140 Northern Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02210-1902
A good friend sent me a note, “We’ve got to get into Anthony’s Pier 4 before they tear it down.”
It’s true, the venerable Anthony’s Pier 4 is going to be replaced by a million square foot development of park, apartments and hotels by New England Development. Once the highest grossing restaurant in the United States, Anthony’s has struggled to keep up with the latest trends in the area, relying on the original 1963 waterfront location as the key draw. Now, there are many waterfront dining places, including Del Friscos, Legal Harborside, and Smith & Wollensky.
Anthony’s has always been a place I got exposed to…whether wanting to or not. For a year my office was across the street from the closed Anthony’s Hawthorne in Lynn, the original Anthony’s opened in 1937. My parking was in the restaurant lot, and we paid Anthony’s Management Office directly. The lot attendant said the Lynn restaurant simply closed, and hadn’t been touched. So the wine and booze was still there, along with tables.
In the late 90’s as co-program chair for the Boston Society for Information Management our luncheon meetings were held at Pier 4. “Anthony” (Anthony Athanas) would float in and out of our meetings…just standing in the back, taking it all in.
While he passed in 2005, you just know he is still floating in and out of the facility. And it’s good to know Anthony’s will have a place in the new development, too. Somehow it just seems right for Anthony to remain as a part of the waterfront. Athanas' four sons - Anthony Jr., Michael, Robert and Paul now own and operate Anthony Pier 4 Restaurants, including two other properties: Anthony’s Pier 4 Café & Hawthorne by the Sea Tavern in Swampscott, MA, and Anthony’s Cummaquid Inn in Yarmouth Port, MA and some smaller cafes.
We had some bread and marinated (pickled) mushrooms to start. Sampling the mushrooms, one of the people in our group chuckled and observed, “American food palates have evolved.”
We started the evening with seafood appetizers of Oysters on the Half Shell, served raw with cocktail sauce and mignonette sauce, Chatham Littleneck Clams on the Half Shell, served raw with cocktail sauce and scallion-lime-ginger sauce, and a Shrimp Cocktail (iced jumbo shrimp served with Anthony's own cocktail and remoulade sauces.) I’ve been spoiled by 111 Chop House or the Sole Proprietor where every shrimp has a nice snap to it and the cocktail sauce has horseradish in it. These shrimp were a bit mushy.
Every meal at Anthony’s has to start with the popovers, and tonight was no exception. The popovers were hot and tasty.
The menu hasn’t changed much in the years. We went with lobster bisque and spinach salad to start. The bisque was thick, thick, thick very reminiscent of a heavy tomato soup. This bisque was served at three presidential inaugurations. The spinach salad was well prepared.
Temperatures on the entrees were off, making the entire dinner problematic.
One diner had fresh Yellowfin Tuna, ordered rare, served with served with mango chutney. It came out Medium at best, and was very dry. Half the fish was left unconsumed.
I went with the fresh swordfish, medium rare, served with tomato-olive beurre blanc. My swordfish was just dry…well on the way to medium well. The sauce was not light and respectful of the fish. My dinner wasn’t finished, either.
Another diner in the group had Yellowfin Tuna, with Cajun spices. Half the fish was raw, and the other overcooked, and was inedible to this diner (see photo.) He called the waiter over, and the waiter exclaimed, “WOW!” and turned and walked away to get a manager. While the manager offered to prepare another meal, this diner passed.
As we waited in that awkward silence after a meal failed, one guy said, “Well, at least I can tell my Grandmother I ate here once.” He then proceeded to try and get another popover.
Heaven forbid you ask for more popovers!
He had to flag down the lady with the popover basket. Once he got her attention, he asked if we could each please have another popover, circling his finger around the table like you would if asking for another round of beverages.
Well, one popover was delivered. One. We laughed heartily as we broke the popover up to share.
We passed on dessert and deserted the place. The popover lady was guarding the popovers.
It’s unclear to the people we asked when Anthony’s Pier 4 would be demolished. There is work going on in an adjacent area destined to be part of the new development. Business was brisk, with some tour groups chowing down on lobster. The parking attendants thought the end would be relatively quickly, while the wait staff thought a few more years. My guess is the parking guys see who is coming and going….so sooner rather than later.
It will be a sad day when the building representing Anthony’s Pier 4 is reduced to a memory. Since the meals are now unmemorable, let’s get to progress sooner rather than later.
If you can't get in to Anthony's Pier 4, please review the picture gallery as we took a boatload of pictures at the Pier.
Lunch Monday-Saturday 11:30AM - 3:00PM
Dinner Sunday 12:00PM - 10:00PM
Dinner Monday-Thursday 3:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Dinner Friday-Saturday 3:00PM - 11:00PM
Friday and Saturday, bar open until 11:00PM
Anthony’s Pier 4 gets a RED LIGHT – Drop by to say goodbye on your way to Liberty Wharf and Del Friscos or Legal Harborside. Perhaps have a beverage and get a popover.
About the RAG scale:
Green Light – Go and enjoy
Amber Light – Use caution
Red Light – Save your time and money