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engagement recc's

a co-worker is getting engaged in december and has asked me for a few recc's on restaurants.

the couple is in their late 20's, maybe early 30's, and not very up to date on the Boston chow scene.

i want to steer them to a place that is not too loud and has a nice, but not imposing feel.

i think the food should be simple and straight forward and a staff that isn't too snooty for folks that don't order on the cutting edge.
i want parking to ba a non-issue so a lot or valet is a must.

that said, my current thinking is either Mamma Marias, with a nice window seat overlooking the square, or, Ruth's Chris, for the room and familiarty of the food. i was also thinking Mistral because i think their current menu would be approachable. i would not reccommned Clio, Radius or any other gastro-delightful places as i feel the food, if they even understood it, would overshadow the occasion.

any help?

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  1. You haven't mentioned price and this may be out of their range, but maybe Hamersley's?

    1 Reply
    1. re: heathermb

      i don't think that price will be consideration. i know Hammersley's well but for some reason i thinking that it might be too bistro-y. but i will put it on my list. thx!

    2. I'll bet the question gets popped at L'Espalier multiple times a week, but it falls down on a lot of your other criteria.

      I think Pigalle might fit the bill: it's intimate and romantic, special-occasion feeling, but not intimidating. I'll bet if your friend had a conversation with their extraordinary hostess ahead of time, she'd make it pretty special, get him a nice corner banquette and so on. I think Rialto might work, too.

      Other quietish, romantic places that aren't too over-the-top might be Salts, Troquet, Fugakyu (in one of their screened-in booths, maybe), Lala Rokh, a tent table at Tangierino. Icarus is a very pretty room, and the lower half of the dining room isn't too loud if it's not packed.

      It's a fun problem.

      2 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        i like the idea of Pigalle. maybe tie in a show before dinner.

      2. Maybe Aujourd'hui? I don't know how "fancy" the current menu is, but I don't recall it being too over the top. The service was lovely (not snooty) and the place feels very 'special occasion' to me.

        ETA: The lights should be on in the common by then, which could be a nice pre-or-post dinner stroll, if it's not too freezing.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cmd

          well that would be my plan. stroll the common, drinks at the Bristol, dinner at Aujourd'Hui then a suite at the four seasons. sounds like a grand (or two) night.

          1. re: cmd

            I'm not sure that Aujourd'hui meets the "not imposing" requirement of the OP. Besides, a couple in their late 20s will be a good 20 years younger than everyone else there. I like the food there but For what they seem to be looking for, I think it's really a bit on the snooty side.

          2. After writing this, I realized that you may be looking for a place for them to get engaged, not for an engagement party. If that's the case, I still think Mistral is a good choice, but I'll leave my post here anyway in case anyone is interested in a good place for a party!

            I did two functions at Mistral over the summer, and both were extraordinary. Although they offer other options, the option I chose for both functions, at a cost of $100/person (not including beverages), includes a choice of five passed hors d'oeuvres, an appetizer, three entrees for guests to choose from, and a dessert (they have one choice that is a trio of desserts and includes a chocolate pot de creme, a creme brulee, and a warm chocolate cake; IMHO this is the best option). For our entree options, we chose Mistal's rack of lamb and half duck -- both of which they consider to be "signature" dishes -- and a halibut dish. When I asked after the party, I was told that guests had ordered the entrees in nearly equal numbers. Also, they did a great job of accommodating special requests, including vegetarians, dieters, and kids (for whom they brought a bunch of pizzas; Mistral makes great pizzas, and a lot of the guests were stealing pieces from the kids!). And although Mistral has a wonderful wine list, they worked with me to choose more reasonably priced bottles for the parties.

            The Salon Room is beautiful, the service is extraordinary (ask for Jeff and/or Tarso to work the party), and all of my guests were wowed.

            1. I like the Mamma Maria idea but IMHO I don't like Ruth Chris for this occasion because it's a chain (I just feel like it doesn't make as good of a story when she gets asked the inevitable "how did he propose?" question) and Mistral is too trendy for my taste.

              Number 9 Park would be lovely b/c they could stroll through the Commons and the Gardens before/after and it's not too snooty.

              La Morra in Brookline? Last time I was there (admittedly a while ago) the food was great and straightforward and there is a nice atmosphere.

