Come talk to me about The Bristol Lounge
Tomorrow is my birthday and I have been reading Chowhound trying to get a restaurant for dinner. I read so much yesterday that I actually made my head swim.
Here are our specifics: Small group that includes one seriously "finicky" eater, looking for not super dressy/stuffy or outrageously expensive, would like reasonably good food, drinks and atmosphere.
If it was up to me I would have booked a table at Bina Osteria, L'Espalier or Sorrellina but due to said finicky person I also checked out Davio's, Smith & Wollensky (chain restaurant I know but thought it might be a novel idea but something about having to pay for a baked potato after shelling out $45 for steak kills me....) and then thought - what about The Bristol Lounge?
I have never been and would love to know about the food/atmosphere, pricing and whether or not you think it's a good choice? Feel free to steer me towards someplace different if you prefer.
The few times that I've found myself at the Bristol Lounge was because I was waiting for out of town friends to come down from the hotel before moving on to somewhere else. It feels like what it is, a lounge. I can't comment on the food, but thedrinks were nothing special and were pricey as well. I actually think that it's pretty stuffy because a lot of the clientele are getting back from conferences, meetings, etc. Also, a lot of people hang there before weddings.
What about Tremont 647? I know that it gets mixed reviews on the board, but the finicky eaters that I've brought there enjoyed it. It's also located in an area where you could head elswehere afterwards for more drinks.
What about the Oak Room. It has old Boston atmosphere, the food is good, the staff is attentative and it's not overly stuffy. I especially like the assortment of sauces offered when ordering a tenderloin steak. Stop in the bar after for a Moscow Mule.
Well, I may be in the minority on this, but I love the Bristol Lounge. Caveat, I've only been once. A foodie client took me to lunch for my birthday, and we enjoyed everything we had.
Honestly, I wouldn't pick Bristol Lounge or Smith and Wollensky's for a birthday dinner...the food at both of those places is completely unremarkable. Go with Sorrelina (even your picky eater will love it), or Prezza in North End, or if you want to play it safe and go with a steakhouse, go with Abe & Louis. Troquet is also a nice choice.
I like The Bristol, but not for dinner: it's more a cocktails and snacks kind of destination. For that lovely atmosphere and tony address, you pay a pretty stiff premium.
I would instead choose one of the New American places with menus designed to address a broad range of diners. Rendezvous is one of my go-to's for this purpose; aside from its menu breadth, it has good bartending, a solid wine list, nice but informal atmosphere, and cheap nearby parking,
Other venues that I think of along these lines: The Blue Room, Ecco, Pops, Ten Tables Cambridge, Union Bar & Grille, Persephone, and (a bit pricier) Harvest.
Temple Bar is a bit more casual, but has a very versatile menu, and its new chef is an old favorite, Michael Scelfo, formerly of North Street Grille and The Good Life.