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Food in the Ritz Bar (Back Bay) or other nice bars in Boston

seefood Dec 18, 2006 01:28 PM

My wife and I have occasionally enjoyed making a meal of a few shared appetizers and a few drinks in nice bars in hotels and restaurants. We're thinking of trying the Ritz Bar (Back Bay Ritz). Have you eaten there recently? What are the food offerings like?

Alternatively, anyone have any recommendations of other places where we might try this?

Thanks.

  1. MC Slim JB Dec 18, 2006 01:42 PM

    Time is running out to enjoy the (old) Ritz bar: the property was sold, and will become a Taj next year. The bar menu is pretty limited (the Cafe's is much broader, and not a bad deal for a luxury hotel), but the bar does a reliably excellent cheese plate.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      Alcachofa Dec 18, 2006 09:31 PM

      I had an artichoke dip at the Ritz bar just recently, which was excellent. The Sidecar, however, was too sweet.

    2. f
      Fort Point Dec 18, 2006 01:48 PM

      Not sure about the Ritz but we have had food at the bar and enjoyed: Union Bar and Grill, Stella, Cafe Umbra (closing at the end of the year) Radius, Red Fez, etc. Have tried Blu which is in the sports club next to the Ritz and it was fine. Can't remember ever having a problem eating at the bar if the restaurant serves good food.

      1. lissy Dec 18, 2006 02:26 PM

        I like the Bristol Lounge in the Four Seasons.

        1. g
          Gabatta Dec 18, 2006 07:01 PM

          We had a very nice lunch in the Oak Bar at the Fairmont the other day.

          1. C. Hamster Dec 18, 2006 07:27 PM

            Mistral's bar is nice

            1. h
              happy Dec 18, 2006 08:02 PM

              Other than the options mentioned already, I'd suggest the following for apps and drinks at the bar: the Bar at No. 9 Park, the Federalist in the XV Beacon Hotel, Davio's (although it can get crowded), and Eastern Standard Kitchen in the Hotel Commonwealth.

              1 Reply
              1. re: happy
                Rubee Dec 18, 2006 08:38 PM

                I second these - all excellent suggestions (with No 9 Park and Eastern Standard having some of the best mixologists in the city).

              2. MC Slim JB Dec 18, 2006 08:20 PM

                A few other places where we often enjoy dining just as you describe: Union Bar and Grill, Caffe Umbra (up until New Year's Eve), the Red Fez (tons of great small plates, though the atmosphere is slightly more casual), No. 9 Park (actually infinitely preferable to the dining room experience, in my book), Khao Sarn (pretty strong bartending for an upscale Thai place), Douzo, Eastern Standard (where the bartenders are terrific and the dining room waitstaff pretty clueless), Brasserie Jo, 28 Degrees, the Rendezvous at Central Square, Avila, and the Rowes Wharf bar at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

                1. m
                  mem53 Dec 18, 2006 08:32 PM

                  I second, actually thid, the Eastern Standard recommendation. It is a great bar that serves the full menu. I work in the area and have dined there many nights after work, almost always at the bar. Definitely one of my favorites!!

                  1. g
                    greenstate Dec 19, 2006 01:25 AM

                    I went to Davios with my husband and we had fabulous apps and cocktails. The bar does get crowded so we ate at the chef's bar, overlooking the kitchen. It wasn't hectic and the service was great. They have some amazing appetizers and salads. We also really enjoy their entrees, but not with apps , since their portions are huge.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: greenstate
                      MC Slim JB Dec 19, 2006 01:31 PM

                      I got to sample a couple of the pizzas in the bar at Davio's the other night, and I was impressed, especially with the "crumbled Kobe beef" (like shaved steak), oyster mushrooms, spinach and piave. Decent cocktails on this visit, too, though their bartending quality seems highly variable for a place that charges $12-14 for a shaker drink.

                    2. g
                      Gabatta Dec 19, 2006 01:55 AM

                      The steak and cheese egg rolls at Davios are great.

                      1. seefood Dec 20, 2006 10:48 PM

                        Thanks for all the suggestions, folks. We have some deciding to do, obviously. I'm sort of thinking we should check out the Ritz while we still can and then, on future outings, set about trying all the other places recommended above. A daunting task, but I think we're up to it.

                        1. seefood Dec 26, 2006 02:02 AM

                          Thanks again to all who helped us with suggestions. Ultimately, we decided to go through with our origianl idea of going to the Ritz Bar. And we're glad we did, although the experience was not without its little hiccups and quirks. In that kind of setting, and for those kinds of prices, you don't expect those. Or do you?

                          We spent three hours there and we were happy to do so. Because it was Christmas Eve and we were in no hurry, we did not mind that we had The World's Slowest and Most Inattentive Waiter. He was perfectly pleasant when we saw him, but he took forever to bring things and disappeared for long stretches. Some of our fellow patrons apparently did not have the luxury of no place to be at any certain time, as did we, and so were not so pleased. One of them left the room at one point to seek out our server and draw his attention to the needs of that table.

                          The staff was friendly, though, and initially we adjudged them quite competent. As the evening wore on, however, we began to suspect that the impending change of ownership of the place might be having an (understandably) detrimental impact on morale, and, concomitantly, performance.

                          I started with a 10-year-old Laphroaig and my wife ordered a Hendricks martini. The scotch was so good. And a really good pour too; the place is not stingy. The smoky Laphroaig aroma put us in a good mood right away. And the Hendricks, of course, was wonderful.

                          The food was pretty good, but not remarkable. The artisanal cheese plate was fun, though nothing on it was breathtaking. Our waiter, when asked, didn't seem to know exactly what the cheeses were. He made an effort at identification, but he was faking it to a certain extent. What he claimed was stilton was a tasty soft ripened cheese but it clearly was not stilton.

                          The view of the Public Garden and the Arlington Street scene was quite nice. We enjoyed our time there immensely.

                          All in all, while we were a bit disappointed that we did not have stellar service and first-rate food, we are glad we went and experienced the Ritz Bar before it is too late. It is a nice room, all English clubby and cozy, with a great park view. We will go back. Perhaps it will be the Taj by then, and the new management will have provided a needed shakeup. And perhaps it will be a nice, snowy winter evening, and we can sit in the firelit room and watch the Public Garden fill up with snow.

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