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Proposed itinerary for a visitor from Seattle – please critique

My wife and I will be in Boston (from Seattle) from Tuesday night, October 11, through Saturday afternoon, October 15. We will be together for 3 or 4 dinners, 3 lunches, and Saturday brunch/lunch. Because my wife is not a breakfast person and because of her work schedule, I will have 3 or 4 breakfasts and 1 lunch where I will fly solo. With some help on a different thread (about O-Ya) from opinionatedchef and others, and based on some previous visits to the Boston area, I’ve come up with a proposed itinerary. Any help you can give me in critiquing it will be much appreciated.

I know it’s very late in the season, but will fresh bluefish still be available during our stay in Boston? If so, where’s the best place to have some? On a previous trip in April 2010, I had very simply grilled, moist and tasty bluefish at Legal Seafood. The current sample menu on the web for Rialto has grilled bluefish, but we all know how iffy and unreliable web menus are. I guess I could call them and ask about availability.

Here’s my proposed itinerary:

Tuesday dinner: My wife and I will be driving from Providence, RI to Boston/Cambridge in the late afternoon. Since my wife is giving lectures at Harvard starting at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning and needs some time after dinner to prepare for her lectures, she asked me to keep the dinner on this night relatively short and simple (i.e., not a three-hour extravaganza). Is Erbaluce too much of a “big deal?” Same question for Hamersley’s and Rialto. (The $40 “Piccolo menu” at Rialto, with corn chowder, eggplant parmesan - one of my Italian wife’s favorites - and butterscotch budino sounds pretty appealing.) Island Creek? Bondir? Ten Tables (is one location better than the other)? East Ocean? New Shanghai? Café Lulu? Taiwan Café? I just read the thread on “Rendezvous revelation” and maybe Rendezvous would be a good choice. I apologize for such a long mish-mash of possible places, but both my wife and I are adventurous eaters and don’t have any boundaries around the type of food we like, as long as it’s well prepared. Instead of focusing on Boston area restaurants, Is there any special or unique place along the way between Providence and Boston where we should stop for dinner?

Wednesday breakfast: Mike & Patty’s

Wednesday lunch: I might drive out to Ipswich for another try of the fried clams at the Clam Box. I think I dismayed many Boston Chowhounds by a previous write-up where I confessed that I wasn’t crazy about them, especially when compared to the fried clams at Neptune Oyster. Why drive to Ipswich (other than for the local atmosphere) when the fried clams at Neptune are so amazingly wonderful? Since my wife and I are planning to go to Neptune for lunch on Thursday, I may try something other than fried clams today. I’d appreciate some lunch ideas here.

Wednesday dinner: Oleana? Rialto (if we don’t go there Tuesday)?

Thursday breakfast: ???

Thursday lunch: Neptune Oyster. Ever since my first visit here, this has been one of the “musts” on every visit to Boston. I’m completely and utterly addicted to oysters, and have the good fortune to have wild oysters on my beach on Hood Canal, Washington. In addition to the oysters, I found much to love at Neptune.

Thursday dinner: Cragie on Main. I confirmed that Cragie is still serving the confit-and-roasted half pig’s head, so this moved Cragie (along with Neptune Oyster) to the top of my list. There is nothing like this in Seattle and when I had the pig’s head at Cragie a year and a half ago I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

Friday breakfast: ???

Friday lunch: ???

Friday dinner: O-Ya? As I explained on another thread, I’m on the fence about O-Ya. If my wife and I don’t go to O-Ya, what would be a good substitute? Hamersley’s? Prezza? Sorrellina? Locke-Ober?

Saturday brunch/lunch: ???

As you can see, I haven’t done as much research on breakfasts as I have on dinners. And so, I have some holes in my itinerary, particularly for breakfasts and lunches. Two final comments: First, Seattle is a mecca for craft cocktails, and I know that Boston also has some great places, such as Drink, Green Street, Eastern Standard (the ES Prospect Park is dead-center in my flavor profile), Clio, Deuxave, Russell House Tavern, and No. 9 Park. I can’t hit all of these, so if you had to pick the top 3 places in Boston for craft cocktails, what would they be? Second, in looking over my proposed itinerary, it seems kind of “top-heavy” on expensive, high-end places. I’d like to at least consider mixing in some great, relatively inexpensive, interesting ethnic restaurants. Suggestions?

Thanks in advance for your help. I love Boston and am looking forward to squeezing the most I can out of my four days there.

