VOLANTE Boston and Plymouth have history and tradition. Blend that with fine dining, and the results are spectacular, writes Lola Cristall
While Massachusetts is known for its history, the state’s capital is currently expanding on dining must-try destinations as well. When it comes to combining ample tradition with delectable dining, the Union Oyster House (www.unionoysterhouse.com) is the place to visit. Just blocks aways from Faneuil Hall and right off of the famously treaded red-brick Freedom Trail, the Union Oyster House stands tall, ready to delight.
If the Union Oyster House’s walls could talk there would certainly be endless tales to tell. The exhilarating history and noteworthy stories captivate diners into a world like no other.
Designated as a National Historic Landmark, it is the oldest restaurant in America and one of the few remaining brick buildings with Boston’s Georgian Architecture. In the late 1790s the upstairs section was home to Louis Philippe, who later became King of France and who taught French to prominent locals. The building has survived for more than 250 years and the restaurant has lured travellers and Bostonians since 1826.
With only three owners since the Union Oyster House opened its doors in the 19th century, the restaurant’s current president embraces the concept of historical appreciation and deep tradition. Joseph A. Milano Jr, owner of the Union Oyster House since the 1970s, maintains the hospitality, ambiance and cuisine that the restaurant has been celebrated for decades later. Grab a stool and dine on freshly shucked oysters downstairs at the Oyster Bar or opt for a meal at a table while letting the many surrounding historical paintings serve as the topic of conversation.
Milano, who served as a brigadier-general in Vietnam and is currently the Honorary Consul-General for Thailand, brings a lot of worldly knowledge to the table. His adoration for tradition and bringing people together is reflected by the artwork that adorns the walls, to the menu that is sure to fulfil one’s appetite with New England crustacean specialties.
A slew of political personalities, comedians and familiar faces have walked through the Union Oyster House’s doors to enjoy the historic walls and freshly served seafood. Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, John F. Kennedy, Jennifer López, Tom Brady, Luciano Pavarotti, Leonardo DiCaprio and more have experienced its charm. A commissioned painting by Stan Kotzen in 2003 outlines various personalities who dined at the Union Oyster House, and a commissioned D Hummel-Marconi painting of prominent political faces, hang near the bar to mesmerize diners.
Walking up the narrow stairs, guests arrive into the vast second floor where the Kennedy Booth awaits. Dedicated in 1977 to the 35th US president, this quaint and serene table is where John F. Kennedy read his newspapers while feasting on a lobster stew, a weekly ritual when he was in Boston. To further elaborate on the restaurant’s deeply historical touch, the Union Oyster House was the first destination where Charles Foster’s toothpick empire was launched in the 1860s.
Milano’s vast proficiency of history is highlighted as he takes us on a culinary and visual journey from one portion of the restaurant to another. While each picture, painting and wall plaque intends to tell a story, Milano emphatically recounts his personal experiences, bringing illustrations and photographs to life.
From historical factors to gratifying fare, the Union Oyster House offers a captivating culinary voyage, ranging from shellfish served al fresco including oysters, crisp shrimp, clams and flavoursome boiled or broiled lobster. Choose from a variety of salads or a simple side to add to the full dining experience. The traditional velvety clam chowder or the delightfully smooth fish chowder are filled with flavour to delicately start the meal and launch the seafood dining journey. For dessert, keep it simple with a rich Boston cream pie or spice things up with an inviting homemade apple cobbler.
The Milano family successfully brings a delightful experience to the table for new and recurring visitors to appreciate.
From historical American fun to contemporary izakaya fare at a century-old boutique hotel, Uni (www.uni-boston.com) in Boston offers Japanese cuisine in a lively and chic setting. Ken Oringer, one of Boston’s prominent chefs and restaurateurs, along with executive chef David Bazirgan, brings Asian cuisine with an haute culinary twist.
The Eliot Hotel (www.eliothotel.com) was built by Harvard University in 1925, intended to serve as home for retired Harvard professors. Currently it is a lavish and sophisticated destination in Boston’s Back Bay providing a European-like touch in the city. Uni was originally a portion of the French Clio restaurant in the early 2000s, a quaint sashimi bar. Eventually Uni expanded its space and menu by 2016. Nigiri with freshwater eel, yellowtail with a hint of pickled chili, sea bass with a touch of lime oil, tuna with garlic black truffle or a delicate ora king salmon with kimchi, all provide each bite with profound flavour. Fresh oysters with a dollop of whipped tofu, a honey crisp apple salad with a delicate taste of quince or chow fun (noodles) with a hint of hoisin and a slight taste of maitake and parsnip complete the culinary experience. To further expand on the culinary journey, caviar and black truffle are used to intensify a bold taste. For sashimi aficionados, raw fish and fresh seafood with delicate accompaniments are served. A complete cocktail list is also available for a guest’s pleasure.
When reminiscing on historic and traditional locations in Massachusetts, Plymouth certainly comes to mind. Mirbeau Inn & Spa at Village Green of the Pinehills Community in Plymouth is a sketch right out of a French countryside castle pamphlet. Mirbeau Inn & Spa (www.plymouth.mirbeau.com) in Plymouth is one of four locations, with three other destinations in New York, focusing on getaway spots that provide an escape from city stress. The elaborate gardens, greenery and pathway lead to a serene spot with hospitable staff and a warm roaring fire. Experience breakfast, lunch or dinner, with the intention to embrace the immensely lavish surrounding sites. For a Sunday retreat, opt for brunch. Attentive staff cater to their guests’ needs. Whether a cheeseboard accompanied by a glass of wine at the bar, a dessert with a hot cappuccino near the fire, or a variety of salads near the window overlooking the open grounds, visitors can take flight into an elegant European pilgrimage. •
Lola Cristall is Paris editor of Lucire.
Mirbeau Inn & Spa
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