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Weekend in Boston - what would be your- ideal food itinerary? NY CH needs some help.

laylag Apr 25, 2011 03:49 PM

Hi Boston hounds. NY CH coming up with my family - husband and two kids (tweens) for three days - May 8, 9 and 10. I went to school up there but haven't been back in about 20 years and know that so much has changed. I will do research on this board but hope you all can give us a head start. No real limitations but want to include as many of the following as possible:
1. Seafood (how can you not?)
2. Ice Cream (told the kids Boston has some of the best so it has to be really good)
3. Great breakfasts
4. Light, easy lunch places or great snacks in lieu of lunch
5. Quintessential old school Boston
6. Quintessential new school Boston
7. Some real typical neighborhood joints with great food
6. Late night dessert (if other than ice cream merits).

All ethnic directions are of interest - except Chinese (we do that pretty well down here). I'd pass on Italian too since we do that pretty well down here too but the North End is its own animal and we've got to eat somewhere over there so tell me where to go and where to avoid.

Will be spending time in the Back Bay (reminiscing and likely feeling very old), the Fens, doing the Freedom Trail so North End , downtown, etc; the Common and Newberry Street, possibly also going to check out South Boston as I hear that's now an interesting neighborhood, Cambridge, Harbor, etc. Trying to it a lot in a short amount of time and get in meals too.

Only absolute "no" is franchise restaurants and touristy places. We will be staying in the Copley Square area and will be very mobile.

If you don't have time to do a full itinerary just throw out your one or two "MUST" dining spots.

Thanks in advance all. Your help is greatly appreciated.

  1. t
    teezeetoo Apr 25, 2011 04:29 PM

    Mike and Patty's - great breakfast
    Erbaluce - innovative northern italian
    La Voile - classic bistro french
    Parish Cafe - great lunches/sandwiches
    Cognac Bistro - great fish, great burgers, great oysters, cozy bar
    Locke Ober - just reopened, old school boston
    Bistrot du Midi - maybe representative of "new" Boston
    Orinoco in the South End or Coppa for fun neighborhood places that aren't cookie cutter.

    La Voile
    261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

    Cognac Bistro
    455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

    1. ecwashere7 Apr 25, 2011 08:55 PM

      Island Creek Oyster Bar or Neptune Oyster (lobster roll!!!) for Seafood.
      Toro for Spanish (very creative, very delicious)

      I would definitely not rule out the Italian food of Boston. As a native NYer, I can't stand the pizza of Boston but I love the Italian food. There are only a couple places in the North End worth going to for authentic Italian (Prezza). For Italian-American, there are a few more options. I like the recommendation of Erbaluce for northern Italian (Piemontese) cuisine, which is not in the North End.

      Have fun!

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

      1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

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

      3 Replies
      1. re: ecwashere7
        grant.cook Apr 29, 2011 12:59 PM

        I'd hit Neptune, but go to Belle Isle Seafood and get a lobster roll to go (make sure to ask for no mayo),,,

        Belle Isle Seafood
        1267 Saratoga St, Boston, MA 02128

        1. re: grant.cook
          opinionatedchef Apr 29, 2011 03:44 PM

          grant, i think you mentioned this place on another recent thread? i was looking for it.sounds great but boy oh boy, i just cannot recommend visitors going all that way when they usually have such a limited time here. People's itineraries are usually packed as they are, and most or many are here for the first time. But it sounds like a great spot to recommend to locals for themselves ( and their guests.)

          1. re: opinionatedchef
            twentyoystahs May 19, 2011 03:25 PM

            I agree; have your lobster roll at Neptune or B&G --I wouldn't trek all the way out to Winthrop with only a weekends' worth of time. Far too many other great places to explore in Boston!

