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Visiting Boston -- 5-year Anniversary Dinner

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My husband and I will be in Boston (from Austin) for our fifth-year anniversary, which is this Friday. I've read around the boards, but think I still need some help. Though we love food, our palettes certainly are not as refined as many on the chow boards. We love wine, too, but are not the types to go looking for specific bottles on a wine list. Rather, we appreciate knowledgeable staff who point us to great wine picks. So, I have a feeling that many of the restaurants on our potential list would fit our food/wine criteria very well. What I am less sure about ambiance, and I think that will be the deciding factor, assuming that food quality is relatively even across our potential list. We are looking for some place not too stuffy (we're in our early 30s) but definitely something that feels special occasion. We probably do not want a "hip" place. We'd prefer a quiet, romantic, fantastic service kind of place. We'd also prefer New American or French-leaning as opposed to Italian, but that's just a slight inclination. We'd be open to changing that. We're looking to spend around $200, give or take, but would spend more if it meant really having one of those meals you remember forever.

So, I'm posting our list of potential places for your feedback. We're also aware that it may be a challenge to get reservations.

10 Tables
No 9 Park
Oleana
Craigie Street
Toro
Chez Henri
Hammersley's Bistro
Hungry Mother
Vee Vee

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No 9 Park
9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108

Toro
1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

Chez Henri
1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

Hungry Mother
Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

Vee Vee
763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

Oleana
134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. You might want to consider Troquet - it fits your criteria nicely. Happy anniversary!

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    Troquet
    140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

    1. I think I'd choose Salts in Cambridge over those on your list. From the list my top choice would be Craigie.

      1. Thanks for the responses so far. I had read a little about Troquet but not enough to put it on the list. Could you tell me more about it?

        Similarly, I ran across a couple of mentions of Salts on the boards, but nothing more than a quick mention in a sentence. It's also hard to search for because I keep getting returns for all instances of "salt." Is there a thread on the restaurant so that I could learn more about it? Thanks for your help!

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        Troquet
        140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

        1. I second Troqutet. Perfect for what you are looking for.

          2 Replies
          1. re: emilief

            That's funny - as soon as I read the original post I was thinking Troquet, then started reading the responses and find I'm not the only one with that reaction. To fill in some details, hermance - it's a quiet, elegant space with outstanding food, and excellent, friendly, not at all stuffy service. Perfect for a special occasion, regardless of age - we recently took our son and his girlfriend there to celebrate his 22nd birthday (at his request).

            Food is creative American - I especially remember a dish that included house-made lamb bacon that was an absolute revelation! A long list of wines are available by the glass, and they're great at suggesting wine/food pairings. It's not cheap but not insanely expensive - as I recall our party of four with drinks & tip came to just under $400.

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            Troquet
            140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

            1. re: BobB

              My first reaction was also "Troquet". I think it fits the OP's requirements to a T - and much better than any of the other places. It has excellent food and phenomenally-extensive wine list, French/seasonal New American, very knowledgeable, helpful staff to guide re: both food and wine, and is at the right price point. The ambiance is definitely neither stuffy, nor hip, but instead intimate and tucked away, since it's a small room on the second floor, and the views of the Common have a nice "Boston" feel, especially for visitors from out of town.

              My take on the list:
              10 Tables - good luck getting a reservation, but otherwise it meets the criteria.
              No 9 Park - I really don't like this place so I'd never send someone there. (I find it pretentious and stuffy and the food overrated, but obviously many 'hounds strongly disagree).
              Oleana - not the kind of cuisine specified by the OP.
              Craigie on Main - not particularly romantic but otherwise meets the requirements. The servers guide very well, if asked.
              Toro - hip and very loud. Spanish food.
              Chez Henri - Haven't been there in a while. Sort of has a dark ambiance in the dining room but I don't think of it as especially romantic.
              Hammersley's Bistro - tends to be a bit of an older crowd (40 and even 50 plus). Again not particularly romantic.
              Hungry Mother - not at all romantic, vaguely hip(ster), too casual for an anniversary. More New Southern than New American per se.
              Vee Vee - haven't been there but isn't it more of a neighborhood place than a destination spot?
              Price-wise I think you'd be fine at pretty much any of them, except 9 Park.

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              No 9 Park
              9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108

              Toro
              1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

              Chez Henri
              1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

              Hungry Mother
              Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, MA

              Vee Vee
              763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

              Oleana
              134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

              Craigie on Main
              853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          2. IMO, Salts would fit your requirements very nicely.
            Here's their link. . . . http://www.saltsrestaurant.com/site/o...
            Happy Anniversary

            2 Replies
            1. re: powerfulpierre

              Thanks for the link. Are there reviews on Chowhound? I haven't been able to find any.

              1. re: hermance

                There are reviews but in the interest of time, my recollection is that it is a very romantic and quiet restaurant and their specialty is roast duck for two which most posters have raved about.

            2. For what you are looking for, I think that you should drop Hungry Mother and Vee Vee, and add EVOO and Avila (both of which are really wonderful places to eat). Enjoy your trip!

              1. I don't think the ambience is what you're looking for at any restaurants on your list except No. 9 Park. The food can be uneven and the portions small, but you can't beat the easy elegance or top-notch service. It's probably more than you want to spend, though. I haven't eaten there, but have been inside Salts, and it does sound like what you seek.

                1. We have been to every place on your list except Vee Vee and agree that Salts is what you are looking for. Special food ,service and atmosphere..Quiet but not stuffy I think quite romantic and we have never had a bad dish...happy anniversary

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                  Vee Vee
                  763 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                  1. Will be the umpteenth to say "Troquet"! We had a great tasting menu there for our sixth anniversary.