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Sep 24, 2010 09:13 AM

restaurant row

I am looking for suggestions for a wednesday night in Boston. I would like to take my mother out for her birthday from 6pm till 10pm and what she wants to do is go out for 4 hours to 5 different restaurants with great service & atmoshpere, sit at the bar or in a lounge, have a glass of wine and appetizers at each one. I need one street in Boston to fufill her request because she is 72 and I don't want to haul her all over the city. Does anyone have a street suggestion for me please???

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  1. The North End would work, pick either Hanover or Salem. I would probably pick Salem, and start at Neptune Oyster.

    Neptune Oyster
    63 Salem St Ste 1, Boston, MA 02113

    1. Theres 2 or 3 streets in the South End that would work well. Hanover or Salem in the North End might be good but I'd say on average those restaurants are smaller and may not have bars to sit at. Maybe Harvard Square but most of the places would be a younger crowd than you'd find in the North End. Rialto and Harvest would probably fit the bill in that neighborhood.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Kinopio

        Rialto, Harvest, Upstairs on the Square, Russell Tavern, The Red House, Om, and then end at Charlie's Upstairs where your mom can blast some Sonic Youth from the jukebox.

        Or, B&G, The Butcher Shop, Aquitaine, Hamersley's Bistro, Sibling Rivalry, and then end at upstairs of the Beehive where your mom can listen to some reggie/jazz band blasting from the downstairs stage.

        Sounds like a fun night out (with or without the blasting jukebox or live music). :)

        Hamersley's Bistro
        553 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02116

        Sibling Rivalry
        525 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

        Red House Restaurant
        24 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143

        1. re: redelephant

          You know what, I think I like your Harvard Square recommendation even better.

          1. re: redelephant

            You could add Pops and Metropolis Cafe to the South End list - both in the same two block area.

            560 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02118

            Metropolis Cafe
            584 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

            1. re: redelephant

              I'd add the bar at Casablanca to the Harvard sq itinerary.

          2. I think you could actually do this somewhat successfully in Harvard Square: Harvest, Upstairs on the Square, Russell House Tavern, Tory Row and Rialto all have bars with pretty good to excellent food. You could even start with oysters at Legal Seafood. Garden at the Cellar is great too, but a bit further away.

            The South End should probably work too, with The Franklin Cafe, Coppa, B&G, Butcher Shop, Hammersley's all very close to each other (and plenty of other options too).

            The North End doesn't seem as promising to me, given that many places lack bars and if you want to hit 5 restaurants it would be hard to avoid hitting up some very similar places. The South End or Harvard Square give you a lot more diversity.

            1 Reply
            1. re: greenzebra

              All fantastic ideas...Thank you so much I will report back our about our night out.

            2. I'd pick either Salem Street in the North End (quieter than Hanover Street, but many restaurants), Tremont Street in the South End (countless restaurants, and slightly easier parking than the North End), or Harvard Street/Avenue in Brookline/Allston (lots of good dining spots, and easy parking).

              Tremont Cafe
              418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

              2 Replies
              1. re: hiddenboston

                If I were doing a South End crawl, I might stick to the Harrison/Washington side: sashimi at Oishii, a Scotch egg and farmer's platter at Gallows, couple of small plates at Rocca, steak tartare at Gaslight, some tapas at Estragon. It's usually relatively easy to get a bar seat at most of those places.

                1. re: robwat36

                  wow, that sounds really good right about now. And that's a good point regarding seat availability that is worth emphasizing, and a reason why I tend to avoid Neptune Oysters on evenings when I have an agenda (although I haven't been on a Wednesday for some time now).

              2. For concentrated walking area and real variety in menus, i think the south end and harv sq suggestions are excellent, and here are some thoughts:

                in the south end, i would suggest that you either keep to tremont st or washington st; don't try to combine them- too much walking. For the tremont st version, Tremont 647 is a lively and fun spot, with grilled foods w/ mexican and asian influences.but it is 3 or 4 blocks from the concentration of Aquitaine, Hammersley's, B and G Oyster etc. For the washington st version,all the suggestions are great but Estragon is awful. Union Bar and Grill is excellent and close to Oishii II and other spots.

                In harv sq., Casablanca is a fun and eclectic menu and i bet your mom would really enjoy the murals from the movie- that dominate the dining room.(you could sit there just as easily/casually as the bar.) Casablanca is also right next to Harvest and both are institutions, historically speaking.
                Forget Charlie's Kitchen for what you're aiming for-gross.

                If i had to choose, i'd pick the south end because of the unique handsome historic architectural

                What a fun idea! How lucky you are to have an adventurous spunky mother!Hope you have a wonderful time.(You know, once you've decided where you're going that night, it wouldn't hurt for you to call each place and speak to the GM and explain what you're aiming to do for her 73rd bday, and they may , with that advance notice, be able to have another spot set aside for you if the bar is full when you arrive, or be helpful in some other way...

                Tremont 647
                647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

                8 Replies
                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Thanks so much, she is looking forward to this so much. I think it will be the south end for our fun time together and you as well as the others have been very helpful and thoughtful.

                    1. re: drewames03

                      i doubt she would enjoy that description, given her age.

                      1. re: drewames03

                        Hey, you never know. Plenty of older ladies would get a kick out of it. I agree that the OP's mom sounds totally rad.

