After an early but short flight from Ottawa to Boston, we arrived at Boston Logan International Airport at around 8:30am. We were very impressed by the seemingly new airport. There were very clear signs to lead us to the waiting area for Uber/Lyft and it was very organized with assigned parking spots for pick up – very impressive. It didn’t take us too long to get to the city centre.
We were staying at CitizenM in the North End of Boston, right next to TD Garden. This boutique hotel was originally from Amsterdam and recently opened up in Boston. The reviews online were excellent. The price was very reasonable at an average of $130USD/night excluding fees. The ambience hotel for that matter is very young and hip. We had to take an elevator from the 1st floor to the 4th floor “living room” which had plenty of seating and a central island of iPads to check in. There was also a canteen in the back with food 24/7. I already checked-in online and it was promised that I would get my key in 20 seconds. They did not lie. It was such a simple check-in. They had staff in the area in case we had any questions. We thought we wouldn’t have access to our room since it was only around 9am but apparently our room was ready! The elevators are very secure, requiring us to scan the room key to go up.
Most of the rooms are considered smaller with minimalistic design. We were lucky to be randomly assigned the accessible room with more space. All rooms had a king-sized bed which is usually wall to wall but ours had floor space around it. The shower was not large but we did not mind too much as there was plenty of space around the sink and toilet. The amenities are very fun. There was a MoodPad which is an iPad that you can use to control everything from the lights to the blinds to the TV. There was a cute stuffed guy which was kind of creepy but cute at the same time. There was a small book shelf with a few mini books from “The School of Life” series, which we were interested in reading during our time here.
After freshening up, we headed to our first location. I was warned by our friend, Aimee, who stayed in Boston for a bit, that in order to go to Neptune Oysters, I may have to wait up to 4 hours. I decided to make it a priority to stop by here first so if we couldn’t get in, we can try again another time. We go there at around 11:15am (15 minutes before it was to open) and there was already a long line. Aaron went over to Polcari’s to get some coffee while I waited. Polcari’s was listed as one of the best coffee spots in the North End but apparently it was more well-known for its beans. Aaron was a bit confused when he got there and realized it was more of a corner store. Regardless, he got his coffee and met me back in line. It wasn’t long before the restaurant was open and the line started moving. We were so lucky to be one of the last ones through the door to get seats! To give you a reference, we were lined up at around the entrance of the dog treats store. So if you are before that point, there is a good chance you will get a seat at their first seating. Everyone else after us were told to leave their number and will be called when seats are available – around a 45 minute wait. If you have an international number, they will not be able to call you so you will just have to come back at a prearranged time and wait around. There was a constant flow of hopeful patrons coming in during our meal so the wait time slowly increased to 1.5 hours.
On to the food! For lunch today, we had a seafood feast. We started with some clam chowder. The consistency was not as thick as the clam chowders I’m used to. You can really taste the clam in it, so if you like seafood, you might want to try this. It also had an herb (parsley?) on top which over-took the flavour a little. Overall, it was unique but I think I prefer the creamy thick, clam chowder more.
From the raw bar, we had the uni (sea urchin), oysters, and clam. I appreciated how on the list of raw bar items, they listed all the taste profiles. It helped us to choose some oysters out of the many they have. Those who have read our Japan blog posts would know that I’m not usually a uni fan but I’m open to trying a bite here and there. I am so glad I did because it was probably the best uni I’ve ever had. It was so buttery and creamy, I can now understand why people enjoy it. The clam was also very different but tasted too much like the ocean for me.
Next, the Johnny Cake arrived. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about ordering this but the majority of people online highly recommended it so I knew I had to try it. It was actually my favourite part of meal. The cornmeal cake was so well done, the honey butter was sweet and buttery and paired so well with the savoury Boston smoked bluefish and sturgeon caviar on the top. The portion is large so I was glad I had Aaron to share it with.
Speaking of large portions, the lobster roll was the last to arrive. This was definitely the star of the meal presentation-wise. The generous mountain of lobster spilled over the bun with a side of fries. We ordered the hot lobster roll which was served with butter instead of mayonnaise. It was really good lobster. On the other hand, I wish the bun was more special and perhaps more toasted/crunchy instead of soft.
After our amazing first meal in Boston, we took a quick stroll around the small streets of the North End. We had to stop by Mike’s Pastry to try their cannoli. We ordered the OG ricotta cannoli but Aaron, the one with the sweet tooth, actually did not enjoy it that much. It was definitely a lot of cheese in one pastry. We couldn’t finish it.
After our walk, we took a bit of a siesta before heading towards South Boston. What better idea than to wake ourselves up with some coffee after a nap. We headed over to La Colombe where I had the best oat milk latte. It was so nutty and creamy, it was unreal! After coffee, we noticed there was a really cool store across the coffee shop. It was called Beta and it showcased many up and coming innovations. If you wanted to order or to get more information on any products, you could submit your email on the tablets. It was a very neat concept.
We then took a walk over to The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). During our walk, we enjoyed the lovely night view of the city and the harbour. We noticed there was a large, modern coworking space! And it was free! Very cool! Next to this space there was an outdoor skating rink which was very lively.
We finally made it to the ICA. You would know if you have read my previous Europe blog posts that I am not a fan of museums and art galleries, so I was a little apprehensive about this visit. However, I was pleasantly surprised because the exhibits here were very interactive. I especially enjoyed the exhibit: When Home Won’t Let You Stay: Migration through Contemporary Art. I felt this exhibit was particularly relevant at this time. It reminded me that is important for us: 1. Be grateful for what we have 2. Be more empathetic towards others who were not born in the same country as us. This exhibit really touched me. We stayed there for around 1.5 hours, then it was time we headed over to dinner. But first, we checked out the gift shop which had a lot of neat things to buy. For example, Aaron picked up a goal planner there.
For dinner, we were meeting up with some friends at Row 34, a seafood restaurant. They also had quite the extensive beer list but I was too busy catching up with my friends to study the list in detail, so I just asked the server to recommend a NEIPA. He suggested the King Sue and it was great. It was my first NEIPA of my Boston trip! Here we ordered the seafood tower, clam chowder, and hot and cold lobster rolls. The seafood tower had oysters, lobster tails and crudo. It was good but some of the oysters did overlap with our lunch. They did substitute the calms for some more oysters which I appreciated. I quite enjoyed the clam chowder here. It was chunkier than that of Neptune’s but it was a bit salty. I also enjoyed the hot and cold lobster roll. I like the bun a lot more as it was nicely buttered and toasted but felt that the lobster was better the Neptune’s. We ended with the tuna tartare which was excellent.
And that ends our first day in Boston. It was a pretty successful food day, I would say!