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Are my picks okay?

I will be in Boston this week, Wed noon until Friday around 3 pm.

I am very sad that I have not had time to do my usual obessive-compulsive Chowhound review. Based on a brief review of several threads, I am thinking of these dinner spots:
**Neptune Oyster for seafood. Questions ---Can I get wine or a cocktail there? And they do NOT take reservations, correct? If that is the case, we will get there as soon as we can, give our names and cell number, then wander around in the North End until they call us.
**For Italian, I am thinking Carmen or Vinoteca di Monica. Anyone feel I am making a mistake? I need to make reservations for one of these places, so I hope there is still availability for Wed or Thurs eve for four of us.

Breakfast
**One of Joanne Chang's Flour Bakeries. I love, love, love her cookbook and I want to make a pilgrimage to one of the bakeries.
**any other ideas? I'm not much interested in bacon-eggs-toast places, but rather places with terrific coffee and some delicious baked goods.

Lunch
**Myers and Chang
**I will bring my computer along so I can review more Chowhound threads to get some lunch ideas. I think I read about a lamb and eggplant sandwich somewhere in the North End that sounded heavenly. Also, I think I read about some arancini that sounded heavenly.

I love every kind of food except sushi. I like getting good value so I don't want super expensive places. We are staying right by Faneuil Hall. I am a world class walker and we love public transportation. (No car on this trip.)

If anyone has any great lunch ideas, I'd love to hear them. Sorry for such a sketchy description of what I'm looking for.

Thanks.

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  1. I'm a fan of Neptune and I'm thinking that may be a good lunch stop especially if you go around 2 or 2:30. I've had good luck getting a seat around that time without waiting. Both Carmen and Monica's are solid choices. For bakeries in the North End I lean towards Maria's. Myers andChang gets a lot of love on this board but I just didn't care for it the few times I went. I will say they had delicious tea smoked ribs though. Oh, and yes you can get wine at Neptune.

    1. Carmen or Monica's are both good choices. Flip a coin or look at their online menus to see if 1 or the other has a dish you crave.

      Artu makes the roast lamb/eggplant sub. I sometimes ask them to add roasted peppers. Prince St..North End

      The arancini is at Galleria Umberto on Hanover St. They also sell square pizza, panzarotti ( deep fried mashed potato with a mozzarella stuffing), calzones and a few other items. Think bare bones decor..stand in line. They open at 10:45 or so and start running out of things about 2. Can be long lines so I recommend getting there early.

      8 Replies
      1. re: 9lives

        thanks so much for this info, Pegmeister and Galleria.

        Peg--Do you think Neptune would not be a good choice for dinner? Is it too noisy to have a conversation? If Neptune isn't good for dinner, then is there a restaurant in the South End area or in Cambridge that you could recommend? No steak houses. Bistro food would be great. Is there any place in Boston that does a good job with foods of the Southern United States?

        Galleria-Bare bones decor and standing in line works for me :0) Any other lunch spots you like? They don't have to be in the North End. I'd like to venture into Cambridge, the South End, and other parts of Boston. As long as walking and/or the T can get me there, I'm game. I'm looking for absolutely wonderful food. I could care less about decor for the lunches. For the dinners, we will be with another couple who may not share my sense of excitement about terrific food in sketchy surroundings :0)

        1. re: soccermom13

          For Southern (inspired), consider Hungry Mother and Tupelo, both in Cambridge. I've never had a problem with the sound levels at Neptune. You would be fine for dinner there.

          1. re: tartandfit

            I would go to Erbaluce, http://erbaluce-boston.com/ , over anywhere in the North End for a great Italian meal. Everything Chef Draghi prepares is thoughtful Italian dishes inspired by local ingredients. North End is great for walking around, but save for Neptune not the best area to eat a full meal.

            1. re: iloveporkbelly

              Erbaluce does not have their menu on line. There is a note that the menu changes nightly. What are some dishes you have enjoyed there? DH LOVES pasta. Do they offer a few good pasta dishes? How are the prices?

              Aquitaine's menu looks good.......

              So does Grotto's....

              1. re: soccermom13

                There pasta is great and for the most part completely made in house. The duck yolk pasta with white truffles and raw duck yolk is a once a year splurge. Apps usually run just under $10 with pastas and entrees from 16-24. The value is much higher than the North End. The chef almost always sends out a few little extras. I have always had good luck ordering half orders of the pasta to try more. The razor clams are always great. Here is a sample menu. http://boston.menupages.com/restauran...

          2. re: soccermom13

            For bistro food go to Hamersley's or Bistro du Midi.

