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Looking for the BEST restaurant in Boston

[NOTE: In order to keep this forum focused on Boston chow, we've slightly edited the title of this thread, and started a new thread on the New England board to discuss restaurants outside of the Boston area at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... - The Chowhound Team


I keep seeming to stumble across Aujor'dui (spelling??). It is one of 2 AAA 5 star restaurants, and has earned that tag for 17 straight years....but I dont want to take that info and run.

I am looking for relatively unique cuisine, fresh high quality ingredients, good-great wine selection (my favorite is Italian reds, but I will be open to speaking with a waiter to receive pairings or recommendarions), service, setting, etc...

basically i want the full package.

Any suggestions? Any MUSTs?

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  1. Aujourd'hui is awesome. If you go, make sure to try to chocolate souffle. It's one of the best things I've ever tasted.

    1. The top restaurants in town are Clio, #9, Radius and Troquet. Of those four, Clio has the best food and a below average wine list, #9 has very good food and an average wine list, Radius has very good food and a good wine list, Troquet has very good food and a great wine list. So, between Clio and Troquet, do you want slightly better food or a much better wine list? Both would be a great choice, for different reasons.

      1. Well I certainly want a nice bottle of wine. But I assume that I will be able to find one if there is a decent wine list...I really don't need 1,000 bottles to choose from...I have my favorites, and they are relatively particular, but more or less I would ask their recommendation to be paired with our dinner...

        in terms of the food, that is the real quality that I am looking for.

        and it is a special dinner so i want the setting and service to be nice. something memorable. fairly romantic. but in the end i want to walk away and say to myself "damn, that is the best all round meal i have had in Massachusetts!"

        so based on your previous response, what do you mean by below average wine for clio's? and what makes "the best food" for you?

        also, have you heard of aujor'dui? have you eaten there? is it overhyped?

        2 Replies
        1. re: JimiPiermarini

          I'm not an expert on Boston's high-end restaurants, but I have been to Aujourd'hui and really loved it. It was a few years ago, but I remember my appetizer, which was a variety of preparations of asparagus (including a flan, which was maybe not my favorite but certainly made an impression).

          The room felt very "special occasion" to me, and the service was lovely.

          1. re: JimiPiermarini

            Aujourd'hui has a brand new chef as described in some of the local magazines.

          2. I think Clio is a no-brainer for the best. Their wine list isn't as unbelievable as the cuisine, but it's pretty good (if overpriced).

            1. well...troquet's website says they are closed until further notice.

              Clio's site make their dishes look absolutely amazing...the presentation looks world class.

              I am glad to hear any comments on any of these restaurants and more!

              thanks everyone, this is important to me!

              2 Replies
              1. re: JimiPiermarini

                I didn't notice that Troquet was closed on their website (or anywhere). Is this the website you went to?


                1. re: JimiPiermarini

                  I vote for Clio - one of my favorite restaurants in Boston, unique, some simply stunning dishes, with lots of creativity. Some will disagree (including my husband), but I'm not a big fan of Aujourd'hui. The last time we were there, at 9:00 on a Thursday night, the sommelier had already left. Though the room was half empty and I had requested a window table to celebrate E's birthday, they seated us far back (half the window tables stayed empty throughout our meal), and it took almost 10 minutes before we were given a menu. And I wasn't wowed by the food (as I am at Clio's). I have heard, however, that there is a new chef. And I should mention that the cocktails and service at the upstairs bar at the Four Seasons were stellar. But IMO Clio fits what you're looking for - "unique cuisine, fresh high quality ingredients". Also, Uni, the sushi bar that is part of Clio, is fantastic.

                2. I can't afford to go out to these place more than every couple years or so, but I do find it strange that Lespalier hasn't come up.

                  The food at #9 is great, but I think the room is quite underwhelming for the quality (and price) of everything else.

                  I love Radius, but would be sad if that actually represented the BEST in the city.

                  I'll get to Clio and Aujourd'hui one of these days (I mean decades).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: DoubleMan

                    I agree with Troquet and Clio. The only time I was at Lespalier the food was nothing special and the service wasn't that great. It seems to be a place of the past and I see no reason for me ever to return.

                    I have yet to get to Aujourd'hui but hope to soon.

                    Clio or Troquet are both fantastic.


                  2. I just called Troquet and they are open!
                    Audjourd'hui has changed chef's 2-3 times in the last 4 years, it still feels to much like a hotel restaurant everytime I go. Clio will be an excellent.
                    Report back!

                    1. http://www.troquetrestaurant.com/ this was the one I went to. Looks like a different restaurant than the one you posted...I clicked on the "location" tab and that is where it said it was not open.