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  1. Tom, one place you might consider for your Tues dinner (a relatively efficient place near Harvard, with parking no less) is Bergamot. They generally do fish very well and they currently have a very nice crispy duck salad. Ask Kai to make you his drink with bourbon and PX sherry. An idea for inexpensive ethnic lunch would be Cafe Mami in porter exchange (casual japanese food, curry, tatsuta-age, etc similar to (but perhaps a notch above) the late great Takohachi in seattle, now unfortunately closed), or Mulan in cambridge rather than Taiwan cafe (cold smoked duck, fish filet w/ jellyfish, braised pork shin) or the Saturday lunch buffet at Kebab Factory (more extensive than their weekday lunch buffet). I would probably do Scampo over Rialto, personally, especially Friday night for the suckling pig special. New Shanghai can probably be skipped since you have Seven Stars Pepper in Seattle. Ps. When you do Craigie (whose fried clams w/ squid ink aioli are pretty good, btw), at some point ask for a 1919, well stirred.

    1. What area are you staying in? Near Harvard? (sorry if you said this and I missed it). This could play a role in where you should go for breakfast....

      11 Replies
      1. re: Dave MP

        Sorry for the delay in this response, but the person who was making the arrangements for my wife's visit just got back to me. My wife's lectures will be at Children's Hospital Boston, so they are putting us up at the Courtyard Marriott in Brookline (40 Webster St.), which is only one mile from the hospital. We will be there at least on Tuesday night, and probably also on Wednesday night. The question is whether we will also stay there on Thursday and Friday nights to avoid changing hotels, or whether we will change to another hotel. We will have a car, so can get around to just about anywhere good food is located.

        1. re: Tom Armitage

          If you are over there you should definitely go to Cutty's for lunch in Brookline Village. It's an easy walk. The roast beef sandwich is fantastic. Also for a nice meal though maybe not exceptionally original Lineage and Reagle Beagle have nice bars and good food. It's been awhile since I've been to either.

          You can also easily take the C line down to Kenmore where Island Creek Oyster Bar and Eastern Standard are located.

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

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

          1. re: Tom Armitage

            Michael's Deli has great sandwiches, Family restaurant in Brookline Village has very good Turkish and Middle Eastern Food and is also a good breakfast option, and Cognac Bistro up Harvard Street is a delightful neighborhood Mediterranean/french bistro. shiki has interesting japanese, zaftig has an expensive but reasonably good jewish-style breakfasts.

            -----
            Michael's Deli
            256 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

            Cognac Bistro
            455 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              This is not a bad location at all....you are right on the green line, C line, and you can get easily via subway to most recs made here. Although the green line can be annoying, probably a lot less annoying than trying to navigate driving and parking. You are in Coolidge Corner, a vibrant area, not far via the 66 bus to the ethnic riches of Allston (you will not be able to park in Allston). If you are in to public transporation, use the trip planning tool at MBTA.com or try googling using the public transp. option. If necessary, you can cab. Have a great trip! And at least you don't have to worry about Red Sox playoff traffic (you are not far from Fenway).

              1. re: Tom Armitage

                if you are using public transportation and have internet or better yet a smart phone you can check on buses and subways using: http://www.clickteam.info/davidn/bus/

                1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                  Caveat: none of the many MBTA apps have prediction service for the Green Line. The streetcars aren't equipped for it.

                  That said, the apps are a lifesaver for buses and the other subway lines.

                  (And as long as I'm on the subject of transportation: metered street parking is plentiful in Allston if you know where to look: the intersection of Comm Ave and Harvard is a good starting point, as are the blocks encircled by Gardner, Ashford, Malvern, Alcorn and Babcock streets. Pretty much anything in south Allston is at most a 5-10 minute walk from one or the other area.)

                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                    finding parking in alston is not easy; you would need a GPS system as Boston is very convoluted in comparison with younger cities.

                2. re: Tom Armitage

                  I'm surprised no one's suggested dinner at Lineage for your first night. It's a 1 min walk from your hotel, relaxed atmosphere (try to sit on the bar side), lots of seafood choices, good rolls from the brick oven. Cutty's is a good suggestion for lunch and Martin's and Brookline Family Rest for casual breakfasts, all within 10 min walk. Charley's Sandwich Shoppe is a classic for a weekday breakfast on your own when it's not too crowded. Sat. brunch could be the great deal at Aquitaine in the south end ($9.99 for cinnamon bun, entree and coffee) but make a reservation, it gets very crowded. For a good drink you could stop at Green St. then go to Rendezvous for one of those dinners (also good drinks). I'd make sure to hit Eastern Standard for a cocktail too.

