NIce Place for Birthday Lunch w/New A New Date Near Theater District?
The headline says it all.... I am planning a lunch with a man I don't know well but think I would like to get to know better, near the transportation building/theater district. And it is his birthday. But I'm not considering singing waiters and balloons. Something nice where we can linger over lunch, but not have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. Quirky, ethnic, orclassically Boston ideas are all much appreciated.
I'm going to stick with places where the service ought to be good; this kind of meal can be nerve-wracking enough.
Bristol Lounge: casual/elegant, American menu, great service, a place to linger; expensive but not outrageous at lunch
Troquet: an elegant but not formal French place that's a relative bargain at lunch, with lots of great wines by the taste and glass. I've actually only been here for dinner, but it's one of the better wine-centric restaurants in town.
Via Matta: upmarket creative Italian, sleek and modern.
Locke-Ober: very Olde Boston atmosphere, updated classic Yankee food, very beautiful space, great service, rather expensive.
Xinh Xinh -- if he's adventurous, consider this little Chinatown place, which might be my favorite Vietnamese in the city. Small, friendly, bargain-priced, and authentic (but no liquor license).
A couple of chains which I normally wouldn't recommend, but might serve your purpose:
P.F. Chang's: I don't care for the food or the twee service at this upscale American Chinese restaurant chain (there's real, excellent Chinese food at a quarter of the price around the corner), but a lot of people love it, especially folks who think Chinatown is scary.
Smith & Wollensky: I don't think much of the luxury chain steakhouse outlets in Boston, but most guys can't resist a good sirloin. This one at least has a very handsome space in the old Armory; call ahead and ask to be seated in an upstairs room instead of the less attractive first floor dining room/bar.
I'd head to New Shanghai and get a few elegant small plates of Shanghainese dishes such as the kao fu/gluten in a dark sauce with star anise and other spices, the shen jian bao/pan fried pork dumplings, bamboo shoots with soy beans and gluten. Would be more of a chowhoundish affair.
I'd advise against Rachel's..much as I like it..the tables are literally on top of each other/often shared with strangers..and I generally preferred a little privacy for a first date.
Rustic Kitchen is nice for Italian and thin crust pizzas..or if you want ethnic, how about Penang for Malaysian..a little more upscale than the typical Chinatown spot.