            1. re: soccermom13

              Neptune would definitely be good for dinner. My suggestion for lunch was only because it seems easier to get a table without a wait in the late afternoon. I haven't been spending much time in the South End these days. I've always liked Hammersleys, and my favorite spot (Pops) sadly has closed. Metropolis Cafe is wonderful for brunch, especially their monte christo with an added side of apple sausage. If you have time, you may also want to explore the Beacon Hill area, especially Charles St, where they have a number of restaurants, along with shops to poke in. My favorites in that area are 75 Chesnut and Lola Rokh which are both off of Charles. Beacon Hill Bistro is another good option.

            2. re: 9lives

              Monica's is quite good and one could be quite happy there with their pastas.

              Carmen might be good but they have significant problems honoring reservations and treating you well while you wait for your reservation. That is, they seem entirely indifferent to the niceties of being in the service business.

            3. for lunch you might want to try Casa Razdora, downtown in the financial district. I've heard nothing but raves.

              1 Reply
              1. re: nightsky

                Boston Hounds,
                Thank you so very much for your help. I'll let you know where we end up eating.

              2. I'm also a Joanne Chang fan - did anyone see the geeky sticky bun Throwdown? - and endorse the Flour and M+C picks. For M+C, try to get the counter seats next to the kitchen. It's no louder than the rest of the place (a bustling funky diner feel) and so much fun to see them pump out so many dishes from such a small space.

                A rundown of the three Flour's... Get the oreos!

                1) Washington St. / South End - The original. I think the food is best here, but it's tiny. You'll likely end up at a community table drinking coffee elbow to elbow with locals and local workers.

                2) Farnsworth St / Fort Point - Closest to your hotel in Faneuil Hall. Bigger and more open space to sit and relax. Long lines at times, but a lot of people take food out. The food is fine at this one (many trips for me in the last year).

                3) Mass Ave / Cambridge - Near MIT, this one has a real campus center feel with plenty of seating and lots of open laptops. I don't think the food is as well prepared or served at this outpost. It's the first that feels like a chain.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Foodie_BBQ

                  Peg and Foodie,

                  THANK YOU SO MUCH.

                  Yes, DH is at a conference, so I will definitely explore Beacon Hill and other areas. I read good things about Lola Rokh in other threads so that might be a place I have to sample :0) I will look at Beacon Hill Bistro's menu. I already had Hammersley's on my list of possibilities.

                  Foodie---I LOVE Joanne Chang's cookbook and I really appreciate your suggestions. I will definitely get an oreo! And probably a sticky bun too. I made her Sticky Buns and they were terrific.

                  I made reservations for Myers and Chang. Now I just have to go back through the Chow threads to get a sense of what's best to order there.

                  Thanks again. I really appreciate your help.

                  1. re: soccermom13

                    I'm a fan of M & C. In the same general area, I really like Coppa.. stop in South End Formaggio for a look at 1 of the best cheese/charcuterie stores in the country.. maybe a little picnic in Union Park?

                    1. re: 9lives

                      You'll have a tough time picnicking in Union Park (it's a closed square or rather oval) but might head one block east to Waltham and sit in Ringold Park. This will be prettier and more shaded than Peters Park. Another picnic idea is to pick up sandwiches and other things from Bacco on St James and head to the Public Garden.

                      1. re: ebaba

                        Thx for the corrrection on Union. I think it's been open due to some event many times I've been by..and it's one of my scenic bike routes. so I need to amend my advice to walking around Union and picnicking in your suggestions..:)

                        1. re: 9lives

                          Another and even better: on tiny Bradford Street, behind Formaggio, there is an even tinier little courtyard park with a few tables and chairs and a bubbling wall fountain. It's a really nice place to eat lunch on a good day.

                2. Monica's is excellent but if you're going to hit Neptune you should explore another neighborhood rather than heading back to the North End. FYI- if it's nice there's a roofdeck at Fiore on Hanover (stick to beer/wine) while you're waiting for the phone call.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Beachowolfe

                    Hi Hounds,

                    Thanks for the additional tips. So far, this is the tentative plan:

                    **dinners at Monica and Myers and Chang (although I could easily be persuaded to go to Hungry Mother rather than M and C)

                    **lunches--that lamb and eggplant sandwich at Artu (I will ask them to add peppers too), Neptune lobster roll

                    **breakfast---Flour and ??? How early does Oleana open? I have read several references to their bread pudding, which, IMHO, would be a great breakfast :0 Edited to add: Just checked the Oleana menu---not open except for dinner and no bread pudding. I must not be remembering place for bread pudding correctly. I will keep looking.

                    Still a work in progress...... So many places to try, so little time...

                    Thanks.

                    1. re: soccermom13

                      Another Bakery/Cafe option near Oleana is Area Four in Kendall near MIT. Great baked goods and my favorite Breakfast sandwich in the area. Very good coffee as well.