      2. p
        pollystyrene Apr 25, 2011 10:49 PM

        1) Neptune Oyster, North End
        2) Toscanini's, Cambridge
        3 & 5) The Oak Room, Back Bay
        4) Picco, South End
        6) Menton, Seaport; Craigie on Main, Cambridge
        7) The Druid, Cambridge

        1. Matt H Apr 25, 2011 11:09 PM

          1. Neptune Oysterl Island Creek Oyster Bar
          2. Toscanini's; Christina's
          3. Mike and Pattys; Flour Bakery
          4. Clover Food Truckl; Banh Mi at Mei Sum Bakery Chinatown
          5. Locke-Ober; Pizzeria Regina's
          6. Craigie on Main; Bergamot
          7. Bondir; Rendezvous
          6. Cafe Vittoria; Modern Pastry

          Ethnic: A dinner at Floating Rock for Khmer food would be a strong recommendation.

          Enjoy your stay!

          Floating Rock
          485 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA

          3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

          Modern Pastry
          257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

          Flour Bakery + Cafe
          12 Farnsworth St, Boston, MA

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          1. opinionatedchef Apr 25, 2011 11:11 PM

            Welcome back, older and wiser! I know you have already answered some of these(smaht girl you!),but fill in some for us plse.:

            *VISITOR TO BOSTON? Read This First!:*

            Welcome. When planning your visit, Boston hounds are a great resource, but help them help you by including some important details. Tell them:

            -If this is your first visit , when are you visiting and which days of the week

            -Where you are visiting from (so people don't recommend restaurants like those you may have an abundance of at home)

            - Whether you plan to use a car/cab or will be relying on transit.

            - How far or how long you're willing to travel

            - What activities you are planning (Freedom Trail, museums, local colleges, conference sites)that you would like to pair with that locale's restaurants. Include out-of-Boston trips as well- Plymouth Plantation (South Shore); Salem (North Shore); Concord (Metro-West)etc.

            - What your budget is. Descriptions such as 'expensive', 'moderate' and 'cheap' mean different things to different people, so use dollar values (i.e. 'Entrees in the $20's.') Boston's restaurants can be expensive, but there are also a wide variety of great places with lower prices.

            - What types of cuisines you're interested in.

            - Any other special circumstances (traveling with kids? vegetarians? non-chowhounds?)

            or interests (i.e. ethnic food shopping; food souvenirs, farmers markets) that will help

            If you've done some of your own research, mention what you found so hounds can help fill in the gaps, rather than rehashing what you already know.

            AFTER YOUR VISIT

            Most importantly, after your trip , thank the Boston hounds for their help by reporting back. Tell people which suggestions you used and how the meals turned out, plus add tips about any great places you discovered on your own. This helps make the board more useful for everyone who visits after you.

            (*- this is adapted from the CH notice at the top of this page)

            your answers will be a great help, but preliminary suggestions:

            1. Seafood (how can you not?) Neptune Oyster, North End; Island Creek Oyster Bar, Kenmore Sq.

            2. Ice Cream (told the kids Boston has some of the best so it has to be really good) Toscaninis, Central Sq Cambridge

            3. Great breakfasts - Fantastic Brunch- East Coast Grill, Inman Sq, Cambr.; breakfast- Mike and Patty's near South End; Paramount, Charles St.

            4. Light, easy lunch places or great snacks in lieu of lunch- Parish Cafe, Boylston St.; Galeria Umberto, No. End ; La Verdad Taqueria by Fenway ball park; Myers+Chang

            5. Quintessential old school -Boston Pizzeria Regina, North End only; Clam Box,

            Ipswich MA(1 hr.north); Casablanca, Harvard Sq.; Bartley's Burgers, Harv.Sq.

            6. Quintessential new school Boston- price range? You and the kids might enjoy the 'small plates' phenomenon so you can sample all kinds of things. Toro is a fun LOUD spot for that. Myers+Chang is in a whole new area of Boston for you, near the South End. Terrific Asian.

            7. Some real typical neighborhood joints with great food- Aquitaine, French bistro, popular South End neighborhood spot but not a joint.

