Dali, Inman Sq., Somerville
Went to Dali for the first time on Friday for a surprise birthday dinner for my partner, Bill. My original plan was a civilized dinner at EVOO, serving their renegade RW menu, which I was really looking forward to but then there was dissent among the party members. So Dali it was. The food was far from memorable, but I have to say grudgungly that the place was festive and fun for a group (9) and the hostesses most accomdomdating. The meal was chaotic, though, and difficult to weed out the good from bad - I and another in the party stuck to the veggie tapas...Patatas Ali-Oli (potatoes with garlic aioli), Filloa de Vegetales (veggie crepe), Setas al Ajillo (sauteed mushrooms), and Queso de Cabra Montañes (baked goat cheese with tomatoes) were satisfactory and filling. While I am far from a tapas expert, I felt like these were all dishes that are difficult to screw up...not much nuance to them. I also had a bite of the Albóndigas de Salmón (salmon balls with capers) and I shuddered when I got a very strong fishy flavor from them. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their food, or maybe that was effect of the sangria (I was hoping to order off the wine line per MC Slim JB's recommendations, but no one else seemed interested in that).
Finally, I had brought it an outside cake from Eldo Cake House (fruit and creme shortcake), which they stored in the fridge while we waited for out table at the Kirkland pub and then ate dinner. Dali did a nice job of thoroughly and appropriately embarrassing the birthday boy by bring the cake out, singing, and making him "kiss the frog statue." Despite my food disapointments, it really was great fun...sometimes, I guess it's not all about the food but the good time that everyone has. Food, drink (not necessarily alcoholic), and, most importnantly, good company, is all one one needs for a good time, Thanks to Dali for a nice evening.
You couldn't have said it better - sometimes a great evening out is as much about the atmosphere, service, drinks and company as it is about the food. I often find myself choosing where to have dinner as much on the combo of those other factors as I do on the food (assuming the food is at least good). Last night, for example, it was so rainy and cold and we were so tired that we just wanted to go somewhere cozy and comforting. We ended up at the Oak Bar and were very happy, even though there are plenty of more creative options nearby.
Thanks for the write-up on Dali...I haven't been there in a while, but it's good to be reminded of how terrific the atmosphere is for a group (the two window tables can be pretty romantic for a duo too), and the service sounds pitch-perfect.