Hot!Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining

Post
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
2013/05/08 16:45:51
On May 4th, 2013, I did the Boston Death March.   Like Last year's thread on Chicago, every year a group of my friends (primarily people from Tivocommunity.com) has an annual tradition of picking a major metro area, then finding a nice 20+ mile walking route through the city that takes you through a large number of neighborhoods, and then basically walk it all in a day, stopping frequent to eat, drink, and otherwise enjoy the parts of a city you might not otherwise explore. We call it a "Death March".  This year, our destination was.... Boston.  Here's the route:

 
This year, we had the luck to also have Roadfood's Chris and Amy join us for the walk, along with their  friend Yvel.   Dale & Sandra joined us for the last segment of the walk as well.
 
I'll start posting about the walk and the various food establishments we visited along the way.  While the March is mostly about walking and seeing, it involved more than a little eating.  On the March, we visited:
 
1. Sullivan's Castle (alas, arriving a wee bit too early for Lobster rolls)
2. Liberty Bell Roast Beef
3. El Triunfo Salvadoran Food
4. South End Buttery
5. Super 88
6. Toscanini's
7. Durgin Park
 
We also visited Elephant Walk and Craigie on Main as extras (the night before and the day after the walk)
 
post edited by kaszeta - 2013/05/10 15:36:11
lleechef
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/08 17:11:34
What a beautiful walk!  You'll be going through my old neighborhood of South Boston and around Castle Island.  You can always stop for a cool beverage at Sullivan's on Castle Island.  Enjoy!
agnesrob
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/08 19:54:03
Can't wait for your report!
buffetbuster
Porterhouse
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/09 09:31:41
We did give a little bit of thought to joining in, but the amount of walking involved is beyond me.  Can't wait to read about what we missed.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/10 14:10:27
So, the very first stop was at the start of the March.  We decided to start gathering at 7am at McKenna's Cafe in Dorchester, about 100 feet away from the Savin Hill T station.  I picked Savin Hill as a nice place for a scenic start to our walk, and discovered that it's actually a fairly nice and quiet neighborhood in Dorcester, one that seems off of most people's radar (even amongst the current and former Boston residents in the group, most of them hadn't been to Savin Hill).

 
In any case, McKenna's is a nice, cozy neighborhood cafe, the exact sort of cafe you expect in a neighborhood like this. Walk in, get greeted by the staff, and quickly get seated with some coffee to peruse the menu.  he menu at McKenna’s is your basic American breakfast joint menu, with pancakes, French toast, omelets, scrambles, and the like. One notable difference from many other places is that they also have a lot of Irish breakfast items (bangers, black and white pudding, and the like), and a few healthier options (several egg white specials, several turkey dishes, and such). After some review, I settled on one of the healthier items (the Energizer, an English muffin with layers of egg white, turkey, and Swiss) and a side of home fries to balance it out. I had to be somewhat reserved, since I was expecting to eat at over half a dozen places during the day. Carol decided to order up some French toast and share my home fries.
 

It's one of those menu items that doesn't lend itself to good food photography (the colors are a bit bland), but the Energizer was actually a very good breakfast sandwich: a nicely-toasted English muffin, several layers of moist turkey that had been lightly grilled, some fried egg whites, and two layers of Swiss cheese.  The result was a nice combination of egg, cheese, and turkey, without being too heavy.  I'd certainly get this again if I was in the mood for a breakfast sandwich.
 

Carol's French toast was quite good as well.  She had opted for the granola-crusted French toast, and the result was two substantial slabs of nicely-fried French toast.  The inside was light and fluffy, the outside crunchy, and the granola added some pleasant texture.  I'm not usually a French toast fan (having suffered through too many bad renditions of it), but here it's good, and I'd be happy ordering it.
 

