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Torn! Where to plan spcl Nshore dinner

Planning a special dinner for big birthday - party will include seniors so I need to start no later than 6 PM -- normally, I'd plan this in Boston but several don't want to drive or be driven there(!) Looking for a more upscale place, but not too pretentious - want quieter atmosphere & very good service! I've been to Summer/Winter and Cafe Escadrille - would pick S/W over CE in terms of atmosphere but willing to try something else - won't go near Gavin's I've heard too many horror stories... some suggested BC Wild Horse or Soma also reading about small places in Gloucester/downtown Peabody?- guest of honor loves steak, seafood or Mexican is the "dark horse" here - no Italian just bcause there are prior plans that wk.help, help, help! Looking for "wow" factor -

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  1. How about Capital Grill, Burlington, depending on your party some places in Gloucester may also work.

    1. Catch in Winchester is very good. I don't know how big your party is. Also Absolutely Fabulous in Melrose will let you rent the whole space if you party is large enough. Her food is incredible and it is BYOB.

      Went to a GREAT mexican restaurant last night in Beverly - something Lindo. It is at 150 Cabot Street. Food and service were both excellent. If you google mexican restaurant in Beverly MA it will come up. Drove by Soma on the way home and it was packed. Don't know if that is the atmosphere you are looking for......

      1. Pellana is a Very Good SteakHouse in Peabody.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ScubaSteve

          Thanks for the recommendations - we will have no more than 10, maybe even a few less, so I doubt I'll qualify for private dining. Due to the uneven reviews, I was concerned about Capitol Grille...I know it will be expensive which I can live with if service/atmosphere are delivered. ..I saw some negative reviews, so I'm nervous. Ditto for service at Summer/Winter although the menu has a decent variety and I like the space. (Might be a different feel if it's packed! Lunches have been pleasant.) I will consider Pellana, also intrigued by 9 Elm in Danvers and Franklin Cafe Gloucester. Oh, decent selection of beers on tap would be the icing on the cake....microbrews/imports would be awesome, but food quality and service will trump it all. Which would you select?

          1. re: adiosoven

            no draught beers at Pellana and the prices there are on par with the
            Capital Grille.

            i'll also throw some love to The Wild Horse in Beverly, they have a
            pretty solid menu confidently executed and they have a great selection
            of draught beers.

            i've also very recently heard some encouraging things about the Bar
            tending at Tryst in Beverly but a cannot attest to the quality of the
            Chow.

            Soma was decent when i went a couple of years back and did the app
            menu as courses, but i have no recent experience.

            i've never been to the other places you mention.

            1. re: ScubaSteve

              Scuba Steve - After visiting several places, I'm going with one of your suggestions listed above - I will report back after the event; Thanks for all the advice! Keep on chowing!

        2. If you go as a larger group ( >6) to Franklin they will likely seat you upstairs which I find to be really cramped and no room between the back of your seat and the guy behind you. serving is tough up there as well....

          1 Reply
          1. re: capeanne

            You'd NEVER catch me saying this three months ago, but I'd recommend Alchemy Bistro in Gloucester. The former chef of Excelsior took over their kitchen a few months back and its shows in a big way.

          2. My favorite fine dining on the North Shore is Sixty2onWharf in Salem. It's in Pickering Wharf, but not right on the water. I was there less than two months ago, and the food is fantastic. Ditto the service. I've also been to Wild Horse within the last few months. The food is fine, but not great. I have not been to Soma recently. I hear very good things about Duckworth Bistro in East Gloucester, and the menu looks great, but I haven't been yet. People are definitely raving about 9 Elm in Danvers, which another poster mentioned, but I believe it's quite small and might not be the best place for a large group.

            Another option is Cygnet in Beverly Farms. We were there two weeks ago and had a great time. Terrific cocktails and meals, including a filet mignon in a cabernet reduction sauce to die for. However, the menu changes frequently, so no guarantee of that exact entree. The atmosphere is really charming. A full review is on our site, as is a review of Sixty2

            http://www.northshoredish.com

            3 Replies
            1. re: Northshoregirl

              well, I've got lots of opinions from possible guests for this get together - all have "pooh-poohed" the idea of steakhouse in the suburbs i.e. Capitol Grille Burlington, Pellana, etc. yet they don't want to go into Boston; No one appears to love Summer/Winter either, so after much, obsessive, thought and research I've narrowed it down to 9 Elm St. Danvers, BCWild Horse or a new idea - Keon's Bistro, Haverhill; (although I realize it's not quiet Northshore) the wild card would be Alchemy Bistro, Gloucester after a fellow CH recommended - although this appears a bit more casual than I'd like for the occasion but might work well for more apps/bar then lighter fare in the dining room. Which would you pick? I need to call and make a res. soon as I want to give restaurant, etc. a good two wks. notice. Guest of honor will be looking for a decent steak or seafood dish - like a little variety for the rest of the group. FYI, now it looks like we will have a group of 7 - beer and mixed drinks favored over wine with this group so great wine selection not required.

              1. re: adiosoven

                If you are thinking Haverhill what about Evenfall. I have heard amazing things though haven't had an opportuntity to try it personally.

                www.evenfallrestaurant.com

                1. re: adiosoven

                  Keon's is good. but if your party is larger than 6-8 you may not like where you'd have to be seated.

                  as for EvenFall check out MC's entry on his blog:
                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              2. How about L'Andana in Burlington. I have never eaten here but their other restaurants (Teatro, Sorrelina, Moo, Mistral) all offer great food and nice atmosphere. I believe L'Andana even has a $35 pp prix fixe menu on certain days.

                6 Replies
                1. re: thegirlwholovestoeat

                  ah, thanks but we had to take Italian off the list as guest of honor will be at an Italian place the night before for a big meeting, so...trying to anticipate all concerns to host a good dining experience!

                  1. re: adiosoven

                    Had a disappointing experience at Evenfall last summer...(wrote about it on another link.) I won't try it for this special dinner - big service issues last time, staff overwhelmed.
                    Thanks for the tip on Keon's - I'm obsessed, so I'm going on a road trip to see these locations before I make my final decision. Wild Horse or Alchemy may be front runners if there are some good drafts - I'm going to peek at each place, then speak to staff. I will report back! If anyone has more info. on these places, please let me know.

                    1. re: adiosoven

                      Forget about Alchemy...it's overrated. I would go with the Wild Horse. If you can, ask them what nights Brenden(chef, owner) works. The food is much better when he is cooking on line.

                      1. re: GOD

                        Thank you, GOD; I will take your advice on the restaurants. I'm still trying to get the 411 on new chef at Alchemy Bistro - I've found conflicting info. I'm heading over to BC's Wild Horse soon to investigate...

                        1. re: adiosoven

                          (the follow-up post...) Had a wonderful time at BC's Wild Horse Cafe - made reservation and had my choice of tables; food and drinks were very good; service was solid overall, too. Thank you, fellow CH's and ScubaSteve for all of the help.

                          1. re: adiosoven

                            de nada.
                            :)