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Value at the High End

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What is your best recommendation for places that take food preparation seriously *and* provide good value? E.g. No. 9, Salts, Troquet, Sorellina are very fine dining experiences, but they don’t optimize for value.

As an example: Silvertone is a favorite of mine. Not the same menu as the top of the top but expertly prepared dishes. At least as good as or better than I cold prepare at home. And excellent wine values.

What’s your favorite value restaurant that’s not a hole in the wall? (I love holes in the wall, but that’s a different discussion)

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  1. Some of these may not cross your "hole in the wall" threshold, but it's a little confusing with basement bar Silvertone (which I also quite admire) used as an example. I consider these good values in serious food for their category: Trattoria Toscana. Hamersley's Bistro, a recent bit of revisionism on my part. Lumiere. 51 Lincoln. Pops. Ten Tables. Angela's Cafe. Brookline Family. Franklin Cafe. Rincon Limeño. Jasmine Bistro. Washington Square Tavern. Green Street. Grotto.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      I would add Taberna de Haro and Carlo's Cucina to this list.

      1. re: BobB

        I completely agree with you on Carlos- their attention to detail at very reasonable prices makes them one of my favorite Italian places in Boston...despite the commute to Allston!

      2. re: MC Slim JB

        MC, I can see how I was confusing. I just mean to rule out places that are truly cheap (which I do love) as opposed to a good value. Great suggestions, thanks.

        1. re: Carty

          Interesting choices MC.

          I'm curious as to why you are including the Washington Square Tavern on your list...I don't see it discussed very much on this board. Thanks.

          1. re: CambridgeFoodie

            there actually has been a bit more chatter in the past few months about washington square tavern, esepcially when discussing other upscale pubs/restaurants. It's very good for what it is.

            1. re: CambridgeFoodie

              cambridgeMike is right: I think it gets a fair share of props here. I wasn't that impressed with the food early on, but limster raved about its burger, so I went back, and found it had reached that level of "bar with high craft food" that is one of my favorite kinds of places to dine (cf. Silvertone, Franklin, etc.) It won't make you forget O ya, but of its kind I think it's excellent. My one carp with WST is that their wine list is tilted quite high, too many bottles at $60 and up, but they have decent beers and good bartending with a full liquor license, which helps.

        2. I'd add Grotto on Beacon Hill...good value..especially at lunch.

          eta..MC beat me to it

          1. I think EVOO fits the bill, Blue Room, and Flora as well.

            I would respectfully disagree with the vote for Hamersley's - we have had few meals there that ring in under $250 for 2, and the service on our last visit was really, genuinely rude. Not a good value from either side, in my book.

            4 Replies
            1. re: lisa13

              I guess I need to read a bit closer to hear about the Washington Square Tavern.

              On another note, went out to Toro last night. We didn't drink much (only 2 drinks total)...but the 3 of us ate well for $91 (with plenty of leftovers).

              Very high quality food...extremely high noise level.

              1. re: lisa13

                I'm also interested in what changed Slim's mind about Hamersley's. Did they lower prices (right), or was it an extraordinary meal? I like Hamersley's, and haven't had better service anywhere--I haven't been to L'Espalier--but this inconsistency in service doesn't speak well of them. I'd rather have reliably rude service than hit or miss!

                1. re: pollystyrene

                  I had a really good meal, followed by another really good one, and the check didn't hurt as bad as I remembered from prior visits. It's possible that I've gotten more inured to those prices, or have grown to admire the chef's work more (or maybe he's gotten better), but it seemed like a better value; maybe I was able to find more wines that didn't strike me as overpriced.

                  I've never really had a service issue at Hamersley's, certainly never gotten really rude service. Competent, professional, but not in the same league (nor trying to be) as L'Espalier, which plays up the pomp and formality.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    I'm glad Hamersley's is treating you better these days. I think your theory about the wine might be right. I've never thought of Hamersley's as being more overpriced than most places, but I don't drink wine.

              2. I think Franklin Cafe fits best into this category for me. Tu y Yo in Somerville also hits the mark.

                Coda is similar to Silvertone, but is a bit nicer and a touch more upscale. On the expensive side, I've always found Teatro to be a good value.

                1. At the risk of stating the obvious, a number of Boston's more expensive restaurants also offer bar menus, where the food is as good as (or occasionally better than) in the dining room, but the prices are more reasonable. A few of my favorite bar menus on my side of the river: Chez Henri, Gargoyle's, Upstairs on the Square.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: finlero

                    The same holds true for lunch. Many top end places have quite reasonable lunch menus. As I noted in another thread, I had lunch last week at L'Espalier where a prix fixe menu was $30. And for another $20, there were generous wine pairings with each of the three courses. A terrific value.

