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anniversary dinner advice - your favorites?

I know that everyone and their mother has posted inquiring about special occasion dining, but with so many new restaurants having opened in Boston in the last 6 months, I'm curious as to what you'd recommend as both the penultimate special occasion meal in Boston, as well as where you'd want to go for a wonderful, celebratory meal that doesnt necessarily blow the bank.

I do have a small ulterior motive here: my husband and I are celebrating our 2nd anniversary on Monday and, having scrapped plans to go away this weekend, we now want to go out for a delicious dinner that evening. While we're not incredibly budgetarily minded, I dont think the tasting menu at No. 9 Park or dinner at L'Espalier is in the cards for a Monday evening...

Thanks everyone!

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  1. There are certain places I like that can feel like occasion places because their service is excellent, the atmosphere is nice, and the food is very, very good, though clearly not in the same high-technique stratosphere as places like L'Espalier and Clio. Their menus often features great local flavor but not especially elaborate sauces, ultra-luxury ingredients, or picture-pretty plating.

    You can get a festive meal at these venues without it costing $200/head (as did a recent celebratory meal at L'Espalier -- one of our nicest experiences there ever, but it was a big-round-number occasion, and we wanted to be sure to get one more event dinner in there before its move to the Mandarin Oriental next summer).

    My short list for not-crazy-expensive occasion dining includes Rendezvous, Union, Pigalle, Prezza, Salts, Lala Rokh, and Ten Tables (which though modest is romantic and a tremendous value). I used to count Rialto on this list, but its prices have gotten kind of stratospheric since the Sapphire Group split and makeover.

    If you're willing to get out of the city a bit, I'd add Ariadne, Lumiere, and 51 Lincoln in Newton, and La Campania in Waltham. Congrats!

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      On this side of the river, add Oleana, Central Kitchen, Gargoyles, and EVOO, roughly in that order (for me anyway). None are cheap but none will break the bank.

    2. I found that Olives in Charlestown was a great meal and a special place.
      Not new on the sceen but great food and not "overly" expensive.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Clove

        I haven't tried L'espalier, but I adore No. 9 Park. Search the archives for a review of my last meal there this spring.

      2. Choose early and book as many of the forementioned places are closed on Monday . Happy Anniversary

        6 Replies
        1. re: capeanne

          Don't book "as many" of the formentioned places as possible... you will become the enemy of the house. Choose one after talking to the hosts/ managers you speak with on the phone. Some places go out of their way to cater to special occasions. Perhaps you can pre- order a glass of champagne to arrive at the table when you are seated, or have the restaurant order you flowers. Just inquire!

          1. re: avidreader

            I'm fairly sure you are misreading capeanne's post, which I read to say "Choose early and book quickly, as many of the places are closed on Mondays."

            1. re: Chris VR

              Exactly what i meant. Sorry for the missing comma.

          2. re: capeanne

            Salts, Gargoyles and Pigalle are closed on Mondays. I think the $50 7 course tasting at EVOO would be fun.

            How is Rendezvous recently? Deepak Kaul left and I hear that Steve Johnson is back in the kitchen.

            1. re: limster

              Interesting. I've had two outstanding meals at Rendezvous in the past two months. I didn't see nearly as much of Johnson in the dining room as I usually do on the more recent one, so this makes sense.

              1. re: limster

                The $50 Evoo tasting menu is a great idea.

            2. On Mondays, L'Espalier has their "Wine Mondays" menu for $55pp but it's probably not the thing for a romantic anniversary dinner, if that's what you're looking for.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chris VR

                Thanks, everyone - all great ideas. While I've been to many of the restaurants mentioned above, I may lean toward Cambridge since we've just moved to Arlington from Brookline...its a good excuse to check out the scene on our side of the river!

                Thoughts on Oleana vs. the $50 tasting menu at EVOO? I do love tasting menus. Salts had been on the top of the list until I discovered it was closed on Mondays. Should we also put TW Food on the radar? The menu and tasting menu options look interesting...

                Thanks again!

                1. re: emeboston

                  Just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all your suggestions for our anniversary dinner. My husband and I pushed up our dinner to Saturday night instead of Monday and enjoyed a wonderful evening at Salts. The food was absolutely delicious and the evening memorable. Thanks again!