                      I haven't been in a while but I remember Sportello in Fort Point having a Bread Pudding I enjoyed and they are open for breakfast. You may want to check if it is a regular item on the menu though.

                      1. re: Matt H

                        Ana Sortun, Oleana chef, has a middle eastern bakery/mezze shop on the Cambridge/Belmont line with a wide variety of baked goods, including an Egyptian bread pudding. It's called Sofra.

                      2. re: soccermom13

                        I wonder if the bread pudding you are thinking of was at Eastern Standard? I don't know if they serve it the morning, but they are open for breakfast. I've been there for brunch and thought it was great.

                    2. If you are going to Monica's, I would highly recommend the tajine (sp?) with prosciutto with peas. Not the sexiest dish, but maybe the best pasta dish in the N. End. My wife gets it every single time, so I tend to go with something else and always regret it (while eating half of hers).

                      1. Another board favorite for breakfast seems to be Mike & Patty's in the Bay Village (south of the Commons).

                        Arancini--I 2nd Galleria Umberto (especially the panzarotti). There's also arancini at Bova's Bakery on Salem St. I grabbed one from them on Saturday since Umberto's was closed when I got there.

                        Since you're around during the weekdays for lunch (unlike most visitors), you have a shot at trying Chacarero's (Downtown Crossing) for one of their Chilean sandwiches: sliced meat, avocado spread, [spicy] green beans, and muenster cheese ... it's perchance my favorite sandwich of all time.

                        1. "Breakfast... places with terrific coffee and some delicious baked goods."

                          Thinking Cup, on Tremont St

                          the cafe in Post Office Square Park (sorry, forgot the name) EDIT: I believe the name is "Sip"

                          I am not a fan of the coffee at Flour, but if you could somehow logistically figure out how to have coffee from Barrington Coffee on Congress St, which is steps away from the Flour on Farnsworth St, that would be a nice breakfast. I think I would get the coffee first, then go to Flour and eat my sticky bun there.

                          10 Replies
                          1. re: Alcachofa

                            Boston Hounds---YOU RULE! Thanks for these wonderful tips.

                            Question re Chacareo's---Is this at 101 Arch? Close to the Downtown Crossing T stop? Those sandwiches sound awesome!

                            Scotch and Sirloin---I can't find that dish on their online menu, but I will look hard for it at the restaurant.

                            Good idea to get good coffee elsewhere then just buy baked goods at Flour. Thanks, Alcachofa.

                            So, Boston Hounds, if I gave up my quest for bread pudding and just told you I want terrific baked goods or other great breakfast sweets, would you suggest any other spots for me to try for breakfast? (Besides Flour----I am on a pilgrimage to Flour :0)

                            Thanks.

                            1. re: soccermom13

                              One more question---is the Artu at 89 Charles in Beacon Hill just as good as the one in the North End? Beacon Hill looks closer to Hynes Convention Center. That's where DH will be and he wants to meet me for lunch.

                              Or maybe we could meet at Chacarero's....

                              I ne

                              1. re: soccermom13

                                Hey soccermom13--

                                Yes, 101 Arch St, near the Downtown Crossing T stop! Beware, they get pretty long lines during the lunch hour. I suggest going either around 11-11:30am or after 3pm. (Going when it's empty means getting your meat freshly grilled. If you go when it's busy, I suggest that you at least avoid getting the chicken option since that'll likely be pre-cooked and dry.)

                                Also, a friend just told me lately that the Thinking Cup has a good bread pudding. Not sure if it stacks up against the other suggestions, but it may be worth a try if you're there already for coffee.

                                1. re: soccermom13

                                  soccermom13- It's on their menu online as:

                                  Tajarin con Piselli e Prosciutto
                                  Thin hand cut ribbons, sautéed prosciutto & fresh sweet peas

                                  1. re: soccermom13

                                    I Thot Scotch & Sirloin closed years ago.

                                    People will probably laugh but I love Kelly's for a lobster roll. So much lobster, minimal mayo and a buttered hot dog roll. Very good. Skip Barking Crab and Legal Seafoods. I think Legal's has gone downhill over the years.

                                    If you go to Flour at Fort Point walk a little further down towards the Innovation District and some good restaurants.

                                    1. re: surferbettygal

                                      Scotch & Sirloin is the poster's name. What is the"Innovation District"? Do you mean the Seaport?

                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                      Hi Boston Hounds,

                                      Ate lunch today at Chacarero's---bbq chicken and beef sandwich. Good but not superlative. That place has quite a following, though---there was a LONG line when we left,

                                      Dinner was at Monica's---I got the Tajarin con Piselli e Prosciutto recommended by ScotchandSirloin and it was indeed terrific. Wonderful pear martini too. DH got the penne, broccoli raab, and sausage pasta which was also very good. (Yea, we kind of violated the rule about not ordering foods at restaurants that we could make well at home, but it was really good.)

