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gastronomic tour tips please

willowan Feb 22, 2008 12:27 PM

Dear all

Travelling to Boston from New York in late September and whilst will spend a few nights in each I am wondering about either touring around between the two or heading out of Boston for a week or so after weekend of 26th/27th. Have never travelled out of either city before, so wondering where to track down the best chow in New England/Mass, while taking in some great scenery and a relaxed atmosphere

So, what would be best from a Chow perspective, at that time of year ? Recs on places to eat ( towns and establishemnts ), what to eat ( seafood and Italian being particular favourites ), places with great views even ( or especially ) in Autumn and any touring tips or suggested itineraries would be most welcome.

I usually enjoy places which are not stuffy ( unless they are outstanding ) and will avoid touristy places unless there is an exceptionally good reason for going. Am also considering travelling around by train, unless that will make seeing what should be seen, and eating what should be eaten impossible in the week or so we will have.

Thanks in advance for any help you can give

  1. trufflehound Feb 23, 2008 12:27 PM

    You may want to consider a trip to Westport, MA. Westport Rivers Winery could be harvesting and producing at that time. Also they own Buzzards Bay Brewing. The scenery in that area is fantastic.Great bike touring too The perfect nightcap-a sunset dinner at The Back Eddy and stay over at Lizzy Bordens house.You are near Newport, Providence, Cape Cod and Battleship Cove. You are in the New Bedford/Fall River area, home to the best Portuguese food in New England.

    3 Replies
    1. re: trufflehound
      c
      celeriac Feb 23, 2008 03:08 PM

      Were you to visit Westport, there's no way you'd want to miss Butler's Colonial Donut House, an adorable little donut shop with the best fresh whipped cream filled donuts imaginable. Phenomenal apple fritters too.

      1. re: celeriac
        willowan Feb 23, 2008 11:52 PM

        Thanks for those tips. Am also thinking of trying to get up to either the White Mountains or Acadia National Park. Any views or recs in these areas for late Sept/early Oct ?

        1. re: willowan
          natureboy Feb 24, 2008 08:09 AM

          I love both Acadia and the White Mountains in late Sept/early Oct. If you're looking for foliage, I think the Whites would have more (also bigger crowds around Columbus Day -- avoid that weekend or get reservations early).

          In the Whites, I like the North Conway area. I used to rent a winter place there, although I haven't been in a few years. I used to like Wilcat Tavern, 1785 Inn and Bernerhof Inn, among others. You can look for places at http://www.mtwashingtonvalley.org/

    2. d
      dfrostnh Feb 25, 2008 10:28 AM

      My friends and I very much enjoyed the Michelle Topor's culinary tour of Boston's North End (Italian). Well worth the money for the interesting historical info plus all the goodies, like the pastry tasting at the bakery. I can't remember which restaurant we ate in later but for lunch I would like to return to the little grocery/deli that made their own sandwiches.
      Wandering around Maine in search of the best lobster is a great idea. Some lobster shacks are still open but weekends only until Columbus day.
      If you decide to come up to NH, Gould Hill Orchard in Hopkinton NH (off Rt 89, west of Concord) grows a large variety of apples including some old varieties. The orchard might not be around much longer since the owner wants to sell. Very nice views from there, too. If you get sunny, warm weather I would also eat my fill of homemade ice cream while it was still available. There's Arnie's in Concord, Merrivale on Rt 3A in Hooksett, etc. Closer to the White Mountains is Sandwich Dairy (an adventure to find, sells small cartons and cheese self-serve/honor system) in Sandwich NH (slightly NW of Lake Winnipesaukee). We like the Red Hill Dairy lobster rolls and onion rings but it's just a small take-out place in Moultonboro/Center Harbor area.
      BTW a couple of years ago Chowhounds sent us to a wonderful Italian restaurant when we visited and needed a place near the racetrack outside Boston for a Circle du Soleil production. My friends who have been to Italy and love Italian restaurants thought it was the best restaurant they had ever eaten at. Small place and not busy the night we went. The name ??? It began with a Z. Zaffir ... Zatar ...? It was near a T station.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dfrostnh
        g
        gilliano Feb 27, 2008 11:04 AM

        Probably was Zaffereno's, but unfortunately they have closed.

        1. re: gilliano
          d
          dfrostnh Feb 27, 2008 12:11 PM

          Yes, it was Zaffereno's. What a shame. It wasn't crowded when we were there on a Saturday night in October 2006 which really surprised us as we thought it was a great restaurant.

