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Help a Toronto Chowhound out? Weekend trip to Boston

jinxie Aug 16, 2013 08:07 AM

Hi all,

First trip to Boston for the weekend for a food driven getaway. We’re staying at The Kendall hotel in Cambridge- and are willing to travel (by transit) to various areas around the City.

Some things to keep in mind:
my SO is allergic to nuts and seafood. So seafood centric places are off the list (but I love seafood- so if there's a compromise...).

We are from Toronto- where we get really great Chinese- specifically Catonese food. But if there’s a restaurant that we shouldn’t miss- then please let us know.

For Friday night- we’d love to have a nicer meal out- say around $80-100 per person w/o drinks.

For Saturday and Sunday we’re open to anything- but would love to try foods that are unique to Boston- or that you guys do really well- in other words “not be missed”.

ps. I've looked through some of the lengthier posts about the best of boston. But there is just so much :|

  1. jinxie Oct 15, 2013 06:28 AM

    Back from our long weekend in Boston- and I have to say- Boston did not disappoint. We enjoyed every meal there.

    Friday afternoon- we arrived later than anticipated...and thought Craigie on Main might be open- as it was only a 10 min walk down from our hotel [we were staying at the Kendall right in the middle of MIT]....we decided to hoof it. We got there, and were very politely told that they weren't open until 5:30. But when I asked where we could grab a bite to eat- they directed us to Area 4. Good choice.

    I had their buttnernut squash and roasted chicken salad. It was simple- but amazing. So good- perfectly composed. Pricey at $14, but worth it. The bf had the mac'n'cheese appetizer with bacon. Good.

    But what blew me away was the coffee. SO good.

    Oleanna didn't disappoint, but didn't blow us away. The service was great. I loved the atmosphere. We started with the quail appetizer + that amazing bread basket. I had the flattened chicken, and the bf had the steak special. While I enjoyed the spice on the chicken- I will say that I thought the cheese + chicken combo was a bit too salty. For dessert- I went against my better judgment and got the special- blech. Beer stout with ice cream + a dry pine nut cake + some sort of dolce du leche (ok)....so a miss on dessert. Overall, it was good.

    Our favourite meal though- came from hungry mother. We split the pork belly appetizer and the cornbread (mmm..cornbread). I had the pork shoulder and the boyfriend had the chicken with cheesy farro. I liked his better- but I liked mine as well. We couldn't handle dessert.

    Other notable stops during the weekend were Upper Crust (good pizza) + the food trucks at the SOWA market...ehhhh...we tried a bunch of different trucks, but weren't blown away by anything.

    Overall- Boston delivered on the food front. Thanks to all for the recommendations.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jinxie
      maillard Oct 16, 2013 07:34 AM

      That salad sounds amazing! I am not a big fan of salads generally, but I love them at Area Four. I will have to try to get over there and check that one out.

      1. re: jinxie
        m
        Madrid Oct 16, 2013 07:37 AM

        In my experience, the meze at Oleana are far better than the main courses. Sorry it didn't wow you!

      2. c
        Canuck76 Sep 11, 2013 06:34 PM

        This is probably too late for your trip - but I'm also a fellow Torontonian and have been traveling to Boston on business for a few years so have been able to try some great and not so great places...

        I've tried a number of the favourites in Boston but my two standouts would be:

        Craigie's on Main in Cambridge - can't believe it hasn't already been recommended, but just outstanding local foods, game meats, marrow, offal etc... it's a knockout. I'm a big fan of ambiance and bar/lounge seating and Craigie's is no exception - sit at the bar with your SO and the staff at Craigie's will deliver. The bone marrow toast may change your life and the specials are very special - if something catches your eye go for it as Chef Tony is an expert in overdoing it with something new.

        Grill 23 - I completely share the sentiment that steakhouses ARE totally overpriced and anyone with a decent butcher, salt, and a stopwatch can make great steak - and I make great steaks. Having said that, my girlfriend and I love the pursuit of the BEST steak when we travel and Grill 23 delivered quite possibly the best steak I've ever had - the 100-day ribeye. I've tried Smith&Wolensky's, Moo, and Morton's in Boston on different occasions - all OK, but just not great and not worth the dough - they all backed up the steakhouse stereotype of being overpriced, stuffy, and relying on their name, not their execution. G23 however broke the mold. Started with crabcakes which were fantastic, very fresh and beyond my expectations. Followed with the 100-day ribeye, Gorgonzola broccoli and G23 Tater Tots. Maybe I got the chef on a great night as can be the case w steakhouses, but the 100 day ribeye was without a doubt the best steak I've ever had. Better than Harbour 60, Barberians, Carmen's (when it existed), and Via Allegro in Toronto. If you like steak, don't miss it.

        W/O drinks, both places will completely be in that range w apps, mains, dessert and coffee.

        Enjoy beantown! Great foodie city!

        1 Reply
        1. re: Canuck76
          a
          addiez Sep 12, 2013 07:46 AM

          Canuck, you should try Bogie's Place!

        2. jinxie Aug 20, 2013 07:20 AM

          Thanks for all the suggestions! Really appreciated.

          We've decided to leave the steakhouse for one in Toronto when we feel like splurging...it's likely after a long day of walking around the City we'll just want to go somewhere in our jeans and sneakers for a fun meal.

          We decided on Oleana for friday night, and Hungry Mother for Saturday.

          We'll also head over to jm Curley for lunch on Friday since everyone has something good to say about their burgers.

