Il Casale or TW Food?
Trying to make a decision and hoping some of you (opinionated) experts will be able to help. ;-)
I have reservations at both Il Casale and TW Food for a birthday dinner next weekend. I've been wanting to try both. Price is irrelevant--where am I going to have the better dinner and the more pleasant overall experience? I should add that one of my dining companions happens to be my mother, who gets testy if service is slack and requires some "lighter" options on the menu (at least a couple things that aren't drowning in butter/cream).
So which reservation do I keep, and which do I cancel?
Interesting choice--this is sort of an apples-and-oranges comparison. Il Casale, is loud, bustling, and crowd-pleasing--a "quite-good-but-nothing-sublime" kind of place, while TW is subdued and small, a "sublime-if-you-like-that-kind-of-thing" place.
TW will feel more special, with purposeful, excellent and well-informed service from staff who are very invested in the place. You can linger, talk about the food, see the chef in action, etc. It's pretty rarified as the food goes-- excellent, innovative, and a little over the top, though lately the menu has seemed more grounded. Il Casale will likely feel a bit more rushed, with friendly service and less original, but satisfying food. You are more likely to find some lighter fare at Il Casale.
Too bad that Benatti in Inman Square is gone- it would have been a great middle ground between these two!
I think newhound captured the differences nicely. I'd posit Erbaluce as a good middle ground between the two, similarly chef-driven, not quite as in love with its own ideas as T.W. Food seems to be, with the same local-sourcing focus but generally better results, in my experience.