The home fries, however, were the real surprise.  One of the big disappointments I had moving to New England is that most places up here don't do hash browns (shredded potatoes), but home fries (fried potato chunks).  Done well, home fries can be excellent (in particular, up my way the Tumble Inn Diner and the Fairlee Diner both do some boss home fries), but all too often a place either (a) breaks out the Sysco bag and fries them up, or (b) just dices some potatoes up and throws 'em in the fryer.  Either way, the result is usually a pile of fairly disappointing starchy or waxy lumps of potato.  Well, McKenna's goes down as another place that knows how to actually cook home fries correctly.  My home fries were nice and perfectly fluffy in the middle (with no waxiness or starchiness), warm, and having the perfect crispy exterior.  These weren't just good home fries, but probably the best I've had in Massachusetts.
 
So, a good start to the walk.  After that, it was off walking through South Boston to Castle Island and Sullivan's Castle...
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/10 14:11:50
...and then arriving at Sullivan's Castle, we discovered that while they were open at 9:50 in the morning, they didn't yet have lobster rolls (I missed this on my scouting trip, on which I got started later, so I had arrived at 10:30 just as they started serving Lobster rolls.  Oh well, live and learn).
 
We did get some nice tater tots, however:

pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/10 14:46:37
4 words I never want to hear "Sorry no Lobster Roll" .....is the March in March ???? I'll be in NYC in a few weeks, I'll make sure I have one for you....great start to the report, hope you ad the gang had fun on the Death March.......... is the March in Death March a hint on when the March is ??? if so I can figure it out..................Thx ...pnwc
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/10 15:35:27
We did the March last weekend, May 4th.  I'll put this in the top post.
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 10:17:43
Tater tots always improve a bad situation.  And that breakfast sandwich is more than a match for anything the Golden Arches serves up!
post edited by ScreamingChicken - 2013/05/12 10:19:06
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 12:49:39
Like your food choices so far. 
 
Walking would leave me out.
 
Why do you call it the death march? Do you know the neighborhoods prior to planning?
 
 
ayersian
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 14:41:21
Mar52, it's because we felt like death afterwards!  My legs would not respond to my brain's commands.  Even though Rich had walked the route before the march, the whole point of the event is to explore neighborhoods new to everyone.  I told my colleagues about it, and they (most of them are Boston-born and raised) said that they'd never been to some of these places!    Chris
pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 16:19:10
ayersian

Mar52, it's because we felt like death afterwards!  My legs would not respond to my brain's commands.  Even though Rich had walked the route before the march, the whole point of the event is to explore neighborhoods new to everyone.  I told my colleagues about it, and they (most of them are Boston-born and raised) said that they'd never been to some of these places!    Chris


Mar and I are working on a RF lazya_s Segway approach to doing this. We figured each Segway will have a Condiment try that can also be used as a ipad, on the front, so we can post as we go. We are working on a Porta potty version for the roadfooder that doesn't want to miss a trick. ...............pnwc
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 17:16:16
Chris, is this route one that my niece (Going to BU in August) could walk?
 
Bill, we can't forget the drink holders.
pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 17:44:38
Mar safety first.........Hard hat, our hands must be free for food handling and no texting while segwaying.......
 

wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/12 18:41:29
Sandra and I made the last leg of the trip, we began our leg and made it to the end....I regret not getting off at the Ruggles T Stop since we could have met up with the gang as they were approaching Fenway but neither Sandra or I had been to Harvard Square in years and we wanted to walk around to get ourselves re-acquainted with it again...
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 09:12:04
ayersian
Mar52, it's because we felt like death afterwards!  My legs would not respond to my brain's commands.  Even though Rich had walked the route before the march, the whole point of the event is to explore neighborhoods new to everyone.  I told my colleagues about it, and they (most of them are Boston-born and raised) said that they'd never been to some of these places!    Chris

This is it in a nutshell.  The idea is to explore a city on foot, seeing as many neighborhoods as possible, including the areas between them.  I've discovered sooo many neat little areas in NYC, SF, Chicago, and now Boston.  But to do so involves rather more walking than most people like---we lost more than a few people on this years walk to the sweet siren song of beer at Boston Beer Works by Fenway.
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 09:24:11
mar52
Chris, is this route one that my niece (Going to BU in August) could walk?

So far, none of the Death Marches have gone through parts of town that are terribly high on my "bad neighborhood" meter. The only possible part of the Boston walk that was at all questionable was Allston when we took the ped bridge over the turnpike, where ayersian and I did see a drug deal...  Re-routing around that area by staying on Harvard would be no problem.
 