            6. Late night dessert (if other than ice cream merits). more ice cream: JP Licks

            There have been many recent visitor threads w/ lots of suggestions. Scroll down through the thread titles of the last few weeks.like this one:

            Also, most of my suggestions have recent reviews exclusively about them; put the restnt name in the search box and voila.

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

            East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
            1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

            44 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

            Toscanini's Ice Cream
            899 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            569 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

            Casablanca Restaurant
            40 Brattle St., Cambridge, MA 02138

            J P Licks At Newbury Street
            352 Newbury St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02115

            La Verdad
            1 Lansdowne St, Boston, MA 02215

            Myers + Chang
            1145 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

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

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

            4 Replies
            1. re: opinionatedchef
              laylag Apr 29, 2011 05:05 AM

              Thanks opinionated chef. You sound like a smaht guy and a knowledgeable Boston foodie at that. Just noticed also my OP had an error - even smaht girls make them - and we are there May 7, 8 and 9.

              To answer your specific questions - at least those that my op didn't present - we are driving and are willing to venture beyond the city confines for worthwhile destinations but will mostly be sightseeing in town so expect to use the T quite a bit.

              Price ranges will vary from meal to meal but one our Saturday night dinner will likely be most expensive selection. That said, I'd say all restaurants including whatever we select that night need to be casual and relaxed - no jacket and tie white tablecloth establishments. Want to avoid crazy busy places on Sunday - Mother's Day so that will likely be our biggest challenge. So hard to put a price tag on each meal this trip - but would be nice to keep breakfasts and lunches for under $80, some much less would be good. Dinners a bit more but not looking to spend $200 and up.

              Oh, should have also mentioned we are wine people - Mr. Laylag is in the wine business - so good wine lists are a nice plus. That said if anyone has any fantastic BYO places we are happy to bring a bottle or two up with us.

              No vegetarians or kosher and as for the kids - only one of which is ours - they eat kids food but palates are developing. We rarely make that the top priority as they can generally find something anywhere.

              Definitely sounds like we have to explore South Boston. A whole new area for me. It was just called "Southie" when I was in college and there was no reason to venture there.

              I haven't had a lot of time to do research so came to this board as the first stop. Plus, I generally find that local CHers have the best info.

              Hope that fills in any gaps I left in my OP. Don't know if it will change any of your original suggestions - which were copious, diverse and quite intriguing - but looking forward to any other thoughts you have.

              And, I do promise to report back.

              1. re: laylag
                emannths Apr 29, 2011 09:58 AM

                Just FYI--BYO is not legal in most (though not all) communities around Boston, so there's no significant collection of byo restaurants.

                Since you're going to be staying in Back Bay, you might want to try Trident Bookselllers & Cafe for breakfast/brunch. I've never been (too far from me), but my friends like it a lot.

                1. re: emannths
                  kimfair1 Apr 29, 2011 10:08 AM

                  Troquet has excellent food, and the best wine list in the city.

                  140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  1. re: kimfair1
                    opinionatedchef Apr 29, 2011 10:53 AM

                    great suggestion.

                    btw, except for boston's most expensive places (and maybe them as well) coat and tie etc is NOT required nor the majority dress of choice.

                    mother's day. knowing how crazy it can be (we just had a number of CH visitors here for easter so we had similar advice challenge)PLEASE stay away from hotels.

                    I have 2 suggestions for crazybusy-on-a-NORMAL-sunday options. I'm suggesting these 2 because both of them can

                    a) tell you around when you might be seated

                    b) call your cell when your table is ready, and

                    c) are in great touring areas.

                    Firstly, i would urge you to go to East Coast Grill. I can't think of a better family place for a crazy fun welcoming young vibe and just terrific food and very broad menu. It will be packed as it always is. If they give you 'an hour or more', drive up to the Harvard Yard/ Harv Sq area/Brattle St. area and walk or drive around. So much to see; tons of young people. get a frozen yoghurt at Pinkberry if you need something light to hold you over.

