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Boston Seafood Show-Chef driven fine dining

Chef/owner/purchaser from fine dining restaurant group in Washington DC coming up to Boston this weekend for the seafood show...looking for an excellent, Chef-driven, restaurant experience...price is NOT an issue...Seafood would be great, but not absolutely necessary...just want to go somewhere that we can learn something (service, creativity, quality/unique ingredients) from a great chef/concept. Thanks!

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  1. You'll learn a lot as you browse this board, but the ones that I personally can recommend are Craigie Street Bistro, Gargoyles on the Square, Salts and Pigalle. Of them all, think Craigie Street Bistro offers the most unique experience, with a very market-driven menu.

    Others that I haven't made it to but which generally get mentioned in that type of category are TW Food, Ten Tables and Oleana. Enjoy Boston!

    Gargoyles On the Square
    219 Elm Street, Somerville, MA 02144

    Salts Restaurant
    798 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

    T.W. Food
    377A Walden St, Cambridge, MA 02138

    Ten Tables
    597 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

    Craigie Street Bistrot -- CLOSED, now Craigie On Main
    5 Craigie Cir, Cambridge, MA

    4 Replies
    1. re: Chris VR

      This is a great list Chris. To the OP -- these others are fine, especially CSB but I think Salts is exactly what you are looking for. It would be great if you would post back your experience wherever you end up.

      1. re: Chris VR

        Great list! BUT Chef-driven? Does the chef have to be in the kitchen every night to be considered "Chef-driven"? I think they all meet this criteria with the exception of Pigalle, how can Marc Orfaly be at both Marco and Pigalle? Don't get me wrong I am a big fan of Pigalle but I don't consider Pigalle to be "Chef-driven".

        Second Steiner3322 is looking for "Fine dining".I think only three meet this criteria, Salts (I have not yet tried Salts but plan to soon), Cragie Street and TW Food. Pigalle does as well but see above.

        I would also add O Ya to your list.

        1. re: csammy

          Oh, I totally have to disagree with that. Marc Orfaly's Pigalle is completely chef-driven.

          1. re: fullbelly

            "completely chef-driven" Maybe my definition is different then yours but last time I checked you can't be cooking at two places at the same time.
            As I have said before, I enjoy Pigalle but believe that you will always get a better meal when the Chef is in the house.

      2. I'm no expert, but Chiara in Westwood is chef-driven, and serves great food at a fair price. They take soup seriously, and if I lived closer I would go more often for that alone.

        1. For a chef driven restaurant in the greater Boston area, I'm going to suggest Jasper White's Summer Shack in the Cambridge location and risk getting bombarded. It certainly will give you another aspect of seafood cookery.


          1 Reply
          1. re: Gio

            Call to find out which location Jasper will be at, then go there. He's a seafood master!

            My first thought when I saw the thread title was Dan Bruce at Meritage in the Boston Harbor Hotel. His cooking is outrageous! and he'll be in the house.

          2. If your schedule allows and price is truly not an option I would suggest omakase at either Uni or O Ya.

            O Ya
            9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

            1 Reply
            1. re: heathermb

              Adding link for Uni...

              370-A Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

            2. If you don;t mind a 30 minute cab ride or train from South Station, you can visit Blue Ginger, Ming Tsai's restaurant in Wellesley. He is often there. You need to call way ahead for a reservation but it is easy to get in at lunch time and the lunch menu is also excellent.

              2 Replies
              1. re: emilief

                That's gonna be an expensive cab ride :(

                1. re: Prav

                  bout $40. or a 15 minute walk from the train.

              2. I second Craigie Street Bistrot for chef-driven "fine" dining. Fine in quotation marks as CSB is a relaxed, subterranean, old Cantabrigian establishment where tweed meets denim.

                Uni and O Ya are both excellent Japanese/raw fish restaurants with Uni being in Kenny Oringer's Clio, another mostly chef-driven restaurant in Boston.

                Neptune Oyster (seafood) in the North End is another interesting example, though I'm not sure the new chef quite has his feet under him yet. Prezza is the North End is a perennial favorite of mine as well. Both of these are in the mid level of dining.

                6 Replies
                1. re: gini

                  So, piggyback on this post I am also attending the IBSS and looking for some good options; however, I should say that I am on a little tighter budget. More upscale will probably work against me, as we will no doubt have a high bill, the place needs to seem less high end or else it will draw attention to me choosing the expensive place (if that makes sense.) Basically I just don't want to be stuck at Legal again. Went to the Daily Catch last time and it was delicious, am open to anything, although seafood probably needs to be in there...also are there any other sashimi places worth going to besides Uni and O Ya (I think that fits too much into the high end category.) Thanks.

                  1. re: Day Man Fighter of Night Man

                    (OK, first- your nametag cracks me up. Are you also a master of karate? ;-) )

                    If price is a motivator then Gargoyles would be a good choice- it's not top of the dollar spectrum. If you're here on a Wednesday or Sunday night, Craigie Street has a $40 prix fixe after 9pm.

                    Please report back if you have time, and let us know where you ended up and what you thought of it!

                    1. re: Chris VR

                      I will report back...the name is a reference from the show always sunny in philadelphia which I highly recommend to anyone that enjoys the office or 30 rock

                      1. re: Day Man Fighter of Night Man

                        (Yep, very familiar with the show, that's why I laughed so much :-) )

                        Enjoy your visit and wear your galoshes, snow coming this weekend. Too bad, because the MOST chef-driven experience in Boston is Speed's Hotdog Wagon (I am dead serious) but he won't be out in this weather.

                        1. re: Chris VR

                          Very upset to hear about this hotdog wagon, as being from Chicago I like to think that I am used to a certain degree of quality in my dog...I will also say that coming from Chicago the fact that it snowed doesn't surprise me the least as the weather gods hate me.

                          1. re: Day Man Fighter of Night Man

                            You will just have to come back. Speeds dogs are worth it.

                            Don't take the snow personally. We don't.

                2. East Coast Grill in Cambridge has a nice menu for fresh seafood, raw bar, BBQ, and board specials. I've had a few off times with the service and first wine choice not being home, but never the food.

                  East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                  1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Infomaniac

                    craigie street
                    oceanaire just opened, but its a chain

                  2. I think I understand what you're looking for, and I'd go with Clio, No 9 Park or O Ya, maybe Radius or l'Espalier, possibly Aujoird'hui, and that's really about it. That doesn't necessarily make them Boston's best, but those are the ones that get into Art Culinaire. (Bullfrog and Baume Public Relations out of Manhattan doesn't hurt either.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: almansa

                      my bad - just saw the lower budget. In that case maybe Sel de la Terre, Eastern Standard, Toro or La Voile.

                    2. Go to Oleana in Cambridge. Ana Sortun's Turkish influenced cuisine is both unusual and spectacular and the setting is warm and mellow after a day of food show chaos.