On my recent visit to the USA, I went on a side trip from New York City to Boston to visit some friends and feast on their famous seafood. The boy and I ended up having New England Clam Chowder for practically every meal, but luckily every restaurant we went to had a slightly different take on the classic creamy soup.
After our whirlwind tour of the charming city, I’ve put together a list of foodie spots to hit up if you’re ever in town:
Boston Chowda Co.
As the name suggests, this eatery does cheap and fantastic chowders (or “chowdas” as Bostonians pronounce it) which include not only the traditional creamy New England Clam Chowder but also Lobster Bisque and other variations. You can choose to order the chowder in a hollowed out bread bowl which I recommend so you can eat your bowl when you’re finishing up with the soup! The clams aren’t very big, but the chowder is thick and hearty, with potatoes to help bulk up the chunky soup. The Lobster Bisque is a thinner soup than the Clam Chowder, making it easier to drink. But it is still fairly creamy and does feature some pieces of lobster, as well as the essence of the crustacean infused strongly into the soup. If you like croutons, the Bostonians also give you a little packet of plain flavoured oyster crackers to throw into your soup for added crunch.
New England Clam Chowda in a bread bowl, USD$7
They also have delicious Lobster Rolls, which are another Bostonian specialty featuring shredded lobster meat mixed with a cocktail/mayonnaise sauce and sandwiched between 2 thick slices of slightly sweet corn bread. At this stage we were risking lobster overload but we also tried their Lobster Pie which was pretty much just the Lobster Bisque soup in a pie case with some crunchy bread crumbs sprinkled on top as the crust of the “pie”.
Lobster roll, USD$12 (large) and Lobster Bisque USD$5.29 for medium
Lobster pie, USD$15
We went to the Boston Chowda Co. outlet inside the Prudential Centre food court as it was near where we stayed, but there’s also one in the Quincy Market food hall, which is a popular tourist attraction.
Boston & Maine Fish Company
When we went to Quincy Market for a brief visit, we stopped by this company’s seafood raw bar to grab some freshly shucked oysters and Steamed Mussels in Garlic Sauce.
You can see the friendly chef preparing your seafood right in front of you as you perch on a seat at counter. We were delighted to see how big the oysters were in comparison to the ones we have in Sydney, and they tasted juicy and fresh too.
Freshly shucked oysters, 3 for $6
The pound of mussels we ordered were dunked in a steaming pot with some chopped garlic for a simple yet tasty seafood hit.
Steamed Mussels with Garlic Sauce, $7 for a pound
We liked the casual vibe of the raw seafood bar and it’s worth a visit if you’re wandering through Quincy Market.
Union Oyster Restaurant
This restaurant’s claim to fame is that it is America’s oldest remaining restaurant, established in 1826. It is just a stone’s throw away from Quincy Market/Faneuil Hall and its interior is decked out to look like the insides of a ship, complete with cosy little booths.
We continued our seafood adventures here trying out half a dozen of the Union Grilled Oysters as starters, but weren’t that impressed by the thin layer of melted cheese and sprinkle of herbs on top of the rather small oysters.
Union Grilled Oysters, $16.50 for half a dozen
We also tried their New England Seafood Pie but the herbs and mashed potato crust on this dish were also a bit odd tasting and the bits of white fish, scallop and shrimp in the seafood stew with vegies wasn’t that appetising either. Their New England Clam Chowder wasn’t bad, but wasn’t the best we tried in Boston.
New England Seafood Pie, $17.95
New England Clam Chowder, $7.95 for a bowl
All in all, the food at Union Oyster Restaurant isn’t anything remarkable but it’s fun to say that you’ve been to the oldest restaurant in the USA.
Union Oyster Restaurant
41 Union St, Boston
MA 02108, United States
This upmarket restaurant in the centre of the city is bathed in modern blue light and is quite a fancy place to dine, with service and prices to match.
We ordered a bowl of their New England Clam Chowder to start. I loved the refined texture of the soup, which had a thinner consistency compared to the other renditions we had tried, yet somehow it tasted more flavoursome.
New England Clam Chowder, $7.95
For mains we shared a Broiled Idaho Rainbow Trout and added a side of Macaroni and Cheese with Lobster and they kindly split the trout fillet into 2 halves for us and served it to us on 2 separate plates.
Broiled Idaho Rainbow Trout $19.95 with a side of Macaroni and Cheese $9.95 + $10 for lobster
The Broiled Rainbow Trout was done very well; it was brushed with lemon butter and the flesh was still moist which made it delicious to eat. There wasn’t much lobster meat in the Mac and Cheese but this American classic was very tasty and adorable in the little shell bowl it came in.
We still had room for dessert so after spotting another table getting the spectacular Baked Alaska, we ordered one to share between the 5 of us (despite the menu saying it serves 2). We were very impressed by the dramatic ignition of the dessert by the waiter which turned it into a dazzling show of blue flames gently burning the outside of the meringue.
Baked Alaska, $9.95
The Baked Alaska featured a minty fluffy meringue which was a bit gooey on the inside yet slightly burnt and smoky tasting on the outside. It had layered strawberry and chocolate ice cream inside which amazingly did not melt despite the flames. The serving was more than enough for the 5 of us but we had also ordered a Boston Creme Pie since it was our last night in Boston.
Boston Creme Pie, $8.95
The Creme Pie was simply a round chocolate covered sponge cake with cream layered thinly between the sponge slices and was nothing too remarkable, especially after we had experienced the Baked Alaska.
40 Court St
Boston, MA 02108, United States
On beautiful Newbury Street where all the shops are, one store caters more for those with a sweet tooth – the gorgeous Georgetown Cupcakes which has a dizzying range of perfectly iced cupcakes arranged on towers in a glass display case at the front of the store.
It’s hard to choose between all the delicious sounding flavours on the menu but I decide on the Butterscotch Pudding cupcake which comes with a cute little Christmas decoration on top. The icing is very buttery and sweet but infused with the unmistakable caramelised flavour of butterscotch pudding, atop a slightly dry cupcake base.
Butterscotch Pudding Cupcake, $2.75
Georgetown Cupcakes is a lovely store decorated in marble but there isn’t much room to sit around so just drop by for a snack if you’re shopping around Newbury Street.
83 Newbury Street
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: p: 617-927-2250
In the North End district there’s plenty of Italian restaurants but you’ll notice a lot of people walking around with little white cardboard boxes tied with string and marked with what looks like blue texta ink – this is the signature packaging of Mike’s Pastry. This bustling store is well known for its baked goods, especially their Cannoli which comes in a variety of flavours including Oreos, Peanut Butter and Chocolate Dipped which we tried.
Cannoli, approx USD $3 each
The Cannoli is very rich and we struggle to share one between 4 of us but the Oreo Cannoli we start off with is quite delicious. The flaky tube shaped pastry encases a soft, creamy ricotta cheese filling which took on the cookies and cream flavour quite well. When we tried the Peanut Butter Cannoli the next day it wasn’t as fresh anymore and the sourness of the cheese was starting to overpower the peanut butter taste – so eat the cannoli ASAP!
Mike’s Pastry are open to fairly late (we dropped in around 10pm) which makes it a great spot to chill out after dinner in the North End or after a Boston Celtics NBA game like we did, as the stadium isn’t too far away. They also do huge cookies like the M&M one our friend got!
300 Hanover St
Boston, MA 02113, United States