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• AHRQ's National Healthcare Disparities Report.

The impediments to change on climate change.

• Can't remember if I already linked to this Tom Philpott post on farming.

• Mike from Rortybomb is holding down the fort at the Baseline Scenario this week, with predictable awesome results.

• Speaking of which, here's James Kwak defending management consultants.

I've gotten a couple of requests for open threads lately. Consider tab dump an open thread. Or does there need to be a dedicated space in the morning? Also, where should I eat in Boston?

By Ezra Klein  |  August 19, 2009; 6:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

I would have to recommend the Costoleta di maiale con canna di zucchero e rocoto at Taranta.

Posted by: earobe2 | August 19, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Boston doesn't have a ton of great restaurants, oddly. My first recommendation would be to check out Helmand (http://www.helmandrestaurantcambridge.com/), which has delicious Afghan food. (And, I learned the other week, is owned by Hamid Kharzai's sister.) Or go to Casablanca in Harvard Square. Actually, also in Harvard Square, Chez Henri is delicious but expensive and the food is not totally uncommon. Or, if you have a hankering for seafood, the Union Oyster House is a well-known spot.

Posted by: davestickler | August 19, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Go to Oleana in Cambridge and get the vegetarian tasting menu. http://www.oleanarestaurant.com/

Posted by: mto1118 | August 19, 2009 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Wrong, Boston has a bunch of great restaurants. O Ya is the best if you can get in. Sibling Rivalery is also great. I've had good meals at Stephanie's on Newbury although it a bit touristy. For alsatian food (heavy but tasy), there's Sadrine's in Harvard Square (BTW Chez Henri isn't really in Harvard Sq; it's a few blocks out Mass Ave. Shepard St?)) Elephant Walk (3 locations, I've only eaten at the Canbridge one (off Mass Ave) can be really good, but you may get something so spicy, it's inedible. Legal Seafood has an interesting experimental restaurant near the water front. Ming Tsai's Blue Ginger in Wellesley. And more I can't remember off hand.

If you want veggie food, I can ask my daughter who's a semi veggie.

Posted by: lensch | August 19, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Also, are you in Boston for business or fun? (Basically, I'm wondering if you're giving a speech or being on a panel or something else public like that.)

Posted by: KatherineWelsh | August 19, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Fun, oretty much. And I've got a reservation for O Ya.

Oh, yeaaaah.

Sorry.

Posted by: Ezra Klein | August 19, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

I submitted a comment about restaurants before the one starting with "also" but it didn't post - maybe too many links? Did you get it or should I retype the list of restaurants and make you Google them yourself?

Posted by: KatherineWelsh | August 19, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Since this is an open thread I thought I would pose a health-care related question.

Massachusetts has already taken steps to try to get universal health coverage, including offering a version of a health care exchange. To see what this was like, I made up a zip code, entered it in, and asked looked at the plans that would be available to my family.

The plans were shockingly expensive. To get comparable coverage, I would have to pay 40% more than I do through my employer-based care in a western state. Is MA just expensive? Is something else going on? At my pay, I would not qualify for any subsidies, and this would be a noticeable hit to my income. The difference between having insurance and no insurance (for a family of 5) would amount to 27% of my income, although admittedly for a high-end plan (that is comparable to my current plan, though).

If this was at all indicative of the types of premiums and care that would exist in a national health care exchange, mandated coverage is going to blow a hole in many families' finances. It would literally bankrupt some families on the edge who took on too much debt over the past few years and for whatever reason do not have health insurance now.

I understand that the reforms will be phased in, but paying penalty rates for no insurance for a struggling family won't be much fun either.

What can the MA experience tell us about these types of issues?

Posted by: JacobRoberts | August 19, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Um, plenty of great restaurants in Boston. Most of the ones I like are clustered in the South End.

B&G Oyster
Butcher Shop
Sibling Rivalry
Franklin

I second Oleana in Cambridge as well.