                      So it looks like Clio's is getting the better half of the votes so far. what does their wine list look like? and someone said expensive?? does anyone know how extensive their Italian wine list is? there there Brunello's? again, i will probably request a suggested pairing, but I still have my favorites that I would jump at if it was there.

                      now, how is the ambiance of Clios? What is the feel of the room and setting?

                      Also, what should I expect to pay, total, wine and tip included for two...appetizer(s), drinks, wine, entree, desert, ets...the whole shebang...

                      lastly, any specific comments on Troquets from those who have been to both Clio's and Troquets (and Aujour'hui...although it looks like I may save this place for a later date...seems like its overhyped a bit


                      thanks everyone!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: JimiPiermarini

                        Check out their website (which is FINALLY back up):


                        I'm not sure if it has any tasting menu info, but that's what you should get (IMO). I believe there's 9-course and 12-course options.

                        1. re: Bostonbob3

                          My mouth just started watering just *thinking* about the experience I had when friends and I did the tasting menu at Clio. Absolutely fantastic, words wouldn't do it justice.

                          I also LOVE doing the tasting menu at Uni, the sushi bar "in" Clio.

                          But, if you are going for top service, great atmosphere and delightful food - head to Clio.

                        2. re: JimiPiermarini

                          That's not the Boston restaurant for Troquet. Go to

                          1. re: BBHound

                            Looks like the other website is for a temporarily defunct LA-area restaurant----looks pretty damn nice, though.

                          2. re: JimiPiermarini

                            Yep looks like a different restaurant -- the area code on the phone number is 714.

                          3. Onto the pricing...

                            Clio's seems a bit pricey. I inquired about the tasting menue, and its 12-15 courses at $135 a person, plus $100 per person for wine.

                            Troquet's had a 5 course tasting starting at $85 and a 7 course starting at $100, without the giant wine tab

                            NOW, I have a decent collection of Italian Red's that I was hoping to get through the door but both of them said its illegal...does anybody know a way that we could do that so it would not jeopardize their liquer license?

                            Also, assuming that Clio's may have the better, more unique food, what would the pro's and con's be between Clio's and Troquets??

                            I'm a bit torn right now, I don't necessarily oppose a large bill, but if one is significantly smaller, and the food is comparable, than that might be the option...

                            I'm all ears!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: JimiPiermarini

                              I doubt you will be able to get around Clio's (and generally Boston proper's) no BYOB policy.

                              1. re: JimiPiermarini

                                On one hand, I don't think you can go wrong with a meal at Troquet. We joined a couple of Hounds for a tasting menu that I still remember as one of the best I've had in Boston. I also liked how you can give them a wine 'budget' for your pairings. On the other, the service and atmosphere at Clio is more refined and the menu shows more creativity, but it is very pricey.

                              2. Rubee...with your comments on the two restaurants, would you say that the increase in price at Clio's is well worth it in terms of overall quality and experience that you would gain?

                                in terms of a memorable dinner, I hardly think I will cry over a $50-$100 difference if I look back and view it as an astonishing dining experience.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: JimiPiermarini

                                  Hmm - that's a tough one. I guess if I HAD to comment, maybe it wouldn't be worth it, unless the atmosphere or extremely creative dishes with unique ingredients is more important to you. Also, portion size at Clio can be 'conservative' tho I guess that doesn't matter with a tasting menu. But you will try dishes that you will probably never have anywhere else. Troquet is more casual, but comfortable, great wine list as has been mentioned, and I do remember that I enjoyed every single dish on the tasting menu. I know there are some Hounds who have been to Troquet more often, hopefully they will be able to chime in.

                                  I keep editing this - I guess I can't decide myself, hopefully someone else will be more definitive!

                                2. Ok, so I am still torn. :) but I appreciate your comments...hopefully some other "hounds" will chime in on the topic. So I think I have nailed it down to these two restaurant, and I am not 100% sold on the tastings menu either...I could go off of the traditional menu and most likely leave thrilled as well, although I have never done a tasting at a great restaurant so I am uncertain of the added value.

                                  hm...what else can i ask that i have not asked yet.

                                  I suppose it will come down to the overall value...right now it seems as if the balance is tipping towards Troquet, but Clio's does seem like a strikingly unique place.

                                  So I suppose if others could comment on the Pros and Cons of the two restaurants and give any additional thoughts! I will be back at the end of the weekend to thank you all for what seems to be shaping up as a great prospective dinner. :)

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: JimiPiermarini

                                    To me, it all comes down to the "unique experience" aspect. Yes, you will have an absolutely wonderful meal at Troquet. No doubt about it. But at Clio, you'll have cuisine like you've never experienced before.

