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Restaurant week- three meat eaters and a vegan

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mvi Jul 15, 2007 11:14 AM

I'd like to finance a night out for my two daughters and their boyfriends, all in their early to late 20s. One daughter is a vegan but does eat fish. The other daughter hates fish and loves meat, mashed potatoes, anything with cheese and creme brulee. As far as I know, the two young men enjoy eating anything. Nothing stuffy or unfriendly. My two have always liked our meals at places like Eastern Standard and Harvest, where they can each feel taken care of, but I would like to send them off to something new. Any ideas? Thanks.

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  1. limster RE: mvi Jul 15, 2007 11:26 AM

    Since you want to have them try something new, I think restaurant week is a prime opportunity to check out all sorts of off the beaten path places when the most "mainstream" restaurants might be swamped. I'd try the following places that don't do restaurant week:

    Cafe Baraka (Central Sq.) - Algerian/Tunisian food, great meat and veg options.

    Wing's Kitchen (Chinatown) - a very modest Shanghainese place with very homey cooking; meat lovers will appreciate the lion's head meatballs, fish slices with wine sauce will appeal to the fish lovers, the vegan could enjoy a variety of gluten or tofu based dishes. For those who like caramelized sugar such as that in creme brulee, the apples coated with caramelized sugar should be appealing -- this is only place I know of in Boston proper that makes that dessert.

    New Shanghai (Chinatown) has a very similar profile of dishes as Wing's, but slightly more refined cooking.

    New Jumbo (Chinatown) for Cantonese -- good depp frying technique. Salt and pepper live eel, peking style spareribs, steamed tofu topped with shrimp etc... should have plenty of dishes to cater to the range of tastes.

    4 Replies
    1. re: limster
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      mvi RE: limster Jul 15, 2007 12:32 PM

      Thank you so much for this detailed and thoughtful response- and what a good thought- to try new places not involved w/ restaurant week. I am going to discuss these options and any others that come along w/ my daughters tonight. These sound like some great ideas for my next visit, too. I have been somewhat challenged to find places both girls feel welcome and not especially restricted with choices. Many thanks.

      1. re: mvi
        limster RE: mvi Jul 15, 2007 01:02 PM

        You're very welcome -- I'm sure hounds will come with more options as this thread progresses. We hope to hear back about those places if you have a chance to eat there.

        1. re: mvi
          mipiace RE: mvi Jul 15, 2007 01:45 PM

          Hey mvi- I booked a reservation for my boyfriend (omnivore) and myself (vegetarian) at Om in Cambridge. The menu looks very inventive, and they have a vegan/veggie menu too. I've never been but I've heard it is fabulous and that the atmosphere is great. It is in Harvard square and normally out of my price range (college student on a budget..eh) but I thought I'd give it a go. Also, I love the Elephant Walk which is doing restaurant week too but is affordable regardless of whether or not you go for their prix fixe menu or not. I love their vegan menu, and I've been with my entire family which includes some picky eaters and everyone enjoyed. Good luck!

          1. re: mipiace
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            mvi RE: mipiace Jul 15, 2007 05:08 PM

            Thanks to you both for these excellent ideas. I now have to decide- what to treat them to and what to wait and try myself in a couple of weeks. I will report back and if others pipe in with their thoughts, I will add those to our list. It is fun to think of treating my daughters and their boyfriends to a fun night out. Many thanks for the suggestions.

      2. c
        CIA Chef2B RE: mvi Jul 15, 2007 10:57 PM

        OM in Cambridge would be an excellent choice. I have dinned there several times and have staged in their kitchen with Chef Klein. The menu is very creative and the product is amazingly fresh and varied. Several times during the year they do a vegan tasting menu. Usually They have several dishes on the menu that are at least vegetarian if not vegan. The space is exciting and lively (a little noisy at times). The down stairs lounge is fun and has a great atmosphere while the upstairs dinning room is relatively stately but still maintains the modern buzz of the restaurant.
        The chefs tasting menu is great, pared with wine it gets pretty pricy but it is defiantly worth it. Unfortunately you cannot order bar menu items in the main dinning room, so if you want to try the “momo’s” (Tibetan dumplings) you will have to eat down stairs (but if you want REALLY good momo’s go to Tremont 647 in the south end). If you decide to make a reservation with OM ask if you can get a window side table, it’s a little more quite and the view is nice on the second floor (very Harvard Square). I hope this helps you out, I’ve found fine dinning with vegan friends difficult at times and OM usually fixes that problem.
        Things to try at OM:
        Duet of Pork, “Steak & Eggs”, General OM’s Tofu, Momo’s

        Also check out these restaurants:

        Tremont 647, Contemporary American/awesome bar food – Boston’s south end
        No. 9 Park, French-Italian very elegant –next to the statehouse
        Radius, Modern French –down town
        Oiishi, Sushi Bar/full Japanese restaurant, superb sushi
        Douzo, Modern Sushi, very very modern –Copley Sq.

        5 Replies
        1. re: CIA Chef2B
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          mvi RE: CIA Chef2B Jul 16, 2007 11:20 AM

          Thanks, CIA Chef2B. I love these tips like getting a window table at OM, bar menu vs. main dining room, etc. So many of us focus on the food and the service and put aside thoughts of where to request a seat, when to go, etc.

          No. 9 Park is one of my personal favorites and I have contemplated sending them there. But I may wait until I am in town and go with them.

