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Boston: Feb 25 - 28, 2011

rp1760 Feb 11, 2011 07:56 AM

Greetings, Boston Chows! I will be in Boston soon for the first time for a long weekend before heading over to Hartford for business.

I will be dining solo, and am not concerned about price. I won't have a car, but I don't mind taking public transportation and/or cab if the end result is a great meal. I have reservations for Jasper White's Summer Shack on Friday and Craigies on Main on Saturday. l'd love to try Jasper's pan roasted lobster, and will probably indulge in the 10 course tasting menu at Craigies.

Lunch will be something at FaneuiI Hall. I think a good way to round out the fine dining weekend would be to enjoy a nice Italian meal in the north end neighborhood.

I would love your thoughts on my plans and recommendations for Faneuil Hall and Sunday night.

Thank you.
Mary

-----
Summer Shack
310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

  1. j
    Jenny Ondioline Feb 11, 2011 08:17 AM

    You may well do best to skip Faneuil Hall--it's basically an overgrown mall food court, and there's little of culinary interest there--and scout for lunch in the North End, which is adjacent.

    Galleria Umberto on Hanover Street in the North End is a lunch spot with fierce partisans, of which I am one. Be warned, however: it opens around 11:30 and is only open until the food runs out, which on a busy Saturday afternoon can sometimes be as early as 1:15 or 1:30. (They're closed Sunday.) You can find multiple threads about it by searching this board.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jenny Ondioline
      PinchOfSalt Feb 11, 2011 09:13 AM

      I strongly endorse this suggestion. Good chow, much better than the options at Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, and a very Boston kind of thing.

      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
        h
        hckybg Feb 11, 2011 10:15 AM

        I third this suggestion--Galleria Umberto is great and certainly unique. If the poster still wants to go to Faneuil Hall, perhaps Durgin Park would be a good choice for Sunday dinner. I haven't been in a long time but MC Slim JB and others have said it is nice and it provides a very Boston experience.

        -----
        Durgin Park
        1 Faneuil Hall Sq, Boston, MA 02109

      2. p
        Pegmeister Feb 11, 2011 08:58 AM

        If you like oysters and plan on stopping at Faneuil Hall, then Walrus & Carpenter is a good stop. They always have a good selection of oysters, properly shucked, nice & cold. To that I would add an order of steamed shrimp and maybe a clam chowder along with a glass of wine. They have a very small bar area, about 10 seats, but it's fun to sit and watch the chaos.

        1. ecwashere7 Feb 11, 2011 11:04 AM

          I agree with others about skipping Faneuil Hall altogether. Go to Neptune Oyster in the North End for lunch. I'd also skip Summer Shack and go to Island Creek Oyster Bar instead. They are the two best seafood options in the city (only two?) and are both worth visiting. I completely agree with your choice of Craigie on Main. Prepare for a very flavorful, rich meal.

          If price truly is not an option, then I'd suggest O Ya near South Station for Sunday night. I would have suggested Via Matta for an Italian dinner, but they are closed on Sundays. Erbaluce would be my next choice for Italian in Boston. Note: neither of these restaurants are in the North End. If you have your heart set on going to the North End to eat Italian (Neptune is in the North End), then I'd suggest Prezza. I find it to be underwhelming, though.

          Enjoy your time in Boston.

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

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

          Prezza
          24 Fleet St., Boston, MA 02113

          Summer Shack
          310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

          Via Matta
          79 Park Plaza, Boston, MA 02116

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          Erbaluce
          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          Island Creek Oyster Bar
          500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

          1. rp1760 Feb 11, 2011 06:14 PM

            Thanks for all your advice. Wow, this is one of the most active Chow boards I've experienced.

            I see now that the Hall is probably pretty touristy. I am considering Island Creek Oyster Bar for Friday, sticking with Craigies on Saturday, and going with Neptune Oyster on Sunday. Fitting in Galleria Umberto too, i hope. I am so looking forward to my visit. This landlocked midwestern lady has a difficult time finding great seafood!

            Now, one more favor. I, sadly, have never had a lobster roll. Where should I go to have one on this trip?

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

            Island Creek Oysters
            296 Parks St, Duxbury, MA 02332

            15 Replies
            1. re: rp1760
              s
              STL BOS Feb 11, 2011 06:28 PM

              A lot of people, myself included, would say that Neptune has the best in town. Lobster rolls usually come cold, lightly dressed in mayo, but Neptune also offers it hot, which is wonderful and buttery. You could start with some oysters and do the lobster roll.

              James Hook, which is a seafood seller with some prepared foods, does a good, classic one that is popular as well. And it's about half the price of the Neptune version (with is about $25). It's good for lunch on the go, but be warned, there is no where to sit at James Hook except some outdoor tables that are probably buried under snow right now.

              1. re: rp1760
                opinionatedchef Feb 11, 2011 08:01 PM

                rp,
                this will be long but i hope it will be helpful!
                Plse be mentally prepared to see Boston at its less than prettiest- as 5' snow banks are really ugly dirty now; our historically beautiful city is a visual mess , having recently been hit with larger than usual amounts of snow. So , after you are on sure footing, keep glancing upward- onto great architecture and chilly blue skies! Remember to check restnt. hours bec. winter sometimes sees chefs on holiday/ closed for snow/ odd hours.

