Boston has always been known for its seafood serving up chowder that wows visitors and locals alike, but there’s a lot more on offer.
The Finer Things in Travel visits two very different restaurants that have everyone talking, plus an old favourite.
Saltie Girl is the hotspot for seafood lovers and Doretta Taverna and Raw Bar features the best of Greek-inspired dishes while Union House is the oldest in the city.
It’s the latest addition to Boston’s dining scene and it’s fabulous with a new take on seafood with some of it coming straight from a tin.
Step inside the intimate restaurant and you immediately feel embraced by great hospitality and an impressive seafood menu. The shelves are lined with more than 60 varieties of tinned seafood mainly from Spain and Portugal.
They don’t take bookings so make sure you arrive early, but regardless it is worth the wait.
For starters enjoy a cocktail at the galley style bar – the Earl Grey Boba made from peach bourbon, ginger, tea, baba pearls or a Saltie with vodka, olive pickled onion and caviar are standouts.
The Pineapple – served in a pineapple style glass made with like Elyx, lemongrass and citrus soda is also popular.
Diners who can sit at the bar or in small booths are given a sheet with everything you want to know about the oysters available on the day.
It lists the price and where they come from so you just tick what you want.
We went for oysters from Duxbury Massachusetts described as “medium, briny, deep and ocean.”
Also two from Hood Canal on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula described as “medium, light, crunchy and melon.”
The oysters arrive on an ice plate with condiments in a small bottle with droppers – the perfect size to flavour the delicious seafood.
Toast with tinned sardines in a piquant tomato sauce from Portugal served with chunky homemade bread is served next and it’s delicious.
What surprises those tins hold.
Then comes a tasty New England clam chowder, a delicious Gloucester lobster roll served warm with Saltie Girl French fries.
The fried lobster and waffles with sweet corn butter and spicy maple syrup and French burgundy snails with black garlic butter are some of the popular dishes.
Saltie Girl is the brainchild of Kathy Sidell who wanted to create something different in Boston.
She hopes when diners step inside the streamlined galley style restaurant it takes them to the South of France, Positano, Italy or Nantucket,
Sidell focuses on globally sustainable fresh fish and seafood and they now have the largest tinned seafood collection in New England.
“Growing up on the East Coast on a sailboat with my Dad, I have a deep affinity for the saltiness of the sea and the fruit it bears.
During my travels I have discovered beautiful, high-quality fish in tins, jars, smoked and of course amazing local and fresh seafood.
“Being a New Englander is almost synonymous with the briny taste of steamed clams, the salty ocean taste of lobsters perfectly cooked, the creaminess of a local oyster and the natural sweetness of a Nantucket bay scallop,”she says.
“We are blessed to have such amazing seafood locally, hence Saltie Girl’ – reflects a way of life and a passion for eating nature’s bounty.”
Chef Kyle McClelland takes the helm in the kitchen. His roots are in the Boston area and he worked at The Federalist, Ambrosia on Huntington, The MFA, Ten Tables, Pigalle, Clio and others before Toppers at The Wauwinet, Caviar Russe and Prospect in New York.
He is excited about the new venture.
“I feel like this is the kind of place that customers and chefs will want to eat at. Kathy’s attention to detail and love for both ingredients and technique makes us an excellent team for her newest project,” he says.
281 Dartmouth St Boston
Doretta Taverna & Raw Bar
Eclectic art and delicious Greek-inspired food come together at this vibrant taverna located in the heart of Boston.
Try a Mighty Aphrodite with vodka, mastiha and passionfruit puree or a Medusa’s Locks with gin, cucumber, jalapeno, agave and lemon.
For starters, it’s the chickpea with cumin and rosemary oil and tzatziki with cucumber and cayenne that we can’t resist.
The “spreads” are followed by pan roasted shrimp kataifi with candied walnuts and honey zucchini chips with a spicy tzatziki sauce and lemon.
The grilled asparagus served with feta, mizithra, mushroom and pepperoncini is done to perfection and the grilled octopus served with capers, onion and parsley is amazing.
The large plate menu section offers a great selection such as lamb shoulder, whole fish, chicken and a tasty lamb burger with whipped feta, spicy cucumber and chips.
The desserts all sound delicious but because we have over indulged a little we settle for the Greek-inspired ice cream with olive oil crumble which is the perfect sweet finale.
We watch the Galaktoboureko dessert with semolina custard, dried fruit syrup and lemon yoghurt sorbet pass by with a streak of envy.
Service is excellent and the restaurant ambiance is vibrant and welcoming.
Chef owner Michael Schlow who has other restaurants across the country has created an exciting menu that matches the restaurant vibe.
He’s been the recipient of many awards including being named “Best Chef in the Northeast” by the James Beard Foundation, “Best Chef in the Country” by Sante Magazine, as well as the “Culinary Award of Excellence” given out by Robert Mondavi to only six recipients a year.
Schlow started as a dishwasher at age 14, and has excelled at every position in the industry. He worked his way up through some of the best restaurants in the world.
His restaurants have been recognized as some of the best in the world by Esquire, Food & Wine, Conde Nast Traveler, and Gourmet.
Schlow is the author “It’s About Time, Great Recipes for Everyday Life” and is regularly requested to appear and speak about the restaurant and hospitality industry.
The artwork also takes centre stage at the restaurant and it’s done by Schlow’s talented artist wife, Adrienne.
It includes a hand painted wall that is visually stunning – it is the perfect environment for enjoying art and food.
79 Park Plaza Boston
An Old Favourite
The famous Union Oyster House, the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest in continuous service in the US is well worth a visit.
Its doors opened to diners in 1826.
The building has a colourful history, back in 1796 one floor was the home of a next in line King of France, Louis Philippe, who was exiled and earned a living by teaching French.
The menu features shellfish, oysters, fried and broiled fish, baked and broiled lobster and local Yankee favourites.
We start with the best clam chowder I have tasted and Lazy Man’s Lobster, chunks of lobster meat baked with seasoned breadcrumbs and sherry wine.
The Kennedy Clan has patronised the restaurant for years. J.F.K. loved to feast in privacy in the upstairs dining room and his favourite booth, the Kennedy Booth has since been dedicated in his memory.
41 Union St Boston