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Special "experience" or farm dinner in Boston area?

red_zinger Aug 29, 2010 12:24 PM

I do not live in Boston but am taking Boston-based significant other for his 40th birthday dinner. Was looking for something a little different than just dinner at a fancy restuarant -- something like the Inn at Little Washington outside DC (5-star restaurant in a beautiful setting in rural Virginia), or Krabloonik outside Aspen (dogsledding to dinner in a mountain-top restaurant), or the Magic Castle in LA (an old mansion converted to a members-only magic club with restaurant). Obviously, those are VERY different examples, but the common denominator is that they are an "experience" rather than just a dinner.

Anything like that come to mind in or near Boston? Willing to spend for it, and food has to be good to excellent (i.e. no soggy fries for a great Harbor view). Boyfriend is not a Sox fan so no Fenway suggestions! A delicious farm dinner under the stars would be perfect, if that exists.

Thanks for the help.....

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  1. b
    Blumie RE: red_zinger Aug 29, 2010 01:50 PM

    How far are you willing to travel? Wheatleigh in Lenox, a 2-1/2 hour drive from Boston, is a wonderful "experience"!

    2 Replies
    1. re: Blumie
      mgcmonkey RE: Blumie Aug 29, 2010 02:59 PM

      L'Espalier, which is considered one of the top restaurants in Boston offers 2 different "experiences." One is dinner at the chef's farm, which is about 30 miles north of Boston and the other is a chef's tasting journey that takes place in the kitchen of the restaurant.

      The farm dinner is usually offered a few times a month and costs $150 pp, inclusive of tax & gratuity. You can check the restaurant website to see the dates.

      I don't recall a set price for the chefs tasting journey. The restaurant will work with you on the menu for the evening. There is a minimum though, I think it was $200 pp.

      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

      1. re: Blumie
        catsmeow RE: Blumie Aug 30, 2010 05:40 AM

        A few years ago, we went to Wheatleigh and thought it was one of the worst dining experiences we've ever had. Spotty service, food that wasn't anything special and tiny portions. We stayed at Blantyre and really enjoyed the brunch there the next morning. L'Espalier is my favorite place in Boston for special occasions.

        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

      2. p
        powerfulpierre RE: red_zinger Aug 30, 2010 04:35 AM

        Here's another suggestion.
        Check out the "restaruant" tab and see if it fits your requirements.

        Gilson's Herb Lyceum
        368 Main St, Groton, MA

        1. s
          STL BOS RE: red_zinger Aug 30, 2010 09:24 AM

          I have heard great things about Arrow in Ogunquit, Maine, which is a little over an hour from Boston. I think the chef maintains a garden next the the restaurant, which is in an old farmhouse.


          1 Reply
          1. re: STL BOS
            greygarious RE: STL BOS Aug 30, 2010 10:26 AM

            Summer-Winter, in the Burlington Marriott, is run by the Arrows people and has its own on-site garden too.

            Nashoba Valley Winery in Bolton has a nice restaurant, J's, which features NV fruit wines. There is also a tour of the winery and tastings available.

            Gibbet Hill Grill in Groton has a larger farm garden that produces most of their vegetables and last year had a special locally-sourced dinner with all major ingredients produced in Massachusetts. Don't know if it will be repeated.

            Gibbet Hill Grill: Restaurant
            61 Lowell Rd, Groton, MA 01450

          2. s
            stomachofsteel RE: red_zinger Aug 30, 2010 12:58 PM

            If you want a "delicious farm dinner under the stars," the best match I can think of would be the One Long Table dinners that folks at The Blue Room hold at Bay End Farm. Their last OLT dinner for this summer has sold out, however, so unless you want to file this away for next year, you're out of luck.

