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Boston Chow Myth-Busters

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Carty Dec 29, 2008 05:51 AM

People. I love this board; it is invaluable in helping me to invest wisely in my Boston dining experiences. Having read the board obsessively for a while now I have noted what appears to be Boston Chow ‘conventional wisdom’, I wonder if any of them might be myths that have grabbed ahold of us.

For example: “Pizza from Regina’s N. End location is much better than satellite locations”. May be absolutely true … or is it a myth reinforced by the over-all feel of authenticity in the N. End location? Has anyone had the time and inclination to do anything approaching a rigorous test? Could a S. Station slice actually be similar to or as good as a ‘real’ N. End slice?

Another example: “Oysters (of a particular variety e.g. wellfleet, pemaquid, island creek) tasting ‘better’ at one establishment vs. another”. On this one I have a little more confidence, I’d imagine short of being seriously mistreated oysters of a particular variety are essentially sealed containers and taste the same no matter where they’re served. Can this be tested? Seems like it would be fun.

Do we have any shared/widely-held beliefs on this board that you question? Which ones? Can they be, have they been tested?

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  1. trufflehound RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 05:59 AM

    The reason NE Reginas tastes better is the oven. The new locations use standard ovens as you would find anywhere. Same can be said of Pepes.
    Oysters, as long as they are stored properly and served fresh and opend properly should taste the same.
    Kelly's at Revere beach tastes better cause of the old fryalators and of course the salt sea air.
    If you think the same product should taste the same in multiple locations, look at wine and scotch terrior.

    15 Replies
    1. re: trufflehound
      galleygirl RE: trufflehound Dec 29, 2008 06:21 AM

      On the Kelly's question; Yumyum turned me on to their excellent, and I mean excellent, lobster rolls this summer. Do the other locations' lobster rolls measure up?

      BTW, finally had the Alive and Kickin' lobster sandwich this week. Thought it had too much mayo....

      1. re: galleygirl
        Gio RE: galleygirl Dec 29, 2008 06:31 AM

        I can attest that the lobster rolls at the Kelly's on Rte.1 south & the Fellsway definitely does not compare to the one at Kelly's on The Beach. I grew up with the ones at The Beach and they're the best!

        As for Alive and Kickin', I've had those sandwiches twice now and I just don't get it. Why toast? Why all that mayo?

        The only Regina's I've had is at the Rte. 1 north location and when I order "well done" the bottom crust is burned and the simple top - usually just sauce and a bit of cheese - is dry as a bone. Never again. Think I better try the Malden Station Landing.

        Mc Slim: Do you mean the Station Landing condo complex in Medford?

        1. re: Gio
          MC Slim JB RE: Gio Dec 29, 2008 06:40 AM

          Station Landing in Medford, that's it, right near the Wellington MBTA Orange Line stop. (I get my M-towns mixed up sometimes.) It has a Regina, a Japanese restaurant (Yoki), Qdoba, Not Your Average Joe's, Kelly's Roast Beef, Cold Stone Creamery, and Starbuck's.

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            Gio RE: MC Slim JB Dec 29, 2008 06:51 AM

            Thanks! That's just a Hoot 'N a Holler down the Fellsway from Melrose.

            1. re: Gio
              yumyum RE: Gio Dec 29, 2008 12:33 PM

              Definitely worth a trip to that Pizzeria Regina. I love the character of the North End original, but the pizza, if ordered well done, is just as good in Medford.

              1. re: yumyum
                g
                ginafly RE: yumyum Dec 29, 2008 01:13 PM

                Hmm, I haven't tried ordering the pizza well done in Medford, but next time I will.

                Without having done that, I would say the North End one wins, hands down.

                1. re: ginafly
                  TPistrix RE: ginafly Dec 30, 2008 06:29 AM

                  Having ordered the pizza well done at the Medford Regina, I think the difference between that and the NE location is detectable but not tremendous. It's still and excellent pizza. That said, I feel the ambiance of the NE location is totally lost in the Medford location, which is much less bustling, and feels a bit like an Uno's (sort of cavernous and full of shiny hard wood). Still, I go there once in a while and enjoy it.

                2. re: yumyum
                  Gio RE: yumyum Dec 29, 2008 04:01 PM

                  Thanks for the corroboration, yumyum. Medford it is. Or is that Meffa.....BTW: where IS that girl?

                  1. re: yumyum
                    g
                    Gabatta RE: yumyum Dec 31, 2008 11:25 AM

                    While I agree that Medford is the best of the satellite locations, in my several experiences there the pizza consistently isn't even close to the NE location.

                    1. re: Gabatta
                      opinionatedchef RE: Gabatta Nov 15, 2009 09:29 PM

                      gabatta, i have had the medford PR a number of times and i agree w/ you 100%.

          2. re: trufflehound
            Bob Dobalina RE: trufflehound Dec 29, 2008 06:40 AM

            Great thread, Carty.

            At times, we order in P.R. at the office - we used to go with the Quincy Market satellite and the crust was soggy, heavy, gross. We insisted on a change to the NE location - the crust is noticeably better, crisp, well-cooked.

            Another more personal myth I would like to see confirmed or busted -

            When the older woman is working at Tacos Lupita, the food is always great.
            When the guy is working at Tacos Lupita, the food is subpar, you get bits of gristle in the meat, etc.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina
              chickendhansak RE: Bob Dobalina Dec 30, 2008 12:08 PM

              That's an interesting one. I've only been served by the guy a few times, usually early evenings and it always seemed to be busy. I don't remember it being subpar when he was there, but I don't remember ever thinking it was great either, which I often do at lunchtimes.

              1. re: Bob Dobalina
                s
                somervilleoldtimer RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 6, 2009 09:34 AM

                whoo, boy. I'm not really a Mexican food fan but the grilled pork burrito I had at Tacos Lupita (prepared by the ladies) was amazing. What's in that homemade hot sauce?

                1. re: somervilleoldtimer
                  yumyum RE: somervilleoldtimer Jan 6, 2009 09:41 AM

                  The green or the red?

                  Salsa verde is just basic cilantro-based sauce, but the rojo has cinnamon, cloves and maybe allspice. Mmmm.

                  1. re: yumyum
                    Bob Dobalina RE: yumyum Jan 6, 2009 03:04 PM

                    The red sauce is friggin' addictive, ain't it?

            2. w
              winedude RE: MC Slim JB Dec 29, 2008 08:27 AM

              I like the general idea of this thread--I'm a big fan of "Mythbusters", enjoy the scientific method, and think that a taste test to verify or disprove long-held beliefs is a great idea. It's a bit difficult to do some of this, as you can't compare a hot pizza from 2 places that are miles apart. But I think that a "re-test" of some of the "old favorites" is in order.

              I've recently re-visited Regina in the N. End, and I've also tried Regina's in Braintree and Providence. The suburban locations aren't bad at all, but the N. End location is better IMHO. I suspect it's greater care in the ingredients, and I agree that a huge part is the quality and heat of the oven.

              As to oysters, I suspect that freshness, turnover, and proper handling make some difference in oyster quality. The only other difference could be the sauces that go along with them.

              1. a
                AHan RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 06:23 AM

                I think the Regina's issue is one of only very few conventional wisdom bits here (and it is true). More pervasive is some posters claims that there is a consensus on opinons here, which of course is NOT ever true.

                1. hiddenboston RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 06:37 AM

                  The Pizzeria Regina one is not a myth (see Trufflehound's post here), but the difference between the quality at the North End and that of the other locations might not quite be as big a gap as some folks think. I had a couple of slices from the South Station location recently, and they were excellent.

                  Another myth is that suburban restaurants generally aren't as good as restaurants in the city. I've had some meals in the suburbs (Allora, Vecchia Roma, Sweet Chili, Lucia, Mango II, Blue Ribbon BBQ, Great Chow [Abington], Pellino's, Loco Tapas, etc.) that have rivaled some of the best meals I've had in the city.

                  13 Replies
                  1. re: hiddenboston
                    TPistrix RE: hiddenboston Dec 30, 2008 06:30 AM

                    I'd throw in Lumiere into the mix for fantastic suburban restos.

                    1. re: TPistrix
                      b
                      bachslunch RE: TPistrix Jan 2, 2009 05:49 AM

                      Agreed, and add Il Capriccio and La Campania to the list.

