Boston is one of America’s most historic cities. That history alone is enough to attract visitors from around the world, but it is Boston’s food scene that excites us most and was the focus of our far too short a stay in the Massachusetts’s capital and heart of New England. Boston is a foodie’s dream, built upon the heritage of the diverse population and the many chefs that are making their mark well beyond their very approachable and walkable city.
The choices of where and what to eat are nearly endless and we decided to experience both lunch and dinner at two Barbara Lynch restaurants. Lynch is a renowned restaurateur with a variety of outstanding establishments all with impeccable reviews. For lunch it was B&G Oysters and for dinner, Menton. The food at both was astounding and the level of hospitality and service was arguably the best we have witnessed. Anywhere. The staff at both restaurants were attentive, knowledgeable and genuine, possessing a sincere pride that is too often missing in today’s trend of bigger and faster.
For lunch, on the recommendation of Ted, B&G’s manager, we started with a unique take on caviar – a lightly spiced, delicately crafted cracker replacing the blini of old resulted in a balanced play of saltiness and texture. The Spanish octopus with crispy marrow beans that followed was outstanding. A bi-coastal selection of oysters were next and then for the mains, we opted for near-synonyms to Boston itself: the lobster roll and Ipswich fried clams with chips. Both were masterful and quintessentially New England. After a taste of sea-salted chocolate mousse we were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the kitchen where the staff, many of whom have been part of the team for a decade, were preparing the fresh lobster and shucking the oysters.
Menton is named after the French commune on the Franco-Italian border – a hint of the meal to come. We started the evening at the Gold Bar, which wouldn’t have been out of place in Wes Anderson’s stylised and eccentric Grand Budapest Hotel. Two expertly prepared and served cocktails: Periodista and The Rose, set the tone, and although we could have happily had dinner at the six-seat bar we moved into the dining room to enjoy the meal. Overlooking the happenings on Congress Street we elected to have the chef choose our multi-course menu. For each course – starters, fish, pasta and meat – we were served two dishes enabling us to try eight of the kitchen’s offerings.
Just like any great experience, it was the little details that made all the difference like the hand-turned butter from Babette, Menton’s own Vermont-based cow or the staff using vintage irons to smooth out the tablecloths to perfection. From the hazelnut branches with orange and truffle to the house made pasta to Wagyu beef, we were left wanting for nothing except to return soon and often.
Barbara Lynch has a series of eateries in Boston and you really can’t go wrong; the food is inventive while not being pretentious and the gracious hospitality is a true differentiator.
We also stopped in at another Boston staple: Grill 23 & Bar – a classic steakhouse with a seventy-eight page drinks menu of champagne, wines, late harvest ports, cocktails, whisky (American, Irish and Japanese), brandy, rum, tequila, cordials, cigars… Dark wood-panelled walls, scenic paintings and a commanding tapestry gave the space a library feel, while the floor-to-ceiling, glass-encased bar provided a contemporary injection and an aquarium-esque way to view an impressive collection of booze.
The Wagyu beef cap and filet were as melt-in-your-mouth as expected and paired perfectly with sides of mushrooms and roasted Brussels sprouts with grapes. Finishing with a win, the profiteroles were among the best we’ve had.
Where to stay
Luxury accommodations abound in Boston, but the bottom line is, there is no better spot than the Four Seasons. Located in the Back Bay area, the five-star hotel overlooks Boston’s most famous plot of green space: the Public Garden, or as it’s been called for years: Boston Common. The hotel has its own fleet of luxury cars to chauffer guests to and fro, but its enviable situation makes it easy to walk anywhere – shopping on Newbury Street, specialty shops in Beacon Hill and the many restaurants and art galleries of the South End.
We stayed in one of the newly renovated rooms, which will be fully transitioned in April 2017. Flashes of gold and rich mustard offset soft grey hues, and the focal point of course is the world-renowned, inconceivably comfortable Four Seasons bed. The hotel has nailed the art of a good night’s sleep and when awake the friendly and welcoming staff are on hand to ensure that your stay is exceptional.
In a nutshell, go to Boston, dive headfirst into its culinary scene and stay at the Four Seasons, where rates range from £475 plus taxes for the Deluxe King room with city plaza view to £8,790 plus taxes for the Presidential Suite.
For more details on the city, visit bostonusa.com.
Words by Farley Blackman