      2. e
        emilief Feb 27, 2008 12:57 PM

        I agree that Westport MA is a great place- in addition to the winery and Back Eddy -Horseneck Beach is there- beautiful beach to walk on even if it is not beach weather.
        Another place that has a beautfiul beach as well as wonderful places to eat with views is Ogunquit Maine. You can get there in about 1 1/2 hours from Boston- day trip is easy enough or stay over. MC Perkins Cove is a wonderful restaurant with a great view- owned by owners of Arrows- a fabulous place in an old farm house but very expensive and probably what you would consider stuffy.
        Also in Ogunquit is Barnicle Billy's for lobster, chowder etc. - very casual- sit outside on the deck ovelooking the Cove.

        1. whs Feb 27, 2008 09:50 PM

          September is not truly Autumn, but it is a great time to visit New England. The weather is great--NO BUGS--with low humidity and moderate temps. Traveling by train will certainly limit your mobility--better to rent a car. I'm partial to Monhegan Island, Rockland and Camden in Maine, Block Island, Newport and Watch Hill in Rhode Island, and the lakes and mountains of New Hampshire. Better if you narrow it down, because there are great dining options in all.

          2 Replies
          1. re: whs
            willowan Feb 27, 2008 10:06 PM

            Provisional plan is now to try to do a ( kind of loop) up to White Mountains, across to Portland for a night and then over tp Acadia for a few days. We have six or seven days to play with. Does this sound feasible ? Any recs on good places to both stay and eat, or any alternative routes for the committed Chowhounder !?

            1. re: willowan
              whs Feb 28, 2008 06:07 AM

              From Boston, drive up to the White Mountains with a stop for lunch at Lake Winnipesaukee. In Meredith, Town Docks is a casual outdoor place right on the water. The Inn at Church Landing has a lovely dining room with lake views. In the White Mountains, my favorite place to stay is the Notchland Inn, a historic b&b in Crawford Notch with fine meals. Their swimming hole is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. This places you between Mt. Washington and natural wonders, and the outlet shopping madness of North Conway. NC has many good food choices, from American Flatbread Co to Maestro for Italian. From there, on to Portland, which is a food destination in its own right. Scan this board for much debate about the merits of Fore Street, 555, DuckFat, Hugo's, etc. From Portland, it's a 3 hour hike up to Acadia National Park. I'm not that familiar with Bar Harbor and Mt. Desert Island (lots of discussion here--look at old posts), but if you get up to the Schoodic Peninsula (the northern arm of Acadia Park), you must try Chase's in Winter Park, an old diner with great chowder, crab rolls and pies. Nothing to look at, but lots of local flavah. Have fun!

          2. j
            JaneRI Feb 28, 2008 07:25 AM

            If chow is your main goal, spend a day or so in Providence RI. We have a wonderful dining scene. We have a few wine trails in the area (eastern CT, western CT and southeastern MA/RI shore) ....let me know if these interest you and I'll give you more specific info.

            6 Replies
            1. re: JaneRI
              willowan Feb 28, 2008 10:38 AM

              These may be of definite interest, but where would that fit into my loop from Boston - apologies but i am in the UK so the geography is becoming a blur !

              At the moment I have two alternative itineraries in my mind. The first is recommended by Trailfinders, as follows

              1- Drive North from Boston to ? Brisbee harbour ? Cod Cove Inn ? 1 night
              - Drive to Moose Head lake for a night or two. Stay/Eat ? Where ?
              - Drive to north of White Mountains for a night . Stay Golbourne ?
              - Drive to Cape Cod and stay ? Sandwich/Falmouth/Provincetown. 3 nights ?

              2 - kind of devised or sketched out by myself
              - Drive to White Mountains via Conneticut River Valley road for a couple of nights
              - Possibly drive from there up to Moosehead ? ( only added in as Trailfinders say it is stunning )
              - Or head over to Portland for a night
              - Then head to Acadia for a couple of nights
              - Could reverse the last two so Moosehead- Acadia- Portland ?
              Am looking for great chow, stunning scenery while I am enjoynig my beer and decent places to stay - Have approx one week to play with and will fly home out of Boston.

              All views on how best to plan/ which sounds best itinerary for late Sept and where the best Chow is at would be very welcome ! If there is a good loop also including RI and some wine tasting, I'm all for that too but dont want to spend all day every day in the hire car !

