+G’s roll was a solid 7/10 I’d give Kelly’s 8.5, maybe 9/10.

B+G Oyster. See above for Lobster roll feedback. The fries were indeed great btw, people are right about that. Slaw was ok. Delicious fried oysters but found the tartar sauce a bit salty, which wasn’t needed. Also didn’t care for the fact that each oyster came slightly dipped in sauce. It was a presentation technique and while it is clear thought was put into this presentation it would’ve been nice to have the choice to eat the oyster with or without sauce. A dipping cup would solve this. Otherwise the oysters were perfectly done and superfresh. My friend’s clam chowder was nice. Tasty, not thick and goopy. Service was ok, not great. Lovely bar – wow.

Kanes Donuts. Delish. Lemon zest in the old fashion glazed ones. Mmmm. Wasn’t crazy about the choco glazed but overall the donuts were really good. Great coffee. Great place too. Nice folks, pretty space.

East Coast Grill: I really liked it. It wasn’t perfect but generally pretty good and I’d visit it again. My friend and I each got BBQ platters. Ribs were for sure the winner on the platter. Pulled pork was nice. Brisket was ok. Garlic mashed were incredibly tasty but a bit too buttery and rich I found – otherwise tasty. Forgettable cornbread. Their ribs are great (especially this Asian inspired ‘wetbone’ app) and the service was really nice. Great vibe there. Will go back when in Boston next.

Boston Cream Pie – Oak Room. Tasty, very nicely done. I think they put some kind of booze in the chocolate component of the pie, which I wasn’t expecting and didn’t really care for. I ate around it as I found it too lemony or citrusy, or something. The cake itself was nice and soft and refined. Overall I thought it’d be better without the boozy chocolate, but that was just my preference.

Christina’s Ice Cream. Seriously rude service. I had burnt sugar ice cream that was to die for. Sampled pumpkin flavor too which I thought had zero flavor.

Herrell’s (sp?) ice cream, at Harvard Square. Meh, too sweet.

The Upper Crust, pizza. This one I actually stumbled across on my way to Cheers (please no laffing, I was a tourist!). I had not run across it in my research. I really liked it. Nice quality pies, nice vibe and service.

The Barking Crab. I know, I know, a total tourist spot, not really a food spot. But I wanted a fun harbor restaurant and it looked fun. And it was. The food…..not so much. My fried clams tasted off, gross. The bucket of shrimp were not bad, the garlic bread decent but forgettable. And my friend’s fried calamari was too dark. Oil unclean obviously. But, it was a fun Saturday and nice to spend it outside near the water. But those long lines – oh man.

Brownstone (‘s?). Found this spot for brekky near the Back Bay T station. I really enjoyed it. Pancakes, eggs etc.

I’m sure I ate more but these are the ones that immediately come to mind. Thanks for reading this book!

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  1. I see you really like desserts. Next time go to the N. End and hit the bakeries.

    I agree on Kelly's lobster roll though it's been a few years since I've had one on Revere Beach.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lergnom

      Next time I’ll do North end more. I only had limited time sadly this go around. I went to the Revere Beach Kelly’s yeah. Beautiful day for it too.

    2. This is fantastic! I'm visiting Boston in 2 weeks and am going to print your report out and do some planning before I get there. Thanks.

      www.houndstoothgourmet.com

      2 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Monavano, did you manage to get to any of the restaruants I reviewed when you went to Boston??

        2. Nice thoughts on an ecclectic mix... thanks. Funny on the Boston Cream Pie... I can never understand why bakers put a lemon flavor in things chocolate and vanilla. I sometimes pick that up with our "Half Moons" and it throws the confection off for me. I love lemon, but it kills it for me in these applicaitons. I find it rampant lately.....arrrgh, call the pastry police !!!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Buddernut

            Ya the lemon was a very hotel classic French thing to do I thought, which was not too unexpected considering it was at the beautiful Copley hotel. Totally offputting imo, but everyone raved about the Oak Room as the place to have Boston Cream Pie. I actually had mine in the adjoining Oak Bar as I was pretty much just after the pie, not a full sit-down thing.