                    2. re: hiddenboston
                      rlh RE: hiddenboston Jan 3, 2009 07:44 PM

                      I actually do believe that on an overall average basis, suburban restaurants are not as good for the money as careful choices in the city (which possibly extends to Rt 128 in my world but is more like Boston, Cambridge, and Brookline - maybe).

                      That said, I would rate the food and service relative to price at Catch in Winchester and Moulton's in Medford among the very highest available - Za in Arlington is also impressive for casual dining.

                      1. re: hiddenboston
                        b
                        BostonCharles RE: hiddenboston Jan 5, 2009 10:59 PM

                        I've actually found that myth true. Been disappointed with Sweet Chilli, Blue Ribbon (barely counts as barbecue), lumiere, Il Capriccio and La Campania.

                        Its getting pretty hard to get me to take a chance on a suburban restaurant now. This is sad, and I hope it improves, as I imagine I'll be moving out that direction at some point.

                        1. re: BostonCharles
                          enhF94 RE: BostonCharles Jan 6, 2009 04:17 AM

                          Interesting - I'm not a bug fan of Lumiere (they often seem cranky), but oddly enough, I did have one of the better steak frites of the last several years there - dry aged 60 days on site, etc.

                          1. re: enhF94
                            StriperGuy RE: enhF94 Jan 6, 2009 05:21 AM

                            Never heard of anyone dry aging a steak for 60 days. Even 30-40 is considered a long time.

                            1. re: StriperGuy
                              enhF94 RE: StriperGuy Jan 6, 2009 06:42 AM

                              Yeah, I was shocked - and happy not to see the 60-day-old steak pre-trimming, for that matter. It restored my interest in beef after several years' chicken-centricity. Sadly, it was a special.

                              1. re: enhF94
                                hotoynoodle RE: enhF94 Jan 9, 2009 07:08 AM

                                60 days? no way. unless the cut started out the size of a house, it would have turned into a raisin. i think the server was exaggerating.

                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                  StriperGuy RE: hotoynoodle Jan 9, 2009 07:35 AM

                                  Shrunk to a raisin and way too tangy/gamey at that point. My sentiments exactly. Never even heard of a steak aged 60 days.

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    TPistrix RE: StriperGuy Jan 10, 2009 06:16 PM

                                    I haven't had it at Lumiere, but I have absolutely seen/heard of steaks aged 60 days. Possible the person misremembered, but it's not out of the question.

                                    1. re: TPistrix
                                      enhF94 RE: TPistrix Jan 10, 2009 08:04 PM

                                      It's possible; this was several years ago. OTOH, google will get you there (the top link for me was... chowhound. twice.)

                                    2. re: StriperGuy
                                      almansa RE: StriperGuy Jan 11, 2009 09:34 AM

                                      I saw dry-aged bone-in strips at Whole Foods with more than sixty days. It's not really that unusual. After about 4 weeks the meat stops shrinking, but there's more loss due to the decomposition - you have to cut more away. Whether it would be too gamey depends on the conditions of the aging room. Hams, jowls, etc are aged way longer than that (albeit salted) and they're not shrunken.

                          2. re: hiddenboston
                            globalgourmand RE: hiddenboston Nov 9, 2009 06:39 AM

                            If you're down in the Loco (tapas) area, keep Hayashi (sushi, Japanes, & Korean) in mind too.

                          3. r
                            Richard Hurts RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 07:03 AM

                            As far as Oysters go, many of the common names Wellfleet and Blue Point are regions not a particular bay. So there can be a lot of variation in taste in the same oyster. Blue Points once came from one particular area. Now they are from multiple areas and can be from CT or Long Island. Wellfleets can be from Pleasant bay, Chipman's Cove or Indian Neck (three distinct salinities). Even the beloved Island Creek is a co-op. That can be mean 6 different growers in Duxbury and possibly Barnstable.

                            As a theoretical example:
                            Great Bay can buy one Farmed Wellfeet Oyster and have a unique taste but it's menued as Wellfleet. B&G can buy a dredged Wild Wellfleet and it has a completely other end of the spectrum taste and it's menued as a Wellfleet.

                            So absolutely yes, oysters with the same name can taste different at two different restaurants.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Richard Hurts
                              t
                              T.Clark RE: Richard Hurts Dec 29, 2008 10:58 AM

                              I'm a big fan of Island Creek Oysters and living in the area I'm familiar with their operation. There may be 6 different farmers but they're all farming a small area of Duxbury Bay.

                              I'm not sure where you got the Barnstable info but I believe it's incorrect.

                              1. re: T.Clark
                                r
                                Richard Hurts RE: T.Clark Dec 29, 2008 11:26 AM

                                nevermind

                            2. enhF94 RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 02:36 PM

                              I have the impression that the board generally dislikes Dali, but I like their stuff just fine (particularly the queso rebozado con miel). They're good fryers, and great braisers, and the kitchen is consistent over months. I like the aperitif/digestif selection a lot, particularly Crema de Alba, and I find the service career-pro.

                              I can understand where folks are coming from on the prices.

                              27 Replies
                              1. re: enhF94
                                MC Slim JB RE: enhF94 Dec 30, 2008 07:45 AM

                                I realize that Dali is far from authentic, but I genuinely like the place and still go at least a time or two a year, though I'm more likely to frequent Taberna de Haro these days for the food.

                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                  StriperGuy RE: MC Slim JB Dec 30, 2008 09:41 AM

                                  I am way on the ANTI side for Dali.

                                  Nevermind the food-authenticity bit which they do not even bother to attempt; I have never had a single dish that was really delicious at Dali.

                                  And I have been 10 or so times. The keep turning out the same pedestrian, pseudo Spanish fair year after year without really giving much of a hoot about the food.

                                  But the frilly dresses and the souvenirs on the walls are cute...

                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                    MC Slim JB RE: StriperGuy Dec 30, 2008 10:28 AM

                                    Really? I know it's kind of kitschy, but the sangria, tortilla, patatas ali-oli, queso de cabra montañes, gambas al ajillo, lomito al cabrales, pollo al ajillo? Not feeling those? I mean, those dishes are mostly garlicky, simple and hard to screw up, but I sure find them delicious. My only objection is how loud it can get with lots of big parties passing many porrones, but I usually ask for the "romantic table" located in a quiet corner or sit at the bar.

                                    1. re: MC Slim JB
                                      yumyum RE: MC Slim JB Dec 30, 2008 10:37 AM

                                      I'm with Striper here. I've been to Dali many many times over the years and find the food to be just meh. Nothing is ever bad but nothing ever rings my bell. A few dishes have been unpleasant -- for example, I remember a bleachy tasting gambas al ajillo a couple of visits ago. Still, many people like the festive atmosphere especially for birthdays so you can't really avoid it forever.

                                      1. re: yumyum
                                        MC Slim JB RE: yumyum Dec 30, 2008 10:51 AM

                                        Hmm, looks like I may have to reclassify Epcot Center Spain, I mean Dali, as a guilty pleasure.

                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                          yumyum RE: MC Slim JB Dec 30, 2008 10:53 AM

                                          Epcot Center Spain. Exactly.

                                          1. re: yumyum
                                            chickendhansak RE: yumyum Dec 30, 2008 12:20 PM

                                            Wow! Epcot Center Spain? The place seems much more European to me than any other "European" restaurant in the area I've been to, with only the exception of Gran Gusto. As for the food, the only criticism I'd have is it's far better than most I've had in Spain, and as such is inauthentic.

                                            1. re: chickendhansak
                                              BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: chickendhansak Dec 30, 2008 01:03 PM

                                              More European than Cafe Polonia?

                                              1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                chickendhansak RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 30, 2008 01:21 PM

                                                I've not been to Cafe Polonia.

                                                1. re: chickendhansak
                                                  BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: chickendhansak Dec 30, 2008 01:59 PM

                                                  Dude, you should totally remedy that. European, but more importantly, excellent. One of my top CH finds of the year.

                                                  1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
                                                    chickendhansak RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Dec 31, 2008 06:50 AM

                                                    Thanks for the tip!

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB
                                            StriperGuy RE: MC Slim JB Dec 31, 2008 02:35 AM

                                            Epcot Center Spain, that is priceless. Per what Yum Yum said I have had plenty of acceptable dishes there, but a few that were really kind of mucky tasting "let's throw the same old crud in a pan and serve it up."

