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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.

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            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).

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                    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.

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                  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)

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                      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.

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                      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.

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                      Eastern Standard
                      528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                      1 Reply