Trip Report and Thank You!
Thanks to all who posted to my "Help Filling in Itinerary for this Weekend" thread - your suggestions were much appreciated! We had a fantastic weekend of eating and drinking in Boston. I hope I can return the favour on the Toronto or Chicago boards sometime.
A brief trip report:
- Drink: we arrived in town at 4pm on Friday, and after a quick stop in at the hotel, stopped into Drink for a pre-dinner cocktail. Great looking space, very friendly and attentive service and great drinks and munchies (we had the fried pickled green beans). They clearly take their craft very seriously, as we observed one hostess, training to be a bartender, practicing stirring for over 15 consecutive minutes, as one of the experienced bartenders would check in on her technique every few minutes.
- O Ya: After Drink, we headed to O Ya for dinner and had the 17 course Omakase menu ($175 per person). We both very much enjoyed it, but could see how you could be disappointed if you went in looking for a very traditional sushi experience, which it's not. If you go in with the right context and expectations, the food can be spectacular. Once again, service was outstanding, and we found the servers incredibly knowledgeable about the menu. Our only very minor gripe was the fact that they had only a single variety of tea (roasted) on the menu to enjoy after dinner.
- Thinking Cup: this was a great suggestion, right down the street from our hotel, and we stopped in three of four times throughout the trip to get coffee, tea or iced beverages.
- The Hawthorne: another great suggestion, we went before dinner at L'Espalier. Sat at the bar, had a few cocktails (including the Vieux Carre, which was excellent) and a few bites, including fantastic mini pretzels served with a bourbon whole grain mustard. We wish we had had time to go back.
- L'Espalier: Can't remember if it was on here or somewhere else, but someone had compared L'Espalier to Tru in Chicago, and this turned out to be a very apt comparison. Beautiful modern space, with whisper quiet but very attentive service. We had the summer Degustation - lobster / foie gras / halibut / lamb + cheese / dessert. The foie gras was one of, if not the best, preparation I've ever had, and my wife agreed. Food was very good overall, and we found it to be very good value at $110, considering quality, portion sizes and all the other extras. One other thing to note, L'Espalier has a truly excellent and well-priced list of half bottles, which I often find lacking, even at similar high end restaurants. The sommelier mentioned that it's an area of focus for them since it's a great option for a table of 2 to be able to try a few wines over the course of a meal.
- Eastern Standard: Sunday brunch before the Sox game. Very solid and pretty reasonably priced. Standouts were the daily bread basket and pulled pork hash.
- Island Creek Oyster Bar: an early dinner at the bar after the game. Continuing on a trend, we had excellent service again, with a young waiter who knew both the menu and the wine list inside and out (he made a great Austrian recommendation I never would've thought of). We had oysters, the fried oyster sliders (wow, very addictive), clam chowder (best I've had since Hog Island in SF last year), scallops (not my thing, but my wife said they were excellent) and swordfish (great, and with even better sides). We lingered over cheese, cocktails and tea.
- Neptune Oyster: our last meal on Monday before departing for home. Good thing we got there at 11:25, within a few minutes of them opening, there was a line of people down the street. We sat at the bar and had oysters, hamachi ceviche (excellent), the lobster caprese salad (expensive at almost $30 but had huge chunks of lobster and great fresh mozzarella) and the striped bass. All were tremendous. Service was just ok, a bit rushed, and the server didn't have much knowledge of their wine/beer offerings, but still a great lunch.
I've omitted a pedestrian lunch at one of the many places along Newbury Street on Saturday - the name escapes me. The food wasn't at all bad (and prices not outrageous for such a touristy spot), just not particularly memorable.
Happy to elaborate further on any of the above, thanks again everyone!
Thanks for the report. You definitely hit up some major players in Boston. How crowded was it at Drink at 4 PM on a Friday? Still manageable it sounds like? And what was it like getting a table at ICOB? Did you have a reservation?
All of the food descriptions are great! Glad you got to try so much good seafood
Thanks for the report! Glad you had a great time. You really did hit some of Boston's best places. I'm glad you liked The Hawthorne. It's my favorite bar in town, with great service, great craft cocktails, and none of the "scene" that can ruin a great experience at Drink. I hope you come back to our fair city and try some other places!
Dave - we arrived at Drink around 6pm, and while it was certainly lively, we didn't find it too crowded. We were directed to a standing-only area by the bar at first, but were quickly moved (without having to ask) to seats at the bar shortly thereafter. Eclectic crowd, but didn't consider it too "sceney" if that makes sense. As for ICOB, we did have a 5:30 reservation, but were seated at 5 right after the game ended with no fuss.
Kimfair - agreed on the Hawthorne, what a great place, I only wish we had something similar in Toronto. The layout and design of the space is so well thought out and practically ensures that it can never get too crowded or noisy. We definitely got the impression they could easily have crammed more seating and tables in the space, but made a deliberate effort not to which we appreciated.
We'll certainly be back, just not sure when, to try some other places (my original list needed to be significantly cut down), but wouldn't hesitate to go back to a number of the places we visited on this trip.