          And bonus- our hotel is just down the street from Toscanini's....

          we're going to get so fat. :)...good thing we're walking everywhere.

          oh- and I'll report back after.

          again- thanks everyone.

          3 Replies
          1. re: jinxie
            opinionatedchef Aug 20, 2013 02:02 PM

            exc. choices, j. Look forward to your report and hope everything is a hit!

            1. re: opinionatedchef
              k
              kewpie Aug 31, 2013 10:54 PM

              How did Oleanna work out with your restrictions? Great to have a follow up ( there's quite a few nuts used in their menu)

            2. re: jinxie
              c
              calisson Aug 20, 2013 06:36 PM

              Toscanini's is a good idea for sure--I think their ice cream is superb. They do fabulous a Burnt Caramel, and my personal over the top favorite, B3 (Brown Butter, Brown Sugar, Brownie).

              I think your Friday and Saturday dinner choices are perfect as well.

              I don't know if you'll still be in town Sunday, but if so, and the idea of gluttony doesn't gross you out by then, I think the Blue Room Brunch is wonderful (plus it's very close to Kendall).

            3. viperlush Aug 16, 2013 09:56 AM

              Sunday Prix Fixe dinner at Rendezvous Central Square. Western Mediterranean. They have very good seafood dishes and is good at dealing with allergies. I've dined there with a couple shellfish allergic people and a garlic allergic person and they have had so problems.

              http://www.rendezvouscentralsquare.com/sunday-prix-fixe/

              Another restaurant that is a Chowhound favorite in Cambridge is Oleana. Eastern Mediterranean. I've found more success with the meze portion of the menu than the larger plates (fried mussels, spiced carrot puree, whipped feta). The patio is first come first serve so even without a reservation it is possible to still eat there.
              http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/eat-a...

              Both within walking distance of your hotel (15minish) or a short cab.

              9 Replies
              1. re: viperlush
                a
                addiez Aug 16, 2013 11:31 AM

                Ditto Oleana.

                1. re: viperlush
                  jinxie Aug 16, 2013 12:54 PM

                  Oleana is definitely on our list. We're narrowing it down, for dinner, between:

                  Oleana
                  Puritan and Company
                  Grill23

                  we want a nicer place for saturday night- and the boyfriend wants steak- so it looks like Grill23

                  now for Friday- it's either Oleana or Puritan and Company.

                  1. re: jinxie
                    opinionatedchef Aug 16, 2013 07:25 PM

                    i would really encourage you to choose Oleana, one of Boston's most unique menus. Oleana was just featured in a Boston Globe review (3 stars out of 4, and very few get that many stars.) Here's the link. I found the review very articulate about the experience there. It would also be a great contrast to Grill 23 's menu.

                    http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/food-dining/2013/08/06/restaurant-review-cambridge-far-flung-flavors-and-new-england-ingredients-keep-chef-ana-sortun-oleana-relevant/7DvxS1YOGOjn1WIeTPV6HM/story.html

                    Boston Report from Toronto hound:
                    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/860499

                    1. re: jinxie
                      Matt H Aug 16, 2013 07:28 PM

                      I really like Grill 23 and its my favorite steak house in town, but at the end of the day its a high end steak house, the type of place you can basically find anywhere. I would point you to other options like Prezza which has great steak dishes but other options as well. Places like Craigie on Main and Puritan and Company also have at least one steak dish on the menu as well and are better representations of a more unique Boston food experience.

                      Another recommendation for Oleana as well for Friday night, excellent choice.

                      Come to think of it a weekend of the following would be fantastic:

                      Friday night: Oleana
                      Saturday: Puritan and Co
                      Sunday Brunch: Craigie on Main

                      Enjoy your visit!

                      1. re: Matt H
                        k
                        kimfair1 Aug 18, 2013 02:39 PM

                        If the boyfriend wants steak, try Bogie's Place in the back of JM Curley's. Great steaks and sides, and a step down in price for your average corporate steak house.

                        1. re: kimfair1
                          Matt H Aug 18, 2013 02:53 PM

                          Actually this is a fantastic recommendation.

                          1. re: Matt H
                            a
                            addiez Aug 19, 2013 07:27 AM

                            Yeah I would recommend Bogie's Place far above Grill 23. I haven't been, but Boston Chops has been getting good reviews for steak also.

                      2. re: jinxie
                        kobuta Aug 17, 2013 12:29 PM

                        I have yet to try Oleana (gasp) but my experienced at Puritan & Co was mixed. I've heard nothing but raves about Oleana, so I would place that one higher as a must try.

                      3. re: viperlush
                        f
                        fredid54 Aug 17, 2013 12:14 PM

                        Hi there -

                        A couple of additions to OC's terrific list -

                        In Union Sq Allston (bus from H, or Green line) there are "S and I" for great Thai (especially if you like very spicy dishes - make sure you order from pics or "Thai" menu - not Americanized Thai dishes, read CH posts for some ideas) and YoMa, for really good Burmese -

                        If it's of interest, Lowell makes a very nice day trip by MBTA commuter rail - great Cambodian food and interesting history in the National Park Service mills...

                      4. Science Chick Aug 16, 2013 09:21 AM

                        Seems like you are open to alot of things....here is a wonderful overview that one of our beloved Boston hounds posted. A couple of years old, so it doesn't mention new places of note, but it should help:
                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/781155

                        BTW, very few restaurants here are seafood-only, so if you find a good place, chances are you will both be able to get what you like!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Science Chick
                          jinxie Aug 16, 2013 12:53 PM

                          This is amazing- thanks.

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