                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                              Alcachofa RE: MC Slim JB Dec 31, 2008 07:21 AM

                                              You know, once in a while, EPCOT is fun. You just don't want to become one of those people who go every year (or even more often) at the expense of "real" travel. Same with Dali.

                                              I do like Dali's sangria OK, but the last time I was there, the price per pitcher had risen to the point of absolute absurdity, even gouging. I have not been since.

                                              1. re: Alcachofa
                                                MC Slim JB RE: Alcachofa Dec 31, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                I really like Dali's sangria, but I agree that the pitcher price has broken the absurdity barrier. Fortunately: a) their wine list is quite respectable (they introduced me to Juan Gil) and b) I have the Dali recipe, courtesy of the Wine and Cheese Cask, and often make it at home.

                                                1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                  Alcachofa RE: MC Slim JB Jan 1, 2009 07:53 AM

                                                  Actually, that reminds me now that I *have* been back to Dali since I gave up on their sangria. And ordered some decent spanish wines. Still, it's been a good year and a half since I've been. Usually my brother instigates visits there--he's never been to Spain... ;-)

                                            2. re: yumyum
                                              enhF94 RE: yumyum Dec 31, 2008 03:36 AM

                                              Ah, I'm a non-shellfish-orderer, so wouldn't know about that.

                                              I also like Dali as an "intro to friends who are scared of game" place: you're not risking an entire frogs-legs/rabbit/quail/venison/kidney entree, and everyone likes garlic or berries as a sauce.

                                              1. re: yumyum
                                                p
                                                purple bot RE: yumyum Jan 6, 2009 08:50 PM

                                                I'm also on board with Striper and Yumyum. Fun atmosphere, forgettable food. It always sounds much better than it is.

                                              2. re: MC Slim JB
                                                finlero RE: MC Slim JB Jan 1, 2009 06:23 AM

                                                I'm definitely more fer than agin on Dali. The food might not set the world on fire, but at the very least, it's firmly in "chow compromise" territory. When dining out with chow phobic friends and/or out-of-towners, I'd much rather dine there than, say, Antico Forno, which certainly ain't half bad.

                                                Yes, I make a better tortilla espanola at home (thanks Cambridge Culinary!), and ever since MC Slim JB dished out the sangria recipe I don't need to hemmorhage money on it at the restaurant, but I still love their gambas al ajillo and the squid in its own ink, and there's no arguing with the atmosphere.

                                                1. re: finlero
                                                  LindaWhit RE: finlero Jan 2, 2009 12:48 PM

                                                  I've been going to Dali for for a very long time, and quite frankly, even from the very beginning, service has always been top-notch. As enhF94 said, the staff are mostly career service people. The majority have been there for 5 to almost 20 years (several are originals from when they first opened). You rarely find that at restaurants in the U.S.

                                                  As for the food, while I've not been to Spain, the majority of the food at Dali has always been well presented and very good. There was a time that the seafood paella was downright bad about 5-6 years ago; but that has changed (and was only tried again by me and friends after some encouragement from the bartender to try it again) - the rice is a bit more on the slightly creamier risotto side vs. the rice crust on the bottom as I understand paella should have - but I'm OK with that. Yes, the sangria is expensive - I winced when I heard one of the bartenders call out the price last weekend to a large group (I hadn't realized the large pitcher price had increased, as has their smaller pitcher). But the smaller pitcher (for two people) gives you about 2-1/2 glasses/person. For $20, that's not bad if you compare it to what you'd get from a $20 bottle of wine. And their Spanish wines are reasonable, and they have good ports, sherries, and after-dinner drinks.

                                                  I guess what I'd want to know is what would be considered "authentic" in a Spanish tapas bar? Gambas al Ajillo, Tortilla Espanola, a new tapa, the Piquillo Pepper w/Shrimp & Saffron Ali-Oli, the Queso de Cabra Montañes, the Beef Short Ribs in Rioja Wine Sauce, the Langostinos a la Plancha - are these not "authentic" enough for the location the restaurant is in?

                                                  Dali is not on the coast of Spain; it's in Somerville, MA. I look at it as they get what they can from local purveyors...they used to import the tiny eels from Spain, but at $27/tapa dish, they rarely sold. It wouldn't have been cost-effective for them to continue to import them.

                                                  I like the atmosphere - it makes me happy in just a few minutes walking in there, even if I'm in a crappy mood; I like the people who work there, I like the food. Is it "authentic"? I don't think without being in Spain, it can ever be truly authentic. But it is what it is, and it works for me.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                    yumyum RE: LindaWhit Jan 2, 2009 01:20 PM

                                                    Hi LindaWhit -- thanks for chiming in here. I am absolutely not an authenticity dork -- after all most of the food in our area is derivative of somewhere else, no? I just don't think it's very good. Judging from the long waits, it has enough fans on this board and elsewhere.

                                                    1. re: yumyum
                                                      LindaWhit RE: yumyum Jan 2, 2009 03:30 PM

                                                      Fair enough, yumyum. Yes, most of our food is a different take on another country's food with whatever is available for that family to buy here in the U.S.

                                                      Different tastes. There are lots of things that various Boston CH'ers eat that I'm not sure I could try (although I was raised to try almost everything, so perhaps I would at least try a smidge!), so perhaps my palate isn't quite as developed as others. But I do enjoy reading about the CH Chowdowns.

                                                      One thing I *will* agree on is the cheesiness of the birthday and wedding celebrations at Dali. I. Absolutely. Detest. Them. (But I also know that the majority of the waitstaff doesn't like them all that much either - but they *have* to sing it; whereas I don't. <vbg>)

                                                      1. re: yumyum
                                                        StriperGuy RE: yumyum Jan 3, 2009 05:08 AM

                                                        While I do like authentic Spanish chow, I would settle for just plain good food. even if it was WAY off base in terms of authenticity.

                                                        I can get way better, fresher, better executed garlicky shrimp at Peach Farm in Chinatown.

                                                        My read on Dali is that it is more about the Shtick then the food.

                                                        And it ain't that tricky to make a decent pitcher of Sangria, so heaven forbid the booze ain't bad if you don't mind paying through the nose.

                                                2. re: StriperGuy
                                                  g
                                                  Gabatta RE: StriperGuy Dec 31, 2008 11:26 AM

                                                  If you dislike it so much, why do you keep going?

                                                  1. re: Gabatta
                                                    MC Slim JB RE: Gabatta Dec 31, 2008 11:31 AM

                                                    My guess it's the same answer as to why I keep going to places I don't think much of (Olives and The Butcher Shop come to mind): social or business obligations where I'm not consulted on the choice of venue.

                                                    1. re: Gabatta
                                                      StriperGuy RE: Gabatta Jan 2, 2009 12:32 AM

                                                      I only go when dragged by friends which seems to happen every year or two or three. Last time 2 Years ago was for a friends 40th.

                                                    2. re: StriperGuy
                                                      b
                                                      BostonCharles RE: StriperGuy Jan 5, 2009 11:02 PM

                                                      Dali is hit and miss. Always had to pick and choose to get the good stuff - the mains were always mediocre. Many of the Tapas used to be delicious though.

                                                      Sadly, this was much more true in the mid 90s, its gone downhill. Proof of the pudding is I can't remember the last time I went there... it has gotten tired.

                                                      I've never succeeded in getting a good meal at Taberna de Haro either, sadly

                                                  2. re: enhF94
                                                    c
                                                    ceo RE: enhF94 Nov 9, 2009 08:23 AM

                                                    I was reasonably happy with Dali the time I went there, but I'm notoriously easy to please in this regard, as my foodie sister will tell you. The one thing that concerned me was that the place was so unbelievably jam-packed I made sure to locate all the fire exits just in case.

                                                  3. lissy RE: Carty Dec 29, 2008 02:47 PM

                                                    One thing that influences how much I enjoy an oyster is the temperature at which it is served which certainly can vary from one place to the next.

                                                    1. p
                                                      pemma RE: Carty Dec 30, 2008 07:25 AM

                                                      I think one of the myths that persists is that the food at the Top of the Hub is terrible. I think that may have been true many, many years ago when it was run by Stouffer's, but in recent years when I've been there it has been pretty good. Yes, you do pay more for the view.

