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Torn -Casablanca, rustic kitchen, sel de la terre?

My mom's bday is coming up and I'd like to take her some place she hasn't been. I've taken her to Oleana's, Grotto, navy yard bistro, and evoo, and she's loved all of them.
Huge meat/seafood fan, likes a slight twist on dishes but nothing too out there. Service is also highly important to her.
I'm stuck on the drool worthy pics of some of the dishes and can't decide. Which would you pick between Casablanca, Rustic Kitchen, and Sel de la Terre?

Thanks for any help!

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  1. I've only been to Casablanca of the three, and wasn't impressed. Hopefully others can attest to the goodness of the Rustic or Sel.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pollystyrene

      The only experiences I've had at Rustic were at the now-closed Porter Square location, and they never seemed to get much right-- the food always sounded great on the menu but was only so-so on the plate. I don't know if the other locations suffered the same problems or still do.

      Haven't been to Sel de la Terre, but I have to disagree with polly about Casablanca-- multiple times over the years, it's been good-- not great, but very solid, great atmosphere with a somewhat unique variety of appealing dishes. The service is good, and it's a good birthday choice. Try the Ana's short ribs.

      1. re: pollystyrene

        I go to Casablanca often and find it to be pretty solid. I think I might go too often to be impressed anymore but it's worth checking out if you haven't been. Not sure I'd pick it for a celebration/special occasion.

        I really like SDL. The service has always been terrific and I've always had a good meal. Not sure what's on the current menu as it's been a number of months since my last visit. I really enjoy the location too. If your mom is a good walker it's lovely to cruise around the wharfs on a nice day. Perhaps even ramble out to the ICA - did this last weekend with out of town guests and had a great day.

      2. i agree with what everyone says about rustic kitchen, though i, too, had only been to the one in porter and found it to be really awful. casablanca is nice, steady, and pleasant, sel de la terre i found to be (ironically) too salty (though i had great fries there!). have you tried rendez-vous or craigie st. bistrot (both in cambridge)? i would really suggest those places as being more on par with places like evoo or oleana.

        1. Of those three, Sel de la Terre is the only one I haven't tried, but still the one I'd suggest. Rustic Kitchen was just not good (though to be fair, I only went once...but my pasta was bland, bland, bland and friend didn't like his steak, either), and Casablanca was...ok (I've been for small plates a couple of times, never for dinner). I'd go back, but I'm not in a hurry.

          1. I like Casablanca for a relaxed dinner, especially in the bar area - it isn't too formal and the food is decent (my favorite fries in Boston, greaat crunch on the outside and creamy inside, also a good burger). I've wanted to go to Sel de la Terre but have not yet.

            There's a new restaurant in Huron Village that looks interesting and you might want to consider, TW Food: http://www.twfoodrestaurant.com/ It's gotten mostly good reviews on Chowhound.

            1. I've only been to Casablanca, several times. (Actually, I went to Rustic Kitchen in Porter once, and LIKED my pizza! But that's all I had so...don't go by this.)

              I don't think Casablanca is great, but I don't think Oleana and EVOO are great either. I think the food at Casablanca is good. It's a nice place to have some small plates at the bar (somewhat like Oleana), and then a relaxed meal. I'm kind of a sucker for Chimay on tap. I love the interior for some reason--it seems cozy. Never had a bad dining experience there. It sounds like a good choice to me.

              1. Not having gone to Casablanca, if I had to choose between Sel and Rustic, I'd definitley go with Sel. We went to Rustic in Porter once, and while not an awful experience, it felt a little too hip, trendy and soul-less. Not much heart.

                Sel has very nice food and the service is usually top notch, very gracious and attentive without being suffocating.

                That said, I do hope to get to Casablanca one of these days. Inventive, well-balanced menu, and longevity in its favor, so I imagine you'd have a nice experience there as well.

                Wherever you go, post so we can drool!

                1. I would highly recommend Sel de la Terre...their food is amazing (whatever you do, order a side of their pomme frites) and the service is highly attentive. You'll not only have a great dinner, but numerous options for where to go from there (nice stroll along the waterfront, pastry and coffee in the north end...)

                  1. I've really liked both Casablanca and SDT. Only been to the Porter Rustic Kitchen and wasn't impressed. Both Casablanca and Sel are great summer choices because you can stroll around afterwards. Sel probably has the less "out there" menu, but if your mom liked Oleana, Casablanca should work too. I like the fact that Casablanca has lots of delish interesting small plates. That might give it the edge if your more inclined for that than big entrees. As a bonus, both have great cocktails too!

                    1. I've not been to RK, but I think Casablanca and SDT are two different animals, and I enjoy both. I find Casablanca more casual and really enjoy getting a bunch of the small plates. SDT on the other hand I consider a bit more formal ( but far from stuffy) and it has become one of my "go to" destinations when my wife and I are in the mood to dine out but don't know where. I find the food and service impeccable and consistant so for a Bday, I might lean towards SDT.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Food4Thought

                        I think SdlT would probably be best for this occasion too. I only went to RK in Porter Sq. but I don't think you can necessarily judge the new location by that one. I know some people here went to one of the show tapings and had a great time at the Park Sq. location. Casablanca is fun but as most people have said, a little more casual.

                      2. We recently had some clients in town and took them to Sel de la Terre. There were ten of us in the party total and everyone raved about their meal. Service was great and the place was very clean.

                        Enjoy!
                        Tom

                        1. I'll chime in that I went to RK in Hingham twice, and found both times to be mediocre at best. My dad loves the most basic of pasta (spaghetti/linguini with red sauce) and even he was disappointed.