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Restaurant Week!

Iiiiiits restaurant week (http://www.restaurantweekboston.com/

)

I'm super pumped as this is my first restaurant week in Boston, but I have absolutely no idea where to go. I can probably manage 2 dinners and since the price is fixed, I was hoping for something nice and yummy that I otherwise wouldn't splurge for. I'm a college foodie so great food at a reasonable price is simply impossible to turn down.

Any recommendations? (I'm willing to go anywhere so long as it's within 15minutes of a Tstop, I don't have a car...)

Thanks!

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  1. My plan is to stay out of restaurants for the week. I gave up on restaurant week about 5 years ago when the menus became less and less like the regular menus for a given place.

    We will probably compile a list of the places not taking part in the event and stick to those. I hope the gang here can recommend a few places where you will actually get a taste of the menu that place has all year long.

    I understand that Grotto in Beacon Hill is one place that offers its real menu.

    Penny
    http://www.bostonzest.com/

    -----
    Grotto
    37 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA 02114

    1. I've softened a bit on Restaurant Week, though my inner Scrooge still mostly says "Bah!" You'll have to pick your spots; most RW experiences will be so-so, not really the bargain they appear. Given the past year's spike in food costs, it will be an even bigger challenge for many chefs to do something that will make you want to return to pay full price.

      As a rule, if the place normally charges a lot more than $33/head before dessert, don't expect miracles, or food closely resembling the full-price experience. The way to do L'Espalier for shorter money is lunch, not RW. In past years, one exception to this has been luxury steakhouses; if you go in for that sort of thing, many offer a good deal during RW.

      I will take most of my restaurant meals for those two weeks in places that aren't participating, but everybody suffers an August lull, even in a non-sucking economy, so anyone you give some business ought to be appreciative. Buy good wine, tip large, be one of the nice customers.

      I expect other Hounds will have specific venue recs. One place I've been to a couple years on a row for RW is Estragon, which stays true to its tapas concept, limits its menu a bit, but still delivers an excellent bargain-priced snapshot of what it usually does. That's what you hope for during RW, but often don't get.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      1 Reply
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        Toro follows the Estragon model as well - majority of the menu available:
        For RW, table of 2 gets 2 pinchos, 5 tapas and 2 deserts.

        Some dishes normally considered pinchos were 'upgraded' to tapas on the menu, so depending on how you order, overall you might save a few buck off the regular menu pricing. Wasn't thinking this way when I was there, so I just looked at the menu - doing the math, 2 RW covers basically amounted to what we ordered anyway, and we ended up essentially getting free desert (2 slices of manchego and 1 small churro).

        Clearly saving $10 on 2 small desert plates is not motivation to go to Toro - it was really good (but really loud) on Tuesday night.

        -----
        Toro
        1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

      2. being a college student, you're probably not as jaded as some of the rest of us olds posting on here, lol.

        i tend to shy away from eating dinner out during this period as well, because the restaurants are packed and the staff is harried, from line-cooks to managers.

        as mcslim pointed out, realize that places that normally top $100 pp check averages are generally not giving you that same experience for $30. there will not be lobster and foie gras on the prix-fixe. steakhouses indeed are good bets, most are offering filet mignon as an option for rw and just the a la carte steak would be close to $40. you get an app, a side and dessert too.

        pick a posh place you've always wanted to try and just go. try to reserve early or later in the evening, rather than prime-time. realize too that your server's check average plummets during this period and try to tip on what dinner should have cost, not what it did.

        if that's more than your budget allows, perhaps try rw lunch, which many places offer for $20ish.

        3 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          I would stand and vigorously object to that characterization of many Hounds as "olds", but I'm feeling a draft around my ankles and my joints are kind of achy.

          http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

          1. re: MC Slim JB

            to a college kid anybody over 25 is old. now where did i put my sweater?

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              and tell those kids to get off my lawn.

        2. I haven't gone this year but last year quite enjoyed Market. My friends insist that this is a great time to go to the steak houses: Ruth Chris's generous rw menu has particularly pleased them. I have had poor experiences at Rialto (bad enough so that I stopped giving them my business as a futile but personal protest at the arrogance of serving bad food to people presumed to be unworthy customers).

          2 Replies
          1. re: teezeetoo

            I assume you mean Market by J-G, not the Financial District place called Market. I wasn't wowed by the place at the W, thought it was okay but expensive for what it was (typical hotel restaurant premium), wondering how it will change now that they've poached the exec chef from Myers and Chang.

            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            1. re: MC Slim JB

              Their restaurant week menu last year was generous and geared to giving you a good range of tastes from the kitchen. I can't speak to their "everyday" menu. Yes, the W Market.

          2. I have had very good RW experiences at Market (going again this year), as well as Avila and Grotto (though Grotto's regular menu isn't much higher during non-RW so I don't generally go there during RW). We are also trying Estragon (for the first time), and Bergamot for RW this year, as the wife has a AMEX special where you get a $25 AMEX gift card if you do three RW meals.