Otherwise, all of the walks have been pretty nice.  NYC was almost entirely nice neighborhoods (and most of my NYC friends hadn't even really explored much north of 125th, so it was new even to some life-long New Yorkers).  Chicago got a bit colorful, but nothing risky.  San Francisco was also almost entirely nice, although that was due to planning: for those familiar with SF, it's rather difficult to get from Union Square to the Mission District on foot without crossing some bad parts of town.
 
It's worth noting that I usually don't know all the neighborhoods that well on these things.  One main reason we did South Boston on the walk is that I had never really explored that far into Southie except for a trip to Fort Independence as a little kid.  Flying into BOS several times I had noticed Pleasure Bay, and decided that should be part of the March.  So it was.  :)
 
The neat thing about walking these things is that you get to see the areas between neighborhoods you already knew, and often start to realize the connectivity of it all.  Several times on the Boston march people made comments about how they didn't realize two particular places were so close together.
post edited by kaszeta - 2013/05/13 09:36:48
Twinwillow
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 11:06:57
I've never spent a lot of time in Boston but I do remember on one short visit being taken to Durgin Park and despite being somewhat "touristy" I loved it!
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 13:08:59
While stop #1 at Sullivan's was a bit of a bust, the time spent stopped there was good, since it allowed us to arrive at our next stop, Liberty Bell Roast Beef, right as they opened.  (As an aside, when we did the pre-March, we stopped at American Provisions down the road for some excellent aged ham sandwiches, but they were slow enough that I didn't want to risk a stop there on the real March).
 

If I had to pick one particular sandwich that represented Massachusetts, it would have to be the roast beef sandwich. Sure, the Lobster Roll is a contender as well, but that’s more of a “Coastal New England” thing, whereas a quick trip through Massachusetts will show that there is no shortage of roast beef places. The epicenter is the North Shore, with no end of places selling roast beef sandwiches from small restaurants and shacks (most of which sport someone’s first name, like Nick’s or Kelly’s), but they are found throughout Massachusetts, with Boston lying on the bottom edge of what I call the “Roast beef sandwich belt”. And Liberty Bell Roast Beef was right on our route, so it was obligatory that we stop there for a break. 
 

Liberty Bell is one of those typical MA roast beef shop: a basic shop with tile floors, somewhat spartan furniture, and an ordering counter, and little else. Like most of the other roast beef places, Liberty bell has the standard roast beef shop menu: about a half dozen varieties of roast beef sandwich in different combinations, and then a gazillion options for “all things fried”, with a lot of seafood. But for me, the choice was obvious: I came here for a roast beef sandwich, and a roast beef sandwich is what I ordered: a “King Size” with horseradish sauce:
 

A good North Shore-style roast beef is really a simple sandwich: rare (it must still be pink!) roast beef, sliced thin, piled onto a soft onion rolls, and doused with either BBQ sauce or horseradish sauce (I prefer the latter, especially if it’s a good horseradish sauce). And the King Size from Liberty Bell was a particularly good exemplar of the type: a nice onion roll with a bit of crispiness to it, a substantial inch-thick layer of thin, pink, and juicy roast beef, and a rather pungent horseradish sauce with detectable bits of grated horseradish in it. A particularly good roast beef sandwich, and it even had a particularly good price tag ($6.95, which at most places around Boston these days only gets you a meager “small” sandwich).
 

As an aside, the staff at Liberty Bell was particularly friendly. A group of 18 or so people, most of us with cameras, descending upon a small restaurant like this and taking over all of the seating often gets a comment from the staff, and Liberty Bell was no exception. The woman at the counter was very pleased that Liberty Bell made our itinerary, and she was a gracious host explaining the history of the joint and describing the clientele.
 