                                      We will have some baked goods at Flour tomorrow for breakfast.

                                      For or dinner I am going to make reservations at a bistro in the South End, We think we'll like that more than Myers and Chang. (Although I could pop into Myers and Chang for lunch.) Here are the South End bistro ideas (at least I think they are in the South End---haven't had time to verify yet:
                                      Hammersley's
                                      Bistro Du Midi
                                      Aquitaine
                                      Eastern Standard

                                      Is there a solid favorite in this group of bistros?

                                      Thanks.

                                      1. re: soccermom13

                                        Eastern Standard is in Kenmore Sq., not the South End. I'm a big fan of Aquitaine, and I liked Hammersley's, altho' I was there a looong time ago. Stand by, people will weigh in on Bistro Du Midi and the others!

                                  2. If you are still around on Sunday, try hitting SoWa market in the south end

                                    1. All of your choices are good, but I think the consensus on this board (and the correct answer in my opinion) is that Hamersley's is the one that is truly special. Talking about not ordering things you can make at home, the roast chicken at Hamersley's is the subject of much adoration on this board. If you end up at Bistro Du Midi, I would recommend the fish only boulibase (not the one with shellfish), which is the closest I have had to what you get on the cote d'azur.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: ScotchandSirloin

                                        The duck meatball appetizer is back on the menu at Hamersley's. If you go try them and if you decide to go elsewhere, stop by for a glass of wine and these little delights.

                                        We had those last night along with the chicken. Mark, our bartender asked if we always ordered the chicken. I guess we must seem to when he is on duty. No we don't, but craving that chicken often tips the decision on where to dine that evening.

                                        Penny
                                        http://www.bostonzest.com/

                                        1. re: BostonZest

                                          Hi Boston Chowhounders,

                                          First of all, thank you so much for so graciously answering my questions. I really appreciate your help.

                                          On Thursday, breakfast was coffee from Barrington Coffee and a sticky roll at Flour. Both were terrific. It rained that day, but I was determined to walk. Walking Charles Street through Beacon Hill was part of my route, but I made a wrong turn and realized I was headed (sort of) for the South End. I capitalized on this error by finding my way to Myers and Chang where I had the charred noodles, broccoli, and chicken dish, which was excellent. I was sorry it was too early to drink, because their mixed drinks looked excellent. We ate dinner at Aquitaine, which was quite good. Three of ordered from the "Beat the Rush" menu, one from the regular menu. The char and steak frites (from the "Beat the Rush" menu) were good, but the best dish was the maple pork tenderloin. Their creme brule was very good.

                                          On Friday, breakfast was a sticky roll at Flour (yes, same breakfast as Thursday, but doggone it those sticky rolls are really good). I also got the bread pudding, which I asked them to warm, but this stuff is so solid only the edges of it were warmed. I ate just a bite or two and realized I did not like their bread pudding at all, so I did not finish it. Probably a good thing, in terms of calorie conrtrol. DH wanted to walk to Fenway Park just to see the opening day excitement. We stopped at Eastern Standard for lunch but it was crazy-busy with Red Sox fans, so we ended up at Casa Razdora for lunch. It was very good. We shared a salad with grilled steak strips, gorgonzola, raisins, walnuts, and very crisp/very fresh lettuce. My only complain was that the dressing was not very flavorful. I wondered if perhaps they had not shaken it before pouring and we got mostly oil. We also ordered a pasta dish called Rosette ("Pasta Sheets Rolled & Stuffed with Cooked Prosciutto & Fontina Cheese in a Cream Sauce"). This was very rich and very good. Casa is tiny--two tables and a few seats by the window. While we were there, most customers appeared to be people who worked in the area and were buying food to take out for lunch back at the office or on a park bench. The food was very reasonable in price. I would definitely eat there again.

                                          Dinner was Bischoff cookies and peanuts on the plane :)

                                          Here are the places where I'd like to eat during our next visit:
                                          Neptune Seafood
                                          Artu for the lamb and roasted eggplant sandwich
                                          Galleria Umberto for arancini and panzarotti
                                          Hungry Mother in Cambridge
                                          Erbuluce
                                          Hammersley's and/or Bistro du Midi

                                          Thanks again, Hounds.

                                          1. re: soccermom13

                                            Glad you enjoyed! Casa Razdora has become m favorite financial district Italian take out. I've had that Rosette pasta dish and it's great. I think they're putting out "restaurant quality" food at deli prices.

                                            You have plenty of good places to look forward to on your next trip.