The much talked about Boston Santa Speedo Run will take place one week from today. This fun(ny) 1-mile run through Boston’s trendy Back Bay neighborhood in December earns a lot of laughs for both spectators and runners. It has also become an unofficial tradition of yours truly to go down and watch these crazy runners warm up and run down Boylston Street so be sure to check back late Saturday afternoon after I post my 2011 video of the Santa Speedo Run. In the interim, check out the video I created from last year’s run.
The 2011 charity benefiting from the funds raised in this years race will be Play Ball foundation. If you’d like to learn more about this annual run which is now replicated in cities across the US and Canada, you can visit here.
Last week I met my close friend and fellow blogger, Tracey, for lunch at one of my favorite seafood restaurants in Boston. For years, this restaurant has consistently provided excellent seafood in a pleasant setting with skilled servers. When I lived in the Back Bay (where this establishment is located) I think I went here weekly.
Atlantic Fish Co. has been serving the public since the late 70s and is part of the Back Bay Restaurant Group, which also owns establishments like Abe & Louie’s which happens to be a few doors down on Boylston Street. Despite the fact that I think this place may serve the best New England Clam Chowder in the city, I had not been here in quite awhile. If you are on a budget and are afraid Atlantic might break your budget, consider joining them for lunch. Day menus always seem to be cheaper than their evening counterparts and it is the same food.
Complementary bread / cup of New England clam chowder $5.00
Immediately after ordering lunch, a basket of warm breads arrived and shortly thereafter the chowder which I referenced previously. The bread was soft and warm and the chowder was creamy with large chunks of potatoes and clams. The combination of the two together was so satisfying I wished I had ordered a bowl rather than the cup. However, considering I ordered my standby “Fish and Chips” it was probably best since I can only ingest so many calories without feeling some pinch of guilt. Like Atlantic’s chowder, I think their Fish and Chips is among the best in the city, but I’ll let the picture tell the full story.
Fish and Chips $13.00
We opted to lunch at Atlantic’s beautiful bar rather than requesting a table. Often one sacrifices a bit of attention and service when dining at the bar since bartenders can be harried making drinks for the floor while serving patrons who “belly up to the bar”, but this is one of the few places I’ve dined regularly and feel no slight. The bartenders were friendly, attentive and extremely helpful going the extra distance by calling the kitchen when I had a question about an item not on their lunch menu. If you are looking for some delicious New England seafood on your next visit to Boston – check out Atlantic Fish Co.
Located at 761 Boylston Street in the Back Bay, (617) 267-4000
Reservations are strongly recommended
Last January I shared a glowing review of Lucca Back Bay. I returned again for a visit in the spring of 2011 and had a similar experience so I was happy to go again this past weekend to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
Perhaps we had a new waiter, but at nearly every turn she detracted from the dining experience. She did not offer the night’s two specials and actually forgot the second entirely. Throughout the meal errors like not filling empty wine glasses or inquiring if we’d like to order another bottle when we ran empty all happened one after another, making me wonder if I was eating at a quiet discount Italian chain.
Problems with service were exacerbated because one of the friends did not care for the gnocchi they ordered. To make sure he was not being overly critical I sampled his plate, and agree it was (at best) mediocre. Lest you think I’m overly negative, I would like to assure you that we did have a good time (after all its the company that makes the evening) and the four other main dishes were delicious.
For those contemplating a visit, pasta plates range from $23-$36 and main courses or “secondi” range from $28-$36. Dinner for two (appetizers, main dishes and a shared dessert – not including drinks or tip) is ~ $90.00.
Lucca in the Back Bay is at 116 Huntington Ave Boston, MA
Reservations strongly recommended, Tel: (617) 247 2400
Inspired by the gay blog, Dwight Supremacy that regularly includes “SIRveillance” posts, I thought I’d share one such guy who caught my eye when I was waiting patiently outside the Newbury Street Diesel store last week.If you like this sort of thing definitely check out the Dwight Supremacy blog, which is conveniently located in my blogroll.
The Burrage House (named after the attorney, businessman, and philanthropist Albert C. Burrage and his family) is one of many distinctive properties that dot Back Bay’s Commonwealth Avenue. The home which was initially constructed in 1899 is now divided into six condominiums each worth several millions of dollars and rent for $15,000+ a month. Local football fans know that a few years ago Patriot’s quarterback, Tom Brady, called this home.
I’m so thankful that even if these are no longer single family homes, the city never allowed them to be torn down. The Burrage House adds an element of elegance and ignites my imagination of what Boston must have been like 100+ years ago. Below is a video of one of the condos which went up for sale earlier this spring and sold for more than asking ($4.35M).
Back Bay is famous for its rows of Victorian homes, which according to wikipedia are considered one of the best-preserved examples of 19th-century urban design in the United States. The neighborhood’s name refers to when this now trendy part of the city was marsh. Now a shopping, business and residential district, fans of architecture will recognize most of the residential buildings date from the late 19th and early 20th century.
When I first moved into Boston, I lived in the Back Bay and I’ll always consider the neighborhood home. Below are a series of photographs from Back Bay.