                    Other than that, you could really jump into the fray of frays and go to Neptune Oyster, also w/ great walking around (the kids could hop over to Quincy Market and meet you back at a given time.)

                    so glad you didn't mind the questions; they help alot in advising you!

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

                    East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                    1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

            2. Berheenia Apr 26, 2011 06:54 AM

              I would have lunch on a weekday at Jasper White's Summer Shack, near your hotel, and go with the sandwich menu- corn dogs, pearl hot dogs and lobster rolls. On Sunday make reservations for brunch at the Blue Room in Cambridge and then walk down the Charles on the Cambridge side, best view of Beacon Hill, to Mass Ave and head up towards Central Square to Toscanini's for some ice cream. I'm getting an urge for a mini sundae just typing this!

              The Blue Room
              Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

              1 Reply
              1. re: Berheenia
                cambridgedoctpr Apr 26, 2011 03:18 PM

                there seems to be lots of complaints about summer shack though i always like the pan-fried lobster when i go there.

              2. e
                ebaba Apr 26, 2011 07:11 AM

                I can only really speak to Beacon Hill and the South End but both have some great spots:
                2. Picco is usually mentioned for fabulous pizza but their ice cream is amazing too -- think really pure, strong flavors. It's a fun atmosphere and a great place for kids.
                3. Paramount gets my vote, and since you'll be here midweek you don't have to battle the weekend crowds. It's a great beginning or end to a walk through Beacon Hill. Again, great for kids.
                7. Can't beat Delux, and it'll be fun for the kids -- try Google images for the interior. It's a hole in the wall in the South End, a very short walk from Copley, and the kitchen is tiny but turns out phenomenal food at super prices (cash only). If you want something more upscale I'd head to Franklin Cafe or Hammersley's.
                Finally I'd plan a visit to the new wing of the MFA if you have the time (and maybe skip Southie?) -- it's an incredible space all around and is (to me at least) like being in a more intimate, friendly version of MoMA, but with the same wow factor architecturally.

                505 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

                Delux Cafe
                100 Chandler St, Boston, MA 02116

                44 Charles St, Boston, MA 02114

                2 Replies
                1. re: ebaba
                  Swankalicious Apr 26, 2011 05:19 PM

                  1. Seafood (how can you not?)
                  Not sure exactly what type of seafood you're looking for, but Island Creek Oyster Bar for trendy (and great cocktails to boot); Daily Catch for excellent North End Italian--get the squid ink pasta. This also fits your North End requirement.

                  2. Ice Cream (told the kids Boston has some of the best so it has to be really good)
                  I love Christina's in Inman Square or Toscanini's in Central. As for Boston proper, a profusion of fro-yo places have popped up, but Picco is my stand-by. God, how I miss the old Baileys!

                  3. Great breakfasts
                  Mike & Patty's in Bay Village. Also love the Langham's brunch buffet. They have offerings for pint-sizers, too.

                  4. Light, easy lunch places or great snacks in lieu of lunch
                  I second a prior Hound's Myers & Chang suggestion. A stop-off at one of the Clover Food Labs (I like the one by South Station) would also be fun and healthy. In Inman Square, All Star Sandwich Bar is a good bet. Dumpling Cafe in Chinatown or Gourmet Dumpling are also fun, cheap, quick and snacky. Tico in the Back Bay is also quick, varied, and tasty. Pops, too, in the South End. Silvertone in Downtown Crossing.

                  5. Quintessential old school Boston
                  I can't speak to Locke-Ober as I've not returned since it reopened. I love the atmosphere at Casablanca -- it's been around since the 1960s. Think moody, Warholish. Jacob Wirth's can be hit or miss, but definitely an old school atmosphere. Hamersley's might also fit this bill.