            Again, liked the slice, just not the boozed up chocolate; not necessary and not traditional. I heard Lyndell’s had good pie too, but no time to get there unfortunately…

            1. re: magic

              the parker house supposedly invented boston cream pie. no longer posh like the oak room, but i'd give that place a shot.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                I'll second the Parker House for Boston Cream Pie -- but not for anything else I've had there. Their pub, The Last Hurrah, also offers it. My experience says eat anything else at these places at your peril.

                1. re: bachslunch

                  The last time I had the Boston Creme Pie at the Parker House, it was frozen. Sort of a let down for the out of towners I was with!

          2. You certainly managed to hit a variety of areas. Good for you for the trek to the Beach and to Saugus....your assessment of the places you mentioned is spot on.

            1 Reply
            1. So glad you tried and liked Kane's. Did you see their 9" coffee rolls??? They are yum.
              It is so nice to have a donut place that is good AND not a chain.
              Come back soon - Boston is a fun place and easy to maneuver as it is a very walkable city.
              Try the Pasta Market in Malden for really homemade pasta next time.

              54 Replies
              1. re: taxi

                Thanks taxi, I did indeed see their 9'' coffee rolls. I know they are a signature item. Looked sooooooooooo yummy. But I didn't end up getting one. Haha, the other half-dozen I got were enough: )

                Thanks for the Pasta Market tip. Next time I'm in Boston I will for sure remember to go. Loved Boston!

                1. re: magic

                  I'm coming back for just two days. A Satuday/Sunday in June.

                  DDD has me thinking Mike's City Diner and Cutty's for lunches. Thoughts??

                  What about breakfast and dinner though? Looking for great food, fun/lively ambaince, casual. (Mul's Diner looks interesting).

                  I LOVED the vibe of East Coast Grill back in 2007, but recall the food as, while good, perhaps not mindblowing.

                  Thanks Boston CHers :)

                  1. re: magic

                    magic, do you have thoughts about what area you'll stay in and what you might be doing, so we can put that into our suggestions?
                    Will you be here for brunch? That is the time we go to East Coast Grill(ECG); love their take on huevos rancheros and so much more. For dinners my votes would be for the very unusual and terrific food at Oleana in Cambridge (near ECG)
                    and Strip T's near Harvard Sq. You will not likely have had food like you will find there. Strip T's also does lunch(cl.Sun.)
                    with some unusual but more familiar items.

                    Two best seafood spots imo are Neptune Oyster in the No.End and Island Creek Oyster BAr in Kenmore Sq. and Neptune is open for lunch (actually continuous service 11am-11?PM).
                    I also alway rave Regina's Pizzeria in No End for lunch and Toscanini's Ice Cream in Cambridge- iconic places for many. Lots of threads on all these spots; just do a Search.

                    Hope this might be helpful; very detailed:
                    Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781155

                    hope you have a lovely return visit.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Just so the OP is aware, Strip-T's, while great, is a solid three miles from Harvard Square and problematic to get to if you are on public transportation.

                      1. re: hyde

                        Hmm, Strip-T's seems just a short walk from my motel.

                        Any must-haves? Any warnings? Reservations? Patience required? Whatever.....?

                        Strip-T's or Rino's? Both good but different?

                          1. re: C. Hamster

                            Sure looks like I'll be going there.... danke!

                            Just to let it be known: I don't necessarily NEED to eat near my motel.

                            Strip-T's sounds great, but I'm up for whatever, as long as the food is great and the atmo is kinda lively and pleasant.

                            I loved the vibe of East Coast Grill, but I want to try something new this trip as I have limited time. But their atmosphere was great I recall, so something along those lines perhaps.

                            1. re: magic

                              Go to Strip T's, it would be recommended whether near your hotel or not. Which reminds me, I haven't been in a while...

                              1. re: ebone

                                Ok, perfect. Well said.

                                All but certain that I will go.

                          2. re: magic

                            weighing in, just so you hear another voice.

                            strip t's often changes their lunch and dinner menus. Prob my fav thing i ever ate there is the Grilled Romaine w/ Braised Oxtail, Sous vide egg and spicy dressing. The definition of Unctuous, with a Spark! for lunch, their char grilled burger( 3 diff beef cuts, ground daily) w/ smoked miso and lemon aioli is best burger i've had in boston. if i remember, i'll try to check their menu close to 6/7 and see if there are other recs i can make.