The neighborhood blends the old with the new beautifully. The photos above are from opposing buildings at the intersection of Newbury Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The modern building on the left was designed by Frank Gehry in 1989. By contrast the re-purposed building across the street provides a glimpse of Boston’s past.
When I first moved to Boston the building above which dates back to 1899 was home to Waterstone’s Bookstore and was one of my favorite places to spend time when the weather wasn’t agreeable. The building is now home to a Montessori school and a restaurant.
Above is a trompe l’oeil to add some interest to what otherwise would be the back of a concrete building that is home to the Boston Architectural College and behind it is the Prudential building which dominates the Back Bay skyline.
The Boston Globe is reporting Restoration Hardware has signed a lease at the historic 234 Berkeley Street (previously home of LouisBoston). Restoration Hardware previously had a store in the Back Bay but closed it in May 2007.
The retail space can accommodate 40,000 square feet. If the entire building is used, it would be among one of the largest stores in the Back Bay and one of a very few free standing shops.
There doesn’t appear to be any information about when the new location would open but this is fantastic news. I can already see all the gay men in the South End and beyond lining up to get a glimpse when this massive new retail space reopens selling everything from furniture to bed linens.
You can read The Boston Globe article here.
With a goal of raising $250,000 the Boston Santa Speed Run opened registration earlier this week only to close in record time. This fun 1-mile run through Boston’s trendy Back Bay neighborhood in December earns a lot of laughs for both spectators and runners. I’ve included a photo and video from the 2010 Santa Speedo Run.
If you’d like to learn more about this annual run which is now replicated in cities across the US and Canada, you can visit here.
The 2011 charity benefiting from the funds raised in this years race will be Play Ball foundation. Be sure to mark your calendar to watch, laugh and cheer on the runners on Saturday, December 10, 2011.
Last week I was invited to join my friend at 40-something life blog for a dinner with Opus One winemaker Michael Silacci and France Posener, the winery’s East Coast Sales representative at one of Boston’s premiere restaurants, L’Espalier. I loved the Summer Degustation which we ordered. It included 4 savory courses, followed by their grand fromage, signature sorbet and dessert. All told the 6 plates each accompanied by a different wine took us approximately 5 hours to eat – if you’d like to read in more detail what we ate, please link to my friend Tracey’s blog, here.However, I would like to write a bit about the dining experience, starting with the exceptional service and attention we received due to Michael Silacci’s presence. The chef and proprietor of L’Espalier, Frank McClelland came over to meet us personally and chatted briefly with France and Michael. After seeing so many raging chefs on these quasi-reality cooking shows, chef McClelland’s calm, polite demeanor was a welcome dose of reality. We were also well tended by the sommelier, Erich Schliebe, who poured a new wine with each course and freely joined in our ongoing dinner repartee. Lastly, the restaurant’s Captain, Daniel Floyd, provided us with the most attentive service I can recall in recent memory. I know this was all for the benefit of the well respected winemaker to my right, but I enjoyed being privy to the opportunity.
One of the reasons Michael Silacci and France Posener were in Boston was to premier the Opus One 2008 vintage. It was pretty cool to be among the first to try this new vintage. They brought a bottle of the award winning 2007 and the new 2008 and poured both for us to try side-by-side. The picture to the left is of last year’s vintage.
Between courses and wine, conversation flowed easily from start to finish. Michael is quite interesting and is equally comfortable talking about subject matter completely unrelated to his areas of interest or expertise. He is an attentive listener and has a dry wit. One of the things I really enjoyed learning about my dinner companion is that he’s allergic to chocolate – it causes him to sneeze. He joked the better the chocolate the more he sneezes. I was able to witness the reaction first hand when dessert was served and it caused all of us to laugh (again).
Dinner was filled with both personal stories from each of us as well as some interesting insights into the Opus One winery. I started my dinner not knowing the two guests who were treating my friend and me to this decadent dinner but left with a deeper appreciation for the work and attention they bring to their wines as well as some interesting insights into what makes them tick.
Should you be interested in visiting the beautiful Opus One estate and winery, make a reservation today here
Although I’m off to Gotham this weekend, that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of all the fun things happening in Boston. If you don’t have plans this Friday or if you are tired of doing the same thing, consider one of these options.
Shakespeare on the Common
Once again this year, The Commonwealth Shakespeare Co. is providing free performances. This year they are performing All’s Well that Ends Well
through August 14th down by the bandstand on the Boston Common. Invite that special someone to join you Friday evening under the stars and enjoy some great local theater.
Thanks to the Highland Street Foundation
, this Friday (August 5th) Boston’s premiere contemporary art museum is free to the public as part of their FREE FUN FRIDAYS series. Be sure to check out their “The Record: Contemporary Art & Vinyl” exhibit. For a small cover charge after taking in the exhibit you can partake in their waterfont dance party “DJs on the harbor: Classic DJ Throwdown”.
According to an article in today’s Boston Globe, Boston-area rents are hitting new heights with the median price recently reaching $1,665 a month and a vacancy rate of 4.4% (down from 6.2% one year ago). If you are looking for an apartment in the Back Bay the news is even worse with average rentals running $2,650+ for a 2 bedroom and a 1.2% vacancy rate.