                  6. Quintessential new school Boston
                  Coppa, Toro, Craigie on Main, Bondir, Oleana, Rialto.

                  7. Some real typical neighborhood joints with great food
                  I love the Regal Beagle in Brookline -- neighborhoody and great. Ditto Cognac Bistro--also in Brookline. In South Boston, I love Lucky's.

                  6. Late night dessert (if other than ice cream merits).
                  On this, I have not a clue.

                  All Star Sandwich Bar
                  1245 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                  3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                  Jacob Wirth Restaurant
                  31 Stuart St, Boston, MA 02116

                  Daily Catch
                  323 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113

                  69 Bromfield St, Boston, MA 02108

                  134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                  Craigie on Main
                  853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  Regal Beagle
                  308 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                  253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

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

                  279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  222 Berkeley St, Boston, MA 02116

                  Clover Food Lab
                  7 Holyoke St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  1. re: Swankalicious
                    teezeetoo Apr 27, 2011 06:28 AM

                    see my recs above swank - sounds like you're my kind of eater!

                2. m
                  Moxiegirl Apr 27, 2011 05:24 AM

                  I would say there is not much in Boston that you could not find a better version of in NYC. That said, there are some locally unique places you should check out. One that stands out as hitting several of your criteria (old school Boston, seafood, light easy snack lunch): go to the Omni Parker Hotel for this meal: New England Clam Chowder cup followed by a piece of Boston Creme Pie. The chowder is good, you get their world famous Parker House Rolls in the bread basket, and Boston Creme Pie was invented here. You can skip the entrees, not that they are not good, it's just that this is meant to be a slice of Boston while you are out touring and need a break, tho I sometimes split their Waldorf salad with the table. This is perfect if you want to stop for a snack or make it your lunch. It is on the Freedom Trail, and historically significant (JFK proposed to Jackie here, etc.)

                  On a different note, Chacarero is a Chilean sandwich shop in downtown crossing. I don't think it's open on weekends, but it has a cult like following and a very good sandwich (the small is big enough to split for 2 if you want to save room for other treats).

                  Ice cream: Christinas is fantastic, tho not worth a special trip from Boston. It's the best of the bunch and has a unique spice shop attached to it. The service is grumpy and we always see who in our group can try the most samples before getting glared into ordering (3 is our record). This would be good to hit up if you were already visiting east coast grill or all star sandwich bar.

                  Finally, dessert. The most fun thing to do for dessert in Boston is to pick up 3 cannoli in the North End and bring them back to your hotel for a blind taste test of the best cannolis late at night. Get a couple from Modern Pastry, Bova, and Mikes (of course).

                  Modern Pastry
                  257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                  134 Salem St, Boston, MA

                  101 Arch St, Boston, MA 02110

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Moxiegirl
                    C. Hamster Apr 27, 2011 06:11 AM

                    Rule of thumb: never eat anything with "creme" in its

                    1. re: Moxiegirl
                      chefematician Apr 27, 2011 04:39 PM

                      Ha! That's so true about the grumpy service at Christina's. I refuse to go there for that very reason. I don't care how good their ice cream is, it's not worth the surliness one must endure to actually get a taste. I am a loyal Toscanini's fan.

                      1. re: chefematician
                        opinionatedchef Apr 27, 2011 05:29 PM

                        i've never heard anyone speak of the christina's owner but every time we're in that area, we check to see if there are any creative new flavors- to no avail. I adore the 'khulfi' (accurate name or no.)He must be pre-occupied/ have lost interest, leaving it all to be run by those unpleasant characters.I mean, if he even cared a little, they would NOT be there.

                    2. opinionatedchef Apr 29, 2011 12:21 PM

                      ll, you keep mentioning grease down your chin but all i can think in response is burgers. Is that what you want? if so, there's a really long burger thread, or you could ask here by neighborhood preferred.

