Thursday, January 19, 2012

Off the Map: Like Most Things, The Boston Cream Pie Has Improved Since Its Birth

Boston Cream Pie -- Omni Parker House, Boston, MA
Omni Parker House

Vodka is fairly certain that the Omni Parker House in Boston must have been part of the inspiration behind Disney World's haunted mansion ride, as she is pretty sure that a ghost hitched a ride with her back to Manhattan.

Initially, my accompanying friend had scoffed at the notion that the place is haunted, as told to me by my eternal best pal, the trolley tour guide.  However, it only takes us one look around the hotel to convince ourselves that the rumor is correct: the Omni Parker House is operating only partially in this stratosphere.

We are here for Vodka's last stop on her marathon tour of Boston Best Thing I Ever Ate locations to consume Beau MacMillan's chosen REGIONAL FAVORITES dish, the Boston cream pie.  But between the dark lighting, beyond vintage furniture, creepily deserted hallways, and the eeriest Christmas music ever created, we are convinced that Beau must have a secret Ghost Hunters fetish.
Boston Cream Pie: The Original Ghostbuster
Initially entering the Last Hurrah bar at the main entrance of the hotel, we are greeted by a bombastic display of young people (read: our age) looking to have a good time.  Obviously, as our entire college dorm room had been born geriatric, this is not ideal.  Maneuvering our way out of the Last Hurrah and to the actual Parker House restaurant, we are pointed towards the Parker Bar just up the stairs.  Finding the place one hundred times quieter and barely populated, we remark, "Ahh, much more civilized" and take our place on the bar stools, tucking away our metaphorical monocles and orthopedic shoes.
And Preparing Ourselves for a Ghostly Visit
Once again, Vodka realizes that Ginger is missing out on the cocktail selections, as there is a "Ginger Snap Sour" option which seems right up her alley.  Vodka settles for the Raspberry Citrus Drop and her friend, the Berry Specific, but under one condition: she wants to know what kind of berries are in the cocktail.  Now, Vodka has been known to ask inane questions of waitstaff in her day ("Is there parsley on this, and if so, could there not be?"), but this inquiry is a new one.  Apparently, our waitress concurs, as she has no idea what berries are featured in the drink and seems none-too-keen on finding out.

"Are there any you don't want?" she asks with the slightest hint of a growl.

"Blueberries," my friend answers, as if this is a perfectly logical request.  The waitress retreats to fetch our cocktails and our cream pie, a now permanent berry-induced scowl on her face.
Going on a Deep-Sea Dive In Search of Blueberries
As we wait for our order, we engage in an entirely-too-in-depth discussion on regional pronunciations of words (to go along with our upcoming REGIONAL FAVORITES pie, although we do not actually draw this connection at the time).  Vodka's friend decides to quiz her on how she pronounces a certain citrus fruit, and the following gem of idiocy occurs:

"How do you say the fruit that's also a color?"
"No, not plum.  It's not yellow, it's not red...."

Finding herself on the losing side of "moron," Vodka changes the subject to begin photographing the provided bar snacks: peanuts and wasabi peas.  When her friend continues to lean over the table, impacting Vodka's lighting, she snaps, "You're shadowing my nuts," a phrase that our already hostile waitress is privy to as she arrives just in time with our (thankfully devoid of blueberries) cocktails and pie.
Clearly, We Were the Joy of Said Waitress's Night
We are given the miniature version of the Boston cream pie rather than a slice, and we're not sure if this will prove to be a blessing or a detriment to our rating.
This Plate Probably Looked Well-Assembled In Its Last Lifetime
Beside the cylinder of pastry are two quickly-deflating piles of whipped cream, along with some chocolate sauce and strawberries.  The pie itself features a deep chocolate topping with a swirl of white on top and has shaved almonds covering the sides.
Somebody Give the Whipped Cream CPR
Digging in, we find a dense vanilla cake with just a hint of cream in the middle.

That phrase bears repeating, based on the fact that this dessert is called a Boston CREAM pie: "just a hint of cream in the middle."

Dear Parker House, Did your ghosts eat the rest of the cream filling?!
Time to Call in the Search Party
As we proceed through the cake, we grow increasingly dissatisfied with the less cream we find, and the now-liquid side of whipped cream does not have nearly enough flavor to counteract this issue.
Plate of Fail
While we agree that the slivers of almonds on the side of the cake are a nice textural touch, my friend maintains that she has had much more successful Boston cream pies at diners across the country, proving that, like most great dishes, the Boston cream pie has drastically improved since its initial incarnation.
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And with that, Vodka leaves her final Boston destination, the ghosts of hotel lurkers, former childhood idols, and lonesome trolley tours haunting her all the way home.

Omni Parker House's Boston Cream Pie: 3 stars

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