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May 1, 2012 06:56 PM

help a New Orleanian!

Hello fellow 'Hounders! Finally making it to Boston after 20 YEARS! Good heavens, the good food I've missed. Anyway, I would be most appreciative if I could get your feedback in these 3 areas:

1. Best lobster roll.

2. Best restaurant for clams (raw and fried).

3. Best blow-out restaurant for my buddy's 50th birthday, in terms of: top food, deep wine list and overall excellent wine service; and an atmosphere that is conducive to a fun time, not a reverent temple of gastronomy where hushed voices reign.

I thank you in advance and can't wait to get up there!


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  1. As a former New Orleanian myself, I'm sure you'll enjoy your time up here.

    Some questions... Where are you staying? Will you have a car? Are you willing to take public transit?

    1) My favorite lobster roll is at Neptune Oyster. There are tons of threads on this board about it, so just do a search. Island Creek Oyster Bar is another favorite. Again, just do a search. There are a bunch of lower priced options as well (places like Alive & Kickin)

    2) Again, Neptune and ICOB might be your best bet. There are some more clam shack type places north of the city that I'm not very familiar with, so hopefully others can chime in on those.

    3) I read this as wine should be a big part of the experience. If so, the answer is Troquet. It's the best and most reasonably priced selection in the city. If food is more of a priority, I'd send you to Craigie on Main. Again, tons of threads about both of these places, and do a search.

    6 Replies
    1. re: mkfisher

      Thanks fellow Yat! We're staying at the Mandarin-Oriental, no car, just cabs. I've searched the threads for lobster rolls and clams, got plenty of ideas, just looking to supplement those with suggestions that might be under the thread radar. Crawfish and shrimp to the side, it's time for lobster and clams.

      1. re: sanglier

        Now I'm craving a basket of crawfish and a shrimp po boy from Franky & Johnny's...

        Along those same lines, a good casual place for seafood is Yankee Lobster in the Seaport District.

        1. re: mkfisher

          I bet those are powerful cravings! Generally, am I in a good part of the city for restaurants and bars? Didn't really check yet.

          1. re: sanglier

            Yes, you're in a good part of the city (on Boylston in the Back Bay). You can pretty much walk to anywhere in the city from there if you've got 45 minutes and willing legs. Boston is very walkable.

          2. re: mkfisher

            so agree, let's trade houses please.... I want NOLA.......

            1. re: lexpatti

              Hey Lex, I think we could pull that off! I'd love to house-swap for Mardi Gras, a Jazzfest Weekend, and if I bribe you enough, a nice spell during the dog days of New Orleans August!

      2. Lobster and clams, clams and lobster. I hope you also partake of local oysters. I love your city, but with all due respect, last time I was there I had dreams of ordering a few dozen oysters. We ordered 1/2 dozen of raw and grilled from Dragos. Tried one of each and called it a day. The northeast oyster in cold water is a whole different oyster then the ones in Nola.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Bellachefa

          Oh I agree wholeheartedly! Ours lend themselves to frying, baked for oysters rockefeller, etc., but for raw, not so much. But in November and December, they are gorgeous raw, with plenty of salinity. I look forward to Northeast oysters, having had enough in my dining experiences. Drago's is vastly overrated, a one-trick pony in my book, which causes untold arguments between me and Drago's acolytes.

          1. re: sanglier

            My local go to oysters are Island Creeks and Wellfleets, but I always branch out to other waters. A tasting is in order because you would be amazed at the difference a few dozen nautical miles make in the taste of our oysters.

            Troquet would be the go to place for interesting wine list, but I'm not convinced it is a fun atmosphere.

            I have Prezza on my mind. Maybe it is because I am craving the egg yolk filled ravioli with truffle sauce. And I think they have a pretty good wine list. It has been awhile, so others may disagree with this suggestion.

            Oh, and my husband recently was at Abe and Louis across the way as well. A chef friend sent out tower of seafood that included lobster, oysters, littlenecks, shrimp, clams casino. He raved about it. No idea what it costs but it was a tower to be reckoned with.

