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Special occasion dinner with children suggestions?

I have been really struggling with this one, much to my surprise. We are looking for a restaurant to host a special occasion dinner for 6 adults and 2 children (7 year old twins) on the night before a wedding. This is not a rehearsal dinner per se, but rather a special get together with family who will be arriving in town. As a point of reference, the wedding will be at Mistral the following evening. I personally will likely have a steak at Mistral, so all steakhouses are out.

The priority is good food and some atmosphere, but I do need somewhere that can accommodate the children as well. Most of the guests are staying at the Jury’s hotel. It is fine to travel within the city, however I want to keep it in taxi range. The children are well behaved enough to go to a nice restaurant, however they are pretty typical eaters for 7 year olds and not too adventurous.

Below is a summary of some of the ideas which we were batting around as background for the decision.
- Seafood: I was initially considering the Oceanaire, however they do not have a kid’s menu that I can recall and I can’t think of too much the children would eat off that menu. I considered Summer Shack (Alewife) as well, but I think that is a bit of a trek for everyone. The adults all like oysters, so that would be a bonus wherever we go.
- Italian: Vinny's at Night was again maybe a bit far and I would like somewhere with a full liquor license. Considering Mamma Maria’s and Prezza as well.
- I considered Houston’s as well, which I actually like quite a bit. However it just doesn’t seem right to go to a pseudo chain on a special evening.

I am interested in hearing where all of you would go. Thanks in advance, I need some inspiration. I hope I am missing something obvious.

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  1. I dont seem to see many childrens menus these days ( anywhere) but what comes to mind for me is Marliave ..a large enough room and sure that their pasta dishes could be adapted for the kids...Also just noted on line that Sel de le Terre has a childrens menu ....

    1. You might want to scout out Rocca in the South End. They have a small private dining room and could do basic pasta or pizza for the kids. We have hosted small dinner parties there with great success.

      1. I think Sel de la Terre would be perfect. Also almost anything in the North End would probably work.

        1. Eastern Standard has a great burger and grilled cheese for the kids, along with oysters for the adults.

          1 Reply
          1. re: pollystyrene

            We love taking our kids to Eastern Standard. They love the food and the atmosphere feels festive.

          2. I asked a similar question on this board a few years ago and thus chose The Bristol Lounge at the Four Seasons. It was great--very comfortable and cozy while still on the fancy side, great food (though pricey), and they had a kids' menu. I would highly recommend if price isn't too much of a concern.

            2 Replies
            1. re: mabelm4050

              Thinking back, I may have been one to recommend the Bristol. That is definitely one which slipped on my mind, and we will definitely consider as an option.

              Thanks for the other suggestions, every bit of input helps. I agree that SDLT is good for kids, particularly in terms of the menu. However I am in a minority that thinks the while the food is good, the service is surprisingly overbearing (particularly at the new location). Our last meal there was marred by the server aggressively upselling wine at every opportunity and then clearing plates while some i our party were still working on their entrees. It left such a bad taste, that unfortunately we won't be back soon.

              Keep the suggestions coming.

              1. re: Gabatta

                I do not think you can you can ever go wrong w/ the Bristol.

            2. If you are considering Summer Shack you don't have to go to Alewife. There is one right on Dalton St.

              1. We are still deciding, but may go with Oceanaire. After not getting much help from the hostess via telephone, I e-mailed their general info address, which I believe is for all locations. I received a response from the Boston executive chef within 24 hours listing options for children and offering to accommodate the two in our party however I would like. I was pleased with the responsiveness and service. It also sounds like some in our party are really leaning toward seafood (they are from out of town and have the preconception that you have to eat seafood in Boston). I still think Oceanaire if one of the best seafood spots in town. I just wish they would dial back the Flintstones size portions a bit.

                Thanks for all of the other suggestions; I am still open to any other thoughts as our decision is not final.

                In response to some of the posts:
                - I totally agree about the Bristol. I searched back and I was the one who had suggested it for kids in a past thread. I think we are leaning toward them for brunch on Sunday.
                - Not to start another pointless Summer Shack debate on this board, but the Alewife and Back Bay locations are two completely different beasts. Alewife is clearly superior in every way except convenience of location for our purposes. I have only been to the Back Bay location once and I remember that it wasn't even full table service at that time.