Birthday Dinner Performance Anxiety
My lovely wife’s birthday is week after next. We moved downtown this past summer; I am feeling tremendous pressure to pick exactly the right spot. I’d very much appreciate any help. My (admittedly neurotic) criteria:
1. She does not eat meat, eats and enjoys fish.
2. I eat meat :).
3. Money is no object except that at the high end we become self-conscious about what we are spending for the experience. I know Barbara Lynch is a genius. We had one of the best meals we have ever had walking in to No. 9, sitting at the bar and having the tasting menu. But can we have a similar experience elsewhere? An up and coming Barbara perhaps? Someplace which we are not competing for a seat with Boston Magazine reading Lexus driving silver haired suburban retirees with too much money?
4. See, I told you I was neurotic.
5. We have made little progress to date mining the South End, seems like we need to get to know it. But anywhere is OK.
6. I like to eat. At heart I’d consider myself a true ‘hound, love holes-in-the wall with great food. If we end up someplace with preciously plated tiny servings of whatever with whatever foam and heirloom whatever that will be a missed opportunity.
7. My lovely wife keeps hearing good things about Eastern Standard Kitchen. Sounds like a place I’d rather reserve for when we are in a larger group, no?
8. I thought maybe high-end sushi but the LW reports that she is ‘tired of having raw fish slapped in front of her’.
9. In that we now live downtown I’d like to find places in which we might be able to develop a relationship with the staff.
10. Places we like (independent of the criteria above): No. 9, Silvertone, Angela’s Café, Prezza
11. Oh wait, should we just go to Prezza? We love it.
12. Talk to me.
[long post, feel free to disregard. Yes I am being obsessive. It is a victimless crime]
Nice afternoon yesterday, at around 4:00 we did some restaurant visiting to check things out. Interesting time as they are typically not yet open but the staff is there. Restaurant selection heavily weighted toward where we happened to walk.
Very nice staff. Menu well balanced with several appealing fish dishes for the non-meat eating Lovely Wife (LW). Chow consensus is that it is loud, one can see why that ‘d be true, not sure how big an issue that is for us.
Carty Restaurant Price Score (CRPS) = 34
[an aside on the CRPS: it is calculated as average 1st course price + average 2nd course price + price of 1st course item I’d select + price of 2nd course item I’d select / 2. I have vainly named it after myself in the hopes that it catches on.
I am not suggesting that we select based on CRPS alone, of course, but I find the data interesting]
Interesting at Teatro for future reference is ‘early’ tasting menu $29.00 Available 5:00 pm to 6:45 pm Tuesday – Saturday and 4:00 pm to 6:45 pm Sunday
Staff warmed up a little after an initial ‘why are you here when we are closed’ thing. Entirely their prerogative but is sure is nice when people are reflexively friendly rather than the alternative.
Good LW compliant menu.
CRPS = 51!
(Current No. 9 CPRS is 53, wouldn’t we just go there instead? I was surprised at how pricey Troquet is)
Very, very friendly e.g. insisted on going into the kitchen to ask the chef what the evening’s specials were. Very nice space.
Menu small but interesting, a little constrained for seafood entrees. Although Pesce Misto app (smoked salmon, white anchovies, baby octopus w/ shaved fennel) makes we want to love Chef Peppino before I have even tried it.
CRPS = 43
Perhaps not right for LW birthday dinner but definitely a place we’d like to check out. Interesting: $4 apps at the bar.
Least friendly. I like the menu though, no bulls**t. Online menu has no prices, I am pleased to report that my obsession stops at walking back there to jot down prices. Looked like it would have a CRPS in the middle of the above.
I’ll search the board to learn more about them.
Current Prezza CRPS = 51
I am vacillating between Prezza and No. 9, psyched to visit Teatro and DaVinci another time.
Need to do Cambridge and South End tours soon as well.
Have you tried Troquet? It's a few notches cheaper than No. 9, but outstanding all around, with a strong focus on its wine program.
Ten Tables in JP is both excellent, and an excellent value for an upscale bistro.
All due respect to your 9th point, for a couple with a non-meat-eater, I think Cambridge has a lot to offer for occasion restaurants. My quick picks:
Salts - intimate bistro, warm staff, absolutely inspired cuisine, in a low-key, but refined atmosphere.
Craigie Street Bistrot - one of the most aggressively chef-driven restaurants in town, I've loved the vegetarian tasting menu here despite being an omnivore. Depending on your personal tastes, the subterranean digs are either cool and bohemian or dark and dank.
Thanks finlero. I'll check out Troquet and 10 Tables. Cambridge is definitely cool, we are happy to hop on the T and your point about veggie options is well taken.
We have friends that rave about Craigie St. but they are always talking about various marrow-related things so I had written them off as too meaty, will reset.
Salts, I am embarrassed to say, I thought was some Todd English thing. Maybe the single syllable. I now see that I am mistaken, will take that seriously as well.
Salts is amazing, really super. I'd second that.
If you were me, though, we'd be going to Oleana. Again, that's just me. I find the quality of food, the originality and boldness of flavor, and the value for dollar to be second to none. They also have a kickin wine list with lots of organic/biodynamic options.