I'm coming up from DC. I have one night in Boston. I expect to have a long hard day, after which I want to wander over to the bar (or a small table) at one of Boston's finest restaurants for dinner and wine by myself. Price is no object, nor is cuisine, but I'm looking for a place that would be the one you would pick if you only had one night and could go anywhere you want. I'd kind of like to stay around Beacon Hill/Downtown but could be convinced to go further if it works out that I have time.
Here are some I'm considering, but steer me another way if that's what you think --- No.9 Park, Clio, Locke-Ober, Craigie Street Bistro. I've been to Hammersley's already.
Clio is a great choice. Food is superb. If you like sashimi, go to Uni downstairs first for a few treats before you come back to the bar to dine @ Clio. Both restaurants are connected. Clio is easily one of the best fine dining restaurants in the city. Very comfortable eating at the bar without the stiffness of Hammersley's.
#9 is another very good call. Food and bar service is exceptional. Ryan and John on the bar can usually counter the arrogance that can be rampant there.
Mistral is another very good bar dining option. Much bigger room than Clio or #9 and more of a bar scene if that's a consideration.
Locke Ober would only be a good option if you are looking for a very quiet night at the bar. If it's early in the week you might be the only person dining at the bar and the only people you see would be having a quick drink before or after dinner. Not as diner friendly as the 3 above. Good luck.
I'd pick No. 9 Park or Uni, but also consider Radius downtown along with Mistral, add the bar at Chez Henri vs. Craigie St. (the bar is small as is the whole place) if you're headed to Cambridge...
You've gotten some great recommendations here. My absolute first choice for dinner in Boston would actually be L'Espalier, but you'll be hard pressed to go wrong at any of the above.
Two other names to toss in the mix are Aujourd'hui (at the Four Seasons hotel) and Icarus in the South End. None of the three have bars, though, if memory serves, but the food is excellent at all three.
That's funny, I watched Steve Martin in "The lonely Guy" this weekend. When he entered a restaurant and told the Maitre d' that he was alone they shined a spotlight on him and everyone in the restaurant stopped talking and stared at him as they led him to his table. Funny scene. I agree that #9 never makes you feel that way, in fact, they always make you feel very comfortable dining at the bar alone. I feel the same about Mistral and Clio.
If you're leaning towards sushi (which I often do when I'm dining alone), I'd pick Uni or O Ya for omakase. O Ya (leather district) is a newcomer to Boston, but has been receiving rave reviews. Uni(Backbay/Kenmore) is a small sushi bar in the restaurant Clio.