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Which would you choose?

s
sbarden Apr 22, 2011 07:59 PM

Coming to Boston the first week of June from Austin, TX. Have done extensive restaurant research but would love folks to rate the following in order of "must-go's":

$$$$:
Craigie on Main
L' Espalier
Menton
O Ya
Clio

Will most likely do 2 spots.
(Others I considered if anyone thinks these are better: Grill 23, Radius, No. 9, Sorrelina, Taranta, Mamma Mia, Mistral)

Also, any good restaurants that offer pre-concert menus? Might try to do the Boston Symphony while there.

Thanks!

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O Ya
9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

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

Craigie on Main
853 Main Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

Mamma Mias
436 Mechanic St, Fitchburg, MA 01420

Menton
354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

  1. MC Slim JB Apr 22, 2011 08:25 PM

    I'd call Craigie its own thing, L'Espalier and Menton doing very much the same thing (high style, high concept, beautifully presented French / New American with excellent service in boring rooms), O Ya doing its own thing (a Western take on high-end Japanese, mostly about costly-ingredient sashimi and sushi, with some good cooked dishes, fairly low-key atmosphere), and Clio / Uni doing a hybrid of the two concepts.

    I'd pick Craigie as one of the two: it's the most idiosyncratic chef-owned place, a nose-to-tail bistro concept taken to a very high level, with a great bar program. I don't love the atmosphere, think the dining room is cramped and busy, with service that's a little too-too for the concept, so would recommend bar dining there if you can get it. If your second choice is also Western, I'd call it a toss-up between L'Espalier and Menton. I think L'Espalier works better all around, despite having sacrificed about 80% of its romance and charm with its move to a hotel setting a few years ago.

    But if you're a cocktail nerd, Menton is upstairs from Drink, which I think is the single best craft cocktail bar in Boston, a distinct plus in my book for before and after dinner. Clio and Uni represents an interesting compromise: a great, creative sashimi bar downstairs (very similar culinary aesthetic to O Ya, which in fact O Ya has been accused of ripping off), a rather high-level French / New American dining room upstairs with some Japanese influences (not quite hitting the heights of Menton or L'Espalier, in my book), and a newly-great craft cocktail program in the bar. L'Espalier also deserves a nod for having the best, most original pastry chef of the bunch.

    Can't really go wrong with any of them, but if pressed for a choice of two, I think I'd go either Craigie / L'Espalier or Craigie / O Ya, and hit Drink or the bar at Clio separately for cocktails.

    http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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    L'Espalier
    774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

    O Ya
    9 East Street, Boston, MA 02111

    Menton
    354 Congress St, Boston, MA 02210

    4 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB
      s
      sbarden Apr 22, 2011 09:01 PM

      Thanks! Tough calls across the board for our meals, but definitely want to get the high-end right.

      1. re: sbarden
        opinionatedchef Apr 23, 2011 12:03 AM

        great that you're doing your homework; the list shows that. your smiling mouth will thank you. You are unlikely to get as informed a reply as that of slim. My primary advice is to print out the menus (or sample menus; craigies changes every day) and see who wows you. Then check the updated menus closer to arrival.And make reservations asap; you can always juggle them later. It gets dark here about 8:30 in early june i think, just fyi.

        1. re: opinionatedchef
          c
          cambridgedoctpr Apr 23, 2011 09:24 AM

          i think any two will be fine. you are doing about as well as you can.

          i seem to be one of the minority who has no trouble with the service at Craigie; i like to go for the whim on a sunday night.

      2. re: MC Slim JB
        s
        sbarden Apr 23, 2011 09:44 AM

        Thanks again for the advice, especially the thoroughness from Slim!

      3. mabelm4050 Apr 23, 2011 05:01 PM

        Just an FYI: I am wondering if you mean the Mamma Marias in the North End of Boston? Your link is to a restaurant in Fitchburg which is about an hour west of Boston.

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        Mamma Maria Restaurant
        3 North Square, Boston, MA 02113

        Mamma Maria Restaurant
        3 North Sq, Boston, MA 02113

        1 Reply
        1. re: mabelm4050
          s
          sbarden Apr 23, 2011 06:16 PM

          Oops, yes that should have been Mamma Marias.

          And I saw a link for something in June, thought it was the symphony but guess it was the Pops. Thanks.

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          Mamma Maria Restaurant
          3 North Sq, Boston, MA 02113

        2. i
          Isolda Apr 23, 2011 05:40 PM

          Just wanted to add that the BSO doesn't have concerts in Boston in June. They go out to their summer home at Tanglewood. However, you could see the Boston Pops then, and many restaurants will do a pre-concert menu for you.

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