No Beans About It: Iconic Boston Dishes
Baked beans, Boston cream pie, fried clams. Whether or not Bostonians chow down daily on these dishes, it seems the rest of the world thinks we’re shoveling them in non-stop. Truth be told, there are a few other things that define the city’s tastes. Check out these three downtown restaurants that give you a bit of Boston, minus the culinary clichés.
No. 9 Park (9 Park Street, 617-742-9991): It doesn’t take a genius to figure out where this place is located. Once you pull your eyes away from the picturesque views of the Boston Common and State House from inside this elegant Beacon Hill townhouse, get down to the business of dining. This is one of the best places to delight in the creations of Chef Barbara Lynch (you might have heard of her – James Beard Award-winner, Food & Wine‘s “Ten Best New Chefs in America”, and the only female in the country to hold the title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux). Here she blends Italian and French flavors for a knock-out menu. Whether you go with the three-course prix fixe or you’re an a la carte kinda gal/guy, order her Prune-Stuffed Gnocchi. This is one of the best-known Boston dishes far and wide. The New York Times called it “a no-holds-barred spectacle.” With pillowy potato gnocchi, vin santo-soaked prunes, foie gras and crunchy almonds, was this one of the reasons for kudos from Boston Magazine’s Best of Boston and 50 Best Restaurants, as well as Improper Bostonian’s Boston’s Best? I’m guessing so.
Neptune Oyster (63 Salem Street, 617-742-3474): You can’t swing a fork without hitting a lobster roll in Boston. But with so many options for this succulent treat, where to go is the question. Enter Neptune Oyster, one of the few places in the North End without an Italian accent and winner of Best of North End by the Improper Bostonian. Although it’s an oyster mecca, you can also get a heaping Maine lobster roll. Apparently word is out, because long lines translate to quite the wait time. Once you finally take a seat, chow down. But before you roll your eyes at the market price (yes, it can get close to $30 for your nosh), know that Chef Michael Serpa wants you to have it your way. He lets you choose – with a toasted roll or without, drizzled in hot butter or slathered in cool mayo.
Silvertone Bar & Grill (69 Bromfield Street, 617-338-7887): The simple, laid-back atmosphere of this award-winning casual grill sets the perfect tone for serious comfort food. A no frills location in the heart of fast-paced Downtown Crossing district, Silvertone serves up bar basics put together by the talented Chef Brendan Wood (of A Tavola and Eastern Standard fame). Dig into savory dishes like their famous Mac N’ Cheese. But don’t expect your mama’s side dish. This incredible cheesy goodness is covered with toasted buttered breadcrumbs, all golden brown, and you can top it with whatever you please – peas, honey chile chicken, crispy bacon or grilled steak.
So please forgo the fried dough and roast beef, and check out the delicious wonder found in Boston’s not-so traditional traditions.