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Trip Report From NYC Hound: Drink, Eastern Standard, Flour Bakery, B&G Oysters, Butcher Shop, Craigie on Main, Mike & Patty's, Modern Pastry, Neptune Oyster

kathryn Oct 18, 2010 09:32 PM

Drink: walked in around 5:45pm on a Friday and waited a few minutes when a few bar stools magically opened up. Must have been the horrific weather? It seemed crowded but not overly so. Loved the long, winding bar and atmosphere overall. As cocktail fans, it was comforting to smell fresh citrus and booze on the walk down the steps. Bartenders were very nice and made some great creations for us, based upon specific direction. My husband asked for something brown, bitter, and stirred, which lead to the Little Giuseppe (cynar, punt e mes, lemon, salt, orange bitters). My brother in law wanted something whisky based, with citrus, and received The Tennessee Cocktail (rye, lemon, maraschino). At some point our interest in both mezcal and tiki came up when my husband asked for something smoky, which led to the fabulous Smoky Jet Pilot (a mezcal take on the tiki drink). Given the weather, I asked for something with rum appropriate to the wind and rain outside, and got a Dark & Stormy (with their spicy, housemade ginger beer). At some point, my brother in law also got a Mamie Taylor (scotch, lime, ginger beer) when asking for a scotch based drink. I wasn't familiar with this drink and it was lovely! I tasted all of the drinks and they were excellent; this bar could hold its own in NYC vs our usual haunts of Milk & Honey, Death & Co, PDT, etc.. We also enjoyed the view of the sidewalk, the tiny book lights they used at their stations, and the lovely vintage coupes.

Eastern Standard: After a few rounds at Drink, we took the train here, walked through the hotel, and landed in the buzzing brasserie after a few twists and turns. Very handsome room and we were shown a cozy booth in the back. Started with a selection of oysters - delectable. The foie gras torchon, served cold, was also very good. Not innovative but well executed, and I always love brioche toast points. I had the lobster gnocchi with leeks and lemon brown butter - tasty with tender (and not rubbery) chunks of lobster, but very rich and I think it got sick of the leeks by the end. Not even the lemon could save me. My husband's sugar pumpkin ravioli was also very good, but a bit sweet and rich. Weather appropriate. Tried also the wonderfully smoky pork porterhouse. Not the most tender cut of pork but the mimolette gratin paired very nicely with it. My husband's Jack Rose was fine, but our dessert cocktail, the ES Flip was too sweet (I know, I know, it's on the dessert menu for a reason). A good meal in a nice room. I can see why it's popular although I think we may have done better ordering multiple smaller plates.

Flour Bakery: I went for breakfast the next day. Called ahead to save a sticky bun, which I liked, but did not love. (Tom Colicchio IMO makes a slightly better brioche version where the ingredients are more incorporated at 'wichcraft in NYC.) However, I was dazzled by the display of baked goods and I did love the breakfast sandwich. Crispy bacon, a square of tender egg, melted & slightly browned cheddar, stewed tomato slices, spicy arugula leaves, and tangy dijonaise! My gosh. That was a breakfast to remember. I think I arrived just after 9:30am on a Saturday morning at the Ft Point location, found a seat easily at a table, and immediately saw a line forming. Service seemed very nice but a little disorganized, as I'd been warned by reading reviews online. I also stopped in the next day for a vanilla cream filled donut - yum, and I loved the cream, as I really got a lot of real vanilla bean flavor.

B&G Oysters: Light lunch of half a dozen oysters at the bar, where it was easy to get a seat quickly. I did a quick tasting of 7 East Coast style: Bras D'or, Sheepscot, Duxbury, Falmouth, Island Creek, and Riptide. Oysters were very good, my favorite were probably the Duxbury and Island Creek but I've always been a bit partial to the Island Creek. The shucking did seem a little bit sloppy as I found a few shell fragments in my order. So did the two fellows sitting next to me. One made a face, the bartender was concerned he'd gotten a bad oyster, but he said it was "just a shell piece." Perhaps the weekend lunch time shucker isn't the best?

Butcher Shop: Really loved the baguette served with whipped butter, sea salt, and honey! Possibly the 2nd best thing I ate here, 2nd only to the mortadella. I sat at the bar and ordered a 1/2 portion of the antipasti plate where I immediately scarfed down the mortadella, proscuitto de parma, two kinds of soppressata, salami biellese, another salami whose name I forget, chunks of parmesan, pickles (cauliflower and fennel are the two I remember most), and a drizzle of olive oil. The only thing that seemed a little out of place was the hummus, which was tasty but didn't seem to mesh. The steak tartare was OK, definitely over-seasoned and I couldn't finish it. Service seemed a little sloppy as the server appeared slammed and couldn't take my order for several minutes after I was ready.

