Walking & Eating Boston

Eddie Izzard (the comedian) was touring the U.S., and we traveled all the way to Boston to see him, taking the opportunity to eat at some great restaurants while there.


Encore Bed and Breakfast

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kimpauley on November 12, 2003

We originally found Encore through a review on IgoUgo and found it to be everything described and more.

Located down a quiet, tree-lined street, Encore's unobtrusive doorway hides the key to a magical and relaxing Inn. Reinhold is a gracious and friendly host, and his touch can be seen throughout.

The common areas are decorated with vintage movie and theatre posters and masks. I especially liked the Kabuki masks in the dining area.

The rooms are themed after famous writers. Due to a scheduling conflict, we had the opportunity to stay in both the Sondheim room and the Edward Albee room. This gave us the chance to experience both.

The Sondheim room is contemporary and comfortable, and includes a great desk area if you are a traveling businessperson. The Albee room has a balcony (which we were only able to use a little bit, as the weather was quite cold) and an alcove window seat that was quite cozy. Both rooms had attached bathrooms with showers and stainless-steel sinks (blow dryers included).

Due to laws in Boston, B&B's cannot serve full breakfasts (I don't know the exact details, but I found this to be true of all the B&B's I researched). Reinhold makes up for that with fresh croissants, lovely granola, cheese plates, and other choices.

I definitely recommend Encore as a great place to stay in Boston. It is conveniently located within walking distance of just about everything (or the subway, the T).

Encore Bed and Breakfast
116 West Newton Street
Boston, Massachusetts
(617) 247-3425

Radius - A beautiful eating experience

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by kimpauley on November 7, 2003

In 2001, Gourmet magazine included Radius as 25th on their top 50 restuarants in the U.S. list. The chef and owner, Michael Schlow, was also awarded the James Beard Award of Excellence in 2000 (Best Chef in the Northeast).

I made our reservation through Open Table (if you haven't yet used Open Table, I highly recommend it). The night before we left, I decided to see if I could surprise my husband, so I e-mailed the restaurant and explained that we were traveling all the way from Florida and was wondering if it was possible to meet the chef.

I had no way of knowing before we got there whether or not they had gotten my message. So, I was just as surprised as my husband when we got there and they rolled out the red carpet for us.

It started with a welcoming smile from Esti and continued with the most personalized service we have ever received at any restaurant, anywhere. They immediately whisked us over two complimentary glasses of champagne. If that weren't enough, the chef prepared us a scrambled egg and caviar appetizer with his own hands.

I could go on for days about how good that appetizer was, but let me tell you about the rest of the meal. We chose the nine course tasting and wine pairing, as a good way to get a sampling of a lot of the chef's dishes.

Our waiter, Carlos, quizzed us about any allergies or dislikes. This was a nice touch. You could bring your picky friends here.

I won't describe each dish (I don't think there's room for all of the adjectives here!), but I'll highlight a few that really stood out. You can also get a preview of a sample tasting menu from the Web site.

The Hudson Valley Foie Gras was very good. It was seared and came with a white cranberry compote. The Chateau Soucherie Coteaux-du-Layons served along with it was a perfect compliment. The Pied de Cochon, or pork trotters, were outstanding. I had never had them before and was surprised at how full of flavor they were. This was one of the menu items I might not have chosen for myself, which is an excellent reason for tasting menus.

The desserts I cannot even describe, they were so good. Since I had mentioned earlier to Carlos that I love chocolate, that’s what I got. My husband had some kind of fruit pastry/tart. It melted in your mouth.

All told, we were there for five hours. After dinner, the Chef de Cuisine, Brian Reimer, graciously gave us a tour of the kitchen.

They have truly thought of everything at Radius, from the stylish surroundings to the place settings that include Laguiole knives. The food was exceptional, the staff incredibly accommodating, and the chef gracious.

