Did a cheap en famille Boston over this past weekend. Arrirang and Bhindi Bazaar are undistinguished all you can eat buffets which I don't recommend unless you want a feed a lot of people cheaply. Both are on Mass Ave. near the Berklee Performance Center and a few minutes from the Prudential shopping area. On the other hand, if the alternative is the MovenPick Marche in the Prudential complex, next to the Sheraton Boston, the Korean and Indian establishments win in a flash. The food is quicker, cheaper, and far tastier than the Swiss chain.
I did get to the City Bar in the Lenox Hotel right next to Azure. Two nights in a row. They make a mango puree, tequila, champagne, fresh mint drink, something like la noche loca, absolutely stunning. The calvados side car is also worth ordering. Two of those made me very happy I only had to walk back to the hotel.
The first night, Saturday, the music was canned and loud. Though if you preferred, it seems you could take your drinks in the lobby in front of the blazing fire, next to the gentle tinkles of the live piano -- very civilized. The second night, Sunday, a very pleasant jazz combo played.
I did not dine at Azure, but I did check out their menu. The normal offerings seemed fairly standard. However their New Year's Eve special was exciting and imaginative. Their website might carry it.
Three other recommendations for Boston.
Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, a few minutes walk from the Pru complex on Columbus Ave. does an outstanding turkey hash. However I would not recommend it the day after Thanksgiving. It is open from about 7 to 2, for breakfast and lunch only.
Formaggio on Huron Ave. in Cambridge and in the South End is highly recommended for exquisite takeout. We did a supper from there that was very satisfying. Their cheese selection is the best I have seen in the US. Properly aged and carefully stored. The Calwell-Bassey Stilton is rich and creamy. Their aged cantal is far better than what I got in London at the Borough Market. They also offered an Auvergne cheese that I had not seen before, Pave corezzine. Very cheddar like, with a more sophisticated aftertaste. They offer dry Toulouse sausage as well as a range of pates and other charcuteries. Their breads are excellent and on Thursday they sell freshy airshipped paine poilane.
I only know the Cambridge store, but I assume the one in the South End is comparable.
A last suggestion,very much out of the way is Wang's in Somerville for unusual northern Chinese cooking. They offer many different kinds of dumplings, all excellent. Unusual main dishes like pork fat belly with chestnuts. Pork shank with mushrooms. It is the kind of place that would give Henderson and the St. John's chain a run for their money. The establishment is a real hole in the wall, in a gritty section of a gritty suburb, about 15 minutes drive from Harvard Square. It is BYO and most people go there for takeout, but it is cheap, extremely unusual, and definitely worth a visit.
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