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Please approve my itenerary!

Hi there Boston Hounds! I've been doing some research and come up with a loose food-schedule for an upcoming weekend trip to Boston from Toronto. Could you please check my homework and suggest any changes?

First Day:
Lunch - Neptunes - Thinking about lobster rolls and the raw bar
Diner - No. 9 Park - We like the idea of eating in Beacon Hill because it sounds like a nice area to stagger around after diner. Can anybody back-up this theory?

Second Day:
Lunch - Kingfish Hall - For chowder.
Diner - Either L'Espalier or Menton or Cragie on Main, I haven't actually made a decision here.

Other places we might try to jam in somewhere are Clam Box, Drink, and Speed's.

We only have two full days so we don't want to waste time with anything mediocre. Cost isn't an issue. We are looking for distinctly Bostonian places. No need for ethnic food, as Toronto is great for ethnic. We are staying at a place downtown called Nine Zero but are willing to travel as necessary.

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L'Espalier
774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

Kingfish Hall
188 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109

Clam Box
789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

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  1. Hmmm.... just a couple things to think about..... Menton and No. 9 Park are the same chef and although different concepts, I'm not sure I'd do both in the same weekend. I'd maybe do Craigie on Main or one of Ken Oringer's places (more casual than No. 9 or Menton). If you are looking for something upscale he has Clio or you could do Toro for tapas or Coppa for Italian. Erbaluce may also work for you. I haven't been to King Fish Hall in probably 5 years and I'm not a chowder expert, but given it's touristy location I'd be skeptical... maybe some others could confirm/deny my skeptism?

    -----
    Toro
    1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

    Craigie on Main
    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Erbaluce
    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Coppa
    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    1. Sounds like you have a fun trip planned (food wise at least). If you are looking for some places that are "distinctively Bostonian" I reccomend substituting Union Oyster House for clam chowder (make sure you sit at the downstairs Oyster bar) as the King Fish chowder is not so great IMO, or distinctly Bostonian. I would also reccomend choosing Cragie on the second night as you will have been to a Barbara Lynch restaurant on night one for dinner already. I also would advise against making the trek to Speeds unless you are a real Hot Dog aficianado. The dogs are delicious, but it's not really an experience that I would seek out if you are limited to only 2 days of dining experiences.

      Any reason you left breakfast out of your daily schedule?

      -----
      Union Oyster House
      41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

      1 Reply
      1. re: charlestown_matt

        sorry, but the chowder at union oyster house is gawd awful.

      2. number 9 park is well situated for a walk afterwards.

        craigie is near MIT and not far from harvard about 15 blocks from Mass Ave, the main thorough fare of Cambridge and Boston.

        Craigie is louder and less elegant than L'Espalier though I eat at Craigie far more frequently in part because i live in Cambridge.

        You probably won't make it to Market; I have not as i eat in NYC frequently. I like J-G Vongerichten's food a lot though I have not tried this outpost since I eat at Jean George about once per month

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        L'Espalier
        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

        1. Not sure of the chowder at Kingfish, but I had a lovely planked piece of striped bass the other day at lunch. It was good, although nothing terribly special. So I might suggest you go with the chowder at Neptune, along with the rest, and sub in something different for lunch on the second day.

          Beacon Hill is within staggering distance of your hotel and No. 9 Park, but it is really very residential, except for Charles Street, which is a bit more of a stagger, and even that is relatively quiet in the evening. You'd do better to stagger down to the Public Garden after dinner and work your way back to the hotel through the Common. You could also stumble down to Charles St. and Bin 26 Enoteca for some fancy-schmancy after-dinner wine.

          In terms of distinctly Boston, folks love their steak places and there is a good one right in your hotel - KO Prime (which is one of the Ken Oringer places mentioned above) - which you might also consider, if nothing else because you are right there. Midway between No. 9 and KO is another fine steakhouse - Mooo... - also for your consideration.

          -----
          Bin 26 Enoteca
          26 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

          KO Prime
          90 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108

          Mooo
          15 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02108

          1. For a nice walk after Number 9 Park I would head out of the restaurant and go down Beacon st along the common, then take a right down Charles street for a few blocks. Then take a right onto Mt Vernon street and head to Louisburg Square, which is lovely(John Kerry lives there). Nearby is Acorn street, also known as the most photographed street in America.

