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Visiting from NYC: 3 questions

I need help firming my my eating agenda for a weekend visit from NYC next weekend.

Firstly, let me thank all of you Boston Chowhounds for giving such helpful and pointed feedback! I have been able to distill a lot of great info from running searches and viewing other posts. But, I do have a few clarifying questions I think you can help with.

Dilemma 1: Dinner Friday
Arriving around 8pm Friday night and need a dinner destination. We are staying near the Boston Convention Center. Likely we will do a minimal amount of trekking around that night. Anything worthy in the Waterfront or nearby Downtown area? Nothing too $$ as we are saving our big hitter for Saturday. No sports bars. Nothing asian (as we get plenty of great thai, sushi, chinese in NYC). Nothing we need a reservation for.

Dilemma 2: Breakfast
We have 2 morning meals in Boston so ideas for favorite places around town are great. Again...likely Downtown area will make the most sense since we'll start our day there. Diners, cafes, coffee shops - we are open. Great coffee is a must.

Dilemma 3: Knock our socks off dinner
We have already decided on Pizzeria Regina and Neptune Oyster for lunches. But...I want to find our really amazing meal of the trip (though i expect this pizza is going to make me a sincerely happy girl!!). In general...we want incredible and interesting food. This does not mean "weird" or 'trendy". We ate at Chez L'Epicier in Montreal and it was one of our favorite meals ever. Very recognizable ingredients, but put together in surprising ways (peanut crusted seared tuna, basil spaeztle, pineapple creme brulee). Amazingly delicious, lovely space, good service, well-priced. We don't mind a pricey venue, but it has to be a good value.

My short list so far includes Sel de la Terre, Eastern Standard. What am I missing? Seafood, French, Italian, Indian, Spanish - we are pretty open to cuisine except for asian.

We are looking forward to your fair city! Thank you for your insights and I promise to let you know our impressions.

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  1. #1: Lucky's in South Boston - Or St. Alphonsus, also in South Boston (formerly Potbellies). Search the board for more pub on both.

    #2: Downtown is largely a wasteland for breakfast places, unfortunately, especially on the weekends. I always like to stroll the North End before the crowds hit to get some pastries and a cappuccino (which is traditionally a breakfast drink after all...). If you are in the Quincy Market area, for coffee, you can stop in to Red Barn Roasters in the historic Faneuil Hall building for the decent cup of coffee outside of the North End.

    #3: Near the Convention Center, google Persephone, which is part of the Achilles Project website. I had a thoroughly enjoyable meal there recently, though maybe not quite as surprising as the Montreal items. The website will give you a good bead on things.

    Good luck!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bob Dobalina

      Lucky's is a great idea, I forgot all about that. Live music and fun vibe. And I love their sliders. And may even be able to get seats at bar with it still being summer crowds.

      1. re: Bob Dobalina

        BOB>... i couldn't agree more with #2. However... has anyone had breakfast at Moo?? Argueably the best in town (obviously expensive for the average breakfast though). I do have to say the best cooked eggs in town all the way around. We all know that eggs are not an easy task for even the most skilled of chefs and Moo does it like none other in town....
        I had ducasse breakfast at the plaza athenee paris in march, and mind you i don't fine dine often for breakfast (just a point of reference) and this Moo's eggs and pancakes on par!!

        1. re: bowmore36

          Thanks, Bowmore - I had no idea that Mooo... did breakfast. Good thing to know.

      2. Hmm. I don't live downtown, so I can't really help with breakfast. I would consider No 9 Park for a knock-your-socks off dinner of delicious recognizable ingredients combined in interesting ways. It's well-located for strolling the Common and Public garden and general downtown sight-seeing.

        1. My suggestions would be:

          1. Dinner Fri night: Persephone, 283 Summer St. Walking distance. Menu: http://achilles-project.com/flash/Din...

          If you're in the mood for decent chowder or fish, the No Name Restaurant is also nearby. Or Morton's steakhouse which, altho a chain, is sometimes exactly what you're, or should I say I am, often in the mood for after traveling: Nearby and reliable.

          2. Breakfast Saturday: Flour Bakery, 12 Farnsworth St, off Congress. They're famous for their sticky buns, which Bobby Flay unsuccessfully challenged in a Throwdown.

          3. Eastern Standard sound like a good pick if Sox are not playing that night.

          6 Replies
          1. re: Niblet

            Geez...No Name, huh? Lots of negative pub on that one - I know the poster is from NYC, but sheesh. ;) Some reviews advice specific choices, like fried clams. Others say to avoid completely - choose wisely.

            Re: Persephone - One person's knock your socks off is another person's casual cheap Friday night. lol

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              Hah! I was replying to yours above as you were replying to mine...I was thinking the same thing about Persephone. Snacks are good and that's usually the way I eat.

