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Manhattanites take Boston...please help....

  • d

Hi all,

My boyfriend and I will be coming to Boston for just a few days during which I'll mostly be working...but we're going to do what we can to fit in some great meals. Would love to go out for a fancy dinner but that's not in the cards so we're going to try a fancy lunch instead....which is where I need your help. The only nice restaurant I know of in Boston is No 9 Park but, alas, they're not serving lunch at the moment. Can anyone suggest anything along the same lines?

Just as a point of reference, in Manhattan we enjoy:

-The Red Cat
-Cafe Gray
-Grammercy Tavern
-The Orchard
etc. etc. etc.

Any suggestions are much appreciated!

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  1. Petite Robert Bistro (the Kenmore Square location).

    2 Replies
    1. re: Spiritchaser

      I like Petit Robert Bistro alot but I don't consider it a fancy place, it's more of a traditional style bistro. If you were after No 9 Park, then I'd guess you're looking for something more upscale. Perhaps you would like to try L'espalier which is in a beautiful old townhouse in the Back Bay but only until the new Mandarin Oriental opens up.

      1. re: Spiritchaser

        Sorry, must disagree. PRB Kenmore is sadly unreliable when it comes to food quality. I've been served burnt sweetbreads, "cassoulet" with undercooked beans - they can be good, and they are relatively cheap, but it's really hit or miss. You can do a lot better.

        Unfortunately few of the better places serve lunch. As others have suggested, L'Espalier and Locke Ober are probably your best choices.

      2. L'espalier serves lunch. I have not been for the lunch (but you can find several reviews on the board), but I really liked the dinner I had there a few months ago. At least at dinner the service was just as good as Gramercy Tavern. They were very attentive, but not too much so and I did not find them stuffy at all. The room definitely has more of a "prissy" feel to it, but in my opinion not in a bad way. The website is:

        1. L'Espalier is great, but IMHO there's nothing particuarly Gramercy Tavernesque about it; L'Esaplier is more formal, more akin to lunching at the fancier French places in Manhattan (like Le Grenouille or the dearly departed Lutece).

          Until No. 9 reopens for lunch, I think Radius may be Boston's most Gramercy Tavernesque lunch at the moment.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Blumie

            radius isn't much like gramercy either. pretty fou-fou, and i am always underwhelmed by the food.

            question for the op: where are you staying? proximity might help.

            some places to consider are neptune oyster, eastern standard kitchen (at the bar), bin 26 enoteca, excelsior at the bar for lobster pizza and duck quesadillas and the bristol lounge at the four seasons.

            none are gramercy-esque, but all quite good and fun vibes with good service.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              I totally disagree with you, but instead of trying to come up with a place that's like a place in NYC, perhaps we all should be focusing on what we've got here in Boston.

              L'Espalier is great if you want upscale French. Radius, IMHO, occupies that next tier down similar to a Gramercy or a Gotham Bar & Grill.

              But my favorite places for lunch in Boston are yet more casual still: B&G Oysters in the South End; and Neptune Oyster in the South End. Both are in the Pearl Oyster Bar mold, with great raw bars and an excellent menu of fish and seafood dishes. B&G is slightly more upscale, and I prefer it to Neptune, although many on this board prefer Neptune. Both are great.

              1. re: Blumie

                I was answering the question of a fancy lunch place in Boston, I am not familiar enough with the NY restaurants to answer in that vain. If they had asked for my favorite lunch without the fancy part, I'd answer differently.

            2. re: Blumie

              All I actually meant by that comment was that I have had my two best service experiences in restaurants ever at Gramercy Tavern and L'espalier. The style of service was not exactly the same, but the quality was.

            3. Boston people will bash but nothing comes close to some of your NY places. Not sure about lunch availability, but my faves in Boston are Clio, Oleana (cambridge), Dantes (cambridge), no 9 (you've already worked that one out), and Radius. I have not been to Oya (or some derivation of that name like Oh Yea), supposed to be our version of of nobu.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chefboyardee

                clio, oleana and o ya do not do lunch.

