Anthony's Pier 4
With my Fiancée's parents in town from Northern Michigan, a fine Bostonian dining experience was in order. They suggested Anthonys Pier 4, which they visited in the early 1990's and enjoyed. All I knew of Anthony's was it being the height of fine dining for 1970's Boston and, thus, seemed a safe bet for an enjoyable dining experience. We thought this to be a fine way to end our city walking tour on a brisk, late-November Saturday. So we set up our reservation and built up a good appetite.
We arrived at Anthony's just past dark at 5:30 pm - perfect, for it gave us amazing views of the illuminated Boston harbor skyline from our table, while avoiding the expected rush of the not-yet arrived Saturday evening dinner crowd.
One word to describe Anthony's would be large. The lobby walls are adorned with countless images of celebrity guests. A cavernous dining room, with a massive fireplace crackling, floor to ceiling windows offering the above mentioned harbor views and a spacious bar centering the room.
Service was prompt, friendly, knowledgeable of the menu and patient with the many questions my fiancée's mother had with the food, so that was appreciated.
If this sounds like a great experience so far, it was. The food, sadly,
is where the experience fell apart.
Beginning with the drinks -not the alcohol, I'm talking regular soda. Flat soda with too much ice is not a good way to start a dinner.
The bread for the table was slightly hard, not warm and didn't look made in-house - which began our sad theme of food looking and tasting like it was purchased at the supermarket.
The lobster bisque and clam chowder we ordered as appetizers were not tasty, barely warm and severely lacking in, well, lobster and clams! For $11.95, I don't think it's too much to ask for lobster bisque to have more than 2 small pieces of lobster in it. They may have replaced the lobster with salt, because it was very salty. My fiancée fared no better with her clam chowder, sadly.
Any hope that the main dishes would wipe away the lingering misery of the meal thus far were quickly dashed. Though a steep $28.50, I ordered the crab cakes, since I cannot remember EVER not enjoying crab cakes when dining out. My night at Anthony's ended that. I was given two small and very unappetizing looking crab cakes, which seemed as if they were dropped in the deep fryer and had a taste reminiscent of a McDonald's Filet of Fish. Along with that, a nearly inedible blob of roasted red pepper sauce was plopped on the plate. The dish tasted less appealing than it looked, which I'm surprised was possible.
My fiancée's parents ordered the Pier 4 fisherman's platter, which looked like it was left in the fryer a bit too long. When asked how they liked it, they said it was "fine' through clenched grins - not exactly a ringing endorsement.
The saving grace of the meal was our desert, a chocolate soufflé
served with zabaglione sauce we all shared. While I have no idea what
a zabaglione sauce is, I do know that this sweet and thick sauce was
delicious, a perfect complement to the light and moist soufflé.
We enjoyed every bite of it.
Anthony's Pier 4 really was unfortunate in the sense that I wanted to like the place. A little dated, sure, but I believe the retro feel was part of its charm. The bottom-line is this place isn't popular enough and the food not good enough for the exorbitant prices they charge. Nice views and ambiance will only take you so far. So, I can't give a strong recommendation of Anthony's Pier 4 - in the 1970's, sure, but not today.