            For a sample of seafood you might head across the street to Atlantic Fish Co.

            I have heard that ICOB dices their lobster too thin and adds stuff. Haven't had it. I have had both versions at Neptune. What makes it great is the lobster is sourced daily and freshly shucked. But the roll is not authentic and too bready, but the fries are boardwalk style and I have had good clams there and exceptional clams there - all depends on the stock, the oil and the cook.

            If your in the neighborhood from 4-6 Marliaves is an historical room that has a raw bar special. They know how to treat their bivalves.

            1. re: Bellachefa

              all the steakhouses do a version of the shellfish tower. they generally run between $25-30 per person.

            2. re: sanglier

              there are plenty of places that have dollar oysters at various times.


              i get my fix at Rialto on Mondays; Rialto is in Harvard Square not far from the red line.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                I think Marlive is a nice historical room for a visitor to our city to stop in at if they happen to be in the neighborhood, and they treat their bivalves properly. A lot of dollar oyster places don't. They preshuck or poorly shuck while trying to run up a bar tab. just my opinion

                1. re: Bellachefa

                  i like Rialto; they have great Island Creek oysters.

                  1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                    Marliave also serves Island Creek, Wellfleet, and a few other local varieties.

          2. I'd strongly second Neptune's lobster roll and clams; and honestly, I've tried a fair bit of the menu and everything has filled me with joy. The cioppino is a particular stand-out, and I had a one-off ceviche special there that actually brought tears to my eyes. Remember that they don't take reservations, so you should either aim for off-hours or be prepared to wait-and-wander.

            Also: Finish with dessert at Modern Pastry or Maria's. Avoid Mike's. Please.

            For the party, I can't speak to the wine list/service (I always hit up the cocktails), but maybe Eastern Standard? The food is excellent, the atmosphere is I think what you're after, and it's big enough that they can accommodate a larger party while also not making small numbers feel lost or overpowered.

            1 Reply
            1. re: TimTamGirl

              <Also: Finish with dessert at Modern Pastry or Maria's. Avoid Mike's. Please.>


            2. sanglier, welcome in advance! so far, we're having an uncommmonly early Spring and loving it. This info might look overwhelming at first, but since you'll be here a few days, i hope it will be helpful:

              Guide to Boston by Areas and Restaurants:

              Dinner Spots that I consistently recommend:
              Oleana- Cambridge really unusual Turkish/Mediterranean menu; farm-to-table;charming patio
              Craigie on Main
              Neptune Oyster
              Island Creek Oyster Bar
              Strip T's (in a 'suburb', 10 min cab from harvard square
              Boston Magazine 11/11 issue: 50 Best Boston Restnts. This list is a very comprehensive and convenient reference list for brief restnt. descriptions, essential info, website links of the 50:

              Btw, best bet for finding quality maple syrup to take home- is Trader Joe's and Whole Foods Markets( both throughout the city) ; the former is less exp. iirc.
              As you work on your plans, keep us in the loop; Boston CHs are very helpful people!

              18 Replies
              1. re: opinionatedchef

                Thanks to all of you for posting, I really do appreciate it! I am armed and ready to wine and dine!

                Opinionated: I notice you didn't list Troquet in your Dinner Spot recommendations. Are you less-than-enamored for food/price/service/etc. reasons? BTW, your response was very informative, many thanks!

                1. re: sanglier

                  Troquet has a great wine list with many prices below retail. The wine service is the best in the city--the owner is the sommelier. I have the bottle wine list. Email me at if you want to peruse it.

                  The atmosphere on the main dining floor (second floor) is romantic.

                  I had my vino-centric bachelor party on the first floor with a specially set up table for 12.

                  The food is very good to excellent, but not extraordinary.

                  Prezza is also not a bad suggestion. The food is of similar caliber as Troquet, but with bigger portions and more rustic preparations. The wine list is more Italian and more expensive than Troquet. There is no sommelier, but the wait staff is more experienced than most restaurants. It does have a lively atmosphere.

