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Aug 24, 2013 06:54 AM

NYC couple - 3 days/nights of recs!!

Up from Brooklyn for three nights in late Sept without the kids! We have visited many times and usually do lunch at Neptune one day, dinner at B&G or Butcher Shop on another, and run the gamut in between. We have done Craigie, No 9, Prezza, Pigalle, Aquitaine, etc. - each for different reasons/circumstances.

This trip, we are holding reservations at Hungry Mother, Oleana, and B&G, but might drop B&G. Where should we go instead? Prefer to not go to Cambridge since we have two dinners there already but are staying downtown. On the other hand, we will go wherever necessary if urged!

Looking for laid back and "distinctly Boston" restaurants that we won't find back home in NYC. As much as I'd like to try Peach Farm or Coppa some day, this isn't the trip for that. Seeking fun, casual spots that are big on ambience/color and void of affectation, pretense or drawn-out tasting menu meals!

If we did hit Cambridge for a 3rd night, any thoughts on Bondir vs Chez Henri? Back in Boston, how about Franklin Cafe?

For lunch...
Beacon Hill: Marliave or Artu if we are downtown/Beacon Hill? Newbury: Where else besides Stephanie's?
Fort Pt/ICA: Sportello, Tavern Rd, 75 on Liberty????

Pushing the envelope here, but any recs on a killer walk-in spot for jazz/blues in Cambridge after Oleana or Hungry Mother. Eyeballing Wally's Cafe back in Boston for one night as well, but clueless in Cambridge. Note: we are mid-40s and need a little more elbow room than when we were 25 ;)


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  1. chez henri is in transition and except for the cubano hasn't been worth visiting in a long time.

    drop b&g and go to island creek oyster bar and then have cocktails next door at either hawthorne or eastern standard. check red sox schedule though-- these places are always busy, but are a zoo pre- and post-game.

    personally have laid off franklin for food -- seems every menu item veers toward "sweet" and lacks appeal for me. good place for drinks though. their sister place, citizen's, is a good time too.

    please do not spend even $1 at stephanie's. on newbury, la voile is tiny, but good casual french food.

    if you're downtown, try jm curley's instead of marliave. my visits to marliave have all been marred by incompetent service and meh food, although the space is cool. beacon hill try lala rokh or scampo -- the latter has a mozzarella bar and a gorgeous private patio.

    cambridge, especially kendall square, has been booming with new spots that are big faves on this board, including west bridge, catalyst and area 4.

    near ica i do like tavern road and 75 is good, but nothing special. sam's on the waterfront is a personal favorite, even if they had a rocky opening.

    wally's can get pretty cramped. the regatta bar in cambridge is a more grown-up room for music. also lots of music at toad, lizard lounge and johnny d's.

    others will weigh in on brooklyn voids that we might offer to fill, but i don't go there much. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Thx very much for the feedback! We tried E. Standard and were not overly impressed. Not bad, but didn't really strike me as particularly unique in terms of ambience, etc.

      Catalyst looks great, but my wife will divorce me if I her drag her to Westbridge. Schnitzel made from beef heart with kimchi, pecan and yogurt is exactly the sort of "chef-y" afffectation we are trying to avoid!! Area Four, on the other hand, seems like hella fun!

      Thx for Sam's looks like a killer spot. Very happy to learn of La Voile. And Scampo is an excellent call!

      Thx for playing :)

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        "drop b&g and go to island creek oyster bar and then have cocktails next door at either hawthorne or eastern standard. check red sox schedule though-- these places are always busy, but are a zoo pre- and post-game."


        Sorry to hear about your impression of ESK, if you try again, start with the bar.

      2. What about something like Casa Portugal in Cambridge (a short walk down the street from Ryles Jazz club)? I love going here when I need a break from the locavore/nose-to-tail/fancy burgers/beet-and-goat-cheese salads of the world. There's absolutely nothing hip or trendy about this place; both service and decor sway towards "old world". But it's solid.Portuguese food is probably one of the few cuisines that my New Yorker friends don't have on any kind of regular basis.

        3 Replies
        1. re: LeoLioness

          Thanks LL! I like the idea of Casa and you're right -- I honestly can not recall when we last ate Portugese food...that usually requires a road trip to Newark which does not rank high on the list of priorities. Back to Casa, I think I'd go for it were it not for wanting a room that goes beyond strictly utilitarian/no-frills. Trying to get a little bit of a vibe to compliment the meal (and company!).

          1. re: lazylghtng

            I think Hotoy has given you very excellent advice (except for La Voile where we had a very meh experience, but it was only once.) Like you, i am not an Eastern Standard fan and I also found Hungry Mother a major disappointment. Bondir goes for 'pure unadorned' flavor i.e. no wine sauces, little spice, no cheese.... I love the room but found the food clean but boring.

