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Desperately seeking a local's advice

AsheABQ Jan 14, 2011 07:40 AM

Good morning!

I am planning a trip out to the lovely east coast for February where I will surprise my boyfriend as a Valentine's day gift type thing. I booked a room at the Encore B&B (hopefully that is a good choice?) in Boston and am having the hardest time EVER trying to figure out where to take him to eat.

He and I are Pescetarians so I am looking for a romantic seafood place. I looked up Mare and it seemed to get good reviews. However, I was hoping you all might be able to give me some advice since I have never been to Boston and, well....you have.

I am totally down to try small local places too. All I ask for is fantastic food with a good number of seafood dishes and great ambience. Maybe that's a little ambitious, but here's trying anyway.

Please let me know any suggestions you might have.

Thanks so much, all!

P.S. I looked at Vernissage as well because it looks interesting and my BF is of Russian descent. It did not fare well in the reviews online though.

  1. rlove Jan 14, 2011 08:00 AM

    I can't comment on Encore B&B, but I can offer some thoughts on seafood in Boston, focusing on romance, ambiance, and excellent seafood, as you requested.

    Mare is OK but you can find better. It suffers, as with much of the North End, from a strong tourist clientele and is not really a chef-driven enterprise.

    Instead of providing you with a long list of suggestions, I will give you exactly two. Both excellent, but different in style. Perhaps you can try both!

    Bistro du Midi (on Bolyston St across from Boston Common) is a provençal-style French restaurant with a fish and shellfish-heavy menu. The chef, Robert Sisca, is formerly the sous chef at Le Bernadin, New York's temple to seafood. Most dishes at Bistro du Midi are very good, but the seafood really shines. I recommend the mussels mariniere or stuffed calamari for appetizers and the pan-roasted cod, roasted monkfish, and shellfish bouillabaisse for main courses. The wine list is very good, with well-paired French whites. The ambiance is dark, romantic, and chiq, with professional service and a view of Boston Common out the second story windows.

    Neptune Oyster (Salem St in the North End) is a European-style oyster bar with excellent crudos, pastas, and fish main courses--and, of course, an excellent raw bar. I highly recommend a plate of raw oysters, a crudo or two, and perhaps whatever the special of the day is. The wine menu contains some odd selections, but most work and are well paired to the seafood. The ambiance is romantic, cozy and small, like a Parisian oyster bar.

    I could not pick between both as they are so different. Neptune Oyster is one of my favorite places in the city (and many other 'hounds concur) but Bistro du Midi excels at fish and is a very nice, romantic restaurant. As I said, perhaps you can do both!

    I hope this helps! Good luck with your choice and enjoy Boston.

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

    Bistro du Midi
    272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

    6 Replies
    1. re: rlove
      AsheABQ Jan 14, 2011 08:07 AM

      Thanks, rlove. It's so nice that I managed to come across this site. You are very helpful, thanks for the advice! :)

      1. re: rlove
        AsheABQ Feb 15, 2011 06:25 AM

        Rlove, thanks for the recommendations. Unfortunately, I ate a Bistro du Midi and it was one of the worst meals my boyfriend and I have ever had. We overpaid for an awful meal. Perhaps you had a better experience in the past, but I will not be recommending this restaurant. EVER!

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        Bistro du Midi
        272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

        1. re: AsheABQ
          Aromatherapy Feb 15, 2011 06:29 AM

          Details?

          1. re: Aromatherapy
            AsheABQ Feb 15, 2011 06:42 AM

            Well, I'll try to be brief. I wrote a review under the restaurant name here and on OpenTable.com. In my boyfriend's words, the menu didn't seem to be written by someone who spoke english. What the dish was called and described as on the menu, did not at all resemble what came out of the kitchen. The fried artichoke was flavorless, and the mignonette that was served with the oysters on the half-shell was inedible because of the overwhelming flavor of alcohol. The Poached lobster came to my boyfriend as a pile of extremely over-salted spaghetti with tiny pieces of lobster and pancetta. I ordered an entree sized portion of an appetizer special that night but something was lost in translation. The "lobster ravioli with a lobster foie gras" came to me in appetizer form (4 small raviolis). The ravioli themselves were underseasoned, dry, and the pasta to filling ratio was off...too much dough, not enough lobster. I will say they have a good wine list, and Jer had a great non-alcoholic cocktail called Trois Poivres. I'd say this might be a good place to go for a cocktail or glass of wine before a movie or dinner SOMEWHERE ELSE. Totally not worth spending $140 for two people to eat disappointing food.