Posted by: skuags1 | August 19, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse


Elephant Walk's been downhill a bit lately Lensch (had my rehearsal dinner there). Jo Jo Taipei is new in Allston and does a great Ma Po Tofu. I'd also add Taiwan Cafe in Chinatown for xiao long bao soup dumplings, tilapia in black bean sauce and beef w/poblano peppers.

Also, for great homemade pasta, there's Grotto (gnocchi like delicious little mouth-melting pillows).

Don't go to the North End w/out a plan. For every awesome restaurant there are 10 mediocre ones. DO get ricotta pie at Modern. Forget Mike's.

Didn't you say you're Brazilian? Muqueca in Cambridge and some good brazilian bakeries also.

Posted by: ThomasEN | August 19, 2009 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Get the prime rib at Durgin Park, in Faneuil Hall. I know you like to eat healthy, but you're on a trip. Indulge yourself once in a while. You'll like it.

Posted by: dlk117561 | August 19, 2009 9:40 PM | Report abuse

Ezra,

In case you haven't seen, Kevin Drum has a post on the nuclear option (at: http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2009/08/filibuster-wanking):

...what if Democrats got rid of the filibuster?

Basically, this is easy to do. Without going into all the gory details, it depends on having a friendly Senate chair declare the filibuster unconstitutional and then having it sustained by a majority of the Senate. So all you need is Joe Biden (the chair) and 51 Democrats to support him and the filibuster is history.

This would, obviously, be the end of Barack Obama's post-partisan unity act, and the next step would be for the opposition party to go ballistic and shut down the Senate. That's what Dems would have done if Republicans had tried this, and it's what Republicans would do if Democrats try it. At that point, either the Senate chair rams through rule changes that eliminate the various ways individual senators can halt business, or else it becomes a pure public relations battle.

End Quote

I think it's very important that this at least be talked about, at least discussed. And I don't think this is "wanking". Even if we can't get (perhaps through heavy pressure) 51 senators and the V.P., now. It's still important to discuss the merits of ending the filibuster once and for all, and that it can be done with just 51 votes. Discussion and learning of good ideas, as has been shown many times, can start a cascade. First the academics and experts learn, then they reach consensus on the idea, perhaps strong consensus, as with free trade; this helps convince the well educated, and many politicians (of the party which believes in thinking and learning), who learn about this consensus through publications and college courses, and it cascades down to the general population, with an eventual attempt, which then proves the ideas worth. For more on this, please see my comments on Kevin's post.

Posted by: RichardHSerlin | August 19, 2009 10:28 PM | Report abuse

I'd recommend EVOO and Gargoyles on the Square in Cambridge and Somerville respectively.

Posted by: Turbulence | August 19, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Tons of great food in this town, but I have to say I've had some of my all-time favorite meals at 10 Tables--they've got a location in Cambridge, and one in JP: http://www.tentables.net

Enjoy Boston!

Posted by: thequeenofawkward | August 19, 2009 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, was just in Boston this past May for a conference and checked out My Thai Vegan Cafe at the end of Beach Street in Chinatown. VERY good. Their website isn't functional, but they're open. 3 Beach St (617) 451-2395. It's on the second floor of the building.

Also, seconding the tip on Modern bakery in the North End. The cannoli there was mind blowing. Like a true Italian bakery, they don't have pre-filled cannoli - so it's the real fresh stuff instead of a soggy cookie. I didn't try the ricotta pie but I won't miss it next time I visit. 257 Hanover St. (617) 523-3783.

Too bad you missed the Shepard Fairey retrospective at the ICA - it was really spectacular.

Have fun! It's a great walking town so I hope the weather lets you stretch out a bit!

Posted by: deanlambrecht | August 19, 2009 11:48 PM | Report abuse

Even though I live right across the street from EVOO, I've never eaten there, although I've heard good things. However, I have eaten at Oleana down the street, and it was one of the best meals I've ever had, so I heartily second that recommendation. Muqueca is also great, although it's pretty different from the fancy places like EVOO or Oleana- it's more of a small mom-and-pop operation serving wonderful Brazilian dishes in a tiny space. Hungry Mother is also very good, even if it doesn't quite live up to the hype (although the chef is from my native southwest Virginia and serves food I grew up with, so maybe I'm just pickier about it- it is definitely one of the better restaurants in the area).