Craigie on Main: I had the Ardoise (Rain, juniper, sage, lime) cocktail, which I loved. My husband ordered the Orchard Mule (Becherovka, Belle de Brillet, cider, ginger beer) which tasted of apples and pears -- very Christmas-y. My poor husband was exhausted from not sleeping well in the hotel bed so we decided to skip a long tasting menu (next time!). To start, my husband and I shared the grilled scallops with spaghetti squash, lemon balm, tomatillo purée, mango vinaigrette. Perfectly cooked with a nice sear and I really liked the combination of the fresh lemon balm and texture of spaghetti squash, and fruitiness of the mango. He and I then shared the veal two ways: bacon wrapped veal loin & creamy, tender sweetbreads with hominy & huitlacoche (delicious and possibly my favorite component of the dish!), as well as the swordfish in pistou-dashi. The swordfish wasn't that flavorful as most of the flavor was in the broth but the two wellfleet clams the dish came with were fantastic: salty, briny, bursting with the seat. Note to self: order a shellfish dish next time. We were too full for dessert but gladly had the "Ferrero Rocher" that came with the check.

Mike & Patty's: I met a friend for brunch here the next day. We were overwhelmed by the menu, especially all of the specials written on paper plates. We were told it would be about 35 minutes so we went outside to sit in the sun (thank goodness, the weather was nice) and catch up. I marveled at the number of people & dogs hanging around, sitting on curbs, waiting for their orders. Surely the neighbors must mind? (I thought about how a place like this in Manhattan would probably attract dozens people on the sidewalk, being a nuisance to those who were just trying to get by and causing traffic jams!) I had the egg & bacon, fancy and loved the combination of the creamy avocado and toasted multigrain bread, with a little red onion here and there. Delicious and utterly charming. The staff were incredibly sweet and seemed to appreciate our compliments after we were done.

Modern Pastry: at the request of a friend, stood in line for two ricotta cannoli, with shells dipped in chocolate. My friend, who just moved to Boston, was annoyed by total lack of signage or instructions. Tiny handwritten sign on the counter, blocked by the line, saying the line is for "takeout only." No prices in the display case at all. No "order here" or "pick up here" signs, so we could not figure out what was going on at the front of the line or why the line came to a standstill at a point (multiple large orders for families). And the counter girl barked at us when we tried to pay after ordering (but before receiving). At least the Soup Nazi told people to move to the extreme right after ordering! Meanwhile, an elderly woman decided to park her walker in front of the dry goods section and inserted herself into the doorway. Overall, the cannoli were good and the filling wasn't overly sweet, which I liked. And I'm appreciative that they fill to order (so many places in NYC will serve you a soggy one that was filled hours ago!) but I think I'm realizing that cannoli just isn't my favorite thing (perhaps a mini and not a whole one).

Neptune Oyster: We finally made it, for Sunday dinner. Showed up at 6:15 and had a table by 6:30pm. They had quoted us 30 minutes and no sooner did we start wandering around the neighborhood than they called, saying the table was ready! Score! Did a sampling of three MA oysters and 1 Rhode Island specimen that our waitress helped us pick. Loved the tasting notes that were available on the order form and it was fun to try to taste the "spring pea" or "buttered popcorn" notes. Ordered a bunch of lobster rolls hot. I knew that my roll were probably fall apart quickly due to the amount of butter and meat so I picked at the warm, luscious chunks of lobster with my fork first. Not too buttery, tender, and oh so good and sweet. I can see why this place is so popular. With the bread, my lobster roll quickly became overwhelmingwith the sweet bread, dripping butter, and handfuls of lobster meat falling every which way. Great roll, but I'll split it with someone else next time. Or just eat the perfectly buttery lobster meat! Yum. Our fries, though, were over-salted (and I like salty food).

Drink, Part 2: Went back after our lobster feast, and was served by the charming Misty. My husband had spied someone else's Mezcal Southside on Friday (the bartender basically subbed in mezcal for the gin) and asked for that. I asked for something with cucumber and gin, shaken and refreshing, and got The Irma La Douce (Hendrick's gin, green chartreuse, cucumber, lemon, grapefruit). We also tried their signature cocktail, the Ft Point (rye, punt e mes, benedictine), and after picking Misty's brain about Tiki drinks, she served us the Mr. Bali Hai (pineapple, lime, Galliano Ristretto, Myers, Barbancourt), in a Bali Hai mug, with two giant straws. This cocktail was delicious and I had to keep reminding myself it wasn't just my morning coffee, but the Ristretto was deliciously dark. I believe we both had a bit of a headache the next day! But would gladly go to Drink again. Thanks for convincing me it was worth it, Chowhounds.

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

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

B & G Oysters
550 Tremont street, Boston, MA 02118

Butcher Shop
552 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118

Modern Pastry
257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

Flour Bakery + Cafe
12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA

348 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Mike and Pattys LLC Dba Mike and Pattys
12 Church St, Boston, MA

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  1. MC Slim JB RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 03:46 AM

    Thanks for a lovely, detailed report! You sure hit some of my favorites. It's so nice when visiting Hounds follow up this way.

