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May 26, 2008 10:51 PM

SF hound report back on eating in Boston

We were staying at Newbury Guest House and La Voile was right next door. Someone mentioned to me to try La Voile, though I can't recommend it.

First thing the waiter said was Still or Sparkling. I said Sparkling didn't know that he was going to charge us for it. It was $6.50 for a stupid bottle of French sparkling water. The lady next to use said Boston's Finest so that's what I recommend to you all. Get the Tap Water!!

FREE amuse bouche was fine. 2 small cheese puffs & 2 small slice of salami - both good.

I got a huge bowl of mussels. Supposed to come w/ fries, but I substituted w/ green salad. The mussels were boring, boring, boring. Sauce had no taste. Salad was the most boring ever.

Husband got a lamb stew - he mentioned that it was bland.

2 entrees, glass of wine, & the stupid Sparkling French water was almost $100.

Totally overpriced, Not Recommended.

Breakfast at Newbury Guest House was from La Voile: mini muffins, mini crossants: plain or w/ ham, oj, coffee, milk.
Neptune Oyster House:
We went to Neptune Oyster House after my friend recommended the place. I thought it was ok, but way overpriced.

It's a small place fits about 50 pp only, but we got there way before opening hr and had to wait around. It finally opened at 11:30am.

Same menu for lunch & dinner, but I thought it would be cheaper at lunch - not so, you've been warned!

We got:
bowl of chowder - nice, though overpriced $11. Waitress didn't give me crackers, though I saw her give it to another table later. That's evil.

Lobster roll - $24. One lobster roll w/ fries. Overpriced, but tasty. Didn't try the fries - husband said just ok.

Bowl of littlenecks $12 - tasty, lots of garlic in sauce.

One unisex bathroom in the back of the small restaurant, before the kitchen & bar.

Credit cards taken & you'll need it.
Wing's Kitchen:
It's a hole in the wall. One middle age guy was the waiter and maybe owner. Since it was a rainy Thurs. night not many people were here. Only 2 tables besides us in the small place.

We got:
large pea sprouts (da do meow) - just so we got our fiber in. When you travel you don't get enough you know. All leafy green vegetables w/ garlic. Yum. $10?

Green beans w/ pork. Kinda on the sweet side, but it was fine. $9.50

xlb - mini pork dumplings steamed. We enjoyed them. Very juicy, though not much flavor & dough was not thin enough. 8 pcs for $6.

Total cost about $30. Husband thought it was expensive for Chinese, I thought it was way fair & good value.

Bathroom: one unisex. Decent, but not the best. No paper towels inside the bathroom, had to get one outside the door.
Modern Pastry Shop:
I don't eat fried foods so didn't get a cannoli. Oh well. I got 3 things here:

slice of ricotta pie -tasty
biscotti - fine
pizzelle cookie - half dipped in chocolate. I thought it was too think, bland & not tasty.

I loved the box w/ red & white string tied around the box.

Credit cards taken over $5.
Mike's Pastry:Mike's Pastry is up the road from Modern Bakery and went here after lunch at Neptune Oyster House.

I got 2 things:

pistachio macaron - tasty, lots of powder suger on the top so you'll get it all over you.

pignoli cookie (pinenut cookie) - love them, tasty almond macaron taste w/ many pinenuts on the top.

Total for 2 cookies $2.

It's a big place and there's plenty of seating.
Flat Patties: We wanted to eat at Bartley's the famous burger place in Cambridge, MA but the owner went on vacation Fri 5/23-Memorial Day. Bummer. Since we were hungry and didn't know where else to go we somehow ended up eating at this food court where Flat Patties was.

I got a shredded pulled pork sandwich. It was fine, but nothing special.

Got a cup for tap water.

Total was like $3.40 or so.

Bathrooms: Down the stairs before Ben & Jerry's.
Boston Chowda Co: Same food court as Flat Patties, Husband got a lobster roll and a cup of New England chowder. It's generic lobster probably from Costco, but fine. Chowder was decent.

Think he told me it was $11 for the roll & chowder.
L.A. Burdick chocolate is pretty good though pricey as hell. It's walking distance from the T, about 10 min walk.

I went twice on my trip. First time got:
7 flavors of the Luxembourgers macarons: raspberry, pistachio, citrus, chocolate, ginger, lavender, coffee. .75c x 7 = $5.25
plus a Large cup of Milk Hot Chocolate $4.5
All were good and sweet.

2nd trip:
got the Assorted 15 pc chocolate that includes 1 white mice. $15
3 chocolate gift mice
2 chocolates for me: the penguin & the mice.
Total was $29

They take Credit Cards! One unisex bathroom in the back.
I've been wanting to try Toscanini's ice cream for years and finally went. The girl said I could sample as much as I wanted. I only tried 2: mango & the burnt caramel.

I got a single scoop of the burnt caramel and thought it was fine, though it's expensive at $3.25.

I've had as good in SF so I'm not missing much.
After walking around in MIT we went to dinner at The Middle East Restaurant, Cambridge. It's seems connected to ZuZu though I didn't ask about it.

There's a bar area that people were drinking at and one guy was eating some dolmas though looked good.

We got:
FREE pita - tasted store bought & brought in a bag -cold
bowl of lentil soup - tasty
baba ganoush - I liked it
husband got a lamb shank - he said pretty good

Meal was like $20+, so a cheap meal for Cambridge, MA.

Recommended, though I can be Loud in there with loud music & high ceiling.
Sweet: Since we were staying in the Back Bay area and I got the Daily Candy email I had to check it out.

It opened on Tues 5/20/08 and I went on Fri 5/23/08. Perfect timing for me.