            7 Replies
            1. re: kimfair1

              I, on the other hand, had an absolutely abysmal RW meal at Grotto, enough so that I really should have added that to the Bum Steers thread. I don't know which was worse, the food or the service. To top things off, my DC and I were roundly chastised on this board for having expected a decent meal during RW, and for having gone to Grotto when the regular 3-course special was only a couple of dollars more than the RW deal. All in all an experience that left me embittered both with RW and with Grotto.

              (That said, during the same RW we had a perfectly lovely meal at Beacon Hill Bistro.)

              1. re: Allstonian

                Forgot Beacon Street Bistro, we also had a very nice RW meal there.

                1. re: kimfair1

                  how is the food there now that bond has flown the coop?

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    We went last year, so I believe Bond may have still been there (it may have actually been 2 years ago - I'm getting mighty old, and the memory ain't what it used to be). Haven't been back.

                2. re: Allstonian

                  I totally agree. I'm baffled by glowing reviews of Grotto, which I found to have weird, overwrought food, a bizarre location and terrible service, all at a far from reasonable price. I won't be back, and especially not in RW.

                  1. re: lifeasbinge

                    I disagree with, but accept that people might have issues with the food, service or price (though the last one maybe less so--prices are still in the low 20s, right?)

                    But how is the location "bizarre"?

                    1. re: lifeasbinge

                      While I do find much of Grotto's food to be rich and heavy, I would hardly call it weird. To each his own though on taste. I've dined at Grotto with multiple companions and all my DC's have equally enjoyed their meals. Service has always been acceptable, even if not superb. And their regular menu offers a prix fixe on non-RW nights for $34, so I'm hard pressed to find any faults with their price point.

                3. I'm not a hater on RW, though I think the lukewarm reception is understandable. I've been pleasantly surprised on many a RW menus, and while few are a "wow, how can I have waited this long to try this place?!" there are many a decent meals, especially for the price. I've never had an outright bad meal during RW -- just uninspired and a waste of an opportunity from the establishment's perspective to hook a loyal customer.

                  I haven't checked the site so I can't vouch that all these places are still participating but recent good experiences I've had:

                  Bergamot
                  Market
                  KO Prime
                  Grotto
                  Russell House Tavern
                  TW Foods

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

                  Russell House Tavern
                  14 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  1. Taranta has always provided a good RW experience...as well as non RW. Good reports from Sorrelina.

                    RW is best used to go places you might not go at full boat..but want to try...x I went to Asana and had a good meal...not good enough to make me want to go back..non RW. Persephone put out a great RW meal, closed before I could go back.

                    The big steak houses offer a bargain, if you want to try them.

                    -----
                    Asana
                    776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: 9lives

                      Places that I've had good RW meals in the past include Sorellina, Capital Grille, Davio's, Locke-Ober and Sibling Rivalry. Ones that have disappointed include The Fireplace, L'Espalier and Asana.

                      Hope you have a great meal wherever you go.

                      -----
                      L'Espalier
                      774 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02199

                      Davio's
                      75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116

                      Locke-Ober
                      3 Winter Place, Boston, MA 02108

                      Sorellina
                      One Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02116

                      Sibling Rivalry
                      525 Tremont St., Boston, MA 02116

                      Asana
                      776 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02199

                    2. I've also had a tasty meal at Sorrelina. But we do not typically go to restaurant week. But I found the portions on the smaller side, and the meal was very "quick". Not sure if this was typical as we have not gone back. And honestly we left a bit hungry, but that left room for ice cream later on elsewhere. Others that I have gone to and had good experiences at are no longer in business.

                      I would agree with what others mentioned and just pick a restaurant that you really want to try. I see that some of the menus are up, so take a look and work from there.

                      Good luck and I hope you have fun!

                      1. I had a great Restaurant Week experience at Lumiere last winter and will go there again this season. Lumiere also has a fix prixe $35 3 course menu Sunday-Thursday throught the rest of the year.

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

                        1. The only restaurant I go to for RW is Toro, mainly because they offer reservations for that week. I also found the food to be as good as always, with a good selection of dishes available.

                          1. I love restaurant week too! I've been to Top of the Hub and The Capital Grille, and would recommend both - Top of the Hub as an experience; it was a great view from atop the Pru that I wouldn't have gotten anyway (too expensive otherwise/not old enough for bar). The food was very good too, and the service very nice. That one is easy to get to in Back Bay, either off the red line or the green.

                            The Capital Grille was a great deal for the well-known steakhouse - I had the Kona crusted sirloin (going to get that again next week!) and my bf the filet mignon. Great quality food at a much cheaper price, and we were definitely full and very satisfied at the end. I go to the one in Burlington, right off the 350 bus that you can catch from Alewife. There is another Capital Grille closer to Boston I believe, but I've never been there.

