36 Dishes in Boston

Chowder is just the beginning

Photo courtesy of Arthur Bovino


In The New York Times weekly column, 36 Hours, a weekend-long itinerary is given for different cities. The Daily Meal takes a more culinary-focused, food-challenge approach to weekend travel with a the feature, 36 Dishes. The goal? To eat and drink a combination of 36 memorable dishes and beverages from significant places in a city during one weekend.

Today’s feature is a recap of 36 Dishes eaten in Boston over the weekend of July 10-12, 2009, when The Daily Meal ate everywhere from the South End to Harvard Square. Our weekend of eating began on Friday night at 10:50pm, ten minutes before the Radius kitchen closes.


FRIDAY | 10:50pm | Radius | Downtown | Dish #1 Radius Signature Burger | $19
Modern, French cuisine in a upscale setting. Chef Michael Schlow’s famed burger won the South Beach Burger Bash in 2008. It features Vermont cheddar, crispy onions, and horseradish sauce. Perfectly medium rare and all about the creamy sauce and the thin, sweet onions.


11:55 am | Top of the Hub | Back Bay | Dish #2 Pear Drop Martini | $14
The Prudential Center’s 52nd floor bar has stuck-on-itself ambience but an incredible view. The place to kickoff a night or weekend with a cocktail. Avoided “Luxury Cocktails” ranging $45-$90 (what tip do you leave on a $90 drink?) in favor of bartender’s suggestion. It featured Grey Goose la Poire and Wild Blueberry Juice.


SATURDAY | 1 pm | Masa | South End | Dish #3 Habanero Watermelon Margarita | $10
Hip, Southwestern-themed South End spot has a very popular prix-fixe brunch ($7.95, cornbread, appetizer and entrée, drinks excluded). Margarita was Sauza Gold Tequila infused with Habaneros, Watermelon Purée, Lime Juice, Triple Sec and Simple Syrup.


Dish #4 Bread | Complimentary
Cornbread with cranberry chipotle, apricot habanero and molasses butter.
Dish #5 Caramelized Plantain Empanada | $3.95
Large plate for such a small, tasty, empanada. Cinnamon Cream Cheese needed to cut its sweetness.
Dish #6 Huevos Rancheros | $8.95
Crisp Tortillas and Black Beans Topped with Eggs (any style) Crema, Queso Cotija and Salsa Ranchero.
Dish #7 Santa Fe Style Eggs Benedict | $9.95
With Biscuits, Avocado, Green Chile Hollandaise and Southwest Home Fries. Best brunch dish.


3 pm | Kilvert & Forbes | Faneuil Hall | Dishes #8 Cookies | $14/6
Quincy Market is touristy but a toe-touch is necessary. Where else to visit but Kilvert & Forbes, founded by John Kerry in 1976? Yes, that John Kerry. Chocolate Chip Cookie, Peanut Butter with Chocolate Chips, M&M Cookie and the Triple Chipper ($3.05/each). Cookies have slightly crisp bottoms and soft chewy interiors. These are old-fashioned, warm-your-heart-make-your-belly-happy cookies.


4pm | Peet’s Coffee | Cambridge | Dish #9 Ice Coffee | $2.07
Okay, it’s coffee and Peet’s was founded in Berkeley, CA, but sometimes you need an ice coffee and this Cambridge go-to is a great place to receive a phone call from someone who just found your credit card at Faneuil Hall where you dropped it.

4:30pm | L.A. Burdick | Cambridge | Dish #10 Half-Cup Dark Hot Chocolate | $2
This, the second location, opened in 1999. Their Hot Dark Chocolate is worth getting even on a hot day.


6pm | Helmand | Cambridge | Dish #11 Kash Kash & Sauces | Complimentary
In Afghanistan, Helmand is a region and river. In Boston, Helmand is the strangely located Afghani restaurant owned by Mahmood Karzai, the older brother of Afghanistan’s president. Entrées are fine, but the Cliff’s Notes follow. The famous flatbread is made in the dining room’s wood-burning oven and is served with yogurt and cucumber, cilantro chutney and honey sauce with chili and vinegar.


Dish #12 Kaddo | $7.50:
Pan-fried, baked baby pumpkin seasoned with sugar and served with garlic-yogurt sauce and ground beef sauces. Sweet, creamy, salty. It’s one of those, “it’s-an-appetizer-no-it’s-a-dessert!” dishes.
Dish #13 Aushak | $7.50:
Thin, delicate, Afghan ravioli filled with leeks and served on yogurt and with ground beef and mint.


7:30pm | Toro | South End | Dish #14 Foie Gras con Chutney de Pera | $8
No eating trip to Boston would be complete without including an Oringer restaurant. Toro is the tapas outpost of Chef/Owner Kenneth Oringer’s burgeoning Boston culinary empire (Clio, Uni Sashimi Bar, La Verdad Taqueria and KO Prime). Tapas at Toro is characterized by sweetness. This meal began with an impeccable sweet, creamy foie gras.


Dish #15 Maíz Asado con Alioli y Queso Cotija | $6
It’s a crazy-loud scene inside and the wait for a sidewalk table can be 45 minutes but it’s worth it for people-watching. Don’t leave without tasting the signature dish, “La Especialidad de la Casa,” Grilled corn with Alioli, Lime, Espelette Pepper and Aged Cheese.


Dish #16 Pan con Tomate | $4
Toasted bread rubbed with tomato and garlic, finished with Spanish olive oil and sea salt. Won’t quite transport you to Spain, but pretty damn good as American renditions go.
Dish #17 Corazon a la Plancha | $5
Grass-fed Beef Heart with Romesco, is thinly-sliced, fine, but somewhat forgettable.