                I have lived here 40 years and really like to steer few-day visitors who are food-oriented>> towards great dining in attractive and historic walking areas- so they can have the best of both worlds. Below the dotted line is a detailed piece i put together for visitors. DO avoid eating at Faneuil Hall, unless it’s roast beef followed by Indian Pudding at Durgin Park .

                The most consistently raved-about lobster rolls for CHs seem to be from Neptune Oyster in the North End- a 7 minute walk from Faneuil Hall, and also B and G Oysters (tiny place) in the South End . Island Creek Oyster Bar is a new restnt that has rcvd a great deal of kudos on CH and your taxi there would allow you to ask to be driven down Commonwealth Ave., a grand Victorian boulevard designed after the Champs Elysees, and one of the handsomest features of Boston. I would NOT choose Summer Shack. #1 reason- the food and price; #2 reason- stuck out in a desolate Office park area next to a highway; not a charming walking place like the North End or the South End.

                http://www.islandcreekoysterbar.com/

                http://neptuneoyster.com/

                http://www.bandgoysters.com/#bgo_home

                Personally, I would also steer you away from Craigie, though it certainly is a successful place w/ many CH fans. But it is known for meat, meat, offal, and more meat; and
                1) you have alot of that in the midwest and
                2) one of the places in Hartford I would steer you- Max Downtown, is strongest on meat (but they do also have good seafood ). Also in Hartford, around the corner from Max, and owned by the same people, is Trumbull Kitchen, a hopping creative international small plates place that is a fav of ours.

                http://www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/downtown/
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/640763?tag=boards;topic-640763

                http://www.maxrestaurantgroup.com/trumbull/
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/640764?tag=boards;topic-640764

                (btw,Hartford has a wonderful art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum, the oldest public museum in the U.S., 5 min from the 2 restnts above

                )

                Craigie also is not in a very handsome area, a block away from a public housing project and industrial buildings.

                I would strongly recommend that you have lunch at Pizzeria Regina in the North End; certainly one of our most iconic food spots with a totally unique atmosphere and authentic Italian pizza that is for many people, the best in New England.(see my comments further down)

                For very amazing creative and expensive food, CHs consistently recommend Oya (Japanese and Japanese fusion) and Clio (very International in influences with many unusual cutting-edge ingredients and preparations; lots of Japanese infuence.) Clio is right off Commonwealth Ave and near Island Creek Oyster.

                while i was hunting for some of the links above, i ran across this report from a recent NYC visitor, mentioning a few of the places that interest you:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/741449
                -------------------------------------------------

                For the most attractive and historic parts of our city i would direct you to the area around the Public Garden, CommonwealthAve and Newbury Streets, the SouthEnd, Charles Street, all lovely historic areas that show off the best of our city. This is long!:

                North End/ Waterfront/ Aquarium/ Faneuil Hall-Quincy Market
                If at all possible. one must go to the original Pizzeria Regina in the North End.(note- closed Sun.) This is many aficionados' fav pizza place, period. It is the original(and ONLY worthwhile) location of what is now a chain, and most importantly, its pizzas taste like no others , partly because of the WWII oven they use, which is more than 'seasoned' by now. This pizza tastes like it does in Rome. It is also a tiny CROWDED, loud, FUNKY space; unique; not decor-changed since the 50's maybe. If you haven’t been there, don't go on a wkend ,and go for lunch or earlier dinner to avoid lines.

                Regina’s is located on the outer edge of the compact North End, so after pizza, walk over to the Hanover St. (main drag) area and feel the history of this unique neighborhood. Its oldest extant buildings are from the early 19th c.; through the centuries it has been peopled successively, by : rich Bostonians, blacks , Jews, Italians. It has been Italian since the early 20th c. While harbor-dwelling yuppies have been encroaching of late, it still has lots of sidewalk life, Italian being spoken, bocce being played. There are some wonderful gelato/cafes on Hanover St. I particularly like the gelato at. Café Sport, and Modern Pastry is across the street, with wonderful quaresimali( a version of almond biscotti
                )and sfogliadel, a very unusual 3 cornered hat of layered/crunchy pastry filled with a farmer's cheese/candied fruit mixture. (While many will steer you to Mike’s Pastry, I won't.)The North End is also home to the 18th c. Old North Church and 19th c. Seamen's Home etc etc. If you like to discover-by-walking, the end of Hanover St away from downtown Boston- leads onto the waterfront area. This is also architecturally and historically fascinating because it is very intact with its 19th c. warehouses/wharves (now water view condos). With all I've described, you might find it worth your while to go to Regina's and the North End for lunch and the afternoon. You could incorporate the nearby Aquarium, and Sel de la Terre for dinner (excellent ,modern French style.)You could also go the local seafood route and try Neptune Oyster in the North End.

                http://www.pizzeriaregina.com/

                Quincy market is the old historic marketplace from 18th and 19th c. Boston. It was the prototype for most of the other U.S. 'Commercial Historic Restoration/Tourist Attractions'. It has endless vendor carts and shops and restaurants. Good place to sample some finger food or ice cream but not a lot else. It IS the location of one of Boston's oldest and nationally famous restaurants- Durgin Park- a real bastion of old fashioned dishes (prime rib, roasts, Chowdah, Lobstah, Boston Baked Beans and Indian Pudding) with old fashioned loud friendly or rude waitresses to add to the color.