              I think some of the suburban restaurants (e.g., Lumiere) would be really nice too.

              I also like Icarus that someone else mentioned.

              And what about Locke Obere? I haven't been so I can't attest for it but perhaps another chowhound could address whether it would be good.

              4 Replies
              1. re: lypp

                I just want to add that I avoided Mistral for a long time because of its reputation as being trendy. When I finally tried it -- which I did only because I lucked into a prime reservation on opentable -- I couldn't believe that I had avoided it for so long. Mistral is a GREAT restaurant. It does attract a trendy crowd at the bar, but the dining room and the waitstaff could not be more down to earth, and the food is great.

                1. re: lypp

                  I like Locke-Ober, and it fits to the extent that it has cool old-school atmosphere and the fine food won't intimidate the unadventurous. The service can be rather snotty, however.

                  1. re: lypp

                    I love the No. 9 Park idea, especially combined with a stroll in the park. In my limited experience, it has great food, friendly service, and is cozy and intimate without being snooty. Also, the food is light and the portions aren't huge, which I think lends itself better to a romantic evening than a giant steak or heaping plate of pasta. And there aren't many seats, which is nice if they don't want a terribly public engagement.

                    I went to Mistral recently and thought it was a bit overrated -- good food, but extremely expensive and I didn't think it felt as intimate.

                    1. re: Pia

                      It costs a boatload, but hey, so will the ring: doing the No. 9 Park tasting menu with matched wine for each course is one of the most lovely and romantic times my honey and I have had in a long time. (Bless her folks for getting her the gift certificate.) Everything is amazing. You hang out and eat and drink for what becomes hours. We ended up with a kind of early res at 6 but that meant we got sat in a corner booth so we could sit perpindicular to each other in booth seats rather than across from each other--might be worth specifically asking for in this setting. The staff are super nice and not snooty--though for better or for worse big into explaining things. (I love that, personally.) It might be a little haute for the kind of folks you might be describing--gotta just trust the chef on some of the things. But it was an amazing night.

                      If they don't actually care that much about food, the top of the hub at the Pru is hard to beat for the view and there's plenty of space between tables. Wouldn't be my choice for this occasion but if Ruth Chris is on the list maybe this should be too.

                  2. I think Sorellina would be great. WE went a couple of weeks ago and, the atmosphere was so wonderful that I almost didn't care about the food. As it turns out the food and the service were wonderful. Very dramatic space- all black and white but very peaceful and I thought romantic. BTW is the same owner as Mistral.

                    1. I second emilief's rec and suggest Sorellina. I was there a couple of weeks ago and it was GREAT. I would suggest they avoid Fri & Sat night though as it can get a bit crowded/noisy (but not horrible). It's really modern but sophisticated in a non-snooty kind of way. We had amazing service - there was a slight mix-up with our desserts & even though we told the server we didn't really mind, we got all our desserts on the house. Can't beat that.

                      I was also thinking L'Espalier - it's is wonderful and the servers are so knowledgable and approachable about the food. They really know how to make everyone feel comfortable and it is definately quiet and romantic.

                      Make sure your friend tells them that it's a special occaision as I'm sure this will get him a good table no matter where he goes.

                      1. i think that more than anything(except for the food quality, of course!) what is important is that the room be romantic and quiet and that a table be not right next to another. as someone else recommended, so important for your friend to call ahead and speak to the front of the house and explain need for quiet table with room around it; ideally a booth.

                        a number of posters have suggested mistral but i thought i had heard that is is a very loud room?...

                        1. It's not in Boston, but the first place I thought of was Lumiere in Newton. I think the food is very approachable and the room is just beautiful.

                          1. Mamma Maria's would definitely be romantic -your friend should ask for the table for two overlooking the square-it's like a private room for two!The food and service there are excellent!

                            1. thanks for all the help. i'm just gonna print out this thread and see where it goes form there. i will post a f/u to let y'all know how it went down.

                              1. ICARUS! delicious food, not too trendy, but always wonderful, and romantic.

                                1. I have never understood the romantic appeal of ICCAURS. I just dont get it. For an engagement meal, I recommend the tasting menu at Radius. That's what I would want....and a BIG diamond....