good food in back bay
The original Legal Sea Foods (Inman Square, Cambridge) is long gone. While I don't think it's terrible, it's hardly the best you could do in Boston, sort of a lame default option for tourists. If there's a difference in the food between the three Back Bay stores (Park Square, Copley mall, Prudential mall), I can't tell what it is. The Park Square one is probably roomier and less hectic most of the time, but you'll want to avoid the pre-theater rush there.
As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to get out of the Back Bay to dine in Boston: most of its restaurants are middling, or chain outlets like Legal. If you have to walk to a high-middle place in that neighborhood, Sorellina might do the trick. Great-looking modern room, very good creative Italian food, pricey for what it is, crazy-expensive wines, but better than most in the neighborhood. Take a look at a menu here: http://www.sorellinaboston.com/ . (The scary-looking regulars are not gargoyles, but rich old people who live in the condos upstairs; they've had a little too much work done).
On second thought, looking at the prices, I see it's already on the same stratospheric price-raising track as its sibling, Mistral. So it might be more than you want to spend. That didn't take very long to happen after its opening. Phew!
If you're walking, the South End is pretty close to Jurys, and is a lot more interesting.
re: MC Slim JB
I agree with trying to get out of Back Bay to eat. If you end up going to the South End, check out Gaslight. They opened this week, and I went in on Tuesday Night. Good French food, great drinks, cool/chill/upscale vibe. Well priced. A little hard to find, but worth the effort. I'm heading there Sun. morning for brunch. Ahhh... bellinis and mimosas... my two best friends.
Gaslight Brasserie du Coin
560 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02118
I agree that Davio's has a good combination of ingredients for your group. The food is very good, the facilitiues are good, and they know how to deal with groups. Even have private rooms that would work. About one block away.
If that's too expensive, then Laurel might work. It's next door to the hotel. The food is not top of the line but it is reliably good.
I agree with Slim that you should look into options in the South End. The only caveat would be to make sure they can handle a group.
75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116
142 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
second slim's southend suggestion. 11 people is a big group to move. here are some venues that are walkable, have decent food, and aren't too pricey: avila on charles st., rustic kitchen, in the radisson hotel on stuart st., mccormick & schmick's in the park plaza hotel, and maggiano's little italy on columbus ave. for more money, and good food, try grill -23, across the street from jury's: same price range as davio's.
except for the pizzas, rustic kitchen is horrible. one of the city's worst wine lists and consistently terrible service.
mccormick's and maggiano's are chains with mall quality food.
avila, davio's and grill 23 all have check averages approaching $100 pp.
laurel is a good suggestion for a biggish group, and chinatown is an easy walk from jury's. parrish cafe could be fun too.
pigalle is extending restaurant week prices through next weekend (sept. 2nd). again, you'd need a reservation, but there aren't too many places an 11-top can be easily accommodated in that neighborhood as a walk-in anyway.
If you want to stay in the back bay, I think that Bouchee and Tapeo are quite good.
Bouchee is more upscale (French brasserie... very pretty space), while Tapeo is a fairly authentic Spanish tapas resto. Bouchee seems to have its detractors on this board, but I've been a few times, and find it quite good. Both of these are Newbury Street restaurants, and while I think Bostonians and especially CH'ers get fatigued with Newbury Street (and lots of the restaurants around there are overpriced, tourist-y crap), Newbury is really quite charming for new visitors (I'm speaking as a Torontonian summer-ing in southern NH who has been out and about exploring Boston on weekends).