I don’t cook. Not very well, anyway. In fact, friends and family would not be surprised (and hopefully not offended) when I say that I come from a long line of marginal chefs. I have no culinary qualifications or training, but I do, however, enjoy eating. And in Boston, there is plenty of opportunity for excellent food.
I originally planned for my visit to Boston to be all about sightseeing the history and architecture of the city, primarily by foot, but as you would expect, this became hungry work! My first escapade was a self-guided walking tour of the Freedom Trail. I was enthralled by the history but by mid morning I was famished. Conveniently, Faneuil Hall is about half way through the trail. Just behind the historic building is a series of restored 19th Century buildings that house the Faneuil Hall Marketplace. This is a commercial center that is home to dozens of retail and food vendors. You can get anything from pizza to chicken strips, steak to seafood. My choice was a lobster roll and very possibly the best lobster bisque I have ever tasted. Absolutely delish! And that had nothing to do with my hunger factor.
After completing the Freedom Trail, we took the water shuttle from the Charlestown Navy Yard to Long Wharf. Before visiting the Aquarium, I was going to need food again, and luckily Legal Seafood was at my service. This franchised restaurant is a great choice for just about any seafood since everything is either local or flown in fresh daily. My companion and I shared a bucket of clams, Oysters Legal, and of course, the requisite clam chowder. Mmm, I think I can make it till dinner!
One of my favorite parts of Boston is the North End, home to a vibrant Italian community and absolutely packed with restaurants. The hardest part is choosing which one but for dinner we decided on Lucca. The atmosphere is cozy and romantic and we were seated at the open sidewalk windows. Their extensive wine list was earned them a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. The executive chef, Anthony Mazotta, previously worked three years at the three Michelin starred French Laundry so the pastas were amazing, if a bit pricey. We had the wild boar rigatoni and hand-cut basil pasta with Bolognese sauce. Wow! The portions were so substantial I had to pass on their famous flourless chocolate cake.
Because of my prime people-watching view at dinner, I had seen literally dozens of Mike’s Pastries boxes go by, so we went in search of Mike. We followed the stream of boxes to the shop where the line was well out the door, so I knew this was going to be a treat! In no time we were at the counter ordering cannoli for breakfast from an amazing array of delectable options. I must confess, one of them didn’t make it through the cab ride to the hotel, but shhh, don’t tell!
I had never visited Harvard, so this trip included an afternoon wandering that venerable institution and the surrounding retail area called Harvard Square. Yep, you guess it… hungry again! We happened on the delightful Russell House Tavern where I truly believe I tasted the best burger of my life! It had smokey cheddar, bacon and caramelized onions on an English muffin. The accompanying green salad was the perfect complement. We also shared a pizza of sliced figs and fontina cheese. We lunched al fresco in the alleyway patio and it was absolute nirvana!
The Boston Public Library was the last site on my agenda. The historic building’s renaissance-style architecture includes arcaded windows, coffered ceilings, and an open-air central courtyard. Inside, John Singer Sargent murals adorn the walls. I was delighted to find that this magnificent building also serves an afternoon tea. From 2:30pm – 4:00pm on weekdays, the Courtyard Restaurant serves a variety of teas, accompanied by fruit, scones, tartlets and finger sandwiches for about $20. Perfect to sustain me until dinner!
While I didn’t go to Boston for the food, it turned out to be a very memorable part of my trip. My experiences didn’t make me want to be a better cook, but I sure did enjoy the creations of some of Boston’s finest chefs.