If you think that the only 5-star rating should be for places with museum-quality interiors and ambience, then please mentally downgrade this rating to 4-stars . . . I happen to factor "value" and "taste" very highly in rating a restaurant. I don't care how elegant the decor is, if the food isn't outstanding, what's the point? Conversely, as long as I know I'm not going to a place conducive to marriage proposals, I don't want to sacrifice the quality and taste of the food for atmosphere. Folks who rate James Hook as though it should be compared to a fancy-schmancy restaurant that would serve AT BEST equally outstanding food at 3-4 times the price are missing the point . . .
With that rant behind me, here's what you get at James Hook: the best possible lobster (I like the lobster roll but truly love the boiled lobster) you could possibly eat at a really reasonable price. What you don't get is fancy decor and mood lighting. It is literally, biologically impossible for any restaurant, no matter how much they are willing to pay (and thus charge to their customers). James Hook transfers the lobster directly from the fishing boat into their live-tanks. This provides the maximum possible freshness, and therefore taste. Many restaurants purchase their seafood from James Hook. At best, a restaurant might be able to equal (but not surpass) JH by sending someone to the docks who has not just a cooler, but an oxygenated live-well in his/her vehicle for transporting the lobster back to his restaurant.
You might think this is a nuance not worth considering, but anyone who has eaten corn harvested just before cooking vs. a few hours before cooking vs. a day or two before cooking knows what I'm talking about. Unlike beef or pork, which actually inmproves with aging, lobster rapidly loses its freshness, and lack of oxygen is a prime culprit.
So . . . if you want a romantic night out with fantastic seafood and are willing to pay a pretty penny for it, there are several great places in Boston. But if you want the best lobster you've ever had for about 1/3 the price and don't mind a steveadore atmosphere, then JH is the place to go!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.