                  3. Best blow-out restaurant for my buddy's 50th birthday, in terms of: top food, deep wine list and overall excellent wine service; and an atmosphere that is conducive to a fun time, not a reverent temple of gastronomy where hushed voices reign.

                  1. re: KevinJF

                    prezza's owner, david, does the wine list. his passion and knowledge are both deep and he is there more often than not.

                    while i love erbaluce, i think prezza would be a better fit for a 50th-bday boy's night out. slightly less spendy, but less even execution, is marco in the north end.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Who is David at Prezza? Is he one of the two managers in the front of the house? Their names escape me; both are usually there on the weekends. Anthony Caturano is identified as the chef/owner on the website.

                      I have bought my fair share of high end bottles at Prezza, and they are always served by the wait staff.

                      1. re: KevinJF


                        david petrilli. he's listed as gm, but i always thought he had a piece of the place. he has been there since the inception. i've been to countless wine tastings with him.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I have seen him at Prezza many times; I live a few doors down. I guess I must ask for him by name if I want a consultation regarding wine. I never knew he was the wine buyer.

                  2. re: sanglier

                    sanglier, i have not been there; the menu has never impressed/intrigued me. But for me, it's all about the food (as opposed to the wine.) What really appeals to me is food that is really delicious ( those 'wowww! moments) and innovative.

                    So glad to be of help. My dad was raised in NoLa. I really hope you will finds folks as helpful to you in Boston as NO people are to us Northerners!Our local CH community is certainly among the most helpful.

                    1. re: opinionatedchef

                      Only a food-crazed Yat with no regard for asking too many ?s would ask yet one final one: where the hell should I eat for my only crack at Boston Italian? The suggestion for Erbaluce looks well-founded after doing my research. But dining mate/birthday boy laments that it appears too "high-end". Guess he wants something more family-style. To appear magnanimous (appear being the operative word), I'd appreciate some suggestions!

                      BTW, I'm down for Craigie on Main for Thursday and Troquet for Saturday, with oyster/clam/lobster joints to fill in a lotta daytime gaps. Thanks again to you nice folks for supplying such insightful input!

                      1. re: sanglier

                        i don't know what a Yat is, but i FOUNDED the school of "too many questions", so ask away! Many people will chime in on the Italian, likely in the No End. Sorry I can't likely help you there; lots of people LOVE Prezza but i found it v expensive and nothing special. I would def not recommend Via Matta or Davio.

                        If you're still up, your best bet is to go to the search box on the Boston page and enter "North End" and/or "Italian". There are many recent threads because that is our most famous tourist food destination. We don't go to the North End for Italian.The Italian place we love is in the suburb of Belmont, called Il Casale.

                        p.s. i really hope you make it to Neptune Oyster, Regina's Pizzeria North End onlu, and Island Creek Oyster Bar.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Thanks for the recommendations, oh opinionated chef! I'm scurrying to get all my research done. I meant to tell you, a "Yat" is a New Orleanian who, being from a particular neighborhood in the city, sounds like he/she is from Brooklyn, not the South. The greeting upon seeing someone isn't "Hi!" or "How are you?!" but instead "Where ya'at?!" These folks, derisively or affectionately, have been dubbed "Yats". If I've had too much wine I can break into certain Yat-isms, try to avoid it if possible! Thanks again for the help of you nice Boston 'Hownders!

                          1. re: sanglier

                            yes, now i undstand the Yat thing. Nick Spitzer talked about this once on American Routes (NPR radio show from Tulane iirc) and The Big Easy had some yat talk yoo. Such an interesting phenomenon !


                        2. re: sanglier

                          If you aren't wedded to the north end, you might find that Trattoria Toscana fills the italian bill of more traditional, less upscale, and yet excellent. Erbaluce is marvelous but it isn't for everyone, not because it is "upscale" but because it is unusually specific to a particular chef rather than immediately "Italian." Il Casale also might work though the shlep to Belmont is a bit much. I used to like Pomodoro in the North End but it's been a while since I visited and I can't vouch for it's present day food.