                The South End
                The South End is Boston’s amazing well-preserved and very large Victorian district, chock-a-block w/ handsome brick and brownstone rowhouses grouped around pocket parks in the middle of all the side street cul-de-sacs. There is a large gay population and young yuppie couples with strollers. Lots of super restaurants(mostly bistro style). Union Bar and Grill and Aquitaine and Erbaluce are my own favs. Union is handsome, dark, comfy with amer.regional food(delish. cornbread in a skillet brought to you when you sit down).Aquitaine is an authentic French bistro with great Steak Frites and simple traditional roasted or grilled food (also a delic. brunch- duck confit sandwich w/ melted gruyere anyone?!)in a very handsome atmosphere and beautiful historic neighborhood. 4 blocks away is Tremont 647 and their famous fun Pajama Brunch, where all their servers, chefs etc. wear their pjs . Tremont is also known for its national-competition winning BBQ and grilled meat and seafood along with Asian and Mexican influenced foods; laid back and fun atmosphere. On the far edge of the South End is Toro, a very loud crowded Spanish tapas place owned by one of our most famous innovative chefs, Ken Oringer, whose Clio is probably Boston’s most innovative(Asian influenced) restaurant (and very expensive). .

                http://www.aquitaineboston.com/

                Back Bay
                Make sure to experience one of Boston's most beautiful features: Comm(onwealth) Ave between Mass(achusetts) Ave and Arlington St.(next to the Public Garden, the oldest arboretum/public park in the U.S. ) This part of Comm. Ave was designed after the Champs Elysees in Paris and is a 9 block long strip of tree, bench and statue- lined park with handsome 19th c. mansions lining both sides. It is parallel to and one block away from Newbury Street, Boston’s center of couture and art galleries , with many restaurants. Right around the corner from the Public Garden end of Newbury Street is Parish Cafe on Boylston St. with great sandwiches designed by different Boston chefs

                Beacon Hill and Charles St.
                Across the Public Garden, away from Comm Ave, is Beacon Hill, Boston’s well preserved elite neighborhood of 18th and 19th c. brick town and rowhouses.Also the spot for our famous gold domed State House. Historic Charles Street, full of restaurants and shops, runs along the base of Beacon Hill. In that neighborhood, Figs has good simple Italian pizzas, pastas etc. For dinner, Grotto has excellent well priced less-tomato-saucey Northern Italian food and seafood. Lala Rokh has delicious Mediterranean-Persian food with grilled and stewed lamb and eggplant taking the spotlight. It is a very quiet comfortable resting spot after a long day of walking.

                Fenway Park
                Next to our beloved old baseball park is a terrific Mexican taco place, La Verdad. Their tacos of carne asada(grilled beef), pescado(fish),are the best i have ever had, and be sure to also get their refried beans .Open for lunch and dinner (but not on sundays in winter)and a 5 minute drive from our amazing Museum of Fine Arts, world famous for its substantial collections of French Impressionism, American paintings and decorative arts, and Japanese art. (our new Art of the Americas wing has just opened in 2011.

                )

                hope you have a great time rp!

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

                Toro
                1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                Tremont 647
                647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

                Durgin Park
                340 Faneuil Hall Market Pl, Boston, MA 02109

                Modern Pastry
                257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                La Verdad
                1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215

                Sel de la Terre
                774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199

                Lala Rokh
                97 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02108

                Erbaluce
                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                Island Creek Oyster Bar
                500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                1. re: opinionatedchef
                  h
                  hckybg Feb 11, 2011 08:16 PM

                  This is certainly a helpful post, but I think you are being a little ungenerous towards Craigie on Main. It is not a temple of meat in the typical sense. It is a very unique restaurant, with a very ambitious chef, and many preparations and ideas you won't see elsewhere. You make it sound rather like a steakhouse, which it is not. Most restaurants serve lots of meat, that isn't really the point at Craigie--I am not of the means to fully enjoy it, but even eating at the bar I have seen some really unusual dishes and preparations. It is absolutely worth a trip.

                  Also, I am not sure why it is relevant to point out that it is a block from low income housing or industrial buildings. It is also a block from a U-Haul place, Salts restaurant, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Miracle of Science, Flour Bakery, frat houses, student apartments, etc. etc. I like to think the diversity of people and spaces you see in Boston and the surrounding area are one of our real strengths. You see this in the South End, Cambridge, Somerville, Allston, the North End, Downtown Crossing--these are all interesting areas, as is the area around Craigie on Main.

                  1. re: hckybg
                    opinionatedchef Feb 12, 2011 09:24 AM

                    hck, so glad craigie has thrilled you.

                    my driving concern with advice, as i mentioned:
                    "I have lived here 40 years and really like to steer FEW-DAY visitors who are food-oriented>> towards great dining in attractive and historic walking areas- so they can have the best of both worlds."

                  2. re: opinionatedchef
                    Pia Feb 12, 2011 01:52 AM

                    opinionatedchef, this is awesome, thanks so much for sharing! I will definitely remember this post to pass on to friends who visit Boston in the future!

