Friday, April 17, 2009

Breakfast in Boston

Unfortunately, we only had time for 2 breakfasts while in Boston.  That's unfortunate because 1) that's my favorite meal of the day and 2) there were some really good sounding restaurants that I would have liked to have tried.  Oh well, there's always next time!

The first stop was the well-known, highly touted Charlie's Sandwich Shop.  I had read that their pancakes had won numerous "best of" awards for the city and most seemed to agree with the notoriety.  I was welcomed with the stereotypical northerner personality when the lady behind the counter not-so-politely told me I had to wait outside.  Okay, sorry lady, I'm a visitor and had no idea.  Like Ten Tables, this place was small and narrow.  It consisted of a counter that seated about 10 and 3 big tables that each seated about 4-6.  It's a family owned and operated business that's been around for eons.  We sat at the counter and enjoyed looking at photos of celebrities who had dined there at one time or another.  

I ordered the infamous pancakes with the addition of fresh raspberries.  I'm quite the pancake connoisseur and I can't say I've ever seen raspberries as a filling before.  Additional choices were blueberries, cranberries, banana, and chocolate chip.  I wanted one of each but was told that would be an additional charge and at $8.95 already, I wasn't willing to pay any more.  The pancakes, although large and beautiful with the raspberries, were disappointing.  Without the raspberries, they would have been completely tasteless and heavy.  Thankfully, they added a heaping handful of raspberries to each cake, ensuring a berry blast in each bite.  

Wes opted for the "award winning" turkey hash.  He has just recently become a fan of this dish but has always had it with corned beef.  He said the turkey just didn't provide the flavor or salt that this dish is known for.  His portion was large and came with scrambled eggs that he said seemingly melted in his mouth.  I watched the guy make them and the only thing he added to them was a splash of whole milk.  Maybe the extra fat from the milk kicks up the taste.  Perhaps I'll use a little of Colin's milk and give it a try.

We both got full from the meal but neither were itching to go back.  The restaurant was very convenient to our hotel though and was certainly worth our time to try.  I would have always wondered about those legendary pancakes had I not given them a try.

Our second breakfast fared much better.  Again, right around the corner from us, Masa, proved to be a winner.  With a Saturday and Sunday pre-fixe brunch menu at a price point of $7.95 per person, it was off to a good start.  Like 90% of the restaurants in Boston, it was quite small.  We were literally waiting in line for them to open the doors at 10:30am.  Thankfully we were at the front of the line because everyone else had reservations and there were only 2 available tables left.  

Each table was given a complimentary basket of sweet corn bread, along with 3 condiments for toppings.  The first was an apricot jalapeno jelly.  That was followed by a molasses whipped butter.  And finally there was a cranberry chipotle jam.  The cornbread was deadly on it's own but that butter was out of this world.  The jam and jelly were both tasty too and had just a little hint of heat.  The heat actually translated into more of a spice and gave it a good little bite.

The starter course was your choice of a plantain empanada with cinnamon cream cheese, house-made granola with fresh fruit and either yogurt or milk, or simply fresh fruit.  I opted for the empanada and easily could have made this my meal.  It was a palm-sized half moon of what appeared to be sweet potato dough, wrapped around a fat piece of plantain.  This was fantastic! The dough was perfect and the cinnamon cream cheese was divine.  

Wes ordered the granola with yogurt and fresh fruit.  The granola was good (I've had better) and was tossed with peanuts, instead of the traditional almonds.  The fruit tasted somewhat fresh - as fresh as you can expect from an out of season northeastern town.

For the main course, there were 4 selections:  scrambled eggs with chorizo, chocolate chip pancakes, huevos rancheros, and eggs benedict.  I had to see if the pancakes could redeem themselves.  Yep, much better but the mango butter served alongside was really the star.  The cakes were sweet enough on their own that I didn't even need to add the Vermont maple syrup.  Too bad because real maple syrup is a rarity in most restaurants.

Wes is more of a meat and potatoes kind of guy and that translates into eggs and meat for breakfast.  He got the scrambled eggs with chorizo and farmers cheese, hash browns, and multi-grain toast.  His eggs were served with a little dollop of fresh, homemade salsa.  I thought his eggs to be too buttery but he seemed to like them seeing as how he cleaned his plate.

In addition to the cornbread and the 2-course meal, coffee and tea are complimentary.  For the price, this meal was a steal.  We were completely satisfied afterwards and felt the need to walk an extra hour to work off some of the calories.  

Considering the crowd, we aren't the only ones who found this little gem.  They had a sign out from that said they had been voted Best New Restaurant by Zagat in maybe 2006?  I think that was based on their dinner menu, which I'd love to try next time.   

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