                      1. j
                        johnblacksox May 5, 2011 07:06 PM

                        Call me crazy, but I'd recommend Sorrelina to someone who is returning to Boston after 20 years. It's the type of place that didn't exist back then.

                        It's trendy by Boston standards, but in a good way.

                        Edit: Also, please visit the area around the new Contemporary art museum/Athony's Pier 4/World trade center...That is completely different than 20 years ago, all built up, and nice views of downtown. You'll enjoy seeing it.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: johnblacksox
                          opinionatedchef May 5, 2011 09:00 PM

                          in a like vein, the whole area around Kendall Square Cambridge (behind M.I.T.) has hugely changed(if you go to East Coast Grill, it's few minutes drive).
                          Don't forget to tell us how things went ,after your trip!

                          East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                          1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          1. re: johnblacksox
                            barleywino May 5, 2011 11:24 PM

                            Biba opened 20 yrs ago, and Ambrosia 18 yrs ago, so places like Sorrelina did exist back then, but maybe on a students budget the OP did not get to experience them. Both places were actually quite cutting edge for the times, in a period which supported such adventurous food more so than in these post 9/11 times.

                          2. opinionatedchef May 13, 2011 10:58 PM

                            laylag, plse tell us how your trip was!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: opinionatedchef
                              laylag May 17, 2011 06:15 AM

                              Hi OChef, Sorry for the radio silence. Been super busy but this is definitely on my task list. Will try to get to it later. I will preface it by saying that we had far fewer eating opportunities than I would have liked but of the ones we did a few super standouts. Gotta go back soon and eat more and will post soon as I can.

                            2. l
                              laylag May 19, 2011 10:03 AM

                              Hi all but especially Op Chef, here's a wrap up of the weekend in Boston. It's lengthy and I apologize in advance if more than you ever wanted or needed to know about our trip - food info and otherwise

                              Let me start out by saying some things didn't go as planned so there were far less eating opportunities or more accurately 'selective' eating opportunities than anticipated. I know this is a food board so I'll try not to elaborate on the sightseeing aspect of the trip but in some cases our choices require context.

                              Day 1, Saturday: Late start getting out of the house, huge tractor trailer accident shuts down I-95 s in CT so we arrive later than planned. Mid-afternoon we head out to start the Freedom trail. Kids freaking out they are starving so we resort to Quincy Market for a quick bite. No need to go into details on that.

                              Constituents Q&A going on with John Kerry so we stayed and listened. Great civics opportunity for the kids and cool to experience it in Faneuil Hall but took longer than planned.

                              Getting late so head over to Holocaust Memorial and through Haymarket to head to North End to start Freedom trail there. Was dreary all day but now starting to rain. Get to Hanover street. Being rained on quite a bit We're near Modern Pastry so we get in line.

                              Modern Pastry: As good as I remember perhaps better. Ordered way too much and stayed to eat with capuccino. Kids ordered 'ring dings', whoopi pie, cannolis (with ricotta and choc. chips) and we ordered more cannolis - also ricotta, sfogiatella, lobster tail, torrone and bought a bag of confetti. We ate a bunch and took the rest for snacking later at the hotel. Everything very yummy. Still raining and miserable so no Freedom trail and we return to hotel pool instead.

                              By evening it is clearing up but lack of planning so we decide to walk to South End. It's Saturday night so most restaurants including those recommended here were very busy. Disagreement between kids and adults on where to eat and finally agree on Thai so hit Taste of Siam.

                              Taste of Siam: Everything quite fresh and reasonably priced. We have a dearth of good Thai in Westchester county so easier to impress us that it was when we lived in the city. Basics like the soups, chicken satay and pad thai were all good. Better than a lot but not as good as others. Had an appetizer combination with lots of fried items, decent. One dish that didn't live up to expectation or perhaps our expectation was off, was the crispy pad thai. We saw it at another table and had to order it but it was disjointed. The thin deep fried noodles were too crispy, didn't meld with the sauce, vegetables or proteins and after a short time just got boring. DH also ordered another dish, can't remember what it was. He liked it, I didn't care for it. So overall a decent meal for a stumble upon but not a high point.