                                    Is it worth the price difference? That's entirely up to how much value you put on the things mentioned above.

                                    1. re: JimiPiermarini

                                      I really don't think you can go wrong with either Clio or Troquet...both excellent. I think of Clio, #9, as the top tier; Troquet does not get the same press; but they try harder. I second Rubee's suggestion re Troquet..go with the tasting and wine pairing...tell them you'd like "better" wines and increase the wine budget by 20-25%. It is more than worth it. They were also very accomodative about putting reg menu items that we wanted onto the tasting menu..in smaller portions. Reserve a window seat.

                                      I think you need to make 2 trips..:)

                                    2. Speaking for myself, because I think it is. Lumiere is excellent, but no Clio. Blue Ginger has its fans, but a lot of people think it's overrated, etc.

                                      I just think Clio is the best in the state.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                                        Okay - I agree with Bob. Re: your original post, for the best restaurant with the whole package, it's Clio. Or better yet, go with 9Lives's suggestion and make two trips :)

                                      2. It doesnt really matter where I end up in the state, so long as I find myself sitting in one of the best. I dont want to cut corners on this dinner.

                                        In regards to the tasting menu vs. the regular house menu...

                                        From the perspective of people who have experience with both styles, and are familiar with both restaurants...

                                        Do you think it would be more worth while to skip out on Troquets slightly more affordable tasting menu, and go with a traditional menu at Clio's to balance the costs yet sit myself in what many here are referring to as simply the best? OR would you suggest only looking at the tasting menu and choosing the restaurant that best fits my budget, which seems to be Troquet?

                                        Damnit, its all coming down to the wine right now! I don't mind the cost of the tastings at either, but to toss in a $200 wine bill at the end is what hurts a bit :) and to know that I have far better bottles at home that are paid for at a fraction of the cost when I first purchased them, it hurts all the more.

                                        1. This post represents what Chowhound is all about... as I believe the posts have guided you to the 2 best bets in town. L'Espalier, while touted by many, is not a great spot. For the type of formal dining they strive for, price point, etc. they don't deliver. Tables are spaced too close together, the food is very busy (try too much to impress with food combinations) etc. For that type of dining you need to get to NYC or Europe. In NY Per Se, Ducasse (even Daniel, Bouley, etc for that matter).

                                          "CSAMMY" really hits the nail on the head. Those comments are right on! Nice job.

                                          CLIO - The ambiance is much nicer than Troquet, the food is excellent, great presentation, more of a special occasion feel to the room. But then again the room is very small, tables are not that spacious, except for a few choice tables for larger parties. Killer deserts. Wine list is sadly lacking. Better that its been in the past but still not what it should be for this type of place. Service is actually about the same as Troquet... good, not great. You'll spend a little more money here than at Troquet for the food.

                                          TROQUET - All things considered, the best wine restaurant in the city. Other places have bigger lists (21 Federal, Grill 23 for example), but this list is well chosen and MUCH better priced. They also KNOW how to cellar and serve wine. The temperature will be correct, the glass will be proper and well polished, and if the wine needs decanting they know when and how to do it. The ambiance is ok, nothing fancy. Best to get a table near the windows if possible. Althought the focus is on the wine here, the food can be some of the best in the city. This is a very serious kitchen with a chef thats been at Troquet since they opened... he knows his stuff. Everything is fresh and some very interesting dishes. If you order a tasting menu it really gets him psyched and he delivers big. Creativity is just a notch below Clio.

                                          SUGGESTION: If its a "big deal evening" (special occasion, anniversary, etc) go to CLIO (unless your guests are wine fanatics). Otherwise, for a great evening out with great food and wine in a more relaxing setting, head to TROQUET.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: WineTravel

                                            i was at Troquet a few months back and while i wholeheartedly agree with all posters lauding the food and wine in all aspects i must throw a flag on atmosphere. on my visit i found the room to be too open and impersonal and more family friendly (there were 7-10 tables with young children and several teens hanging out by the stairs talking on cell phones) than romantic. that being said i would go ith Clio.

                                            1. re: ScubaSteve

                                              Agreed. Clio blows away Troquet on the atmosphere front. Clio spent a lot more on the decor, not even close.

                                              Will say I've been to Troquet many times and have never seen a lot of families there? You are more likely to see a child at Troquet than at Clio but wouldnt consider Troquet very family friendly. Think that night you are speaking of was not typical. Noise level at T is much higher than C as well.