    I had no idea Colicchio was behind 'wichcraft! I guess the "craft" should have been a hint: I just thought it was a clever name. Had a gorgeous chicken salad sandwich from one of its outlets, on the most perfect day to sit outside in Bryant Park a few days ago. Also, Misty contributed to the new cocktail menu at the Royalton's bar; it's worth a look, though hardly up to the likes of New York's serious craft cocktail bars you cite. Got some cocktail-newbie friends I'm showing the rounds down there, gently introducing them at places like Pegu Club and the Flatiron Lounge.


    2 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      Blumie RE: MC Slim JB Oct 19, 2010 06:56 AM

      My NYC office is opposite Bryant Park; maybe I'll try that chicken salad sandwich tomorrow instead of the veggie delight from Subway on 43rd Street!

      1. re: MC Slim JB
        hckybg RE: MC Slim JB Oct 19, 2010 09:12 AM

        In the old days (c. 2003) 'wichcraft, Craft, and Craftbar were all next to each other on 19th Street, but the original 'wichcraft is no more. Now it is quite a mini-empire, but I thought it was still pretty good when I had it recently at the Bryant Park outpost and at another on 8th Street.

        This is an excellent report, thanks for taking the time to write it! I am impressed by your attention to detail and total recall.

      2. o
        owen_meany RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 06:20 AM

        What a thoughtful and detailed report of your trip! You opened my eyes to some new possibilities and I live here! Thank you!


        1. g
          gourmaniac RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 06:31 AM

          Wow great job in picking some of our best for food and drink. Really nice report and glad that you had a good time. Next trip Erbaluce, Menton and Maria's Pastry might be enjoyable for you.

          Maria's Pastry Shop
          46 Cross St, Boston, MA 02129

          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

          1. Alcachofa RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 07:08 AM

            JB: have you been to the Flatiron when Ryan was working?

            kathryn: great report! I do "love" the sticky buns, and I'm not generally a sweet, sticky, icky breakfast bun type of guy. (I also am content with half a cannoli; a whole one is too much.) I will have to try 'wichcraft, but does it hold a candle to my beloved 'inoteca, generally?

            I finally had the burger at Craigie, and it is now on the top of my list. But, I was looking over the "regular" menu, and do reallllllly want to go back there for a tasting.

            Next trip, check out Coppa instead of Butcher Shop.

            Duxburys and Island Creeks! High five! Or fist bump, if you prefer.

            253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

            6 Replies
            1. re: Alcachofa
              MC Slim JB RE: Alcachofa Oct 19, 2010 07:25 AM

              Alcachofa, I have indeed: he made me a rye flip last time I was in.


              1. re: Alcachofa
                Pia RE: Alcachofa Oct 19, 2010 07:26 AM

                You hit some great places! Can't wait to go back to Drink when I'm no longer pregnant (although they do willingly make excellent non-alcoholic drinks too). You ordered just right at Flour too -- a lot of their sweet stuff is tasty but not amazing, but their sandwiches, especially that breakfast sandwich, are great and I love the weekend doughnuts. I like the cannoli at Veniero's in NYC better than anything in the North End. Thanks for reporting back!

                1. re: Alcachofa
                  kathryn RE: Alcachofa Oct 19, 2010 10:20 AM

                  The sandwiches at 'wichcraft are good but on the smaller and expensive side. 'inoteca will always win IMO because of the wide variety of their other dishes, including the truffled egg toast and bruschetta.

                  I definitely wanted to check out Coppa but they aren't open for weekend lunch. Thanks!

                  253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                  1. re: kathryn
                    FoodDabbler RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 01:30 PM

                    Great report. Thanks.

                    (As an aside, the sandwiches at 'witchcraft suffer, in my opinion, from being pre-made, and sometimes slightly stale.)

                    1. re: FoodDabbler
                      hckybg RE: FoodDabbler Oct 19, 2010 02:02 PM

                      They definitely aren't all pre-made--as the fifteen minute wait for my goat cheese sandwich told me (but it was worth it).

                      1. re: hckybg
                        FoodDabbler RE: hckybg Oct 19, 2010 02:13 PM

                        That's true. I've had freshly made sandwiches (at least they seemed fresh) at the Bryant park location, but a pre made, prepackaged one at Herald Sq. Worse, they had the same sandwiches the next day (they admitted they were left over).

                2. b
                  bear RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 09:35 AM

                  That was an awesome report, kathryn. Really fun to read. Thanks for the vicarious chow experience!

                  1. m
                    mvi RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 03:44 PM

                    Thanks for this great report! I am inspired.

                    1. ipsofatso RE: kathryn Oct 19, 2010 04:17 PM

                      Please pass the word on to NY that we know how to eat here in Boston.