            Drink is definitely worth a visit if you are into cocktails, but I wouldn't go during peak hours because it gets really busy.

            1. I'd ditch King Fish and replace it for Union Oyster but, only for chowder. If you get a chance to go to Clam Box In Ipswich, you'll be rewarded.

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              Clam Box
              789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

              1 Reply
              1. re: treb

                I actually prefer Neptune's fried clams to the Clam Box's, even their big bellies. I found some of the Clam Box fried clams a bit tough and stringy. I've had fried clams at Neptunes a few times now, and they've been consistent. Big, juicy clams fried perfectly without excess grease. Plus, Ipswich is quite the hike from Boston--about an hour in minimal traffic.

                For your second day, I'd also suggest skipping Kingfish Hall. If it is a weekday, hit Coppa for lunch, as you won't have to contend with the crowds then. For dinner, I would personally pick Craigie on Main over L'Espalier. Both are great, but I think Craigie is a more unique experience, especially after L'Espalier moved to the Mandarin. If you like watching the kitchen at work, you can try booking the chef's table and getting the 10-course tasting menu. You'll get an amazing meal and lots of attention from the owner/executive chef himself.

                -----
                L'Espalier
                774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                Kingfish Hall
                188 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109

                Clam Box
                789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                Craigie on Main
                853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                Coppa
                253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

              2. Neptune is a must and you can get your Fried Clam and Chowder Fix there if you really have your heart set on it. I definitely wouldn't miss out on the other items though.

                No. 9 Park is highly regarded by many posters, but I am not the biggest fan myself. I think it is good, but not great. You are staying at the Nine Zero hotel which is literally a 3 minute walk away from No.9, so you will have an opportunity to explore that neighborhood anyway.

                I personally would suggest Clio (Back Bay) for a more interesting food experience and one of most architecturally scenic walks afterwards along Commonwealth Ave. The collection of row houses is amongst the best in the nation.

                I agree with the other posters who said that Kingfish Hall is hardly a destination for someone here for a weekend. Toro for Tapas and Coppa (both in the South End) are great recommendations mentioned already.

                For your final dinner of the three I would choose Craigie as I have not eaten at Menton as of yet. Honestly though you really cannot go wrong with L'Esplaier either. I would like to introduce another option for that night as well. If price is no object O Ya (Leather District) would be a fine choice. The only comparable restaurant in Toronto is Kaji, which I like very much, but IMO O Ya is better.

                Finally if you are into cocktail craft Drink is a must, but do try and go during off peak hours (close to 4-6pm) to enjoy some one on one time with the staff, they are pleasure to deal with and are extremely knowledgeable and talented.

                From a former Torontonian, enjoy your stay in Boston!

                -----
                O Ya
                9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                Toro
                1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                2 Replies
                1. re: Matt H

                  I wasn't really planning on doing Japanese while down there, but saying it's better than Kaji is a pretty rave review in my mind. O Ya just might have to replace No. 9.

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                  O Ya
                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                  1. re: graydyn

                    Funny enough I took a close friend from Toronto who is probably the biggest Kaji supporter I know to O Ya during a recent visit. He is still raving about his meal to this day and claims it is one of the best eating experiences he has had in his life.

                    I dont want to up sell O Ya or anything, but if you like Kaji chances are you will at the very least enjoy your meal at O Ya thoroughly.

                2. Thanks for all the responses! It was a lot to digest but defintely helped me refine the choices.
                  It's good too know that Menton has the same chef as No. 9. It sounds like Craigie will be the way to go for our second night.
                  And thanks for the recommendations to replace Kingfish with Union Oyster House, it sounds like that was a near miss!

                  -----
                  Union Oyster House
                  41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                  Menton
                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: graydyn

                    I have to suggest doing a little more research. If you search this site for Union Oyster House you will find the bulk of comments regarding this place to be extremely negative. While I'm one who likes Kingfish Hall, I definitely would opt for Neptune Oyster so I do understand suggestions to go for the best, but I could never suggest Union Oysters House.

