I got to Boston a few hours ahead of Dave who came in from Philadelphia. I made a beeline to Legal Seafood, a Boston-based chain, which had a restaurant a few blocks from our hotel. I used to come to Boston for MacWorld every August, and we would always go to Legal Seafood for lobster because it was good and cheap. I reconnected with a former colleague, John T., on Facebook shortly before the trip as I recalled one time when we had a large crowd at Legal Seafood near Copley Plaza. A few of us were pretty looped which led John to grab two large lobster heads and spent the rest of the evening wearing them as sneaker tips. We laughed literally all night!
I ordered the small lobster with broccoli and cole slaw, and I just couldn’t resist a cup of clam chowder. The chowder was good but not great as New England Clam Chowder should be in Boston. The cole slaw had way too much dressing, and the broccoli wasn’t cooked. But even more disappointing was the lobster. It was chewy and not tender and lacked flavor. So maybe one would consider $28.95 for a 1.25 lb. lobster a deal, but nothing’s ever a deal if the food isn’t good. The service, however, was excellent.
I had a second chance when the following evening, we went with one of Dave’s colleagues and his Wellesley daughter to the Legal Seafood at Harvard. I was equally disappointed, and this time, the waiter was clueless, bringing out the entrees long before we had finished with our appetizers. He was blatant in his effort to turn his table for higher tips. He lost on that account as our tip was half of what our normally generous one is.
We had so many plans for Boston – Chihuly was at the Museum of Fine Arts, there’s a new contemporary art museum (the first new museum in Boston in 100 years!!), the JFK Presidential Library, a professional LaCrosse game at Harvard, many neighborhood walking, biking and bus tours. Instead, we chose to walk a few miles to B&G Restaurant, a restaurant recommended by several of the people Dave had visited for business the day before. What a lovely, quaint place. Service was excellent. We had a La Gitano Manzanilla Sherry which went perfect with the oysters. It’s so great to be able to taste and learn about oysters from the ‘right’ coast. Many/most are from Prince Edward Island in Canada. When I asked why there weren’t any Massachusetts oysters on the list, our waiter told us that there was so much snow during the winter that the runoff made it difficult to grow and harvest oysters. I guess that means that Prince Edward Island has some form of shelter for their farming. Sounds like a trip I’d like to take to investigate.
The oysters were expensive, in my opinion, ranging from $2.75 to $3 each, but in this case, we got what we paid for. The raw clams should have been Littleneck, but instead they were Cherrystone which were WAY too large for me. Dave had to down all of them and agreed that Cherrystones should be savored in chowder or other cooked methods. We ordered appetizers to complete our meal. The Brandade Fritters (made from salt cod, aka brandade) were good, but they were a bit too salty. The clam chowder at B&G was super good with a light vs. thick broth. I’m always amazed how chefs can dice potatoes into perfect cubes!! There were big chunks of clams and bacon in this chowder. We finished up with steamed clams that were in a tomato broth, served with slices of toast. They seemed very Spanish with the tomato and spice making these steamed clams an unusual treat.
We then headed back out on our walk to find this funky chocolate antique place with more junk and fun stuff in one small space than one could imagine. They had a signed, framed MVP picture of Kenny Stabler for $225, and we racked our brains to figure out which of our friends might get a kick out of this deal, only to decide not to deal with schlepping (a word that would become near and dear to me in New York where it is enjoying a renaissance).
We wanted to have a drink at the Ritz Carlton Hotel where we stayed in the mid-80s on a boondoggle too lengthy to discuss. Situated in a beautiful old-style Boston building, it was at that time the nicest hotel we had ever stayed at. I knew exactly where it was across from Boston Commons and down the street from Cheers, the pub from the series. We got to that point, and there sat The Taj. There must be some mistake. I’m really good at direction. I turned on the trusty iPhone Maps to find the Ritz Carlton in an alley directly across from The Taj which would mean another 1/2 mile walk. Yes, indeed, about ten years ago, the Ritz Carlton sold their former location and built a new, modern one off the of the main drag. I was hugely disappointed!
We stopped in at Woodward at The Ames Hotel for a cocktail before heading home. Looks like a nice restaurant, and the hotel owners also own The Clift in San Francisco. I wouldn’t put these two hotels in the same league as The Ames is modern and new and The Clift is a San Francisco institution. I plan to stay at The Ames next time – I like the feel of the place and the location. (We stayed at The Langham, a Hong Kong chain – Dave stays at their hotel there, and we really liked it, but it’s in the Financial District which shuts down over the weekend, EVEN the Starbucks!!)
Dave had had a grueling few weeks, so we opted to stay close to the hotel and headed to Umbria Prime for an early dinner. It’s only a block away from the hotel. Their prices were quite reasonable – 24 oz ribeye for $45 which is at least a third less expensive than you’ll find at steakhouses. We also shared a fabulous tagliatelle with wild mushrooms and truffles that was rich enough to compete with the deliciously prepared steak. A super meal.
Coffee may be getting the best of me as I woke up on Sunday quite nauseous. We took our time moving, and ended up a few blocks away at Mr. Dooley’s for breakfast. This is a traditional Irish pub with NO TVs and legitimate Irish fare, like rasher instead of bacon, baked beans and other things that the Irish breakfast must include. However, although the ‘Blue Laws’ have minimized since my first travels to Boston, one still cannot get a beer or alcoholic beverage until 10am on Sunday.
We packed up and headed to South Station about 6 blocks from our hotel. We grabbed the 1:15pm Acela Amtrak Express to New York, the first time I’ve been on an Amtrak train on the right coast. It was a 3:35 trip, and the train was packed. I really enjoyed the experience, and it was fun to ‘land’ at Penn Station to make our way to Midtown where we were staying.