I am not sure that this is the best ever restaurant serving famous Boston seafood today. However, opened in 1826*, this is the oldest surviving Restaurant in America & that itself speaks a lot – today it is a National Historic Landmark. The Building is also one of the oldest surviving buildings in Boston – constructed between 1716 & 1717 (Aurangazeb ruled India till 1707 – for time reference).
* For reference – Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor ascended the throne in 1837
In late 1800s, Toothpick was introduced in this restaurant for the first time ever. Charles Forster , the inventor of toothpicks got the idea from South America where he saw people cleaning their teeth with small slivers of wood. He came up with a machine that produced toothpicks from birchwood grown on Boston’s nearby city Maine. When he tried selling this to restaurants, he found no takers. Legend has it that he stuck a deal with a bunch of Harvard students – They went to dine at Union Oyster House & created a ruckus after the meal when their request for a tooth cleaning instrument was refused. In a few days Charles pitched the toothpicks to this restaurant & it was introduced, soon to be introduced to other restaurants. Needless to say that he had to pay for the bill of the students.
Lobsters in early 1800s was known as poverty food in America!!!! It was a cheap source of protein fed to indentured servants & laborers. In fact, in Massachussets a group of servants rebelled & had it written in their contracts that they cud not b fed lobsters more than 3 times a week………………………………………
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The whole look & feel as we went inside was that of a very old bar cum eatery – the kind that we have seen in movies. Small cubicles to sit & eat, no big hallways, wooden partitions for cubicles & so on. Loads of pictures, coins of yesteryears & menu cards of earlier days remain displayed in the wall. At the entrance was a huge aquarium with live lobsters of different sizes. It seemed unlikely though that this aquarium was there in its present form since the beginning of the restaurant. Opposite to the lobster area was a small & very old fashioned bar. People were sitting across the bar enjoying the drinks. The drinks made at the bar for guests upstairs were being sent on a manual lift operated using a pulley.
A guy standing at one of the counter near the entrance said ‘Pls go & ask for a table with the Hostess’. As I reached the ‘hostess’, we came across an elderly lady sitting on a high stool across a high desk resembling a ‘speech podium’. She also appeared to be out of movies of fifties & sixties. She wrote our names on a paper with pencil & said ‘1 hour waiting for the Grand Dining Room upstairs’ or ‘u may sit in the ground floor small seating area’. We chose the second option.
We loved our food & were very much at ease coz seafood is something that u have to eat with hands – everyone else was also eating with hands & I guess that made a lot of difference to our experience.
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The look & feel of the interiors of the restaurant is same as u wud come across in North America. The wooden sofa / chair seating, the beautiful red & white designed tabletops, the numerous funny & not so funny but smart posters on the wall & so on. For 4 – 6 diners there were sofas & there were plenty of table-chairs for couples. Loved the concept.
One of the posters said ‘I want my baby back ribs’ but sadly those were not being served. I loved the buffalo wings wall post.
However, unlike the Delhi & Gurgaon ones, most of the American ones are not in Malls but are standalone.
The guys on service are very good, polite, warm & quite friendly as well.
The menu card was colorful & was full of excellent photographs of food.
We decided to stick to ‘Mex’ (Mexican) & our friend & Guest Blogger Neha decided to try ‘Tex’ (Food from Texas, USA) as well.
We liked the food & wud surely get back. Not at par with the stand-alone Tex Mex restaurants in Southern part of USA but quite good on its own – given that its a restaurant chain.
Good alternate to TGIF which is quite good itself.
Pricing here is quite interesting – Food is quite cheap but drinks are just the opposite. e.g. A trio fajita (read details below)that can fill up 2 people for an evening snack is for Rs. 400 whereas a margarita is for Rs. 350. So u pay Rs. 700 for 2 drinks & only Rs. 400 for a meal that totally fills u up!!!!
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Contributed By Guest Blogger Vasudha Mukherjee Bal for ……………the Chef in u
This was one of those weekday nights where I was craving for something different for dinner and yet did not have the energy to spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I was feeling equally lazy to look for recipes and started with a blank slate – wondering what I could do with whatever little produce I had in my refrigerator.
I found that some asparagus stocks that screamed “Eat me before I die” loudly to me as I opened the chiller tray. So did some white fish I bought the other day without a clue of what I would do with them. Found some wilted parsley, a few florets of cauliflower and a lone tomato too as well as some couscous. So decided that I would use the trio of couscous, fish, and asparagus for dinner that day. The trio transformed itself to a memorable meal, so wanted to share my accidental gastronomic discoveries with everyone who cares to read. Here is what I did…
Asparagus with lemon agave vinaigrette
I first microwaved a bag of asparagus for a few minutes – you can blanch them if you don’t have the microwaveable variety. Next, I whisked up a dressing with the juice of a lemon, a dash of orange juice, a couple of diced shallots (or use little red onions), some agave nectar (use honey if you don’t have agave), salt and pepper. Next, heat a skillet, put a tablespoon of olive oil, sauté the asparagus, and spread the dressing over it. That is it!