              2. The sandwiches at Volle Nolle in the North End are as good or better than 'inoteca, but it is a COMPLETELY different type of place (order at the counter, no wine, tiny space).

                Parish Cafe also has good sandwiches, each one designed by a different chef in town. Probably not quite up to the pure tastiness of 'inoteca, but a good sandwich option (with wine, though not as good a list) if you were looking for that.

                1. The classic fancy lunch in Boston is at Locke-Ober. Make sure to reserve a table in the first floor dining room.

                  3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: BBHound

                    My New York friends loved several restaurants that were not "NY clones:" The Blue Room, East Coast Grill, Blue Ginger, Elephant Walk, 10 Tables, and La Morra. Whenever they come we look for something like price/value, or not easy to find in NY. Rendezvous probably is the closest to the Red Cat I can think of. Frankly, while there are a number of very good high end places in Boston, named above, Boston doesn't stack up against the Le Bernardins or Gothams, but it does really well at the creative mid-price level and has competitive with New York ethnic food in Eastie and Brighton/Allston.

                    1. re: BBHound

                      Locke-Ober, Agree 100% - a Boston institution - enjoy!

                    2. Since what you're looking for is something along the same line as No. 9 Park, I can't think of any good option but L'Espalier, as others have recommended.

                      1. Personally I don't enjoy the service style of L'espalier . . . it's stuffy and uncomfortably formal (like Aujourd'hui).
                        My suggestion would be the Monday Club at Upstairs on the Square, The Oak Room if you like No. 9 Park.
                        If you were doing dinner I would suggest Clio, but the chef Ken Oringer also has a new steak house KO Prime open for lunch.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: pink dress

                          "Stuffy and uncomfortably formal" doesn't describe the service I've had at L'Espalier. I've been there maybe 6 times and each time I am impressed with how the servers are able to be attentive, professional, knowledgeable and also seem to have a knack of figuring out what type of server YOU want them to be. We've watched our server be oh-so-formal with the older bluebloods at the next table, but then be friendly and casual when he returned to our table. The last server there we had there was REALLY good- and not just because he cracked me up by answering my question "Have you heard what's going to happen to this space once you move?" with an absolutely deadpan "Starbucks."

                        2. You might try EVOO in Somerville (not too far from Harvard Square if you want to take a cab or bus). The emphasis is on local, seasonal food. Last I went they were offering a great deal on a 3-course prix-fixe. It's a small place with great service. It's owned by a couple, and I believe the husband of the duo is often found waiting tables. Simple food and the highest quality ingredients. When I lived in Boston, I liked to go there on special occasions, though it's not fancy; i'd say smart casual. http://www.evoorestaurant.com/

                          If you can't venture that far out for lunch (understandably) try Stephanie's on Newbury. Well-executed, updated comfort food. Cute decor inside. Very cozy. http://www.stephaniesonnewbury.com/

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: bakedalaska

                            The OP wanted to have lunch somewhere. I didn't think EVOO serves lunch...am I wrong?

                            1. re: bakedalaska

                              I don't believe that they do lunch. In any case, it's probably too far out of the way if the OP is working in Boston itself. It's a great restaurant, though.

                              1. re: bakedalaska

                                evoo does not serve lunch, and most on here, myself included, would rather starve than eat at stephanie's.

                                we still don't know where they are staying/working...

                              2. Having moved here from NYC some 12 years ago I can state with some authority that Boston is not a "lunch" town in the way Manhattan is. When Bostonites eat out, it's usually for dinner. I long for more lunch places, too, where you can get a well-crafted meal and a glass of wine from a talented chef, but that's hard to find except at dinner. Your best bets are Eastern Standard, Stephanie on Newbury and Neptune Seafood in the North End. You can do pretty well in a fancy hotel for lunch (Try Cafe Taj or that restaurant in the Four Seasons) or in a Museum. Not "lunch" places as you understand it, but the food is the most important. PS I think Petite Robert is uneven, too.