I don’t wait in line. I go to restaurants hungry, because food tastes better that way. If you go to a restaurant with so little appetite that you’re game to wait in line for two hours, you’re doing food wrong.
So I have mixed feelings about Boston’s North End. For a neighborhood with such good food, the number of restaurants that don’t take reservations offends me. It’s like they are trying ensure that I personally have trouble getting to the food.
But the Daily Catch, a tiny cash-only seafood restaurant on Hanover Street, is one of a small handful in Boston restaurants so raved about by the foodie community that I just had to make an exception to my rule (“no reservations, no Girl Who Ate Boston”). And after a couple years of telling myself “someday,” the day finally came that I decided to risk having to wait for a meal.
Friday, February 6, 2015. In the wake of one of Boston’s crippling snowstorms, I spent three-and-a-half hours commuting to the Boston Municipal Court for class. This Odyssey-style journey involved the last-minute creation of parking spaces, unreasonably delayed commuter rail trains, muddy puddles the size of Lake Erie, a mentally ill elderly woman with firm but unintelligible political views, and the Orange Line.
I had earned good food and company. Luckily, I could punctuate my visit to court by grabbing lunch with my friend Jodie at the Daily Catch. And lo and behold, on a frigid Friday afternoon in February, we were able to walk right in without a wait!
The Daily Catch’s twenty seats appear to be an afterthought in its cramped space. Jodie and I opted for a table tucked into the front-right corner by the window, which was warmer than expected because of a well-placed heating vent. The menu is written in colorful chalk on a large blackboard on the left wall.
Our two appetizers were driven by an ethereal combination of garlic and olive oil. I went in feeling more excited for the black pasta, but the shrimp scampi was actually our favorite. I loved the brazenly aggressive use of the garlic, and Jodie mopped up the excess aromatic sauce with bread.
Even though the blackboard noted that the lobster fra diavolo was for two people, the waiter was accommodating and agreed to do a single portion for Jodie and I to share. I often hesitate to order lobster fra diavolo even though I love it because it is invariably one of the more expensive options on the menu and I know that I will never, ever finish it. But with Jodie there, I had safety in numbers and felt that the two of us could take on a single portion of fra diavolo together, right?
Nope. We didn’t come close to finishing, even though we agreed it was the best dish of the meal. Especially after the umami of the appetizers, the spicy seafood medley was the perfect finish.
Maybe I haven’t had an authentic Daily Catch experience, seeing as I managed to avoid the wait that most diners have to endure. But I’ll be back, and if there’s a wait, I’ll stick it out for another skillet of fra diavolo.
Note: cash only.
Boston, MA 02113