Monday, May 15, 2006
The Cyber Scene in Boston - Tamar Alexia Fleishman
If you are contemplating hosting a conference or perhaps a smaller meeting, you will find world-class amenities and historic charm in Boston. Robbie and I started our journey to investigate business opportunities by checking into the Langham Hotel. If your business is of a financial nature, you couldn't find a more perfect location, right in the heart of the banking district. This Langham was decorated with a contemporary Asian decor, with Chuan Spa toiletries and professional quality hairdryers in the bathrooms. In the spacious bedrooms lay bathrobes, slippers and satin padded hangers in the closet. The beds have very silky linens and fluffy comforters are slipped on during turndown service. Business services are available by contacting the front desk and wireless Internet is available in the room. You will be supplied with a copy of the Financial Times daily. The indoor pool/spa/fitness center is beautiful and invigorating; it certainly will perk up your spirits after jet lag or a long meeting. If you really need to clear your head, the hotel is located right next door to beautiful Levanthal Park.
The absolute pride and joy of the Langham is their 4-star restaurant, Julien. This restaurant is considered by many to be Boston's finest and you will absolutely impress any client that you take here. Chef Mark Sapienza takes classic French cuisine and gives it a contemporary presentation. At Julien, you can order a la carte or do the 3,4, 5, 7 or when you really want to win over your business associate -- the 10 course tasting meal! We tried the 10 course meal and I think it would be perfect for those times when you are just getting to know your business associate/dining companion. The anticipation and talk about the gorgeous courses (and if you pair it with accompanying wines) will give you lots of discussion points and will break the ice in no time, I promise! You will be able to find common ground in your learning experience. The sinfully delicious plates included fois gras, escargot, poached salmon, beef, pork, two desserts (!), as well as a cheese course. Order the matching wines; they will pick out expertly selected flavor nuances better than you can. The wait staff was so knowledgeable! It was like having your own dining scholar to lead you through the adventure. Since the restaurant is in a hotel, jackets aren't required; you'll be enjoying luxury with a more comfortable attitude. The restaurant is what used to be the Governors of the Federal Reserve Board's reception area, so it's stately and elegant.
Even if you are going to be in Boston for just a couple of days, I would suggest you pick up a City Pass at www.citypass.com. Boston's City Pass gets you admission to some of the best museums and even a free lobster ravioli appetizer at The Union Oyster House!
For those of you in graphic arts, media, etc., I would highly recommend the Boston Movie Tour. During a mile long brisk walk through the famous Beacon Hill neighborhood, you will be seeing the sites and hearing insider information about some of television's and cinema's favorites filmed in Boston. The tour is entertaining and interactive. We even got a chance to stand outside John Kerry's townhouse. Another great site you will see is the Robert Shaw monument, honoring the Union officer and his African-American troops depicted in the movie, "Glory". Check this tour out at www.bostonmovietours.net. By the way, when cruising around Beacon Hill, I highly recommend the cafe called Panificio. The homemade escarole soup is to die for.
No matter what your age or who you are, there is something for everybody at Boston's Museum of Science (www.mos.org). The museum, which has an IMAX theater, is particularly careful to include exhibits that involve all the senses. This makes everything accessible for people who may have special disabilities. They are also very environmentally sensitive; their taxidermy exhibits are from animals that the Massachusetts and New Hampshire Fish and Wildlife teams found as road kill. I got to see all kinds of neat exhibits while there, including a massively popular Star Wars exhibit. I suspect a bunch of you would enjoy the Friday night happy hour at the cafe, run by the world famous Wolfgang Puck. They have special cocktails for the occasion and other specials, starting at 6 pm.
Using some of our passes, we took a gander at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts (www.mfa.org). You could spend days there! Some of the most famous paintings in the world are housed at the museum, including Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington.
Just a short cab ride down the road from the museum is Brasserie Jo (www.colonnadehotel.com). We had a wonderful, relaxed, classic French brunch there. You will feel like you stepped into a Toulouse-Lautrec painting, with the flair and flourishes that the waiters do, the food and the ambiance. They have a WI-FI connection and I would say that they are a perfect place to go whether in a group or if you are traveling by yourself. In fact, their manager's motto is, "You are never alone once you step in my doors." Of course, if you need a little extra privacy, they have two private rooms as well. At Brasserie Jo, everything is done with panache. Even if you aren't normally a champagne drinker, you should order a glass just to experience the little ceremony that goes with that. Everything is fresh and beautifully presented, from the stone crab claws with French cocktail sauce to the house onion tart. It really is a delightful dining experience.
All around Boston, you will see Dig, a free alternative paper. I was glad I picked one up; in it, I read their reviews of the best ice cream in town. Well, trust me on this: take yourself a cab to PICCO's (Pizza and Ice Cream Company) at 513 Tremont in the South End. They have WIFI as well as scrumptious homemade unique ice-cream flavors and house-made fudge sauce.
Whether you are taking a cab or walking the famous Freedom Trail, your path will (and you must make it) take you to The Union Oyster House. This is the oldest standing restaurant in America. This is the place to go for classic New England-style seafood, fresh and buttery. You can go completely local here, from the beers to their famous clam chowder and baked beans. Remarkably, they have retained the tavern ambiance from days gone by. They also have rooms that can be reserved for private meetings and parties. The Union Oyster House is extremely popular with locals and tourists; the quality is top-notch and it's not kitchy. Dress is casual.
Cheers, what used to be the Bull and Finch bar, is the bar that the television series was based on. Located at the foot of Beacon Hill. There's also a replica of the Hollywood stage set bar at Faneuil Hall. You can pick up pub grub, lots of Cheers souvenirs and catch some live music in their back room. I had the Cheers Bloody Mary, which has won many best drink awards in the area.
If you have some extra time on your hands, I highly recommend the GoBoston card (www.GoBostonCard.com). Not only does it give you discounts on lots of local attractions, but also sites all over New England, including Newport and places in Maine. We took advantage of the card by taking a commuter train to Salem, Massachusetts. Famed for the witch trials, it is now a charming sea port. There's something for everybody here, from Laurie Cabot's famous store to pirate museums, the Witch Museum of Salem and a terrific homemade soup cafe. Salem was also the home of author Nathaniel Hawthorne. We took a tour of the actual House of Seven Gables and we knew that we had a truly dedicated tour guide when I noticed the scarlet "A" tattooed on his forearm.
There's so much to do in Boston that time just ran out on us. There were a couple of things that we'd squeeze in for next time, including the Aquarium/IMAX and also, the North Shore Culinary Tour.
Special thanks to: Leslie Keller at the Langham Hotel (and Julien) 250 Franklin Street, Boston, MA 02110 (617) 451-1900 www.langhamhotels.com/langham/boston/; Brasserie Jo 120 Huntington Avenue Boston, MA 02116 (617) 425-3240 www.colonnadehotel.com; Museum of Science, Science Park, Boston, MA 02114 (617) 723-2500 www.mos.com; Union Oyster House 31 Union Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617) 227-2750; GoBostonCard (617) 671-1001 www.GoBostonCard.com; City Pass (888) 330-5008 www.citypass.com; Cheers, 85 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108 (617) 227-9605 www.cheersboston.com; Boston Movie Tours (866) MOVIE45 (www.bostonmovietours.net).