Where Clambakes and Shore Dinners are Weekend Rituals
by John Mariani
the enthusiastic gourmand and entrepreneur, Captain John Smith sent
a dispatch from New England back to Queen Elizabeth in 1606 with
the giddy announcement that every "man, woman and childe, with
a small hooke and line, by angling, may take divers sorts of excellent
fish, at their pleasures. And is it not a pretty sport, to pull
up two pence, six pence, and twelve pence, as fast as you can haule
and were a line?"
sea is inextricably tied to the gastronomy of New England, where
clambakes and shore dinners are weekend rituals. From the lobster
shacks on the coast to the fine dining restaurants throughout the
region, New England menus specialize in seafood of every imaginable
form. Boston not only pulls in the best of the catch but also exports
much of it.
year after the Union
Oyster House opened, along came Durgin-Park in Faneuil Hall, a true eating house with communal tables that is
famous for its cadre of carefully coached, brusque waitresses who
are part of the fun. The food after all these years is basic and
flawless old New England favorites like hot cornbread, succulent
baked scrod, steaming Indian pudding and some of the last surviving
Boston baked beans in a city once called "Beantown." Touristy,
yes, but locals know to come up in through the downstairs bar to
avoid the lines out the front door.
around the corner is the charming No.
9 Park, whose windows overlook the Common. New England
ingredients underpin everything on Boston-born chef-owner Barbara
Lynch’s "European bistro" menu.
admired chef Daniel Bruce at the Boston Harbor Hotel,
and now he has his dream restaurant, Meritage,
where his menus are match-ups with wines based on flavor components.
Dishes, available in small or large plates (priced at $15 and $29
respectively), are designed, according to Bruce—a native New
Englander and head chef for the annual Boston Wine Festival—to
be "flavorful but subtle, not allowing any flavor to overwhelm
the wines." That philosophy is evident in his black and white
shrimp cannelloni with saffron cream and sautéed spinach;
his wood-grilled Atlantic swordfish in a spiced Riesling, with orange
and coconut essence; and his grilled sea scallops with morels and
sugar snap peas, class acts all around.
(Updated: 09/13/10 NW)