I just returned from a 4 day stay in Boston. We stayed at the Custom House, which I loved. It doesn't have the pampering and service level of the best hotels, but I liked the feel better--like having an awesome, full of character, spacious one bedroom view apartment in the city.
I was part of a large group with a $40/day lunch and dinner budget, so places with every entree over $20 were not in play. Being in a group of 12 eliminated a bunch of places and made it more difficult to visit every place that I wanted to go.
Our first lunch was at Lucky's, chosen fairly randomly as it was one of about 10 restaurants that were on our trolley's route from the convention center. I couldn't find it if I tried--there's no sign and you walk down stairs to get to it. It was packed so I had moderately high hopes. I split the reuben, steak tips and shredded pork sandwich with two others. The reuben was decent, the pork sandwich was okay but overwhelmed by the tangy creamy slaw and the steak tips were awful. The steak was tough to cut and chew and had a disgusting marinated flavour. The fries were the best part of the meal. After this place, I didn't feel like eating pub food the rest of the trip.
Dinner that night was at Wagamama in what I think is known as the Quincy marketplace. It's a noodle house, essentially. I liked this place in spite of low hopes given its touristy location and chain status. I had a spicy curry miso broth with fried beef strips, red chiles, sprouts, bamboo shoots, and noodles. It was very enjoyable. I also tried the chile chicken ramen which was a curry based broth with cilantro, lime, chiles and maybe lemongrass with grilled chicken. I liked this broth also but it was something that I'd not want an entire bowl of because the flavours were so strong. I also tried a beef pan fried noodle dish that was very nice.
On Saturday, we had lunch at the Good Food Cafe in Cambridge. I wanted to go here after reading the reviews of a couple of their sandwiches. I split the mozzarella, pesto and roasted red pepper sandwich, the thanksgiving turkey sandwich, and meatball sandwich with 2 others along with their minestrone soup. The mozzarella sandwich was good but I would not think about sending someone out there to try it nor would I make a return trip to have it again. It's not rave worthy. The turkey sandwich had awful stuffing/dressing. It was dark brown with the consistency of paste and tasted like he had accidentally spilled a whole jar of sage in it. All you could taste was sage. It ruined the sandwich. After scraping it off, I was left with turkey and cranberry sauce. This was quite good and I would get a turkey and cranberry panini there again without hesitation. The meatballs were sliced like meatloaf and just had nothing going for them; likewise the tomato paste like sauce. All in all, not worth a special trip to eat here.
Saturday was freezing and we'd been walking around outside for a good portion of the day. Our requirements for dinner were that the place be within a few blocks of our hotel or a T station, be less than $30/person, and not serve only one type of food--ie., a fish only place. We went to the concierge, Ellen, and she recommended wholeheartedly Durgin Park, so we went there. It was awful. The cornbread was black on the bottom, my medium rare burger was cooked medium on one side and rare/uncooked on the other and tasted barely better than seasoned cardboard, the fries were luke warm and soggy, the steamed clams were nasty, the shepherd's pie was dry and tasteless, and the chicken fingers were soggy and luke warm. Everything I tried was disgusting. Do not go here.
On Sunday, we went to Flour for sticky buns but they were sold out by the time we arrived around 10a. I had a brioche roll/bun dusted with finely granulated sugar. I really liked it, probably more than I would've a sticky bun. It wasn't cloying or overly sweet. Really nice.
Later that day, the group separated and I found myself with my girlfriend on Newbury Street. We wanted a midday snack before dinner so we ducked into Papa Razzi for a couple drinks and a pizza. We had the piccante, which has mozzarella and sausage and a couple scattered pieces of salame. I liked the feel of the place, the very pleasant staff, and the very friendly bartender. The pizza was the perfect snack--great flavour though I would've liked about an extra minute of char on the bottom of the crust. I enjoyed the harpoon IPA and a Makers and gingerale. It was a nice escape from the louder places we had been to.
That night, the 12 of us walked to Pizzeria Regina in the North End, waited in line about 25 minutes, and were seated near the front. It was a tight fit but he got our big group in without a horrendous wait. We ordered 4 or 5 pizzas--I ordered the sausage well done as was suggested on this board; others ordered a pepperoni, a veggie, a bianco and one other heavily topped pizza. All of the pizzas came out cooked the same--nicely charred in different places without being overcooked. The pizza was good but not great. The sausage didn't have much flavour. I'm used to a nice kick of fennel which I love. This sausage was so bland. The peperroni was likewise bland. It was very greasy, so it wasn't a fat content issue. I was perplexed. I found myself mixing the veggie and the pork pizzas because the veggie mixes had really nice flavour. I liked the place. I'm not sure I'd go back, but I'm glad I went. We all had a good time and that's important. The one thing that would be nice would be for them to get those raised pizza platters that allow you to hold the pizzas above the table. i had my plate on my lap because I had two pizzas stacked on top of each other right in front of me.
The next day, we went to Sultan's for lunch. Everything on the menu looked great. I had the Doner Kebab sandwich. The lamb was more gamy than I remember from the kebabs I had in Europe 10 years ago. It was still very good but a little too lamby for those on the fence about lamb, which I am not. The tandoori chicken kebab sandwich was really good but could have used a yogurt sauce to pull it together. I'd go here again.
For the plane trip, I brought an Italian sandwich from Al's on State street. It was alright, nothing memorable.
It was my first time in Boston. You guys have a great city. Beautiful buildings, very nice people.