                  -----
                  Brookline Family Restaurant
                  305 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

                  Eastern Standard
                  528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                  Sandwich Shoppe
                  188 County Rd, Barrington, RI 02806

                  1. re: total13

                    Second Lineage for dinner when you arrive. Sit at the bar and have some dollar oysters first. It's closest thing to fine dining in Coolidge Corner. The sister restaurant in Kenmore is Island Creek Oyster Bar and is much faster paced but worth a trip and next door to Eastern Standard. Reservations are a good idea for both Lineage and ICOB.

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

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

                  2. re: Tom Armitage

                    Also in Brookline Village, you should consider Orinoco (Venezuelan) and Pomodoro (Italian, cash only).

                    -----
                    Pomodoro
                    24 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02445

                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                      oh yes, Orinoco, I should have mentioned that. A short walk from the hotel and very good and unusual.

                3. Try Farnham's in Essex instead of Clam Box for fried clams. I generally prefer Farnham's, others prefer Clam Box, but if you've tried Clam Box and weren't thrilled, it'd be worth a try somewhere else, I'd think.

                  -----
                  Clam Box
                  789 Quincy Shore Dr, Quincy, MA 02170

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Fly

                    let us know whether breakfast is boston or cambridge. Other than Mike and Patty's, my favorites include The Spot and Victor's Diner, both in Watertown, Wilson's Diner in Waltham, Deluxe Town Diner in Watertown, Anthonys Cafe on the Water in Boston. If you like :informal" for lunch in cambridge and get a nice day, try lobster sandwiches and steamers at Alive 'n Kicking in cambridge. I like Rendezvous and Bondir better than Bergamot, and love East Coast Grill for brunch or dinner, All Star Sandwich Bar for lunch. Don't think the fried clams in Essex are worth the drive. You can get fine ones at Neptune or even Summer Shack.

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

                    Deluxe Town Diner
                    627 Mt Auburn St, Watertown, MA 02472

                    Summer Shack
                    310 Northern Ave, Boston, MA 02210

                    Victor's Diner
                    214 N Beacon St, Watertown, MA 02472

                    Wilson's Diner
                    507 Main St, Waltham, MA 02452

                    East Coast Restaurant
                    1456 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester, MA 02122

                    Bondir
                    279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. re: teezeetoo

                      Two other breakfast suggestions:

                      Mul's Diner in South Boston - specifically for the corned beef hash and eggs, which is really good there.

                      Neighborhood Restaurant in Union Square, Somerville - specifically for the porridge that comes with the breakfasts.

                      Both places offer an atmosphere that I think is specific to Boston (i.e. you won't find places like either of these in Seattle)

                      -----
                      Neighborhood Restaurant
                      25 Bow St, Somerville, MA 02143

                      Mul's Diner
                      75 W Broadway, Boston, MA 02127

                  2. I saw a bunch of bluefish in the grocery store last week, so you may be able to find it still. I think it's on the Legal Seafood's menu year-round, so that can be a fallback. East Coast Grill often has it, and if Courthouse Seafood has it, they'll cook it up in their adjacent restaurant for $2/lb (limited hours though).

                    Some inexpensive favorites of mine are Pizzeria Regina, Santarpio's, Xinh Xinh, New Shanghai, Thailand Cafe, Mulan, Rod Dee, eggplant parm grinders (I won't pretend to be an expert on where to get one).

                    Also, there's a thread on this board somewhere for $1 oyster specials. IIRC, Legal Seafoods' is M-Th before 6pm. That would be my choice for some oyster gorging.

                    -----
                    Santarpio's Pizza
                    111 Chelsea St, Boston, MA 02128

                    New Shanghai Restaurant
                    21 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

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

                    Courthouse Fish Market
                    484 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02141

                    Xinh Xinh
                    7 Beach St, Boston, MA 02111

                    Thailand Cafe
                    302 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    Regina Pizzeria
                    Thatcher St, Boston, MA 02113

                    MuLan
                    228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: emannths

                      I had forgotten all about it but Marliave also does a dollar oyster special (4 - 6 p.m.). Was able to take advantage this past weekend. They had 4 varieties and they were nicely shucked. Also, it's a fine place to take in some Brahmin vibe.