          Sadly, my youngest can not even deal with anything fish related despite being raised in the same fish loving New England household as her sister and having the same set of gourmet grandparents, so sushi is out. I can only suspect that as some people are born left-handed, she was born with some taste buds that just can't do it. It's funny- she has traveled all over the world and has learned to love many things that are really unusual, but anything related to seafood is just an unpleasant idea for her. We've talked about it- and at this point, I do not push her to try, as she is such a stellar person in every way- if she does not like fish, so be it. With her lack of interest in seafood and the other daughter's new vegan diet (which I am learning about as a mom), it can be interesting scanning the menu, so it is good to be prepared in advance.

          Will tune back in once they decide and many thanks for these great suggestions.

          1. re: mvi
            invinotheresverde RE: mvi Jul 16, 2007 12:57 PM

            I'm just curious how one can be a vegan and still eat fish?

            1. re: invinotheresverde
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              mvi RE: invinotheresverde Jul 16, 2007 02:35 PM

              Gosh, I'd have to go to the source. I'll ask her. Maybe she isn't a vegan after all.

              1. re: invinotheresverde
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                mvi RE: invinotheresverde Jul 16, 2007 05:14 PM

                Well, she says fish was the last thing to go and now she does not eat fish. I'll miss that. Thanks.

              2. re: mvi
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                pollystyrene RE: mvi Jul 16, 2007 08:26 PM

                mvi,

                Having spent most childhood weekends right on the beach, with live lobsters being thrown into pots, steamers being slurped, and my mother taking off her lobster bib only for an occassional dip in the ocean, I was certainly brought up to be a seafood lover, but the stuff has always made me gag! I've tried many times to eat and love fried clams, lobster, fish sticks, crab cakes, but could never take a second bite. The only thing I could tolerate were the fried shrimp at Chinese restaurants (there's a lot more "fried" than shrimp in those things.) My mother would often tell me I'd grow out of it, but she gave up when I hit 35. I have a friend who's the same way, so what you say about it being predetermined at birth rings true.

                I think it's wonderful that you give so much consideration to your daughters' dietary restrictions, self-imposed and otherwise. I'm a vegetarian who hates (the ubiquitous) beet and is allergic to nuts, so I also have to scope out the terrain before going out for a meal. I've learned to love going to clam shacks with my mother because I get a big plate of fries and onion rings, then get my protein at the nearest ice cream stand. As long as they use vegetable oil, your vegan daughter could have rings and fries. I do most of my eating for nutrients at home, and just eat for fun when I'm out. As a vegan, she's more restricted, but do remember that the peace of mind she gets from sticking by her choice outweighs what you feel she might be missing in taste and convenience. Happy eating!

                Oh, I agree that OM is a great idea.

            2. p
              pollystyrene RE: mvi Jul 16, 2007 09:42 PM

              Another thought: Sabur in Davis Sq., Somerville.

              http://www.saburrestaurant.com/

              I think they've got a couple of vegan apps and entrees on their vegetarian menu, and lots of meaty, cheesy dishes. No creme brulee, but there's a rice pudding with vanilla gelato and warm caramel.

              1. c
                CIA Chef2B RE: mvi Jul 16, 2007 09:58 PM

                another place I would suggest would be Upstairs on The Square (in cambridge) especially since you’re taking you’re daughters out to eat. It’s a very fun restaurant with not only an interesting dinner menu but an out of the ordinary brunch menu as well (in a good way). The restaurant/décor is very playful and the food reflects that theme. The restaurant does a good job serving very high-end food without the attitude that sometimes comes with it. Defiantly not stuffy, but comfortably elegant, and very very colorful.
                Upstairs on The Square is right across the street from OM in Harvard Square.

                Another place worth looking into is Pava in Newton center. The restaurant is attached to the immensely expensive “Tess & Carlos” woman’s boutique and owned by the same people. Although the restaurant seems to sometimes have trouble finding experienced wait staff the food more than makes up for these shortcomings. The chef is Susan Regis (always good in my book). The menu theme is Modern Italian with couple extraordinary pasta dishes (beet pasta with braised short rib and candied ginger comes to mind) and the pizzas are also great. The restaurant ships in extremely high quality Italian meats and produce at great expense which partially explains the high prices. I don’t tend to get their entrees and instead like to have several of the smaller plates. The restaurant is expensive especially the wine, but if you order right you will defiantly get you’re moneys worth. I would say the desserts are distinctly underwhelming (for all the hype they have gotten from some reviewers) so if you go there fill up on things like the gnocchi or chanterelle pizza.

                2 Replies
                1. re: CIA Chef2B
                  limster RE: CIA Chef2B Jul 16, 2007 10:33 PM

                  Susan Regis left Pava recently.

                  see http://www.chowhound.com/topics/412918

                  1. re: limster
                    c
                    CIA Chef2B RE: limster Jul 17, 2007 05:24 AM

                    Oh thats really too bad, I had heard that she was taking some time off but did not realize that she had left all together.

                2. m
                  mvi RE: mvi Jul 17, 2007 04:52 AM

                  All of these answers have been most appreciated. I can honestly say that I am really amazed and delighted to have so many detailed responses along with so much to think about. The girls are now trying to select a night- then we'll decide on the place. I look forward to trying all of these suggestions myself when I am next in town so it will have to be a nice, long visit. Again- thanks.

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