                    As a dessert fiend, I would add: if you do go to Craigie, skip dessert and head to Toscanini's for their burnt caramel ice cream; if you're already wandering around Beacon Hill, Beacon Hill Chocolates is a worthy stop to look around and pick up a few bites; if you are already in the Faneuil Hall / Quincy Market area, the Chipyard is the only casual dessert place that's worth going to despite the number of tasty-looking treats you'll see inside. (And as a library fiend, in the Back Bay, I would also point people to the Boston Public Library and then to Mike and Patty's for a sandwich.)

                    1. re: Pia
                      barleywino Feb 12, 2011 03:01 AM

                      If you do go to craigie, start with their (unlisted) cocktail which is 2 parts house peach brandy, 1 part house pineapple syrup and 1 part campari, with a lemon hart rum rinse. They've tinkered with other proportions but this particular recipe works best imo. Also I would recommend requesting seating at either the bar itself or the chefs counter, rather than the main dining room or the bar lounge area. For one of your other meals, you might consider the lobster (or if its Friday, the baby pig special) at Scampo (and don't miss the carpaccio while you're there). or you can do the lobster salad at Troquet, or panfried lobster w/ ginger & scallion at almost any Cantonese place in Chinatown e.g. New Jumbo, Jade Garden, Peach Farm.

                      1. re: barleywino
                        EvergreenDan Feb 12, 2011 03:34 AM

                        Barleywino - Does that unlisted Craige drink have a name? Also, what is the house peach brandy? They can't be distilling their own brandy. Is it an infusion of fresh peaches in brandy? Is it sweet? Thanks.

                        I like the sound of this drink. The Pineapple / Campari combo is fantastic in the Riviera (gin, Campari, and Maraschino infused with fresh pineapple, then served with fresh lemon). When I make a batch, it diasppears.

                        --
                        www.kindredcocktails.com | Craft cocktail recipe database for enthusiasts & professionals

                        1. re: EvergreenDan
                          barleywino Feb 12, 2011 03:50 AM

                          Dan, that drink is a variation of a (Tom S-G) drink they used to make over a year ago, called the Threadneedle, which had juniper infused brandy iirc. You are correct that the peach brandy is an infusion, not distilled; it's surprisingly not very sweet on its own, but very peachy. The Riviera sounds great btw!

                          1. re: barleywino
                            EvergreenDan Feb 12, 2011 06:35 AM

                            Riviera: www.kindredcocktails.com/cocktail/the...

                      2. re: Pia
                        opinionatedchef Feb 12, 2011 09:17 AM

                        good thinking!

                        1. re: Pia
                          opinionatedchef Feb 12, 2011 09:25 AM

                          good thinking all 'round!

                        2. re: opinionatedchef
                          c
                          cambridgedoctpr Feb 12, 2011 05:43 AM

                          craigie does good fish; i think that the main complaint is that the servers and front of the house are not that welcoming especially if you order a sweet cocktail. I have never ordered a cocktail and have not had a problem with the servers personally.

                          1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                            barleywino Feb 12, 2011 10:24 AM

                            I agree about their fish and also have not had any problems with the servers personally. i'm not quite sure where this perception came from, though: "not that welcoming especially if you order a sweet cocktail." If anything, Craigies drinks tend to already be on the sweeter side and I've ordered many sweeter drinks there (see above), as well as requested drinks not on their list, or occasionally even mocktails, and Craigie's bartenders have always been happy to oblige and to make things right if things dont quite work out on the first try.

                        3. re: rp1760
                          BostonZest Feb 12, 2011 05:12 AM

                          Neptune Oyster- I wrote about it on Serious Eats and had commenters from all over agree that it is the best they have ever tried. This included the NYC editor of Serious Eats. People travel to eat it and dream about it when they are not here. They make it two ways, with mayo and hot with butter.

                          Penny
                          http://www.bostonzest.com/

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

                          1. re: BostonZest
                            m
                            Madrid Feb 12, 2011 05:17 AM

                            the fries are also great....and it is a huge, huge portion. try to go for lunch or mid afternoon, the place is mobbed and small.

                        4. opinionatedchef Feb 11, 2011 08:21 PM

                          btw, when you're not w/ other friends, I would be happy to show you around town and share any of these spots w/ you. you can contact me via my member pg.

                          33 Replies
                          1. re: opinionatedchef
                            rp1760 Feb 12, 2011 08:44 AM

                            That is a very kind offer. This trip came up enexpectedly, so I am not sure yet if any of my friends out eat will be able to join me. I do know that I wish I ws coming a little later in the year so that I could meander through your Cotton-Arbo etum. The pictures on your website are gorgeous.

                            And a huge THANKS for your post! Again,so nice of you to take so much of your time to share all your great tips! Being from Minnesota, we also have towering snowbanks. Having lived here my entire life, I have never winter slow me down or detract from the beauty of the season.

                            Regards,
                            Mary

                            1. re: rp1760
                              m
                              Madrid Feb 12, 2011 10:17 AM

                              unless you live in the Twin Cities, the ugliness of our impacted urban snow at this point will probably be a new sight! I'm convinced that some of it is too dirty to melt, and I love snow.

                              I'll throw in a wrench here...you seem to have done a thorough job searching this board so maybe you did come across Oleana in Cambridge and it didn't appeal....it's not for everyone but those who love it, really love it. I was there recently and really enjoyed lots of the mezze with a group of friends. Turkish/middle eastern/southern and eastern med. I'd go once a week if I could afford it, and had good child care.