              I knew I might get flak for No Name, but I remember the chowder being good. And the fried clams. Plus it's nearby and there aren't that many decent places that are open after 8pm near the new convention center.

              1. re: Niblet

                I enjoy No Name myself, but I always order the same thing when I go...a bowl of Fish Chowder and the Fried Fisherman's Platter. Both are so good, I've never had the urge to try anything else. I've heard that the broiled fish options are not as good, so if you do try it, stick with the fried platters.

                Also, be aware that NoName is NO atmosphere either. It's paper placemats, paper cups, service is efficient but sometimes a bit rough, and you will be in and out in under an hour.

                1. re: mwk

                  I always enjoy their fish chowder and fried clams too.

                  Definitely not fine dining; but worthwhile.

                  First restaurant I ever went to in Boston; in the late 70's. It was BYO and groups would be lined up outside with coolers..:)

                  1. re: mwk

                    The fish chowder at the No Name is awesome but I was really disappointed with the fisherman's plate that I had there several months back.

              2. re: Niblet

                Haven't been to the Seaport area Morton's, but if it's like the one near the Pru Center, I'd say give it a pass.

              3. I love Chez l'Epicier, but the two you mentioned, while quite good, don't really match up with that level. For a similar but possibly better executed meal, you could try Troquet, which has a superb wine list, or Craigie Street Bistro, which has a smaller wine list but traditional French food often with a heavy dose of innovation. They're two of the better restaurants in Boston and neither are particularly formal, so maybe just a small step above Chez l'Epicier atmosphere-wise, and also price-wise.

                I know you said no sushi, but. . . you might consider O Ya. It's near your hotel, best new restaurant outside of NYC according to some guy that writes for a paper. And it's really good.

                1. For breakfast between the Convention center and Downtown is Mul's Diner in South Boston (on Broadway near Dorchester Avenue. It's received good buzz for their eggs/breakfast.

                  1. Haven't tried Persephone, but for knock your socks off dinners, will second No. 9 Park and also suggest L'Espalier, Clio, or Aujourd'hui. All are tasting menu type spots, so bring good clothes and a very healthy credit card.

                    Sel de la Terre and Eastern Standard are both very good as well, if not quite this kind of place. Depends on what you'd like, I guess.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: bachslunch

                      I agree. SDLT, Eastern Standard--and I'd throw in Grotto--would be my favorite three everyday places if I were wealthy and swam as much as Michael Phelps. Right now, they're my three favorite moderately-priced restaurants. Very good food, service, atmosphere. They're places you want to keep going back to.

                      I haven't been to L'Espalier, Clio, or Aujourd'hui, so my nominee for knock-your-socks-off food would be Prezza, with an atmosphere on a par with SDLT and ES. Mamma Maria leaves me socksless all the way around, but I don't sense it's as well-loved here as Prezza for Italian. I haven't been to Sorellina either, but that might do the trick. I'd say you can't go wrong with No. 9 Park if the OP weren't looking for a good value. I think it's overpriced and the portions too small. Other than that it's fantastic.

                      I'd start at Prezza, pick up cannoli at Mike's for later on, then drink my dessert at No. 9 Park. The cocktails are sublime, and the space is warm and beautiful.

                      1. re: pollystyrene

                        wow... knock your socks off prezza??? i think Prezza is good but definitely wouldn't put it up there with a #9, Clio, UNi, or O-ya, even au jourd'hui for that matter.

                        1. re: bowmore36

                          I agree with polly -- Prezza is right up there with the bests in town. I can't afford to go there as much as I'd like to, but man I'd like to.

                      2. re: bachslunch

                        The Persephone thing was really more dictated by the neighborhood that the OP is staying, as much as anything else. On that logic, I guess I should also mention Radius, which is relatively close to the Convention Center too. Does that place still rate as "knock your socks off?"

                      3. For dinner Friday, I'd consider Sel de la Terre (as an alternative to the already mentioned Persephone) since you already had it on your short list for Dilemma #3. I don't think dinner at SDLT will knock your socks off, but it always delivers a great meal.

                        For breakfast, think about heading to Beacon Hill and The Paramount on Charles. Great food and a very Boston thing to do, although there may be a wait. Flour makes great pasteries and breakfast sandwiches. Great coffee in (city of) Boston is hard to come by, but my local favorite is Flat Black Coffee Co, on Milk & Broad St downtown. Much better than Red Barn IMO. There are also a couple of Starbucks (75 Federal and corner of Charles & Beacon) that have the Clover machines they are testing out. They put out some good coffee. You can probably get good espresso/cappuccino in the North End, but that's not my thing...

