Durgin Park is a Boston institution, and should be treated as such. I first visited Durgin Park as a teenager, over thirty years ago, and I don't think it has changed a jot since then. Located just east of Faneuil Hall in the North Market building in Quincy Market, this restaurant is definitely worth a stop.
Durgin Park is famous for its no-nonsense (did somebody say surly?) waitstaff, but I found them to be prompt and attentive. My party was greeted and seated promptly, and menus appeared
immediately. Beer was ordered and brought quickly, along with complimentary slabs of cornbread.
The waiter came to take our order as soon as we closed our menus, and the food was served
quickly. Several times our waiter came to check to see if everything was OK. We had asked for separate checks (there were two of us, both on expense account) and our waiter agreed to this without the sighs and rolling of eyes that usually accompanies this request. Our checks were brought promptly at the end of the meal, but not so quickly that I felt that we were being hustled out.
My colleague ordered little neck clams on the half shell and declared them to be good. (Personally, I think anything on the half shell is too gross looking to eat.) The waitstaff was sporting buttons bragging about the prime rib, which we both ordered. A sixteen ounce prime rib runs $15.95, and comes with your choice of potatoes and a side dish. The night I was there the side dish was corn. The prime rib was good; not outstanding, but good, and more meat than I could eat. The baked potato was hot and fluffy, the corn was mediocre.
Durgin Park probably gets more press because of its atmosphere than its food. The restaurant is located upstairs in an old brick building. There is a bar downstairs. The restaurant is filled with long, narrow, wooden tables, and, unless you come with a big group of people, you will most likely being sharing your table with people you don't know. This is not the place to come looking for a nice cozy booth.
My party had a seat at one end of a long table by the big windows overlooking Quincy Market. There was a group of women having a retirement dinner for one of their co-workers at a couple of tables next to us. I rather liked the heat and the bustle and the noise, but I realize some people won't.
All in all, I recommend Durgin Park as much for the experience of the place as for the food. The food is good - not outstanding - but good, and you won't leave there hungry. This is not, however, the place to ask your sweetie to marry you, or any other romantic type notion you may have. Unless, of course, you don't mind having strangers listen in.