                        1. re: djd

                          I agree. 5 glasses of wine and 5 appetizers in 5 different places in a short time span at age 72. That's impressive. When I get to that age I don't think I could be a mother like that. (There'd be a small gender obstacle, for one thing.)

                          The Harvard Sq. suggestion is very good. It made me think about H^2 differently. I've grown to think of the spot as culinarily challenged (compared, say, to Inman), but it's excellent for this adventure.

                      2. re: sk46

                        sk, do tell us about it afterwards. we'd love to hear about it.
                        tell your mom happy bday from all of us.

                        1. re: opinionatedchef

                          Well we had a wonderful time. We started out at 7pm because mum was tired after work, you see she lives on Cape Cod and commutes to Boston everyday. I got a hotel room for the night next to where she works so she could sleep in and we could be out late. So we took a cab to Tremont street and got dropped off in front of Metropolis. I took a quick look in the other restaurants and there seemed to be a wait in all but Metropolis, my mother was hungry and there were 4 seats at the bar so we went for it. As all of you probably already know holy moly the bar seats are not comfortable at all but we were just having apps so we thought --no worries--We had a wonderful time and great food and I really liked the servers but it was SLOW service.... It is almost as if the servers are controlling how many orders the kitchen is getting so they can handle it. Anyway we ordered a bottle of the Pine Ridge viogner/chenin blanc and they served us some very good bread with roasted garlic. and we waited and waited ....finally I just asked if we could order from someone and it is fine because we were chatting away. We had pumpkin risotto with fresh green beans in it (a little too much thyme for me) perfectly cooked (entree), potato gnocchi with duck confit little pillows in a light broth with what seemed like shredded duck on it which was tasty (app), quinoa with summer veggies side dish which none of us thought had any flavor and salmon with a horseradish crust, salmon roe on truffle whipped potatoes(entree)-the potatoes were delicious, the salmon had the consistency of canned tuna which seemed weird to me. I loved the atmosphere of the place and I would go back after trying some more restaurants on that street. On we go and made it across the street to aquitane (found out from the server that metropolis and aquitane have the same owners). Keep in mind I am thinking we are going to hit at least 1 maybe two more places because I really wanted to sit outside at pops. So it 915 now and we wait for 15-20 minutes at the bar. The bartender is wonderful and very attentive. We ordered a bottle of Clayhouse Zinfandel blend from paso robles-it wasn't to my liking I find paso robles wine to be "hot and harsh" to me. (Feel free it insert here a suggestion to change my mind). We were seated finally at 10 in the row of booth that were all pretty empty which made me feel like they kept us in the window to look busy or they were staging the kitchen again. The atmosphere was wonderful....I especially like the music. Mum had onion soup which was in a rich sherried broth with sweet onions, bread and cheese. It had too much bread for me and the cheese was an aged gruyere--just seemed like a typical provolone to me just my opinion, I had the marche salad with chevre & toasted hazlenuts in a sherried vin. with radishes. Sounded good to me but it was ehhhh. on the flavor scale. My sister had the heirloom tomato salad which had a lot of flavor, the tomatoes were perfect and the dressing complimentary. It was a special. My friend had escargot and he said they were delicious but again a little heavy handed on the thyme. they served bread which were little hot rolls with Delicious butter. We had for the table the pomme frites with garlic basil aioli and they were delicious especially the aioli very well balanced between the garlic & basil. So by the time we got our meals it is 10.30pm. Way too long for some fries and my mum is getting tired and I am still thinking we are going to make another restaurant but alas NO. So we order the bittersweet chocolate mousse with malted chantilly cream which was nice and creamy, good temperature and the malt is a nice touch. My mother had a creme brulee which was better than I have had in France. Room temperature, not too eggy, texture- spot on smooth and the highlight was the extra thick sugar on top that when cracked were like shards of raw-carmelized sugar that truly complimented the brulee. I had a warres ruby port and my sister had Saint-Croix-Du Mont, Château La Râmes which turned out to be semillon --delicious-my mother tried the banyuls but wasn't feeling it so she had a baileys, my friend a jameson and that concluded our night out, it was now midnight and we had to get mum back to the hotel. All and all my first pick would be to go back to Tremont street and go earlier with reservations like suggested. I would like to know if service and food is traditionally this slow (please keep in mind the people taking care of us have fantastic personalities) so I can plan for this. Because 5 hours to leave hungry because I was pacing myself doesn't seem right to me. Thanks for all your help and sorry this is so long.

                          Tremont Cafe
                          418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

                          1. re: sk46

                            can't speak to metrop. but at aquitaine we've not had wait issues ever that i can remember. Because these particular restnts are very service oriented with 'yes' kitchens, i would strongly rec that you send back any food you don't like.the chefs will usually try to get you your new dish asap. Yes, i understand about the
                            'feeling awkward' factor, but you're with your family, not your boss, and you were sharing things, so that makes the new-dish return time go faster.

                            Also, if service is slooow, ask for help from the manager. that's one of the many things they are there for.You sound very polite, and good managers and servers are usually very happy to help polite customers, but you do need to assert yourself and ask them.

                            i do feel, as i mentioned before, that reservations are a MUST at these busy places.
                            but finally, i am very surprised that service was so slow on a WEDnesday night. maybe the metrop. kitchen had a crisis/short staff..... One never knows. But, in addition to righting the situation, a good savvy manager would usually offer to comp you in some way if they learned you were unhappy.