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

                              1. re: Madrid
                                rp1760 Feb 13, 2011 01:23 PM

                                I do live and work in Minneapolis/St.Paul. Guess I'll feel right at home in Boston!

                                Thanks again, everyone, for your thoughtful and thorough recommendations. I have spent some time this afternoon looking at many more posts, and I'm feeling happy with my options.

                                Here's my final "Draft" - i.e. still subject to change....

                                Friday evening: O Ya
                                Saturday lunch: Galleria Umberta
                                Saturday evening: Craigie On Main
                                Sunday lunch: Neptune Oyster
                                Sunday evening: Eastern Standard

                                Regards,
                                Mary

                                1. re: rp1760
                                  Beachowolfe Feb 13, 2011 01:37 PM

                                  This is a great itinerary...

                                  I would suggest Parrish Cafe on Boylston St. for lunch on Saturday so you don't spend both days in the North End, and you certainly can't skip Neptune. This would also put you in position to explore the back bay.

                                  1. re: Beachowolfe
                                    opinionatedchef Feb 13, 2011 09:22 PM

                                    i completely agree. my take on galeria umberto is that the calzone is good but noth. mindblowing; more unique are the arancini ('arancini' when they have peas, ham, tomato in the center; "suppli " when they just have cheese in the middle,suppli meaning 'telephone wires'-due to the strands of melted cheese.) and Mary,i think wolfe is completely right to steer you away from 2nd day in No. End. That said, I still think you should go to Regina. So you can't finish a whole small pizza? being the best pizza i have had outside of italy (MY experience speaking here of course) it's still worth it. But don't spend all day in the No. End.

                                    What about making it an early cab ride/lunch at Reginas(right when they open, to assure a seat); then walk over to ,and down, Hanover St; stop at Modern Pastry to pick up some sweets for whenever, walk over to and around Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market, cab up Beacon Hill and down Chestnut St past the beautiful homes, to Charles St. to the Public Garden. Walk around the unique and charming Public Garden,(the city's earliest arboretum, filled with historic and labelled trees and surrounded by 18th and 19th c. posh brick and brownstone townhouses)and proceed down Newbury St or Comm Ave. Then cab back to hotel for refresh, on to Craigie. Make sure cabbie takes you down Mass. Ave. and points out M.I.T.'s main buildings, on your way to Craigie. (mary, are you staying in central boston?) And after Craigie, take a 2 block stroll to Toscanini's with their rich and famously creative ice cream varieties.the friendly staff will happily give you tastes of many things and then maybe if you're full, you just order a small scoop, and watch the people.

                                    -----
                                    Modern Pastry
                                    257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                                    1. re: opinionatedchef
                                      rp1760 Feb 14, 2011 04:51 PM

                                      Oh, you are giving me so many wonderful ideas! Please, when you come to Minneapolis, I would like to take you out and repay your kindness.

                                      I'm not sure where "Central Boston" is - I'll just say i am staying at the Hilton Financial District.

                                      There are some things i really want to see. Friday I arrive late afternoon and won't really plan on seeing anything. Would have liked to go to Fine Arts Museum (late hours) then to O Ya, but couldn't get a late dinner reservation. Saturday - weather permitting - I plan to spend most of day seeing sights on the Freedom Trail. I will go all day long - my sister says sometimes I resemble a camel on vacation - go go go and then crash. And I would respond how the heck do you know what a camel does? But I digress. Sunday I would like to visit Harvard and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Monday i would like to visit the JFK Presidential Library and Museum. I appreciated your rec on the museum in Hartford, but it is closed on Monday.

                                      I believe I will switch from Galleria Umberto to Pizzeria Regina. tbc....

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

                                      1. re: rp1760
                                        opinionatedchef Feb 14, 2011 08:28 PM

                                        Mary, you've prob alrdy google mapped your plans, but> your hotel is located very close to the No End, Quincy Market area, and to Oya. here are some more thoughts:

                                        Fri. maybe MFA and then late at Oya. Your MFA goal is great planning.Maybe you can still get that late reserva.at Oya ( As a single, I just can't see that being impossible.) Suggest you call Oya and explain you're coming in from minn. and could they keep your name in case they can rearrange things and get you in there for a late seating. Then keep calling them. make sure you have the GM as your email and phone contact.

                                        Sat- logistically, Freedom Trail goes great w/ Regina's .
                                        Sat night Craigie St. and Toscanini

                                        If you can't do MFA fri before Oya, then here's a thought.
                                        Sun.-Neptune lunch >>to MFA- this is an easy though 1/2 hr MBTA trip or a 15 min cab ride.
                                        -spend 3 -4 hrs at MFA and then beautiful Venetian palace courtyard of flowers at neighboring Gardner Museum,
                                        OR
                                        -- MFA ,and cab to Harvard ,which doesn't have a closing time and is well-lit after 5:45 when it gets dark. (Cab only, because it would take forever and many train changes for MBTA from MFA to Harvard.)
                                        --Harvard to Sun.dinner could be a bus ride/straight line down Mass. Ave (major backbone of Cambridge, past M.I.T. and over bridge, to Comm Ave,> then cab down Comm Ave for 3 min., to dinner, or a cab all the way, following the same Mass. Ave bus route.