                                                      6 Replies
                                                      1. re: pemma
                                                        MC Slim JB RE: pemma Dec 30, 2008 07:44 AM

                                                        My issue with Top of the Hub has much more with their nasty, evil non-hospitality than their overpriced food. That's one terrible impression to make on tourists, regardless of the view.

                                                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                          p
                                                          pemma RE: MC Slim JB Dec 30, 2008 08:52 AM

                                                          Maybe I've been lucky or oblivious, but I don't remember being treated badly there.

                                                          1. re: pemma
                                                            MC Slim JB RE: pemma Dec 30, 2008 10:57 AM

                                                            My stuff is all second-hand now, but I get the same story time after time from visitors I've failed to dissuade from going there: folks at the host stand are mean, snotty and obnoxious (classic tiny person with power syndrome). Favorite stunt, pulled a hundred times a day: don't seat people at window tables, even though there are dozens of open window tables that stay open for the party's entire visit. They're dicks.

                                                            1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                              d
                                                              DotRat75 RE: MC Slim JB Jan 11, 2009 03:42 PM

                                                              I made my first visit there on Friday night. 6 of us stopped by for a drink after dinner at Sel de la Terre. I was amazed at how cold and cranky the staff was from the top down. It was the same reception you would get if you showed up to someone's house party uninvited. Here's a tip: If the premise of your restaurant is that you offer a spectacular view, don't be pissed off when patrons actually want to look out the windows.

                                                        2. re: pemma
                                                          b
                                                          BostonCharles RE: pemma Jan 5, 2009 11:05 PM

                                                          It used to be terrible. Surprisingly decent now.

                                                          Haven't had a problem with service, though I have been told the window tables have a minimum, which I found understandable but annoying.

                                                          1. re: pemma
                                                            t
                                                            the modern serf RE: pemma Jan 25, 2009 02:17 PM

                                                            We took my girlfriend's parents out for dinner there for their 30th anniversary (their idea, not mine) and spent $500 on six people. Sub-"Outback" steak, with HP sauce: $45. Big but chewy porkchop: $32. So-so cocktails and creme brulee.

                                                            The view was nice, though.

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                                                            Guinness02122 RE: Carty Dec 30, 2008 04:17 PM

                                                            I guess one myth is that the Boston area lacks quality Mexican restaurants.

                                                            40 Replies
                                                            1. re: Guinness02122
                                                              trufflehound RE: Guinness02122 Dec 31, 2008 04:35 AM

                                                              A large majority are mediocre. It's only been a couple years that w e've have more than Sol Azteca.

                                                              1. re: Guinness02122
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                                                                Carty RE: Guinness02122 Dec 31, 2008 05:00 AM

                                                                Hey Guiness, which are your favorites?

                                                                1. re: Carty
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                                                                  Guinness02122 RE: Carty Jan 2, 2009 02:26 PM

                                                                  I like Angela's, El Sarape, Sol Azteca and Ole Mexican Grill.

                                                                2. re: Guinness02122
                                                                  chickendhansak RE: Guinness02122 Dec 31, 2008 07:18 AM

                                                                  My Mexican food eating experience is pretty much confined to this town. I regularly read that it is poor quality, SF Mission District blah blah, but then I think to my own experience. I see a clear quality distinction between, let's say, in the one camp Forest Cafe, Jose's, Anna's, Felipe's, Boca Grande, what I remember of Sol Azteca or Casa Mexico (as was) or Case Romero, and in the other camp, more remote / less talked about places like Tacos Lupita, Taco Loco, Villa Mexico in Waltham or Taqueria La Mexicana and El Potro in Union Square. This latter group is what I prefer and (with the occasional exception of Anna's and Boca Grande visits) where I will always go. I'd really love to know if people who know these famed SF, etc., places AND the full gamut of Boston-area places would still dismiss the Boston places as inferior.

                                                                  1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                    c
                                                                    Carty RE: chickendhansak Jan 1, 2009 04:11 AM

                                                                    There really is a difference between the West Coast and here wrt/ Mexican food, and I suppose that's understandable. I spend a lot of time in the Bay area on business. I have learned that virtually every strip-mall Mexican place has better carnitas that I have found anywhere in the Boston area.

                                                                    At the same time - I am amazed at the poor quality of pizza tolerated by folks in the Bay Area. I've had pizza there that was virtually inedible, typical pizza there far below the typical here. There really are regional differences.

                                                                    If I had any initiative I'd open a hole in the wall Mex place here or a pizza joint in Santa Clara :).

                                                                    1. re: Carty
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                                                                      AHan RE: Carty Jan 1, 2009 05:46 AM

                                                                      I suppose the large Mexican population on the West coast woudl explain that.
                                                                      The vast majority of people here tolerate really bad pizza too, and for every decent pizza shop here i'll bet there's twenty or thirty that are crap. My coworkers constantly rave about 2 or 3 local places which are only marginally better than frozen pizza. Put enough salt and sugar on anything and most people seem to like it.

                                                                      1. re: Carty
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                                                                        BostonCharles RE: Carty Jan 5, 2009 11:10 PM

                                                                        This is so true it hurts. I get why our mexican food is so bad - we have very few mexicans. But how does a city with such a large italian heritage as san francisco's have such bad pizza?

                                                                        1. re: BostonCharles
                                                                          Trumpetguy RE: BostonCharles Jan 6, 2009 05:52 AM

                                                                          Not ALL pizza in San Francisco is bad! That would be a myth! Delfina, Pizzaiolo, Dopo , A16 all make Boston worthy pizza.

                                                                          1. re: Trumpetguy
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                                                                            BostonCharles RE: Trumpetguy Jan 6, 2009 02:25 PM

                                                                            Thats good to know. I don't really have the experience to be definitive, but my friends who've moved out there are pretty down on the Pizza too.

                                                                            In general though, I think there is no comparison between Boston and SF foodwise. Don't even really belong in the same sentence I'm sad to say, as someone who lives in Boston.

                                                                        2. re: Carty
                                                                          chickendhansak RE: Carty Jan 6, 2009 09:41 AM

                                                                          Thanks for your response. What do you think are the best of Boston's offerings, then?

                                                                        3. re: chickendhansak
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                                                                          BostonCharles RE: chickendhansak Jan 5, 2009 11:08 PM

                                                                          I like Tacos Lupita, but it isn't mexican. It's el Salvadoran. Therein lies the rub.

                                                                          1. re: BostonCharles
                                                                            chickendhansak RE: BostonCharles Jan 6, 2009 07:31 AM

                                                                            Is it as simple as that, though? Tacos Lupita advertises itself as serving Mexican food too. I wouldn't want to get into details of what on their menu is Mexican and what is not because I am no expert, but I don't think this is where the rub actually lies. If there is Mexican or Mexican-like food on the menu there, and it is good, then to say it is only because it is in some way El Salvadoran (owners? counter staff? people who make the food? often one and the same) makes the question of Mexican food quality in Boston even more complicated and frankly rather strained, as if we are moving the goalposts.

                                                                            1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                              StriperGuy RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 08:09 AM

                                                                              There is some similarity between Mexican and El Salvadoran food. Also, in general Mexican food has a more established market in the U.S. The average American knows what to expect with Mexican food so it is easier to sell, and more likely to succeed as a restaurant.

                                                                              That said, you are unlikely to get the finest Oaxacan (arguably one of the great cuisines of the world) Mexican food in a restaurant run by people from El Salvador. Good-to-excellent tacos and the like, sure. A mind blowing mole rojo or really good tamales, not so likely.

                                                                              1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                limster RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 08:51 AM

                                                                                Among other things, they serve pupusas, which are Salvadorean, rather than Mexican.

                                                                                1. re: limster
                                                                                  chickendhansak RE: limster Jan 6, 2009 09:57 AM

                                                                                  Thanks. Actually I did know that detail, but as I said wanted to avoid trying to list what is and what isn't Mexican on their menu. Educated distinctions aside, if I can reasonably assert that a burrito is "Mexican" food, then I see a Lupita burrito as a level above that found at Anna's and the like.

                                                                                  My question originally was whether, if someone agrees with that distinction, and also has experience on the west coast, whether they would say that the myth that Boston has no good Mexican food is true.

                                                                                  It doesn't have to mean that a Lupita burrito should be as good as the best of west coast burritos -- but would they hold their own against them?