                      25 Replies
                      1. re: ipsofatso
                        MC Slim JB RE: ipsofatso Oct 19, 2010 08:29 PM

                        No no no! New York doesn't give a damn about Boston, and we must pretend equally not to care what they think of us!


                        1. re: MC Slim JB
                          shopgirl RE: MC Slim JB Oct 20, 2010 10:46 AM

                          MC Slim...thanks for the great report! As a Jersey girl, we frequent NYC and it was nice to read your comparisons.
                          The only comment I can make is...we heard all the great reviews of Neptune and so, with another equally anxious couple...ordered one each to split. Yes, the roll was buttery...but there was such a tiny amount of lobster that we thought, perhaps, they were almost out and tried to make the two rolls with it! We were just thankful we had ordered chowder, as well. There were mere morsels of meat and, although succulent, it was a disappointment.
                          Has anyone else had this happen at Neptune?

                          1. re: shopgirl
                            kathryn RE: shopgirl Oct 20, 2010 11:14 AM

                            I've attached a photo of one of our lobster rolls. They seemed pretty generous.

                            1. re: kathryn
                              FoodDabbler RE: kathryn Oct 20, 2010 11:20 AM

                              I don't have pictures to prove it, but that's been my experience as well.

                              1. re: kathryn
                                shopgirl RE: kathryn Oct 25, 2010 08:14 AM

                                Oh, wow! Kathryn! Now THAT'S a lobster roll!!! We must have really hit a bad, bad day. I can honestly tell you we did not have even HALF that amount of lobster meat. But, this means we will def. try again! Thanks for the photo! I'm hungry already! BTW, this is the Neptune Oyster in the North End, right? There is no other one?? I'm there!

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

                            2. re: MC Slim JB
                              FoodDabbler RE: MC Slim JB Oct 20, 2010 11:31 AM

                              I know you're joking, but as somebody who eats regularly in the Boston area and in Manhattan, I'd say that we (speaking as a Bostonian) have several strengths that hold up well against us (speaking as a Manhattanite). Formaggio Kitchen, several Chinese places, Tamarind Bay, Neptune Oyster all come to mind as places that can face comparable places in Manhattan and not emerge losers.

                              I am not speaking of Queens here of which my experience is limited, or of Brooklyn of which my experience is zero.

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

                              Formaggio Kitchen
                              244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              Tamarind Bay
                              75 Winthrop St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                              1. re: FoodDabbler
                                StriperGuy RE: FoodDabbler Oct 20, 2010 06:13 PM

                                And Armenian groceries and Yoma Burmese, and Cambodian and (without going to Brighton beach an hour away) Russian groceries and Taiwanese food and Ice Cream, and Homey red sauce Italian (Vinny's, etc.) and on the cocktail front, and Persian baked goods (Tabrizi bakery actually drives a van down to NYC a couple of times a month to deliver). And this morning I had a Katz (Chelsea, MA) bagel which holds it's own against any NYC bagel. Heck, how bout a Yi Soon mooncake, I've never had one as good in my original hometown. And New deal seafood stands up against even Citarella and BBQ in Boston is better than most anything in NYC. And there is nothing quite like Japonaise and well, if I really wrack my brains I can come up with more. Whew.

                                Personally I'm a little disappointed that the OP didn't stray even slightly outside the mainstream (but I should talk having eaten at the bar at Island Creek tonight) cause Boston has so much more noteworthy chow.

                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                  kathryn RE: StriperGuy Oct 20, 2010 09:31 PM

                                  I would have done more Chinese food but in the beginning of October spent 6 days eating nothing but Chinese in NYC (and going to Flushing twice).

                                  Also usually don't eat BBQ in NYC a lot as we go to Austin, Texas each spring & go to the Big Apple BBQ each June.

                                  What else in Boston is on the level of Milk & Honey, PDT, Death & Co., Pegu Club, Mayahuel, etc.?

                                  I should note also that my husband hates red sauce Italian and we eat a fair amount of Italian in NYC (Lupa, Otto, Po, Scarpetta, Babbo, etc.) anyway.

                                  Where else should I have gone? I was greatly constrained by the fact that my husband's conference was at the Hilton at Logan Airport and ended at 6pm each day (and started at 9ish each morning). Keep in mind we were in town from Friday night to Monday morning, only. And often meeting up with a family member who didn't want to spend too much money.

                                  1. re: kathryn
                                    FoodDabbler RE: kathryn Oct 20, 2010 09:55 PM

                                    Excuses, excuses. None of these will hold San Pellegrino with Striper. It's not for nothing that he's known as the kathryn of the Boston boards.

                                    1. re: kathryn
                                      StriperGuy RE: kathryn Oct 20, 2010 10:33 PM

                                      On the Chinese front I hear ya, though beantown IS particularly strong on that front.

                                      That airport Hilton is a Killer. Generally speaking anyone who schedules an event/conference there should be shot. If you have an event there you are so darn stranded so I hear ya.

