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Oct 18, 2010 09:32 PM

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

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. 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

      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

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


        1. 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. 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

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


              1. re: Alcachofa

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

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