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SF Hound visiting Boston, lunch recommendations for Memorial Day?

g
greymalkin May 1, 2013 11:57 PM

I will be visiting Boston over Memorial Day weekend and hope to have a nice lunch on Monday, Memorial Day with some friends. The fact that it's a lunch, a Monday, *and* a holiday has taken a lot of restaurants off the list, to my dismay. I'm not very familiar with Boston and would greatly appreciate any tips.

I will be staying near Lechmere Square. Is that East Cambridge? I tried searching but as I don't know the neighborhoods it was hard to know which areas to search under for nearby recommendations. I've already read through these links:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/886594
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/848211

Any cuisine or most price points are fine. I'm comfortable dropping up to $75/pp (excluding drinks) on lunch if the food warrants it. Fancy tasting menus would be fun. But family diner and hole in the wall places are totally fine too. My friends will be driving in from outside of Boston so they will have a car, but I don't want to travel too far as I have to be back at my hotel after lunch. But if it's worth a drive, I'll happily consider it.

If it helps, I will be dining at TW Food later that night. Catalyst looked great but they are closed that Mon.

Area 4 and Abigail's are open for lunch on Memorial Day, would you recommend either of them?
http://www.areafour.com/menu/
http://abigailsrestaurant.net/menu/

Thanks in advance!

  1. g
    greymalkin May 31, 2013 02:15 PM

    Thank you for all the tips and suggestions! We ended up at L'Espalier for lunch and it was lovely. Quite literally. The food was beautifully presented, and the decor was restful and elegant and the service charming, warm and friendly.

    Though there is a prix fixe menu, we went with a la carte because the options were more interesting to us.

    After an amuse bouche of herbed financiers and gougeres (yum), my friends started with the english pea bisque with pork jowl and coral powder, and the warm Wellfleet oysters with bone marrow. I had the seared sea scallops with morels, samphire, and seaweed broth. All were perfectly cooked, and the seaweed broth for the scallops had a wonderful depth of flavor that was not too salty or briny and brought out the sweetness of the scallops. I stole one of my husband's oysters and they were tiny but unctuous. Almost a bit like mussels (meant as a compliment, I love mussels)

    For our entrees, my friends ordered the beef filet migon, and they said it was one of the tastiest steaks they have had, tender and flavorful and cooked exactly they way they wanted. My husband ordered the hot smoked salmon with fiddleheads, cornbread, a dollop of caviar, and Boston baked beans (?). Despite the confusing mix of ingredients that never quite gelled together, each one was delicious on its own. Particularly the salmon, which was fully cooked all the way through (usually a bad sign) but remained moist, with the smoked flavor noticeable but never overbearing or bitter. I ordered the chilled lobster salad, which came arranged in a lovely wreath display with salad greens, artichokes, flaked almonds and pickled grapes. The lobster was sweet and tender. The salad itself was not very boldly flavored, perhaps a little too restrained, but I'd rather taste the freshness of the ingredients than an over-mayo-ed gloppy mess, so I was content.

    We were full but managed to squeeze in two desserts, a chocolate souffle and a rhubarb custard. The rhubarb custard was a tube of almost panna-cotta-like firm custard with a dehydrated ribbon of strawberry-rhubarb leather placed on top. It was meant to evoke creme brulee, which it actually did quite nicely. They also added some jewel-like candied rhubarb bits, a few shreds of a light honey cake, and a quenelle of yogurt icecream.

    We had a wonderful meal there, thanks CH! I look forward to trying the other recommendations the next time I'm in Boston.

    p.s. Also had a great meal at Bergamot, a surprisingly tasty meal at Bambara in the Hotel Marlowe (chorizo flatbread pizza was spicy and flavorful!), tasty pastries and onigiri from Japonaise, and (sadly) so-so meals at The Abbey and Bocanova in Brookline with family. You have some seriously good eating in Boston!

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    4 Replies
    1. re: greymalkin
      GretchenS May 31, 2013 03:59 PM

      Great report, fun pictures, thanks for coming back and letting us know, it is really appreciated!

      1. re: greymalkin
        t
        teezeetoo May 31, 2013 05:51 PM

        So glad you enjoyed L'Espalier. As my original post said, it's always my first choice when I don't mind spendy and I do want loveliness and indulgence. Come back and enjoy Boston again.

        1. re: teezeetoo
          g
          greymalkin May 31, 2013 11:04 PM

          I certainly will! Thank you for the recommendation, it was a wonderful way to spend a lunch. I almost walked right back in when we walked out and passed the cheese cart. The fragrance of ripe cheeses was intoxicating.

          I also forgot to mention the wonderful selection of juices and non-alcoholic cocktails they had. As someone who doesn't drink, I was almost overwhelmed by the choices because usually I only get a few token sodas and maybe a Shirley Temple to choose from.

          I really loved that you can do a juice pairing with the meal just like a wine pairing. I'm not a huge fan of mint but the lychee mint mocktail was tempting. I settled on the rhubarb soda which was a little too far on the sweet-side for pairing with my sweet scallops and sweet lobster, but it was tasty by itself.

          1. re: greymalkin
            t
            teezeetoo Jun 1, 2013 08:52 AM

            if your timing is right you might be here for one of their cheese tuesdays - prix fixe 7 course focused on cheese, I think for $85.00 a person. Also, if you love cheese, fit in a stop at Formaggio's next time. The cheeses are excellent and the range is very good.

      2. g
        greymalkin May 31, 2013 02:14 PM

        Thank you for all the tips and suggestions! We ended up at L'Espalier for lunch and it was lovely. Quite literally. The food was beautifully presented, and the decor was restful and elegant and the service charming, warm and friendly.