                            (fyi Rino's is just huge plates of trad.tomato sauce italian food. It's fine but not even close to a destination imo. but that's me.)

                            Verna's donuts- after alot of CH raves, i finally tried their cake donuts 2 months ago. Took one bite of a few diff kinds. Nothing impressed me and i tossed them. At Olin's their huge glazed apple fritters are moist and chewy and cinnamony and will likely carry you til a late lunch. Their other items (many many) are as dry and oversweetened and disgusting as they are at all the other trad American bakeries that litter our country.rant over.

                            ** Around the corner from Olin's is Vicki Lee's- the polar opposite of Olin's. Pure butter in all her products (ingredients listed on every item's display card, including the type of chocolate she uses- Caillebaut dark-hooRAH!) Also real European buttercreams, not conf sugar and crisco. I find her goods far superior to the majority of the items at Flour.

                            if you didn't want to do ECGrill or Neptune for Sunday brunch, you might want to do the near-you Shangri-la in Belmont for dim sum. They get alot of CH raves and are next to my fav of the Watertown/Belmont Middle Eastern stores- Eastern Lamejun.

                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                              Thanks for your outstanding details. Appreciated.

                              Rino's is probably out.

                              If I do Strip-T's it'd likely have to be for dinner, as my lunches are spoken for.

                              Problem is, their online dinner menu wasn't really calling my name. It sounds nice and all, but I have nice here in Toronto too. I can go to lotsa places not far from home with similar style menus. Their lunch menu was more for me, but again my lunches are spoken for. And they said they would not serve lunch items if requested for dinner. Fair enough.

                              Right now, my dinners appear to be Neptune and Belle Isle Seafood. I realize this might be boring to Boston CHers, and that many will shake their heads at BIS over Strip-T's, but it's what I'm craving.

                              If I had more days I would definitely get to Strip-T's, but most likely for their lunch menu. But my time in Boston, this time around, is limited, so the tough calls have to be made.

                              Thanks for your bakery and dim sum input too, btw. Will look into Vicki Lee's.

                              1. re: magic

                                There is nothing boring about Neptune and Belle Isle at all, both are excellent choices. We may at times take something like an incredible Lobster Roll and Fried Clams for granted, but for a visitor from Toronto they are more than worth a stop.

                                1. re: Matt H

                                  Yayy! Ok, thanks for validating what I felt was right for this trip.

                                  Boston CHers impress me, I gotta say. Vey active, informative, and supportive.

                                  1. re: Matt H

                                    Lobster rolls have begun as a "thing" here in Toronto now.

                                    Still... gotta be done in Boston for me.

                                    Fried clams have yet to catch on here.

                                  2. re: magic

                                    Waverly bus (#73) will get you down Trapelo Road to Vicki Lee's if you are without car

                                  3. re: opinionatedchef

                                    OC, just curious: how would you compare Ohlin's to Linda's. And, if you've ever been there, Kane's in Saugus?? (My current fav, though generally impossible to get to for me.)

                                    I've had Linda's and they were fine, but didn't really feel like going back (would go if I heard there is a specific donut that is worth it.)

                                    I have not yet been to Ohlin's. It's on my list, but I really don't eat donuts that often. Like, 2-3x per year, perhaps.

                                    1. re: Alcachofa

                                      I've been to both once and was pretty disappointed. I didn't think the donuts were anything special.

                              2. re: opinionatedchef

                                Oops, sorry, yes – I should have mentioned where I’m staying. Just at a Super 8 motel on North Beacon, near Watertown/Cambridge.

                                Will be a quick trip. I’m piggybacking on a room my parents got for a wedding they’re attending. I’m getting a cot and plugging my ears. Hey, free trip right!

                                So:

                                Sat lunch: Mike’s City Diner (pretty much has to happen, regardless of reviews)
                                Sat dinner: possibly Rino’s (any good??)
                                Sun breakfast: possibly Mul’s Diner (any other recs?)
                                Sunday lunch: thinking Cutty’s (any good?)
                                Sunday dinner: No idea but see my criteria above (great food, fun lively vibe, casual)
                                Monday breakfast: No idea
                                Bakeries/Donuts/Treats: Any ideas for nibbles along the way? (Went to Kanes last time)

                                I might be able to get parents’ car for some of my travels around town but I suspect I’ll be taking the T and cabbing it too mostly. I’m open to traveling around town, that won’t be an issue. But not looking to go crazy far I guess. I will be dining solo mostly, which kinda sux, but it should still be good times.