 
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 13:54:37
That is indeed a good-looking sandwich!  Do roast beef shops usually have a good variety of rolls or is it basically "plain or onion"?
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 14:08:01
Usually just "plain or onion".
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 14:45:11
The next stop after that was as we crossed into the South End, with a stop at El Triunfo, a little Mexican/Salvadoran place that's in a weird little semi-industrial block on Berkeley Street, near, well, not much in particular:
 

El Triunfo is one of those classic hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints, in which the restaurant consists of a single storefront with an ordering counter and a few (in this case, exactly three) stools at a counter for on-site eating. So it’s almost entirely takeout.   They've got a fairly wide menu of Mexican and Salvadoran food, the latter including some nice-looking pupusas.  So various people ended up ordering tamales or pupusas (served up with curtido (pickled cabbage)).
 
One of the joys is watching the staff throw a pair of fresh-pressed pupusas on the grill for cooking.  A few minutes later they served these up as well with a baggie (literally a ziploc bag) of curtido.  The result is a good pupusa, fresh, flavorful, and nicely crisped.  And the curtido was tasty as well.


 
I also did a tamale, which was quite flavorful, but not very appealing to photograph.  And, as those around us could attest to, the sidewalk in front of El Triunfo is not the best place to try and eat food that requires multiple hands... next time, we'll go around the block to the park (where often Roxy Grilled Cheese can be found, just not that particular day) and grab a table.
post edited by kaszeta - 2013/05/13 14:48:13
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 14:53:43
Thanks for the explanation of the areas.
 
When this trip is finished (hoping it's not soon) I'll forward it to my niece. 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 15:07:32
mar52
When this trip is finished (hoping it's not soon) I'll forward it to my niece. 

The full route (with turn-by-turn instructions) is here.  We didn't deviate much from that.
billyboy
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 17:03:23
Lookin' good, kaszeta!  Count me in that list of people who didn't explore some of these neighborhood or eats in the 6 years I lived in Boston.  Shame on me! Were the home fries at McKenna's done on the flat-top?  That seems to be the best way to achieve the maximum crusty/creamy balance.  I worked on A Street near Fort Point Channel for 3 years and Congress Street for another 2 years and barely set foot beyond work in South Boston.  That roast beef sandwich looks dreamy.  I do love to add some bbq sauce to the mix if it's a blend they make or is really spicy/peppery.  Can't wait for the rest of the report!  Will you be doing this again next year?  Would love to get in on it.
mar52
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 17:16:52
Thanks again, Kaszeta!
love2bake
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 18:01:01
The other big challenge about walking SF is that when you're planning your route you can't tell where the steep hills are, and they definitely change the experience and timing!!
 
kaszeta

mar52
Chris, is this route one that my niece (Going to BU in August) could walk?

So far, none of the Death Marches have gone through parts of town that are terribly high on my "bad neighborhood" meter. The only possible part of the Boston walk that was at all questionable was Allston when we took the ped bridge over the turnpike, where ayersian and I did see a drug deal...  Re-routing around that area by staying on Harvard would be no problem.

Otherwise, all of the walks have been pretty nice.  NYC was almost entirely nice neighborhoods (and most of my NYC friends hadn't even really explored much north of 125th, so it was new even to some life-long New Yorkers).  Chicago got a bit colorful, but nothing risky.  San Francisco was also almost entirely nice, although that was due to planning: for those familiar with SF, it's rather difficult to get from Union Square to the Mission District on foot without crossing some bad parts of town.

It's worth noting that I usually don't know all the neighborhoods that well on these things.  One main reason we did South Boston on the walk is that I had never really explored that far into Southie except for a trip to Fort Independence as a little kid.  Flying into BOS several times I had noticed Pleasure Bay, and decided that should be part of the March.  So it was.  :)

The neat thing about walking these things is that you get to see the areas between neighborhoods you already knew, and often start to realize the connectivity of it all.  Several times on the Boston march people made comments about how they didn't realize two particular places were so close together.


pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/13 21:52:22
Seattle and Portland would be good walks..........Seattle. North and South, climbing a few of the hells you almost need a rope to pull you up...................Portland is  a great foodie town and a great food truck/cart  town............
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 10:56:41
pnwchef
Seattle and Portland would be good walks..........Seattle. North and South, climbing a few of the hells you almost need a rope to pull you up...................Portland is  a great foodie town and a great food truck/cart  town............