                              Sunday: Cloudy and misty. No time for real breakfast so grab something quick and head to Aquarium for Whale Watching trip. Had the trip from hell and three hours later back on land. Still need to do aquarium but need to walk off stress of the trip (really, I can't even begin...) and lo and behold we are back at Quincy Market. Again, no need to discuss.

                              Sunday Dinner: Finally, finally, finally we plan a meal and I push for Island Creek Oyster Bar. Can't get a reservation but they tell us to do walk-in and we do. The decor and atmosphere is great. Alive but not loud, modern but not trendy. I immediately felt that it was a place I'd eat at regularly if we could and we hadn't even eaten anything yet. We wait a bit and then get offered one of the high tables against the windows. Let the eating begin. Will start out by saying our service was impeccable. On the food: raw bar oysters and clams. Fresh and perfect. Husband, daughter and I shared the clam chowder which was perfect - full of clammy, ocean flavor and just thick enough to be creamy but not thick enough to be pasty. Buttermilk biscuit croutons a nice touch as was the bacon. Had to have the Oyster sliders based on the recs here, the waiter's recommendation and the originality alone. Now normally I don't like to mar my fried oysters with bread but these were great. Mains were the halibut - perfectly cooked and super fresh and the lobster roe noodles. What an original dish and totally delicious. Kids had what they said was superb grilled cheese on brioche and chicken fingers with really, really good fries. Kids had dessert - the ice milk and cookies. We stole some tastes and would definitely order it ourselves kids or no kids.

                              So we loved, loved, loved it and wanted to go back again for lunch the next day but alas, ICOB is not open on Monday. We were going to be in the area for a Fenway Park tour so he suggested we give Eastern Standard a try.

                              Monday: A beautiful day so we grab coffee and quick bite, check out and try to get some outdoor sightseeing in. After the public garden we take a leisurely walk down Newbury stopping at Hotel du Chocolat. Super friendly and accommodating offering tastes of just about anything we wanted to try. We ate a lot of really interesting and luxurious chocolates, extra dark with chiles, citrus white, caramel milk and more. really delicious stuff. We bought some which they kindly delivered to the hotel so we didn't have to carry it around and headed to Kenmore.

                              Lunch: Eastern Standard
                              I read here that there have been some ups and downs with Eastern Standard more recently experiences seemed to be back on the upside. Overall a very good lunch and again a good atmosphere although not equal to ICOB. After all that chocolate nibbling you'd think we weren't super hungry and we probably weren't but no one at the table could keep their hands off the bread. Normally I eschew the bread plate completely saving calories for more worthy fare but this stuff was fantastic. I don't know if made in house but if it wasn't sure tasted like it was fresh out of the oven.

                              Our meals were a mixed bunch. Kids again went for the standards switching just to "mix it up" so grilled cheese and chicken fingers again. Grilled cheese here wasn't standard on brioche butwe asked and they made it that way. Different cheese but again pronounced excellent. Fries were shoestring style and while good not as addictive as those from ICOB.

                              We (husband and I almost always consult and share) opted for the Roast beef sandwich with crispy onions and horseradish mayo. Was debating between that and the Cuban and probably should have gone with the cuban. There was nothing wrong with the roast beef just wasn't exciting. Meat was too cold and there was perhaps too much of it. The horseradish didn't come through and the bread was ordinary. I had a few bites and left it. Husband at a bit more of it but wasn't ecstatic either.