              1. re: willowan
                j
                JaneRI Feb 28, 2008 10:49 AM

                I'm not much help with Maine, haven't spent much time there. The wine trails I'm talking about are RI/MA....could be incorporated w/Cape Cod. The two CT ones would both be between NYC and Boston. You could easily hit a couple on your way up by taking a scenic route rather than the freeway. Come back and post and ask for specifics, or check out www.ctwine.com

                1. re: willowan
                  m
                  mvi Feb 28, 2008 01:06 PM

                  Hi- you are in the UK- Is this your first trip to this area? Do you want to see a lot by traveling in the car or get to know a couple of places well? There are some really fine food destinations between NY and Boston along the coast line, which might include the Connecticut shore line, Rhode Island, Cape Cod and even one of the islands.

                  1. re: mvi
                    willowan Feb 28, 2008 01:40 PM

                    Hi

                    I am only familiar with Boston and New York as cities. Will be flying into New York on 22 or 23 Sept , 3 nights there then three nights in Boston as have managed to get Red Sox yankees tickets ( Great excuse for a trip !). Plan was to get train from NYC to Boston to avoid having to drive out of Manhattan and then see some of the countryside for a week afterward . After consulting various guidebooks the White Mountains, Acadia and Cape Cod all come out as must sees but only have seven or eight days ! As with most chowhounders am looking to escape overly toursity places so originally plumped for White Mountains/Portland/ Acadia but now am told must go to theCape/ M Vineyard/Nantucket if in the area. As I love seafood and it may be quieter/relaxing that ime of year aam now thinking of how I can get the best of all worlds in terms of scenery, places to stay and food ... Help !

                    1. re: willowan
                      m
                      mvi Feb 28, 2008 01:50 PM

                      Whoa- How did you score those tickets? We'll have to include the whole Fenway Park area now for game time.

                      1. re: mvi
                        willowan Feb 28, 2008 02:05 PM

                        Any help you can give will be much appreciated ! Got Sox tickets via Red Sox nation and three hours on the internet in a waiting room . Am off to Japan to see opening game this year, so couldnt believe my luck to get Sox/ Yankees tickets in final weekend of regular season too. Always struggle to get good food near Fenway so any help on that score would be great !

              2. s
                Sean Feb 28, 2008 08:25 AM

                Newport, RI for a wonderful meal at the Castle Hill Inn and the Sakonnet vineyards are nearby on the scenic Sakonnet river:

                http://www.castlehillinn.com/

                http://www.sakonnetwine.com/

                6 Replies
                1. re: Sean
                  willowan Mar 2, 2008 01:19 PM

                  Now have new provisional itinerary by omitting NYC and focussing on Boston Maine and NH, as follows

                  Boston 3 nights ( one at baseball )
                  Portland 1 or two nights
                  Acadia 3 nights
                  Greenville/ Moosehead 3 nights
                  5 or 6 nights to return via White Mountains - open to suggestions !

                  Any recommendations for all of this trip, of places to eat and places to lodge both ?

                  Current recs include Blair Hill Inn at Greenville and Ullikana Inn, Bar harbour Inn or Inn at Bay ledge in Acadia.

                  Especialy interested in Boston foodie recs as only have limited 3 night stay and one will be at the game !

                  Thanks again

                  1. re: willowan
                    whs Mar 2, 2008 03:44 PM

                    You should probably post separately in the Boston board for that city's recs, but an FYI--if you like Japanese, O Ya was just rated one of the top 10 restaurants in the US by Frank Bruni, the New York Times food critic. But are you looking for fine dining or clam shacks? That will determine if you want the best lobster roll or dinner at Primo in Rockland. Or both!

                    1. re: willowan
                      c
                      catsmeow Mar 2, 2008 04:27 PM

                      For your evening at Fenway, Eastern Standard(mid priced American) is an excellent restaurant 1 block from Fenway Park in Kenmore Sq. There is also Petit Robert (French)2 blocks away but also in Kenmore Sq. A few blocks from the other side of the park is Tratorria Toscano for Italian as well as Burton's Grill(mid priced American) and for burgers and pizza...Cambridge 1. Their menus are all online. My first choice would be Eastern Standard. All get pretty busy on game night, so get there early. Eastern Standard has very good drinks too. Fenway Park is easy to get to by train from anywhere in the city if you aren't staying within walking distance.

                      http://www.easternstandardboston.com/ES_viewer.html

                      http://boston.menupages.com/restaurantdetails.asp?areaid=0&neighborhoodid=0&cuisineid=35&restaurantid=7050&home=Y

                      http://www.burtonsgrill.com/

                      http://www.petitrobertbistro.com/

                      I couldn't find the menu for Cambridge 1.

