Boston trip report - March 21-25 (long).
The girlfriend and I made a trip to Boston to see old friends from my years there and also to show her around since she has never visited before. As with most of our trips, there was some element of sight-seeing but the focus was on friends and food. I have attempted to recreate our eating itinerary as much as possible; hopefully Nab and/or Sally will jump in with some additional insight. This is long, but we ate like champs the whole time.
We had a few hours to kill before meeting Nab for dinner (theoretically at Taiwan Café) so we followed Nab’s suggestion to try the Dumpling Café in Ctown. We saw them filling the dumplings from a giant mound at another table, so we opted for a snack of pork XLBs and Beef and Cabbage. The XLBs were sizable with a perfectly thin skin and lots of soup inside – a little burst of porky goodness. The dumplings were good and obviously fresh although I think I prefer pork over beef for dumplings.
We had walked around Ctown a little to see the sights and new places. As I walked past Peach Farm, I looked up to TC only to notice the windows were covered with butcher paper! I ran up the steps to see that TC had been gutted, hopefully just as a rehab. So, when Nab met up with us after a few beers at the Intermission, we ended up just heading back to Dumping Café for dinner/round 2. We ordered the beef with longhorn peppers as an homage to TC, as well as more XLBs, some braised eggplant, and some of the s&p fried pork chops, washed down with a Tsing Tsao or two. The beef and longhorn did not seem to have any Thai bird chilies, unlike the same dish at TC (usually) but had a little heat anyway. This is a great dish which has been one of my favorites for years. Eggplant was fine but I’m not a huge eggplant guy. Pork chops were salty and delicious as only fried pig can be.
I had a work lunch (Silvertone – steak tips) but S. took the opportunity to grab a lobster roll. I directed her to Hook’s but neglected to tell her that you can now get your bun toasted so she ended up with what she described as a soggy mess. She was able to salvage the lobster salad by eating it with her chips and tossing the soaked, pre-assembled bun portion. To make up for this, we went to Neptune for their hot, buttered lobster roll which was buttery, rich and delicious. Their fries are obviously made in-house and go very well with the lobster roll.
For dinner, we accompanied Nab to Coppa for an amazing meal comprised of small plates. Those meatballs with lardo were probably the best I’ve ever had. The duck prosciutto, although a small portion, melted in my mouth. We also ordered a pizza – ½ with the clams and ½ with the bone marrow. The buttery, meaty marrow was a smooth addition to pizza and was one of my most memorable pieces of pie from the trip. We finished the meal with the smaller serving of the house made pasta with smoked pancetta, sea urchin and farm egg. This was about the richest dish of the trip and almost sent me over the edge into full food coma. We probably had some other dishes (I can’t recall the app the chef sent over for one) but the two bottles of wine fog the memory. This was one of the better dinners I have had in a while and so far the highlight of 2012.
We woke up early and were super hungry and had pizza on our minds so we took the T over to Regina to split a small, well done prosciutto pie for a late breakfast (11 AM). The small, well done pie is definitely the way to go and was perfectly crispy without going too far towards burnt. God how I miss Regina.
After our breakfast, we caught up with Nab at Toro for a late lunch of tapas. The two Medjool dates filled with Marcona almonds and Cabrales blue cheese, wrapped in Jamon Serrano were amazing – a little sweet, a little tart, and hammy. The marinated cow’s milk cheese from Menorca (?) was STRONG and very dense; I liked it but it was a little too forward for me (and I never say that about cheese). We also had a plate of more jamon serrao and started wrapping it around the Pimientos del Padron which were salty, crisped and delicious. I think we had two orders of Tuna Crudo it was so good. The white anchovies were amazing. I’m not an anchovy guy per se, but these fresh beauties were well worth ordering. Again, we probably ordered more as my eyes were larger than my stomach but nearly everything ordered was crafted to perfection.
After visiting the USS Constitution (we walked off a lot of food that week), we met Nab and some others for 3 dozen wellfleets at the Marliave downtown. Who doesn’t need some $1 oysters and beers at 5 PM on a Friday? That always cures what ails ya. We pretty much skipped dinner although we did have some forgettable apps at Clery’s while watching some bball.
As we were staying at the Radisson in the Theatre District, we tried to grab breakfast at Mike and Patty’s which is located in the old Rachel’s Kitchen spot in Bay Village. Unfortunately it was closed although the website hours indicated it was open so we ended up just grabbing some Dunkin to pass the time until we were going to grab dim sum at Windsor. We then took the T over to Harvard to look around and I could not pass up an opportunity to hit up Pinocchio’s for a slice of Sicilian with spinach and garlic. It was pretty tasty but I think I ate this mostly post-midnight in my years in town.
Come 1 PM, Windsor was packed with a line out the door and we had a busy schedule so we did round 3 at Dumpling Café and ordered many of the same dishes (we had some other newbies with us). Excellent all around again (3rd order of XLBs there).
Later that night, a group of 12 of us met at the Regina Depot (Allston Regina) for a round of way too many drinks and pizzas. We went traditional with the pepperoni and Regina’s sausage which was good, although I don’t think it was done as well as at the original in the North End. Still, no way 12 of us could have eaten together on a Saturday at the original so it was all well and good in the end. The Allston menu is certainly much larger as we had multiple rounds of apps including a few anti-pasti platters.
Sunday. Did not have time to grab much as our flight left at 2 and we were running a little slow. Still, we had a wonderful time returning to Boston (for me) and for her first trip there. When our friends ask what we did in Boston, we basically just smile and say that we ate our way through town.
Dax did an excellent job summarizing our food-cation. A couple dishes were left off the list. Salt and pepper squid at the Dumpling Cafe was good. I really liked the eggplant and basil thought it was super delicious but one order could have fed ten people. So it was upsetting to have to waste such good leftovers (the hotel didn't have a fridge for us.)
At Coppa we also had a cold cauliflower dish it was really good but I could have easily had more of the meatballs in it place. It wasn't to memorable.
At Torro we also has the tuna belly it was okay not my cup of tea. The anchovies were so darn delicious that I had to give a shout again, so good. We also had the burger, there. Not really sure how it tasted so it must have just been a good burger. The razor clams were the most meaty little bites of flavor heaven.
He also forgot to mention that we had two orders of the tuna crudo, it was that good. The spicy cucumbers that accompanied it were amazing.
At Marliave, we also had the truffled fries which were hot and delicious with a little garlic and parsley.
I would like to undergo a blinded horizontal tasting of Regina Depot and the OG Regina's pies, and I'm not terribly confident I'd be able to answer correctly.
The Depot was mayhem. Table of 14 people, not a single bit of coordination or strategy for ordering, everybody just shoutin out orders, which ultimately resulted in a dozen large pies. It was maybe the only time I saw Dax decelerate the entire weekend.
Count me amongst those who miss your presence on the Boston board. An enviable itinerary!
I'm chiming in about Regina Allston...blech. We've given it plenty of chances and it has disappointed every time. EXCEPT for the game-watching situation and friendly service. The dough is not proofed or something. It tastes way too ordinary in Allston. Even the Meffa location is better, in our opinion.
Anyway, please come back to Boston anytime! Love your report!