                        For knock your socks off dinner, I would normally recommend Radius except they just lost their chef to NYC and I haven't been since. To be honest, there are only a few places here on par with the 3 star restaurants in Manhattan, Clio and No 9 Park being my favorites. Check out Toro in the South End; great tapas and drinks. Eastern Standard is a favorite for cocktails but I think Great Bay (seafood, connected to the same hotel) has the better food.

                        1. What hotel are you staying at? Some of the hotel restaurants get good reports, notably Aura at the Seaport Hotel. Avoid the food at the Westin Waterfront.

                          Aura Restaurant
                          1 Seaport Lane, Boston, MA 02210

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: BBHound

                            Hilariously, we are staying at the Westin Waterfront (cheapest rate for the holiday weekend). But, will make note not to eat there. Though..I almost exclusively just sleep.

                            We always bring a French Press and make coffee in the room to have with whatever granola bars survived the day in the bottom of my bag while we dress/wake up. Then head out for "second breakfast". :-)

                          2. Thank you all for such awesome feedback! Boston CHs are terrific!

                            sailormouth - Im so glad you know Chez l'Epicier. Given that...we will likely try one of your 2 comparable recommendations. The menus look terrific and Im glad to see they both offer chef tasting menus.

                            I appreciate all of the feedback for these neighborhood places. I won't even make a dent, but we have a great excuse to come back and visit.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: piegirl74

                              Dinner Friday night: Sel de la Terre or Les Zygomates both close to South Boston. Both good solid restaurants.
                              Breakfast: Go to Flour Bakery. Get the sticky bun. They also have lunchy-type things too. No table service just walk up to the counter and order. Very trendy and delicious too. Bobby Flay Throwdown featured their sticky buns. Close-ish to South Boston.
                              Knock your socks off dinner: Hammersly's Bistro. Order the roasted chicken. I know, it's just chicken but OMG, it's AMAZING! Close-ish to your hotel. You could also try Clio in the Back Bay, not so close. No. 9 Park is a good choice too but not so close either. L'Espalier could be a nice choice for you too.
                              Look up the restaurant websites and see which one suits you best. Have fun!

                            2. Thanks to all of you for the wonderful feedback. Sorry for the delayed update, but wanted to provide a general update.

                              I had been sick so we didn't get to do as much as I would have liked, but we still managed to get plenty of eating done. Highlights:

                              1) Flour Bakery - what a find! personally, I would have liked about half as much "sticky" on the sticky buns, but I don't like my desserts overly sweet and am a bit of a snob about it. That said...LOVE their raspberry selzer and the buns of the sticky buns were delicious. We also fell in love with their banana bread. I am a stellar baker (if I do say so myself), but what DO they put in there? Delightful. And great prices, I thought (at least compared to NYC!)

                              2 - Neptune Oyster. Oh my - what a lobster roll. We got one hot and one cold. Also split a bowl of oyster stew. My mom makes oyster stew every xmas and it's a milk base. So, their minestrone-like stew was a suprise. The italian in me balked at the sprinkle of cheese on top of a fish soup. But it was tasty. And the lobster rolls were amazing. Truly. Im not sure what else I can say except GO!

                              3 - Pizzeria Regina - Good pizza. Great advice to order well done. But, i think Grimaldi's here in Brooklyn wins out for the better pie. We ate at the bar and the atmoshpere of the place was great. It was also St. Anthony's feast so we got to watch the street traffic from the window at the bar which was fun.

                              4 - Craigie Street Bistro. Oh my! Amazing meal. We opted for the 10 course chef tasting and it was worth every penny! The space itself wasn't what I was expecting (I felt a bit like I was in a cave), but the food and service MORE than made up for it. Such a nice staff and they were very knowledgeable. Chef Tony also presented us with our final savory course and chatted with us for a few minutes which was a nice touch. We had 9:30pm reservations and ordered a 10 course meal so we didn't leave until 11:45pm (last customers to leave). No one seemed the least bit inclined to rush us out the door which was lovely. And the food, of course, was amazing. I will try to post in more detail later, but quickly: blue fish raiettes, scallop sashimi with quail egg (incredible), fried clams (my favorite app!), octopus with cippolini onions, white corn potage with rabbit sausage (favorite entree), beef bone marrow with beef tongue, sweetbreads, tea infused panna cotta (best dessert!), tazza chocolate mouse and sweet grits, plum soup.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: piegirl74

                                Thanks for reporting back. You did very well and I'm envious that you made it to the Chef''s tasting at Craigie Street Bistro. that's something i had managed in 30 years here. Not to start an old debate, but Brooklyn has it all over Boston for pizza, but thanks for trying our local best.