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Two Nights in Boston - Where to Go?

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jennifern Jun 20, 2007 11:37 AM

My husband and I are staying in Boston for two nights in July. Any suggestions of where to go for dinner? One night: romantic. Second night: laid back. We were planning on going to Blue Ginger, but the postings seem a bit negative. Any better ideas? This is our first getaway without the kids for years, so the sky is the limit!

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    Blumie RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 11:48 AM

    Don't let the Blue Ginger bashing discourage you from going. What might discourage you, however, is that it's not in Boston, but rather half an hour west of Boston in the suburb of Wellesley, and there are many great altrnatives right in the city. For romantic, consider Pigalle. For laid back, maybe B&G Oysters or Neptune Oysters.

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      Josh M RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 01:26 PM

      I've been to Blue Ginger a couple of times and I didn't think the food was particularly special. If the sky's really the limit in terms of price, the place in Boston I absolutely love for special occasion dinners is No. 9 Park. I enjoyed the one time I went to Clio (which is in a similar price range) but it's not for everyone (although if you're looking for French/Asian fusion a la Blue Ginger Clio imho is far superior). L'espalier's also considered really romantic, but I haven't been in a long time (since I was 15 and having my braces adjusted on Newbury St).

      In terms of places that are a bit more affordable but still nice food in a nice setting, I've really enjoyed Rendezvous in Cambridge lately. The one problem is that the service can be a bit slow at peak hours. In terms of more casual places, I absolutely love Toro, which is a Spanish tapas place in the South End. The one problem there is that they don't take reservations and is quite popular so you can't go at like 7 on a Saturday night unless you don't mind waiting two hours.

      1. Sgt Snackers RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 03:19 PM

        Wow - so many restaurants, so little time. You'll get a zillion suggestions but let me throw in a couple that I'd recommend for out of towners as top picks.

        Romantic: No 9 Park (almost perfect food and location-wise), Clio ($$$$), Sage (excellent Italian, recently moved to the South End so check whatever results come up in a Google search).

        Laid back: East Coast Grill (quite popular, excellent food and fun atmosphere, though as with most popular places will have its detractors as well); Toro (very bustling but great authentic tapas); Eastern Standard (fantastic bartending); Franklin Cafe (always a favorite, no reservations though); Addis Red Sea (good Ethiopian, South End location a bit more interesting than Cambridge location - nice atmosphere); lots of spots in Chinatown (especially for lunch).

        1. BeantownHound RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 05:37 PM

          For Romantic No 9 Park is a sure fire hit, although a very wise choice would be to go for lunch, have John the bartender take care of you, and walk out with a great meal and a little more cocktail knowledge than you had when you walked in (along with a smaller dent in the wallet). Lunch is more laid back, but still very good service and food. Dinner is as expected more formal and well worth it IMHO (apps 12-18ish entrees mid to upper 30s) .

          I second Rendevous in Central Square, slightly less expensive, simple and delicious food. You will leave much more full than at No 9 (unless you eat like me, with no regard to fullness or the small amount of money in your bank account). Cool space looking out on Mass Ave.

          A kind of classic Boston restaurant for romantic dinner would be Olives in Charlestown if they are re-opened. (I believe that they had a fire a few weeks ago?) Unlike No 9 Park this place is loud, dark, and I think more fun. Weekends will be packed and the place will be jumping. Portions are fairly large and somewhat expensive (apps 10-15 entrees low 30s). Cool feature is open kitchen pretty much smack in the middle of the dining room. Dinner only.

          L'espalier is stuffy french, excellent food and attentive service, just not my kind of atmosphere.

          Neptune Oyster in the North End...yes go there...eat oysters...split some apps, share an entree, eat a burger(topped with a fried oyster or two of course)...you wont regret it, also a excellent lunch spot, less crowds, laid back, finish up with some pastries on hanover street at the modern or mikes, or wherever else you decide to wander into.

          Other good choices butcher shop for brunch if you in town sunday morning, B&G Oyster, Eastern Standard but not if the Sox are playing, Bin 26 for a glass of wine and an app, and if you want a very cool boston experience Formaggio Kitchen outside Harvard Square for some cheese, a sandwich, and some local fruit(best lunch in town i would say).

          Good Luck and Eat Well

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            pollystyrene RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 06:04 PM

            I think if I had one romantic evening in Boston I'd go to Mamma Maria in the North End. Pick up a box of cannoli at Mike's across the street before dinner for dessert. The North End shouldn't be missed anyway, and just strolling through its streets on a warm summer night is romantic. Highlights are the free-range Osso Bucco and the mushroom ravioli.

            1 Reply
            1. re: pollystyrene
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              nyfoodjoe RE: pollystyrene Jun 20, 2007 06:06 PM

              In the North End, got to Neptune oyster and Modern Pastry for a canoli afterwards....HEAVEN!!

