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Boston Trip Report (loooong!)

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Boston Trip Report (loooong!)

eiko | Dec 15, 2003 10:45 PM

Hi Boston Hounds!

Just finishing up a great trip to Boston (extended a bit because Logan closed for a snowstorm-- thanks for the last minute breakfast recs in South End for this morning!). We mostly lurk on the board, because we're from the Mid-Atlantic in a town with very limited choices, so we've not much to contribute locally.

But we travel a lot on business, we love good food, and have spent a great deal of time here getting some great recommendations for New Orleans, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and others. In fact, we were in San Francisco last November, got some great restaurant recommendations from Limster's posts from before he left, and now it appears we've kind of followed him East! Thanks, Limster... for recommendations for great meals on both Coasts!

So here goes...

I arrived Tuesday for business. Booked for the Clarendon Square Inn on Brookline in the South End. Nice small inn, geat location... a bit high maintenance, but well worth it for the location, price and quality of the rooms/suites.

Met local friends for dinner at Tanjore (their pick), an Indian place in Cambridge, for a fun meal. Atmosphere was nice, we had a great table, and they had a decent, reasonably priced wine list. I don't know much about Indian cuisine, but everything we ordered (two appetizers, three entrees) was absolutely enjoyable. Including wine, the entire check was around $100 for three, plus tip. Again, without knowing much about the cuisine, I thought it was a good meal, easy, laid-back experience, and a good value.

Wednesday night's dinner was at Thai and Spicy in Porter Square. Again, their pick-- I enjoy Thai, but don't know much about the cuisine. No expert here, but dinner for four: two appetizers, four entrees, and four glasses of wine, plus gratuity, entire check under $100-- service was as efficient as I could ever ask for, we all shared everything and didn't have a single dish we didn't all enjoy wholeheartedly. As someone posted on here previously, the decor is a bit funky, but I'd go back in a heartbeat for a fun, casual, inexpensive meal.

On Thursday afternoon, I grabbed lunch at the Baja Cantina in the South End, on Dartmouth just a block from the Back Bay T on my way to the MFA for the afternoon. Atmosphere was lowbrow funky Mexican, service was great, but the food wasn't exceptional. I know and love good Mexican, and was just looking for some basic comfort food on a cold rainy afternoon, so I ordered some enchiladas and a glass of the house red. The enchiladas were a bit goopy and mushy, but there was plenty of good dark meat spiced pulled chicken to dig into. All in all, not bad. Wouldn't go out of my way for it again, but if I found myself starving, cold and wet on another Boston winter afternoon, it wouldn't kill me to duck in there for a quick lunch again to dry out and warm up.

My husband joined me in town Thursday night for the weekend. I'd made reservations at Perdix on Tremont in the South End, just a few blocks from the inn, because I figured he'd be cold, wet and tired from getting in from Logan, and probably would be late, too. True all the way around-- cold, tired, wet, and incredibly late. Original reservations were for 8 pm, we finally made it by 9:15 (of course I'd called periodically to apprise them of our progress, or lack thereof). Food was well executed, service was good, though it was kind of made clear to us that we were the last table seated, the last meals out of the kitchen, and everyone wanted to just.go.home. A bit of a surprise to be told this on a Thursday night at 10 pm, when our entrees were arriving and the restaurant advertised as serving till 10:30, but ok... food was well-executed, wine list good, we'll just chalk it up to having to hit it at a more opportune time.

Friday was my husband's birthday, and he's a history geek, so we hit the Freedom Trail first thing. It was a great walk, educational (even for the clueless, like me, who can barely remember the date of the Revolutionary War!) We were freezing cold and hungry, and finally stopped in the middle for lunch at Antico Forno. I grew up with my father and grandpapa cooking Italian, and when the hot plate of gnocchi was set in front of me that just steamed roasted garlic into my face, I was *happy*. Really, really, happy. It wasn't haute cuisine, and it didn't have to be. A couple of steaming bowls of soup, a couple of glasses of chianti, a fat bowl of roasted seafood for my husband and gnocchi for me with enough garlic to fell an elephant, and we were fortified enough to make it to Bunker Hill.

We then wandered back to the inn to thaw out for dinner at Sel de la Terre. I'd done a ton of research on the board for this dinner, because I had a lot to live up to-- last year's birthday dinner was at Gary Danko in San Francisco (which was good, but we had more fun at the Fifth Floor the next night... oh well, I missed by 24 hours, what can you do?)

But I've got to hand it to the Hounds, flat. Sel de la Terre was an absolute *blast*. We had a GREAT time. Food was fantastic, wines were great, service was top-notch. We had a beautiful Bordeaux, a fun, fruity California chardonnay, four fantastic courses, plus dessert, my husband had his choice of great Scotches for after dinner, and after being there for half the da** night and having fun every step of the way, not only did they NOT rush us out the door, but actually sent us home with pastries for breakfast... It was a fantastic birthday meal-- great food, great wine, great service, great fun, and all in all, just a fantastic dining experience. Couldn't have asked for better!

Saturday was not a Chowhoundish day-- we slept late, hit the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and cafe for food because we wer just *starving,* and had dinner with friends. Just ok lunch, and phenomenal dinner, but they're just not open to the public, ya know?

Sunday, we plodded down the block to the Pajama Brunch at 647 Tremont, as always, thanks to recommendations from the board. We showed up looking like drowned (or seriously hung-over) rats, early Sunday, and we had a great brunch with fresh oj, spicy bloodys, crabcakes and eggs. It was a lot of fun, and we emerged ready to face the world again-- no small feat, considering we'd poured out the doors of Sel de la Terre, fat drunk and happy only ten hours before...

We were supposed to be gone out of town Sunday evening, but the weather had other plans for us. We re-arrived at the Clarendon Square Inn Sunday night, after having spent three hours at Logan Airport waiting for our flight to depart. Thank God our gate was next door to Legal Seafood... The food sucked, but the wine list was good, they had good Scotch, the mark-up didn't give us heart attacks (for an airport bar), and really, what else are you going to do for three hours waiting for your flight to be cancelled?

So we came back to the Inn, and got some great recommendations for Charlie's for breakfast this morning from the board (thanks, guys!). Unfortunately, we kinda overslept breakfast (overestimated the lethal effect of the airport bar the night before), but made it to the Parish Cafe for lunch, on the way to the Museum of Science. We had a couple of good sandwiches (yes, I admit I sucked down a Zuni Roll and *several* Diet Pepsi's for the caffiene, and enjoyed every inch of it), and the Museum was a lot of fun-- a great way to kill a cold windy afternoon.

Dinner was at Acquitaine-- great wine list (though the mark-up's a bit steep) and the food was well executed, to be sure. We didn't have the greatest table, kind of crowded near the door, but we expected it without reservations so close to the holidays. All in all, a good meal, though we wish we had the opportunity to go back for a more leisurely time.

Now, we're headed out for our second go at Logan tomorrow morning, after a good breakfast at Charlie's.

Thanks, 'hounds, for great Boston recommendations-- we had a blast in the city, and some incredible meals thanks to you... can't wait to come back!

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