Since it was around 7pm by the time I got there there had already run out of the Cappuccino cupcake. They had chocolate cupcakes w/ white or chocolate frosting, the carrot cupcake, or the lemon cupcake.

I got 1 lemon cupcake for $3.10 + .15 tax = $3.25 to go. They put it in a box with a separator so the cupcake doesn't move around and the frosting doesn't touch the box. It tasted fine. Cupcake a bit dry, but eating it with the buttercream frosting sure helped.

Very small store w/ cupcakes & some drinks. I think a few chairs to sit at near the window.

Credit cards taken.
I knew better to not eat at Bottega Fiorentina when it was way crowded across the street and nobody was eating here on Sun 5/25/08, but I just wanted a simple quick meal.

It took forever to get our food. It's order at the counter down and then if you want to eat outside, bring it out yourself the guy said.

Got a Caprese sandwich - mozzarella, tomatoes, basil & olive oil $5.95. The guy tried to sell me on the focaccia instead of a roll. I hate focaccia so no way Plus it's $1.75 Extra! Boring mozzarella, boring tasteless tomatoes, basil even yuck & no olive oil that I could taste. Roll I got it on was average.

Husband got a boring pasta: Spaghetti Andrea - supposed to be prosciutto, sweet peas, mushrooms, cream, & truffle oil. It was just tasteless. Plus a slice of bread - looked average.

What a wasted meal. They take credit cards.

Neptune Oyster
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

Wings Kitchen
23 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

Mike's Pastry
300 Hanover St, Boston, MA

Toscanini's Ice Cream
899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

La Voile
261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

Modern Pastry
257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

L.A. Burdick Chocolate
52-D Brattle Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Flat Patties
81 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Boston Chowda Co
36 Jfk St # 1, Cambridge, MA

Bottega Fiorentina
264 Newbury St, Boston, MA 02116

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  1. forgot link to Sweet, the new cupcake place.

    49 Massachusetts Ave
    between Marlborough St and Commonwealth Ave
    Boston, MA

    49 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

    1. Wow, sounds like a pretty mediocre trip overall (in terms of chow). Sorry to hear that, but thanks for reporting (it's natural for mediocrity to go underreported).

      I'm partial to Christina's for ice cream, but I like some of Tosci's offbeat flavors. Middle East is okay for before a show or something. Unfortunately, can't comment on most of the places you visited - I tend to avoid the North End, Back Bay, and Harvard - er... all the places with tourists, I suppose... But I really like pignolis, so maybe I should drag myself over there sometime. I used to think I should go to Neptune at least once, but I'm over it.

      1. That's how Boston is by and large - Overpriced...but many of the locals here seem not to mind the prices at all.
        There are spots that offer delicious meal at a fairer price point but they are, not surprisingly, located away from the touristy areas.

        6 Replies
        1. re: nasilemak

          > many of the locals here seem not to mind the prices at all.

          It seems to me it's not a question of minding insomuch as not having a choice. I see two big factors contributing to this:

          1) Our growing season is short. Compared to the Bay Area, we don't have the ability to grow anywhere near as much stuff locally. I'm not trying to start a discussion on the merits of eating local or not; the bottom line is that a lot of our fresh produce is imported from elsewhere, and this practice is costing an increasing amount of money.

          2) Our cost of living is high across the board. Nearly everything costs more here than it does elsewhere in the country, from housing to entertainment to food.

          Ergo, dining in and and dining out costs more than it does elsewhere in the US and in the world.

          1. re: finlero

            Your points are well taken but when I compare boston to another pricey city like NYC, the former seem to be lacking in places that offer not just good cuisine but also good value. Finding great non 'ethnic' meals around Boston that are well below 30 dollars after tax and tip is not an easy task.

            1. re: nasilemak

              the thing that weirds me out about the short growing season argument is that (following nasilemak's point), you can walk into the union sq. greenmarket in nyc at all sorts of weird times of the year and get great produce. and supposedly it's all grown w/in 100 miles of nyc. nyc is probably a bit warmer than boston, but not that much. so i'm plain confused about that.

              also, finlero i agree with you completely about the high cost (esp. for rents) in boston contributing to high prices. but note that the OP is coming from the bay area, where rents are probably at least as high as they are in boston.

              1. re: autopi

                nasilemak and autopi: fair points all around.

                Particulars aside, my main point is simply that although the high food prices around here annoy the hell out of many of us, I feel fairly powerless to do much about it, short of moving to [literally] greener pastures.

            2. re: finlero

              i kind of disagree with #2. NYC has a much higher cost of living and so does SF - including housing and entertainment.

              also, i was just in SF this Jan, and I can say with much confidence that the food sceen in the bay area is by far way better than Boston

            3. re: nasilemak

              I'd have to agree. Other cities have more interesting food (more creativity and lower prices)...San Fran one of them. Trying Wing's Kitchen was brave. San Fran chinese food is much better.

              The OP should have stopped by some of the places that have been around for a while...e.g., Franklin Cafe, Toro, Mistral, Sorellina...

            4. The original comment has been removed
              1. I've never been offered sparkling water for free anywhere in the US or Europe. Still water sure, if it's tap, but sparkling never. Though $6.50 does seem a bit steep.

              2. Thanks for reporting back ... I went back and reviewed the advice you were given when you first posted about your trip. In fact I think you got some good advice and some good warnings ... ie: La Voille was mentioned as an option but then another poster said it was on a downhill alert. Neptune was recommended and I'd still stand behind it. Yes, it's expensive but it's first quality and always leaves me happy.

                I know you have a sweet tooth and I think you hit some of the very best sweet options in town -- Toscanini, Mikes/Modern and Burdick's.

                I hope you come back and we can steer you to more reasonably priced options, especially in Harvard Square where I think you definitely struck out.