Posted by: ricky_b | August 20, 2009 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Oh, as for specific dishes:
Oleana - as mentioned above, the vegetarian testing menu is amazing

Muqueca- try one of the eponymous dishes (basically a seafood stew)

Hungry Mother - try the beef tongue carpaccio; the cocktails are also notable here (several unique concoctions, served in mason jars)

Posted by: ricky_b | August 20, 2009 12:46 AM | Report abuse

What's the point of an open thread?

Posted by: phillycomment | August 20, 2009 1:22 AM | Report abuse

You shouldn't miss the All Star Sandwich Bar (Home of the Sandwich Hall of Fame) in Cambridge. It is quick (unless crowded), cheap & delicious, though they're regrettably low on veggie options.

Also in Cambridge: Craigie on Main totally deserves the hype.

If you do go to Helmand, you should get the pumpkin appetizer.

Posted by: Annimal | August 20, 2009 6:29 AM | Report abuse

Ezra - I was joking before at eating at Fogo de Chao in D.C. but please take my Boston recommendation seriously - the East Coast Grille in Cambridge is phenomenal. Mainly a seafood joint, but I am sure it has good veggie options. They have two separate rooms (one is a 'volcano room') with different menus, great people, great bar. next to Christina's ice cream (which uses fresh herbs to flavor their sweets) and Bukowski's tavern.

For the best mac n' cheese and beer check out the Publick House (Washington Square Brookline/Brighton). They frequently win 'Best of Boston' awards. They send their bartenders to Belgium to find the best beers.

Boston dining is Jane Black's area of expertise as well.

Lastly, Yawkey Way is pretty awesome (looks like we play the Yankees in Boston this weekend)they have a lot of tasty, non-veggie meats in buns there.

Posted by: amorsenh | August 20, 2009 9:00 AM | Report abuse

Like others on this thread I'd highly recommend the East Coast Grill. If you go, be sure to drop in at Bukowski's. It's a great bar down the street with a great selection of beers. Enjoy!

Posted by: ChadH | August 20, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I'll jump on the Oleana bandwagon. At the very least, stop in briefly, order the lamb/eggplant dumplings and achieve appetizer nirvana.

For Indian, I like Desi Dhaba near Central Square - always empty, always delicious.

I really enjoyed an expensive brunch in the Oak Room at the Fairmont Copley Plaza. For a cheap, good diner brunch, try Mul's in South Boston (a block from the Broadway T stop).

Posted by: AronB | August 20, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Back to health care: can you do something soon on the topic raised by Sally Denton the Daily beast (http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2009-08-17/what-vegas-can-teach-congress/?cid=tag:all1) to the effect that the Senate Finance Committee is prepared to guarantee insurance companies the right to a 35% margin for admin costs and profits? Combine this with a mandate for coverage and no public option, and it seems to me we can all just put our heads between our knees and kiss our _sses goodbye. Isn't there some way progressives can use this to drive home the point that there is NO VALUE ADDED by private insurance?

Posted by: exgovgirl | August 20, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse


oooh, good call on East Coast Grill. I miss their 'hell nights'. seafood AND bbq, what could be better?

Posted by: ThomasEN | August 20, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

I had a great brunch at Stephanie's on Newbury Street this June. Best grilled cheese ever.

Posted by: ideallydc | August 20, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Not sure about food, but you should drink at Drink or Eastern Standard.

Posted by: FrBill1 | August 20, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The Daily Catch in the North End, for Italian pasta with seafood.

Maria's pastry shop for canolis that aren't too sweet.

Sofra in west Cambridge for middle eastern pastries

Mr. Bartleys in Harvard Square for Hamburgers

Posted by: jcisternino | August 20, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

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