                                Thoughts?

                                1. re: magic

                                  Within a mile or two of your motel are a couple of chowfinds.

                                  1. aforementioned StripTs.

                                  2. Donuts BettyAnns on Belmont Street and Ohlins on Common Street (both in Belmont) are excellent. Get the butternut crunch donuts from Ohlins.

                                  3.Thai North (Oak Square, Brighton) for Chiang Mai cuisine. I always get the Khao soi but there is a board of specialities.

                                  4. Mt. Auburn Street Armenian bakeries and food stores (Sevan, Arax, Fatoushi nut shop).

                                  1. re: gourmaniac

                                    Outstanding! BettyAnns and Ohlins sounds great. Will look into all these. Thanks gourmaniac....

                                    1. re: magic

                                      Betty Ann's is fabulous but don't try to go right now; they are closed due to family medical issues, according to their Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Betty-... Just looking at their cover photo makes me crave them so hopefully they will reopen soon.

                                      1. re: Chris VR

                                        Eeep. Ok.

                                        Well, I'm coming the weekend of June 7. Perhaps they'll be running again by then.

                                        I wish them well.

                                    2. re: gourmaniac

                                      Great suggestions -- not Betty Ann's, though, it's Linda's in Belmont.

                                      1. re: Pia

                                        Will add Linda's too then. Right on.

                                        1. re: Pia

                                          thanks pia. i always mix them up. When at Linda' get the traditional jelly donut.. Also near Linda's on Belmont Ave is Gustazo for cuban and Sophia's for greek yogurt. Closer to Cambridge on Belmont Ave is Shangri La for northern chinese and Eastern Lamejune for (duh Lamejune).

                                          1. re: gourmaniac

                                            Boston rules, thx so much everyone for all these suggestions. Keep 'em coming.

                                            I'm into cake donuts, but that jelly donut does sound nice too.

                                            Jelly filled CAKE donuts?! Now that would really be my scene :)

                                            1. re: magic

                                              Ohlin's has lots of cake donuts, I think Linda's has a good selection too but can't remember. These aren't the easiest if you don't have a car though. A bit easier is Verna's on Mass Ave in North Cambridge.

                                              Rino's on a Sat. is going to have a long wait. Mul's Diner is good and pretty convenient, Cutty's probably won't work on a Sun. A convenient Mon. breakfast might be the Breakfast Club Diner on Western Ave.

                                              1. re: total13

                                                Excellent info. Exactly what I'm looking for. Thank you!

                                                Will look into Breakfast Club Diner.

                                                Verna's as good as Ohlins?

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  I believ Ohlins is better and your motel is about 15-20 min stroll or 5 min car ride. Verna's is further from you.

                                                  1. re: gourmaniac

                                                    Ohlins is most certainly something I will be trying for yeah...

                                        2. re: gourmaniac

                                          I would add Sofra to this list - very delicious, close to your motel, and a fairly quick meal too.

                                          It's owned by the same person as Oleana, which is a much more upscale restaurant in Cambridge.

                                          1. re: addiez

                                            Thanks for the input, addiez. I've been so advised :)

                                        3. re: magic

                                          I am a HUGE Cutty's fan! Although it's nowhere near anywhere I ever go, I often go out of my way just to go there. Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives just profiled it - although it's none of the three.

                                          However, I'm fairly certain they're closed on Sunday. If you end up going on a Saturday, that's when they have all their pork specials. They roast it all in-house. I swear by the roast beef. And make sure you try the brown sugar cookies - they're amazing.

                                          1. re: addiez

                                            Cutty's is great. I work around the corner from them and visit at least once a week.

                                            Addiez is right though, they are closed on most Sundays. Recently though they have been opening for a Fried Chicken Sandwich special they run 1 Sunday each month. That would be an option if you just so happen to be in town during the special.

                                            1. re: Matt H

                                              Oh good to know about Cutty's. Hmm. Ok.

                                              I assume they serve other sandwiches in addition to the chicken when they open on those Sundays?? Or is it just the chicken when they open Sunday?

