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May 26, 2008 07:00 AM

Sometimes the meal is perfect even when the chow isn't: Sullivan's

It's hard to explain, but sometimes a meal is just part of such a perfect day that it is memorable even if the food isn't.

My wife and I decided to save on gas this memorial day weekend by eschewing a drive to the North Shore (and avoiding the mob scene), and instead taking a long walk with the Chowpup (literally, our king charles spaniel Gatsby) from the Back Bay to Fort Independence on Pleasure Bay on the South Boston waterfront. It was perfect weather for the walk, and we saw a lot South Boston that we had never seen.

The park itself is lovely, with a circular beach ringing a gorgeous bay. Gatsby romped around in the water and tried to eat a jellyfish that had washed up on shore: luckily we stopped him in time.

After our five mile walk and stroll around the beach, we were perfectly starving. The only food to be had there is at Sullivan's, a hot dog shack that also serves rings, burgers, shakes, fries, and fried seafood.

We waited in line for about 20 minutes with other summer revelers, and ordered a hot dog loaded, a cheeseburger loaded, fried shrimp (no clams, only yucky clam strips), a chocolate shake, and some fries.

The short of it; the hot dog was very good, not great: a kayem dog that needed more snap. The burger was hot and juicy but a bit insubstantial, but my wife enjoyed it. The fried shrimp were greasy and strange looking, and the tatar sauce was the bad packet variety, and the fries were limp and soft.

Now, all that being said, something about the was just so enjoyable as we sat outside in the perfect weather on the picnic benches overlooking the lovely bay, being ravenous from the long walk, and chowing down on proper new england summer fare (well, with frozen shrimp instead of ipswich big bellies, but what can ya do). Besides, everything tastes better washed down with a chocolate shake. Ultimately, I was left completely happy and satisfied. Sure, I'd have rather been at Farnham's or the Clam Box, but if you want some beach strolling and shack food a little closer to home, with a bit more ambiance than Kelly's in Revere, head out to Fort Independence Park.

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  1. That was just a lovely story, and it underlines the fact that a truly memorable food experience is just as much about the circumstance, the ambiance, the company as it is about what's on your plate (or in your steamed bun). All of my most memorable meals come with a narrative, where the actual eating is proceeded by a drama of search and discovery, where the actual foodstuffs themselves bring a story of origin, of care, etc. That's why loving good food is not just greediness, but hunger for a broader experience.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cassis

      Great post tamer, and well put cassis.

      I went to Sullivan's a couple of weeks ago and had a double cheeseburger, those old-fashioned ribbed fries and a fountain coke. The bun was lightly grilled to give it a little crunch. I second your recommendation that this place is a great find, and a great experience when you tie in the walk around the horseshoe. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.

    2. What a great post. A great reminder that appreciation for what we have in the moment, not necessarily searching for that elusive "perfect" meal, is what it's all about. A memorable experience is about so much more than just the food.

      Now maybe you've motivated me to actually make it out to Sullivan's! And maybe while I'm there I'll stop and think a bit more about the wonderful area we live in, weird shrimp and all.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bear

        I was there yesterday and had a great day, as much as you can with a 3 and 6 year old running around and/or crying (and checking out the tons of jellyfish, ick). Good thing a friend came with me, and thankfully we got in line for food before it started snaking around the corner. I thought their burger was great, wish I'd gotten a double but I thought there was a good mount of heft to it. Hot dogs were on buttered/grilled buns and looked okay but I could tell the snap wasn't there. Fries were crinkle cut, what you'd expect. I wish they had a separate ice cream line cuz of course it was a puddle by the time the kids got to it. The view from the fort was awesome, will take the tour some time. It was a ittle better last year arriving on a motorcycle, but a great place and easy to get to from the #9 or 10 bus out of Copley Sq.