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Round tables, or seating that will allow everyone to interact

It's going to be my birthday soon and I didn't want a big party, but a small group of people to go to dinner with me. The small group grew a little and now it's about 12. My goal is to have a seating scheme that allows everyone to interact. Tall order, I know, but one long table won't cut it. I want a good meal, so although John Harvard Brewhouse has a nice, big round table, I want a better place. Ideally, the North End, but I'm open. Ideas, anyone?

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  1. Sichuan Gourmet in Brookline.

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    Sichuan Gourmet
    1004 Beacon St, Brookline, MA 02446

    1. This is a GREAT question, as I'm always trying to find places with round tables for big groups. I'm kind of tired of being seated at rectangular tables with 10, 15, or even 20+ people and not being able to say more than a couple of words to people on the other end of the table. La Galleria 33 in the North End has at least one round table; a few others away from the North End that I can think of include the Mount Vernon in Somerville, Sichuan Garden in Brookline, Ecco in Weymouth, and Winthrop Arms in Winthrop.

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      Sichuan Garden
      295 Washington St, Brookline, MA 02445

      La Galleria 33
      125 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113

      6 Replies
      1. re: hiddenboston

        i dont how "great" a meal buca di beppo is...
        but if they have one near boston...they have a large round room/table for large groups called the pope room...

        1. re: hiddenboston

          Space is a big factor here. People sit around the perimeter of a table. For a given perimeter, p, a circular table occupies the most area of any shape: a little over p^2/13 units of area, compared to a square table which occupies p^2/16, or a rectangle twice as long as it is wide which occupies p^2/18. A long table, 4 times as long as it is wide, occupies p^2/25 units -- about half the area of a circular table that seats the same number of people.

            1. re: hiddenboston

              To make him even prouder, there's another interesting geometrical aspect to this problem: the corner effect. Rooms are generally rectangular. Round tables are, well, round. From a restaurant's perspective, there's wasted space at the corners of the square in which the round table has to be accommodated, in addition to the intrinsically bigger area of a circle. The OP wants to seat 12 at dinner. Assuming a little over 2ft of table space per person, and another 2ft of space away from the table in order to push your chair back, the restaurant would have to set aside a 12ft X 12ft square area to accommodate the arrangement, with empty space at each corner.

              It's the OP's birthday, though, and all this talk of geometrical obstacles will be making him gloomy. On the bright side, I think MC's suggestion of two six-seaters is excellent. It's hard to interact with someone at the far side of a big circle, anyway.

            1. re: hiddenboston

              I don't think 12 people would fit at the round table at La Galleria 33. I've been there with 8 and that was kind of tight.

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              La Galleria 33
              125 Salem St., Boston, MA 02113

            2. Few places outside of Chinatown will waste the space needed to seat 12 diners in a circle. In a rectangular format, I think the biggest group that easily interacts is six or eight, depending on the spacing. Two adjacent six-tops can be better than one long 12-top. If you're not ordering off a menu, e.g., doing family style or buffet service or the like, another way to deal with this is to have people move their seating positions periodically. A private dining room makes this a bit easier, since you can yell across the table without annoying your neighbors (Tremont 647 has one just this size.) Tough problem, any way you slice it.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

              2 Replies
              1. re: MC Slim JB

                How many seats are there at the round tables at Mary Chung's in Central Square? I recall big groups around those. I'm sure you could do two sixes there.

                Penny
                http://www.bostonzest.com/

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                Mary Chung Restaurant
                460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

                1. re: BostonZest

                  I've done a banquet at a round table at Mary Chung, can't recall if it was 8, 10 or 12 people.

                  http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

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                  Mary Chung Restaurant
                  460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

              2. I seem to recall big corner rounds at KO Prime and Gaslight.

                1. Brasserie JO has a round table. Not sure if it will fit 12...
                  Bistro du Midi has an amazing private room that isn't an extra charge. They also have a "semi" private room. Pricey though.
                  "94 Mass Ave" doesn't have round tables but it's a good place to go for a birthday. Plates to share and the table are really wide (so it's almost like a round).

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                  Brasserie JO
                  120 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02116

                  Bistro du Midi
                  272 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116