Affordable anniversary dinner unique to Boston?
Hi all - my husband and I will be celebrating our 2nd anniversary next week - and our first one in the same city! As new transplants to this area (and to New York, but that's another story), we'd like to check out someplace fellow chowhounds feel is unique to boston.
Some general guidelines - we're looking to spend no more than $100-$120 total for 2 or 3 courses (including two glasses of wine, tax, and tip), love many different types of food, and have no dietary restrictions. New American, seafood, and Northern Italian are some our favorites, but we're open to anything. We live in Somerville but are willing to travel by car or T, and would love to check out places in downtown Boston or the North End - romantic atmosphere is a plus!
So far we've enjoyed Dali, the bar menu at Chez Henri, Casablanca, and lots of lower-price stuff (O'Sullivans, Hi-Rise, etc), but would like to try something new. Based on the boards I've read, I'm leaning towards someplace in the North End (perhaps some careful ordering at Prezza or Carmen's followed by pastries/coffee at Modern), or Legal Seafood; I was considering Hungry Mother, but they're closed next week. Thanks in advance for the advice!
Thanks to everyone for these great recommendations! We're looking forward to trying each of them out eventually, but settled on Grotto for this dinner and had a wonderful experience. It was a fairly quiet Tuesday evening in the restaurant and we had our pick of the tables; the atmosphere was dim and romantic and the staff was very friendly.
We started with some great bread (along with a small dish of high quality olive oil and olives), and then each had the three course prix fixe - a great deal at $36! I had a lovely garlic soup (which my husband described as the best soup he had ever eaten) - very creamy and rich. He had the sweet potato ravioli, which were tasty but a bit sweet for me - the topping included aged balsamic and amaretto, so it was almost like a dessert. For the entrees he had the gnocchi with short ribs (justifiably highly recommended on these boards) and I had the "Cinderella scallops" - three very fresh diver scallops served with a huge portion of pumpkin risotto (some of which was presented in a hollowed out baked mini-pumpkin) alongside tart pomegranate sauce and seeds.
We took half of both the entrees home with us to leave room for dessert - very rich butterscotch pannacotta with rumsoaked golden raisins and fresh whipped cream for me, warm banana-bread pudding topping with a big scoop of caramel ice cream and candied walnuts for him.
We were stuffed, and as recommended by TheTrout took a romantic walk around Beacon Hill afterward - beautiful and not too chilly! With two glasses of wine, a couple sodas (for my teetotaler hubby), two coffees, tax, and 18% tip it all came to about $106 - VERY reasonable for the quality, portions, and atmosphere! Thanks again for the recommendation - we're looking forward to going back and to exploring further!
Carmen in the North End is quite good, though you might pass your budget limit if not carefull. Also, they do not have valet parking so be prepared to park in a lot on the waterfront and walk. Petit Robert in the South End might fit the bill for you. Scout out their web site. Periot Bistro, also french, on Cambridge Street also also might be another option.
Ten Tables fits this bill in terms of cost and atmosphere, though its French-influenced New American isn't unique to Boston.
For Portuguese, I might recommend Casa Portugal, which probably has the most formal atmosphere of the East Cambridge Portuguese restaurants yet still hits your budget. It's more of a mainland-Portuguese menu, and it's one of my favorites, even though its owner isn't the smilingest server in the neighborhood.
I think a touch of the exotic is called for here. I'd sen you to Charles Street in Beacon Hill-- old Boston, what could be more Boston. Next I'd have you take a turn onto a side street- Mt Vernon to be exact and then I'd transport you to Persia.
I'm suggesting Lala Rokh - a long time, dependable, affordable favorite little spot in your new town. It has romance, good food and good wine.
Thanks for telling us about the vacation closing at Hungry Mother. I credited you when I added that to our vacation closing list.
Welcome to Boston! There are good ideas here- your own among them. Let us know what you decide.
Another vote for Lala Rokh. Interesting & tasty food, wonderful service*, lovely location & the final tab won't break the bank. After dinner ( as long as you're dressed warmly ) a walk around Beacon Hill is about as uniquely Boston as it gets. Pretty romantic too!
* the waitstaff is some of the best in Boston, regardless of how much $ you spend. They know the menu, take time to explain it to you & suggest combinations that highlight the many flavors of Persian cuisine.
I think you're going to have a really hard time staying within your budget and getting a romantic atmosphere as well as drinks and several courses and tip. What about the Elephant Walk? You could either hit the one in North Cambridge or Audubon Circle, if you're interested in checking out a new area. I've heard they've re-done their menu to appeal to the budget conscious.
Oh, and I should mention that while I know Portuguese food is something fairly unique to Boston, we just moved from the Ironbound neighborhood in Newark, NJ, where we stuffed ourselves on Portuguese and Spanish food for two years - so non-Portuguese suggestions are especially appreciated!