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Getting Engaged - Need a celebratory dinner for after.

My girlfriend and I live in NY, but we're heading to Boston at the end of March for a little getaway. Little does she know exactly WHY we're going to Boston. We're both huge foodies, so I'm planning on popping the question (suggestions on where would be much appreciated!) and taking her out for a celebratory dinner afterwards. I'm specifically looking for a chef's tasting menu sort of deal.

I've read a lot about L'Espalier, No.9 Park, Craigie on Main, Troquet, etc...but I've seen a lot of "it used to be good, it went downhill" or whatever. I want to know some opinions on where to go, and it would be nice to hear about some recent experiences.

Just a side note, I'm game to eat pretty much anything. I hear Craigie does a lot of nose-to-tail, which is cool with me but my gal doesn't have much experience with offal. Their menu looks delicious, though.
Also, L'Espalier is out of the question for me...I'm cool with like $100-$130 per person, but $185 is a little steep.

oh, ps. we do drink, but not much, so we probably wouldn't be going with the wine pairings, where ever we end up.

Thanks for the help!

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L'Espalier
774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

Troquet
140 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

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  1. For tasting that is not in the nose-to-tail category, I'd go with either Clio (quite romantic and creative, but not quite as pricey as L'Espalier), or O Ya if you like creative sashimi. Very sexy vibe.

    As for where to pop the question, do you and she have any specific interests (other than each other?) There are some cool locations around town - inside the dome of the Christian Science building, the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum, Top of the Hub (for the view and a glass of champagne, not for the food), the gazebo on the harbor walk behind the Boston Harbor Hotel, the deck of the USS Constitution, a variety of cool spots within the Museum of Science if that's your thing, or in the Aquarium... You'll note that there aren't any outdoor spots on the list. Basically because even in the end of March it may still be icky outside here. In June I'd be sending you to the public garden.

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    O Ya
    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

    Top of the Hub
    800 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

    10 Replies
    1. re: Eatin in Woostah

      totally feeling the aquarium. do they have manatees? she's in love with manatees. i adopted one for her for christmas.

      i heard clio is like super skimpy on portion size. that would be fine with me if there's a bunch of courses, as long as i'm full at the end.

      1. re: dankshwhat

        I don't think there are any manatees at the Aquarium, but there are seals! There is an outdoor tank where they swim in front of the Aquarium, and a show in the back.

        Also, a little more on the Christian Science dome - it's called the Mapparium and is really cool. Basically, it's a big stained glass lighted map of the world. The acoustics are interesting - you can stand on opposite sides of the dome and whisper, and hear each other. There's a wiki page on it - check it out.

        Each course of the tasitng menu at Clio is small (same thing at O Ya), and designed as such so that you can pace yourself. I believe we had 9 courses during the tasitng we did at Clio and left full but not stuffed.

        1. re: Eatin in Woostah

          hmm. yeah small is fine, i didn't expect to get giant portions. if we did, it would definitely be way too much food. how much is clio's tasting? their website doesn't really mention it.

            1. re: dankshwhat

              last i checked, CLio offered 9 courses for $105 and 14 courses for $135

            2. re: Eatin in Woostah

              oooo the Gardner Museum is the most wonderful suggestion. The courtyard has gorgeous flowers year-round, not to mention the fabulous mosaics, great places to sit around, etc. Like a little slice of Italy... If anything were to convince you, check these out:

              http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia...
              http://o.aolcdn.com/dims-shared/dims/...

              Another nice spot for dinner might be Locke-Ober.....more old school but still top quality.

              1. re: Science Chick

                I think Locke-Ober is closed through March for renovations.

                The Gardner Museum is a great idea. It's one of the true gems of Boston, totally unique, and unfortunately overlooked by many here (or maybe fortunately because it's usually not that full, and it's not going anywhere).

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                Locke-Ober
                3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

            3. anybody have a relatively detailed description of their experience with the clio tasting menu that i can read?

              once again, thanks for the help everyone!

              2 Replies
              1. re: dankshwhat

                My wife and I had it about 6 months ago. Very good, filling but not heavy. You never know what might come out - I one course was house-made sodas. Clio has a nice atmosphere, didn't feel rushed, and service was good without being overbearing.

                Remember the prices quoted above do not include wine pairings, which adds an extra cost. My wife was pregnant at the time, so I just got wine by the glass through the meal.

                1. re: grant.cook

                  We probably wouldn't be getting any wine, so that shouldn't be an issue. Like I said a per person of $115 to $130 is fine.

