On trips to Boston, I always know that we will eat well. The city has long attracted innovative chefs, who are drawn by the cosmopolitan audience, a long culinary tradition and the wealth of fine local ingredients, with the seafood being of particular note. In addition to UNI in The Eliot Hotel and Mooo.... in XV Beacon, here are the restaurants I recently enjoyed.
Close to the Boston Public Library on lively Boylston Street, this restaurant makes no secret of its focus. The beautiful polished woodwork could have come straight from one of the great liners, and the art on the wall depicts scenes of nautical prowess. A handsome bar gathers a convivial crowd. The menu changes daily to reflect what is freshest, and the clam chowder is ranked among New England’s best. I found it to be faultless: briny and at just the right consistency, with good-sized morsels of clam. The house crab cakes are made with Jonah crab rather than the common blue (Jonah has a stronger flavor): They came with very little binder and a delicious side of corn soufflé. If the weather allows, the outdoor seating is appealing.
Atlantic Fish Company
761 Boylston Street. Tel. (617) 267-4000
Overlooking the Public Garden, this lovely restaurant ostensibly celebrates the cuisine of southern France, but there’s more to it than that. We strayed from Provençal orthodoxy with rewarding results: The starter of squid-ink tagliatelle came embedded with tasty chunks of lobster as well as sea beans and chopped arugula, and my grilled pork chop with grilled peach was wonderfully succulent. Do not resist the potato purée with olive oil. Downstairs, a sweeping zinc bar with posters evokes a French bistro in style and ambiance — it’s particularly nice for lunch on a fine day when the front windows are open to the garden — while upstairs serves as a more intimate dining room.
Bistro du Midi
272 Boylston Street. Tel. (617) 426-7878
Barbara Lynch’s culinary star has long illuminated the Boston dining scene. I have recommended her No. 9 Park for many years, and I now happily endorse this excellent restaurant. With a spare, sophisticated interior, its big windows overlook the happening Fort Point neighborhood. The name comes from the French town of Menton, just by the Italian border, and the menu draws on culinary traditions from both nations. We began our memorable lunch with heirloom tomatoes with crisped goat cheese, chili-inflected rhubarb and za’atar spice. This was followed by a delicious striped bass with leeks, miso and mustard. Service was attentive, informative and friendly throughout. I look forward to returning, especially for dinner, at which there are four-course and seven-course options.
354 Congress Street. Tel. (617) 737-0099
With a visit to the Harvard Art Museums a high priority on this trip, I wanted to find a convenient place nearby for a meal. I have long recommended Craigie on Main in Cambridge, but it is only open for dinner. I was therefore happy to find Toscano, a restaurant situated at the opposite end of Harvard Yard from the museums, where I took lunch. I started with a bowl of minestrone di verdura, and I continued with pappardelle Bolognese bianco, which is made with a blend of ground veal, pork and beef in a sauce of ricotta, cream and tomatoes. This casual and lively place is a good alternative to the gastropubs that dominate the eating scene around the Yard.
52 Brattle Street. Tel. (617) 354-5250