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Our names are Amanda & Megan. If you're reading this right now we can only assume that you are a fan of Straight No Chaser! We have had so many adventures in our journeys to see them that we needed a place to write them all down. Cue blog! We can only imagine the adventures will continue and we can't wait to see where they lead us.

11.02.2011

Seggie's Chowda Challenge

I would like to start this blog off by stating that Seggie is a jerk. Okay, that’s harsh (Seggie, you know we love you), but when he challenged us to find the best clam chowder in Boston while we were in AC this summer,  I didn’t quite realize what a process it would be. Amanda and I never back down from a challenge and we most certainly never cut corners. We were determined to find Seggie the best clam chowder, and we were going to do anything it took to see the challenge through.



 
The first step in accomplishing this challenge was research. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a clam chowder expert nor does my nose have the capability to sniff out the perfect one. It should also be noted that I have a poor sense of direction, and wandering aimlessly around Boston in search of the best clam chowder seemed like a poor decision on my part…so let the research begin! First step in the research process: ask family and friends where they’ve had good clam chowder. This seemed like a good idea until everyone answered with Legal Seafood…precisely the answer Seggie was NOT looking for. So I took my search to the internet knowing that Google would never let me down. Wrong! Once again all fingers were pointing toward Legal Seafood. Okay, so this was when I began to realize that this search was not going to be so easy.  I had to delve a little deeper into the interwebs if I was going to give Seggie an answer that would meet all of his criteria (great clam chowder, not Legal Seafood, more of a mom and pop place…I was determined to find this place). After various keyword searches on Google I was able to compile a list of great restaurants in Boston who were known for their clam chowder, but I couldn’t just take the word of the internet for this clam chowder recommendation…I knew I was going to have to taste this chowder myself (and solely by myself…seeing as Amanda doesn’t like the stuff…no pressure or anything).

This led to Amanda and me planning a trip into Boston for the sole purpose of finding some delicious clam chowder. We decided that Sunday, October 30th would be a great day to go. It would work perfectly as one of our infamous Sunday adventures, as well as give us time to do a little more research if need be. (We only have until November 18th…and it’s coming fast!) Saturday rolled around, however, and they were predicting a major snowstorm through the night and into Sunday (of course they were…). We decided to give Mother Nature the benefit of the doubt and left our Sunday adventure as pending until we awoke that morning. Thankfully Norwood only received about two inches of snow and Boston got a nice dusting. We were much more fortunate than our counterparts to the west (thank you, Mother Nature). So we bundled up, grabbed some coffee, and ventured into Boston on this brisk Sunday afternoon in search of the best clam chowder we could find.

Once we parked the car and got our bearings straight (kind of) we began the quest. Out of the list I had complied, we decided to taste test three of the locations that day. We picked the three with great reviews and close proximity to each other so that we could easily walk to each one. The three restaurants up for critiquing were The Boston Chowda Co, The Union Oyster House, and The Daily Catch. (Side note: there is also a restaurant with great reviews for chowder in the theater district…Atlantic Fish Co…we’re headed to the Wilbur Theatre on Saturday. If we get the chance we’ll check it out and let you know how it is, Seggie.)


 We headed toward Faneuil Hall and realized we weren’t sure which building The Boston Chowda Co was in (you’d think we were tourists or something). Thankfully we had picked up a nice brochure for Seggie in the parking garage and it directed us into Quincy Market (that’s the building in the middle, not North Market or South Market in case you were wondering or have any idea what I am talking about). Once inside Quincy Market The Boston Chowda Co wasn’t hard to find. It was the booth with a million people in front of it…a very good sign in my opinion. If you’ve never been to Quincy Market, it’s basically a long skinny building with food vendors on either side. You can get pretty much any food imaginable. In the center of the building there is an area with tables and benches where people gather to enjoy their food. This is a unique place that must be experienced by everyone who visits Boston. Okay, back to the clam chowder.  So, the clam chowder was delicious. It wasn’t too thick and it wasn’t too thin. It also had a great potato to clam ratio…which is extremely important when looking for a great clam chowder. (I feel like a food critic…maybe I missed me calling.) I should also point out that Amanda tried The Boston Chowda Co’s corn chowder and said it was very good. There are many options for people who are not looking for seafood and would be a great location for a large group. The overall atmosphere of Quincy Market is great for the touristy Boston experience and if you want a place for a quick bite to eat and maybe do some shopping at the same time.



Next stop on the chowda tour was The Union Oyster House. This is conveniently located on Union St. and only a short distance from Quincy Market (if you walk in the right direction…not that we would know from experience or anything).  The Union Oyster House is the oldest restaurant in Boston and the oldest restaurant in continuous service in the US (#greep).  For more on the history of this restaurant check out: http://www.unionoysterhouse.com/Pages/history.html. The moment you walk into the restaurant you can tell that it is full of history. It is really cool. We sat in the bar area seeing as we just ate and weren’t planning on having a big meal…we were here for one purpose anyway, to try the clam chowder!  I ordered a cup of clam chowder and Amanda ordered a cup of their chili. They brought us some delicious corn bread while we waited (this alone would make me recommend this restaurant…it was so good!) We sat there and admired the restaurant as everyone around us ate their food and left. We wondered why our food hadn’t come yet, but figured this was best seeing as we were still digesting the food from earlier. The waitress kept coming over, telling us that our food would be done soon. When she finally returned with our dishes she informed us that she gave us the bigger portions because we had to wait so long (aww that was nice of you).  This clam chowder was very similar to the one I had eaten at the Boston Chowda Co. It was slightly thicker, but the flavor was generally the same. It was really good…definitely a solid representation of a great New England clam chowder.
Fun placemat. shows a map of the freedom trail

As we stumbled out of The Union Oyster House, stomachs way too full for comfort, we began our trek to the last restaurant on our list. The Daily Catch on Hanover St. This is in the North End and directly on the Freedom Trail. This seemed like a great place to stop next until we realized that this restaurant does not serve clam chowder. The Daily Catch actually has three different locations, and the one in the North End is the only one that does not serve clam chowder (well that was a fail…but my stomach was thankful).  It did however look like a cute Italian Seafood restaurant and the tables were crowded giving me the impression that their food is quite good.


At this point Amanda and I abandoned our clam chowder quest. I honestly couldn't even think about putting another spoonful of chowder into my mouth. We decided to walk off some of the calories we had consumed along the Freedom Trail and spent some time with our good friend (and Ryan’s), Paul Revere. It ended up being a gorgeous day in Boston and I am so glad that a freak snow storm in October didn’t ruin it. Seggie, if you are reading this you cannot go wrong with either The Boston Chowda Co or The Union Oyster House, but I highly recommend the Union Oyster House for its clam chowder and the atmosphere. It was a really cool restaurant that should be experienced by everyone who visits Boston.



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