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

                    Kingfish Hall
                    188 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109

                    Union Oyster House
                    41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                    1. re: Pegmeister

                      Union Oyster House is OK as a unique Boston seafood experience, but not much is actually worth eating there. It is by no means the best chowder in Boston, but if you go there chowder is probably the best thing to order.

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                      Union Oyster House
                      41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                      1. re: Pegmeister

                        I agree. I would never recommend Union Oyster House for anything. Even the oysters, which are the best thing they serve.

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                        Union Oyster House
                        41 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108

                    2. I would highly recommend staying away from UOH. It's got to be the second dirtiest place in the city after Barking Crab. I wouldn't care if I was invited to have lunch with Geo. Washington, JFK and Ben Franklin, I would decline (and they probably would walk out). Awful! Go anywhere else; even Legal. Yikes! Did I really say that?
                      Enjoy Boston,
                      CocoDan

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                      The Barking Crab
                      88 Sleeper Street, Boston, MA 02210

                      1. Since this is a weekend trip i would do sunday brunch at Craigie and dinners at O ya (closed Sundays) and Clio (I don't think they do their tasting menu on Sunday, though, can you squeeze in one or the other on a Friday?) i think you may find 9 Park a bit boring, but that's just my personal opinion (although it's not a bad place to get a drink with some gougeres if you can't get to Craigie, Drink or Eastern Standard)

                        1. Quite the itinerary. You may want to break it up into areas. Since you are staying so close to Beacon Hill, bar/food hop around there. No. 9 is a very good start, for some drinks afterwards, hit up 75 Chestnut or Bin 26. If you are feeling like you want to go out longer, head to the Liberty Hotel which is at the end of Charles St and head into one of the restaurant bars there or to the lobby where there is always a party going on.
                          The next day you should head to the South End, B&G Oysters, Toro, Coppa, Butcher Shop, are all within a short walk and you can't go wrong with any of them.
                          UOH is a Boston institution but with any tourist spot you won't be getting the best food, although the chowder is pretty good there.
                          You will enjoy staying at Nine Zero as it is centrally located and KO is a cool spot to grab a drink before you head it...the food is just ok though.
                          Enjoy your trip!
                          www.bostonfoodanddrink.com

                          -----
                          Toro
                          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                          75 Chestnut
                          75 Chestnut Street, Boston, MA 02114

                          75 Chestnut
                          75 Chestnut St, Boston, MA 02108

                          Coppa
                          253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                          1. If you are flying in, and arriving/leaving in the afternoon, and you have a car, when you head over to the airport, cut up into East Boston and visit Belle Isle Seafood (its on Bennington St.).. order a lobster roll, no mayo.. find a nearby park and consume.

                            If you are heading over to Menton or Sportello, Drink is right there.. can get crowded, but its a nice way to start the evenign.

                            -----
                            Belle Isle Seafood
                            1267 Saratoga St, Boston, MA 02128

                            Sportello
                            348 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02110

                            Menton
                            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                            1. graydn, I think I have a good idea of what you are looking for, so I am excited to offer my thoughts.

                              I think your first day is excellent. Neptune Oysters is Boston's best raw bar, if not a top contender for that title in all of the US. Go, enjoy a large plate of raw oysters (get a selection from all along the east coast, including PEI) and a lobster roll. If you don't go to Clam Box (see below), consider getting their fried clams as well.

                              For dinner on your first night, No 9 Park, as planned, is a good choice. It is an excellent restaurant, and being close to your hotel, a good choice for you. The area of Beacon Hill isn't the best to wander around after dark. Not that it isn't safe--it completely is--but being residential and less lively than other parts of our city, it is dark and dead after sundown. But No 9 Park is close to your hotel and the Boston Common, so there is some wandering available to you. You can walk the Common, and even the adjacent Public Garden, and see the State House lit up at night. A good choice.

                              For your second day, I'd ditch Kingfish Hall. I've never been, I must admit, but I don't think it is worth 25% of your meals in Boston. If you absolutely have to have chowder, try it at Neptune, or wander into any of the half-dozen-plus Legal Seafoods in the city and try their chowder at the bar (while having the rest of your lunch elsewhere). Instead, look for something distinctly Boston: L'Espalier (they serve lunch on weekdays and brunch & tea on weekends), B&G Oysters (second to Neptune for raw oysters, but also an amazing clam chowder), Coppa, or Toro.

