On the other hand, "local color" ain't always what it's cracked up to be. Normally, when my friend's here, he and I like to go to Legal for oysters and their lovely tuna sashimi entrée. This, a bottle of dry white and maybe a split dessert (he loves the fake Boston cream pie) is pretty reasonable and always makes us happy.
Unfortunately, we got downtown during the dinner hour, so everywhere had a minimum wait of an hour. Second Choice (East Coast in Inman) was a long, long ride away, and I started feeling Phase One of going beyond hungry. Union Oyster House was around the corner, so we ended up going there.
We learned some important lessons that evening:
1.) You can Never Go Home: The Frenchie had some wonderful memories of the oyster bar. He was a bit horrified to see how thronged the place was, and how they churned people out of there. We also were pretty disgusted with the waitress who, for some reason, seemed absolutely pissed off that we wanted wine with our meal. Note to the young woman who "served" us that night: you might actually get a tip if you *don't* sigh, roll your eyes and spew irritatedly: "White wine? We have everything. What do you want? Riesling? Pinot Grigio? Chardonnay?" then plunk our order down in front of us afterwards, spilling a fair bit in the process.
2.) Just because someone says that something is their specialty, it doesn't mean that they're competent in that area: we got the extortionately priced raw sampler ($12.00 for two oysters, two littlenecks, two shrimps) and were a bit disappointed to see how anemic the oysters were. I ended up eating one shrimp, one littleneck, and telling the Frenchie to take the two oysters and make one out of them.
Our mussels marinière certainly wasn't worth what they charged, either: $12.00 for a half-sized (by French and even Rockport standards) portion of overcooked shellfish, with more than a couple closed shells in each bowl. Also: could they have spared the garlic bread? Sheesh.
The average price of a lobster was $35.00 that day, otherwise we would have gotten that.
3.) And this one is more for me: The French do tip, but they have certain rules about it - namely, you only tip if you plan on coming back. You don't tip if you don't plan on coming back. It's harsh, but it makes sense. We could have handled the bad food and extortionate prices ($7/glass for a thimbleful of Sauvignon Blanc?), but the waitress was so bitchy and the place so not clean that, for the first time in my life, I didn't leave a tip. Boy, did it feel good. When the Frenchie went to complain about the price of the wine, too, management started making a production of it, so, I did the mediating female thing and just said, "allons maintenant, il ne vaut pas le coup." (Let's just get out of here, we've wasted enough time.)
In all, this was a good experience for us: the Frenchie put aside his romanticized remembrances of this place (he met some interesting people there: once, a couple from Austin, TX on their honeymoon, and another time, a couple who wanted him to join them in a threesome) in order to make some new memories. And me, well, I was able to put aside the traumatic memory of my mother getting us all kicked out of the place back in the late 80s.