            I haven't been to Arrows (or the Inn at Little Washington), but it strikes me as the closest thing New England has to the Inn. It's not an inn, but it is a charming old farmhouse with a kitchen garden, and has been rated amongst the top restaurants in the U.S. And it's not too far from Boston. I would not suggest Summer Winter, their Burlington, MA restaurant, as an alternative. It's the same restaurateurs and a similar concept (on-site greenhouse), but I wouldn't call it an "experience." The food is good, but it doesn't blow me away. And while the restaurant itself is rather nice, it's located in a very generic-looking Marriott, the generic lobby of which you have to walk through to get to the restaurant. Great alternative for the suburbs? Sure. One of a kind experience, no.

            In the city, the best dinner "experience" I've had has been L'Espalier. If you can go to one of their farm dinners, even better.

            The other thing that comes to mind is much more casual but definitely an experience: a sunset clambake on Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor:

            Good luck!

            774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

            The Blue Room
            Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

            2 Replies
            1. re: stomachofsteel
              greygarious RE: stomachofsteel Aug 30, 2010 03:03 PM

              Coonamessett Farm in Falmouth hosts several unusual farm dinners: http://www.coonamessettfarm.com/id56....

              Coonamessett Farm
              277 Hatchville Rd, East Falmouth, MA 02536

              1. re: stomachofsteel
                Angel Food RE: stomachofsteel Sep 1, 2010 07:04 PM

                SOS's assessment of Arrows vs. Summer/Winter is spot on - Arrows is a much more special experience (I've been to both).

              2. r
                red_zinger RE: red_zinger Aug 31, 2010 11:47 AM

                Thanks all -- it sounds like Hurricane Earl may scotch the plans for a dinner outside, but these are wonderful suggestions and I've filed them away for future special occasions (especially this fall) -- will report back!

                1. r
                  redelephant RE: red_zinger Aug 31, 2010 12:57 PM

                  The first two places that came to mind are a drive: 1. Arrows. Previously mentioned and amazing. 2. The Gibbet Hill: A place that I haven't been to [but was recommended above] and that I'm mentioning and specifically posting a reply to only because it was recently highlighted in the Globe (whatever that's worth). I know that I'm ready to make road trip to try it: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/food/...

                  Maybe others could comment on The Gibbet Hill in more detail beyond what the Globe said if they have been for both my benefit and others?

                  In Boston proper, you can't beat the tried and true (and terribly over-recommended on Chowhound) Craigie on Main or L'Espalier. Yum.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: redelephant
                    stomachofsteel RE: redelephant Aug 31, 2010 03:11 PM

                    I have eaten at Gibbet Hill at least 3 times. The first 2 were in 2006-2007, and I thought the food was good -- nothing spectacular, but a lot better than most of what I found in that area. However, when I went back in 2009, I had a very, very good meal, including one of the best preparations of halibut I have ever had (competing with Chez Panisse Cafe), and it seemed as if they were starting to get a little more creative and a little more farm-to-table (that was before Tom Fosnot, who joined them this spring, according to the Globe article).

                    I will likely be back, partly to see how they evolve and partly because I got married at the adjacent barn, so the nostalgia factor is high for me. But I would not put it in the same class as Arrows, L'Espalier, or Craigie on Main.

                    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                    Craigie on Main
                    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. re: stomachofsteel
                      greygarious RE: stomachofsteel Aug 31, 2010 03:46 PM

                      I have yet to visit there myself, but in fairness, yours is not necessarily a valid assessment as the executive chef has since changed. Hopefully someone who has been there since Fosnot took over in the spring will respond.

                      1. re: greygarious
                        stomachofsteel RE: greygarious Aug 31, 2010 04:38 PM

                        A valid point, and for my own purposes I would also love to hear from others who have been since Fosnot arrived. However, I think that from their menu alone (which features several dishes that were there 3-4 years ago), it's pretty clear that it's not the same kind of restaurant as L'Espalier. You are not going to find a Virginia ham and turkey sandwich at L'Espalier. This is not meant as a judgment, of course; I don't think GHG is trying to be L'Espalier. It's just a different kind of restaurant.

                        774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

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