Dish #18 Mollejas | $4
Crispy Veal Sweetbreads with Blood Orange and Cinnamon are coated with an especially sweet glaze.
Dish #19 Atun Pincho | $7
Tuna Tartare with Coconut Milk and Lime (pictured at left, right corner) was light, foamy and delicious if a lamentably small portion.
Dish #20 Vientre de Cerdo | $12
Crispy Pork belly with Snails, Chantenay Carrots, Cardoons and Smoked Maple Crumble. Along with the corn and foie, Toro’s best dish of the night.


Dish #21 Hamburguesas de Kobe | $12
Kobe Mini Burgers with Smoked Tomato, Alioli and Pickled Red Onion. The burger is delicious. The bun wasn’t worth finishing.
Dish #22 Pato con Membrillo | $8
Smoked Duck Drumettes with Quince Glaze. Meat falls off with ease. Again, very sweet.


Dish #23 Caramelized Caipirinha | $10
The Nantucket Mule (above left, drink at right, rain organic vodka, spiced cranberries, Ginger beer) and La Granada (Reyka Vodka, pomegranate, housemade grenadine, splash rose Cava, not pictured) are perfectly good cocktails but it was the Caramelized Caipirinha (above, drink on left), with Aagua Luda Cachaça, muddled Caramelized Limes and Sugar that was notable.
Dish #24 Asado de Huesos | $6
Roasted Bone Marrow with Radish Citrus Salad and Oxtail Marmalade is served with toast and a fork to dig out this fatty treat.
Dish #25 Churros & Double Espresso | $7 & $4.50
The weakest part of the meal. No texture difference outside and inside and tasted slightly of oil.


11pm Dish #26 | Drink | Fort Point | $13/drink
Barbara Lynch’s bar is Boston’s “Little New York” cocktail ‘scene,’ complete with specialty liqueurs, hand-chipped ice and fresh grown herbs (picture courtesy Zagat.com). There’s no drink list. You to bartender: “I want a drink.” Bartender: “What type of drinks do you like?” You tell him, he makes you something pricey that’s good, but disappears quickly. Boston’s last call approaches quickly (2am), so keep in mind that Lucky’s Lounge is across the street if you need to amp that buzz quickly on the cheap.


Chef Brian Reyelt is onto something with his Cap’n Crunch Fried Chicken.

SUNDAY |11:15am | Franklin Café Southie | South Boston |
Dish #27 Cap’n Crunch Fried Chicken with Buttermilk Dipping Sauce | $10
Two months ago, Chef and co-owner, Brian Reyelt created a brunch item for this smooth, new (opened November, 2008) Franklin outpost that set locals buzzing: Cap’n Crunch Fried Chicken Nuggets. He said he was thinking about cornflake-crusted dishes and “just took it in another direction.” After all, he added, it “makes you feel like a kid again. I mean, I grew up on Cap’n Crunch.”

You can taste the sweet hint of the cereal and the small ramekin of dipping sauce is an obvious homage to leftover cereal milk, but what’s so remarkable is the lightness of the panko dust-like coating, its visual appeal (beautiful yellows and browns) and the moisture of the chicken. This trip’s best dish.


Dish #28 Muffins | Complimentary
Blueberry and Banana mini-muffins with a compound maple butter accented with sea salt. Small, fresh, baked bites.
Dish #29 Maple Sausage | $4
Housemade pork sausage. Strange shape. Good flavor.


Noon | Mike’s Pastry | North End | Dish #30 Cannolis | $12
One of Boston’s most well-known pastry shops. Touristy, and there are better cannoli places in the North End (Maria’s), but this is a main attraction and the Florentine and Chocolate-Covered Chocolate Chip Cannolis can’t be found everywhere. Above, Yellow Cream Cannoli ($2.50), Chocolate Chip Cannoli ($2.50), Chocolate Covered Chocolate Chip Cannoli ($3.50), Florentine Cannoli ($3.50).


12:10pm | Dish #31 Cream Puff | $1.50
Chocolate Covered Cream Puff with a cold, hard chocolate shell.


12:15pm | Henrietta’s Table | Harvard Square | Dish #32 Duxbury Oysters | $45
Consistently voted one of Boston’s best brunch spots—the kind of place you might bump into that smart kid from high school who went to Harvard. At $45 per person, one of the best ways to take advantage of the buffet is to go heavy on the raw bar. In keeping with the theme, this stop included eating 36 oysters.


2:45pm | Kaze Shaabu Shaabu | Chinatown | Dish #33 Fried Spicy Jumbo Tentacles | $6
Great spot for a quick meal. The tentacles aren’t as spicy as advertised, but they are crispy and tender.


Dish #34 Special Fish Dumpling | $5.25
Squeeze bag of raw ‘dumpling’ mixture over pot, cook and fish it out. Bean thread, excellent texture.

Dish #35 Assorted Vegetables| ($4.75) Free with Lamb
Greens, corn, watercress, radish— just add them to the pot.


Dish #36 Lamb | $8.50
You might think after 35 dishes, a meal like this would be difficult, but it was very light and tasty. Cook the thinly-sliced lamb to your liking in one of the 8 types of soup bases over the bar’s hotplates, letting the liquid reduce and gain flavor.


The 13 places where the above 36 dishes were eaten.

A Radius
B Top of the Hub
C Masa
D Kilvert & Forbes
E Peet’s
F L.A. Burdick’s
G Helmand
H Toro
I Drink
J Franklin Southe Cafe
K Mike’s Pastry
L Henrietta’s Table
M Kaze Shabu Shabu

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