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WWYD?? Erbaluce for birthday--with "difficult" DCs? Help!!

SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 07:37 AM

Hi Folks-

I've been dying to try Erbaluce based on all the great things I've read about it in terms of deliciousness of food, chef's philosophy around seasonal ingredients, warm atmosphere, etc. It sounds wonderful.

Here's my dilemma: the dinner will be to celebrate a birthday, some attendees have rather basic, if not down right extremely basic, tastes. {Did you read that NYT article about picky eaters? In this group, one DC will only ever order plain chicken or Chicken Parm--that's it. Literally no dairy (except what's on the parm!), no oil or vinegar-so plain salads only. Its bread and chicken with either tomato sauce or dry veg. BTW these are food aversions, not allergies.} Another DC is pretty basic and hates when she comes to my house and gets things like goat cheese, kale, (which I've tried to liken to spinach to no avail), polenta, etc. Her preference would be some steak tips, rice, actual spinach. (Not dissing those items.)

My concern is twofold, I'm not sure that these diners (there will be 6 or 7 others who like everything) will be able to find something they like--although I get the impression the chef would be more than willing to accommodate any special requests). Also, in these difficult financial times, I hate to ask folks to go out and spend a lot of $$$s on a meal that is, for them, just passable. Note--Erbaluce may not be extremely expensive but for this crowd a $15 - $25 per entree price would be best. Budgets are tight. Erbaluce's menu varies with what's available (which I think is great) but makes it hard to get a read on price range. Add to that some drink--sometimes copiously :) -- and others are teetotalers--sigh.

I guess I've pretty much answered my own question. I'm tempted to pack it in and pick a more moderate place with a menu that I know will please all and go to Erbaluce another night with someone who's as into food as me.

Any thoughts?

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Erbaluce
69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

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  1. MC Slim JB RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 07:53 AM

    Your last-paragraph strategy is what I would follow. No sense wasting Erbaluce's amazing but not-cheap food on the unappreciative. You have to pity such people. Go another time with a group that uniformly loves great food.

    For plan B, perhaps Trattoria Toscana? No reservations, but it has something for everyone.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    Erbaluce
    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

    1 Reply
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      enhF94 RE: MC Slim JB Aug 24, 2010 08:04 AM

      Pity?! C'mon, everybody's got somethin', issues-wise.

      SST, sounds like you're trying to balance your hope for friend-bonding-and-celebration with foodly pleasure. I think you got it. Enjoy your friends with chicken parm (at Basta Pasta?), and hit Erb some other time. Or - consider going to Erbaluce by yourself with a book. I find that when I leave my (picky, eat-to-live) sweety at home from fancy places, we both have a great time. And since the kitchen doesn't need to time dishes together, your food has a higher chance of being brought to you just as it's perfect.

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      Basta Pasta
      319 Western Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

      Erbaluce
      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

      Basta Pasta
      150 Hancock St, Quincy, MA 02171

    2. b
      bella_sarda RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 08:13 AM

      I agree with others that you should save Erbaluce for when you can savor it worry-free. Also, I don't think it's the best place for such a large group. Nor is Trattoria Toscana, for that matter, although that place is surely more likely to have something to please everyone. With no reservations at Trattoria Toscana you'd be hard pressed to get a table for a group that large in any reasonable amount of time. And I always feel really cramped in there even with just a party of 2. I can't think of a perfect place for your needs off the top of my head.

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      Trattoria Toscana
      130 Jersey St, Boston, MA 02215

      Erbaluce
      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

      3 Replies
      1. re: bella_sarda
        justbeingpolite RE: bella_sarda Aug 24, 2010 08:36 AM

        Gran Gusto?

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        Gran Gusto
        90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

        1. re: justbeingpolite
          t
          Taralli RE: justbeingpolite Aug 24, 2010 09:39 AM

          My choice too: http://grangustocambridge.com/

          1. re: Taralli
            cassis RE: Taralli Aug 25, 2010 08:07 AM

            Gran Gusto is a great suggestion for a large party celebrating a birthday--the atmosphere is very festive. No chicken on the dinner menu that I can see, but great pasta and thin crust pizzas.

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            Gran Gusto
            90 Sherman St, Cambridge, MA 02140

      2. SeaSide Tomato RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 09:03 AM

        Thanks all. That's what I figured, but wanted to confirm, never having been.

        ENHF94-funny you say Basta Pasta-I was thinking it woudl be a great fall back and there's one right in Quincy for South Shore folks who will be racing to get anywhere on a Friday night after work.