                      -----
                      Marliave
                      10 Bosworth Street, Boston, MA 02108

                    2. Island Creek would be a great place (great oysters usually 12 varieties on the menu, great seafood, great cocktails). I like Drink, Eastern Standard and Craigie for cocktails. The Northern Lights at Craigie is a fave of mine (though the Prospect Park at ES is a damn fine drink).

                      For a cheap unique lunch, there's Gallaria Umberto on Hanover St, in the North End. No frills counter service, great arancini, calzones, and pizza. You'd be hard pressed to spend more than $10 per person on a filling lunch.

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

                      1 Reply
                      1. Oleana is a must and could be a great place to try that night you get in. Bondir is excellent but it is a small kitchen so if you are looking for something quicker I would avoid it.

                        Less expensive there is always Hungry Mother which often has bluefish on their menu.

                        Good casual lunch in the South End one of the days Picco or Coppa could be a nice change.

                        Though it's not super fancy and it can be hit or miss if you are near Harvard Square you could walk down to Plough and Stars for some more inexpensive but decent food.

                        For Saturday there are a lot of places that do brunch only on Sundays (East Coast Grill being one) for something quick and casual Toscanini's does a delicious breakfast starting at 10 am.

                        I'm actually planning a trip to Seattle right now in December. Anything that is a must try? Right now I'm thinking of doing dinner one night at Book Bindery.

                        -----
                        Hungry Mother
                        Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

                        Oleana
                        134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                        Coppa
                        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

                        Bondir
                        279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cbcpapa

                          Book Bindery is an excellent restaurant. A few of my other faves are:

                          Cascina Spinasse. I know that the Boston area has a lot of Italian restaurants, but Spinasse is worth using up one of your slots just for the tajarin al burro e salvia alone – it’s absolutely ethereal, one of the best pastas I’ve ever had. There are lots of other enticements as well at Spinasse, such as the magnificent rabbit meatballs wrapped in caul fat with caramelized turnip puree, pickled horseradish, and crisp rosemary. Spinasse also has an excellent bar next door, Artusi, where you can get good craft cocktails and delicious small plates. I think that Spinasse is one of Seattle’s great treasures.

                          Either Revel or Joule for very creative and delicious Korean-inflected dishes. These are sibling restaurants run by a husband-and-wife team. The wife, Rachel Yang, runs the kitchen at Joule and the husband, Seif Chirchi, runs the kitchen at Revel. Their creations are hard to describe without using that now-pejorative word “fusion,” but suffice to say that their sense of interesting and balanced flavors makes their food very special. I don’t know of anything quite like Revel and Joule in the other cities I visit, so I often recommend them to visitors, regardless of where they’re from. Revel is open for lunch and dinner, Joule dinner only.

                          Walrus & Carpenter for our fabulous Pacific Northwest oysters and other interesting small-plate fare with emphasis on our local seafood.

                          Sitka & Spruce: One of our best and most interesting locavore restaurants.

                          Seattle has some good Vietnamese restaurants. This is probably our ethnic long suit.

                          And, as you may know, Seattle is a national leader in the craft cocktail scene. There are lots of posts about this on the Greater Seattle Board.

                          If you want more information, just post your questions on the Greater Seattle Board. I’ll keep an eye out for your post.

                        2. tom, i will prob answer this in bits. suggestions:

                          Rendezvous currently has on their menu: Bluefish Filet w/ charmoula, spicy cuke salad and gingery jasmine rice. Steve, R's owner, is a fisherman too.

                          i like their current menu and there has been a recent rave thread on R .:

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/810489

                          http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.com/

                          mcslim has major craft cocktail advice; i'm sure he'll weigh in and be v. helpful

                          if you're happy w/ neptune fried clams, then maybe not drive to ipswich(it is a haul) but go twice to neptune- once for the clams and once for the neat inventive stuff.

                          on the Greenway near Quincy Market is the new Blue Inc. which has very creative and chemistry set food; might be fun to try for lunch.

                          of the places you have mentioned, i personally do not rec. Hamersley's or the other spots on your Fri night list (not that they are bad; just not our best). If you don't do OYa, then Erbaluce instead- creative farm-to-table Piedmontese, consistently a CH fav.

                          can't recommend Oleana enough; it is just so unique. BTW, she is a Seattle girl, born and raised and i'm sure she'd love to meet you. PLSE get the tuna kibbeh! easy street pkg and free pkg lot.

                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/790043

                          http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/eat-a...

