Monday, November 3, 2008

A Boston Meal

The quintessential Boston meal at the Parker Restaurant.

Dining at the Parker Restaurant of the Parker House Hotel is such an incredible and delightful opportunity to learn about American Cuisine and local history.  The hotel itself is chock-full of history, but that's a separate entry.

The restaurant has no sign, it's just there. There's a "P" on the hostess podium and that's about it.
5  Entrance to the Parker Restaurant

The restaurant is wood paneled with carved detail.  The crystal chandeliers are by Waterford.  This is pretty much how it looked like in 1855.  

It's important to understand that the Parker Hotel was one of the first hotels in the U.S. to offer a European plan, this is when the hotel charged separately for meals and lodging.  Previous to this, hotels were meals and lodging, so the food was basically the cheapest (and often bad food) the hotel could serve  in order to turn a profit. So having a separate restaurant to serve the meals meant they can serve better food and charge for it accordingly.

5  The Dining Hall

The first item of historic importance is Table 40.  What is so significant about Table 40?  Table 40 is where Jack Kennedy proposed to Jackie Kennedy, right in this restaurant! 

5  Table 40 is shown above on the rear upper left.

Ever heard of Parker House Rolls?  They were first served here.  The restaurant also served unique and specialty dishes not served in fine dining establishments like Jonah Crab Cakes, which must have been considered exotic at the time.

5  Parker House rolls and variations

5  Jonah Crab Cakes

The Parker Restaurant is also said to have introduced Scrod to the world.  Scrod is not a type of fish.  It's actually either Cod or Haddock topped with a bread crumb crust and served with beurre blanc.  The Parker House uses skin-on baby cod and a ritz cracker and bread crumb topping.  So why is it called scrod?  Oftentimes, the maitre'd had to produce a menu before the chef came back from the market so he did not know what the fish of the day was.  So he wrote S.C.R.O.D which stood for Special Catch Right On Day.  And it stuck!

5  The famous Scrod

The most famous Boston dessert and the official dessert of Massachusetts is the Boston Cream Pie.  This was created by the Parker Restaurant chef Monsieur Sanzian when the restaurant opened in 1855.  It's basically two layers of sponge cake with creme filling and topped with chocolate.  I think the nuts were a later addition.

5  Boston Creme Pie

5  Bon Appetit!

I'm finding out that Boston is jam-packed with History at every turn.  Sometimes, you don't have to go further than the hotel you're staying in!

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