Thursday, July 30, 2015

U.S. Adventures: Boston, MA

We had a family trip to Boston this month and instead of doing a post of each restaurant individually, since it’s far away, I am just going to do a post of the highlights and lowlights. There are so many places to eat in Boston, though—sort of overwhelming.

My favorite place that we ate was Oishii Sushi in the South End. They have sushi rolls, and they were tasty—I mean, one of our rolls included truffles and proper caviar on top ($25). The other one had lovely, soft supple salmon on top. But the real highlights here were the appetizers. My favorite was the Kobe beef Carpaccio topped with micro greens, fried shallots, and tempura pickled cherry blossoms ($25). It was amazing. My daughter fought with us for the last piece…it truly just melted on your tongue. We also had this wonderful appetizer called “salmon over fire ($30),” which was raw salmon hung over a rod over an open flame. It was seasoned perfectly and the heat just barely warmed it. It might have been a little gimmicky, but my kids thought it was cool, and I thought it was delicious. My son ordered their version of teriyaki beef ($35), which was a huge ribeye steak topped with a wonderful sauce, that was much more savory than sweet. Normally I don’t even eat these kinds of thing with so many other options, but this was delicious. The soft shell crab ($28) and tuna sashimi with fried seaweed with mango weren’t bad either. The menu is huge and I would love the chance to experiment with all of it. I could eat a different meal here for weeks. I so wish we had a place doing this level of Japanese food here in Indy. And it isn’t cheap, but wow, what a great meal.

Speaking of which, you know how I always complain about Italian food in Indy? Well going to Boston didn’t help matters. We ate one dinner at Trattoria di Monica in the North End, which is the Italian section of Boston. The restaurant was adorable—it totally reminds you of a restaurant in an old alley in Europe. Small and with tons of charm. And they take reservations! It was packed the entire time we were there. Our special starter was a bruschetta special ($12) with asparagus and a runny egg and burrata cheese. Note: bruschetta actually means it’s grilled bread, not only that it is topped with a tomato mixture. Also, I really appreciated the drizzle of balsamic on it (and they used it to some degree on most things) to give a touch of acid to everything. We noticed the pastas were huge, so we just ordered three to share (you really only need two for four people). The best was the fettuccine al nero—it was squid ink fettuccine topped with seared scallops, leeks and carrots in a barely creamy white wine sauce ($26). Wow was this dish good. They make all their pasta (ALL OF IT) in house and it shows. I loved the lighter sauce that allowed you to taste the seafood and the nuanced flavor of the pasta. It was great. My daughter would talk your ear off about how much she liked the spinach gnocchi ($23) though—she loves her gnocchi! It was pretty darn tasty too. It had a light braised pork ragout on top that didn’t overpower. My other favorite items were the light tempura fried artichoke hearts ($11)—I love artichokes in most forms, and these crunchy little bites were no exception. Loved the sliced cheese underneath and the little salad beside. Plus there was a spicy aioli to dip in as well. Not sure why none of the local Italian places use this much fresh pasta in their menus, but they should. It makes such a difference. 

We also had a meal at B&G Oysters, which I had read about somewhere and is highly rated in Zagat. It’s a cute little place—oyster bar-ish with a small patio. I was pretty blown away by the apps we had—the fried oysters were such a hit with the entire family, we had to order a second round. They were small, super fresh oysters deep-fried (I’ll bet the fried clams there are great too), but remaining light and then served on top of what they called a house tartar sauce. It was also light, more liquidy than most, and super delicious. Also, they do several things from the raw bar besides oysters and we had the ceviche of the day ($4), which was super acidic and fabulous. The crabmeat cocktail was crab mixed with Dijonaise and was also really good. They were nice dishes to have together because the flavor profiles were so different. My son loves clam chowder and had it pretty much everywhere. This was his favorite of the trip. If I lived in Boston, I can see frequently making a meal out of these apps. Unfortunately the main courses we had were not quite as good. Not bad, just didn’t stand out like the apps. The lobster BLT I had had some nice lobster on it, but just wasn’t much else going on. Hubby’s crab taglietelle was also lackluster. It’s a nice place, but I would stick with the top half of the menu. And like I said, I would have it often if it were an option for me.
one fried oyster