                                                                                  I have eaten a few times at a small place in the United terminal at the airport in Denver and it ranks in quality with the best I've had in Boston. So maybe this is proof that the farther west you go, it gets better, even in airports.

                                                                                  1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                    StriperGuy RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 10:53 AM

                                                                                    Most Boston Mexican food is lame compared to what is available on the West Coast.

                                                                                    Tacos, Burritos, etc. don't even really qualify as the good stuff. There as here they are really street food, the equivalent of a sandwich. Done well they can be quite delicious and wonderful, but far from represent the pinnacle of what Mexican food can be.

                                                                                    Even Angela's Cafe is only "pretty good" not the sublime, complex excellence that Mexican food at it's best represents.

                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                      chickendhansak RE: StriperGuy Jan 6, 2009 11:51 AM

                                                                                      Thank you. I think I see where you are coming from, and I value the opinion.

                                                                                      I do know it is street food. But so far as I know, the myth / truism / cliche that Boston's Mexican food is poor does not make an exception for its versions of Mexican street food. It is a blanket criticism normally, isn't it?

                                                                                      What would you say is the best of the area, whether taquerias / more upscale?

                                                                                      1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                        StriperGuy RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 12:10 PM

                                                                                        In Boston the Mexican food, whether Tacos or more refined food, a la Cafe Angela, pales compared to what is available in SF, San Diego, Chicago, Colorado, or other cities with larger Mexican populations.

                                                                                        Tacos Lupita, Cafe Angela, El Pelon (for fish tacos) and a few other Somerville and Eastie places are all acceptable, mosty in the taco / burrito realm. But again, in the Mission neighborhood in SF, there are probably more Mexican restaurants and taco stands then in all of New England combined.

                                                                                        1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                          chickendhansak RE: StriperGuy Jan 6, 2009 12:25 PM

                                                                                          Thanks. This settles the question for me

                                                                                          1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                            StriperGuy RE: chickendhansak Jan 7, 2009 05:25 AM

                                                                                            There was very recently (Monday) a really excellent episode of "No Reservations" with Antony Bourdain where he visits Mexico City. That would give you a real feel for the tremendous variety and complexity of what Mexican food can be.

                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                              chickendhansak RE: StriperGuy Jan 7, 2009 09:27 AM

                                                                                              Thanks.

                                                                                              For posterity in this thread, though, the question I was asking, was about Mexican food as it varies inside the U.S. itself. Likewise I would expect that Japanese food is better in Japan, and know from experience that it is, or at least can be.

                                                                                              1. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                                StriperGuy RE: chickendhansak Jan 8, 2009 06:37 AM

                                                                                                Yes, except we are right next door to Mexico, people of Mexican descent represent a HUGE portion of the U.S. population, and you really can get some pretty amazingly authentic and delicious Mexican food elsewhere in the U.S. I mention the Bourdain episode to give you a hint of the amazing food that is out there. Mexico City quality perhaps not, but you can find some amazing Mexican food elsewhere in the U.S.A. in a way that you often can not with other ethnic food. Just not in Boston...

                                                                                                1. re: StriperGuy
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                                                                                                  Guinness02122 RE: StriperGuy Jan 8, 2009 02:38 PM

                                                                                                  I was in Puebla in 1992 and tried the Mole Poblano at a place I cannot remember near a large tented market. It was outstanding. The Mole Poblano at Angela's definitely holds its own.

                                                                                                  1. re: Guinness02122
                                                                                                    StriperGuy RE: Guinness02122 Jan 9, 2009 05:22 AM

                                                                                                    I've had the Mole at Angela's and it was better then many I have had, but it did not have the complexity of the best I have had.

                                                                                                    1. re: StriperGuy
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                                                                                                      tdaaa RE: StriperGuy Jan 9, 2009 06:12 AM

                                                                                                      Agreed. Certainly the best in boston (that I have tried), but still lacking something.

                                                                                                      1. re: tdaaa
                                                                                                        StriperGuy RE: tdaaa Jan 9, 2009 06:36 AM

                                                                                                        I imagine that, like many restaurants, and even quite a few Mexican home cooks in a hurry, they start from a paste. Heck, as I understand it in Markets in Pueblo sell fresh made, awesome mole paste in bulk.

                                                                                        2. re: chickendhansak
                                                                                          yumyum RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 12:13 PM

                                                                                          For Mexican food cooked by Mexican people (and I do think it makes a difference) I like Angela's, Taqueria la Mexicana and Tu y Yo (been a while since I've been to this one).

                                                                                          I also like the burritos and chile verde from Boca Grande and Anna's, respectively. For Mex/Salvadoran, I really like the tortas at Lupita and the various papusas around town.

                                                                                          What I miss is a good fish taco (my ongoing lament) and now that El Pelon is gone, I'll have to keep making them at home.

                                                                                          1. re: yumyum
                                                                                            StriperGuy RE: yumyum Jan 6, 2009 12:19 PM

                                                                                            El Pelon is gone? That sucks. I missed that thread. I think they did an awesomely respectable version of a San Diego style fish taco!

                                                                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                              yumyum RE: StriperGuy Jan 6, 2009 12:35 PM

                                                                                              Part of the block of restaurants that burned down in the Fenway this morning. I never made it over there, but I sure hope they rebuild.

                                                                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                                                                Prav RE: StriperGuy Jan 6, 2009 12:52 PM

                                                                                                It burned down. :(

                                                                                              2. re: yumyum
                                                                                                galleygirl RE: yumyum Jan 6, 2009 01:23 PM

                                                                                                Yeah, and T.Rex certainly hasn't done anything in fish tacos to make up for it....

                                                                                                1. re: galleygirl
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                                                                                                  Cachetes RE: galleygirl Jan 7, 2009 05:38 AM

                                                                                                  You are so right. I had fish tacos at T Rex about two months ago, which were difficult to choke down. There was a high gross out factor (something to do with the color and mushy texture of the fish), ,and there was a strange creamy orange sauce on them. I know I should give a place a second try, but I can't imagine what they could do to those tacos to improve them - too much to overcome.

                                                                                                  1. re: Cachetes
                                                                                                    yumyum RE: Cachetes Jan 7, 2009 06:24 AM

                                                                                                    Well, thanks to you and galleygirl for taking hits for the team. So glad I don't have to schlepp over there myself to try the mediocre fish tacos.

                                                                                                    The ones at the (now closed) Cafe D in JP were the yummiest I'd had in Boston. I should return to Olecito to remind myself about theirs.

                                                                                                    1. re: yumyum
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                                                                                                      bella_sarda RE: yumyum Jan 10, 2009 05:40 PM

                                                                                                      I recently had Olecito's baja shrimp taco (you are saying fish but I recall it as shrimp??) and found it scrumptious. The first time I tried it I didn't love it, but this last time it was great, so perhaps they are inconsistent. But this last time, the shrimp were crunchy, not greasy, the slaw was bright, fresh, and piquant, and it had just the right amount of heat, the kind that sneaks up on you. The whole thing was perfectly balanced between crunchy, moist, bright/acidic, hot, and slightly sweet, and the whole mix just sang in my mouth. Did I mention I was really hungry and ate it right on the spot? These are important factors.

                                                                                                    2. re: Cachetes
                                                                                                      galleygirl RE: Cachetes Jan 7, 2009 06:43 AM

                                                                                                      Hmm, they've gotten rid of the orange sauce, so now they're just mushy textured, when you can find the fish...

                                                                                                  2. re: yumyum
                                                                                                    finlero RE: yumyum Jan 9, 2009 07:01 AM

                                                                                                    It didn't exactly set the standard for authenticity, but I had a terrifically schmancy SoCA-style fish taco at Green Street last night. At least I think I did, memory is a little hazy this morning, not sure why...

                                                                                              3. re: chickendhansak
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                                                                                                BostonCharles RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 02:31 PM

                                                                                                That place in terminal C in Denver is pretty good actually. Denver has really surprisingly bad mexican food.

                                                                                                But yes, comparing Tacos Lupita Burrito to a good mission burrito, there is no comparison. Tacos Lupita is not in the same league.

                                                                                                They have really great pupusas though.

                                                                                            2. re: chickendhansak
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                                                                                              BostonCharles RE: chickendhansak Jan 6, 2009 02:29 PM

                                                                                              Actually, it is pretty simple. People generally make cuisine they are familiar with better - they know what its supposed to taste like. Which is why the Salvadoran food at Tacos Lupita tastes so good.

