Island Creek or B&G?
Neptune is ICOB's only competition.
It's been so long that I can't even remember when B&G was actually considered good. I know I've regretted my last two visits over the past 4-5 years.
Still, even at ICOB it's all about what you order. Despite appealing to me GREATLY on paper, I don't like the famous short ribs and lobster roe noodles. And I love short ribs, lobster roe, and noodles.
I generally prefer one of the daily specials to any of the longtime house specials, as those tend to be very fresh, very seasonable. When ramps are in season - are we there yet - those tend to show up on the specials plates, too. Likewise softshell crab, etc.
The raw bar is - of course - highly recommended. Except for the lobster. Don't bother.
And the honeyed biscuit is an absolute favorite of mine, often a dessert.
b&g is not even in the same league as icob. not for service, food or cocktails. gave up on it long ago after several of my worst-ever boston dining experiences there. i felt hosed every time i went besides.
sox are home that friday too. i'd give a shot walking in and see what happens. it's a very big space!
I personally prefer ICOB, even though B&G is very convenient to me. First off, it's a much better value; I always feel swindled when I get the check at B&G (poster child for this problem: that tiny $29 lobster roll). Both have an excellent raw bar, very good service and a fine, seafood-friendly wine list.
B&G has a nicer patio. Island Creek offers a slightly broader menu, has room to spread out including lots of comfortable bar seating (B&G is very cramped-feeling), can practically seat larger parties indoors, and has a first-rate craft cocktail program (B&G is beer/wine only).
Kind of excited to see what ICOB's new Seaport place will be like.
I have a short-notice ICOB strategy that I am reluctant to share, but share I will as I think both B&G and Neptune are throwbacks to the "you are lucky to be eating an oyster" dark age of Boston oyster history.
Arrive at 4:00. The *adorable* hostess will explain that the kitchen is not open until 5:00, you may sit at one of the high-tops in the bar area and have drinks and the raw bar. She may even say, politely, "you'll need to vacate the table by 6:00, 6:30", whatever.
Eat and drink stuff.
Strategy one: wolf down dinner at the hightop before the specified time.
Strategy two: after you have eaten and drank stuff and been friendly to your waitstaff, go back and ask the *adorable* hostess if you may stay a little longer.
Beats being treated like chattel at Neptune + better selection and food in general.