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May 17, 2014 06:58 AM

I am a Victim of Their Success

Two of my absolute favorites: JM Curley and Row 34. They are awesome. Except that I can not actually eat at either.

Yes, I get that I can reserve at Row 34 in the future - although even that is challenging for business dinners (e.g. four to eight people a week out). Curley is on my walk home, I just ... want ... a ... burger.

Anyway, *good* for them.

Any other places that, for you, are in this category?

[I have a Row 34 strategy that I will share if you don't tell anyone. Kitchen closes (mostly, they still have e.g. oysters and lobster rolls) between lunch and dinner. Get there 4:00ish, stake space at the bar, hang until the kitchen opens. Requires dining companions willing to drink and eat oysters at 4:00.]

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  1. Neptune Oyster, Toro, Drink, and Highland Kitchen are the only places I love and to which crowds limit my access. Maybe Picco, too. Coppa used to be tougher, but has eased up a bit, and I tend to go late in the evening there anyway. The bygone bar at Chez Henri would have made this list. The original Franklin Cafe, when the much-easier Franklin Southie didn't exist.

    I quite like Gourmet Dumpling House, but with Taiwan Cafe and Dumpling Cafe nearby (and both better, to my mind), I just don't bother, ever. Ditto for the cart dim sum places; I only do cartless now.

    Less important to me, but I like them, and they're routinely a pain if someone I know wants to go: the original Pizzeria Regina, the original Daily Catch, the rooftop bar at Legal Harborside.

    19 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      i am not in the restaurant biz, but if i had a huge line for my services, i would increase my prices. I guess that restaurants do not want to tamper with success.

      The new dumpling house in Cambridge had a line at noon today. Thankfully, i just live a hop-skip-and-jump from there.

      I never have trouble snagging a table at Bernadin,which was rated as the best restaurant in the country recently on a suspicious list; for a Buddhist, Eric Ripert is not shy about charging high prices.

      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

        it's common practice for new restaurants to let prices creep up soon after a successful opening.

        i only know one person who has braved the wait at the new ramen place in porter square. it was after 11:00 pm and he still had to wait 45 minutes.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          The new ramen place being Yume Wo Katare? Or is there an even newer place?

          1. re: maillard

            the place across from toad.

            my friend said it was AMAZING, but i simply won't wait that long in line for food.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              and last night we were prepared to wait BUT the ramen place was closed. lights out, doors locked, no sign. at 7:00 pm on a thursday.

              so, no line, no waiting, lol.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                that is random. In their defense/for future convenience, they do keep a calendar with when they'll be closed: looks like they've been closed all week (i'm assuming, of course, that they haven't edited that calendar after the fact in this case, but in the past i know it's been up to date in warning people)


                1. re: valcfield

                  it would be helpful to have a sign posted on the door, so it wouldn't seem so random. :)

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        I can't remember what day it was....

        it was a weekday and possibly a Monday holiday....

        We drove to Neptune and parked right in front and got in right away. Early lunch.

        If you've got stuff to do in the North End you enjoy (love that hardware store), and can repair to someone else's bar for your wait after you browse, it can be quite pleasant. Not during peak tourist season, and I've never tried dinner. Need to get home to the kid.

        Highland Kitchen, we loved. Can't handle the crowds and noise. So no more.

        1. re: Madrid

          You got a spot on Salem Street and then didn't get a ticket? I believe it's all resident parking. I hope you played the lottery that day

          1. re: libertywharf

            OK, now I was a Sunday, when the resident rules don't apply? Or it was a loading zone spot, available on Sunday? No, we didn't get a ticket. It was legal. We checked several times not believing our luck. Right in front.

            1. re: Madrid

              I always park on Salem St during the day.

