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At a Loss ... Need *novel* recs for a 12 person gathering please!

kristinayee Apr 9, 2009 07:51 AM

Hi Everyone,

I am trying to gather some people together next Thursday for a group birthday celebration.

These are the hopeful criteria:

No sit down dinner, not everyone will arrive at the same time
Good for groups
Bar/lounge area
Bar tables (possibly to be reserved)
Conducive to mingling
Good food
Good Drinks
Bar menu would be great

Some obvious places come to mind like Gaslight, Beehive, Union, Stella, Scampo, etc. but I am looking for a different place, something I may be missing. Not really interested in the Living Room's food. Here are some thoughts I had, but I either haven't been or don't know about the bar area.

Estragon - don't know anything about.
Rocca - ditto.
Banq - good bar area, think they'd reserve a group of bar tables?
Sage - pretty good bar menu, what's the bar area like?
Stella - what's the bar area like?

Any other suggestions? Many thanks!

  1. b
    BBHound Apr 9, 2009 07:54 AM

    Sounds like Coda would work well. The only problem is they do not take reservations.

    329 Columbus Ave, Boston, MA 02116

    1. Bob Dobalina Apr 9, 2009 08:05 AM

      What about Kingston Station? Good Life? Silvertone?

      1. MC Slim JB Apr 9, 2009 08:23 AM

        Thursday is a pretty good night to try this; weekends would be much tougher, as many of your candidates get too crowded to support that size group. No bar wants to reserve tables for walk-ins (that's why they're called walk-ins), so you want to aim for something that will have enough space for you as a matter of course.

        It's a bit of a crapshoot -- bad weather would help you -- but certain places I think may be tougher than others. For instance, the bar at Banq is not well laid out, cramped; it doesn't take many people to jam it up. Stella's bar seems to get the lion's share of the restaurant's weeknight business these days. I love the bar and bar menu at Sage, but that's a big group for there; you'd have to luck out and find it mostly empty.

        Rocca would be easier once the patio opens up; like Stella, the rest of the restaurant is often half-empty on weeknights, but the bar still does well. Estragon would be a good bet: I really like its food, they recently added a cordial license, which they're exploiting to serve some pretty good cocktails, and the bar has got some spacious stretches. There's also a corner loungey area in the back that might suit if you can score it.

        I'd add a couple to this list: The lounge at Persephone in Fort Point has a perfect menu for this kind of dinner, plus good cocktails (and a couple of Wii setups for entertainment). The Franklin Cafe Southie is also comparatively roomy and has great food and cocktails.

        I might try calling around, too. Maybe a place like Sage will let you reserve a cluster of bar tables even though your group will be trickling in. Everyone needs the business.


        6 Replies
        1. re: MC Slim JB
          kristinayee Apr 9, 2009 08:39 AM

          Thanks for the recs everyone! A couple of follow up points/questions:

          I, personally, along w/ hubby and a couple of friends hope to be on location by around 6:30, while others can aim to arrive around 7. So it's on the relatively "early" side for a Thursday night crowd, so hopefully that plays in our favor.

          So just to clarify, does that mean that you think Stella or Rocca are kinda out due to their business? What are the bar areas like at these two places? Just bar or bar tables as well? As for Estragon, the bar is fairly large, do they have cocktail/bar tables too? I'll check out Persephone, as for Franklin Cafe Southie, what's the bar area like there? Roomy w/ tables? Thanks so much!

          1. re: kristinayee
            MC Slim JB Apr 9, 2009 08:46 AM

            If you want people to mingle, don't seat them. Make them stand around. A party of 12, even at one table, is really at best two groups of six people (unless you're at the Algonquin Round Table), and you won't get a table for 12 anyway, more likely three four-tops.

            Stella: no bar tables, high risk.
            Rocca: bar tables, high risk.
            Estragon: no bar tables, one lounge area, plenty of standing room, a good bet.
            Persephone: a couple of big lounge groupings; I've sat 12 there.
            Franklin Southie: big bar with tables, there's no separate restaurant area.


            1. re: MC Slim JB
              noodle_alert Apr 9, 2009 09:49 AM

              I agree with Persephone, great place for that size group, and good cocktails.

              I'd also sugest the bar (ground floor) at Sel de la Terre in the Mandarin, has bar tables and plenty of standing room.

              1. re: MC Slim JB
                anais_in_waiting Apr 9, 2009 12:58 PM

                One nice thing about Stella though is that they havethe back bar, which not everyone remembers... I think the back-bar at Stella might be perfect. It would almost be like having your own space w/ 12 people...

                1. re: anais_in_waiting
                  kristinayee Apr 9, 2009 01:01 PM

                  Hmmm...where is the back bar? Good call, since I don't really even know about it. I know about the one in the front room. I assume it's in one of the rear rooms? Is it smallish? And is it just a bar or are there bar tables? How busy is this bar usually, do you think?


                  1. re: kristinayee
                    MC Slim JB Apr 10, 2009 11:23 AM

                    They expanded not too long ago, but I believe Stella's back bar, which I also like (it's generally more comfortable than the front one) is only open on weekend nights.


          2. c
            csammy Apr 9, 2009 08:47 AM

            Davio's might work for you. Also Via Matta has a nice bar area.

            1. j
              jajjguy Apr 9, 2009 11:03 AM


              1. franksnbeans Apr 9, 2009 11:12 AM

                I'll put in a kind word for Cambridge Brewing Co, opposite the Blue Room nr Kendall. They have room, do this sort of thing all the time, and their house beers are excellent. They have the right mix of bar menu and apps, and their food is good (though admittedly not great). Great beer though. And cost is reasonable.

                1. k
                  kristinayee Apr 10, 2009 11:14 AM

                  Thanks for the recommendations everyone! We decided to go with Estragon who was kind enough to reserve the whole back lounge area for us. Scampo was the second choice - they have a long communal bar type table I guess that they reserve, but it was already gone. Thanks again! Will let you know how it works out.

                  1. k
                    kristinayee Apr 17, 2009 09:17 AM

                    Hi Everyone,

                    An update on Estragon - where we went last night for the 12 person gathering. The space they reserved for us was pretty nice - it was the whole lounge area in the back which consists of a couple of couches, a bunch of comfy chairs and some coffee type tables. Really a cool place to hang out. My only gripe about the area is that it's not really conducive to 12 people being able to all talk if you are sitting down and standing isn't really an option. So I found myself having to switch seats to talk to different people.

                    The drink list is somewhat limited, but passable. The Sangria ... I think we had a bad bunch that night and the bartender agreed and apologized. My friend sent back a glass because it appeared as though they had literally just thrown the fruit in that moment. The fruit wasn't really incorporated into the Sangria like it should have been. No one seemed to complain about the other cocktails that they had.

                    As for the food, it was decent, though I have had better Tapas. The fried chick peas were really yummy, as were the clams with chorizo. The pork belly was absolutely delicious, while the patatas bravas were eh ... they were basically just french fries with some aioli. We also had the garlic chicken (a bit dry for my taste), the goat cheese on bread (good, but simple), the calamari (standard) and I think that's it.

                    Overall, a fun time with friends, but not the greatest for either food or drink.


                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kristinayee
                      MangiaMomma Apr 18, 2009 05:15 PM

                      In the future, there is a great bar at Sabur Restaurant in Somerville. http://www.saburrestaurant.com/

                      relaxed.. has outdoor seating in the summer and great cocktails. food is middle eastern.

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