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Dinner suggestions for $100-$120pp?

My husband won an award at work which includes $250 for dinner. He has been trying to find a 'suitable' place for dinner, but he wants 'something special'. I would have gone for Uni, except I am pregnant and not allowed raw fish (or alcohol, for that matter). We were thinking along the lines of Salts or Pigalle, though we would try anything. Any suggestions? TIA!

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  1. If you eat in Clio (vs. Uni, its sushi bar) you should easily be able to avoid raw fish and have a fabulous meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lissy

      However, it won't be so easy to avoid a final bill well in excess of $250 (although possible without wine).

      I think Salts is an excellent idea.

    2. We probably won't be indulging in too much alcohol. Only a glass or two for hubby. =0)

      1. Maybe get a couple of hot dogs at The Butcher Shop? (kidding)

        How about L'Espalier? It may be the best restaurant in Boston, and some say it's one of the best in the country.

        2 Replies
        1. re: hiddenboston

          Mmm...L'Esapalier as one of the best is the US is a serious stretch.

          1. re: hiddenboston

            I would hardly call L'Espalier one of the best in the Back Bay and definitely not one of the best in the city. Reputations die harder than fishing stories. Go for a good meal and have dinner at Pigalle.

          2. If you're not going to be doing much drinking, you could get away with $100-120 at most places. I think l'Espalier's tasting menu is about $105.00, (he could drink the other $40.00). I have not heard nice things about Salts except for on here.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sailormouth

              What have you heard as "not nice" things about Salts? I had one of the best meals I've ever had there, and cannot imagine anyone not liking the service, decor, and the food.

              And I know I sound like a broken record, but I'd go with Salts or La Campania in Waltham. Rialto as well - excellent, attentive service and wonderful food, a bit more upscale in atmosphere than Salts or La Campania, but every bit as enjoyable, IMO.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                Aside from the food being eh for what they paid, they were not at all impressed by the presentation of the salt, which was cheezy. Both people that I've spoken to know their stuff, perhaps they both got unlucky.

                1. re: sailormouth

                  I guess it depends on what you get - I got the Roast Duck for Two to share with a friend, and it was absolutely fabulous.

                  As for the salt presentation, when different salts can make a food taste different with different textures and flavors, why not present them in their best light?


            2. If you have never been to Locke-Ober, it would make for a great celebratory dinner.

              1. You can't go wrong with No. 9 Park, in my opion, or Evoo.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CharlestownCarrie

                  I think you'd be hard pressed to spend $250 for two at EVOO, especially without wine.

                  1. re: DavisSquare

                    I'd say it's damn near impossible unless you bought a very expensive bottle. The 7-course tasting menu with wine is only $75. It's a great value, but that's about as much as you can spend at EVOO without ordering an $100+ bottle.

                2. I know it is a bit of a different direction than the other suggestions, but I'd go to Smith and Wollensky or Grill 23, order the $90 seafood tower for an appetizer, and maybe an outrageous $40 prime Porterhouse steak each, along with some sides.

                  Give yourself the feeling of really splurging. Especially on someone else's money, it's fun :)

                  1. $250 for two goes pretty far in Boston without wine. A few thoughts:

                    Salts and Pigalle -- two solid ideas, both offering rather refined takes on Country French cooking. The former is slightly more Cambridge-dressy-casual to the latter's more polished atmosphere. I'd call both romantic in their intimate scale, and easily in range of your budget, especially if only your DC is drinking wine.

                    Ten Tables -- tiny and comparatively casual, a bit more New American than French, and outstanding on a couple of recent visits. You could eat twice here on that gift check. Reservations more essential here than just about any place I can think of that takes them. May be the best fine-dining deal in town.

                    L'Espalier -- one of the "degustation" (7-course) tasting menus. You need a big appetite to get through the one with meat and fish; the vegetarian one is easier to get through and quite amazing. (I agree that this place hardly rates as one of the best restaurants in the USA -- Boston doesn't have one of those on any fine-dining score, in my opinion -- but it's excellent by local standards for elegant, pricey French with a focus on local ingredients). Last I looked, the degustation was about $95/pp. Add $45/pp for matched wines -- a budget-priced way to avoid the scary wine list and get something decent. With one wine drinker (and tap water), that leaves you kicking in another $50 to cover the tip; without wine, you hit your budget. Worth trying once, at least.

