A chef in Boston told me many years ago her secret for dining out in NYC : Book for lunch. She explained that a lunch at Le Bernadin, for example, was about half the cost of dining in her restaurant and others like it in Boston for dinner. That changed my perspective on eating out, and after enjoying lunches at high end places in Manhattan, the context for appreciating food here changed.
People often defend Boston’s dining scene, saying that it’s a smaller city than NYC, and cannot be compared to what’s available there. But that’s nonsense. The size of a city doesn’t matter when it comes to dining out. The country’s most influential restaurant–Chez Panisse–is in tiny Berkeley. The rich regionality of America’s best food comes from New Orleans, Maine, Michigan, Seattle, and pockets in California.
It’s rather a matter of priorities. This is a town where people willingly drop $14 for three ounces of gin poured over ice and mixed with fruit juice, but balk at paying for simple, ingredient driven food. People will pay more for pork than a fresh mushroom.
It’s not just that Boston doesn’t have the restaurants of larger cities, but that it doesn’t have one–not one–Japanese, French, Spanish, or new American restaurant worth the price of admission. Italian is slowly emerging as a cuisine that has found a home here, what with Pastoral and Giulia, and one hopes to see more.