Outdoor celebratory dining
It's a friend's birthday on an upcoming Friday night, and I thought it would be fun to enjoy a special meal somewhere outside. Oleana immediately came to mind, as I know they have that beautiful outdoor patio and I've read relatively good reviews lately, even though I've never been. I thought also of Dante, which apparently also has outdoor dining overlooking the Charles...that could be a good idea as well.
Anyone else have any thoughts? Boston/Cambridge area is fine. There will be 4 of us and it certainly should be a nice experience, though we prefer good food in casual surroundings...so...something in btwn lobster in the rough at Barking Crab and L'espalier!!!
Appreciate all suggestions.
Some favored combinations of pleasant patios and excellent food: Oleana (though no reservations for patio seating usually means long waits), Intrigue at the Boston Harbor Hotel, B&G Oysters, Hamersley's Bistro (the patio slightly cushions the high prices). A lot of South End patios are set right next to busy streets; B&G's and Hamersley's patios are nicely sheltered. Even so, I still find myself outside at The Dish, Stella, Tremont 647, and Columbus Cafe (handy for friends with dogs and/or strollers).
Dante's patio views aren't as nice as you might expect for something on the Charles River, more like a good view of the jogging path behind the hotel. The Blue Room's basement-level patio at dinner isn't great either (though I quite like the food and bartending); it's better during the daytime in summer when you can get their bargain picnic lunch and sit oudoors at ground level.
Eastern Standard has pleasant patio seating and pretty good French food (with okay Italian and American, too), and excellent bartending; it's best avoided before Sox home games. I still regularly experience weird service there -- some odd personalities on the floor.
Casa Romero has a great interior patio, rather average Mexican food. Tapeo is one of the better options right on Newbury; a good patio, respectable Spanish tapas, excellent sangria and a nice, all-Spanish wine list. Kashmir is also good by neighborhood standards: decent if slightly pricey and slightly Westernized Indian.
Some places I like for al fresco drinks more than for food: Cuffs at the Jurys Hotel, Armani Cafe, 29 Newbury, Sonsie, Bomboa, 33, the Sail Loft, Cambridge Brewing Co (for their own beer), Rattlesnake (stick to beer and highballs), Ristorante Fiore (ditto).