                              For dinner, I'd go with your option of Craigie on Main, hands down. It would be my top recommendation for you, overall. Chef Tony is executing without peer in Boston, and the locavore bent gives you a nice New England-specific experience.

                              Drink, or another of our top cocktail destinations, is highly recommended if you fancy a good cocktail. Boston is at the forefront of the US cocktail revival, and Drink is the top in Boston.

                              Clam Box is excellent for Essex-style fried seafood, although the only star there is the fat bellied fried clams. To be sure, they are the best I have ever had, and I love the place. But if you aren't planning on spending the day on an Ipswich beach, I can't imagine that driving up to Ipswich is worth it. Just enjoy the fried clams at Neptune or B&G Oysters.

                              Backing up and speaking more generally, I'd put these places on any list of Boston destinations:

                              - Craigie On Main
                              - Neptune Oyster (B&G Oyster a second)
                              - O Ya
                              - Erbaluce
                              - Toro
                              - Coppa
                              - Clam Box
                              - Drink

                              You'll notice O Ya and Erbaluce are not in my recommendations, as neither serve lunch. Given your desire to check out No 9 Park--which is excellent--, the proximity of your hotel to No 9 Park, and your having of only two nights, I'd go with No. 9 Park over those two establishments. It is more uniquely Boston, and more convenient to your plans.

                              Whatever you do, enjoy!

                              -----
                              L'Espalier
                              774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                              O Ya
                              9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

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

                              No 9 Park
                              9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108

                              Toro
                              1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                              Kingfish Hall
                              188 South Market Building, Boston, MA 02109

                              Craigie on Main
                              853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                              Erbaluce
                              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                              Coppa
                              253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: rlove

                                While I agree completely with rlove on Drink (recently voted best bar in the US at Taste of the Cocktail in New Orleans), if you can't get there, they also have wonderful cocktails at Craigie on Main (my favorite restaurant in the city), including the spectacular Northern Lights, a S scotch cocktail for people who don't like scotch (I love scotch, but it's still a seriously great cocktail).

                                -----
                                Craigie on Main
                                853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                1. re: kimfair1

                                  According to the press release, Death & Co. won all kinds of awards at Taste of the Cocktail, including Best American Cocktail Bar. I didn't see Drink on the award list at all.

                                  PR --> http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/doc...

                                  1. re: yumyum

                                    Drink won some sort of bar brawl hoe down. Not sure why it's not on that list, though.

                                    1. re: yumyum

                                      Oy, New York has many excellent cocktail bars but, while Death & Co is good, it is not at the top.

                                      1. re: rlove

                                        The Boston Phoenix listed Drink as winning best bar. If they are wrong (and it seems they are), then I stand corrected. Drink is pretty awesome, though.

                                2. Mmmm... Toronto!

                                  I think your intinerary is fine, having only two days and taking into consideration the feedback you've already received re: Kingfish Hall and choosing only one Barbara Lynch establishment. I would not say that Speed's or Clam Box are worth cramming in.

                                  When looking for distinctly Bostonian places, I think of some of our most exceptional and/or best-known chefs: you've got Lynch, McClelland and English; people have suggested a few of Ken Oringer's endeavors, which I think is an excellent suggestion. I wonder if you might also consider other big Boston names like Jody Adams (Rialto), Michael Schlow at Radius or (albeit ethnically influenced,) Ana Sortun's Oleana among a few other popular area chefs. Oleana, in particular, comes to mind due to the incorporation of local ingredients, though seemingly too casual for your liking this time around. I also definitely think of Lydia Shire at Locke-Ober, a so-called Boston "Institution" and certainly distinctly Bostonian in its rich Brahmin atmosphere and decor. Have a drink there? You might as well see it, its just up the street!

