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If the Franklin Cafe took reservations...

  • b

... it would be called?

I'm looking for something along the lines of the Franklin for Friday or Saturday night, but would prefer to go someplace that takes reservations. To give you an idea, my other favorites include Union, Oleana, Central Kitchen, the bar at Chez Henri, Green Street (circa 2002-2004), Cragie Street etc.

From reading the board (I've been away from Boston for a while) Eastern Standard, Grotto and Gargoyles seem interesting, but I'd prefer a smaller, less formal space (preferably where jeans are acceptable.)

On a related point: We're avoiding Valentine's Day for eating out, but it has occured to me that others may have the same idea. Is this weekend going to be a mob scene with all of the people too smart to go out tonight? If so, which night do you suppose will be the calmer of the two?
Thanks for your help!

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  1. I'd suggest the Blue Room, but considering the other nearby places you mention, I'm inferring you may know it and not care for it.

    Blue Room is funny that way; while it's not exactly a love it/hate it kind of place, it certainly seems to be a love it/don't care about it kind of place. Not sure exactly why this is, but for every person I meet who raves about it, I meet someone else who just doesn't see what the big deal is. Personally, I love the food, but have had some less-than-stellar service experiences when they're overcrowded.

    Regardless, they certainly take reservations, and you'll be fine in jeans.

    1. Grotto is definitely small and not very formal. You can certainly wear jeans there, as well as at ES and Gargoyle's. I really like all three places but of the three, Grotto is the most cozy and charming to me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: lissy

        Agreed. I think ES is most like Franklin as far as a sceney feel, food is pretty different tho. Gargoyle's is interesting and while they take reservations, most people enjoy the bar area more where there are no reservations. Not sure if Columbus Cafe takes reservations, they have their good points and a pretty interesting reasonable menu. DBar in Dorchester is good, maybe off the beaten track for you. Alchemist in JP, again not sure about the reservation policy.

      2. i'll add rendezvous. i also really like lala rokh, except for the too bright lighting.

        this friday is the start of a long weekend so shouldn't be a mob scene wherever you try to go.

        1. You might also like Ten Tables. Small, informal, great food, and they take reservations

          1. I wonder if slush-driven V-Day cancellations will end up crowding restaurants this weekend. It's pretty unfortunate timing for the first real storm of this winter.

            Many places I credit with Franklin-like characteristics -- great cocktails, good budget-friendly food, a cool crowd and vibe -- don't take reservations. Here are a few restaurants I like where jeans are acceptable and the food is mid-priced and worthy. Rendezvous, Grotto, Tremont 647, Eastern Standard (though I don't like dining anywhere but at the bar), Gargoyles, Laurel, Les Zyg, Masona Grill, dbar, Ashmont Grill, Addis Red Sea.

            1. We had an outstanding meal at the Grotto last night. I forgot how much I enjoy it there.

              1. Here's my must-eat list for this weekend.
                A Cuban and a Periodista at the bar at Chez Henri
                Clear Flour
                Eastern Standard for Sunday brunch
                Pho of some sort

                For Saturday night: should I try my luck at Franklin (with the fallback of the bar at Union) or go to Grotto or Ten Tables.

                To respond to the previous posts (thanks for the help!): I'm not a huge Blue Room fan, but I've only been there once. Based on that one experience, I'd rather go down the street to Oleana.
                Do you really prefer Rendezvous to Central Kitchen?

                1. Depends what you are in the mood for Sat night. Franklin and Ten Tables are probably more similar food-wise, Grotto has a heavy Italian bend (more Northern influence.) They are all fairly casual and unpretentious....if you got to Franklin early enough, say, by 6:30 you probably wouldn't have to wait all that long...much after that and you could be looking at a long wait..which isn't so bad if you don't mind hanging at the bar and enjoying a few cocktails. If I had to choose between the three, I'd probably go with Ten Tables, Grotto and Franklin, in that order. People rave about Franklin but I've had some so-so meals there, as well as some stellar ones...Ten Tables has always been stellar and I think Grotto is excellent and great value..so..there you have it. Can't go wrong with any of them --Grotto and Ten Tables will take reservations though at this late date not sure what you'll be able to get. Have fun.

                  1. Franklin Cafe reminds me somewhat of Metropolis Cafe, also in the south end, which is very cozy and the food is reasonable (not as good as Franklin though). MCSlim has covered all of the others of course :-)

                    1. I'll add a few to the great list above: Cafe D, Carmen, Taranta, Zafferano, Maurizio's, Washington Sq Tavern, Sagra (a bit lower price point).

                      If you have Vietnamese on your mind, I'd consider heading out to Anh Hong for 7 courses of beef and/or fish.

                      1. I love Grotto. It is cozy and romantic. They offer a terrific three course deal and take reservations. I'd try there and if they are booked go with the Franklin/Union backup option. My parents recently went to Grotto and my Mom said that the trout is extraordinary and my Dad raved about the sweet potato ravioli app. The fontina cheese app is also so yummy and would be terrific on a cold night...

                        1. The Franklin Cape Ann... if you are willing to drive up to Gloucester.