                                        didn't you want to go to Island Creek Oyster Bar instead of Eastern Standard? The former is VERY HOT right now w/ CHs here; lots of recent rave reviews.
                                        For Hartford, how could I possibly forget to steer you to one of the best and most entertaining house museums in the country?? The Mark Twain House is so visually unique and fascinating, and full of great personal stories. and it is open Mondays!

                                        15 min car ride west from downtown hartford into West Hartford.

                                        http://www.marktwainhouse.org/house/h...

                                        -----
                                        Eastern Standard
                                        528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                        Island Creek Oyster Bar
                                        500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                                          maillard Feb 15, 2011 04:54 AM

                                          MFA to Harvard is about an hour ride with one train change (E branch of green line to red line at Park Street).

                                          I don't at all disagree that it's a bit of a pain (E line is awful and crowded) and if you can afford it, a cab is much easier. I just wouldn't want visitors who can't afford cabs to think that this is a totally unreasonable trip.

                                          1. re: maillard
                                            BostonZest Feb 15, 2011 06:00 AM

                                            Since seeing the area is part of the charm, you could take the Green line two stops to Symphony hall and then take the #1 Bus right into Harvard Square. You'll cross part of the Back Bay, go over the Charles on the Mass Ave Bridge with great views of the river, travel through the MIT campus, pass Central Square with all it's great food spots and be dropped off at the gates to Harvard Yard.

                                            You can even hop on and off for a low cost and grab a cup of coffee at Flour Bakery or pick up some great cheese and wine at Central Bottle.

                                            Penny
                                            http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                            -----
                                            Flour Bakery + Cafe
                                            12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA

                                            Central Bottle
                                            196 Massachusetts Ave, Boston, MA 02115

                                            1. re: BostonZest
                                              opinionatedchef Feb 15, 2011 11:03 AM

                                              gooo, penny! that's great thinking! she is going to be pretty darned tired after an afternoon at the MFA.

                                              1. re: BostonZest
                                                rp1760 Feb 20, 2011 03:23 PM

                                                Thanks for the transportation tips! They are a bonus and very much appreciated.

                                                Just finished my first round of shoveling through about 8" of snow and 25 mph winds. Another 6" by morning, I've heard. Came in, pulled my spicy goulash out of the oven, and am back to planning!

                                                Friday evening: O Ya
                                                Saturday lunch: Pizzeria Regina
                                                Saturday evening: Craigie On Main
                                                Sunday lunch: Bravo or New American Cafe
                                                Sunday evening: Eastern Standard
                                                Monday 11:30: Neptune Oyster

                                                I switched to Pizzeria Regina on Saturday. I adore pizza - don't know what I was thinking, not having this on my list. I'm staying with Eastern Standard. The pictures and menu on their website give me a good feeling. I will be winding down about then, and just want a nice comfortable spot with a low key atmosphere. I like oysters, but don't love them, and couldn'f find a menu online for Island Creek Oyster Bar, so I will pass on that option.

                                                Sunday lunch is new. I'd like to take full advantage of the Museum of Fine Arts, and thought I'd go there right off at 10:00, take a break at 11:30 for lunch, spend another hour or so, then head off to Harvard. I don't eat breakfast on vacation - two meals seem to be plenty. And, I have an early dinner reservation at the almost ungodly hour of 6:00 (because I want to watch the Oscars). So an early lunch at the Museum just seems to make sense. Any thoughts about whether I should go to Bravo or New American Cafe?

                                                One short week and I will finally be in Boston!
                                                -Mary

                                                1. re: rp1760
                                                  opinionatedchef Feb 20, 2011 03:40 PM

                                                  hi mary, great itinerary! our snow has been melting the last few days though it's cold again now, but prob.not compared to you (20's and mid 30's this week here). I think I read something bad about the new cafe; somewhat sterile, not good service, but i'm not sure. I believe it is all glass and spare. Bravo is padded, refined and quiet. Food has been v. good when i've eaten there. But i'm sure others will have more current comments.
                                                  just fyi, the MFA often makes women check their shoulder bag if it is big. You prob alrdy know this, but the MFA's strengths include Impressionism and Post Impressionism( a number of very famous Monet, Gauguin and Degas); American painters Copley, Sargent, Homer, part of our month old Art of the Americas wing; and the largest collection of Japanese art outside Japan. Here's the current special exhibits:

                                                  http://www.mfa.org/exhibitions

                                                  Because the Art of the Americas wing is brand new, if it interests you, you may want to head there first- beginning on the ground floor- because it will likely get more crowded than other exhibits when you are there.