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

                          Erbaluce
                          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: opinionatedchef

                            Erbaluce, consistently a CH fav? Please see the bum steer thread.

                            -----
                            Erbaluce
                            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                          2. Uni Bar is a close substitute for O Ya; it is also a little cheaper. I like sitting at the tiny bar.

                            i am a big fan of Rialto, one of the few on this board

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

                            1. I think that Uni Bar is a close second to O Ya; Clio has excellent French food; I am a big fan of Rialto which is located in Harvard Square.

                              I really like Rod Dee for cheap street Thai food; this is located in Porter Square one stop on the T from Harvard Square.

                              And of course, Rendezvous and Craigie are both located in Central Square where Floating Rock is located. Good food but a problem with getting enough heat in your Cambodian food.

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

                              O Ya
                              9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                              1. Couple more lunch ideas: Portugalia in E. Cambridge for one of their salt cod dishes, followed by ice cream at Christina's up the street in Inman Sq.; Burmese food at YoMa in Allston. Allston is ethnic hole-in-the-wall heaven.

                                1. You Boston Chowhounds are great! I can’t thank you enough for all the wonderful suggestions. The only problem is . . . it’s torture! So many interesting places and so little time. Fortunately, my wife is leading a national research project that brings her to Providence, RI a couple times a year, so we sandwich her work in between spending time in the Boston area before and after. This means that what I can’t fit in on this forthcoming trip, I can fit in on the next, or the next after that. I’ll let you all know what I come up with for the trip next week, and will of course report on my experiences. In the meantime, I’m now hooked on the Greater Boston Board. Thanks again.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                                    Not necessarily meals, per se, but given your location, get yourself over to Party Favors for a cupcake and to JP Licks for some ice cream. Party Favors is directly across the street from your hotel, and JP Licks is a block away.

                                    There are numerous other places in the neighborhood that could be worth checking out while you're there, though that in and of themselves may not have been destination worthy. In particular, there's great Thai food in Rod Dee, Khao Sarn and Dok Bua. There are also pretty good burritos in Anna's and Boca Grande. There are a handful of decent sushi places if you were really craving it. And if you had to eat breakfast nearby, you could do worse than Zaftigs. Again, none of these would likely make my list of recommendations for destination dining, but they're all worthy neighborhood choices if you just feel like grabbing something nearby.

                                    Very nearby, too, are both Brookline Village and Washington Square. In Brookline Village you'll find Cutty's, Pomodoro, and Sichuan Garden, and in Washington Square you'll find Washington Square Tavern. I'm sure there are more places worth exploring in each location, though again I'd categorize them as good to know they're nearby as opposed to planning an itinerary around them.

                                    Per some of the other recommendations here, you're also an easy train ride away from Kenmore square, and not much further on that same train to downtown, Chinatown, etc.

                                    Please report back!

                                    -----
                                    Khao Sarn
                                    250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                    Party Favors
                                    1356 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                    1. re: Tom Armitage

                                      I'm a huge fan of Sitka & Spruce (though I liked it a little better before it moved from the strip mall), Cascina Spinasse, and Walrus & Carpenter, too. I had an excellent meal at Staple & Fancy, too, and a good, low-key tasting menu at Tilth once.

                                      My favorite restaurant in Boston is O Ya. I love the vibe, the food, and the service.

                                      Cutty's sandwich shop is amazing; the roast beef sandwich lives up to the raves.

                                      Other restaurants on top of their game right now, and worth a taxi or T ride to:
                                      • Coppa (Italian small plates, pizza, pasta, salumi; feels very Spinasse, but smaller)
                                      • Erbaluce (Italian; this feels roughly Sitka & Spruce to me; casual vibe, nothing grand or overblown)
                                      • Bondir (market-driven, lovely)
                                      • Craigie on Main
                                      • Myers & Chang (this one's controversial, but it reminds me of eating in NYC or SF)
                                      • For craft cocktails: Drink, Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, Clio

                                      The best bluefish dish I've had in a while is at a new place called Area Four: mustard-crusted, wood-fired, served with roasted radishes and a caper-y salsa verde; this place, too, reminds me a lot of Sitka & Spruce; not everything rises to that dish's level, but a lot of it does.

                                      Finally: I don't mean to ruffle feathers, but there's a fair number of recommendations on this thread that I myself wouldn't hit unless I were in *very* close vicinity—which isn't what I'm usually after when I post these sorts of requests on other city boards prior to a trip. (To be fair, several posters have contextualized their recs as such.)