Radius
8 High St
Boston, Massachusetts, 02110
+1 617 426 1234

Mantra

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by kimpauley on November 12, 2003

Mantra was recommended to us by the innkeeper at the B&B we were staying at. We chose to go there the night before Eddie Izzard’s show because Mantra is near the theatre district and features a pre-theatre menu (three courses, including dessert) that begins at 5:30pm.

The entrance was a bit difficult to locate, as that corner of the street was under construction, and the restaurant’s name is rendered in a highly stylized fashion. You’ll see why once you walk in – it’s a trendy, happening spot. The building used to be a bank, which explains the wide expanse of marble. The bar, which dominates half of the room, is built out of the old teller windows.

In one corner of the restaurant, there is a cage-like artsy contraption that looked like it was for private dining parties. The Web site calls it the Hookah Den. The rest of the place is rather ultra-modern and chic.

I wish we had been able to eat there later in the night, as there were few people in the place when we first arrived (we were the first diners). It definitely looks like a good place for people watching.

The theatre menu was taken from the regular menu, though the menu portions might have been smaller, as the price was definitely less than if you had ordered the three items separately ($38/person). They had a fair sampling of wines by the glass, with prices ranging up to $12.

The cuisine is actually French-Indian, with an emphasis on spice and flavor. Everything was good, though nothing particular wowed me. The soup that night featured a center of (essentially) barbecued pork spareribs. The unexpected combination was good, but the periodic chunks of un-chewable fat were not. My husband had better luck with the salad, which had an incredible dressing.

Portions were of a good size and perfect for a pre-theatre dinner. If you’re in Boston and you’re going to a show, Mantra is a great choice. Or, go to just hang out at the bar. It’s an impressive site.

Mantra
52 Temple Place
Boston, Massachusetts, 01608
(617) 542-5942

Clio

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by kimpauley on November 12, 2003

Clio’s chef/owner Ken Oringer graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and, since opening Clio, has won numerous awards. These include recognition from the James Beard Foundation, Gourmet magazine (#42 on their list in 2001), and even National Geographic Traveler.

If you’ve read any of my previous journal entries, you’ll know that we are on a quest to visit the top 50 restaurants in the U.S. We chose Gourmet’s 2001 list as a good representative sample (their yearly lists since then have been more narrowly focused and only cover certain cities, vs. their 2001 list that includes restaurants from towns like Ogunquit. Just because a restaurant is in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean it isn’t great).

I’ll admit right up front that I was dissatisfied with Clio. After our stunning experience at Radius, Clio was disappointing. I had also emailed Clio to tell them that we had traveled all the way from Florida to visit them. I still have not received any response. When we got there, they explained that the tasting menu ("Available Nightly") was not available and provided no explanation as to why. They didn’t attempt to make up for the lack either.

The service was good, but not outstanding. They did not go out of their way for diners. In fact, we had to ask to see an extended wine list. That was another thing – why split your wine list into three different menus? The waiter was pleasant, but did not go out of his way. I noticed the same treatment at other tables as well.

We chose to put together our own tasting menu, which I think was a good choice. The appetizers are small enough that you can choose two before a main course and not overwhelm yourself. The lacquered foie gras was the best choice by far. It was delicate and smooth, nearly melting in your mouth.

The main entrees were a little too sauced for my taste. The flavors, while nice, were a bit overwhelming. I had expected something a little more subtle from the menu and Web site.

The atmosphere inside was nice, but crowded. The tables were just a little too close together. It is a small, intimate space, which I don’t generally mind, but the next table seemed awfully close as I rubbed elbows with a total stranger. Clio’s attached sushi bar is a trendier outfit, with funky lighting and leopard skin. If you want just a taste, I think I would recommend it over visiting the main restaurant.

It seemed like a "place to be seen," so if you’re out for a trendy spot, stop in for a visit. If you’re looking for a really good, decadent meal with superb service, just go to Radius instead.

Clio
370A Commonwealth Ave
Boston, Massachusetts, 02215
+1 617 536 7200

http://www.igougo.com/journal-j26624-Boston-Walking_and_Eating_Boston.html

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