One Night in Boston
My husband, sixteen year old son and I will be staying at the Four Seasons Hotel on Boylston St for one night. We love good food and need to choose a restaurant for dinner. We are looking for something upscale/special but not formal. Walking distance or a short cab ride away would be great. The priority is great food.Any ideas?
I'd suggest Hamersley's Bistro. Sublime food in an informal atmosphere. There are trendier places in town, and stuffier ones, but Hamersley's is a tried-and-true modern Boston classic (if that's not too much of an oxymoron!)
Right in your hotel, you'll find the Bristol Lounge. It's essentially an upscale bar (that also serves afternoon tea) but not as formal as Aujourd'hui, which is the other restaurant there. "Formal" is kind of a relative term here, as even Aujourd'hui likely won't require a jacket and tie or some such. Food at both is excellent, if pricey, with the latter definitely a special occasion place, the former maybe somewhat less so.
A short cab ride will take you to No. 9 Park, which is an excellent special occasion place; it's also pricey and falls somewhere between the two above on formality. It's almost across the street from the State House.
The South End isn't far via cab either, and there you could try Hamersley's, which would fit your description well, or Icarus, which is a little more formal a la No. 9 Park. Both are pricey but excellent.
Pigalle (French restaurant) in the Theatre District isn't at all far away and would also fit the description well. Again, not cheap, but excellent food.
L'Espalier is easily reached by cab; it's a very expensive, very special occasion place with arguably the best food and service in the city, but is decidedly formal.
Also Davio's around the corner. Smith & Wollensky if you want steak also around the corner. Sorellina a 10 min walk down Boylston St. Troquet a 5 min walk in the other direction.
Nearby (a short walk) and worthwhile:
Bristol -- in the hotel, swank yet casual.
Troquet -- great wine bar with excellent French food
Via Matta -- creative Italian in a modern, buzzing room.
Pigalle -- intimate, upscale French place, fancy but not stuffy
Teatro -- creative Italian, pretty room, mid-priced
Bin 26 -- casual tapas-like menu, lots of interesting wines
Beacon Hill Bistro -- authentic, traditional French bistro, mid-priced
There are plenty of national chain outlets (like luxury steakhouese) nearby, but I can't recommend those.
You might consider Sorellina, the newest darling of the restaurant set and deservedly so. We had a drink there 2 Saturday's ago and saw several early dining groups of families with teenagers. Everyone looked really happy with their food.