                              We shared the flatbread. Nice to have flatbread that was actually a flatbread and not just a pizza called a flatbread but it was a touch too well done. Not so much to send it back but just enough to bea bit too crispy and charred on the edges.. Nice flavor though. We liked the other entree which was a special but sadly I can't remember what it was so while good, not great enough to be memorable. After all the chocolate you'd imagine we'd pass on dessert but the butterscotch bread pudding was too tempting. I am a butterscotch fanatic so had to do it. We all shared and everyone thought it was delicious, albeit quite sweet, perhaps a touch too much. Still I'd definitely eat it again. So, while not the mind blowing experience of ICOB, we would go back to Eastern Standard and perhaps go with some of the items that were more highly referenced.

                              Off to Fenway and back to hotel, pick up bags and return to NY. We didn't get to eat as many worthy meals as we planned but ICOB and Modern Pastry made up for it.

                              Kids still displeased we didn't get to Cambridge for Toscannini's but we have to come up again before the end of October to actually do the Freedom Trail and use the whale watch chits we received. That said, I'm not sure I can ever get my daughter back on whale watch expedition but as long as ICOB is there we will be back.

                              Eastern Standard
                              528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                              Modern Pastry
                              257 Hanover St, Boston, MA

                              Fenway Park
                              82 Lansdowne Street, Boston, MA 02215

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: laylag
                                yumyum May 19, 2011 10:32 AM

                                Thanks for this report back. Glad you got to have SOME yummy food along with your sightseeing. Bummer about the whale watch -- I spent a week one afternoon on a whale watch if you know what I mean. HATE IT.

                                Another thing that jumped out at me from your report: I'm not a dessert fan but those cookies and ice milk at ICOB are SO GOOD they might convert me.

                                When you come back there are several places for better Thai food, including Montien and Bangkok Blue (surprisingly) downtown. Ask before your visit so we can steer you to the best places.

                                1. re: yumyum
                                  laylag May 19, 2011 02:52 PM

                                  Yum yum - on the whale watch, I do know what you mean so picture this on ours: 6 to 8 ft. waves, people laid out like corpses on the bottom deck, screaming children, crying children and adults and lots of what you can imagine but doesn't seem appropriate to name on a food board.

                                  Will definitely check back in for a little steering since I guess we can't eat every meal at ICOB or can we? Cookies and ice milk for breakfast anyone? Yum.

                                  1. re: laylag
                                    twentyoystahs May 19, 2011 03:32 PM

                                    For that description alone you will NEVER catch me on a whale watch, especially one on a windy, rainy weekend. It does sound like pure hell, so sorry you had to endure it. But glad you had a meal at Island Creek, which I honestly think is one of Boston's best restaurants right now. Really really delicious and such a great atmosphere. I totally get why you wanted to go back :)

                                    1. re: twentyoystahs
                                      lc02139 May 20, 2011 06:07 AM

                                      I would suggest looking at the noaa coastal waters forecast for outside of provincetown before heading out on those whale watch boat rides, big waves fast boat=vomit comet. Hopefully the weather will be better for the return trip.

                                      Thanks for the food part of your trip.


                                      1. re: lc02139
                                        justbeingpolite May 20, 2011 06:22 AM

                                        But.... on a fair day, with good whale activity... a whale watch is a lifetime experience not to be missed!!! My kids and I have many memories of breaches, spy hops, bubble clouds, mothers with calves....

                                2. re: laylag
                                  opinionatedchef May 19, 2011 11:30 PM

                                  laylag, such a great report; thnx much. here's to more and better food on your return> Neptune, Oleana, East Coast Grill, and maybe some great new spots too....!

                                  East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                                  1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                  134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                                3. g
                                  gourmaniac May 20, 2011 07:23 AM

                                  Thanks for reporting back. I always find the food/tourism dilemma troubling. I'm glad that you made it to ICOB. i have reservations and will finally get to try this CH favorite next Friday.
                                  RE Whalewatch. I've always thought that a good business model would be to offer free tickets on stormy days but charge people to come back to land. I recall a Puffin Boat trip in Maine that I would have mortgaged the house to get them to turn back.

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