                                                  also, here's the seafood entree section of the only menu i could find for ICOB. I haven't eaten there yet and I too like to have current menus before booking, but what it shows me is the inventiveness of the chef w/ unusual elements- sunchokes, sturgeon, which is a big draw for me:

                                                  SELECTIONCOUSIN MARK’S LOBSTERYORK HARBOR, MAINEFRIEDSOUPSALADAPPS
                                                  Wild Columbia River Steelhead
                                                  Uncle Mike's sunchokes, shell beans,
                                                  meyer lemon 31 00
                                                  Brioche Crusted Haddock
                                                  slow roasted cauliflower,
                                                  mustard oil 24 00
                                                  Mrs. Bennett’s Seafood Casserole
                                                  for 1 23 00
                                                  for 2 40 00
                                                  for 4 72 00
                                                  Hand Shucked Day Boat Scallops
                                                  hubbard squash-ginger puree,
                                                  braised greens,
                                                  house-cured bacon 28 00
                                                  Red Trout
                                                  fennel, tasso ham,
                                                  Neil Van Sloan delicata squash 21 00
                                                  Grilled Line Caught Atlantic Swordfish
                                                  Sparrow Arc potatoes,
                                                  creamy parsley-garlic 29 00
                                                  Monk Fish Schnitzel
                                                  caper brown butter, spaetzle 28 00
                                                  Wild Sturgeon
                                                  foraged chanterelles, oyster beurre
                                                  blanc 29 00
                                                  Fried Clams
                                                  hand dug on south shore,
                                                  tartar sauce
                                                  small 15 00
                                                  large 23 00
                                                  Fish and Chips
                                                  beer batter, local
                                                  Gloucester fish,
                                                  malt vinegar aÏoli 18 00
                                                  1 1/2 LB. BAKED STUFFED
                                                  tarragon butter, baby carrots, pearl onions, macomber turnips 32 00
                                                  ETHEL’S LOBSTER ROLL
                                                  kettle chips, cole slaw,
                                                  rosemary roll 19 00
                                                  LOBSTER ROE NOODLES
                                                  grilled lobster, braised short rib,
                                                  pecorino 25 00
                                                  Buttermilk Biscuit
                                                  Honey, Rosemary Butter $4

                                                  1. re: rp1760
                                                    barleywino Feb 20, 2011 04:03 PM

                                                    If you're looking for pizzeria Regina by the slice, it is available at their counter inside South Station, although I can't comment on how it compares to the original location.

                                                    1. re: barleywino
                                                      opinionatedchef Feb 20, 2011 04:15 PM

                                                      Nooooo Barley! Only the No. Station Pizza Reg. is great!

                                                      1. re: barleywino
                                                        t
                                                        tamerlanenj Feb 20, 2011 04:26 PM

                                                        Are you insane? South STation? Thacher St. or nothing...

                                                        1. re: tamerlanenj
                                                          barleywino Feb 20, 2011 08:31 PM

                                                          Haven't had the pleasure of tasting the original but I figure a slice at South Station is better than no pie at all :) They do make the pies from scratch there iirc. I have tried a couple of their other satellite locations and was not too impressed

                                                      2. re: rp1760
                                                        rp1760 Feb 22, 2011 07:08 AM

                                                        I found a menu for Island Creek Oyster Bar. I''m in!

                                                        http://boston.menupages.com/restauran...

                                                        -----
                                                        Island Creek Oysters
                                                        296 Parks St, Duxbury, MA 02332

                                                        1. re: rp1760
                                                          BostonZest Feb 22, 2011 07:46 AM

                                                          I prefer Bravo to the New American. It is more of a break from all the sensory input you get in a museum. The new American is okay but not restful. You can also book a table at Bravo through Open table.

                                                          1. re: BostonZest
                                                            m
                                                            Madrid Feb 22, 2011 07:50 AM

                                                            I agree about the the sensory experiences...but the times I've been to Bravo I had serious sticker shock and didn't think the value was there. Menus with prices are not posted online, as far as I can tell. A trip to the book section of the gift shop can also be restorative,unless like me, you want to buy!

                                                      3. re: maillard
                                                        j
                                                        Jenny Ondioline Feb 15, 2011 08:27 AM

                                                        MFA To Harvard: walk five minutes down Huntington from MFA to Brigham Circle. Catch 66 bus by the 7-11 on the corner. Get deposited directly into the middle of Harvard Square less than 30 minutes later.

                                                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                          f
                                                          fredid Feb 22, 2011 11:18 AM

                                                          Rp and Jenny - That timing depends on the time of day and traffic; I do this daily and find it much more reliable to take the Green line (in front of MFA )inbound and red line outbound to Harvard.

                                                    2. re: rp1760
                                                      opinionatedchef Feb 16, 2011 03:20 PM

                                                      rp, i was thinking today that it's likely your cab or bus or mbta will take you to your hotel by going through the sumner tunnel and that it might be of interest to you that the tunnel runs underneath/next to the North End, kind of parallel to Hanover St., and under the Freedom Trail where you will be walking. If cab, ask him to point out Quincy Market to you, as he will likely turn right in front of it to get to your hotel.

                                                2. re: rp1760
                                                  ecwashere7 Feb 13, 2011 01:50 PM

                                                  great itinerary. The only parts that I would consider altering (based on my preferences) would be Galleria Umberto (I'm not a huge fan of that style of pizza) and Eastern Standard.

                                                  Eastern Standard is a good solid option, but not mind blowing. They do make some of the best cocktails in the city. I would go to ESK for a drink and then to Island Creek for dinner. To spread out the seafood, I'd go to Neptune for Saturday lunch and get their amazing lobster roll. Just a suggestion. Either way, your weekend looks amazing. I am jealous.

                                                  -----
                                                  Eastern Standard
                                                  528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                                                  1. re: ecwashere7
                                                    Beachowolfe Feb 13, 2011 02:26 PM

                                                    Ditto on the ESK drinks and ICOB dinner suggestion. I was thinking this might be too much seafood with O Ya and Neptune but OP can decide that.