                                          2. WineTravel...thanks for tying this thread up nicely.

                                            although i do not want people to view it as closed, because I will be making my reservation tomorrow night and will be checking this board and making comments till then...

                                            but it is a special occasion. we are not wine NUTS persay, although I AM an enthusiast with growing knowledge and an already note-worthy collection. I want a good bottle sitting at my table, but I will not tear the list inside and out to find it...I will probably select my budget, and let them know my preferences, and ask for a suggestion to be paired with my dinner.

                                            a few questions:

                                            If I select one of the tastings, but do not want the added bill to get the entire collection of suggested wines, and instead purchase one bottle...do you think I would be missing out on the tastings having one bottle accompany all the dishes?? (again, I am not crazy crazy about the food that goes with the wine...I will learn that later, and any losses will not be conscious...for example, if I get a red, and a dish isnt the BEST with a red..sure, it might not taste as perfect as it could with the right wine, but I am sure that it will still be great) in short, is it even worth the cost of the tastings if I do not go step for step with the wines they are pairing?

                                            Secondly, if I ditch the tastings menu, and go with the regular menu, will I not be getting the full effect of each of these places, or will I get it regardless of the meal setup I choose...

                                            and again, this place has been a HUGE help, I really feel that I have been led to the two best, with very relavent comments on both...

                                            please continue!! I will be sure to drop a full review of wherever I end up. the balance is back in clio's favor right now :)

                                            1. "If I select one of the tastings, but do not want the added bill to get the entire collection of suggested wines, and instead purchase one bottle...do you think I would be missing out on the tastings having one bottle accompany all the dishes??"

                                              Yes...particularly at Troquet...7 or 9 courses..paired by pros with a glass of the appropriate wine is a great experience. The wine pairings elevate the meal tremendously. I'll add that their wine markups are very reasonable and been told that some wines are priced at or near retail.

                                              Wine travel and others have nailed the differences between the 2..edited

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: 9lives

                                                Are you OK there, 9Lives??? Did a swordfish just skewer you mid-post???

                                                1. re: Alcachofa

                                                  Ha...I ran off mid post...thought I had a bite..:)

                                                2. re: 9lives

                                                  Many high end restaurants will cook a tasting menu around a really good bottle of wine, say a '61 Haut Brion for example. It might be worth your while to call and check if any of these restaurants are willing and able to do that if you order a special bottle of wine.

                                                3. i'm about to throw a curveball in here...

                                                  what if one of the two might allow me to bring in my own bottle of wine? would that make it a no brainer based on what i have said above?

                                                  1. and yet another...speaking with the manager at one of the places, I sort of slipped out of the rigid mindset on the wines..having the availability of champagnes that work with many of the tasting dishes, then the option of half bottles of red or white that may work with a number of the tasting dishes, then considering individual glasses of wines for the dishes that almost have to have a specific wine...

                                                    all in all, I'm still torn :)

                                                    seems like some amazing perks to both restaurants.

                                                    now, for example, if I choose troquet due to more affordable wines, how much would i lose in food and establishment quality? furthermore, would it be in my better interest to do Clio's, with a less expensive selection of wine, or would you suggest I suck it up and go all out (which i just may not be able to do this weekend :(

                                                    carry on!

                                                    1. Like I said before, I think both are great choices. If you pick Clio make sure you tell them that you want the tasting menu when you make the reservation, a couple of years ago I made that mistake and they would not offer it to me.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: csammy

                                                        You don't have to pre-order the tasting menu at either place. Both offer it daily as part of their menu.

                                                        I have to say that you are over-analyzing this at this point. Both places will be great. You certainly don't need a different wine with each course. At Clio most of the beginning courses will certainly be white wine friendly. I'd suggest a bottle of white, and then do a glass of red when appropriate.

                                                        I'd give up on trying to bring a bottle of wine. Places like this frown on it because:
                                                        1. Its against the laws governing their liquor license, so they could lose it if cought.
                                                        2. It's a hassle for them to deal with... even if it were legal iimagine if everyone (or a number of tables) did it.

                                                        In California its a common practice, as some other states, but not in MA. Why would they jeopordize their business? If you are persistent they will not take kindly to you when you arrive. Don't be perceived as a pain in the neck even before you get there.

                                                        You'd do well ordering the tasting (its always fun) at either place. Agree with others that it would be more important to do so at Troquet (they really go the extra mile when you do so). At Clio, not as important to do so.

                                                        Most importantly, decide on a place... book it... and RELAX. Then get psyched to enjoy it. Don't worry so much about the details. Thats the job of the restaurant. Then next time you have a chance try the other place.

