Out of Town Edition: Anthony's Pier 4

Yesterday some of my coworkers and I took our student interns to visit some art museums in Boston. We had a really fun time. We pretty much cleaned out the café at the Peabody Essex Museum, and it really reminded me of the summer 2 years ago when we pretty much ate at museum cafes every day. I was sort of struck by how much I didn't know about our student interns after having worked with them already all summer. One was from Detroit and had visited a lot of the same places I did growing up (Cedar Point! Haunted Houses in Pontiac!). It is funny how there is nothing that brings two people together more quickly than finding out they are from the same place. There were things I didn't know about my coworkers I have filed things next to and sat in meetings with for years like that one of them had once given Toni Morrison a private tour of a museum as an undergrad, and another had once been very, very close to pursuing a PhD with a focus on the Brontë sisters. Sharing meals really does loosen people up. People eat, laugh, joke, and by the end they are all friends. 

Then we went to the ICA. It started violently raining and the restaurant that was recommended to us was a farther walk than this place. One of my coworkers said it was "famous", so all 12 of us decided to try it. I had never been there, maybe because it seems touristy (this coming from someone who actually likes Legal Seafood). The foyer is lined with an incredible amount of photos of the owner with politicians and celebrities - including 5 presidents and royals from all over the world. Unfortunately, meeting famous people does not make your food better. So you walk in and all the chairs are like captain's chairs, and there's lots of antique looking nautical paraphernalia. The clientele skews toward the country club set - 50 year old women catching up over white wine and salmon, middle aged men having business meetings, and couples who resemble Will & Kate presumably with their in-laws. The waitresses wear lace collars and the waiters either wear tuxes or something that looks like a ship captain uniform (in polyester).

The weird thing about the experience was that we both felt under dressed and disappointed by the food. My coworker thought the onion rings were frozen. The iceberg wedge people thought was totally drenched in dressing. All of the appetizers sounded good, and yet somehow all came out really bland. I was torn between the fried clams special and a summer lobster casserole with tomatoes and parmesan, and I ended up with the clams but our student intern who got the casserole said it was "not good". She couldn't find any tomatoes in it. The french fries were also very bland, and you may wonder how french fries could fail to be tasty, but I only ended up eating about two of them.

And here is the kicker: most entrèes start around $30. The food was not as good as at a 99 Restaurant, and was three times the price! I could not believe it. This place must be coasting off of what it did 30 years ago or trying to just sell it's view to tourists, but still! Unbelievable!
One good thing about it was the popovers. I had never had a popover before. What was it like? Smelled like a waffle-filled with steam- flaky, wonderfully delicious. This they definitely had right. Also, my fried clams were actually very good - but in all honesty should have cost $12 and not $30. I think that is probably where a lot of the bitterness comes from for this place in online reviews. No one minds a diner. No one minds casual family chain eateries (or at least people don't usually hate them violently). But what is very weird is food a little better than a diner masquerading as fine dining. Cut the pretension. Make better food. I, however, will not argue with the view and the strangely calming effect of watching the Provincetown ferry go by every 15 minutes or so.

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