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

                                      Eastern Standard
                                      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

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

                                      Area Four
                                      500 Technology Square, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                      1. re: Tom Armitage

                                        When you go to Providence, please be sure to visit Thee Red Fez, one of my favorite restaurants anywhere. We have places equally comfortable in Boston, but nothing quite like it.

                                        1. re: hckybg

                                          Thanks for the tip about Red Fez. Unfortunately, my wife and I will only have one dinner in Providence, and a friend of my wife made arrangements for dinner at another restaurant on that night (unfortunately not a restaurant that I would have chosen). But I’ve made a note of Red Fez for our next trip back to Providence in the spring. Aside from our one dinner, I only have room on my dance card this trip for two solo breakfasts and two solo lunches in Providence. For the breakfasts, I’ll probably go to Julian’s and Nick’s on Broadway. For lunch it’s between Mike’s Kitchen, Tini, Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile (the Chez Pascal truck), and Farmstead. Since we don’t have any Portuguese restaurants in Seattle, I often like to go to Fall River for that, or to O Dinis in East Providence. But that may also have to wait until my next visit to Providence in the spring.

                                          Thanks again for the tip.

                                          1. re: Tom Armitage

                                            My pleasure. Thee Red Fez has a nice bar too, so good to keep in mind if you need a drink at any point. Have a good trip, it sounds like you have a great itinerary!

                                      2. Top 3 cocktail spots:
                                        Drink
                                        Eastern Standard
                                        Green Street(ask for the large menu)
                                        Craigie is also very good but you are already going there.

                                        If you are into craft beer, two of the best spots around are near your hotel up Beacon Street: Publick House and American Craft.

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

                                        Publick House
                                        1648 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

                                        American Craft
                                        1700 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02445

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Kinopio

                                          Also in the Washington Sq area of Brookline, further west on Beacon St. are Umami and The Fireplace. I like them both.

                                        2. Thanks again to all of you Boston Chowhounds who have given me so many wonderful suggestions. I had some really tough choices to make, but here’s where I’ve decided to go on my trip next week. The other great suggestions for places I won’t have the time to get to this time around will have to wait until my next trip, probably next spring. As it now stands, I think I could spend a month in the Greater Boston Area and not run out of places to try.

                                          Sunday dinner: Rendezvous in Central Square. Rendezvous has a Sunday prix fixe dinner with 3 courses for $38 that works nicely for us as a stop-off on our way from Logan Int’l. down to Providence. The menu (which includes bluefish) looks great.

                                          Monday and Tuesday in Providence, RI

                                          Tuesday dinner: Oleana

                                          Wednesday breakfast (solo): Zaftig’s Delicatessen, mainly because it’s in Brookline not far from our hotel.

                                          Wednesday lunch (solo): Probably YoMa, since Seattle doesn’t have a Burmese restaurant. A couple of other places that are still in contention are Cutty’s (I’m intrigued by the raves about the sandwiches there, especially the roast beef sandwich), Alive ‘n Kicking Lobsters (although I’ll have lobster on Thursday for lunch), and Mu Lan (although we have some decent Taiwanese restaurants in the Seattle area).

                                          Wednesday dinner: My wife’s professional colleagues from Harvard Medical School and Children’s Hospital Boston arranged a group dinner tonight at Legal Seafoods – Chestnut Hill, so this scratched one dinner from my dance card.

                                          We will have to change hotels on Thursday, since the hotel in Brookline was fully booked on Thursday and Friday nights, so I couldn’t extend our stay there. In fact, I couldn’t believe what a nightmare I had trying to find a room at another reasonably priced and reasonably located hotel. ALL the hotels rooms in Cambridge and Brookline were booked, and the few available hotel rooms in Boston were all ridiculously expensive, at least by Seattle standards ($500 per night and up). Is there something going on this week/weekend, or is it always this difficult to find a hotel? It seemed like all that was left were dumps or extravagantly priced rooms, with hardly anything in between. I was very frustrated and agitated over the time I had to spend on this, but I was finally able to get a room at a hotel in Waltham.