                                      That said, at the airport you are in the best South American food neighborhood in New England (East Boston). NYC does have comparable stuff, but you definitely have to hit the (7 Train if I remember correctly) and head out to Queens.

                                      Eastie near the airport includes killer Chilean, Salvadoran, Mexican, and a dozen other options on my list to explore that have never even been posted about but look promising. There is a decent Jalisco style taqueria out there as well. Also on a good night (VERY hit or miss) Santarpio's pizza can be sublime. And for the local color, even if the pizza is off, it is worth a trip. Really a slice of Boston that is almost gone in it's old-schoolness.

                                      On the Chilean front Rincon Limeno is amongst the best restaurants in Boston period. Their anticucho (grilled ox heart) was a revelation the first time I tried it.

                                      In fact, I really feel that with all the high end you hit, you pretty much missed out on BOSTON entirely. All the places you hit could have been high end, cocktail rebirth, expense account / spendy crowd joints in ANY U.S. city. I hit em myself with some frequency, but there is more to Boston.

                                      The red sauce place Vinny's in Somerville really transcends the genre and blows away pretty much any place on Arthur avenue in the Bronx today though perhaps back 10-20 years ago when they were better they might have been in close to the same league.

                                      Vinny's antipasto table, almost all homemade, combined with NICE salumi, and endless choices, I have only seen the likes of in Italy. The antipasto is worth the trip alone. And the food, ah well the food... And if you get Vinny or his wife to come pal around with you (Do I look like Vinny? Sorry bit of a joke for some other hounds) now that's Boston!

                                      I could go on and on and on, but next time ya gotta try some of the stuff (heck even some carefully chosen Chinese) that really sets Boston apart.

                                      Rincon Limeno
                                      409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                                      1. re: StriperGuy
                                        kathryn RE: StriperGuy Oct 20, 2010 10:53 PM

                                        Have you been to the Red Hook Ballfields in Brooklyn, BTW? Lots of South American delicacies there and a lot of the vendors now also sell at Central Park Summerstage and the Brooklyn Flea market, so that kind of food now seems like it's all over the place in NYC.

                                        Rincon Limeno sounds really cool. Also I was under the impression that Boston did oysters, lobster roll, etc. better than NYC which is why those places were on the itinerary.

                                        Rincon Limeno
                                        409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                                        1. re: kathryn
                                          StriperGuy RE: kathryn Oct 21, 2010 06:23 AM

                                          True true on the Oysters et. al.

                                          And I've definitely heard about the Red Hook Ballfields vendors. Cool to hear they are schlepping in to Manhattan.

                                          On the Oysters and Lobsters front to really have the genuine article you actually need to stray a tad north of Boston to Essex, or Gloucester and get the genuine article at one of the clam shacks. Many threads on this front but places like:

                                          - Clambox (generally considered the best)
                                          - Essex seafood
                                          - Farnaham's
                                          - Woodman's (though perhaps only for their claim to have invented the fried clam)
                                          - Lobstaland ( Killer food, great bar, and a view of the Marsh). A personal favorite.
                                          - Captain Carlos. Heck after dinner at Captain Carlo's in Gloucester, a great local joint, you can walk across the street to the Crow's Nest, made famous in The Perfect Storm, and get into a good old fashioned bar fight. Aaaaah Gloucester, "a quaint drinking village with a fishing problem."

                                          Crow's Nest
                                          334 Main St, Gloucester, MA 01930

                                          Captain Carlo's Restaurant
                                          27 Harbor Loop, Gloucester, MA 01930

                                          1. re: StriperGuy
                                            kathryn RE: StriperGuy Oct 21, 2010 09:06 AM

                                            Thanks! Will definitely keep that in mind in the future.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              Tom Armitage RE: StriperGuy Oct 28, 2010 09:48 AM

                                              Hmmm. This Seattle Chowhound drove to Ipswich to sample the much-hyped fried clams at Clam Box. Following the advice of aficionados, I waited to order until just after the afternoon change in the oil. When my order was up, I tasted, concentrated, tasted some more, and then furrowed my brow, and thought, “This is it? What’s all the fuss about?” The batter was thick and clunky and overwhelmed whatever flavor the clams had. I removed the batter from some of the clams, and still wasn’t wowed by their flavor or texture. I realize that I’m part of a very small group of dissenters, but I left totally disappointed by the experience. By contrast, the fried clams at Neptune Oyster were ambrosia: a light, delicate, non-greasy, crispy crust surrounding tender, sweet clams, bursting with flavor. In my humble opinion, Neptune’s fried clams were better by a mile. So comments about the “gussied-up, precious version” at Neptune versus the “real deal” at clam shacks outside Boston like Clam Box just don’t reflect my personal experience. Is it more a question of ambience (down-scale vs. up-scale) than pure food quality? By the way, speaking of “gussied-up, precious food,” I also had a single fried clam at Cragie on Main as part of the tasting menu there, and it was extraordinarily wonderful.

