Boston

Boston is the most British place I’d been in a year. It reminded both of us of Manchester. There are tight road, looming heavy grey buildings, and it was raining when we arrived.

People I like told me they don’t like Boston. Apparently it’s too white and too conservative. I get it, lacks the vibrancy and diversity of New York. But we had a lovely time still, and two of the best food experiences since we’ve been in US…

Our first night was spent at pretty generic bars eating bad nachos. But I was with Helen, we were in a bar and got drunk; it was fun.

For most of the night we had two slightly saggy men in their late 30s (solidarity brothers) sat next to us. About an hour in they were approached by three women in their mid to late 40s. One of the men was delighted; I get it, I can’t remember the last time anyone showed interest in me in a bar. (Helen has her phone out most the time these days.) His more self confident (and no doubt deep down happier) mate was irritated. We kept watching until the oldest looking woman slumped on the shoulder of the more needy man and declared “I like you”. We could watch no more, we were out of there.

The bit of Boston that challenges the naysayers is South End. This is not a fresh insight, South End is well and truly gentrified. It could quite comfortably nestle up against Prospect Park and no one would tell the difference.

Beehive did a good brunch and a proper Bloody Mary. For a long time I thought I hated Bloody Mary’s, but when they don’t taste of metal and sick they’re great.

Toro was pretty good tapas too, if the service was a bit exhaustingly mask focused (I get it!!).

We ate well, it felt like New York. I suppose New Yorkers just don’t want to sit on a train for four hours and then have to seek out the good stuff that’s on their door step back home.

But, but, but then there were different food experiences, in two very different locations that were as good as anything we’ve eaten in New York (and we’ve done our best to tuck in here);

The first was Woods Hill in a big shiny Dubai like building in the renovated docks. It was our first real date in a year, we both got dressed up and had cocktails while waiting for our table and everything. Helen inevitably looked beautiful; I looked like another American with a belly straining his shirt and a bafflingly hot wife on his arm. I’ve gone native.

We were sat inside, it was service and buzz like in the before times. Our waitress was lovely and clearly knew the food. The sommelier was generous, witty and pouring good wine. Oh, it was lovely.

Food was smallish eclectic plates, the idea was you could try a real range of different things. They seemed a bit disappointed when Helen and I ordered the pork belly as a starter, then the pork shoulder as a main. But, delicious as the pig was, the star dishes were sticky lamb ribs (so still unctuous fatty flesh) and the halibut.

The other food delight we stumbled on 16000 steps into a very long day. We’d been watching a ball game at Fenway when I realized I’d left my Credit Card at brunch. Boston has terrible Uber coverage, so we had to walk back to Beehive.

Between Beehive and home (by this point parched) was an unassuming door attached to the side of a CVS. It smelled of garlic and butter, so we went inside. The smell intensified and was joined by great music and the crack of people enjoying proper seafood. We were in Bootleg Special

We watched mesmerized as the two couples behind us donned plastic gloves and waiters bought them platters of the most enormous crabs legs I’ve ever seen. All around us were people systematically and joyously taking apart giant crustaceans.

Sadly Helen’s short comings meant we couldn’t join in but I still ate the best cooked oysters I’ve ever had. They were in their shells and covered in butter, garlic and crispy bits. So succulent and sweet. Helen even allowed me to lick out the shells.

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