Isn’t it difficult to follow an older sibling? I have always been a little jealous of my brother who is two and a half years older than me; he could boss me around when I was a child because he was older, stronger and worked much harder at school than I did. That’s just the way it was and I accepted it, but there was one thing that niggled: my brother held dual citizenship as he was born in Boston. I would give my right arm for an American passport, to have the freedom to come and go as I please, to be a citizen of a country I so love. Even though this won’t happen any time soon, I do have an ace up my sleeve, a one-up on my brother: I have visited Boston twice whilst he has never been back, and I have loved it and its people wholeheartedly and with great gusto. Each visit is a treat, with adventures and surprises, such as the occasion I dined at one of the most widely lauded restaurants in town: Eastern Standard.
Eastern Standard is apparently the restaurant that the big-name chefs go to when they’re in Boston. The food is said to be innovative and consistently good, ever changing but always memorable. Boston itself is a coastal town which means copious amounts of seafood, particularly lobsters, clam chowder (from “Quin-cee Mah-ket”) and freshly shucked oysters. Though I have no problem with the former two, the latter I abhor. Oysters may be considered an aphrodisiac by most, but for me I can think of no worse turn-off: their slippery, slimy texture accompanied by that raw overtly fishy flavour… I shudder even to think of it. Needless to say, oysters would be off the menu for me, but that’s okay because there was plenty more to sample, and strangely we wouldn’t even be eating a lot of seafood this evening.
It wasn’t an amazing start to the meal, as when my three companions and I arrived the place was already heaving. I squeezed myself into the corner of the bar while my friend struggled through to fetch us drinks; we had tried to seat ourselves at a small table and were barked at by a frazzled bartender for sitting in a reserved area before she pushed her way past to the bar. Worst of all, the girl behind me had a raucous laugh that set my teeth on edge, so there was a niggle of annoyance pressing at my mood, threatening to turn it foul. Thank goodness we only had to wait 10 minutes before we were seated, and soon the conversation and cocktails had soothed my temper. It is also fairly lucky that our server was so very pleasant compared to the bar staff.
Due to our number, greediness and indecisiveness, we decided that the best thing to do was to order a large number of dishes and share. An avocado and orange salad topped with celeriac, cod ceviche with potato chips, escargot encroute with a rich garlic cream sauce, bone marrow topped with a remoulade and with a silver spoon stuck into the center of one of the bones, the “offal of the day” (duck liver), a sweetbread, hazelnut and poached egg salad, fried calamari with a marinara sauce and finally a large rib-eye steak were served up one after the other, the table heaving under the weight of it all. We hoovered through it like the machines we are, leaving no escargot left unturned, all bones picked clean.
I was full and pleased; even the rain that had been drizzling on and off all evening had stopped. However, though it was good, hearty and filling food, it wasn’t as amazing as I’d been led to believe. I think we ordered some wrong dishes, and were I an oyster kind of gal I believe we’d have had a whale of a time; it was, though, a very good and well presented meal with a lot of bang for your buck. We each paid about $25-30, excluding alcohol, and shared the experience in great company, and for that reason alone I’d return.
I might not be able to claim Boston as my hometown, but I don’t mind so much because it means that each visit is a treat, each place I visit a surprise and an adventure, and I do love a good adventure.
Eastern Standard, 528 Commonwealth Ave., Boston MA, 2606, USA. Website.