                                              1. re: Tom Armitage
                                                StriperGuy RE: Tom Armitage Oct 28, 2010 12:47 PM

                                                Wow, thumbs down on Clam Box. A chacun son gout. My personal North Shore fav is Lobstaland, but Clam Box is considered sacred ground...

                                                Clam Box
                                                789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                                1. re: Tom Armitage
                                                  observor RE: Tom Armitage Oct 29, 2010 09:16 AM

                                                  Very surprised, I found their batter to be light and perfect.

                                                  1. re: observor
                                                    brandywiner RE: observor Oct 29, 2010 10:21 AM

                                                    Same here. I've been to the Clam Box many times over the years, and never been disappointed, even mildly.

                                                    The funny thing is that Tom's writeup is exactly how I'd have described Farnham's clams, when I finally tried them a few weeks ago. ChefSwap, Essex edition?

                                                    Of course, honesty compels me to divulge that I'm still a Woodman's fan, which blows my cred out of the water....

                                                    1. re: brandywiner
                                                      Tom Armitage RE: brandywiner Oct 29, 2010 03:19 PM

                                                      Since I only had the clams one time at Clam Box, it seems probable that I just hit an off-batch or an off-day. All I can say is that the fried clams at Neptune Oyster were very different and, IMO, better. I'll give Clam Box another try when next I'm back in the area. It's sort of fun being an iconoclast though.

                                                      1. re: Tom Armitage
                                                        brandywiner RE: Tom Armitage Oct 29, 2010 04:59 PM

                                                        Neptune's definitely on my must-visit list; this just adds to the reasons.

                                                        Iconoclasm is not only fun, it's essential, if only to keep the rest of us on our toes. Isn't questioning Conventional Wisdom part of what these boards are about?

                                                        1. re: brandywiner
                                                          MC Slim JB RE: brandywiner Oct 29, 2010 05:04 PM

                                                          Agreed, as long as it doesn't veer into contrarianism for its own sake. Twenty people could pipe up and say, "People don't give the Barking Crab enough credit", and I still wouldn't bite.


                                                          1. re: MC Slim JB
                                                            FoodDabbler RE: MC Slim JB Oct 29, 2010 07:57 PM

                                                            You're saying a bite is worse at the Bark?

                                                            1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                              MC Slim JB RE: FoodDabbler Oct 29, 2010 11:45 PM

                                                              Ha! I wish I'd thought of that! My take is much less lyrical: dirty beer lines; gross, overpriced, phony versions of local shore food; filthy environs. It deserves a poet -- I'm thinking Bukowski.


                                                  2. re: Tom Armitage
                                                    Jolyon Helterman RE: Tom Armitage Oct 30, 2010 06:28 AM

                                                    Agreed. I have done my due diligence at the Clam Box, and it's fine but nothing earth-shattering.

                                                    Still, there's something special about even the act of waiting in line between oil changes, which I will continue to do, anyway. It's the whole experience.

                                                    Clam Box
                                                    789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                                              2. re: StriperGuy
                                                Torolover RE: StriperGuy Oct 24, 2010 06:27 PM

                                                What dishes are good at Vinny's? Are you talking about lil Vinny's or Vinny's at night?

                                                1. re: Torolover
                                                  StriperGuy RE: Torolover Oct 24, 2010 06:32 PM

                                                  Vinny's at Night.

                                                  I was talking about just about anything they serve, but the antipasto table in particular.

                                    2. beetlebug RE: kathryn Oct 21, 2010 09:23 AM

                                      Excellent report back. Looks like you met your goals given your limited time period, hard hotel location and your eating parameters. If you have to stay back in the airport area, one place that hasn't been mentioned yet is Angela's Cafe in East Boston. It's very close to the airport T stop. Angela's is home cooked puebla style mexican food and her sauces are divine. Sometimes though, the proteins (chicken breast or pork loin) served with the sauces are a bit dry, but they become a vehicle for the sauce itself. Also, Angela's serves breakfast and her chiliquiles are delicious. Also ask for a side of chipotle cream sauce (the diced potatoes are the vehicles to the mouth) bc that sauce is awesome.

                                      Lastly, thanks so much for the report back. It's always fun seeing someone else's food itinerary. And, even though your food choices may be perceived to be mainstream, you did hit some great local places. As for oysters, they aren't any better an hour north. Fried clams, however, are a different story.

                                      6 Replies
                                      1. re: beetlebug
                                        Alcachofa RE: beetlebug Oct 22, 2010 11:14 AM

                                        Agree. There's mainstream like this: Legal Seafood > Corporate Steakhouse > red sauce place in the North End.

                                        Then there the good kind, like what Kathryn did.

                                        Definitely worth making the effort to get to Rincon Limeno next time.

                                        Stripey, get thee to Red Hook. I had the best tacos of my life there. I don't think the people at Brooklyn Flea are as good, though still quite good.