                  Besides, the hotel is throwing us a bottle of champagne gratis! We'll have plenty to drink after haha.

              2. Congratulations on your upcoming engagement.

                To speak to your suggestions: I actually went to Craigie after I got engaged. My now-wife and I both ordered the 6/7-course tasting menu. The meal was great, both of us left sated, yet not overly-stuffed. I chose CoM because the food is great, and the atmosphere is not too loud or impersonal. My wife had/has no experience with offal, and I don't believe we had any on our tasting menu (this was about 18 months ago). Plus the bar has a pretty extensive list of drinks, and at least in my past, has been able to come up with ones I am not familiar with by just a few suggestions of likes/dislikes, if the mood strikes you.

                If you want to go a bit farther off the beaten path (and not such a heavy concentration on offal), check out TW Food in Cambridge. They have a five course tasting menu for well under $100 (without wine), focused on local/seasonal ingredients. The atmosphere here is a lot more intimate than Craigie, since the dining room is maybe a 1/3 the size. They do things with vegetables that I wish I was exposed to when younger, or maybe I would have had a more balanced-diet growing up.

                As for some heresay evidence, I've heard that L'Espalier is 'good, but not worth the money.' Also that Bondir (just opened, in Cambridge) is awesome, if you can get in.

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                L'Espalier
                774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                Bondir
                279 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02139

                7 Replies
                1. re: jforman

                  We also went to Craigie on Main after our engagement (my husband proposed in the morning, on a day we already had reservations to eat dinner there). We had the tasting menu and it was great - there wasn't anything too "nose-to-tail" on it.

                  Many, many years ago I had the Clio tasting menu and IT included cockscomb, so I guess there's a bit of a gamble either way :-)

                  I think I prefer the atmosphere at CoM, and the staff was great when we told them we had just gotten engaged, but I'm sure you'll be happy either way.

                  Congratulations!

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                  Craigie on Main
                  853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                  1. re: jforman

                    I second the romantic, intimate atmosphere at TW Food. I'm not sure how you're getting around, but it's a little far from a T stop. And there's nothing romantic about taking a bus-- sorry, to all you brave champions of public transportation.

                    I have also have a really romantic dinner at Uni, the sashimi bar in Clio. I'm not really clear whether it's totally its own entity, but you could definitely work out hitting up both if you're there.

                    On the awesome-service side of things, I've been wowed by Bergamot's service especially at its price point. I bet they would do a fabulous job of treating you like royalty if you let them know the situation.

                    Personally, I would pick service and atmosphere and location above all else, given that the food has to be good but maybe not the best meal ever. It will be the best meal ever regardless, and you probably won't remember a thing that you eat. Congrats. Please let us know how it goes!

                    1. re: Parsnipity

                      I beg to differ...I probably will remember everything I eat. Mostly because we are both food bloggers and will definitely be writing about the experience.

                      Service is definitely important to me. Atmosphere, sure. But really the food is probably the most important. (To her as well as I, trust me.)

                      1. re: dankshwhat

                        Ah, a young couple after my own heart! Be sure to keep us updated after your dinner - it's always so cool to hear the outcome of CH's suggestions - and please, link your blogs (afterwards, so no one spills the beans, haha).

                        1. re: threedogs

                          if you would like to read any of my previous blog posts, the link is http://edibleadventures.tumblr.com

                            1. re: Small Plates

                              why thank you! if you have a tumblr, you should follow me.

                  2. I would also recommend Craigie on Main. The tasting menu is blind and changes, but they will accomodate allergies/dislikes, etc. My wife routinely asks for no cock's comb in her tasting, for example. We've never had an issue with them. Clio is also very nice, but I haven't been in years. O Ya is superb, but getting out of there sated for less than $150 a person and up is tough. L'Espalier is in my opinion not worth the money. Congrats on popping the question!

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                    L'Espalier
                    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                    O Ya
                    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

                    Craigie on Main
                    853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

                    1. so I guess we have it basically narrowed down to either clio or craigie on main.

                      how difficult is it to get around? how much would cab fare be from the seaport hotel to craigie?

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: dankshwhat

                          Keep in mind that my DH and I did the 14-course tasting menu with a bottle of wine a few years ago and the bill was in the $500+ range. Not to discourage you, it was lovely. But since you mentioned the financial negatives of L'Espalier, I had to mention that Clio won't be much less or even less at all.

                          I think you're doing a charming thing and wish you all the best.

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                          L'Espalier
                          774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199