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Cambridge/Somerville b-day dinner ideas

  • m

Hi all. I'm trying to organize a friend's birthday dinner and my brain is failing to come up with enough options, so I thought I'd turn to the experts.

I need a place that can handle a party of between 10-15 people, preferably all at one big table. It also needs to be relatively cheap -- no more than 35-40 dollars a person. Preferably accessible to both T and parking, and most of the people are on the north side of the river, so I'm thinking Cambridge or Somerville, not downtown Boston. The food should be good, of course, but it doesn't necessarily need to be *chowhound-good*, if you know what I mean -- price, atmosphere, and location are the more important criteria for this dinner.

I'm considering the Penang in Harvard Sq, but I've only been to the one downtown -- is the Hvd Sq. branch large enough for a big group?? Also considering Temple Bar and Jae's Inman Sq., but haven't been to either.

I'd love more ideas, as well as any thoughts people have on the above places. Many thanks in advance!

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  1. Maybe Dali? Tapas are nice with a big group like that because everyone can sample different things. Plus, their sangria would make me have a happy birthday!

    4 Replies
    1. re: Maura

      I brought a group of 8 to Dali for my birthday a few weeks ago for drinks and tapas, and we had a fabulous time swigging sherry and sangria and sampling taste after taste. We ended up stuffed to the gills on all the little dishes -- several were, in fact, Chowhound-delicious, and none was bad. The tab came to just over $40 per.

      1. re: C. Fox

        Ditto on Dali. Went there a few weeks ago with a party of 12. Had Tapas....the Rabbit and the Pork with Goat Cheese are the two that stand out in my mind...and much sangria. Can't go wrong with their sangria.

        1. re: Wendy

          I lived in Cambridge for 6 years and for ALL of them I celebrated my birthday at Dali. It usually ended up being about $35 per head, the food was fantastic and the atmosphere celebratory. And, if you decide to have dessert there, they sing to you (which I could do without) and bring a candle in a fabulous iron (?) frog. It's quite a walk from the t and can be a challenge to park, but I think it's worth it. I've been in NYC for 4 years now and haven't found a birthday dinner to rival it!

          1. re: budino

            Note: You do have to reserve ahead for a group. They generally want you there by 6:30, and say they won't seat you until the whole party has arrived. Details can be found on their website.

            Link: http://www.dalirestaurant.com/

    2. Green St. Grill might be fun. Or maybe the Midwest Grill in Inman Sq. if you've got meat eaters with you.

      1. Temple Bar is a nice idea, although I havn't been there in several years. Now, don't laugh when I say this, but I had the exact same dilemma with a birthday dinner last fall, and we wound up at the Alewife T Stop Bertuccis. We wound up there by default, but actually wound up having a great time. First of all, they took reservations. Second, it has plenty of parking and couldn't be more convenient to the T. Third, it was not crowded at all. Fourth, 13 of us sat at the same table and actually ahd good service. The food? Well, we've all been to Bertuccis. Certainly not Chowhound good, by any standards. But fine, and in this case, finding a place that could logistically deal with 13 people hassle free was more important.

        1. You know, I hate to say this, because I think it's SO overrated, and I've dissed it on this board before, but Jasper White's Summer Shack could actually fit that many people at a table, has PARKING!!, and is at the Alewife T-stop...And if you didn't do the Pan-Roasted Lobster, or another one of the over-priced plates that don't belong in a setting like that, you'd be fine on price....

          1. I'd stay away from Temple. my friend tried to take a group of 14 there last week and they treated them pretty poorly. They called in advance and did whatever the hostess told them they needed to (I forgot the deatils) and they ended up being seated an hour and a half later than they were told...and the service was terrible. to top it off, my friend, whose birthday it was, was served the dregs from the wine bottle...

            1. I organized a large party for a dinner at Redbones in Davis Sq, Somerville and that turned out great. The price and location would fit your criteria. They wanted all (most) of the people in the party there before they would seat us. We were there primetime on a Saturday night.

              1. A belated THANK YOU to all the hounds for all the great advice and suggestions. We ended up (for reasons of price, capacity, location, and general deliciousness) at Penang in Harvard Square, which I can highly recommend. We had 16 people, which grew to 19 by the end of the evening, and the staff was very helpful and pleasant (they're a bit severe on the phone, but that's completely understandable given the stress a large party puts on a restaurant).

                All the food was great, both the Trader Vic's style stuff (see under Mango Chicken) and the more authentic dishes. Finally, the tab was downright cheap -- $20 a person, for plenty of food (we didn't order any of the more expensive seafood platters, and we had a little food left at the end, but not much, so that kept the total down).

                Again, thanks for all the ideas!

                -- Michael