Trip Report: February 25, 2011
Boston was so much fun! Even though the weather was windy, rainy, snowy and cold. No probs, though, as I am from Minnesota. Thank you, everyone, for the information and advice as I planned this trip. Every meal I had was great, and the insider tips for sightseeing were much appreciated.
Friday, February 25: O Ya. Oh my. My reservation was at 6:00, I arrived at 5:55, and was promptly seated at the Chef’s Counter. Within a half hour the place was full, and the gentlemen on either side of me were interesting and fun to talk with. I loved all my choices, and next time will happily choose Omakase. Each dish I ordered was beautifully presented, from the plate, to the incredibly fresh product, to the overall creation. It was a real pleasure to be seated at the Counter where I could observe every move of the “Artist Chefs.” I love O Ya. First, I chose Ichishima Daiginjo Sake for my dinner. Very nice. #1: Kumamoto Oyster, watermelon pearls, cucumber mignonette - cold, plump, crisp yet creamy; #2: Roasted Beet Sashimi, myoga, wasabi white soy sauce, shiso – pure art; #3: Tairagai Japanese Pen Shell Clam, smoked salt, white soy yuzo, extra virgin olive oil – surprisingly silky; #4: Diver Scallop, sage tempura, olive oil bubbles, meyer lemon – very bright, tart flavors; #5: Kindai Bluefin Otoro, wasabi oil, lots of green onion – outstanding; #6: Shiso Tempura with Grilled Lobster, charred tomato, ponzu aioli – my favorite dish; #7: Foie Gras, balsamic chocolate kabayaki, raisin cocoa pulp, aged sake – unbelievably imaginative blending of ingredients. This tied for my favorite dish.
Saturday, February 26: Started out early at the USS Constitution. I spent most the morning there, as they had a model ship show at the museum that I found to be very interesting. I enjoyed a margarita pizza at Pizzeria Regina at around 11. Loved it! Great crust, crispy with a slight chew, slightly sweet/slightly spicy sauce, tons of fresh torn basil. Went on to see several other historic sites, then took train to Harvard and walked around for an hour or so. Arrived at Craigie on Main at 6:00, was seated promptly at the Chef’s Counter (they kindly offered choice of table or counter). Amuse: House Cured Pancetti with Potato Round. Chose a half bottle of 2005 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru, which paired nicely with everything but the oysters. #1: Six Winterpoint Oysters on the Half Shell, candied lemon mignonette – beautiful shell, small, plump and sweet; #2: Crispy-Fried Nova Scotia Smelts, pickled peppers, preserved lemon, dried black olives, squid ink anchoiade – I had to try this, as I grew up eating smelt from the tributaries of Lake Superior. Lightly breaded, very crisp, great accompaniments; #3: Maine Crab Peekytoe Crab Salad, pink peppercorn vinaigrette, red bliss potatoes, hackleback caviar – really liked this; #4: Salad of Frisee, Endive, and Watercress, crispy onions, walnut-Banyuls vinaigrette: lovely salad, large portion; #5: Bone Marrow with dark crusty bread – Wow. The bone was almost as long as my forearm, and it was halved lengthwise vs. crosswise – very impressive. Beef Butter. Could only finish about ¼, as it was so fabulously rich. #6: Assiette of House-Made Terrines, Foie Gras au Torchon, Pata de Quatre Foies, Venison Terrine, traditional accompaniments – I liked the venison the best, it was well spiced and had a lovely coarse texture; #7: Bourbon Pecan Ice Cream Tart, smoked Mexican salt chocolate sauce, bacon pecan crust, which I paired with 13 year Pappy Van Winkle Bourbon. This was a wonderful finish to the meal, although I could not discern the bacon flavor in the crust. The service was outstanding, Chef Tony Maws stopped over twice to chat, and overall I will say the meal exceeded my somewhat high expectations!
Sunday: Went to Neptune Oyster Bar at 11:00, got a chair at the bar, place was full by 11:30. I ordered the clam chowder and the hot lobster roll. The chowder was outstanding – thinner than I am used to, but excellent flavor with huge, tender clams. The Lobster Roll blew me away. There must have been close to a pound of large chunks of claw and tail meat, all glistening with butter. This was something very, very special. Went to your Fine Arts Museum after, and thoroughly enjoyed myself for nearly 4 hours. I loved your Museum. On the way back to Hotel had the cab driver drive around Fenway a few times – he thought me to be quite odd. I had a reservation at Island Creek Oyster House, but just had to cancel. This lady was gassed. I ordered a salad (surprisingly good) and a mushroom pizza (OK) from room service and watched the Oscars.
O Ya. Top Ten in my book. Craigie On Main – Top Ten and 1/2. Pizzeria Regina – best pizza ever. Neptune Lobster Roll – spectacular.
Wow you hit Boston's highlights, or at least my personal favorites--Craigie on Main, O Ya, and Neptune Oyster are all something special, unique. Great choices, and happy to hear you enjoyed yourself so much. Thank you for the review.
Next time you are in town, give Coppa or Erbaluce a visit for some excellent, interesting Italian--and, separately, visit Craigie again to enjoy its oft-changing menu.
9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111
63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113
69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118
So great to hear your report. And I'm as glad you liked the Constitution museum and the MFA as the food. Next time you are here, consider taking the short MBTA boat ride from near the Constitution museum to Long wharf, where the aquarium is, and back, or vice versa. Stunning views of the city and you get the idea of the water environment. It's only $1.50 one way and it's great. At long wharf, you could stop to get a drink and snack at Sel de la Terre or Legal Seafood right there (unfortunately there is not much good chow to recommend near the constitution). Legal has nothing on Neptune, but you can just get a drink.
I'm not surprised you had to decamp to the hotel.....thanks so much for the report...given that I've adopted a hugely special needs child from foster care, I don't get to travel much, but if I have a chance to visit Minneapolis again, I'll definitely ask for your advice. I have friends there and last visited about 12 years ago. I'm sure it's changed hugely. We finally have some Hmong farmers here and we get to enjoy their great produce especially pea tendrils now in the summer at farmers markets. I really lusted after those pea greens after visiting Minneapolis!