                                                    Maybe substitute the Drink+Sportello combo for either O Ya or the ESK+Island Creek combo? The seating at Sportello is good for dining alone and it fills the Italian request.

                                                    Or instead of Drink+Sportello, Erbaluce.

                                                    1. re: Beachowolfe
                                                      ecwashere7 Feb 13, 2011 02:59 PM

                                                      good point about the seafood. Granted, I could eat seafood pretty much every day. Personally, I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to eat at O Ya or Craigie, and my favorite restaurant in the city right now is either ICOB or Toro (yet another option).

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

                                                      Toro
                                                      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                                    2. re: ecwashere7
                                                      j
                                                      Jenny Ondioline Feb 13, 2011 03:31 PM

                                                      The pizza at Umberto is about the third or fourth-best thing on the menu, however. I usually only order a slice as an afterthought if I think an arancini or a sausage and spinach calzone isn't going to hold me until dinner.

                                                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                                                        rp1760 Feb 13, 2011 04:29 PM

                                                        Good thoughts, all. Here's a little method behind my madness.....

                                                        I adore seafood. Could eat it 24x7. We get "good enough" stuff in Minnesota - sometimes really good stuff at Coastal Seafoods - but my intent is to take full advantage of east coast fresh fish/seafood.

                                                        You've probably noticed my list is short on ethnic restaurants. I think that's one of the things that Minneapolis does a great job with, except for Japanese, thus O Ya.

                                                        I wanted to follow Mindy's rec on Pizzeria Regina, but when I looked at menu it looked like pizza slices weren't an option. So I went with Galleria Umberta, intending to get the spinach and cheese calzone.

                                                        Your Board is so great! I've been reading the Texas Board for a month or so, as I am going to be in San Antonio in May. Though their posts are good, you only see maybe see one or two a day. I'm having a lot of fun here. Thanks!

                                                        1. re: rp1760
                                                          barleywino Feb 13, 2011 05:09 PM

                                                          If seafood and Japanese are in short supply in Minnesota, you could do O Ya 2 nights in a row (wallet permitting) and not repeat any dishes. then do Sunday dinner at Craigie. maybe stop in at Eastern Std for a cocktail beforehand and a bite, if you're still curious about it.

                                                          1. re: barleywino
                                                            rp1760 Feb 13, 2011 05:59 PM

                                                            tempting......

                                                            Saw that you've had cocktails at Zigzag (in Seattle). Cool.

                                                            1. re: rp1760
                                                              barleywino Feb 14, 2011 02:16 AM

                                                              If you like cocktails, ask craigie to pair (small) cocktails with your tasting menu! Ask them for a taste of their house Swedish punsch or rose vermouth while you're at it. And do the foie gras sushi at o ya which comes with a sip of hanahato kijoshu aged dessert sake. Ps. In the category of old-school, my all time favorite cocktail experience was not at Zigzag but at a bar in tokyo where I asked for something seasonal so they took a whole ripe peach, peeled it, wrapped it in a cheesecloth and with white gloved hands squeezed the hell, I mean juice, out of it into a glass...talk about fresh...we don't need no stinking muddling bats/ tea strainers/ food processors/ other gadgets!

                                                          2. re: rp1760
                                                            m
                                                            Madrid Feb 14, 2011 07:20 AM

                                                            Hey, you are really getting a first hand "taste" of our city...I guess we are actually twin cities too if not triplet except that Cambridge is so much smaller than Boston, as is Somerville. Not for nothing do some folks walk around wearing T shirts that say, "02138. the most opinionated zip code in America." (that's the Harvard Square zip) Be careful as a pedestrian, drivers here *are* the least courteous in America and you may be astounded by the road rage. there's not a lot of "minnesota nice" here except there are also pockets of deep generosity and community you can see on this board but that may be hard to feel when you are actually walking around dodging the third car to run through the red light. Opinionated Chef is a prime example of that generosity! I would say the weather makes us gruff but that wouldn't account for "minnesota nice" would it? It's more the puritan heritage but hey, I'm originally from NC, came here for college, then SF bay area and Spain for a long time and then back here so what do i know? I've only been here 22 years now plus the 4 years of college in the 70's.

                                                            so back to food...lunch at neptune is a great idea, so much easier to get in esp. if you can go right when they open at 11:30. the small space fills up fast. then you have time for a good walk and some rest if needed before heading back out for more food.

                                                            let us know how it goes!

                                                            1. re: rp1760
                                                              Alcachofa Feb 14, 2011 01:15 PM

                                                              Not sure about Thai in Minneapolis. I was not impressed in the slightest by a recommended Thai place there. But maybe it wasn't as great a place as was actually available.

                                                              If you order off the Thai menu at Montien, you will be blown away, compared to what I had at the place I went to in Minn. (Sorry can't remember the name.) Again, be sure to request the Thai menu, if you go.

                                                              -----
                                                              Montien Thai Restaurant
                                                              63 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116

                                                        2. re: rp1760
                                                          Infomaniac Feb 14, 2011 05:27 PM

                                                          I'm not sure if you have Peruvian food in Minnesota but if you like seafood, I would skip the pizza Saturday afternoon and find my way to East Boston and head to Rincon Limeon Restaurante.

                                                          http://www.rinconlimenorestaurant.com

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