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Boston Area Trip Report

Thanks and a trip report

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Thanks and a trip report

Jase | Jan 2, 2012 05:18 PM

Hi everyone, apologies for the delay. Life and other travels. Thanks to all the help from this thread with special thanks to opionatedchef.

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/806042

We arrived at Neptune Oyster's right on schedule, 15 minutes before they opened and we were the first in line. For starters we got the scallops, fried clams, 2 pcs each of 3 kinds of oysters and 3 kinds clams. Our mains were the lobster roll and the vittelo tonato.

This was just well worth the trouble of scheduling around. Loved how fresh everything was, but the standouts were the two sandwiches and the fried whole clams with bellies. With the clams, my first thought was I get it now. I get why all the expat New Englanders out here in LA miss this dish so much. I love how tender it was, the clam flavor, the breading that was so light, no greasiness, just a delightful introduction to this dish. The vittelo tonato was a great combination of different flavors and textures. We got the lobster roll with butter and not mayo. This just blew us away. Loved how it showcased the sweetness and flavor of the lobster meat with the butter just enhancing and not covering. We left happily sated and thrilled at a good start to our trip.

Afterwards, we walked around and tried some snacks. We went to Bova's Pastry and had a the lobster tail It was good, but it didn't blow us away. Then had a couple of slices at Regina's. A pepperoni and a margharita. Loved, loved the freshness of the flavors, the tanginess of the sauce and the texture of the crust. The flavor of the crust threw us off a little at the beginning, don't know if it was because we just tried nibbling on the crust by itself. We found it a little flat and under seasoned. But as part of the entire slice, it really worked. I think it was one of those things where maybe we were overthinking it. Bottom line, we really enjoyed it. We loved the feel and vibe of the place, people were welcoming and I can understand how it would be just a fun spot with friends.

Dinner that night was Blue Inc. We had the calamari pasta style with a meat sauce. Gnochi with lamb sausage to start and entrees of Scallops and the house specialty of duck confit with sticky rice. We enjoyed the strips of squid substituting for the pasta, paired well with the meat sauce. The gnochi was done well although the lamb sausage was on the mild side with very little lamb taste Scallops were cooked well and we enjoyed the sauce that came with it.

The house specialty dish was a somewhat of a disappointment. We found the elements way too sweet. There wasn't a good balance of the duck richness and skin crispness to offset all the sweetness in the dish. We absolutely love duck confit and it says a lot that we didn't bother finishing this dish. Conceptually I get what he was trying to do using the sweet to balance the richness but this dish was just a failure for us.

One service note, we felt somewhat ignored by our waiter and thought he was very cold to us. Maybe we were marked as tourists or didn't order alcohol, who knows. When we sat down and asked about featured dishes, he gave us a blank look and said there was nothing available. No follow up as to specials of the house or recommended dishes or inquiring about our taste. Once he took our order, we didn't see him again until we were done. The runner dropped off the food and took care of filling our glasses and those types of things. We're pretty low key and don't need any fawning service. But we were surprised at the lack of attention, especially in contrast to how chatty he was to the tables next to us.

Overall, we were fine with the meal but it wouldn't be a must return. There was nothing exciting or intriguing enough about the dishes after tasting them. The menu descriptions made them sound more interesting than the actual dishes themselves. Certainly there was nothing there that screamed out Boston to us unlike the other places on our trip.

The next day, we had lunch at the Parish Cafe. We ordered light sticking with the Mexican corn to delude ourselves that we were eating somewhat healthy. Split two sandwiches, the tuna sandwich from Ming Tsai and the Proscuitto sandwich. Both executed well, good flavor balance of all the elements. Bread was fresh. A very good lunch break for walking around that area.

After lunch, we took the scenic route walking back towards the North End and general area of our hotel. We grabbed a couple of cannoli's from Maria's. One regular and one choc filled. We decided not to get the chocolate dipped ones as we weren't sure how fresh they looked. Loved both of the ones we got. Really enjoyed the freshness of the shell and the filling. The chocolate filling texture reminded us of a custard. Wife adores cannoli's and she was thrilled with these.

We then meandered over to Monica's to get a sub to split. We settled in by the fountain near the Paul Revere statue to enjoy the sub. Loved the balance of all the flavors, the ingredient blended together to a wonderful whole. The bread to our taste had a good chewiness to complemented the fillings well. I could easily have one of these every week for lunch.

We took a longer than expected walk to dinner at Island Creek Oyster Bar. Good thing we had given ourselves some extra time to enjoy the sights. We knew it would be a long walk from Beacon Hill and it would be a great way to work up an appetite.

Upon checking in, we were seated immediately. We got a wonderful waitress. Once she found out it was our first time in town and wanted to try a bunch of different dishes, she was happy to chat and discuss our menu selections. I asked her to select 3 types of oysters that were different from what I had at Neptune. We also got clam bellies, mussels with saffron and roasted peppers, scallops and the lobster roe noodles. Waitress took the extra step of splitting up the two entrees into individual dishes for us for easier dining. A very nice touch that we hadn't even asked for and no extra charge. Dessert was the donuts with apple sauce.

We were so happy to have this as our last meal in Boston. The food was wonderful, the ambiance and service relaxed and friendly. We once again reveled in the taste of clam bellies with that lovely tenderness. The three varieties of oysters were all briny and distinct. Mussels plump, cooked properly with sauce that we were happily slurping up. Loved the two entrees. The scallop sweetness went well with the puree of sauces and the little bit of pickled vegetables. The lobster roe noodles were deserving of the acclaim. The interplay of the tender and rich short rib meat contrasted well with the lobster meat and the other ingredients. Just a lovely dish. It was a good thing the waitress had split up both entrees, otherwise my wife and I would have been fighting over the last bites of each. The waitress might have saved our marriage with that move.

Overall, we had a wonderful trip to Boston. Thank you all for the advice and help for our dining forays. One last thing I wanted to point out was the friendliness of people as we walked around. Every single time we stopped to orient ourselves and had a map out, without fail, someone would walk up to us and asked if we needed help with directions. It was all kinds of people from blue collar workers to an immaculately dressed elderly matron adorned with expensive jewelry. It was very heartwarming to experience such welcoming sentiments from random strangers. Thank you again and we hope to visit in the near future and spend even more time exploring.

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