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Birthday Dinner Plans for 10 fell through for tomorrow night. Help! Need recommendations!

Hey All, my fiancee is in town from Seattle for his birthday, and we *had* reservations for 10 for tomorrow night (Saturday) at 8:30p for the Pig Roast at Citizen. Through inexplicable misfortune/incompetence (deep breaths, won't get into that), our reservation has fallen through.

I need help! I need a place with great atmosphere and fantastic food that would be appropriate for a birthday celebration that isn't excessively expensive (i.e. you can get a good entree for $35 and under). I have other guests from out of town and across the country who are here for the dinner, so if you have ANY recommendations and/or can work miracles, please chime in ASAP :).


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  1. Gran Giusto in Cambridge is definitely in your price range. The food is great and the atmosphere is very pleasant. There is a nice range on the menu, so everyone in your group should be able to find something they will like. It a bit less formal than fine dining. It's a very very nice neighborhood place, exactly where I would enjoy getting together with friends.

    1. Rendezvous in Central Sq - definitely birthday and foodie worthy. big, good and varied menu

      1. Maybe the new Met Club in Back bay? I'd also try calling Eastern Standard, Bistro du Midi, Scampo, maybe 28 Degrees to see if they have availability. Les Zygomates is sort of off the beaten path and would be fun for your group as well. Maybe Lala Rokh or Bin26 (both in Beacon Hill) for something a little different but fun? I also love doing sushi in big groups-- maybe Oiishi in the South End or even Douzo or Fugukyu (they have private rooms which would be fun). With the number of your group, you definitely want to get a reservation. At this point, it might be worth just calling around and seeing what you can do. Maybe check on opentable and see what is available? Good luck-- I'm sure it will be fabulous, no matter where you end up!

        28 Degrees
        1 Appleton St., Boston, MA 02116

        Eastern Standard
        528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

        131 Dartmouth St, Boston, MA 02116

        215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

        Lala Rokh
        97 Mount Vernon Street, Boston, MA 02108

        Bistro du Midi
        272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

        1. What about Towne? Have not been myself but for some reason it came to mind from impressions on this board.

          I mean, if you wanted to be real adventurous, you could get a heap of awesome chow at Rincon Limeno in East Boston. But if you are looking for teh fancy, that will not be the place to go.

          You might also check out a place like L'Andana in Burlington - a bit out of the way, but it's a big place in the burbs which might handle your group unlike smaller places in the city.

          Or here's another idea - instead of pig, go with duck - some other chowhounds probably know the best place in Chinatown to get the full bird Peking (Beijing?) Duck service. The kind of thing where you call ahead 24-48 hours. Dine in Chinatown and then glam it up at the bar at the W. A good night out! ;)

          BTW, I feel your pain....Totally sucks. Was the problem at Citizen on their end? Just curious.

          Does Sel de la Terre do big business on January weekends?

          1. Probably far out of the way for you, but the Belmont restaurant Il Casale has a great table in the back with a family style meal plan that is really great.

            1. A $35 entree cap doesn't limit your options much in Boston, but ten people at prime time on Saturday night on one day's notice does. OpenTable lists a few options, but getting into many Chowhound favorites with a reservation under the circumstances and your requirements will be tough. Note that some restaurants may be able to accommodate you, but only if you call; it's not uncommon to cap the party size you can reserve on OpenTable at eight.

              I'd try Erbaluce, which might be able to accommodate you in their bar area. Not fabulous atmosphere, but terrific creative Italian food.


              69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

              1. zero atmosphere but if you order today you can get the whole roast baby pig by tomorrow at Quik Pik bbq in Chinatown. the place is small enough (seats about a dozen, tops) that you might be able to reserve the entire place, push some tables together, byob and put up some balloons/ pop some champagne etc. ask to speak to the manager, the others are not too fluent in English. parking garage less than 1/2 blk west of there.

                1 Reply
                1. re: barleywino

                  That was exactly the sort of thing I was thinking about.

                2. Thanks everyone for your responses. I'm actually a Seattle chowhound until about a month ago, and moved to Boston for a stint working in food(!). I'm not too familiar with the Boston food scene myself, so I really appreciate the recommendations. I am keeping this as close to Boston as possible since that's where everyone was planning on going initially. I haven't yet broken the news that there will be no whole roasted suckling pig for us all the devour :(...

                  I've been calling all over the place and yes, as expected, most places interesting, highly recommended, and not too overpriced are booked. I was able to snag a table at Sel de la Terre Back Bay, so that's a big relief. I haven't heard many recommendations for SDLT and it seems rather "restaurant group with large intestors"-esque (which can get the place lots of press but doesn't necessary indicate food I'm interested in), but at this point it is a huge relief to have SOMEWHERE to redirect my party to. Thoughts on SDLT? Should I keep trying to get a table at other places and have SDLT as a backup?

                  Bob, love your idea about the Peking Duck, but looking for most of a western restaurant birthday experience for this one.

                  Here's what I've tried already (and been rejected by):
                  - Craigie on Main
                  - Eastern Standard
                  - Bondir
                  - Island Creek Oyster
                  - Rendezvous
                  - Scampo
                  - Towne

                  I have been a bit trigger shy with the italian places because it can be hard to tell one apart from the other just from the menus (whereas actually dining there could be transcendent).