                    Aujourd'hui, The Federalist -- two big-ticket luxury-hotel fine-dining rooms that I haven't revisited since recent chef changes (the guy from Mistral now runs The Fed's kitchen). I've always felt The Fed didn't quite deliver on its near-highest-in-town prices under several different chefs (it's a decent deal at lunch); Aujourd'hui has been a more consistent bet over the years, and has lovely Public Garden views from its window tables (by dusk or daylight, nothing much to look at by night). Both have extravagant wine lists.

                    Rialto -- another fancy hotel room, one I have found quite consistent for occasion dinners over the years. It feels a bit chic, does very creative New Med emphasizing local ingredients, and has excellent service and wines.

                    Mamma Maria -- one North End place that's formal enough in cooking and service for a special dinner, with a solid Northern Italian menu. Ask for that little private dining room for two.

                    If you were both drinking wine, I'd suggest Troquet and maybe Meritage, wine-focused restaurants with lovely food.

                    Radius recently disappointed me badly; I'd recommend avoiding it. Mistral and Sorrelina are sister restaurants that feel like occasion places, but whose food I don't think lives up to their extravagant prices; same criticism holds for the related Avila and Davio's Back Bay. I hold Clio's food in higher regard, but I think it has become seriously overpriced as its fame has grown, and you can smell Uni from some tables, unpleasant if you're not dining at Uni. I haven't been lately, but Julien was a bust on my last visit.

                    Of the luxury steakhouses, the only one I think worth mentioning is the Oak Room, which is a bit stuffy but has great service and none of the dreadful whiff of chain-dom that hangs over most of its competitors.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      One note: Julien is gone. Shame if another restaurant doesn't take advantage of that dining room.

                      1. re: DoubleMan

                        I was just talking about that this morning. That room is so amazing.

                        1. re: Joanie

                          I went to a wedding there a few weeks ago and it was absolutely gorgeous!

                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                        I would disagree with putting Sorrelina into this category, although I agree with the rest of them, in particular Avila. I thought it might be one of those places, but it exceeded my expectations. Their whole grilled fish was fantastic, plus I think it may have moved up the list on the best fries in town list.

                        1. re: MaggieMuffin

                          To be fair, I haven't been back to Sorrelina since they replaced the chef a few weeks ago. I was kind of surprised that a big changeover like that happened so quickly. Assuming things stay the same, I still think they're swindling people, charging $34 for a puny grilled whole bronzino in a very simple preparation (with a couple of shreds of fennel and some carmelized onion). But the atmosphere is cool, and the bartending is quite good -- the same virtues and problems as Mistral.

                      3. I think Oak Room would be marvelous. Chateaubriand for 2?

                        1. Thanks everyone for your suggestions! Now, hubby has a decision to make.......

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Boiled Egg

                            i can't believe no one mentioned troquet-- that'd be right at or near the top of my list for a dinner like that. they also do tasting menus.

                            1. re: HeelsSoxHound

                              MC Slim did...see and read his post above. Also, keep in mind that they will most likely not be ordering bottles or flights of wine.

                              1. re: a l i c e

                                whoops-- i stand corrected. as far as the wine goes-- i'd go to troquet anyway. there's not a lot of restaurants i'd visit just for the wine list; ie, that i wouldn't go to if i weren't drinking wine.

                          2. If you liked the Duck at Salts I wold give Rialto serious consideration. Their duck is wonderful and always on the menu. It's a little pricey, but your $250 woud go far with the alchohol limitation. Also it is easy to carry on a conversation and the seating is well spaced and very comfortable. I would agree with some of the others, Salts can be a little up and down. I would also look at Hammersly's Bistro. I had a not great experience at Locke Ober last Saturday. Mistral is consistently good.