Any thoughts on a Seattle Route? I've thought about it, but I'm having a hard time finding a reasonable route that is (a) 16-20 miles long, and (b) Not crazy hilly.   Seattle itself is fairly compact, in my experience.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 11:01:45
kaszeta

pnwchef
Seattle and Portland would be good walks..........Seattle. North and South, climbing a few of the hells you almost need a rope to pull you up...................Portland is  a great foodie town and a great food truck/cart  town............

Any thoughts on a Seattle Route? I've thought about it, but I'm having a hard time finding a reasonable route that is (a) 16-20 miles long, and (b) Not crazy hilly.   Seattle itself is fairly compact, in my experience.

 
As far as Seattle, it can be done, if you want I can ask my friend Alan for his thoughts on a plausible route- in fact he would probably be interested in participating in a Seattle Death March.

kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 14:40:29
wanderingjew
As far as Seattle, it can be done, if you want I can ask my friend Alan for his thoughts on a plausible route- in fact he would probably be interested in participating in a Seattle Death March.

Please do.  I'd love some ideas (that, and my Seattle explorations have primarily been either downtown or in Kirkland, so getting to see more would be great)
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/15 14:56:48
As far as the Boston walk, the next stop was for dessert.  It's long been a tradition that the Death Marches have a late-morning "Cream Puff" stop.   In NYC, SF, and Chicago this was at Beard Papa Cream Puffs.
 
But Boston doesn't have a Beard Papa (and neither does Chicago any more, for that matter), so we instead turned it into a confection stop, stopped at the South End Buttery.   Alas, while South End sometimes has cream puffs (I had one three weeks prior), they didn't that day.
 
But I did score this most excellent Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcake:

 
 
 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/18 04:07:09
After that, we threaded through the South End to end up by the Reflecting Pond:


 
And then Fenway, where the Boston Beer Works ended up sucking in about half the group, never to be seen ever again.  ;)

 
But then we walked through part of Brookline and back into Allston to stop by the Super 88:

Super 88 is a regional chain of Asian grocery stores (now part of the larger Hong Kong Supermarket chain), and the Allston location opened to much fanfare in 2002. In addition to having good Asian produce and seafood section, it also had an onsite bakery and a really good selection of basic Chinese groceries. More importantly, however, was that the front of the store was made into the “88 Food Connection”, a small food court featuring half a dozen Asian food vendors, including Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, Bubble Tea, and other wonderful spots. It’s a great little place to meet up with friends and grab a quick Asian treat, so we decided it was also a good stop on the March. And one of those vendors, Pho Viet’s, is one of the better places around Boston to grab Vietnamese food:

For a place that’s basically a stall in a larger food court, Pho Viet’s has one of more expansive menus I’ve seen, with everything from Pho to Cha Gio to several varieties of Banh Mi, all presented primarily with a pictorial menu (with a very rare exception to the “Asian places seem to have lousy food photography” rule) with numbers for us non-Vietnamese speakers to order. While I really do want to try some of their substantial dishes like my favorites Com Suom or Bun Cha Gio Bun Thit Nuong, this time I simply wanted a nice barbecue pork banh mi, and that’s what we ordered.


And we were pleasantly surprised. There’s usually not a huge amount of variation between one place’s banh mi and another, but this one was surprisingly well put together. A nice warm and crusty bun. A flavorful meat with both crispy and meaty notes coming through. Good, crispy, and tangy vegetables. And most importantly, a thin schmear of Asian-style mayo applied as a condiment and not a thick layer, protecting the crustiness of the bread and adding some nice moisture without being too fatty.
 
All in all, a great stop. I should mention that I’m always a bit hesitant coming here, since the years haven’t been all that kind to Super 88 itself. While highly anticipated when it opened, over the years the quality of the market started to sag. Starting around 2008, some of the live fish started to disappear, followed by the bakery, and some of the nicer products. Shortly after that, the market went from “cluttered but clean”, to “dingy and worn” in a shockingly fast period, and by 2009, most of the other Super 88s closed, and the remaining locations, including the Allston one, were bought by Hong Kong Supermarkets, a California-based chain. If you look by the main entrance, you can still see a now-tattered “Hong Kong Supermarket Coming Soon” banner, but don’t hold your breath. The conversion happened in 2009, but about the only real change was the name on the receipts, and a noticeable decline in overall quality, and a lot of neglect (heck, 4 years later, the building still is labeled with www.super88market.com in foot tall letters, but that web site is long defunct). Depending on my visits (which are primarily to locate obscure Chinese items I can’t get out at >H-Mart, which is now my Asian-grocery-of-choice, and opened right about the time Super 88 started to decline), Super 88 itself alternates between “worn and grungy” and “downright disgusting”). But the food court soldiers on, and is still reasonably decent despite the dilapidation of the associated market.
pnwchef
Double Chili Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/19 11:05:18
wanderingjew