                                          Thursday breakfast: Breakfast is always a challenge for me when I’m with my wife, since about the only typical breakfast fare she likes is oatmeal, farina porridge (Cream of Wheat), bacon, and potatoes. There are some places in Seattle where I can order breakfast and she can persuade the kitchen to prepare a BLT for her. But it looks like there’s something for both of us at Caffe Nuovo, some breakfast fare for me and a hamburger, steak, or spaghetti carbonara for her. Henrietta’s Table looks pretty good to me (red flannel hash and poached eggs would do just fine), but it may be too “breakfasty” for my better half. I also might be able to convince my wife that she can get a “sandwich” at Mike & Patty’s or that she can have the oatmeal there. But now that the morning’s are getting chilly, is there indoor seating at M&P? Other possibilities include: The Early American in Quincy (primarily because I love good house-made corned beef hash and eggs, but I wonder if it’s worth the drive), SoundBites (although the menu is so “cutesy” that it’s hard to know what is in a lot of the dishes; is the stuff here well prepared, or just all show and no go?), Arthur & Pat’s in Marshfield.

                                          Thursday lunch: Neptune Oyster

                                          Thursday dinner: Cragie on Main. Bring on the pig’s head!

                                          Friday breakfast: We’ll pick from list above for Thursday breakfast or my wife can sleep in or stay in bed and read a book, while I have breakfast at Wilson’s Diner in Waltham, which is about 3 miles from our hotel.

                                          Friday lunch: Area Four

                                          Friday dinner: O-Ya. This was really a tough call. The Friday night suckling pig at Scampo was screaming at me, but I will have just had the pig’s head at Cragie the night before. And, yes, I know there are lots of other things on the menu at Scampo. (The best suckling pig I ever had was the leitão assado at Pedro dos Leitões in Mealhada, Portugal. I’m still dreaming about it.) Bondir was another close contender.

                                          Saturday breakfast. Since it doesn’t serve breakfast before 10 am on Saturday, I probably won’t be able to convince my wife to have breakfast at Toscanini’s. In addition to the fact that she doesn’t like breakfast, the short time period between finishing breakfast and starting lunch makes this is an almost impossible sell. Maybe a good pastry and a good cup of coffee for me (my wife doesn’t drink coffee, but I’m one of those coffee crazies from Seattle). Crema in Harvard Square? By the way, speaking of breakfast pastries, Seatlle may have the best croissant in the United States – long live James Miller and Café Besalu.

                                          Saturday lunch: Scampo. I would bet a million dollars that my wife will order the swift burrata BLT.

                                          So that’s it, folks. If you think I’ve made any significant mistakes, please let me know. I’ll report back to you on my experiences. Thanks to you, I have plenty of material to start planning my next trip out your way. If any of you travel out my way, I’ll be happy to return the favor.

                                          12 Replies
                                          1. re: Tom Armitage

                                            hi tom, just in case you want another option from waltham, there is a courtyard by marriott in stoneham just off montvale ave/1 min. off rt. 93. which is a straight shot down to mass.general or 1/2 hour back short cuts to harv sq.

                                            quincy and marshfield- too far away.Simplify.Same thing about Sound Bites (btw, we have recently transferred allegiance to the Ball Sq Cafe right adjacent to SB.)

                                            There is a brkfast spot i've read good things about in waltham, In a Pickle.
                                            http://www.in-a-pickle.com/menupg1.htm

                                            i used to like Deluxe Town diner in Watertown, but i won't go there anymore. I miss Mex.breakfast at Etta's.

                                            -----
                                            In a Pickle Restaurant
                                            655 Main St, Waltham, MA 02451

                                            1. re: opinionatedchef

                                              I agree with your advice about simplifying and not spending a lot of time driving from one outlying area to another – at least unless the destination is so unique and special that it’s worth the time and hassle. Etta’s usually has one Mexican dish on its brunch menu. It used to be huevos rancheros, and is presently chilaquiles verde.

                                              1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                this thread below does mention The Spot, a well reviewed place in watertown sq., 20 min. east of waltham center.>>

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/721503

                                                Also, Sofra on the cambridge/watertown line-- i completely forgot about. this cafe is owned by ana sortun- and offers some breakfast (and other) dishes i think you will not see anywhere else in the u.s. but certainly not in boston.you may want to aim for it because it is so unique,about a 10 min. drive from harv sq, in watertown, and about 1/2 hr east of waltham center.

                                                -----
                                                Sofra
                                                1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                            2. re: Tom Armitage

                                              Tom, hope you enjoy! I'm not as much a fan of Oleana and Rendezvous (which reminds me of Palace Kitchen in Seattle) as some (I would take Bergamot or Scampo over either, where i had the suckling pig for the nth time last night!) but that's ok, you might like them.