                  Others I could keep chipping away at are:
                  - Oleana (interesting and has been recommended, but not as appealing to everyone in a crowd of 10)
                  - Erbaluce
                  - Asana
                  - Henrietta's Table (thoughts on this place?)

                  As a side note, if you're curious, the Citizen Public House pig dinner debacle was entirely Citizen's fault. It "may have been my fault" said the guy who is solely responsible for arranging said pig dinners and personally made the reservation and confirmed with me. Aaaaargh. Then he had the audacity to suggest I bring my 10 guests there to order off the regular menu and patronize their very restaurant that completely screwed over my birthday celebration. I could go on about this for days. I will spare you.

                  Thanks again for your help!

                  Eastern Standard
                  528 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215

                  Henrietta's Table
                  One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                  215 Charles Street, Boston, MA 02114

                  134 Hampshire St., Cambridge, MA 02139

                  Craigie on Main
                  853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  Sel de la Terre
                  774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199

                  776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                  69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                  Island Creek Oyster Bar
                  500 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

                  279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: yumpassion88

                    Though it may not be the most adventurous menu, and the dining room feels somewhat cavernous, I’ve always found SDLT’s food to be well-prepared and tasty. Especially in comparison to some of the surrounding restaurants. For example, if I’m going to SDLT I can depend on properly cooked and well seasoned mains – duck stays mid-rare, chicken stays pretty juicy, etc. In contrast, ordered the pork loin last weekend at the Back Bay Social Club across the street (also based on a last-minute reservation) and got dry, overcooked meat for the same price.
                    Also like their fig manhattan.

                    1. re: yumpassion88

                      You could also try Rialto and Harvest in Harvard Square. Henrietta's Table has always been fine in my visits but isn't as exciting as your other choices, though they may have the space to accommodate you. There are plenty of discussions on North End places on the board, and some that people really love, so I don't think you'd need to go into a choice blindly if that interests you.

                      Henrietta's Table
                      One Bennett St., Cambridge, MA 02138

                      1. re: hckybg

                        This is like a foodie soap opera, PLEEZE let us know how it all turns out!!

                      2. re: yumpassion88

                        I really like the place (SDLT BB) and think the service is stellar. It's only recentley gone mini chain and its still about the food IMHO.

                      3. Tapeo on Newbury St - tapas
                        their sister restos Dali or Cuchi Cuchi in Central also tapas with funky festive atmosphere
                        Aquitaine, Mistral or Hamserleys?
                        Evoo in Kendall
                        east coast grill - Inman Sq
                        bergamot -excellent- outside Harvard across from Dali
                        Russell House Tavern in harvard is good and big!
                        Koreana - between central and Inman - Korean BBQ n sushi
                        Ginza - sushi Chinatown
                        chez Henri - outside harvard French
                        petit Robert - French
                        Tremont 647 - south end

                        the Fireplace - Brookline

                        That is stressful! Good luck!

                        Tremont 647
                        647 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02118

                        154 Prospect Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        16 Hudson St, Boston, MA 02111

                        Cuchi Cuchi
                        795 Main St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                        Russell House Tavern
                        14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                        1. Here's the ending... we stuck with Sel de la Terre in Back Bay and had a very nice time on Saturday night.

                          The service was excellent, and our waitress was very knowledgable about everything on the menu. Atmosphere was good -- lively, soft but not too dim lighting, modern but still warm. The food was well-executed, though not particularly interesting. Portion sizes were generous. I had the beef short ribs, which were tender but lacked a certain depth of flavor and moistness I would expect from short ribs. They were served with mashed potatoes, which were tasty, but a bit predictable. Seemed like everyone enjoyed their meal but no one was jumping out of their seats or saying much of anything about the food (and we LOVE talking about food!) -- except one. One of my friends ordered the gnocchi after our waitress told us they use less flour in their gnocchi than other restaurants typically do so they are very tender -- almost like little pillows. My friend was completely enamored with the dish -- amazed and distracted by how great it was the entire time she was eating it :). I tasted some and they were very tender and delicious.

                          I will say that we were very well taken care of, and they remembered that it was my fiancee's birthday and brought him out dessert with a candle and happy birthday message with his name properly spelled! We're lucky we were able to get a table at SDLT and still had a nice birthday celebration despite the evil idiocy of Citizen.

                          The nagging thing is, we're still curious about that darned pig dinner at Citizen. I would HOPE that the restaurant would recognize that their mistake last Saturday -- not only completely screwing up a birthday celebration for ten guests at the last minute (what if I hadn't called they day before and we just arrived for our reservation?) and then blatantly sidestepping accountability for their mistake is NOT the way customers should be treated. Such a thing should never happen. I mean, seriously.

                          On a positive note, I got so many recommendations from all of you for more great places to try in Boston, and it is SO amazing how many of you responded and tried to help.

                          Take care and see you around the boards!

                          Sel de la Terre
                          774 Boylston St., Boston, MA 02199

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: yumpassion88

                            Usually when these things happen, if you can't imagine how it could have happened accidentally, then it's deliberate. They may only be able to do one such dinner per night, and you got bumped for some VIP or friend of the house.