                          1. re: sanglier

                            someone did a nice write up of Troquet quite recently. Scroll down and find it.

                            1. re: sanglier

                              Marco, Maurizo's, Terramia, Pomodoro, Artu, and Euno are all solid options a step or two below Ebraluce in the North End, I think all have websites, which you can check out.

                        3. re: opinionatedchef

                          oc, i know you love oleana, but i really think of it as a girly kinda restaurant.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                            my husband thinks that's funny. He loves Oleana and has often taken guys there for business dinners. Every one of them was blown away.

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              i guess i don't know what that means. clientele? cuz every time we've been, it's been very evenly split between men and women. i think the only restnt that i've been to that seemed to draw more females than males- was cuchi cuchi.but, come to think of it, i remember men's groups as well as women's group there.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                "3. Best blow-out restaurant for my buddy's 50th birthday, in terms of: top food, deep wine list and overall excellent wine service; and an atmosphere that is conducive to a fun time, not a reverent temple of gastronomy where hushed voices reign."


                                does oleana fit this description? to me? nope.

                                the food is wonderfully executed, yes. the space is pretty and the patio is lovely. the menu is designed as more of small-plates-to-share experience, which as a restaurant lifer, i find is something that appeals more to women. the service has been hit-or-miss for me and that's the bottom line if i am looking for a celebratory night out.

                          2. I just got back from NOLA and had a great time there (and kinda miss it already). So welcome!

                            For a lobster roll, I'll give you an unusual choice, Lobsta Love food truck, Their lobster roll with Asian fusion sauce is really yummy with it's hints of ginger.

                            For a dinner, I'd go with Hungry Mother. They don't have a deep wine list, but the bar is good, and the food is excellent. It does have southern roots; I'm not sure you need to travel up to Boston for that.

                            Got any good NOLA recs? I miss Ugleschi's. Love Dante's Kitchen.

                            Cheers! Hope you have fun up here

                            11 Replies
                            1. re: krazykid

                              kk ~ this op's weekend is already passed. :)

                              1. re: hotoynoodle

                                Hello friendly Boston posters who helped make my trip a memorable one! Tons to report, but just settling in after flight mishaps, don't have the energy tonight. But I'll do my usual blathering on tomorrow! Thanks for such helpful suggestions.

                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                    The best indicator of how just how much I enjoyed Boston: I got the usual deluge upon being back to work, and NOTHING could put me in a bad mood! I just kept thinking of all the highlights, from the food and drink to the wonderful people, the history, the architecture, Fenway--oh, and the WEATHER! Couldn't possibly have been nicer.

                                    So, to the meals:

                                    We checked into the Mandarin Oriental (a post unto itself!) and went across the street for a late lunch at Atlantic Fish Co. A few raw oysters, split a lobster roll, and some chunky clam chowder. With 2 microbrews, nice way to start, in anticipation for the dinner at...

                                    Craigie on Main. (A moment to pay silent tribute.) We opted for the 8-course tasting menu, and did the kitchen deliver the goods! One beautiful plate after another, half bottle of Chablis, full bottle of offbeat Beaujolais, 3-taste Bourbon flight to finish. Top service, beautifully composed wine list and advice, just everything we could want.

                                    Next day's lunch: took a recommendation from the Board and hit Marliave. Oh, what a gem! Cheese plate, charcuterie plate, stuffed rabbit loin with rabbit sausage and gorgonzola polenta, the gnocchi iwth "Sunday gravy", carafes of white and red wine, a waiter from Baton Rouge who knew his stuff. Figuring we better start toning it down, we contemplated cancelling our reservation for dinner at...