Fish with lemon garlic sauce.
I used haddock fillets, but you can use any white fish that you have with you. I first spread some flour and a couple of teaspoons of panko crumbs on a plate and put salt, pepper and a dry rosemary-garlic rub that I had (use any dry herbs you have). Patted the fish on the flour mixture, shook off the excess flour and out it on a hot grill pan which I had earlier put some oil spray on. (You can use a regular frying pan too, but I love the grill marks that the grill pan gives me, plus cast iron distributes heat evenly).
Right from the time u enter the place to the time ur taste buds experience ecstasy, u feel that ‘someone’ has put some real brains into this place & a lot of effort post that. Really impressive – This place has a long way to go (provided they market themselves a bit better than they currently do (Currently 90% people in Gurgaon do not know about the building in which they r situated & I wud say 99% people do not know about their existence.).
Music was peppy, not to loud, not to mellow. Very Enjoyable. We cud have a good chat with friends for the two hours that we were here.
The place had a very smiling & interactive staff & they exuded lot of warmth. They added value to the evening.
The walls had tons of funny messages – some of which cud induce u ROFL!!!!
We enjoyed some excellent Cheddar cheese & beer soup, Mindblowing Juicy Lucy burger – bigger than the biggest burger I was ever served, Ok Ok minced lamb pani puri & a super good prawn dish Gambas al Ajillo.
Saw in the menu ‘aphrodasiac smoothie’ – we did not try it though…ha ha.
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Disclaimer: All restaurants / eateries reviewed by YUMMRAJ were visited by YUMMRAJ himself & he has paid for the full Bill & tips also. http://www.yummraj.com does not have even one featured / sponsored reviews. YUMMRAJ believes in going to a restaurant in anonymity, as a normal guest, experience everything & give a honest account of the same to you.
I rate all the food items & then give a final overall rating which is a simple average of the individual item ratings. What the ratings stand for: 5 = Excellent, 4 = Very Good, 3 = Good, 2 = Fair, 1 = Disaster
Short description- in case u r in a hurry
This was our first dinner in a restaurant ever since cities got locked down due to COVID. We were deliberating between different options & narrowed down to spectra. We were looking for European food. Very Glad that we came here – the experience was totally worth it.
The restaurant is situated inside leela ambience gurugram. As we alighted from our vehicle, a guy in uniform came for valet parking. I handed over the keys & the car. He asked my phone number (he said it was mandatory). I asked for the receipt. He said physical receipt will not be given & that I will receive an SMS in 10 minutes. The SMS however never came. After our dinner I walked out of the gate, told the security about my car. He asked me for SMS. I said I did not get. He got me the car & handed over the keys!!! So imagine someone can quote another person’s Bentley’s number & drive it away!!! Super wierd.
As we entered the hotel we were asked to put all our metal belongings in a tray and pass through the security so that there is no need for physical patting and checking. As we reached the lobby, we were asked to stand in front of a machine that could measure the temperature without physical contact.
After this,when we moved on to the restaurant, it was about 7:40 PM and the restaurant had about 4 to 5 tables occupied. it was as silent as it could be it. No chatter, no clattering of cutlery. It seemed like walking into a restaurant in a hotel at 7 AM in the morning for breakfast on Sunday, sharp at the opening time.
When we had called earlier, the guy did not tell us that the last order will be before 8 pm. We were lucky we walked in at 7.40. Else we would have to return.
Our server was extremely warm and constantly kept us engaged throughout our stay in the restaurant. We felt like being guests at his home.
As we sat, he got us a scanner. It had a QR code, which we had to scan from our camera of the phone. immediately as we scanned the code, a link appeared and it had the entire menu of all the restaurants in the hotel. The E-menu was Crisp and very very easy to navigate through. it was very user-friendly, I must say.
The final check however came in traditional printed paper. Thankfully, inside the restaurant we could takeoff our masks because the tables are apart anyway and due to low occupancy people were seated far from each other.
Few customers in the restaurant and imports not yet being normal, led to some ingredients being absent in the kitchen. so few of the dishes that we wanted to have , cud not be served to us. However, whatever we had was outstanding and by far made up for not getting the ones we were looking for.
