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What are the top five restaurants in Boston proper?

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I go to Vegas a lot, and one of the main reasons I go is the fantastic restaurants. Now, I may not be able to find a restaurant with a 3 story wine tower (actually I've never eaten at Aureole but you get my point) but I'm certain there are world class, top-tier restaurants in Boston, I'm just not sure what they are. To give the question some context, one of the best meals I've ever had was at L'Ataliere, both for the experience and the food. My last trip out I got to try Alex (really amazing), Carnevino and Delmonico's (both fantastic). Actually, basically anything at the Wynn or the Palazzo seems to be a winner in my book.
So, forgetting cuisine style (French, Italian, Chinese, seafood, doesn't matter which) and your favorite little neighborhood restaurant, what are the top five restaurants in Boston proper (I'm not driving to Worcester) for food, atmosphere, service, the whole show?

Oh, and I'm sure they're nice, but anything that's part fo a chain is immediately disqualified.

Thanks

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  1. Menton, Clio, l'Espalier, O Ya, Meritage, Troquet, Craigie on Main (in Cambridge)

    I'm not necessarily endorsing any of these, but I think this is the list you are asking for.

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    O Ya
    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

    Troquet
    140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

    Meritage Restaurant
    70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, MA 02110

    Craigie on Main
    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    1. I volunteer the Chilton Club, the Union Club, and the new Locke-Obers. I still mourn the loss of Buzzy's on Storrow Drive, and Genji on Newberry St.
      Concerning the first 2 recos, one would need a host.

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      Locke-Ober
      3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

      1. Boston restaurants lack the zazzle of the high-end Vegas joints, so unless you're all about the food, you may be disappointed. It's worth pointing out that many high-end Vegas restaurants are effectively chain restaurants, part of larger restaurant empires in which the celebrity chef on the marquee is rarely if ever there. The chef/owners actually cook at most of our top places.

        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        1. L'Espalier seems like the most serious contender for your wallet in Boston. It answers both the luxurious setting and high-end food experience you seem to crave.

          http://www.lespalier.com/

          -----
          L'Espalier
          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

          1. I've eaten at Aureole, it's nothing special food wise, just cool to have the wine girls going up and down the stacks of wine.
            I would recommend
            1. O Ya
            2. Craigie on Main
            3. Troquet
            4. #9 Park
            5. Menton (have not been but it's gettting raves)

            -----
            O Ya
            9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

            Troquet
            140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

            Craigie on Main
            853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

            Menton
            354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

            1 Reply
            1. re: kimfair1

              i would put clio well ahead of no. 9 here.

            2. Hmm. If it's the "whole show" you're going for, my list might include L'Espalier, o ya, Menton, Clio/Uni (which recently got a huge upgrade to its bar program, a long-overdue development there), and Craigie on Main. Locke-Ober deserves an honorable mention for being quintessentially Bostonian in the same way that L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon is quintessentially high-end Las Vegas.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              -----
              L'Espalier
              774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

              Locke-Ober
              3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

              Craigie on Main
              853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

              Menton
              354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

              3 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                ok, i know its a gratuitous comment, but i find these type of questions annoying: boston isn't las vegas, new york, san francisco, or paris and the vibe is so very different that I can't connect the dots from a Troquet or an Erbaluce (excellent, local, not exactly scenes) to Aureole, etc. the recommendations above are fine but if its "good looking scene" plus generally good food, I'd add Rialto, Luccas on Huntington and Sorrelina to the list, and perhaps Bistro du Midi.

                -----
                Troquet
                140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                Erbaluce
                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                Bistro du Midi
                272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                1. re: teezeetoo

                  My thoughts exactly! Two different worlds. I like your choices.
                  CocoDan

                2. re: MC Slim JB

                  Fully agreed with your thoughts about LV vs. Boston. I've had meals in Boston that blow L'Atelier out of the water for much less money. (I wish I could get back that $500) LV restaurants need to put so much more into the show and appearances to just get by. Boston restaurants can rely on the food more. There are several places in Boston that put out tremendous service with great food, but may not have the Guy Savoy environment nor try to have it. Menton and L'Espalier are probably the most similar in terms of the experience of Alex. If you are more interested in a tasting, O Ya would be one to consider. If you are aiming for rich, locally-produced food with less pretense, I'd go to Craigie on Main. Its definitely my favorite in the city.

