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Abe & Louie's vs. The Oak Room - which to choose for graduation dinner?

Posted a couple of weeks ago looking for a lobster dinner for 6-7 people the weekend of May 23. Well, in discussions with the family, we have 1 "it has to be steak", 1 "it's got to be fish, I am kosher/vegetarian" and 2 who are truly looking for lobster. The other 2 are OK with anything.

Got several recommendations, narrowed it down to Abe & Louie's and The Oak Room. Have read reviews of both on Chowhound and Yelp, they both sound lovely. They both seem pretty $$$, no prices online for The Oak Room but imagine they are relatively in the same league.

Am leaning toward The Oak Room out of nostalgia, as I stayed at the Copley Plaza Hotel 30 years ago just out of college for a week and ate quite a few meals there. We will be driving in from Waltham and imagine both have some kind of valet parking. Grandma's (who are the hosts) are picking up tab and insist on white tablecloth, formal place. Which would you choose and why?

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  1. White table cloth and formal = The Oak Room. Much quieter and more old world charm - if that is what the Hostesses are looking for. Should be a lovely venue.

    1. You already know the answer. The hosts are hoping for a white table cloth experience a bit of nostalgia, perhaps recalling the good old romantic days gone by with men in their life and people dressed for the occasion.

      You have also suggested a bit of nostalgia for that grande dame of a hotel so a torch must have already been passed if you recall quite a few meals there.

      Two generations passing the torch of their history, a coming of age that recognizes the past.

      There really is only one choice and it is not about the meal, the lobster, the steak the tofu. It is about the event and being together - generations celebrating life.

      4 Replies
        1. re: gyppielou

          I thought about this a bit more. I don't particularly like the comment about old people wanting an old peoples place. They are not the old people, they are the grandmothers who are hoping for a certain classic experience.

          Two of my classic parental experiences have been luncheons at the Wayside Inn, dinner at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge and dinner at the Cafe Budapest with Madame in all her mourning white. Other than the tragic end to the Budapest, I would happily share the Wayside Inn, The Red Lion Inn or the Oak Room to celebrate an important moment in family history. And then I would have a really delicious meal somewhere else savouring the memories of family together celebrating.

          1. re: gyppielou

            I grew up in New York and there were certain places where a celebratory family event (birthday, graduation, etc.) were held. The two I recall were the Tavern on the Green in Central Park and the Old Homestead Steak House. In retrospect, neither place had the greatest food - but they were special occasion places and thinking about them still brings a smile to my face.

            In other words, thanks for your thoughtful reflection on this. I couldn't agree more. I thnk recommending The Oak Room to the OP is one of the very few times we all seem to agree makes perfect sense.

        2. For the food, I wouldn't choose either.

          But if it's old people wanting an old people's place, definitely the Oak Room.

          1. Out of the two-I would also choose Oak Room-but just to throw another into the mix- have you considered Locke Ober? For formal and nostalgia you just cant get any better. Also- they have both steak and lobster :-)

            5 Replies
            1. re: fmcoxe6188

              Read some perfectly horrid reviews on Yelp about LO. We are from Ohio, so I don't have much experience. Knowing the old ladies, my head will be on a platter if it doesn't come out right, especially since it will be $$. Not that they can't afford it, but they want an "experience".

              1. re: Diane in Bexley

                I don't do steak houses, often, but I did do the Oak Room once. It is a beautiful room and the food and service is generally good, but our waiter (an older guy) asked me if "I was still working on that." I know it seems stuffy, but it really rubbed me the wrong way in a place like that. I hope they don't say that to the Grandma's!

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  Totally understand-Im often in the same position! :-)

                  I read a lot of strange reviews as well, but I had a delightful New Years Eve dinner at Locke Ober- there were some definite misses to the evening food wise- but the meal over all was quite good, and the service was impeccable.

                  1. re: fmcoxe6188

                    Locke Ober would have been my other choice. Not sure how it is these days though. Great room, but location? Although they must have valet, no?

                    1. re: gyppielou

                      Its not a great location-but they do have valet which makes it a bit easier.

              2. While I do enjoy Abe & Louie's, I just went to the Oak Room and had the most wonderful dining experience, especially since it was for my birthday. The service was top-notch, the food was unbelievable and the dining experience was old-school in the good way. I wrote about experience here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/679784 And I can't recommend the chateaubriand enough - the tableside service was really a nice touch.

                1 Reply
                1. re: CreativeFoodie42

                  Even though you specifically asked about Abe & Louie's and Oak Room, I'll also add my two cents about Locke Ober. I went there for lunch a few days before Christmas and while the food was delicious and the environment was great, the service just couldn't match the Oak Room. I honestly was blown away by the Oak Room and highly recommend it.

                  Also, with parking as an issue, all three places have valet