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              hellohi1968 RE: jennifern Jun 20, 2007 06:35 PM

              If you are coming from New York are you coming from NYC or elsewhere? Blue Ginger is fantastic and Ming Tsai is truly talented, but it is outside of the city in Wellesley. If you do not have a car then you cannot go. If you are staying in the ciy then get the feel of the place. The Barking Crab on the waterfront is off the hook. Commnal dining with rocks to break lobster claws and and A+ atmosphere overlooking the skyline is great. Try it for lunch, not for dinner. Get some steamers and a great crab cake burger and have a sweet afternoon with a couple of beers. Very relaxing and what a great way to see Boston. Everyone that I have ever taken there (and that is LOTS) loves every minute of it! Please give it a try. If you are going for a great meal by all means go to No 9 Park. It is quite expensive so be ready. If you want something great and part of a neighborhood where you can really see how people live in Boston then go to Aquitaine on Tremont St in the South End. Fabulous, incredible French bistro atmosphere, soaring ceilings and great food. It is in a great neighborhood so you will be out of the whole tourist thing and there are great places to go walking distance afterwards for a nightcap. Toro on Washington St is a great tapas place with a killer paiella and sangria. Very lively and not the most romantic but always a fun time and very stylish. Worth the trip. Stella on Washington St is also great and worth the trip. Northern Italian (NOT RED SAUCE) food and great atmosphere. UNION on Washington St is also off the hook. Food is great and service is wonderful. Nice bar area. You will have your work cut out for you to try to sort out what this city has to offer. Welcome to Boston and enjoy. Even though the Yankees suck, you can still come.

              5 Replies
              1. re: hellohi1968
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                jennifern RE: hellohi1968 Jun 21, 2007 09:54 AM

                Wow. Thanks to everyone for all of the great suggestions. I really didn't think anyone would reply. I've got a lot to think about.

                I am coming up to Boston from the NY area, actually. But we're Mets fans in my household. So I'm with you. Yankees suck!

                1. re: jennifern
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                  billyboy14 RE: jennifern Jun 21, 2007 10:12 AM

                  We're not too fond of the Mets up here either (RE: 1986, Pedro, etc.), but you're forgiven :) One place that hasn't gotten a mention for laid back dining is The B Side Lounge on Hampshire St. in Cambridge. They are essentaily a neighborhood bar with surprisingly good food. The cocktails are unique and inventive and there is usually a DJ spinning some funky vinyl on the bar side. Make reservations, though. Wait in the bar and avail yourselves of all the free hardboiled eggs you can eat off of the egg tree.

                  Speaking of DJ's, another cool and funky place in Cambridge is River Gods on River St. between Central Sq. and the Charles river. Good food, laid back, ambient grooves and an ecclectic mix of decor and local patrons. Whatever you do, have fun...

                  Bill

                  1. re: billyboy14
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                    LeoLioness RE: billyboy14 Jun 21, 2007 10:39 AM

                    I've never heard/seen a DJ at the B-Side, and the "bar side" isn't really separate from the tables. I am almost certain they don't take reservations, either.

                    Are you sure you aren't talking about another place?

                    1. re: LeoLioness
                      dinnerbell RE: LeoLioness Jun 21, 2007 12:59 PM

                      B-side lounge is a great place. It's more of a bar with good food. I love it, especially because of the great cocktail list. But it depends on what you mean by laid back. It's a kind of young crowd, and more to the point, too hipsterish for some people. If on the other hand, that's your scene. Deluxe, in the south end, has a similar vibe and is a very cool place for visitors. Lot's of crazy kitschy stuff on the walls.

                      1. re: LeoLioness
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                        pollystyrene RE: LeoLioness Jun 21, 2007 08:43 PM

                        The B-Side does take reservations--I know, it surprised me, too. A lot surprised me on my last visit there. On previous visits the prices were lower and the food was more like high-quality diner food (meatloaf, mac & cheese). It seems the only thing held over from their old menu were the Blue Cheese Fries.

                        I had one of the best salads ever on the recent visit: a mushroom ceviche, but it was a special. My entree was homemade pasta, mushrooms and asparagus. Very fresh but not much flavor. My DC had another special, ribs, which he loved. The Sidecars are fantastic. I'd describe it as a dark diner with fresh but variable food and a great bar.

                2. dinnerbell RE: jennifern Jun 21, 2007 10:10 AM

                  I've never been to blue ginger, having been discouraged by its distance. I would suggest central kitchen for the romantic place. I went their one night last week and the next night to rendezvous (my parents were visiting), and both were good, but central kitchen was better. The spring market vegetables were amazing, and the oysters were much, much better than Rendezvous. Central Kitchen has never disappointed, but its darker and a bit noisier than Rendezvous, great service though. Prezza in the north end is also very good for italian and fairly romantic. Finale is a desert place in harvard square, cambridge, and also somewhere in boston (i forget where) is really nice and romatic for desert and after dinner drinks. For the laid back night you could try something in China town, I always think shabu shabu is fun, and there are some really good seafood places in china town too.

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                    emilief RE: jennifern Jun 21, 2007 10:32 AM

                    Blue Ginger is great, despite its many detractors. The ride from Boston is about 20 minutes if not rush hour and you could also take the train to Wellesley from South Station. Clio- recommended as an alternative to Blue Ginger is off IMHO: CLIO IS WAY more EXPENSIVE, MUCH SMALLER PORTIONS and QUITE PRETENTIOUS. While not cheap, Blue Ginger is not in the same stratosphere, has reasonable portions and is not at all pretentious. Ming Tsai is often there and is very friendly. I urge you to stick to your plan

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: emilief
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                      pollystyrene RE: emilief Jun 21, 2007 08:50 PM

                      There's another current thread that's beginning to echo your opinion on Clio. Blue Ginger might be good for her "laid back" option, but not for the romantic one. As for the previous poster's Prezza suggestion, I agree that the food there is great, but I don't find it romantic. If she's going to the North End for romance and great food, I think Mamma Maria would be the place.

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