Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall is pretty historic– it’s been serving as a marketplace since 1742, which is a long time, especially when you consider how long we’ve been a country. This past Thursday, Ned Devine’s and Samuel Adams corralled the current marketplace restaurants and bars for the second annual Taste of Faneuil Hall. This event was a perfectly timed kick-off to the summer months, when Faneuil Hall really shines with its array of shops and outdoor seating.
The entire night was to benefit Room to Grow, an NY and Boston organization that supports infants born into poverty for their first three years of life. They can make a serious impact on children’s lives during their critical development years and any help, even if it’s just to stuff your face on a weeknight, is beneficial.
The upstairs rooms at Ned Devine’s were packed with hungry Bostonians. I appreciated the tables and chairs along the edge of the tasting space as a spot to move away from the crowd and enjoy my samples without elbow-bumping anyone. There were a wide variety of cuisines available, including raw clams on the half-shell from the Walrus and the Carpenter — my first taste for the night.
The shuckers were hard at work, speedily serving up these beauties. Everything seemed to be in high demand. At the beginning of the night, charmingly-irreverent Dick’s Last Resort offered pulled pork sliders, but later turned to ribs and buffalo chicken. The benefit of everything being bite-sized was that I was able to try almost every table and go back for seconds. Anthem kitchen + bar had these adorable and delicious hot dog banh mi with Korean barbecue sauce, pickled daikon, carrots, cilantro and spicy mayo.
Durgin Park, a true Faneuil Hall veteran, offered a traditional Yankee meal of cornbread with baked beans and sweet potatoes and a mini corned beef Reuben on the side. Another local love, Regina Pizzeria, had their brick-oven pizzas out and ever-non-traditional Wagamama sampled their yakisoba.
McCormick and Schmick’s gave a taste of tomato, basil, and mozzarella on crostini or seared ahi tuna with wasabi aioli. Another tiny treat was the mango chili glazed pork belly tostadas from MIJA Cantina. These were probably my favorite of the night and I only wished that MIJA had been sampling their killer sangria to accompany them.
And for dessert… cake and beer! I indulged in the hefty, and fittingly-Irish, Chocolate Guinness cake with Bailey’s frosting from Wicked Good Cupcakes. Earlier in the night, they had offered cupcakes of all varieties, including gluten-free vanilla or chocolate and a peanut butter cookie cupcake. Wicked Good Cupcakes are famous for their cupcakes in a jar, which they ship across the US (and did I mention my birthday is coming up?)
I saved my Sam Adams tasting until last as a nightcap, of sorts. It looks like it’s going to be the summer of the shandy in Boston this year and I was lucky to get to taste the Sam Adams’ Porch Rocker. It was light and lemony — very refreshing. I can easily see kicking these back on my front porch, with or without the rocker.
The Traveler Beer Company was also represented and sampled their Curious Traveler and Illusive Traveler shandies. The Curious Traveler features fresh lemon and lime while the Illusive Traveler has a tartness that comes from fresh grapefruit. Both were totally tasty and are the only beers I’ve ever seen that sport mustaches.
Other Faneuil Hall vendors included Frost Ice Bar, which is exactly what it sounds like. The 21 degrees bar is the only ice bar in New England, preserving that native winter chill all year round. Body Worlds Vital is an anatomical exhibition of human bodies, proving once again how diverse Faneuil Hall has become since its 1742 inception.
Overall, Taste of Faneuil Hall was an awesome pre-summer sampling of this historic marketplace’s offerings. Plus, two lucky winners went home with either an amazing Red Sox Fan Package (box seats, brewery tours, the works) or tickets to the Boston Calling music festival.
I look forward to what Faneuil Hall will have to offer up next year, re-visiting traditional favorites and meeting any newcomers as the marketplace continues to expand. I’m not really sure the next step after an ice bar, but I can just tell it’s going to be good.