                                              1. re: barleywino

                                                Palace Kitchen? Hmmm. Back in the day, Tom Douglas was a breath of fresh air for the Seattle culinary scene, which used to be pretty barren. Dahlia Lounge, when it opened in 1989, was full of excitement and new ideas. But, as you know, Seattle’s culinary landscape has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and my thoughts about the place of Tom Douglas’s restaurants in the current Seattle scene is much too long a topic for this Board. Suffice to say that his creative-sounding menu descriptions don’t always measure up to consistently high-quality preparations and memorable eating experiences (although, in fairness, they sometimes do). It’s not that the food is horrible, I just think there are better places than Palace Kitchen to send a visitor who has very limited time to sample Seattle’s best. Likewise, I confess that I was drawn to Rendezvous by some of the menu descriptions like roasted sardine salad, fluke ceviche with grapefruit, chilies, radishes and mint, and especially the sautéed bluefish with charmoula and spicy cucumber salad. But I was planning on having the mustard-crusted bluefish with salsa verde for lunch at Area Four later in the week, so I’m open to rethinking Rendezvous.

                                                I’m pretty committed to Oleana at this point since I’ve been in touch with the chef, Ana Sortun, who is from Seattle and whose step-mother works at Seattle Children’s Hospital, where my wife also works.

                                                Although it’s obvious that I’m pretty obsessive about planning my eating adventures, I have to remember that I’ll be back next spring and then again next fall (and probably twice a year for the indefinite future), so I guess every choice for this forthcoming trip doesn’t have to be a perfect bullseye, although the advice and suggestions of you and the other Boston Chowhounds have been invaluable. Although we are having lunch at Scampo, next time I’ll try the Friday night suckling pig. Is it the golden cracker-crisp skin, moist succulent flesh variety? I lived for three years in the Philippines where spit-roasted suckling pig (“lechon’) is the national dish.

                                                1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                  Exactly, Palace Kitchen is fine but not imo a short-list destination when there are so many other places. I can usually rely on the Scampo suckling pig to have crackling crisp skin and succulent meat, which is why i keep going back for it. if you go for lunch, at least you can probably get their beef carpaccio.

                                                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                    don't want to add to over- or re- thinking, but if you read the recent thread on rendezvous on this board, you will see the love. so many, many chimed in.

                                                    so glad you are doing oleana...ana is amazing and if she is in the kitchen herself she will ensure you have a memorable meal...the mezze are really special and the only time I've been there I was disappointed, she wasn't there herself. I just checked the menu.... several new fall mezze I'd so love to try. The seats are not so comfortable and it can get very crowded feeling, but the food, the produce, the spices are special to many of us here who have followed her career from restaurant to restaurant and the outdoor garden, if the weather holds, makes it even more magical. Others find it not so special....more space for me when I can get away!

                                                    1. re: Tom Armitage

                                                      sorry you're getting this drizzle while you're here, tom, but at least the trees are starting to turn. hope you're having some exc. food.

                                                  2. re: Tom Armitage

                                                    There is indoor seating at Mike and Patty's, but it's literally 6 stools at 2 different counters. You have to get lucky to get it. Henrietta's table does a lovely oatmeal too.

                                                    October is always a tough hotel room in the Boston area - lots of tourists, parents weekends at all the local colleges (that weekend is Harvard) and the Head of the Charles Regatta, which is the weekend of the 22-23 this year, and is always a gigantic monkey wrench in everything.

                                                    1. re: VintageMolly

                                                      Do you have to be lucky on a Thursday morning, though? I guess I'd be surprised if there is a huge seating demand on a weekday, but I've only been there on Saturday.

                                                      To answer your other question, Tom, Crema is a fine place to get breakfast. They have good pastries, good oatmeal, breakfast sandwiches, and nice coffee. It is generally easy enough to find a seat there for breakfast, though it gets busier throughout the day.

                                                    2. re: Tom Armitage

                                                      The tea leaves salad at Yo Ma is terrific.

                                                      1. re: Jolyon Helterman

                                                        tom, if you travel to s.f., there is a far superior burmese restnt in the chinese area near golden gate park(CH raved). in boston, i'd rather see you at mulan; i'm thinking their unusual dishes might not be found at seattle's taiwanese spots.

                                                        -----
                                                        mulan
                                                        228 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                                    3. I finally finished a trip report -- a long and detailed one -- but because of the age of this thread decided to put it in a new post, "Long Trip Report from a Seattle Chowhound."