                                        Rincon Limeno
                                        409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                                        1. re: Alcachofa
                                          Wannabfoode RE: Alcachofa Oct 24, 2010 03:07 PM

                                          I don't think what kathryn did should be considered mainstream. there's plenty of chow chatter about every place she hit. Sure it wasn't super ethnic, but it sounds like they ate well and hit up plenty of small spots.

                                          1. re: Wannabfoode
                                            StriperGuy RE: Wannabfoode Oct 24, 2010 03:29 PM

                                            Point being that pretty much all of the places are of that high end, international food scene type place, that is becoming ubiquitous WORLDWIDE. Take pretty much any of those places, drop them in any major city, and they are essentially interchangeable.

                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              trueblu RE: StriperGuy Oct 24, 2010 05:31 PM

                                              I kind-of disagree. For french food, yes. But try getting a lobster roll in London (for anything approaching the price of even Neptune), or a decent cannoli anywhere outside of Italy or the US. It's just that it's not 'adventerous' by Boston standards. However, it is very _typical_ of Boston. Moreso than e.g. some of the well-loved Chinese etc.


                                              1. re: trueblu
                                                StriperGuy RE: trueblu Oct 24, 2010 06:51 PM

                                                I don't really find cannoli that special.

                                                I am munching on amaretti from Maria's as we speak. But have always thought cannoli were the pastry "for tourists" even when I lived in the North End. Given the other excellent stuff at Modern and Maria's, cannoli are just boring. I'd rather have riccota pie, florentine cookies, truffle nougat bars, etc. etc. etc.

                                                I guess I'll make a slight concession on a decent lobster roll.

                                                But if you want the real deal, not the gussied up, Neptune/B&G precious version go to Essex, or Gloucester or even Kelly's for heaven sake for some real Mass. vibe/food.

                                                Sure lobster roll might be pricier in London, but sadly for the OP, the overall gestalt of essentially ALL of the places the visited is utterly generic, high end, fancy food, found anywhere on the planet today.

                                                Two exceptions to that, and this is strictly personal, are Modern Pastry (if you get past the cannoli), and Eastern Standard where I do feel that they have managed to convey heart, soul, hospitality AND BOSTON in a way NONE of the other places seem to.

                                                Eastern Standard
                                                528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                                Modern Pastry
                                                257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                                1. re: StriperGuy
                                                  teezeetoo RE: StriperGuy Oct 24, 2010 07:01 PM

                                                  i find mike and patty's pretty personal and non-cookie cutter. ESK is, at one level, quite cookie-cutter (sleek, elegant, mix of high end and burger food, upscale and sometimes pretentious cocktails, happening bar, blah, blah) and yet I agree that it manages to be "personal" which saves it from ubiquitousness. As to where people find the heart of a city in its food, that's a question beyond me: I go to both Amy's Bread and Kosars when I'm in NY - is that any different from going to Flour? I'm uneasy with these "big judgments". I also think you have to live in a city for longer than a weekend to find its vibe: as an ex-new yorker do I tell friends they really shouldn't go to Babbos but should hop the train to queens for fabulous ethnic food in Astoria on their only saturday night in NY? maybe not.

                                      2. Johnresa RE: kathryn Oct 24, 2010 10:11 AM

                                        Thank you for such a thorough well written report :-) I may not ever even go to any of these places but your descriptions were fantastic. Thank you.

                                        1. o
                                          observor RE: kathryn Oct 25, 2010 06:31 AM

                                          You hit some "important" places, and the reviews don't seem to be that overwhelming...though I bet the bills could have been! That lobster roll does look good, though.

                                          1. StriperGuy RE: kathryn Oct 25, 2010 08:00 AM

                                            Just for the record I don't mean to give YOU a hard time at all.

                                            The essence of my commentary and jousting with folks below is just that my own personal approach (and I have a feeling yours as well in general) is that when I hit a city I try to take a nice big juicy bite of it's heart (figuratively speaking) and there are some other reccos I would have made on your trip.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: StriperGuy
                                              kathryn RE: StriperGuy Oct 25, 2010 08:48 AM

                                              Yeah, I feel you, and when a good chunk of a board's threads is "Coming for the first time! Where should I eat!" some of the more interesting places can get lost in the shuffle. I try to mix it up when people ask for NYC recs for a tourist, but it can get repetitive after a while.

                                              1. re: StriperGuy
                                                FoodDabbler RE: StriperGuy Oct 25, 2010 09:57 AM

                                                You raise, as always, an important point. How do you get to the culinary heart of a city? There are cities -- New York is the prime example -- with many hearts at different prices. Are you closer to the culinary heart of New York if you eat three goat and beef belly tacos in the back room of a Hell's Kitchen dive for $6.75, as I did on Friday, or are you closer to it if you eat 3 small oysters and a tiny lamb sausage at Prune (different place from the one you seemed to have in mind above) for $18 as I did on Saturday? I'd suggest that they are equally authentic experiences. And in a world with large population movements, and the associated cross- cultural pollination (or pollution, if you disapprove of the phenomenon), the "international" food you mention is as valid a culinary experience as "traditional". Food is a reflection of the world. In societies with little movement and little outside influence, the food that's eaten reflects local ingredients and local techniques. In societies like ours, with influences from everywhere, the food reflects these outside influences. This is not a new development. Roman food reflected the reach of the Roman empire, with many ingredients brought from far away. After the empire fell, the city states of Italy developed cuisines that were more local.