        Though there is a prix fixe menu, we went with a la carte because the options were more interesting to us.

        After an amuse bouche of herbed financiers and gougeres (yum), my friends started with the english pea bisque with pork jowl and coral powder, and the warm Wellfleet oysters with bone marrow. I had the seared sea scallops with morels, samphire, and seaweed broth. All were perfectly cooked, and the seaweed broth for the scallops had a wonderful depth of flavor that was not too salty or briny and brought out the sweetness of the scallops. I stole one of my husband's oysters and they were tiny but unctuous. Almost a bit like mussels (meant as a compliment, I love mussels)

        For our entrees, my friends ordered the beef filet migon, and they said it was one of the tastiest steaks they have had, tender and flavorful and cooked exactly they way they wanted. My husband ordered the hot smoked salmon with fiddleheads, cornbread, a dollop of caviar, and Boston baked beans (?). Despite the confusing mix of ingredients that never quite gelled together, each one was delicious on its own. Particularly the salmon, which was fully cooked all the way through (usually a bad sign) but remained moist, with the smoked flavor noticeable but never overbearing or bitter. I ordered the chilled lobster salad, which came arranged in a lovely wreath display with salad greens, artichokes, flaked almonds and pickled grapes. The lobster was sweet and tender. The salad itself was not very boldly flavored, perhaps a little too restrained, but I'd rather taste the freshness of the ingredients than an over-mayo-ed gloppy mess, so I was content.

        We were full but managed to squeeze in two desserts, a chocolate souffle and a rhubarb custard. The rhubarb custard was a tube of almost panna-cotta-like firm custard with a dehydrated ribbon of strawberry-rhubarb leather placed on top. It was meant to evoke creme brulee, which it actually did quite nicely. They also added some jewel-like candied rhubarb bits, a few shreds of a light honey cake, and a quenelle of yogurt icecream.

        We had a wonderful meal there, thanks CH! I look forward to trying the other recommendations the next time I'm in Boston.

        p.s. Also had a great meal at Bergamot, a surprisingly tasty meal at Bambara in the Hotel Marlowe (chorizo flatbread pizza was spicy and flavorful!), tasty pastries and onigiri from Japonaise, and (sadly) so-so meals at The Abbey and Bocanova in Brookline with family. You have some seriously good eating in Boston!

         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        1. a
          AndOne May 7, 2013 10:15 AM

          You can't go wrong with Area 4. I live just south of Boston and have made the drive over there for lunch many times.

          1. g
            greymalkin May 4, 2013 02:06 AM

            Wow, thank you all so much! These are great recommendations. I'd happily eat at all of these places. In fact I think I will attempt to see if I can work a few of these into the meals-with-family since it will be hard to just pick one!

            1 Reply
            1. re: greymalkin
              bgavin May 5, 2013 03:33 PM

              Let us know, OK? Great to get feedback on all these recommendations. I was going to suggest WestBridge.

            2. g
              gourmaniac May 3, 2013 08:40 AM

              Also near you is muqueca (Cambridge street near Inman square). For Brazilian style seafood stews. Perhaps something you don't get in SF and moderately priced.

              1. opinionatedchef May 2, 2013 11:16 PM

                On this board, Area 4 gets much more consistent love than Abigail's. You might also consider EVOO near you and Scampo in the Liberty Hotel (a historic jail) just across the river .Both get mostly positive CH recs .

                http://scampoboston.com/?page_id=1118

                But for a really great , eccentric and famous Boston experience, I would send you on a 10 minute cab ride to Regina's Pizzeria in the North End. Nothing like it in SF.
                But you'd need to get there EARLY to avoid the line i think.

                1. ebone May 2, 2013 07:22 AM

                  Not too far from where you are is the Druid in Inman Sq. Not quite a hole in the wall, but it is a no-frills Irish pub with a friendly staff. Burgers and fish and chips are notable there for me, but overall their food is very good for a pub.

                  1. t
                    teezeetoo May 2, 2013 05:39 AM

                    East Cambridge up through Kendall and Inman Square offer a lot of good choices from "hole in the wall" to very good. Both Area Four and Abigails are fine for lunch. WestBridge is very good. Casa Portugal serves lunch (check about Monday though - not sure if that's a "closed" day) and will give you a nice introduction to Portuguese food. Court House is probably closed on memorial day but you can't beat it for fish you pick out at the fish market next door and have cooked for you at the restaurant. If you're staying in the Lechmere area, do try it some other day. If I want a fancy lunch I go to l'espalier. If I want a great burger and fun lunch, if the Sox aren't playing I go to Eastern Standard Kitchen. Have fun.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: teezeetoo
                      g
                      greymalkin May 4, 2013 02:08 AM

                      While perusing all these wonderful restaurants' menus, I saw that L'Espalier has an absolutely amazing-sounding afternoon tea. Have you tried it? I may have to plan my next trip to Boston around a weekend just so I can try it.

                      1. re: greymalkin
                        c
                        Crazy Egg May 31, 2013 04:54 PM

                        Thank you for the beautiful write-up! A quick comment on tea at L'Espalier. It is amazing, including a tea sommelier who can give you recommendations and make you tea-cocktails. The teas are prettily displayed in glass teapots (I suspect Jaener teapots) with tea warmers underneath. Tea is not over-steeped, yet warmed to the right temperature for consumption. Though the last time I was there, I had the tea sandwiches and sweets, it was the cheese course that was simply spectacular. If you do come back and plan to have tea, I do think that you will not be disappointed with L'Espalier.

                        1. re: Crazy Egg
                          g
                          greymalkin May 31, 2013 10:56 PM

                          Sounds wonderful! I adore cheese. I will definitely have to put L'Espalier's tea on the schedule the next time I'm in Boston.

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