                                                      2. I think you should try out VIA MATTA in boston. This is just what your looking for. the food is Italian and is very awsome and delicious--michael schlow is a great chef and a pro in the food industry. The wines there are great such as Barolo's brunello's all from italy. Try it out you will love it!!

                                                        Frankie Imbergamo

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: frankie Imbergamo

                                                          Via Matta is a good suggestion for a nice meal in Boston, but doesn't qualify as one of the top places in town. Very casual, noisy, fun spot. I like the pounded veal chop. Agree their wine list is good for Italians, although a little pricey for what it is.

                                                        2. My wife and I went to Clio this past December. As we were about to order, an interesting situation arose. I wrote about our experience on our blog, which I welcome all chowhounds to read. Here is the specific post:

                                                          1. Croutonweb... nice recap of your Clio meal... and your web site is so well done, wow! Clio does aim to please with that type of personized service. Glad Clio turned what could have been a nightmare into a great evening.

                                                            TASTING MENUS: Most places do have a restriction on tasting menus that require the whole table to order it. It is a downer when you don't know this in advance and take the time to figure out your order only to hear that that's the rule. As was stated, makes sense. Otherwise timing is more of a problem in the kitchen.

                                                            For those who aren't very familiar with tasting menus... at a serious restaurant, typically the waiter will ask if any guest has any dislikes or allergies. They kitchen will adjust the menu accordingly.

                                                            TASTING MENUS IN EUROPE: It is rare for restaurants (even the top Michelin 3* places) to offer a tasting menu that is a "surprise" menu. It is typical for the restaurant to have a few tasting menus (or sometimes called "set menus") that vary by the number of courses. They often have a 5 course set menu and a 7 course set menu for those who'd like more food. Sometimes, there are very extravagent menus in addition, with as many as 13 courses. The menu is set and changes frequently to take advantage of the season but everything is listed on the menu (for allergies or dislikes etc. they will make a substitute for a course if necessary).

                                                            PLACES LIKE EL BULLI in Spain. At this very famous 3* they will serve as many as 35 courses (really tastes). They are very small plates that just keep coming. A lot of fun and while you do get filled up at the end, its not as much food as it sounds as each course is very small.

                                                            I think I beat up the tasting menu thing....

                                                            1. The greatest meal of my life was the tasting menu at Daniel in New York (for my going away party). Six of us, eight courses that turned into 12 as Daniel Boulud kept bring surprises from the kitchen, two bottles of wine with each course.

                                                              The capper is when we left, the "guest" (me) ended up paying the tab.

                                                              Anyway, regarding this whole Clio versus Troquet issue; just go to Clio, get the tasting menu and wine pairings, and suck it up!

                                                              Believe me, your pocketbook will eventually recover, and you'll have a memory for life.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: Bostonbob3


                                                                A "special" meal in any proper dining destination is going to set you back quite a bit. If you're worried about saving a few bucks here and there, I'm afraid that you might be sweating through the entire meal and that selom makes for much fun.

                                                                Throw caution to the wind and enjoy.

                                                              2. If it's not too late...

                                                                What's the occasion? I would be loath to take a girlfriend out for a night that was ostensibly about her only to have to devote my attention to an elaborate tasting menu.

                                                                If it's a night meant for a loved one, I default to straightforward and comfortable service unless I am certain that my companion is up for an adventure. Too many times have nights blown up in my face because I did not consider that my date would rather spend time together than share me with the chef.

                                                                Rather than just going for "the BEST restaurant in Massachusetts," you might consider the occasion and try to select a restaurant accordingly. It sounds to me like you are looking to impress by going as big as possible.

                                                                Is that the right move?

                                                                1. We've been to clio 5 or 6 times. Have never been to Troquet. Each time the food has been excellent. Service is right on without being annoying or pretentious. We're not real wine connoisseurs so this has not been a problem.

                                                                  Our last time there was just 3 weeks ago or so and we had the tasting menu for the first time. My wife had no alcohol and I had 3 by the glass and the bill was about $420 with tip. I lost count of how many courses there were but well above 10. Very well worth it. You will not be disappointed in the food. Agree with earlier poster about getting a good white then red bottle. There were 4 "entree" courses--2 seafood and 2 meat/game.

                                                                  We were looking for a good place to take my wife's parents this weekend for their anniversary and so were looking on this site. Now we just booked for clio again! Will just get the regular menu though this time as it does change from time to time.

                                                                  1. In order to keep this forum focused on Boston chow, we've slightly edited the title of this thread, and started a new thread on the New England board to discuss restaurants outside of the Boston area at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...