                                                                                              I like Salvadoran Food, and Tacos Lupita. But it isn't the same as mexican. (How do I know? Experience, and I speak spanish to boot. Just got back from 2 weeks in central mexico)

                                                                                              We aren't actually moving the goal posts if we say that mexican food in Boston should taste good, and like mexican food. Whereas most of the time if you've had the real thing the Boston version is bland and mediocre

                                                                                              1. re: BostonCharles
                                                                                                Trumpetguy RE: BostonCharles Jan 7, 2009 08:49 AM

                                                                                                Yes!!! Mostly bland and mediocre! Check out SF mission Mexican food--choice of salsa(pico de gallo) hot or mild for your burrito/taco. The hot has real fresh serranos or jalapenos...yes give me a real choice! Not to mention extremely fresh undiluted guacamole; plus fresh corn tortillas...Nothing like that here, so sorry to say :(

                                                                                        3. re: Guinness02122
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                                                                                          BostonCharles RE: Guinness02122 Jan 5, 2009 11:07 PM

                                                                                          I wouldn't call that a myth. So far its the truth. I haven't been to Angela's cafe yet, but have been to the other suspects. Many of which, like Ole, don't even have any actual mexicans associated with them.

                                                                                          Thank god I just got back from 2 weeks in central mexico and got a fix.

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                                                                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: Carty Dec 31, 2008 05:36 AM

                                                                                          On a slightly different, but related note, I think way too much brouhaha is given to touting "Nantucket scallops" at a grossly inflated price. I'd like to see some blind taste tests. And in some of the restaurants, they add so much "stuff" to the dish, you can barely taste the scallop anyway

                                                                                          37 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                                                            Richard Hurts RE: FriedClamFanatic Dec 31, 2008 06:48 AM

                                                                                            Put a Nantucket scallop side by side with a Cape and a Vineyard and the Nantuckets will win hands down every time.

                                                                                            Nantuckets are referred to as "golf balls" and are 40 - 60 ct. Vineyards are 60-90 ct and called "eraserheads".

                                                                                            1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                              Bob Dobalina RE: Richard Hurts Dec 31, 2008 06:52 AM

                                                                                              Do you mean golf ball sized literally? The ones I saw advertised at WF the other day were $26.99/lb. and were much closer to eraserhead size than golf ball. They really must be smoking crack there to charge that much.

                                                                                              1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                                Richard Hurts RE: Bob Dobalina Dec 31, 2008 07:15 AM

                                                                                                They are literally a golf ball size scallop. Another one of the seafood industry's loose terms: "bay scallops", to go along with "Chatham Line Caught Cod" and "Wild Salmon". I love to see fresh Wild King Salmon on a menu in January for $19.99 a plate and Chatham Cod on a menu in March.

                                                                                                Did they say "Nantucket Bay Scallop" ?

                                                                                                1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                  Bob Dobalina RE: Richard Hurts Dec 31, 2008 07:35 AM

                                                                                                  I am 100% sure the sign said "Nantucket" and "scallops." ;)

                                                                                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                                    Richard Hurts RE: Bob Dobalina Dec 31, 2008 07:43 AM

                                                                                                    If it walks like a duck...

                                                                                                    Don't even get me started on Trader Joe's "Turbot" aka "Turbit".

                                                                                                    Turbot, expensive European Flatfish sold wholesale at $10+ a lb whole fish
                                                                                                    Turbit aka Greenland Halibut inexpensive Canadian flatfish sold for $3 a lb fillets.

                                                                                                    1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                      almansa RE: Richard Hurts Jan 3, 2009 04:22 AM

                                                                                                      Trader Joe's, among others, sells Pacific Turbot, which, while unrelated to its actual delicious namesake, is a real fish. It's misleading, but not necessarily corrupt.

                                                                                                  2. re: Richard Hurts
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                                                                                                    AHan RE: Richard Hurts Dec 31, 2008 12:24 PM

                                                                                                    Gotta chime in here, as you are mistaken. Sea scallops, Placopecten magellanicus, are the larger variety, 10/40 per pound. Bay scallops, Argopecten irradians, while usually considered better, are significantly smaller (even the Nantuckets) at 80/120 per pound.

                                                                                                    1. re: AHan
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                                                                                                      FriedClamFanatic RE: AHan Dec 31, 2008 12:54 PM

                                                                                                      That's what I thought too, Ahan. Sea scallops are a slightly different variety and harvested by trawlers. They're big. Bay scallops are smaller and I"m told the Nantucket ones may actually be slightly smaller but much sweeter. Having grown up on Cape Cod, alas, i never heard of them until about a year ago ( I live in PA now). Folks on boards rave about them. I have never had them (unless, of course, those scallops I had on Nantucket about 40+ years ago were them. I lived on the south side of the Cape and had scallops on all the islands and mainland. Never noticed a difference

                                                                                                      1. re: AHan
                                                                                                        r
                                                                                                        Richard Hurts RE: AHan Jan 2, 2009 06:43 AM

                                                                                                        Then the Nantucket scallops that I flew over from the island that I'm looking at right now are a figment of my imagination.

                                                                                                        ...and yes they're 40-60 ct.

                                                                                                        1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                          Bob Dobalina RE: Richard Hurts Jan 2, 2009 07:15 AM

                                                                                                          Holy misplaced quotation marks, Batman!
                                                                                                          Are we discussing "Nantucket Bay" scallops (sea) or Nantucket "bay scallops"?

                                                                                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
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                                                                                                            Richard Hurts RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 2, 2009 08:13 AM

                                                                                                            Nantucket Bay scallops, the kind I sell to distributors for $20+ a lb.

                                                                                                    2. re: Bob Dobalina
                                                                                                      almansa RE: Bob Dobalina Jan 3, 2009 04:19 AM

                                                                                                      Having lived on Nantucket for years and made cash on the side cutting scallops for Charlie Sayles, I've never heard the term golf ball. If these are golf ball size, they certainly would not be allowed in regulation play. Nantucket bay scallops can be from the Cape or Vineyard as well. The name refers to Nantucket Sound, not specifically the island, although my own prejudices like to think the island scallops are sweeter.

                                                                                                    3. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                      hotoynoodle RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 07:13 AM

                                                                                                      i work in fine dining and have never seen true nantucket bays the size of golf balls. ever.

                                                                                                      to friedclam: a raw nantucket bay, or barely warmed through, is a thing of beauty. i wouldn't bother with them at whole foods. already not fresh enough.

                                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                                        Richard Hurts RE: hotoynoodle Jan 9, 2009 07:14 AM

                                                                                                        It's an exxageration. The fisherman I buy them from call them golf balls. They are not the size of a titleist.

                                                                                                        1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                          a
                                                                                                          AHan RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 07:18 AM

                                                                                                          I think the fisherman you bought them from is selling you George's Bank sea scallops, and calling them Nantucket Bay scallops. Sorry dude.

                                                                                                          1. re: AHan
                                                                                                            Karl S RE: AHan Jan 9, 2009 10:31 AM

                                                                                                            That's exactly what I am thinking.

                                                                                                            1. re: Karl S
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                                                                                                              Richard Hurts RE: Karl S Jan 9, 2009 10:50 AM

                                                                                                              see below

                                                                                                              1. re: Richard Hurts
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                                                                                                                Richard Hurts RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 11:04 AM

                                                                                                                Ok you made me get off my arse... new to us today..60 ct Nantuckets

                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                                  a
                                                                                                                  AHan RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 11:21 AM

                                                                                                                  well, 60 ct is 50% smaller than 40 ct. besides, your original post did say
                                                                                                                  "They are literally a golf ball size scallop"

                                                                                                                  1. re: AHan
                                                                                                                    r
                                                                                                                    Richard Hurts RE: AHan Jan 9, 2009 11:35 AM

                                                                                                                    We are beating a dead horse. Please show me a Vineyard / Cape / Marion / Peconic scallop that big.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                                      yumyum RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 11:38 AM

                                                                                                                      Dude -- you just can't say "literally a golf ball size scallop" and then back away from it. We are beating your dead horse all the way to the barn. That's what you get when you discuss such matters with a bunch of nuts. Present company included.

                                                                                                                      1. re: yumyum
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                                                                                                                        Richard Hurts RE: yumyum Jan 9, 2009 12:01 PM

                                                                                                                        You're right I'm in dead fish sales, I exagerate for a living.

