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Poor grad student gets $100 to spend on nice meal out--where???

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I am a PhD student who will be staying in town for Thanksgiving. My parents are sending me a $100 visa card and told me to go with my boyfriend to a nice restaurant since I won't be able to make it home until Christmas.

I would love any recommendations of where to go that would be $100 or under. Preferably the meal could include two entrees, an appetizer, and some drinks, but we can be flexible. It doesn't have to be actually on Thanksgiving, but sometime next week (we would even take options for weekend brunch). Since this is probably the only time in the next 4 years I can blow $100 on a meal, I would like to make it count! Any type of food is OK.

Thanks in advance and Happy Thanksgiving

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  1. You can do 2 prix fixe dinners at Bergamot and have enough for a drink each, I believe

    3 Replies
    1. re: barleywino

      Ha--the one time this has happened to me--been essentially handed $100 and told "go take someone out for a nice meal"--I went to EVOO in its old location, which is now of course Bergamot.

      EVOO Restaurant
      350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

      1. re: djd

        I would also head right out to Bergamot

      2. re: barleywino

        I agree with the Bergamot suggestion. If you go early you can get the prix fixe neighborhood menu. I think that splitting all three courses (maybe with one additional app or entree) would be plenty of food for two and you'd have enough money to get a bottle of wine or a few drinks. I've been there twice and have enjoyed both experiences.

      3. Rendezvous has a sunday prix fixe special. $38 for 3 courses. Plenty of choices for each course.
        I've been to Coppa with my gf on several occasions and left very full for under $90 including tip. Not a very romantic atmosphere though, but food is amazing. Other possibilities includes; Grotto, Da Vinci and Island Creek Oyster Bar.

        If you decide on brunch, my favorite is Mistral. Good luck!

        Island Creek Oysters
        296 Parks St, Duxbury, MA 02332

        253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

        1 Reply
        1. re: mgcmonkey

          Heartily agree with both the Bergamot and Rendezvous suggestions. Another one I haven't seen in this thread is the Grotto on Beacon Hill, which has a nightly $35-ish 3 course prix fixe

          Edit: I'm a complete idiot, the very post I respond to says "Grotto" :)

        2. Here are three suggestions:
          -The wine dinners at either Ten Tables JP or TW Food (in Cambridge) are both great values: four courses plus four wines for $42 (Ten Tables) or $49 (TW Food). Ten Tables would come out to just about $100 with tax and tip, TW Food a bit more. However, the downside is you'd have to go on a Tuesday night, and it may be hard to get reservations for next Tuesday at this point.
          -Brunch at Craigie on Main. $100 will go a long way at brunch, and the Craigie brunch is really amazingly good.
          -Go to Oleana and split the vegetarian tasting plus 1-3 other mezze and a drink each. The vegetarian tasting alone is close to enough food for two unless you are big eaters, and supplemented with another couple of mezze you'll have plenty of food and enough left for a drink.

          134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

          Craigie on Main
          853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

          Ten Tables
          5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

          3 Replies
          1. re: greenzebra

            I would also recommend the vegetarian tasting menu at Oleana--you could probably both get it (depending on what you drink) and still stay around 100. I believe it is 40/person.

            1. re: hckybg

              My experiences of Oleana have been mixed: in cold weather (late/fall, winter) the food has merely been good to very good, and I don't really like the indoor space. Went for the first time in summer, sitting outdoors, and was blown away -- one of the top meals I've had in Boston. Because the menu is so dependent on produce, I think out of season is not the best time to sample it.

              Agree that Craigie brunch is truly excellent, and can easily dine for under $50 each, all in. Haven't been to ten tables (JP) for a while, and recent reports on here are not encouraging. But the JP location (not been to Cambridge) does have a nice feel to it.

              Lunch at L'Espalier is another option, and well within budget. Space is nowehere near as nice as before: otherwise would have been my top pick. Service is good. Food can be pretty good. I've never had lunch at the Oak Room, and the dinner menu is too pricey, but the room is v. nice and lunch would be within budget.


              1. re: hckybg

                I also recommend Oleana. The vegetarian tasting I agree is good for 2 people if you add a couple of other mezze (meat or seafood if you like it) and by the dessert that comes with the tasting is probably enough for 2. (tasting is 5 mezze plus a dessert for $40). As I've said before, either the menu will appeal to you or it won't. Nothing can beat the garden setting, and the interior is not the best, but it is far from bad either, in my opinion.

                while I agree that the summer produce based dishes are outstanding, a number of my favorites are not dependent on produce...the first six mezze on the menu for example, as well as the fried mussels, the octopus, Sultan's delight (amazing dish), spinach falafel (accompaniments change with the season). I've also found every fish entree I had wonderful. If you enjoy lots of different tastes, and the Turkish/Greek/Eastern Med range of flavors, this might be for you. The one less than outstanding meal I had there was on either a Sunday or a Monday night and we noticed chef Ana was not in the kitchen.

                they are also very happy for guests to split any dish and they don't show the slightest distaste for 2 people ordering two apps and one entree. Reservations are hard to come by but if you are willing to reserve for 5:30 when they are open you might be fine.

                I got my art history PhD in the SF bay area and was always around lots of great food I could not afford. Enjoy this one!

                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

            2. Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge has outstanding food at reasonable prices.

              1 Reply
              1. re: mats77

                Garden at the Cellar is, indeed, very good but already pretty grad studenty--it is affordable, if a small splurge, but can be had for well under 100. I think it lacks the extra special occasion feeling of places like Bergamot, Oleana, TW Food, Erbaluce, etc., which I truly never go to unless someone has given me a gift certificate or I am being taken there by my parents or others.

                I had a pretty average meal at Ten Tables in Cambridge earlier in the summer. The food was fine but not excellent, the service was competent but pretty indifferent. Dessert was actually unpleasant...a sour cherry clafoutis in a cast iron skillet. The sour cherries reacted with the skillet, making a very nasty, pervasive metallic taste. We told the waitress after eating, telling her that we didn't want anything else but that she should let the chef know that this will be a problem in the future, and she more or less shrugged us off in a kind of "oh ok thanks (amateurs)" tone. The room is nice and I would try it again, but would maybe suggest somewhere else for your splurge.

                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                Ten Tables
                5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

              2. Just a heads up, but those Visa giftcards will actually only let you spend $80 on your meal, as they reserve the other 20% for gratuity. They're a huge PITA for restaurants. Just sayin'.

                4 Replies
                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  good to know. However, the OP could use cash/CC and use the gift card for other shopping.


                  1. re: trueblu

                    Definitely. Just letting the OP know.

                  2. re: invinotheresverde

                    I believe that they authorize for an additional 20%.... so as long as the restaurant doesn't authorize for more than 83 or so dollars you should be able to close the card out to the full $100.

                    1. re: yummy2184

                      Yes, you can use the remainder for gratuity.

                  3. Popeyes chicken in Kenmore square has 2pc of chicken(any pc you want) with a biscuit for $1.99.. So i would go get 50 of those.. 100pc of chicken and 50 biscuits!! Have a party!

                    1. Other possibilities: Troquet on Tremont across from the Common (French), Carmen in Paul Revere Square in the North End (very small excellent Italian if open) and Taberna de Haro on Beacon at the Boston/Brookline line (Spanish tapas). Taberna is probably the least pricey.

                      140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Tremont Cafe
                      418 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116