This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of joining a big group of local bloggers for the 1st anniversary of Boston Brunchers at Island Creek Oyster Bar. Boston Brunchers was started by Renee of Eat Live Blog as a way to unite local food-minded folks over the greatest meal EVER (in my opinion anyways) – brunch! Since it began in October of last year, it has developed into something so wonderful, for bloggers and the local food community alike. I’ve been to a few brunches over the past year, and they’ve all been a wonderful mix of great food and great company. This past Sunday was no different – the food was delicious, the service impeccable, the company bountiful and so pleasant, and the occasion such a special one.
Prior to arriving at ICOBar, we were given the entree list for the brunch, so I knew in advance exactly what I was going to order. Nothing like planning ahead! Once we were there, of course, the indecision hit and I was panicking about making the wrong meal choice (though there were really no “wrong” choices on the menu). Fortunately for me, Michelle came to my rescue and suggested we share our meals. Given we’d only met about 30 minutes prior, I was surprised at the offer, but also THRILLED. I love to share. Being a part of Boston Brunchers is all about sharing anyway – sharing food, sharing conversation, and sharing the company of other like-minded, food-obsessed individuals. This made our decision much easier, and we went with the house-made baked beans with slab bacon and a fried egg, and the lobster roll on a rosemary roll with kettle chips and cole slaw. The other options included a smoked salmon plate with a house-made bagel, and cinnamon french toast with caramelized bananas. See what I mean about no wrong choices? Everything sounded amazing.
But I am totally getting ahead of myself here. Back to the beginning. When we finally all sat down, we were served baskets of fresh pastries, including citrus scones, donut muffins, blueberry muffins, croissants, raspberry coffee cake and sticky buns. I tried the sticky bun (YUM – my favorite) and the citrus scone, and both were delightful. The sticky bun was made with a dough reminiscent of croissant dough, and had just the right amount of sugary glaze and sweet cinnamon-y filling. The scone was slightly sweet with a pleasant hint of citrus, and while plenty moist on it’s own I found myself wanting some whipped butter to slather on top. If you’re going to indulge, why not go all the way?! I didn’t get to try the donut muffins because they were scooped up so fast, but I heard they were fantastic, and an ICOBar specialty.
After we’d all dug into the pastries, we were given a few choices for cocktails, including a bloody mary, a house-made pilsner with , and a fruity cocktail called the McCarthy’s Crossing. This drink was made with pear brandy, spiced honey, rosé vermouth, fresh lemon and bubbles. Typically I don’t go for drinks made with brandy, but it sounded unique so I went for it. Not surprisingly, so did almost everyone else! It was very popular amongst the bloggers, and also quite tasty.
Despite having scarfed down almost an entire sticky bun, and a generous chunk of scone, I was still drooling when our entrees were served. I started with the lobster roll, which looked amazing – with lobster piled high in a light mayonnaise dressing, and fresh kettle chips and cole slaw on the side. I dug in immediately – and found the lobster roll to be extremely decadent and really quite delicious. Normally I like very little dressing on my lobster, so that the lobster flavor comes through and doesn’t get lost under loads of mayo and other seasoning. While this roll did have a mayonnaise based dressing, it was very light and only worked to enhance the lobster flavor. The roll it was served on was unusually dense, but it actually paired quite nicely with the delicate lobster meat. The roll was big and buttery and I just loved it, though had a hard time detecting the rosemary flavor. The accompanying cole slaw was very traditional, but also very fresh tasting, and I enjoyed it. The kettle chips were pretty salty, but I loved them anyways because I can’t say no to something crispy and crunchy that just came out of a deep fryer.
Michelle started with the beans and toast, which smelled divine. Before my experience at ICOBar, I’d never tried beans and toast, and I realized I’ve been seriously missing out! The baked beans of my childhood are those ones you have at a big barbacue with hot dogs and burgers, the ones that come out of a can and are super sweet but rather lifeless. These beans were big and tender, with a definite sweetness, but that was balanced by the chunks of tender and smoky slab bacon. The sauce that the beans sat in was just begging to be socked up with the lightly toasted bread. All of these flavors went so well together – this dish was comfort food at it’s very finest. I love poached eggs, and bacon (this bacon was AMAZING – salty and oh so buttery), and beans, and toast, so I was pretty much in heaven eating this dish. I loved the lobster roll, but the beans and bacon I could probably eat every day from now until forever.
The food at ICOBar was fantastic, but that wasn’t the only thing – the service was fantastic as well. Given that we were such a large group, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but there was a team of servers that waited on our tables, and they did a fantastic job attending to our every need. They were always present, and yet so efficient. I of course can’t remember the name of the server who worked with out table, but he was a funny, quirky guy with a very dry sense of humor that I quite enjoyed. They made the morning all that much better.
I somehow managed to snap very few photos of our food and the event, despite being at brunch for at least two hours, but I’m sure you get the idea that this was a great morning. So many thanks to Renee and Boston Brunchers for putting this together, ICOBar for hosting and providing some great eats, and to the many amazing sponsors (listed below – please check them out!) that allowed this to be such a memorable event.
America’s Test Kitchen
The Biltmore Bar and Grille
Boston Center for Adult Education
Boston Food Finds
Cow & Crumb Baking Company
Cumberland Farms Farmhouse Blend
Dorado Tacos & Cemitas
Doves and Figs Kitchen
Foodies of New England Magazine
Four Seasons Boston
KO Catering & Pies
The Langham, Boston
Phillips Candy House
Pop! Marketing Communications
Stages of Beauty
Whole Foods River Street
Island Creek Oyster Bar
500 Commonwealth Ave
Boston, MA 02215