                                                                                                                        40ct is a stretch

                                                                                                                        1. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                                          Karl S RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 02:54 PM

                                                                                                                          And "golf ball size" sounds like it uses the measurement standards of male personals.

                                                                                                                      2. re: Richard Hurts
                                                                                                                        9
                                                                                                                        9lives RE: Richard Hurts Jan 9, 2009 03:04 PM

                                                                                                                        we're beating a hope fully live or barely dead scallop..:)..You're pics looked like MV variety..according to my scallop detector...and bigger sea scallops isn't necessarily better...good sea scallops are great but more like 12-14/LB VS near $30/lb for cape

                                                                                                                        Nantucket, MV, Cape are more like marble sized than golf ball sized..unless you play an unusual style of golf.

                                                                                                                        Remember, all fisherman are liars..:)

                                                                                                                        1. re: 9lives
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                                                                                                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: 9lives Jan 9, 2009 03:48 PM

                                                                                                                          I think I''m kind of sorry I brought the whole thing up

                                                                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                                                                                                            9
                                                                                                                            9lives RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 9, 2009 04:41 PM

                                                                                                                            Don't be sorry. This isn't the first time that the issue has come up;

                                                                                                                            There are some people that believe thas scallop from Nanucket Harrbor are superior..(Nantucket being fom downtown to Wauwinet to ther cape scallops.

                                                                                                                            Other's, including myself believe that othe cape towns raise similar and comparable "smaller scallops" in season.

                                                                                                                            1. re: 9lives
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                                                                                                                              FriedClamFanatic RE: 9lives Jan 9, 2009 06:18 PM

                                                                                                                              I guess I need to check out the culinary history of these. As i said earlier, I grew up on the Cape, had friends on both MV and Nantucket, my mother's best friend was head of reservations for the Steamship Authority, my Grandfather, with whom we lived, was the original country doctor (and coroner) and we used top get quarts and quarts of seafood from fisherman who couldn't pay their bills right away; many of these guys were the fathers of my friends. I must have "dug" (actually tonged) over a half ton of these babies in my youth. And had to open most of them!

                                                                                                                              Perhaps the CoC on "america" as the islanders used to call us, didn't want us to know that ours were inferior, but the strange thing is that I had never heard of them until about 3 years ago. Then when I heard the price, I was totally bowled over. I figured it was one of those marketing things sort of like Ipswich Clams (much of which now comes from the Chesapeake, I'm told -an no, I don't want to start another flame war).

                                                                                                                              Or Diver scallops - what could possibly be alluring about diver scallops vs plain old dug,dredged, trawled,tonged or whatever scallops to justify a higher price? Guess I'm just getting old and irrascible!

                                                                                                                              OK, off my soapbox and I'll see if I can find out when the term first appeared.

                                                                                                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                                                                                                FriedClamFanatic RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 9, 2009 07:55 PM

                                                                                                                                OK, decided to do some research. For those of you who are really interested, I just spent the last hour watching a fascinating video of harvesting scallops on Nantucket. It's worth watching:

                                                                                                                                http://www.joost.com/120001w/t/Winter...

                                                                                                                                It doesn't answer all the questions, but sheds some light on Nantucket scallops since they are all harvested wild, vs farmed. However, since i grew up in the period before "Fish-farms", the hoopla about Nantucket vs wild scallops gathered on Cape Cod or MV is probably marketing hype. If you gather them the same way, they will probably be the same in any area around there. MV and the Cape has much more farmed-raised scallops, but there are still guys out there doing it the old fashioned way.

                                                                                                                                There could be "some" truth in the how the tides/pollutants are different on Nantucket than some of the other Cape places (or MV), but I suspect that the places I used to go to get scallops (and NO, I won't tell you where!), are similar if not exactly duplicate

                                                                                                                                So.....what we are really talking about here are wild scallops, harvested by scallopers that grow in most of the southern NE area. A quart of scallops from Nantucket Harbor would be virtually indistinguishable from a quart that was gathered from the wild in, say, Waquoit Bay on Cape Cod. Nantucket has no scallop farms.

                                                                                                                                It's basically the same reasoning as why the local "Bay" scallops I get at my local fish market in PA are half the price of Sea Scallops. The ones here are raised (I believe) in the Orient, on massive fish farms. Sea Scallops are local. I know the local Bay scallops at the fish market here aren't as good as the ones I had as a kid, nor as small, but even so, they are mighty tasty!

                                                                                                                                Hope this helps clarify

                                                                                                                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic
                                                                                                                                  Karl S RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 10, 2009 04:47 AM

                                                                                                                                  There are also the fabled Peconic bay scallops from the east end of Long Island. They are even rarer than Nantucket, due to species collapse.

                                                                                                                                  Digby bay scallops from Nova Scotia are probably the most commonly available from the northwest Atlantic (I would say Gulf of Maine except Peconic and Nantucket are outside the Gulf of Maine).

                                                                                                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                                                                                                    9lives RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 10, 2009 05:58 AM

                                                                                                                                    here's arecent article from Cape Cod Times...Nantucket was off to a good start and were selling for less than Cape towns..

                                                                                                                                    http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbc...

                                                                                                                                    Your smaller scallops are probably from Asia.

                                                                                                                                    Thes sea scallops were taken on George's Bank..and boats from Boston, New Bedford, Gloucester, NJ and further N or S work these waters..so a good fish mkt in PA should have local sea scallops. A good product if fresh; but not as sweet or scarce as the smaller cape variety.

                                                                                                                                    http://flickr.com/photos/61246842@N00...

                                                                                                                                  2. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                                                                                                    9lives RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 10, 2009 09:23 AM

                                                                                                                                    "Or Diver scallops - what could possibly be alluring about diver scallops vs plain old dug,dredged, trawled,tonged or whatever scallops to justify a higher price? Guess I'm just getting old and irrascible"

                                                                                                                                    The allure to true diver scallops is that are caught from boats that go out for the day; and literally people dive to capture the scallops.

                                                                                                                                    This is opposed to a trawler leaving a NE fishing port, traveling 60+ miles going to George's Bank; spending 5 or so days dragging nets..and then returning..with theeir catch. The pic I linked to came from George's Bank; still a good product.

                                                                                                                                    The "divers' are fresher and tastier.

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                                                                                                                                      FriedClamFanatic RE: 9lives Jan 10, 2009 10:11 AM

                                                                                                                                      Fresh scallops are tastier..........but I wonder how many restaurants really have "caught that day" scallops? Or do they just use that line because it sounds sexier?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic
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                                                                                                                                        9lives RE: FriedClamFanatic Jan 10, 2009 04:09 PM

                                                                                                                                        Sounds sexier..:)..kind of like "line caught Chatham cod."

                                                                                                                                        I love to take pics and share. Here's the small Scituate, MA fleet. They go out for the day and the cod, haddock, sole is right out of the ocean and pristine. OTOH, I've caught tuna and left it bagged and submerged in ice for a week with no loss in quality..in fact , the texture improves after 2-4 days.

                                                                                                                                        http://flickr.com/photos/61246842@N00...

                                                                                                                                        My guess is that the term "diver scallop" is probably overused and often not a true diver scallop; but the term is used to convey high quality.

                                                                                                                                        My philosophy with seafood is the better the quality, the less you want to do with it. cooking wise).and the taste quality will be apparent. I wouldn't deep fry a high quality diver/sea or Cape scallop.

                                                                                                                                        Love the line about walking it through a warm kitchen..:)

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                                                                                                                                          FriedClamFanatic RE: 9lives Jan 10, 2009 06:36 PM

                                                                                                                                          I agree......there are some entree's that can be improved by sauces, coulis, presentation, avec XXX,, etc. but many in the fish family and shellfish family are best by themselves. The flavor is so subtle that a lot of "extra" just kills it.

                                                                                                                                          I remember back in college, going out for a fancy dinner with several college roomates (not from NE!) and their dates. Several of them ordered the stuffed split broiled lobster and then proceeded to show me how much they knew by sucking out the meat on the "legs". Yech! only a boiled lobster will do that for you.

                                                                                                                                          Now mind you, I have added sauces to fish, and done lobster medallions, etc. Soaked shrimp in a soy/marsala/garlic mix, even been known to offer tartre sauce to folks that have fried clams with me! Some folks do like it differently! But for me, the simpler the seafood dish, the better.

