HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >

Discussion

I don't want my bday dinner to be a bust. I've eaten almost everywhere...Need new ideas.

Save me from divorce! The problem: My husband and I share a birthday. He wants to go to Craigie on Main. I love it there, but I've been a few times and want to try someplace new. (Hey, it's my birthday too!) He wants "New American" and has suggested spots like Radius or No 9 Park. I want something more obscure, ethnic, startling. I want North End. He won't park there. Sigh...

To give you some idea of places I've enjoyed in the past, I'll list:
Island Creek Oyster Bar
Eastern Standard
Coppa
Toro
MET Back Bay
Helmond (Afghan - amazing)
La la Rokh
Trina's Starlite (though I wouldn't want to dine there for a special evening out)
the aforementioned Craigie
Clio/Uni
Estragon
Gaslight
East by Northeast
Petit Robert
Bistro du Midi
Grille 23
Oleana
Hungry Mother
TW Food
Tu Y Yo

I'm kind of "eh" on Journeyman and Deuxave, though the latter might work.
At this point, I'd be willing to go to Tasty Burger.

I want offal. I want brains. I want spice. I want exotic. Help.

We cannot afford O Ya or Menton.

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

No 9 Park
9 Park Street, Boston, MA 02108

Eastern Standard
528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

Toro
1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

Petit Robert Bistro
468 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Island Creek Oysters
296 Parks St, Duxbury, MA 02332

Coppa
253 Shawmut Ave, Boston, MA 02118

East by Northeast
1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

Tasty Burger
1301 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. Oleana? Ethnic, yet not so exotic as to turn off someone craving new American.

    -----
    Oleana
    134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

    1. Have you considered Bergamot? Special enough to feel bday wo rthy. He can get pretty standard fare and you can jazz it up with a dish of the day.

      1. Did you consider the new Bondir, on Broadway between Central and Inman Squares? Jason Bond was very good at the Beacon Hill Bistro. There are a number of unusual ingredients on the menu. It definitely classifies as New American and people say it is quite cozy, with a fireplace. I haven't been but am excited to try it.

        -----
        Bondir
        279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

        1. Take a drive down to Providence.. hit Gracies.. or head over to Eastie and try some food from our southern latitudes. I had several tasty meals on the other end of the Sumner/Callahan tunnels.

          Green Street in Central is always fun, maybe not a big "birthday special dinner" place but a good menu..and that French/Japanese place out in Lincoln got some decent press for a while, though I never tried it.

          There is always the ultimate in foodie experiences: Wrights Chicken Farm in Harrisville, RI. No brains, but lots of chicken..

          Or screw the birthday dinner.. do birthday breakfast, so you can sample the other end of the dining chronology..

          1. Taberno del Haro in Brookline....Spanish
            not exotic but north end: Neptune Oyster (there is a lot nearby)

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

            2 Replies
            1. re: Madrid

              striper guy has an amazing list of ethnic restaurants. You could go to NYC for your birthday; further than Providence but the choices are amazing.

              1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                Jet Blue to JFK, cab to Flushing, plenty of spice, offal, exotic....

            2. That's an amazingly comprehensive list. Why not go back to a place and have the chef either surprise you or create a tasting menu in advance with that offal you seek? Either that, or take the Lucky Star to Babbo. See cambridgedoc above!
              www.shrinkinthekitchen.com

              1. You lost me at the part where you said, "obscure, ethnic, startling", followed by "North End".

                The challenge I see is that your requirements are hard to meet in the kind of fine-dining setting one might expect for a double birthday celebration. I've got lots of recommendations, but they will seem pretty downmarket to a guy who is pushing for Radius and No. 9.

                Boston has few restaurants that are on the fancy side but away from the Western European tradition. You've hit some of them already: Oleana, Lala Rokh, The Helmand, East by Northeast. You've ruled out high-end Japanese.