Boston’s growing population of graduate students only exacerbates the problem. The Globe article points out that over the past decade 20,000+ graduate students have been added to the Boston area and new housing / rental units have not kept pace. These residents are only here a short time and the cost of living issues outlined serve as a serious impediment to many of these highly qualified, educated and skilled workers remaining in the area.
The city of Boston has long been aware that the cost of living and cost of rent / homes in particular are a huge issue. It would really be wonderful to see how Mayor Menino and other local politicians are working to make this less of an issue in the future so articles like this can quickly become part of our past.
If you would like to read the Boston Globe article, you can link to it here
According to Adam’s Hospitality and Tourism Industry Blog 15 new food truck locations will debut throughout Boston on Wednesday, July 13th.
New food truck locations will be located in Back Bay, Bay Village, South End, Fenway, Kenmore/BU, Dorchester, Boston Marine Industrial Park/South Boston Waterfront, and the Charlestown Navy Yard.
You can figure out where your favorite food truck is located or look online to see if there is a food truck near you by visiting the city of Boston website here
Do you have a favorite food truck or does the idea of eating from a kitchen on wheels make you road sick? Boston has a fair amount of good options and there is always a large collection each Sunday at the SoWa Open Market so if you don’t have one of these kitchens on wheels near you during the day, come and check it out on Sunday at the Open Market in the south end.
Thanks for the tip Adam.
When: Sunday, July 17th from 12PM – 6PM
Where: James Joseph Salon at 30 Newbury Street
Why: To benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
Join Izzy Berdan (seated above) and some of Boston’s best stylists who will be cutting hair for Camp Cuts 2011 to benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.
For $50 you will receive an amazing cut, mini post-cut photo shoot, a goody bag from some of Boston’s best retailers, and much more thanks to the generosity of Boston’s many sponsors. Make a hair appointment today; more information (including available times) is online at Camp Cuts 2011.
About The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp: Originally founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, this non-profit is a residential summer camp and year-round center serving children and their families coping with cancer and other serious illnesses and conditions. The camp serves more than 15,000 each year and all it’s services are provided free of charge.
Zócalo, a Mexican restaurant recently opened in space previously occupied by Stix. The restaurant can accommodate 50+ inside but has a large patio for al fresco dining for lunch or dinner. Zócalo is owned by chef Erwin Ramos who also owns the very successful, Olé Mexican Grill in Cambridge.
Over the past year, Boston has seen several new Mexican restaurants open. Boston has not embraced Mexican cuisine and until recently, I could only name 2-3 Mexican restaurants in the area. So take my review with a grain of salt because my exposure to Mexican cuisine is limited at best. I’ve noted that the reviews of this new restaurant are very mixed, but my experience was pleasant from start to finish.
Dinner at Zócalo including an appetizer, main dish and dessert (no drink or tip included) will cost approximately $30.00 – $35.00 per person. Main dishes range from $17.00-$23.00.
Before our meal, I started with a delicious martini at the downstairs bar. My friends all indulged in a variety of margaritas; of which the passion fruit seemed the best. The service, starting with the bartender and including the patient waitress who helped us with our meal, was good from start to finish. While waiting for the main dishes to come out it was suggested we order sides of guacamole and salsa. These proved to be my favorite part of the meal. If dinner is not an option, grabbing some drinks and delving into the oversized portions of guacamole or homemade salsa is a great alternative.
For my main I opted for the chile rellenos. I thought the two roasted poblano peppers were very good. One was stuffed with cheese, spinach, raisins and almonds and the other with braised pork. The dinner also comes with a side of black beans and plantains, which strangely, I did not care for. The cheese on the beans tasted off and the plantains were too tough.
Chile Rellenos – $19.95
If you are looking to try someplace different or have a hankering for Mexican cuisine, give this place a try. The inside is very nice, the staff was friendly and in good weather you can make use of their oversized patio. Should you go, let me know your thoughts.
Zócalo is located at 35 Stanhope Street (617) 456-7849
Reservations not required but strongly recommended
Max Brenner opened his first shop in Boston earlier this week. In lieu of his logo which any chocoholic worth their while would recognize, I opted to include a photo of Lee, one of the friendly bartenders at Max Brenner Boston. I figure Lee’s resemblance to the corporate logo and winning smile was reason enough, but truth be told I’ve known Lee quite a while and was pleasantly surprised to see him working there and happier still to have an excuse to post his handsome picture. I believe this is the first (perhaps only) Max Brenner location in North America that has a bar. Although it may be an anomaly for Max Brenner shops, this will probably guarantee a late night crowd will keep the store full and busy and help it remain profitable. There are approximately a half dozen other chocolate shops within blocks of this store, but none offer such a large menu or remain open quite so late.
Included below are a few photographs of the new location. Click on the image to enlarge. Apparently I’m not the only chocoholic, as this table of handsome guys from the South End shows. They appeared to be enjoying their afternoon meal and were good sports to smile pretty for the camera so I couldn’t resist including the photo.