                  2. You could also look at wine lists for values; at the high end, the savings from finding a good value on a great bottle of wine (e.g. 1945 Lafite) could render the prices of food insignificant.

                    See this thread for a older discussion: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/376119

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: limster

                      That's my idea of looking at the big picture when calculating value!

                      On the other hand, it begs the question: what food would you pair with a '45 Lafite? I'd be inclined to drink that all by itself, though pouring would be a nervous excercise (don't spill any!)

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        It depends on the restaurant that serves it; at the high end, it would be easier to just have the restaurant cook around the bottle, preferably as part of a leisurely tasting menu, to see how the wine changes with time and with each dish. Many wines have a multifacted personality that evolves over time, especially the greats. I don't think great wines are more liable to clash with food than lesser wines, just that it's a greater tragedy when there is an inappropriate pairing.

                        Making arrangements like that might be important if the wine had to be decanted ahead of time. Have seen a '45 Lafite on a Boston winelist years ago, but never had the fortune to drink it, so I can't say for sure, but game (squab, wild boar, venison) would be my first guess.

                    2. As mentioned above, I think Franklin Cafe and Grotto fall nicely into this category and would ad Eastern Standard, I am always impressed with the quality of the food for (reasonable for Boston) price. That and some of the best bartending in the city.

                      1. Not exactly High End, but I do enjoy Hungry Mother in Cambridge. I have only been twice but always feel like it exceeds expectations, and the bill never stuns me. Also I also have to say that the last time I went to Toro I was shocked by the bill, but only by how small it was. I think that you can eat very well there and not feel sticker shock. Also second Taberna de Haro, fantastic visit there about three weeks ago, it is really nice to see the chef/owner doing it all (bussing tables, seating people, recommending wine, cooking) and very large portions for tapas. My personal favorite lunch though is 6 oysters and two apps from Neptune, with a glass of wine or maybe two draft beers. That usually runs in the $50-$60 range, but I always walk out of there with a smile on my face and full.

                          1. Much is in the wallet of the beholder, i suppose, but i consider Rendez-vous and Central Kitchen to be in this category. Both have excellent food at reasonable prices. RV has a very nice well-chosen inexpensive wine list, things you won't see elsewhere, from Languedoc and other less-well-mined winemaking regions. CK often has unreal values on high end wines, we're talking old Bordeaux and Burg sometimes for less than they'd retail, though of course this varies all the time. There, now you know my secrets.

                            1. And of course Deep Ellum. Really, since we've been talking about wine, it must be said that really good beer is a fantastic value compared to wine, and Deep Ellum is the place to get it. Great food value too.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: jajjguy

                                agree with many of the above and would add La Morra and 10 Tables prix fixe night, Craigie Street late sunday night dinner, and the Blue Room. Along with Trattoria Toscano and Carlos, would add Osteria Rustico. I would include Rod Dee but you can't really eat there in comfort and we pretty much stick to take out on it.

                              2. I love Rocca, where the food is extremely good and sensibly priced. There is also parking if you are planning to drive. Both Pops and the Franklin Cafe offer a great value and delicious dishes. I live in Brookline and go to the Washington Square Tavern frequntly and had a wondeful grilled Caesar on Tuesday. It is crowed and sometimes you have to share a table. Rendezvous and Eastern Standard are both places where your money is well spent, but I think my favorite place without going overboard is still Upstairs at the Square.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: ghostcat

                                  I really like the food at Rocca, but I had yet another meal recently where my hot dishes all arrived lukewarm. I figured sitting in the bar might help this issue (only one floor up from the basement kitchen, instead of the dining room's two), but it was not to be. Maybe the problem is lack of a strong expediter in the kitchen.

                                  From the beginning, Rocca's service in general has failed to impress me: they seem to hire a lot of a fairly green servers. Example: our server seemed to think it was a good idea to hold back our "tastes" (tapas-sized) courses -- a dish of olives, for one -- for 15 minutes after our order and serve them with our appetizer course, instead of bringing them right out. Okay, apps are here, don't really want those olives now.

                                  Maybe that's a kitchen problem, but a more experienced server would have done something about this, and not disappeared between taking the order and serving two courses at once. It wasn't a jam-packed night there, either. That kind of iced Rocca for us: too many not-hot meals with inept service in a row.

                                2. Some of my top restaurants, for a good value, are EVOO, Hungry Mother, and Ten Tables.