              1. re: catsmeow

                Without a resident sticker, you have to be the luckiest person in the world if you get a space. I walk up and down Salem and never see an empty space,

                1. re: libertywharf

                  saelm and hanover both have visitor parking spaces. i have to be there often during the day. have never gotten a ticket.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    I am in the North End quite often and I never bring my car for the specific reason that parking is always impossible. Kudos to the people who are lucky enough to find parking anywhere in the North End during the day because from what I see it simply doesn't exist.
                    Either that..or I suppose I could congratulate you on your patience. I've seen people circle the blocks repeatedly looking for parking. I do not have that kind of patience and would prefer to just walk.

                    On the other hand..I hope the easy parking in front of Neptune isn't an indication of slowing business ;-)

                    1. re: BlueMagic

                      I doubt it was slowing business. It was a loading zone not applicable the day and time when we showed up. We drove only because I was recovering from a hip replacement.

                  2. re: libertywharf

                    I don't have a resident sticker. I don't usually have a problem in the. North End on weekdays. I can usually even get parking on Hanover St. On weekends, I won't go near the neighborhood.

                    1. re: catsmeow

                      A lot of places validate for the Haymarket garage.

                      1. re: catsmeow

                        nights, weekends i do not attempt. i have flex time during the day so can have a drink elsewhere and wait for neptune or get into coppa no problem.

                        that being said, for a long time on this board the only seafood restaurant rec was "NEPTUNE OYSTER!!!!!!". gah, it seats like 30. whaddya expect? thank the baby jesus icob and row 34 are picking up the slack. for a city on the ocean we were sham for seafood.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          i love the pan roasted lobster at Jasper's summer shack. there are some other good things, too.

          2. Highland Kitchen is my biggie on this list. Time was, you could get in and out in a quiet hour if you showed up right when they opened, but no chance of that these days - you can still get in, but you’ll be bumping elbows.

            3 Replies
            1. re: enhF94

              Oddly, Saturday nights at Highland Kitchen (after 9) tend to be one of the quieter times.

              1. re: enhF94

                We eat pretty regularly at Highland Kitchen on Tuesday and Thursday nights. We've never had a problem getting a table right when we walk in.

                1. re: gini

                  You will now - bwa-ha-ha! I’m takin’ your seat.

              2. Definitely JM Curley. The last time I was there (on a weeknight) I snagged the last bar stool at about 5:20.

                I've given up on Neptune Oyster after I tried to go for a late weekday lunch and was quoted a 45 minute wait time.

                1. Like Yogi Berra once said: "That place is too crowded. Nobody goes there anymore"

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: newhound

                    We were in line at Neptune one day, and a lady in front of us was throwing a fit because there was an hour wait. Her exact words, "This place is never going to last if everyone has to wait like this." Huh??

                      1. re: maestrette

                        Nobody goes there's too crowded :)...oops, Newhound beat me to it!! Should learn to read previous posts!!!!! Can I delete a post?

                    1. The Hawthorne. I miss the early days when you could have a top-notch experience there even on a weekend. I wish they'd lower their max. capacity because the crowds they allow in turn it into just another overbearing, crowded bar scene. With the decor and talent it can be so much more. And it seems they could make just as much money keeping fewer customers happily well-oiled than having a bunch of stuffed sardines trying to flag down an overworked bartender.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: pollystyrene

                        This is why my favorite time to go to The Hawthorne is at 5pm Mon-Wed. We sit at the bar, generally alone for a while, being able to talk to Nicole, Mike, Katie, and all my other favorite staff.

                        1. re: kimfair1

                          And don't forget Dan and Carrie! Are they still there? The last time I attempted a visit, I ended up waving to the bartenders from afar, shrugging and leaving.

                          1. re: pollystyrene

                            I would never forget Dan or Carrie! I first met Carrie at Craigie on Main. Since my wife and I both work in the hospital area, the 5pm thing is almost always best for us. We did go in about 7pm on a Friday not too long ago, but it wasn't bad yet. Pretty crazy when we left, though, and we did score the last two seats at the bar.

                        2. re: pollystyrene

                          I agree. Going at 5 is just not always practical (or frankly, desirable). I love the drinks and service and interior, but the last three times I've been at the standing bar. It makes it hard to appreciate any of these things.