                      Save room for a Fenway Frank.... for the full Fenway experience!

                      1. re: willowan
                        BratleFoodie Mar 5, 2008 10:44 PM

                        When will you actually finalize your trip itinerary? Where and when matter for sure for recommendations.

                        That said, lakes region in NH is gorgeous. In September, very cool at night usually, not so touristy. If you are at all into hiking, there is the Squam Range, which are smaller/good hike mountains, some of them have wonderful views.

                        In terms of views, the historic White Mountain Hotel is splendid. Nothing better than swimming in their 100 year old outdoor pool looking at the Presidential Range! For something cheaper but quite nice, six miles down the road is the AMC lodge, that may not be a Chow destination, but it does have a wine license, a lovely pond to walk around, and easy access to some fabulous hikes! And you can try eating at the Hotel.

                        Serious Chow-wise, If you are going up the coast, and if they are open, in Freeport there is the Harraseekett Lobster Pound (seasonal) for real Maine portside open air dining. Lobster! And then the shopping in Freeport just down the road...

                        Other suggestions on this thread are smart, and search the site for specific locations and lots of info will pop up. Good luck, and of course let us know when you are set on itinerary so further input can be given, and let us know how the trip goes! Have a marvelous time no matter where you end up.

                        1. re: BratleFoodie
                          s
                          Sean Mar 6, 2008 04:22 AM

                          While in bar harbor you might want to visit 2 Cats Bed and Breakfast for an exceptional breakfast experience. They have the best homemade corned beef hash I have ever tried. The Eggs Benedict was also out of this world: http://www.2catsbarharbor.com/intro.html

                        2. re: willowan
                          soxchik Mar 7, 2008 06:48 AM

                          I would certainly check out the Boston board for Boston recs, but yes, Eastern Standard is generally accepted on the Boston board as one of the best Fenway area restaurants, and as a tourist you can't miss getting a fenway frank. I'd also say you should stop in the Cask N' Flagon near Fenway for a beer before the game - it is an institution. Also, when in Acadia, don't miss Jordan Pond House for popovers.

                      2. c
                        chefstu Mar 6, 2008 04:46 AM

                        When you get to Boston, if you don't mind dropping a bundle of money try L'Espalier.
                        I guarantee you will have a memorable meal. Frank McClelland is one of the most talented chefs I've ever met.
                        http://www.lespalier.com/about/

                        1. e
                          eeejo Mar 12, 2008 09:27 AM

                          willowan, early fall is for sure the best time to visit Mount Desert Island and Acadia. it's much less crowded but the weather is still fair, and all the restaurants, bars, hotels and park entrances are still open.
                          i've lived here for 3 years and i think my favorite special-occasion dinner is still The Burning Tree in Otter Creek. I have had a couple of disappointing entrees but usually, things are creative and beautifully plated and the seafood and produce are fantastic.
                          Town Hill Bistro, in Town Hill, is a great newer place with a simple, not-too-big menu, reasonably priced, in a very pretty room with a fireplace. The gnocchi is so gooood and so is the steamed lemon cake for dessert.
                          Fiddler's Green, in Southwest Harbor, was a favorite big birthday dinner spot last summer; I know they've been trying to sell but we hope they don't because they serve the best steak on the island, and they have an exceptional beer list.
                          Cleonice is a lovely bistro in Ellsworth, just off the island. I like to just stick to tapas, wine and dessert; I just haven't been as inspired by their entrees. Great salads, cheeses, harissa-rubbed ribs.
                          For breakfast, Cafe This Way is a busy place with outdoor seating, good strong coffee, great benedict but lame homefries. Jeannie's is a touristy place that happens to ace my favorite breakfast, Bullseyes. For takeout lunch, Adelman's Deli has a fantastic reuben. for the requisite mid-afternoon cone, you must go to Mount Desert Ice Cream; it's actually a local business unlike Ben & Bill's, and the ice cream is great.

                          1. b
                            BeerNCheese Nov 13, 2008 02:49 PM

                            Fiddler's Green in Southwest harbor just outside of downtown, by far best atmosphere, food and value. People go to dinner their decked out in all their jewels, and also get motorcyclists in their leathers, awesome fresh ingredients, great service and owned by chef & manager, husband and wife. Won't find anything better on the island.

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