kaszeta

pnwchef
Seattle and Portland would be good walks..........Seattle. North and South, climbing a few of the hells you almost need a rope to pull you up...................Portland is  a great foodie town and a great food truck/cart  town............

Any thoughts on a Seattle Route? I've thought about it, but I'm having a hard time finding a reasonable route that is (a) 16-20 miles long, and (b) Not crazy hilly.   Seattle itself is fairly compact, in my experience.


As far as Seattle, it can be done, if you want I can ask my friend Alan for his thoughts on a plausible route- in fact he would probably be interested in participating in a Seattle Death March.

WJ & kaszeta......I think it coud be done, maybe starting East working West, remember hills have a path down also. It may even have a ferry ride involved, On a clear day, Seattle is a wonderful picturise city. The Hills in Seattle, coming down into Pioneer Square used to be used for sliding logs down the streets. This area was called " Skid Road" the streets used to have to be greased so the logs would slide easier down hill, this person who greased the road was called the "Grease Monkey". The area down and around Pioneer Square was was real close to the water, if you were using the crapper during high tide, if you flushed the Crapper it just may come back at you.....................pnwc
post edited by pnwchef - 2013/05/19 11:09:08
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/05/28 14:10:07
After Super 88, we took a shortcut through Allston and through the southern part of Harvard's campus, eventually arriving at Harvard Square.  By this point, even though we had shed the slower walkers, much of the rest of the walkers were starting to slow.  Here's most of the crowd as we approached Harvard Square:
 

 
Originally, Harvard Square was supposed to be an ice cream break, either for Boston Tea Stop for Mochi Ice Cream (one of the walkers loves their blueberry mochi):

But being such a nice Saturday, they had run out of Mochi already (the above is from when I pre-walked the route).  The other option was JP Licks, but it was also rather crowded.  So Harvard Square ended up being primarily a (longer than intended) restroom break, and also where we met up with WJ and company.
 
And then we were off to our second ice cream stop: Toscanini's.  It is one of my favorite ice cream places (I particularly like their burnt caramel flavor) although I always find the "best ice cream in the world" banners they have all over the place to be a bit brash.  But it was a pleasant enough stop:

kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:05:30
After Toscanini's, we walked through MIT, across the Harvard Bridge (with the Smoots), and then along the waterfront until we got to Boston Common.  At that point, it was obvious that we weren't going to make it to Bunker Hill, so we called it at 21.7 miles, and several of us headed off to Quincy Market.
 
when it came to finding a place to take several of my fellow walkers on our “Death March”, most of whom hadn’t spent a lot of time in Boston, for me the choice of venue was fairly obvious: Durgin-Park, one of Boston’s venerable restaurants, serving up Boston schrod, seafood, and steaks since 1826. Named after Messrs Durgin and Park who were the original owners of the place, it’s located in Quincy Market at 340 Faneuil Hall (North Market), a location its been inhabiting since it opened, albeit with some (minor) renovations (the plumbing in the men’s room appears to be date from the late Victorian era).
 
One of the very notable things about Durgin-Park is that it’s one of those time capsule restaurants. Aside from a few (very few) tweaks to the menu, and obviously higher prices, the experience at Durgin-Park is almost exactly the same that I remember from my first visit in the late ’70s (and my visits in ’95, ’99, and ’01, for that matter), although the service doesn’t seem as surly as I recall from some of my previous visits (some of that is probably my getting used to the general surliness of Boston in general, to be honest). I’m sure that if you go back far enough in time you’d find a different experience, but the current Durgin-Park ambiance and menu harken back to at least the 1950s and the era of white-shirted servers and red-checked tablecloths. And that’s one of the reasons I like to go there, since it’s one of the oldest restaurants in the country, and one of the old respected seniors of Boston dining (along with nearby Jacob Wirth and the Union Oyster House, the latter of which goes back to the colonial era).
 