                                    Island Creek Oyster Bar! God, would THAT have been a mistake! Over-the-top friendly service, from the moment we walked in. At the check-in stand, one of the sweet ladies said it might be 5 minutes, how about a beer? Great idea, I said, be right back. "Oh no! I'll get it, what would you guys like?!" We opted for a 22-oz. wheat beer from the Northeast that was terrific. Once seated, we got more smiling service from a team of knowledgeable waitstaff. Oh my, the raw oysters were a revelation! We pride ourselves on having good oysters in Louisiana, but this sampling of 3 different ones from the Northeast was an eye-opener even for our parochial palates. The complexity, brine, liquor...damn. Then clam chowder, a lobster roll and a pasta special featuring lobster. I gushed on and on about an ICOB outpost in New Orleans I was so pleased.

                                    Saturday afternoon was a food break of sorts, just a panini on Newbury Street before a 3-hour tour of the delightful Marblehead and Salem. Nice to see some different sites before heading back for...

                                    Troquet! KevinJF, my hat is off to you sir for sending me the wine list download. After drooling days in advance over the choices, I opted for an 89 Pichon Baron, a steal at $189! Drank beautifully, as did the Chinon blanc we started with. We went the a la carte route and were not disappointed: white asparagus sabayon with porcini mushrooms and a lemon aioli that gave the dish a beautiful roundness; short rib cavatelli with black truffles; perfectly cooked Colorado lamb loin with the braised lamb neck, favas and baby spinach; and the assiette of veal (cheek, loin, sweetbreads) with a potato and mushroom gratin. Cheese plate and mini-birthday dessert later, I used my napkin as a white towel of surrender.

                                    Final night was Prezza and lovely grilled clams with sausage, grilled calamari and octopus with white beans, and a split of their "Sunday gravy" with meatballs, sausage, and short rib over polenta. Followed that with a stroll down Hanover that turned into cannoli at Modern Bakery, coffee across the street (forgot name), cigars and scotch at (damn, forgot that too!), and gelato and decaf espresso at a FORGETTABLE place whose name I don't want to remember (horrific service, to the point of saying by body language, We don't want you in here!!). But that couldn't dent all the wonderful memories I'd made earlier in the trip.

                                    So: sincere thanks to you all! I'm jealous that you get to live in such a special place. Until I get back, I'll savor my food memories, made possible by you nice Chowhound posters. You better come on the New Orleans board if you're coming down, I'm full of...suggestions. Take care!


                                    1. re: sanglier

                                      great thread! I do love New Orleans, where polite lunch conversation is about what you had for dinner last night and what you are thinking you might have for dinner later.

                                      1. re: sanglier

                                        thanx so much for the details, sang. Helps so much when we advise other visitors after you! Salem and Marblehead a great side trip! So glad you felt warmly welcomed ,and enjoyed yourselves.

                                        1. re: sanglier

                                          It looks like you enjoyed your trip. I can certainly say that your post made me hungry. I am glad that I could be of assistance with regard to the Troquet wine list.

                                          1. re: sanglier

                                            I'm so thrilled to hear you had a wonderful trip. Loved your report and glad you hit so many of my favorite ideas. And the oysters!!! When I make it back to your fare city again, I will pack some on ice for you! Cheers!

                                            1. re: sanglier

                                              Speaking as one who used to live up there (back in the Triassic Era), this is a very helpful report for my too infrequent trips back. ICOB has been my favorite of the newer places. In the old days there were really only a handful of upper-end places..Ritz, Locke-Ober, Maison Robert.... Once, back when Frank was the Maitre d', I ate lunch at Locke-Ober's, flew back to New Orleans and had dinner at Galatoire's. Possibly the most decadent day of my life. It was great.

                                              Glad you had a good time. It's a great city.

                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                You never know who you're gonna find on here! How ya doin' fellow Yat 'Hounder Hazel?! Great trip, durn I wish I was back at the Mandarin Oriental, i.e., an oasis from reality.

                                                1. re: sanglier

                                                  That's the way I felt about the old Ritz (the REAL one on Arlington Street). A friend's aunt was bounced out of there for trying to wear hot pants into the bar.

                                                  The good old days.