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            Bistro du Midi
            272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

            1. re: AsheABQ
              rlove Feb 15, 2011 04:53 PM

              AsheABQ, I apologize for sending you to an awful meal.

              I promise Bistro du Midi is well-loved on this board so mine is not some crazy lone recommendation. The chef, Robert Sisca, was just nominated for the "people's choice" portion of Food & Wine Best New Chef. My experiences have always been positive.

              Again, my apologies! I hope the rest of your visit was great.

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              Bistro du Midi
              272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

              1. re: rlove
                AsheABQ Feb 15, 2011 05:14 PM

                The b &b was awesome. I looked on this site today and Bistro du Midi only has two stars and bad ratings all written in the last month. Maybe a new chef?

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                Bistro du Midi
                272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

      2. yumyum Jan 14, 2011 08:20 AM

        I don't think this qualifies as a "romantic" place, but I've been really loving Island Creek Oyster Bar. Everything I've tried has been very very good, from the oyster stew to the oysters Gregory to the oyster sliders to everything in between. They do a spectacular job with service and the wine list is lovely.

        Neptune is certainly more romantic and cozy but can be harder to get into unless you go during off hours (my favorite time is late lunch at 2). However, they will take your cell number and call you when a table is ready so you can wander around the neighborhood for a bit. If it's not FREEZING it's a fun thing to do.

        But best of all, in my book, is Erbaluce. Charles Draghi does a fantastic job with seafood, the room (I like to sit at the bar) is friendly and cozy, and I always have a special time when I put myself in chef's hands.

        Enjoy your stay!

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        Erbaluce
        69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

        1. a
          ajm44 Jan 14, 2011 08:40 AM

          You may want to look in to O Ya.

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          O Ya
          9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

          1 Reply
          1. re: ajm44
            g
            gourmaniac Jan 14, 2011 09:00 AM

            I would nix the O Ya suggestion. It is excellent but outrageously expensive and the room is cool in an NYC way but not romantic. Boston has relatively few seafood focused places as found in other cities but many restaurants do a good job on it. I like the Erbaluce idea and Bergamot has good buzz here (though i haven;t been). Neptune is wonderful but would be crowded and rushed for dinner, which i find unromantic.

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            O Ya
            9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

            Erbaluce
            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          2. p
            peelmeagrape Jan 14, 2011 08:50 AM

            This might not be what you had in mind (if you were thinking of New England-style seafood) but I think Uni, the sashimi bar in the Eliot Hotel is very romantic. It's tiny, dimly-lit and tucked away. There are only a few tables, plus a small bar area. Not the least is its creative, beautifully-presented food.

            I think Erbaluce is a good option too. I like Island Creek, but it's too big and spread out to be very romantic. Neptune is delicious but the tables are extremely tightly packed together and the pacing always feels rushed (plus it doesn't take reservations and standing in the cold in February isn't so romantic). I haven't been to Bistro du Midi yet so I can't comment.

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            Eliot Hotel
            370 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA

            Erbaluce
            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

            Bistro du Midi
            272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

            1. p
              Pegmeister Jan 14, 2011 10:37 AM

              I would opt with the Neptune recommendation, but I was choose to sit at the bar. It's way more comfortable.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pegmeister
                c
                cambridgedoctpr Jan 14, 2011 12:32 PM

                Neptune does not take reservations and is popular and busy especially over weekends. It may take a while for you to get seated.

                I also like Uni but expect to spend well over 100 dollars for dinner and not leave feeling stuffed. it is a raw bar that does not serve rolls - at least, i have not been offered anyl. You could also try Clio which is in the same hotel.

                i have always been happy with fish at Craigie on Main though not with the wine program; some people feel that the service is condescending; i do not.

                i like the seafood places in Chinatown such as East Ocean and Peach Farm.

              2. r
                RoyRon Jan 14, 2011 12:45 PM

                I'll throw my two cents in. I agree that Island Creek doesn't qulaify as romantic but it is putting out some of the best seafood in Boston right now. The room is large and has a very modern decor but the tables are well spaced and the service is excellent. They have one of the finest selctions of oysters in the city right now but I also think there version of New England fried clams and clam chowder are top of the line too. Last week I tried their Razor Clam appetizer and would reccomend it to anyone. Neptune Oyster is also extremly good but as others have noted, its very small, gets very crowded, doesn't take reservations and this time of year Boston weather will take the romance out of an evening waiting around outside for seating. I also agree with others about Erbaluce. It clearly fits the romantic requirement and the food is excellent. The last time I was there they had a wonderful Razor Clam app too. Good luck and I hope you enjoy your visit to our fair city

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

                Erbaluce
                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

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