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Looking for modern, tasty New England fare in Boston

A friend and I are visiting Boston in September with just one free night for dinner (I know, I know....). I'd like to go somewhere serving modern, creative takes on New England classics, or at least using unique local ingredients. I don't want to have the same thing that we'd get in a good restaurant at home in San Francisco, in other words.

I don't know where we're staying yet, but somewhere downtown/Back Bay would probably be convenient from whereever we end up. (Transportation will be taxi in all likelihood.) We're willing to spend up to $100 per person for the right meal.

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  1. What do you consider to be New England classics? I live here and I don't know what that means. Any more than I think of Rice-a-Roni to be a S.F. classic. ;-)

    What do you get a lot of at home?

    If you are thinking lobster, most places don't do modern, but you can get excellent versions of the classic. Check the recent lobster roll thread for some ideas.

    I think at the end of the day, you may like a place like Toro or Coppa, both in the South End, near where you are.

    1. I think you might like Island Creek Oyster Bar. They do have their own take on many classic dishes like fried clams, steamed little neck clams, seafood casserole, clam chowder, and sometimes stuffed clams.

      It is seafood done with a chef's twist and sometimes it is a twist on classic dishes.


      1. our chef-owned restaurants all feature local ingredients while they can although our growing season is short.

        yours is a much bigger city with far more restaurants per capita, so it may help if you narrow your query a bit.

        1. 80 Thoreau in Concord, Lumiere in Newton come to mind- ooh, I just recalled the amazing chowder at Puritan and Co...

          1 Reply
          1. Puritan and Co or Island Creek Oyster Bar.

            4 Replies
            1. re: LeoLioness

              Yes to Puritan and ICOB. Add Bergamot, Rendezvous, Neptune, Bondir, TW Food. Look 'em up and see what strikes you, all are excellent.

              Or if you want to go just plain modern creative (yes, with local ingredients), consider Craigie on Main (but very $$$), Journeyman, and Asta.

              1. re: LeoLioness

                I third (fourth?) Puritan & Co.

                IMO it has to be considered the single best answer to OP's question. "Modern, creative takes on New England classics" -- I mean, this could be Will Gilson writing copy for the place.

                1. re: FinnFPM

                  It is (or at least, his PR team). From the restaurant's website:

                  "Puritan & Co. serves modern American cuisine, with particular emphasis on traditional New England fare, and not without occasional excursions into other ethnic ingredients and styles. Our mainstays are ingredients sourced from farms we know and locally to the extent possible, and always a sense of fun."

                2. re: LeoLioness

                  If I only had one meal, I would choose ICOB over Puritan. While Puritan feels more "New England" in style and spirit, ICOB is far better on execution.

                3. These are probably out of your budget (especially if you drink), but maybe hit up a local chef with a unique style. Maybe Craigie on Main with Tony Maws, or Clio. The tasting menu's at both places are very enjoyable.

                  SF has us beat overall for variety of cuisine, and share some genres - both have a Chinatown, both an Italian district but Boston has some gems. Scampo (Italian) at the Liberty Hotel is a fave of mine.

                  1. Thanks, everyone, this will give me a great list to start sorting through. The lobster roll search will be more of a lunch thing, so I'm following that thread and making a list of potential stops, depending on where we find ourselves. But for dinner, it sounds like I can't go wrong with any of these, so thanks again!

                    1. I ended up having several good and one great meal in Boston, so thanks, everyone! The good meals were Clio and lunch at the cafe at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. The great meal was Craigie on Main, which was one of the best meals I've had recently.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: waldrons

                        thanks for the update. craigie's chef/owner worked for quite some time at clio before opening his own place.

                        glad you had a good trip!