                If you want to keep it swank, that doesn't leave much room to maneuver. The only places I can think of that are regularly doing offal and spice together are a) Pakistani, like Darbar, and they're not fancy, and b) Korean, but the upmarket ones tend to tone down both the organ meats and the chili fire. You can get oogly bits at traditional Cantonese places, but they aren't very spicy, nor are they fancy. There's plenty of spice at traditional Thai and Sichuan places, but they don't do a lot of offal (beyond pork rind and maybe tendon), and almost none are fancy. Addis Red Sea in the South End does a spicy raw beef dish in a pretty upscale setting, but that's about as weird as it gets (and that's ground sirloin, not testicles, for instance). We have some sorta-upscale Indian places (Mela, Tamarind Bay), but there's scant offal on those menus.

                I'd say you can do non-Western, spicy, offaly, and upscale, but not all once. Pick any two and you've got options; pick three, and you have almost none. Substitute Western for non-Western, and you have a lot of options if you pick two and only a few with three. Seems to me you need to narrow your scope somehow.

                http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                -----
                Oleana
                134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                Lala Rokh
                97 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02108

                East by Northeast
                1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                1. You have a terrific list of places here already. Some other very nice, fairly fancy restaurants that I really like include:

                  Bergamot
                  Evoo
                  Sorrellina
                  Locke-Ober
                  Asana
                  Troquet
                  Chez Henri
                  Erbaluce
                  Harvest
                  Market (by Jean-Georges)
                  Ten Tables
                  Hamersley's Bistro

                  On the more ethnic side:
                  Oishii Boston
                  Oga's (Framingham)
                  Fuloon (Chinese in Malden)
                  Taramind Bay

                  I personally didn't like Blue Ginger, but I've only been there once, and it was a long time ago. I should try it again, and maybe that would be a nice choice as well.

                  Going to Providence or New York might be a fun trip, and there's certainly good food there, but you don't need to leave the Boston area to find wonderful food. I'm sure you've been to many places, but there are always many more for all of us to try.

                  -----
                  Locke-Ober
                  3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

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

                  Troquet
                  140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  Oishii Boston
                  1166 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02118

                  Chez Henri
                  1 Shepard Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  Blue Ginger
                  583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

                  Ten Tables
                  5 Craigie Circle, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  Asana
                  776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                  Erbaluce
                  69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  5 Replies
                    1. re: scotty27

                      Market has a very fun, hip atmosphere, and some excellent food with bold flavors, and reasonable prices. What Sensing should have been!

                      1. re: lipoff

                        Sensing was never fusion-y, was it? More straight-up New French. I think the food there is okay, but the big hotel price premium there is a little tough to swallow, and the room is kind of ugly/modern/cold.

                        http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          Thanks for the reply. My husband doesn't require a fancy upmarket place - but he's just thrown out a few as suggestions. Really, (almost) any price point is fair game - except for the Mentons of the world. I'm very open to "downmarket" ideas!

                          -----
                          Menton
                          354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

                        2. re: lipoff

                          I agree. Sensing had bad timing: The original deal fell through, the Recession hit, the location is weird (compared to Market), and the chef was preoccupied with his loss of the third Michelin star at his Paris restaurant and besides had no intention of staying here...

                    2. Troquet
                      Union
                      Pigalle
                      Erbaluce
                      La Voile

                      -----
                      Pigalle
                      75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                      La Voile
                      261 Newbury Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Troquet
                      140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Erbaluce
                      69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: C. Hamster

                        let me underline Troquet: very good food and the best wine deal in town. now that veritas is closed in nyc, i do not know where i would go to get a better deal on wine.

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

                        1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                          Yes! Troquet seems to be underrated. We had a wonderful tasting menu there. That Boston mag article I read recently at the hair salon (the only time I read Boston mag :-)) reminded me that I'm overdue for another trip there.

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

                        2. re: C. Hamster

                          la voile- never again. boring. wrote it up this past yr.

                        3. My suggestions would be, Scampo, Erbaluce or Asana. Each one has great food, each has a different type of atmosphere and all have a diverse menu and very nice service. Parking is easy at all of them too.

                          -----
                          Scampo
                          215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                          Asana
                          776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                          Erbaluce
                          69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                          1. That's quite a list! Why not just do two birthday dinners? Do one at Grill 23 to satisfy him, and then a few days later, go to a less expensive, but more exotic place.

                            -----
                            Grill 23 & Bar
                            161 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Isolda

                              lots of great suggestions. I would add Lumiere: delightful food, parking is easy, no Boston mess.