                  -----
                  L'Espalier
                  774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                  O Ya
                  9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                  Craigie on Main
                  853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  Menton
                  354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                3. L'Espalier would top my list, but I'm trying out Craigie on Main this Wednesday. Might have to change my mind. No. 9 Park would also make an appearance.

                  Have to say, I disagree with Clio being on this list. One of the most disappointing meals of my life.

                  -----
                  L'Espalier
                  774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                  Craigie on Main
                  853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. We recently visited Boston for a weekend and had dinner at Craigie on Main. It was a fabulous evening. The service was great, the atmostphere was fun and the 10 course tasting menu was amazing. We asked the waiter to choose wines to go with the courses, one white for the earlier courses, red for the slightly heartier dishes and they were perfect choices; the tasting courses were interesting and delicious. I can't think of a negative to the evening.

                    -----
                    Craigie on Main
                    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. Hi all, please pardon the interruption, but we've had to remove a number of posts from this thread, and wanted to add a quick note:

                      We'd ask that you keep this discussion focused on Boston area restaurants rather than those in other cities (a passing reference is fine, but please keep the focus on Boston). Also, please don't engage in a macro-level Boston vs. other cities comparison; we find that these never go well, and almost invariably lead to flames.

                      And as always, please keep the discussion civil.

                      Thanks, and as you were.

                      1. Thanks everyone for your suggestions, this is exactly what I was looking for. Just to clarify a couple things:
                        1. I love Boston and have lived here most of my life. It's simply that until recently I didn't have a taste for what one could call "fine dining." I've had plenty of great meals at a number of restaurants in Boston, but none that lived up to the kind of experience in both atmosphere (by this I mean style, class, service, ambiance, not a four story wine "cellar") and quality of the food, that I found in places like L'Atelier, Alex, and Daniel Boulud. As I said, I'm sure they're there, I just don't know which ones they are, which is why I asked.
                        2. The restaurants I like best in Vegas are either headed by the chef who's name is on the marquee (as in the case of Alex and Daniel Boulud) or one of a small number of restaurants by a chef who has a reputation to uphold and protect and therefore keeps all of their places at a high standard (as in the case of L'Atelier). My comment about the "chain" restaurants was simply an effort to ward off suggestions of chains like Legal's, Ruth's Chris, fine restaurants in their own right, but not the unique environment or world class food I'm hoping for.
                        Having said all of that, I'm really glad I asked because this list looks to be the type I was hoping for. I've heard tremendous things about Craigie on Main (especially about the food itself) so I'm glad to hear the rumors confirmed here, and I've been meaning to try a real dinner at Locke-Ober for some time now (I've had drinks and appetizers and was very impressed, perfect Gin and Tonic). I had not heard of L'Espalier but again, this looks to be exactly the type of experience I was looking for.

                        I'm sorry for the long post, but the initial responses I received were...less than helpful. I wanted to make a distinction that the ones I've received here were very helpful and I do appreciate the time everyone took to post them.
                        I'll have to post a review or two once I've had a chance to try these :)

                        -----
                        L'Espalier
                        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                        Locke-Ober
                        3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                        Craigie on Main
                        853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: westiboy

                          For some reason, I had a disappointing, or more accurately, mixed, experience at O-Ya. While some dishes were incredible, others fell flat. My personal favorite is also Craigie on Main. I had decent experiences at Clio and No. 9 Park, but Craigie on Main is by far my favorite. I still haven't tried Menton yet. I recently went to Rialto and really enjoyed it, although it's more of a local, organic, rustic seasonal Italian type place than the high-end type restaurants that I think you are looking for.
                          http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/

                          -----
                          Craigie on Main
                          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                          Menton
                          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210