Absolutely loved the food
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As we waited for the food, we were served a complimentary Immunity booster – it had strong celery flavors, had a tinge of salt, it was not too sweet & overall it was a great refreshing drink. Rate it 4.25/5
We ordered grilled Norwegian salmon. It was just brilliant. It was so juicy that At times it felt like that I was having watermelon!!! The fish was flaky, full of flavors and perfectly cooked. the skin on top was Crisp & super enjoyable. Chef had made a marmalade Inhouse, that was spread on top of the fish. excellent. Loved it so much that our plate was polished white by the end of the meal. Rate it 4.5/5
Grilled lamb chops were perfectly cooked as well. The pieces of meat used in the lamb chops were also excellent. The meat pieces had a layer of fat in the corner. These had become Crisp outside. as we would bite into the meat, the Crisp thin layer of fat wud burst into a flavorful thick liquid. Outstanding is an understatement. rate it 4.75/5
For dessert we had banana walnut caramel tart. The tart base was very good. The filling was good, the caramel sauce excellent, the bananas were very ordinary, flat taste ones – not too sweet, a hint of salt. Overall the dish was very good. Rate it 4/5.
Overall rating of food & beverages average out to 4.25/5
Really happy we went there. Wud go for a Japanese dinner some day.
Below is the original post from 2011
In a nutshell:
Loved the experience & the food – a few ifs & buts though on the food. Will surely revisit to try out other cuisines.
As u walk into Leela & then into the Coffee shop Spectra, ur eyes r overwhelmed with the decor & the look. I wud not say that it is the most artistic place I have been to but it is a visual delight.
As u walk in the restaurant u realize that the staff is very warm. I have this funny habit of wearing the most ordinary of clothes to a 5 or a 7 star & then asking for non bottled filtered water – The reaction is very interesting to see coz a section of the staff in most of these places tend to judge u by these initial parameters. Here at Spectra the reaction was as warm & normal as it could get & they passed my funny test with flying colors.
The Coffee shop has a very very interesting Japanese counter where u can chat with the chef, tailor-make ur sushis & sashimis & sit & eat on the bar table. The Chef rolls the sushis in front of u from scratch &serves.
A little away from there is the Chinese counter. Here again u can sit on counter, chat with the chef , tailor-make ur food & eat soups, stir fries , soupy noodles like thukpas etc. All ingredients are kept there as well & the colors of them are a visual delight.
There are also a good representation of cuisines that u usually do find too many Top end Restaurants specializing in. e.g Arab cuisine, Thai, Malaysian, Singaporean . They also have a large list of good unusual food (unusual when compared to menu cards of other delhi restaurants).
The menu card has a very large & wide selection vegetarian section.
Other interesting options are a breakfast spread Rs. 750 + taxes, a Lunch buffet of Rs. 1600 + taxes , a Sunday Brunch (with sparkling wine, house red & white wine, beer & vodka cocktails) & a Champagne Brunch for Rs. 3500 (Champagne in place of Sparkling wine + everything else) .
We liked the seafood soup, loved the Moroccan seafood grill & Freaked out on the outstanding tenderloin steak.
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Cool place to hang out with friends, rediscover ur sporty side or the absence of it, fairly good drinks, nothing extraordinary, overpriced ‘above average’ food ……………. In other words, they r the underdogs when it comes to good food.
If u ask me whether I will revisit, my answer is yes – to hang out with friends but surely not to eat out.
When it comes to food, the answer is no.
We tried the Tenderloin kabab – nice tasty juicy creamy slightly tough & chewy towards the end , something that we wud hate to have in an Indian kabab & something taht totally takes away the fun of a kabab.
Same for mutton kabab
I have surely have had much better versions of kababized meat in India & abroad where the meat is hand pounded & hence has some kind of a texture & retains the juiciness & taste of the meat, unlike what we had here.
U can walk in to the counter & buy tenderloin, salmon, pork ribs, hamburger patty, marinated (continental style) corn fed free range chicken & lamb etc – something that I have not come across in many places in Delhi NCR.
What is interesting is u can buy & take them home / ask them to cook it for u for a ‘sit & eat’. U can also order food & drinks from a 8 page menu card.
Everything at the cake counter looks very enticing & a large array of different kinds of bread look interesting too.
We had an excellent juicy tenderloin steak, a finger-licking-good seafood stack – calamari, prawns & fish. On the menu card the fish mentioned is basa but we requested it to be replaced with salmon & offered to pay extra. The request was granted. For desserts came the unique (for Delhi) & very tasty banofee pie & date walnut pie.
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We were recommended this place by a friend from Boston. The soft & non chewy scallops r to die for & so is the lobster. The Lobster was recommended by another friend. The crab cake was the best I had in my whole life & was totally different from all other versions I have had. Three fish fillets were delicious & the sea weed ‘sides’ was very curious & cool. The otherwise mundane onion rings also were also having a unique texture & taste. Even an hour after having the food, I feel the sense of fulfillment expressed by my taste buddies.
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