                                              1. re: magic

                                                Haha no they actually only serve the one - I think they call them Super Cluckin' Sundays? Facebook suggests this weekend is their last til September: https://www.facebook.com/cuttyfoods?r...

                                                Has anyone been??

                                                1. re: addiez

                                                  Yes, they're a lot of fun, except for the bad coffeehouse acoustic guitarist. The line can get long, but it moves relatively fast. The entire menu is the fried chicken sandwich (which is superb), plus their house-made potato chips and one dessert (often a really simple and delicious sheet cake) and drinks. You can also buy the things they sell in bulk, like their pimiento cheese (good, but mine is better) and rendered pork fat (not lard, but the drippings from their roast pork -- use like you would bacon fat).

                                              2. re: Matt H

                                                What's good at Cutty's btw, Matt H??

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  I've never had a bad sandwich from them, but my favorite is the Roast Beef 1000. Also the Tuesday special which is a Spicy Pork Torta is awesome as well.

                                                  1. re: Matt H

                                                    If only I were there on a Tuesday :(

                                                    Looks like Saturday for magic.

                                            2. re: magic

                                              Cutty's isn't open on Sundays unless they're doing their once a month special of their chicken sandwich, and when they do that, they ONLY do the chicken sandwich. Unfortunately, they don't do that special during the summer. So if you want to go to Cutty's (which you should) you need to do it on Saturday.

                                              The Saturday roast pork specials at Cutty's are great, though my personal favorite is the roast beef.

                                              1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                                                So Cutty’s would have to be Saturday lunch (pork sounds great, might try roast beef too haha) and Mike’s City Diner for Sunday lunch.

                                                One of my two dinners is looking like Strip-T’s.

                                                One of my two breakfasts is looking like Mul’s Diner.

                                                The rest is definitely somewhere here, among these superb recs.

                                                1. re: magic

                                                  I go to Muls quite a bit but I agree that it's a good but not that interesting family neighborhood diner.

                                                  Delux Town Diner is much more interesting. It's not too far from Strip T's. And, sadly, the site of the gunfight.

                                                  And, personally, I'm not enchanted with Mike's City Diner. On Sunday I'd slurp up East Coast Grill's Bloody Mary bar (nothing like it) or find something more interesting.

                                                  1. re: C. Hamster

                                                    re Mul's, I've been once and really enjoyed the corned beef hash.

                                                    Was I just lucky to catch them on a good day? I seem to be the only fan.

                                                    Not a fan of Mike's and haven't been to Delux.

                                                    CB hash is 1 of my favorite breakfasts and I don't have an easy time finding a good version which is easily accessible in downtown or a short walk/bike/t trip.

                                                    1. re: 9lives

                                                      I've never had their hash but now I will.

                                                      I'm a fan, for sure, but its a very good diner... No headlines or anything.

                                                      But if the hash is great, go for it!

                                                    2. re: C. Hamster

                                                      Thanks, it seems that others agree about Deluxe Town Diner! Perhaps I shall check it out.

                                                      1. re: magic

                                                        Delux is fine, and is not far from where you're staying, but really nothing special for an out of towner. Really, gourmaniac has a couple great posts with all you need. You will have a car, right?

                                                        1. re: Alcachofa

                                                          Car from some of my weekend, but not all of it.

                                                          Will be a mix of T, cab, and car methinks.

                                                    3. re: magic

                                                      You should definitely get to Strip-T's for dinner. They are closed on Sundays. It is a great place to dine solo as they have counter seating that looks into the kitchen. Reservations are a good idea although not sure they take them for counter seating.

                                                      1. re: GretchenS

                                                        Oh, they're closed Sundays huh. Ok, VERY good to know. Thx!

                                                2. re: opinionatedchef

                                                  Also, thanks for the kind wishes and recs, opinionatedchef!

                                                  Am definitely considering your recs.

                                                  I remember Regina's and Neptune coming up a lot in research for my 2007 trip....

                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                    Also, on the off-chance my tight shedule allows me time for a lobster roll I was thinking Belle Isle Lobster & Seafood. Any good??

                                                    Last time in Boston I went to Kelly's Roast Beef for a lobster roll and also B+G Oyster. I much preferred Kelly's classic take to B+G's roll (to give you a frame of reference).