            A few more thoughts:

            Sycamore( a 30 min MBTA ride to Newton.) has some neat inventive twists and i particularly like their Daily Board- a Pork or Duck etc.board with 4 mini presentations of protein,starch,sauces or compote...a lot of fun and wonderful robust flavors.

            Regina's Pizza No. End for iconic authentic Boston character and Boston's best pizza (lunch)

            Cambridge (and MA's) Portuguese community is Azorean. If you do go to Casa Portugal, I hope you will get their Pork w/ Clams.

            ICOB(Isl. Creek) has a really great lobster short rib taglierini w/ chanterelles, and a tremendous honey glazed biscuit, as well as oysters.....

            Strip T's (Watertown near Harv Sq.) and Ribelle (Brookline) are both run by a talented ex Momofuku chef, and are casual and fun with some great inspiring Asian and regional influences and components.

            Oleana has such a great unique menu and the spice and herb seasonings can make for quite the palate expanding experience. If you can get seating on the patio or overlooking the patio- those are lovely.

            Given where you've eaten, I would do:
            Oleana, ICOB, Ribelle or Sycamore for dinner;
            and lunch at Regina's, JMCurley's, and maybe Sam's or Tavern Rd.

            Hope you have a wonderful time.

            1. re: opinionatedchef

              Brilliant OC! Thx for the input. Just cancelled B&G and replaced with ICOH :)

        2. One more suggestion for dinner: take a 15 min subway ride from downtown to Jamaica Plain and eat at Ten Tables. Food is awesome, service is always great, tiny space with an open kitchen and servers who'll talk to you about the meal. Plus you'll see a different Boston neighborhood.

          Also for lunch - there are locations of Joanne Chang's Flour Bakery in Fort Pt and in Back Bay for great sandwiches and the some of the best pastries in Boston.

          1 Reply
          1. re: nseton

            Taking the subway to JP means quite a long walk to Centre St. And 10 Tables.

            Take the 39 bus from Copley which will drop you off right in front or at least within a block or so.

          2. In Cambridge, for jazz, besides Ryles and Regatta Bar, there is Scullers and The Lilypad .

            1. UPDATE:

              Until a few hours ago, I had reservations at Oleana, Island Creek, and Hungry Mother...but we just had to move the trip back a week and I was unable to pull Island Creek for the new dates (although I squeaked by with the others!). Any suggestions? Does not have to be seafood, etc. (after all, we will def hit Neptune) but am pretty bummed to miss out on the ICOH buzz. Looking for a good replacement with plenty of color and vibe. Thx all!!

              11 Replies
              1. re: lazylghtng

                That's cause the Yankees are in town and ICOB is steps from Fenway.

                Personally it will be a crazy scene around there but you could call and see if they have availability in mid-game say at 8 or 830. Likely not.

                What kind of place would you want to replace it with?

                1. re: C. Hamster

                  The Yankees are in town this weekend. Pushing it back a week means the OP will probably miss the regular season entirely.

                  1. re: mkfisher

                    Yep, that is correct -- the night in question is the 26th. The (home) season concludes the night before!! Thx everyone.

                    1. re: mkfisher

                      My bad. I thought it was changing it from this weekend to next.

                      I should learn to read.

                  2. re: lazylghtng

                    well, after the completely stellar meal we had tonnight at Strip T's, that would be my choice. Otherwise, Sycamore.

                    1. re: lazylghtng

                      The ICOB chef's main restaurant is Lineage in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. It's much more sedate but the bar has a buzz and they serve a very good meal (lots of fish) with some interesting cocktails and good things coming out of the brick oven. Have you gone to Hamersley's Bistro in the south end? It's a classic and again, a little more sedate but very well done and Gordon H. was a pioneer. People have different views on Cinquecento also in the south end but that's buzzing so much you can barely hear yourself think. Another possibility is Boston Chops on Washington St. And I too think taking the 39 bus to Ten Tables is a good idea.

                      1. re: lazylghtng

                        Any thoughts on:

                        Russel House Tavern
                        Mare Oyster Bar
                        Hungry I
                        Highland Kitchen

                        1. re: lazylghtng

                          My favorite place on that list is Highland Kitchen. Bergamot is also a board favorite, though not mine.

                          Are you doing lunch at Tavern Road? If not, why not do dinner there.

                          1. re: mkfisher

                            I may be in the minority, but I think Tavern Road is better for lunch than dinner.

                        2. re: lazylghtng

                          Did you check w/ICOB to see if they had any bar-seating reservations(if you don't mind eating at the bar)?

                          1. re: Taralli

                            Taralli, brilliant! Just called and grabbed a couple of seats at the bar (which is just fine by me, anyway)!! Many thx for the smart heads up rec ;)