My wife attended a conference in Boston last week and I tagged along. While Boston has awesome Italian food and, no doubt, great pizza we decided to explore other options.
The first place we dined was Hammersley's Bistro. I took a class from Gordon (Hammersley) several years ago and often cook from his bistro cook book. I was excited about eating in his restaurant. Knowing we faced a belt busting dining schedule we opted to share the special appetizer of salmon pate en croute. My wife is a sucker for figs and blue cheese so whe opted for the filet mignon with fig and blue cheese brioche. I had the Spicy Halibut and Clam Roast with Bacon Braised Greens, White Beans and Black Trumpet Mushrooms. Both were absolutely spectacular. We sadly passed on dessert and walked back to our hotel otherwise quite pleased!
Two nights later the conference schedule gave us another opening to dine out and we went to Clio. Chef Orringer really impressed us when he beat Cat Cora on Iron Chef America several years ago. We decided to go all out and ordered the fourteen course tasting menu with paired wines. This is not for the faint of wallet, people who want familiar food, or people in a rush. Servings are naturally small to very small but the total amount of food is IMO more than adequate and the quality and creativity out standing. Our waitress was superb and poured great wine pairings generously! The details of the courses gets ridiculous but featured shrimp and crab and sashimi baby amberjack and lobster and an egg poached at 60 degrees C for 2 1/2 hours, loin of lamb, a cheese course and two dessert courses. It lasted 3 1/2 hours. We felt it was the most creative meal we have had and would highly recommend it to those who want a far out dining experience and won't gag at the cost.
Our final night in Boston we dined at Locke-Ober. A friend had insisted we dine there. On-line reviews were a bit uneven but the food generally got great reviews. Comments about the ambiance were a bit strange. But... in consideration of our friend we went. And boy were we glad! Turn the clock back 80 to 120 years and enter the past from an alley (yes it faces an alley!). The interior is very dark wood, heavily carved. Gleaming silver and napkins and serving pieces. Two long, beautiful heavily carved bars. Wide table spacing and a subdued noise level to allow conversations. It smelled old but not unpleasantly. And it looked older - like you were walking into a posh country club. This is the land of the rich and the political. It was one of JFK's favorite restaurants. You can easily see the rich and famous at the tables. To an older crowd the look is more familiar. To kids it is apparently strange! But the food was to die for. Butter and cream and old style French dominate. Trying to be good, my wife opted for an Avocado and Watercress salad with Sugared Rice Wine Vinegar and Crispy Sunchokes. I didn't hold back - I had the Foie Gras with Tempura Bacon, Spring Plum, Huckleberry Jus and Black Vinegar Drops. However, my wife got even by ordering the Lobster Savannah (a boiled lobster, removed from the shell. mixed with a decadent sauce and put back in the shell). I had the Dover Sole Bonne Femme with Morel Cream sauce. Both were simply awesome. For dessert we had no choice but to split a Baked Alaska. Our server has worked at the restaurant for thirty years and was superb. Almost every dish involved some tableside final touches and he was awesome to watch. Wine prices were quite reasonable. This was the most retro experience I have had in years but we loved it (though we are now paying our dues by eating skinny again!)
All in all these were three very different but very satisfying dining experiences. None were even moderately inexpensive but all are memorable and worthy of recommending.
Slimming back down!
WOw. I don't know how I missed this, but thanks for the write-up, Jay. The only thing better than getting to go to these places is having their tale told by someone who loves food.
Glad you enjoyed it. Should you find yourself in Boston I can highly recommend any of the three. They were quite comparable in quality though the price ranged pretty dramatically. We also ate at the Union Oyster House which is the oldest restaurant in the US. It was pretty good too.
Hope you have a great summer up there in Minnesota!
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