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'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.
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'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.