As I mentioned above, the menu at at Durgin-Park is pretty basic, with a variety of seafood, steaks, and other Yankee classics. If you find yourself craving an old-style pot roast, shepherd’s pie, plate of roast beef, or a breadcrumb-crusted Boston schrod, well, Durgin-Park is one of the places to go. They’ve also got a pretty good selection of fresh seafood, and more than a few steaks (one of the sights as you come in is the very large lump charcoal grill they use for most of their steaks), and prime rib (with sizes ranging from the 12 oz Boston Cut up to the 32 oz Durgin Cut, which comes out as a giant Flintstone-style slab o’ meat overhanging the plate). We ended up going pretty basic: I ended up with the Boston Cut prime rib and an extra order of baked beans, while Carol ordered prime rib and a plate of oysters to start.
 
The oysters were a great start to the meal, with half a dozen substantial oysters. Nothing fancy here, just a plate of half-shell oysters on ice served up with lemon, fresh-grated horseradish, and cocktail sauce, but quite the good dish of oysters. The oysters were fresh, nicely cleaned, and ready to eat, and a rather satisfying treat after a long day of hiking.

Next up were the baked beans. There was a time, not even that long ago, when pretty much every place within about a 75 mile radius of Boston had baked beans on the menu, often served up in a crock, and Durgin-Park still serves them up like that. I’ll have to admit, while they aren’t fancy dining, I rather like Boston-style baked beans, and the ones at Durgin-Park are definitely some of the better beans I’ve had, with rich molasses and salt pork notes, and obviously having been simmered long enough to be tender and yummy, but not yet falling apart.

Durgin-Park remains olde school when in comes to presentation as well. You order the prime rib, your plate comes, and it’s just a slab of prime rib on the plate. No garnish, just the meat. And I’m fine with that, since they do a rather good job with it. The prime rib came cooked perfectly medium rare, very juicy, and having a rather pleasantly spiced rub crust to it. Not an overly fatty cut, it was a great way to round out a day of walking, washing it down with a Durgin Ale (house beer that’s made by Harpoon).

And actually, when you come down to it, Durgin-Park is actually a good destination, since it’s one of the very few places out there still serving the old New England dessert stalwart: Indian Pudding (and doing a decent job of it). And it’s the only place I’ve found that serves coffee jello (also not sampled this time, while interesting, it’s not something I’m craving, especially after a full day of heavy eating). There are definitely more offbeat places, and finer dining to be had, but Durgin-Park earns a spot of respect for me for delivering a consistent experience, decade after decade.
 
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:07:22
In any case, sorry this writeup took so long, but I got slammed with travel (as I write this, I'm returning from a trip to Los Angeles before heading back out to DC for the third time in a month).  Hope you enjoyed it, and thanks to the Boston-area roadfooders who joined us.
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2013/06/14 15:26:26
Durgin-Park looks like a perfect finish!  Would a restaurant opening today be able to grill over charcoal?  Or is Durgin-Park exempt from current regulations?
 
"I'll have the prime rib, a beer, and a tub of ice water for my feet, please."
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 17:44:10
For those wondering about 2014, we're doing DC this year, on April 26th.  Drop me a line if you are interested in attending.
IansMom
Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 21:12:02
I'd be interested in the route... I'll be in DC 4/24-4/28
kaszeta
Double Cheeseburger
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/16 23:27:06
Nominal route for DC is here:  Takoma Metro Station to Theodore Roosevelt Island.  23 miles, give or take.
wanderingjew
Sirloin
Re:Boston: 21.7 miles of walking and dining 2014/03/17 08:29:23
Kaszeta
 we will be  in DC 3 weekends before the death march. We really wanted to join you but couldn't because we have a wedding to attend in Charlotte in May and didn't want to do two big trips too close together.