        MC--you have no idea the levels of food aversion this one individual has. Even more of a challenge at dinner parties!

        Fly-if I were paying, you would be absolutely correct. In my bunch, for birthdays we pick a restaurant and split the check minus the birthday-girl or boy, so they get treated.

        Yes--Erbaluce's out for this event. But I will get there!

        Many thanks!

        3 Replies
        1. re: SeaSide Tomato
          MC Slim JB RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 09:30 AM

          Got a good friend that won't eat onions or garlic in any form, in any food. Not an allergy, just an aversion held since childhood. That's a rough way to go through life, in my book.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. re: MC Slim JB
            n
            naughtywaitress RE: MC Slim JB Aug 26, 2010 05:48 AM

            My uncle will not, under any circumstances, eat any kind of fish. No shrimp, no tuna, no nothing, no thank you... Once again, not an allergy, just an aversion. I never knew why and I never asked. It wasn't until this summer that I heard the story which explains the aversion. Apparently back in the 1940s, locking a child in the basement until they would eat their dinner was more acceptable than it is now... I will never again blame him for his aversion.

            1. re: naughtywaitress
              MC Slim JB RE: naughtywaitress Aug 26, 2010 08:58 AM

              My mom used the carrot approach to get me to eat her many experimental casseroles: no clean plate, no Jell-O or Jiffy Cake. That got me to eat a lot of less-than-transporting concoctions (she cooked with more love than skill).

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

        2. b
          Bellachefa RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 10:39 AM

          You could make reservations for Giaccomo's in the southend - they do a very good chicken parm. A night out with 2 picky eaters who make it known to everyone at the table is not a great night for savouring the special nuances of a wonderful chefs preparations. A night at Erbaluce with those two diners is doomed.

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          Erbaluce
          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

          1. CocoDan RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 11:11 AM

            Oy! I'm getting a headache just thinking about this post. I'd take everyone to "Not Your Average Joe's", and be done with it on the cheap. They probably won't know the difference anyway. At least you can drink enough wine to not worry about it.
            They do plain chicken.
            Enjoy?
            CocoDan

            2 Replies
            1. re: CocoDan
              c
              CookieLee RE: CocoDan Aug 24, 2010 11:17 AM

              I was going to suggest NYAJ''s - and Bertucci's.

              1. re: CocoDan
                MC Slim JB RE: CocoDan Aug 24, 2010 11:36 AM

                The Halfway Cafe. They have good food cheap there. Or perhaps Emma's Pub & Pizza. I am told that there's always something happening there. Perhaps Floramo's? I understand that the meat falls off the bone there.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                Floramo's
                213 Everett Ave, Chelsea, MA 02150

                Emma's Pub & Pizza
                130 Mansfield Ave, Norton, MA 02766

              2. chickendhansak RE: SeaSide Tomato Aug 24, 2010 01:30 PM

                Perhaps it's being assumed in some of the answers (bella_sarda aside) that Erbaluce would be a good venue for a birthday party, if only the party was sufficiently enlightened.

                But I found the experience an uncomfortable combination of stuffy service, bland decor, and offensively middlebrow music, and so quite far from festive: more the kind of place where you might have to suck up the atmosphere to experience food that supposedly doesn't have too much butter in it. (Sadly for me I ordered a risotto which was swimming in oil, so it seemed to me they had substituted one form of fat for another.) Plus, they didn't even have hard liquor. I'd most definitely give it a miss for any kind of party.

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                Erbaluce
                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                3 Replies
                1. re: chickendhansak
                  enhF94 RE: chickendhansak Aug 24, 2010 03:10 PM

                  'twas. I've never been to Erbaluce.

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                  Erbaluce
                  69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  1. re: enhF94
                    t
                    teezeetoo RE: enhF94 Aug 25, 2010 10:36 AM

                    enh, if you haven't been, please do try it for yourself. I've been more than 1/2 dozen times and taken friends from in and out of town. We've never had either a bad meal or bad service. I don't consider it a great place for a party of 6 or more, but do consider it a wonderful "go to" place for dinner with 4 friends. I'm sure chicken's experience was what he experienced: it simply isn't what I've experienced.

                  2. re: chickendhansak
                    bgavin RE: chickendhansak Aug 25, 2010 10:48 AM

                    Dear Chicken -
                    Sorry you didn't have a great time at Erbaluce. I think it is one of the most interesting and innovative restaurants in Boston these days.
                    For what it is worth, we had a woman server who was smart, appropriate and not stuffy.
                    But, to each his own. Go forth and bon appetit!

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                    Erbaluce
                    69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

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