                              -----
                              Lumiere Restaurant
                              1293 Washington St., West Newton, MA 02465

                            2. I strongly suggest Scampo - it is exotic (eating in a jail), upscale enought for a birthday dinner, fun, has a nice wine list, and has very good (primarliy Italian) food (but don't miss the lobster pizza). Plus, parking is no problem since it is a hotel. Be sure to walk around the upstairs hotel lobby when you are there, preferably before dinner, as the way that the developer converted a 19th century jail into a modern hotel is quite interesting.

                              -----
                              Scampo
                              215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                              1. FWIW, Lydia Shire is one of the best preparers of offal at the head of an American kitchen today. And she's in Boston!

                                1. You appear light on Asian, how about Blue Ginger?

                                  -----
                                  Blue Ginger
                                  583 Washington St., Wellesley, MA 02482

                                  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7248...

                                    this is a great list compiled mostly by stripes and mc.

                                    I would put a plug in for LIttle Q for Mongolian Hot Pot, but you should read the thread.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                                      Wow, this list is truly amazing. Thank you.

                                    2. If you still want the North End, maybe validated parking from Tresca or Taranta would sway hubbie. $3 for three hours at the Parcel 7 Garage.

                                      Many restaurants don't validate, though, so I'd check each one out individually before making a reservation.

                                      -----
                                      Tresca
                                      233 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02113

                                      1. Pretty presumptuous to state you're eaten almost everywhere as your list is mostly food from the Western world. But I'll throw a couple out - Khao Sarn? Umami? MC Slim's correct...Korean cuisine could really satisfy your need for offal and strange bits.

                                        -----
                                        Khao Sarn
                                        250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: digga

                                          Indeed, I just had a terrific Gopchang-Jungol (big soup with beef intestines, beef tripe, noodles, rice cakes, soft tofu, enoki mushrooms and watercress in a somewhat spicy broth) at Chung Ki Wa in Medford.

                                          Korean BBQ might be fun, and also a good way to satisfy both cravings. You can get marinated kalbi (beef short rib) and bulgogi (thin sliced beef), as well as beef tongue (U-sel or Woo Sul) and pork belly.

                                          -----
                                          Chung Ki Wa
                                          27 Riverside Ave, Medford, MA 02155

                                        2. This conflict sounds irreconcilable.. maybe you should see other people..

                                          1. Erbaluce. Hands down.

                                            -----
                                            Erbaluce
                                            69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: bgavin

                                              totally agree with Erbaluce. I've heard about it having off nights but I've never experienced one (always good for me). The room is certainly not that interesting but the food makes up for it. I love when rabbit is on the menu.

                                              Edit: just noticed you already went to dinner. Glad you enjoyed your meal.

                                              -----
                                              Erbaluce
                                              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                            2. Yes, Erbaluce is wonderful.

                                              -----
                                              Erbaluce
                                              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                              1. erbaluce is certainly on my list, but i also think you would really enjoy gargoyles , for this, or another time.
                                                here's a recent write up. don't forget to report back after your bday! (happy bday btw)

                                                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/758867

                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                    Hello! Sorry for not replying sooner; I meant to chime back in and report that we enjoyed a fine meal at TW Food. Will post a more detailed missive later, but suffice to say we both left satiated and enjoyed the warm service from Chef Tim's wife, Bronwyn.

                                                    1. re: Swankalicious

                                                      that's so great that you 2 enjoyed it. and I'm glad you're going to fill us in. One of the things that disappoints me the most on this board is when people ask advice( many of them visitors from elsewhere), and a number of CHs take the time to be helpful but never hear back for their efforts.

                                                      1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                        Yes, it was very good. We got the tasting menu with wine pairings--a two-hour meal. Truly bright, sublime beet soup; bay scallops; outlandish cheese plate; duck two-ways...what stood out most for me was an unusual, biting shallot ice cream. A few bites went a long way, but absolutely delicious.

                                                  2. when you mentioned offal, I thought of KO Prime. Although thought of as a steak place, the steaks are much more interesting than other places in Boston and they have many other options. http://www.koprimeboston.com/files/me...

                                                    That said, I'd second previous suggesting for Market. (also noting that sometimes the food is much more interesting in delivery than the description on the menu).

                                                    -----
                                                    KO Prime
                                                    90 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108