                                  I hesitate over not wasting your time with anything mediocre, which I wholeheartedly understand-- especially while travelling! Mediocre, however, is so relative to the eater. Could be supremely executed traditional fine dining. Could be an empassioned and vibrant vegetarian tasting menu. Could be a menu peppered with molecular gastronomy surprises. These thing thrill one person and bore another. Any of the places mentioned in this whole thread could possibly hit or a miss, depending on who you are. Trust your gut, it seems as though No.9 and L'Espalier will be sound bets for you.

                                  And yes, your location is very nice to walk around in the evening! I'll just caution against high-heels if it was a possibility-- plenty of hilly, tilted roads, cobblestones and brick.

                                  -----
                                  Locke-Ober
                                  3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: globalgourmand

                                    After running some searches I am considering swapping around to include Locke-Ober or Oleana, but what I really need to do is push this out to a week long trip!
                                    I'm not at all opposed to casual, but often end up eating a lot of fine dining while traveling just because it seems like a safe bet. I'm sure I'm not the only one that tends to fall into that trap.

                                    -----
                                    Locke-Ober
                                    3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                                    Oleana
                                    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                    1. re: graydyn

                                      Oleana is really good, especially this time of year when the chef was tons of veggies available to her from the farm she and her husband own. It has a really nice patio, but they don't take reservations for it, so get there early(and order the vegetable tasting menu). It is also close enough to Craigie on Main that you'd be able to get a drink and something small to eat at Craigie after dinner at Oleana.

                                      -----
                                      Oleana
                                      134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                      Craigie on Main
                                      853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                      1. re: graydyn

                                        graydyn, I'm glad you're open to the suggestions! Kinopio hit the nail on the head in that now is a perfect time to do the vegetarian tasting at Oleana. Truly, I think Ana Sortun and Oleana offer prominent face of Boston locavore and ethnic food that might be hard to find elsewhere.

                                        Just regarding Locke-Ober, (as I'm sure you've already seen from your research,) is its heavy! But I feel it is rather good for heavy, traditional food (a little too light on the salt-- perhaps because of an older clientele?) I would just say take a good look at the menu and see if it speaks to you. If you're a fat-is-flavor person, it might be worth using one of your few precious meals there. If not, you can still have a drink and see the decor, which is so much of its charm.

                                        Again for Oleana-- look at the menu. If it speaks to you, NOW really IS the time to do it!! And even if the word "vegetarian" concerns you, just know that you will see the summer's bounty presented in such creative and loving ways that most would not miss the meat. If you're dining with at least one other person, you still have the opportunity to add other dishes anyway. But really, if you love vegetable at their prime and dishes that hug the boundaries of texture and temperature, then I really think it might be worth it to spend one of your few precious dinners there.

                                        -----
                                        Locke-Ober
                                        3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                                        Oleana
                                        134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                        1. re: graydyn

                                          I should also add that yes, I fall into that 'fine dining while travelling is a safe bet' trap as well! I tried lots of really delicious food during my last visit to Toronto. Sure, I had a lovely meal at Perigee (now closed,) but I think I got a better taste of Toronto food from the more ecclectic and casual dives and by walking around the foodie neighborhoods. I find myself recalling Kensington and St. Lawrence Market with more fondness than the tasting menu at Perigee.

                                          And I sure do miss that superlative Chinese food! Best dim sum. Best fine Chinese tasting. Best Asian markets.

                                      2. Lydia Shire is a great shef. Her restaurant inthe New Liberty Hotel, formerly a jail) is fabulous. Very beautiful space, excellent food and service and Lydia is sometimes there a comes around and chats with diners.I would choose over Locke- ober which is very Boston, old and very good but the food is a bit boring , steak, dover sole, liver and onions, etc. I promise Scampo will not disappoint.
                                        Legal Seafood, while touristy, has the best chowder, Served at the Presidential Inaugurals many times. Good drinks and most have 6 for 6 before six M- Th. (Oysters). I agree that Speeds can be skipped- the traffic to get there is think and the roads very confusing. The hot dog is good but not worth the time. SkipUOH. Have a nice time.

                                        -----
                                        Scampo
                                        215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: emilief

                                          If the OP really wants to try a Speeds hot dog, it's just gotten a lot easier. Starting this Sunday, and only on Sundays, he will be at SOWA 500 Harrison Ave. It's also fun to poke through the market.