                                                There's also the question of whether traditional, local foods are worth having in large quantities. When you go to Hawaii, how much poi should you eat? I ate some, but the most interesting food I had there was Chinese and Japanese. Closer to home, much traditional New England food is rather bland and boring. How much of it should you stomach in the interest of authenticity? The moment you say eat Portuguese food instead, or Puerto Rican, or Chinese, you are stepping into the territory of international cuisine, the type you can have anywhere. That's not a bad thing.

                                                1. re: FoodDabbler
                                                  StriperGuy RE: FoodDabbler Oct 25, 2010 10:35 AM

                                                  "How do you get to the culinary heart of a city?"

                                                  To quote a supreme court justice: "I know it when I see it."

                                                  And for me it's not at Flour, or Drink, or B&G. At Neptune the food is great, the owner is jerk, and I don't feel the love. The Butcher Shop, like many Barbara Lynch places is about $$$ first and hospitality, oh I dunno 5th.

                                                  For whatever reason, at Eastern Standard I do feel a certain vibe that feels like Boston and good hospitality.

                                                  We were discussing the same Prune in NYC. Tiny little place, not cheap, but amazing. It don't have to be a dive to be chowish.

                                                  But for me I have to feel the passion, and the hospitality and a certain I dunno what that is the vibe of the city in question.

                                                  Jacob Wirth has lousy food, but a great old school vibe. Do I eat there, not very often. But every couple of years a beer for sure, and maybe some wurst and kraut...

                                                  Drink, oh please, another soulless slightly annoying Lynch venue with a gimmick they don't even stick to to boot.

                                                  1. re: StriperGuy
                                                    Tom Armitage RE: StriperGuy Oct 28, 2010 09:52 AM

                                                    “How do you get to the culinary heart of a city?” What a fascinating, provocative, complex question. The answer can involve a trade-off between the quality of the food and the “authenticity” of an ambience that reflects local culture. As a Seattle Chowhound (formerly a Los Angeles Chowhound), this question comes up all the time for those seeking an “authentic Pacific Northwest experience.” I’m not sure there is such a thing, but I enjoy wrestling with the question, as reflected in my post “Is There a ‘Pacific Northwest Cuisine’?”at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/1140....

                                                    1. re: Tom Armitage
                                                      Tom Armitage RE: Tom Armitage Oct 29, 2010 09:11 AM

                                                      P.S. The wonderful phrasing of the "culinary heart" question inspired a post on my local Greater Seattle Board, "The Culinary Heart of Seattle," http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7436.... Thanks StriperGuy and FoodDabbler. A research project that my wife is working on will bring me to Boston a couple times a year. Lucky me! I have a long and growing list of places where I'd like to eat.

                                                  2. re: FoodDabbler
                                                    Jenny Ondioline RE: FoodDabbler Oct 25, 2010 11:29 AM

                                                    But not all cities have had the same cross-cultural infusions: that's why you can get guarana in any supermarket in Boston, but not in, say, Nashville. (City name pulled at random: for all I know, central TN has an enormous Brazilian population.) And in the case of Portuguese food, New England has had a sizable Portuguese population since the 19th century at least. So isn't Portuguese food "traditional" Boston fare by now?

                                                    1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                      StriperGuy RE: Jenny Ondioline Oct 25, 2010 12:04 PM

                                                      Yes totally.

                                                      And if you really want to go back to the roots, the Portugese influence in New England goes back hundreds of years.

                                                2. f
                                                  fredid RE: kathryn Oct 25, 2010 01:15 PM

                                                  Wonderful write-up Kathryn!

                                                  Couple quick details on Eastie Latino food (esp for a NYer who"digs into" Flushing and "The Ballfields"....)

                                                  Rincon Limeno is Peruvian! Also in Day Square, Taqueria Jalisco has a birria special - like a delicious Mexican pot roast, but not so meaty - on weekends - not to be missed! Angela's Cafe Taqueria has wonderful sauces on her entrees, as beetlebug noted below, and many of her apps - like gorditas de chorizo - are as good as the best at the ballfields! (For those of you who haven,t been to the ballfields, that's a high compliment!) And if she has chiles nogadas - do not pass up!!!!

                                                  Kathryn - while there are many other choices in Eastie - pupusas, tacos - you're right, the ballfields are just as good!

                                                  Rincon Limeno
                                                  409 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

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