Of course, we had to take the kids to the Union Oyster House—it’s the oldest restaurant in Boston, or something like that. The food is pretty much what you expect, the clam chowder was solid—classic thick chowder with hunks of clam and potato. It was my favorite part of the meal. My lobster roll was fine, but I have kind of ruined myself for lobster rolls I think because I like a little more moisture and seasoning in mine than your classic lobster roll. They use just a touch of mayo and that’s it, and there’s a ton of celery in it, which I don’t use in mine. I like some lemon and some Dijon, but that’s probably not traditional. Hubby’s fried seafood platter had some delicious fried fish on it and the shrimp were good too, but nothing amazing here. It’s a cool place to end up for lunch after walking the Freedom Trail with your kids. It’s a huge, rambley kind of place with strangely shaped booths and the weirdest, smallest bathrooms. We enjoyed ourselves.

One of our favorite lunches of the trip was at Brasserie Jo, which we popped into after getting off the Duck Tour. It’s a French Bistro and it was really tasty. I had a crepe with egg, Gruyere and mushrooms, and even though it wasn’t buckwheat (my favorite), it was really good. Nice crisp edges and nice runny egg yolks. My daughter and hubby shared the bistro steak frites and both loved it. My daughter loved letting the giant hunk of herb butter melt all over the meat. My son had clam chowder (he was on a quest to try them all) and enjoyed it as well, even though it was more of a French version—slightly thinner. We all enjoyed the warm loaves of French bread that would appear regularly when the kids (ok, and us) plowed through one. The topper for the kids though were the giant profiteroles with their own pitcher of rich dark chocolate sauce to pour on as you wished. They loved them (and they were pretty darn good).

My least favorite dinner was at the Atlantic Fish Company—it was very near our hotel and easy to get a reservation for 8 people because we were meeting one of hubby’s college roommates and his family. It was more along the lines of any of your big chain seafood places, like McCormick and Schmicks or Mitchell’s. It was fine—I liked the bag of fried clams we had as an appetizer, but my tuna tartare was pretty bland and hubby’s haddock was really overcooked.  Not a place I would likely return, but it won points for convenience.

Oh, and I can’t end this post without mentioning the cannoli. The cannoli I had in Boston were amazing. I have pretty much lived my life thinking I don’t like cannoli because all the ones I have ever had were not fresh (it they are coming out of the fridge, forget about it) and the pastry was not crispy and flakey. Now I know, I like cannoli. Good cannoli. And we had them at two different bakeries in the North End, one not so crowded (Bova's Bakery) and the other one was Mike’s Pastry with lines out the door. I’d say they were equally good, and I may have even liked Bova's best because it was a little smaller and easier to eat. Regardless, I am now a fan of cannoli.
Bova's Cannoli

And one last thing, we took the kids to the Max Brenner chocolate restaurant. It was terrible. The service was bad, the food (we just had dessert) was bad, and overall I hated it. The kids will defend it to a certain extent, because it is a chocolate restaurant, but I don’t think even they would fight to go back (which is never gonna happen). 

That’s it, in a nutshell, our food adventures in Boston. It’s a great walkable City with a lot of really great places to eat. Also, because I’m super lazy, I am just linking the restaurants throughout this post instead of listing all the addresses. So click the links on each of their names if you want to learn more.



  1. Erin, after living for 14 years in New England, I was thrilled to learn that Trattoria Monica is still excellent. Love the place; the food, the staff etc. Only the location can be
    dicey especially on a Saturday night in the North End. Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. Ahh, the wife and I lived as downtown as can be for 2 years before coming back to Indy. There are so many restaurants we still miss and talk about years later. My favorites from those days (for your next trip):

    - Les Zygomates (French, near south Station, live jazz, delicious food, 2 blocks from our old place)
    - Elephant Walk (weird French/Cambodian mix, really interesting choices, great cocktails)
    - Taiwan Cafe (we lived on the edge of Chinatown - of all the nearby choices, this was my favorite for a particularly spicy pork dish)
    - Toro (tapas, nice for a fancy date night, they have an awesome corn on the cob tapa covered in cotija cheese)

    Ahh I miss these places. And now I'm hungry.