                                                                                                                                          There are some less "wowee" fish things that can be helped along. Cod, mackerel, and a few others. I dearly love codfish cakes with hot sauce on the side. But mess up my clams with more than a light breading, serve me scallops with a melange of sauces, give my fresh lobster anything except butter (or mayo for some purists), top swordfish with a raspberry melange, or serve oodles of tartre sauce and you'll earn my wrath! (Ok, i do love clams casino and stuffed quahogs, but that is a different kettle of fish, so to speak)

                                                                                                                                          BTW.................love the photos and references.

                                                                                                                                          Sorry.....I may be a minority of one, but all I ask of the chef is to cook it properly and not add a bunch of "stuff "to it to try and make it taste better, any more than I want a prime rib slathered in BBQ sauce

                                                                                                                                          1. re: 9lives
                                                                                                                                            galleygirl RE: 9lives Jan 11, 2009 09:26 AM

                                                                                                                                            Iin these days "line-caught" has another meaning going for it, besides freshness of dayboats....If a fish is small enough to be caught that way, it's had less time to live in the ocean, eating smaller fish and collecting their mercury in its flesh...

                                                                                                                                            1. re: galleygirl
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                                                                                                                                              9lives RE: galleygirl Jan 11, 2009 09:53 AM

                                                                                                                                              True; but there are still size limits on different fish and what's legal to keep. Line caught means that it didn't get dragged through the ocean in a net for a few of more hours..creating better quality.

                                                                                                                                              With "line caught" tuna/sword, fish that is brought to the boat quickly has better quality meat than a fish that was fought for 3-4 hours..and exerted massive energy, adrenaline and stressed the meat.

                                                                                                                                              That's why "harpooned" swordfish/tuna demands a higher price than fish caught by other methods like longlining. Tastes better. Hard to find unless you're in a smaller fishing town.

                                                                                                                2. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                                                  FriedClamFanatic RE: hotoynoodle Jan 9, 2009 11:34 AM

                                                                                                                  I agree....pass them through a warm kitchen is enough for me. Butter is fine, but never lemon

                                                                                                            2. finlero RE: Carty Jan 1, 2009 06:47 AM

                                                                                                              Speaking as someone who doesn't object to dropping hundreds of dollars on an e-ticket luxury dinner out every now and then, I find that I personally disagree most often with board discussions on high-end dining destinations, especially those whose menus skew Italian.

                                                                                                              Obviously, when you hit the thirty or forty dollar mark for an entree, you're paying as much (or more) for the experience as you are for the food, but I always get dismayed when I feel like I could have done as good or better a job if I'd cooked at home.

                                                                                                              I know that historically, there's been a lot of debate across this site as to whether higher-end restaurants should even be discussed on CH, and I'm certainly not trying to re-ignite that discussion here. And I'd also say there generally seems to be a larger distribution of opinions on higher-end restaurants than the cheaper (especially ethnic) places in Boston. But as I said, I definitely find myself disagreeing more often with rave reviews here of high-end places than low-end.

                                                                                                              A few places that fall into this bucket for me (none of them remotely bad, just falling on the wrong side of my cost/benefit line): Il Capriccio, No 9 recently, L'Espalier (especially in the new digs), Oleana except for the vegetarian tasting menu and dessert, Rendezvous, Rialto, Sage.

                                                                                                              A weird inverse of this is Troquet. I find the food and wine to be exceptional, but the service and especially the atmosphere are always a little off for me.

                                                                                                              And two that have never done me wrong: Salts and Craigie.

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                                                                                                                BostonCharles RE: finlero Jan 5, 2009 11:13 PM

                                                                                                                Hear Hear!

                                                                                                                While I don't agree on all necessarily, I definitely agree with Il Capriccio, No. 9, Oleana (which I used to love) Rialto and Sage.

                                                                                                                I find them all rather blah. The prices don't bother me. The food does.

                                                                                                                1. re: finlero
                                                                                                                  enhF94 RE: finlero Jan 6, 2009 04:25 AM

                                                                                                                  In that area, I'd say I've been oddly disappointed with Radius more times than not, to my surprise. Usually I just chalk it up to palate differences between me and the kitchen, however. Can't fault their style.

                                                                                                                  I've also been surprised to see so little written about Troquet everywhere in Boston. I like it a lot, and they certainly do know from wine. And yeah, I've never heard an off note at Craigie. I learn something new every time I go, and leave satisfied in so many ways.

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                                                                                                                    BostonCharles RE: enhF94 Jan 6, 2009 02:33 PM

                                                                                                                    Never been to Craigie, and its been a long time to Troquet. Clearly have to fix both of those things

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                                                                                                                      bella_sarda RE: enhF94 Jan 10, 2009 05:57 PM

                                                                                                                      While I have had some great food at Radius, I am disappointed more often than not, and more so the past few times I went. I think that they are coasting some times, resting on their laurels, not being very imaginative. You've got your Giannone chicken breast, your gnocchi, etc. I must admit, however, that their cocktails and desserts never disappoint.

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                                                                                                                    egc RE: Carty Jan 2, 2009 11:28 AM

                                                                                                                    Here's another myth: the myth of the long line. I live in JP and think that Centre St Cafe is not worth the long weekend brunch lines that form in rain, sleet, snow or cold. Same with Giacomo's in the North End. I think they are both solid but overrated. I can't understand why one would wait in line for either.

                                                                                                                    I'm sure there are other examples.

                                                                                                                    I did out up with the wait for Chacarero when I worked downtown; definitely worth it.

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                                                                                                                    1. re: egc
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                                                                                                                      Northender RE: egc Jan 2, 2009 12:06 PM

                                                                                                                      Can't speak for Centre Street cafe - but I have never understood the incredibly long lines at NE Giacomo's. It's not that it is a bad place but it is not all that special. Chacarero's is worth it and the line moves...

                                                                                                                      1. re: egc
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                                                                                                                        autopi RE: egc Jan 2, 2009 12:32 PM

                                                                                                                        i think centre street's brunch is great and justifies the praise. i just think there aren't very many decent brunch places in boston so there's a huge demand for a very limited supply. witness the madness at soundbites, which is definitely not as good as centre street.

                                                                                                                        i also am not inclined, however, to stand in a long line for the brunch at centre st, but fortunately that can be easily avoided by going somewhat on the early side and not with a bunch of people.

                                                                                                                        1. re: autopi
                                                                                                                          BarmyFotheringayPhipps RE: autopi Jan 2, 2009 07:25 PM

                                                                                                                          I was just about to say that the key to avoiding the line was to go there for the first seating and -- crucially -- to never have more than two people in your party. Allstonian and I rarely have to spend longer than 10-15 minutes on the line even if we join it in front of the real estate office, because there are so many parties of three to five people ahead of us.

                                                                                                                          Allstonian points out that going later -- say after 1 p.m. -- is also pretty easy, but in doing that, you run the risk of them having run out of some of the specials.

                                                                                                                          But overall, it's not a difficult line. They let you go in to get a cup of coffee for the wait if you want, and Big Todd (probably my single favorite front of house person in any restaurant inside 128) maintains good queue discipline, so you're not gonna get your table sniped by some jerk who hasn't been waiting as long as you have. And the food is more than worthwhile as well. If it wasn't such a slog to get from Allston to JP of a morning, I'd probably go there much more often than I do.

                                                                                                                          1. re: BarmyFotheringayPhipps
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                                                                                                                            egc RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jan 3, 2009 10:48 AM

                                                                                                                            Well, like I said, I do think it's quite good, just not "lineworthy". I guess if you've figured out how to avoid the line that changes things. Also, if it's a beautiful spring morning that's one thing, but trust me, that line is there whether it's zero degrees, hailing, or the building next door is on fire. I don't get it.

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                                                                                                                              purple bot RE: BarmyFotheringayPhipps Jan 6, 2009 09:00 PM

                                                                                                                              Big Todd? Are you talking about Mark, the guy with the long-ish dark hair? Yes, he is awesome at keeping that line under control...

                                                                                                                              1. re: purple bot
                                                                                                                                Karl S RE: purple bot Jan 7, 2009 04:44 AM

                                                                                                                                He is fantastic - possibly the best service person on the front lines in Boston.

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