                            Enjoy yourself!!

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

                            1. I've had good restaurant week meals in past years at Harvest (lunch and dinner) and Mamma Maria (dinner). I think Harvest in particular did a great job with restaurant week - yes, the portion sizes are smaller than usual and you are not going to get lobster, but the food was quite good actually and the service and pace appropriate.

                              1. As some of the other non haters have said, think of some restaurants you've wanted to try, make sure the prices are actually a bargain as opposed to about the same you'd spend there, and look at the menus to see what looks good. A few places that had good menus: Blue Room, Davio's, East Coast Grill, Erbaluce, KO Prime. Sometimes the meals are great, sometimes just okay, sometimes not good. Almost like any other time you go out to dinner.

                                -----
                                Davio's
                                75 Arlington Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                East Coast Grill and Raw Bar
                                1271 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                KO Prime
                                90 Tremont Street, Boston, MA 02108

                                Erbaluce
                                69 Church Street, Boston, MA 02116

                                The Blue Room
                                Hampshire and Portland streets, Cambridge, MA 02139

                                1. I have had excellent meals at Capitol Grill and Mamma Maria, both offer choices from their regular menu. I would avoid all Aquitaine group restaurants, they tend to offer the cheapest items possibl;e that they would never feature on their regular menu (I used to err... know someone who worked for them)

                                  -----
                                  Mamma Maria Restaurant
                                  3 North Sq, Boston, MA 02113

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: jessabella617

                                    Capital on Newbury not doing RW this time due to move

                                  2. Had an excellent RW meal at Bergamot on Monday evening. Place was hopping, choices were good with excellent food, and great drinks as always. Recomended!

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kimfair1

                                      @kimfair1: can you elaborate on your Bergamot meal? What options did you choose and which were the standouts? Thanks.

                                      1. re: bella_sarda

                                        I had the fresh tomatoe/peach salad to start, my wife had the summer salad. Both excellent, the tomatoes were certainly local and delicious. We both had the pork shoulder for our mains, which was several thick slices over braised escarole. My wife had the angel food cake dessert, and I the stone fruit crisp(mainly peaches and plums). We added on a goat cheese risotto app. off the regular menu. The pork was the standout for me, though everything was very good.

                                        1. re: kimfair1

                                          Wow---thanks. It all sounds very good.

                                    2. Tried the RW lunch at Scampo ($20). The dishes I chose (beef carpaccio, duck confit w/ risotto, pavlova) were slightly smaller but otherwise a reasonable facsimile of their normal menu.

                                      1. Went to Market tonight and had our second excellent RW weekdinner (the other was Bergamot) this year. We both had the Tuna Tartare with avocado, spicy radish, and ginger dressing. The tuna, when bathed in the dressing, tasted almost of tomato. There was so much flavor on this plate. One of the best presentations of tuna tartare I've had. Next up we both had the Glazed Short Rib with carrots and herbs, an excellent rendition of this dish, with nicely glazed super tender short ribs, over slightly sweet carrot and carrot puree. For dessert my wife had the peach ice cream, and I had the Almond Layer Cake with Glazed Apricots. The ice cream was very nice, but the almond cake stole the show. My wife, who normally asks for only one bite of my dessert, asked for a second of the almond cake. We added on an appetizer from the regular menu of scallop sashimi on flat tater tots. it was really good, but the scallop could have been sliced slightly thinner for my taste. I'm sure others might disagree. They also had 3 white and 3 red wines for just under $24 a bottle. We had an excellent 2009 Copolla Rosso. I need to come back when it's not RW, as that's been my second excellent RW meal there, but we've never gone on non-RW weeks

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: kimfair1

                                          We went to Toro for the first time last night and loved it. It seemed like a good amount of food for a RW and the menu was pretty similar to the usual menu.We left stuffed and happy.

                                          -----
                                          Toro
                                          1704 Washington St, Boston, MA 02118

                                        2. Had a great dinner at Mistral for RW. App of chilled corn soup with avocado and lump crab (DELICIOUS), chicken with mushroom risotto, and a warm nectarine tart with buttermilk (?) ice cream. Well worth the price... And the bartender made me absolutely delicious non-alcoholic cocktail (I'm pregnant) with blueberries and nectarine syrup - for $5.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: sallyt

                                            Ditto. We went there on Sunday, and the four of us were thoroughly sated and very happy.

                                            Except they offered an extra entree of duck, and then didn't have it. But we got over it quickly.

                                          2. Had RW dinner at Uni the 2 nights ago. Incredibly delicious! They do offer a RW only menu with 2 options for each meal, and then a number of a la carte items. Portion sizes of course smaller, but I didn't expect otherwise based on what I've heard. Flavor though was spot on.

                                            Started with a salmon sashimi with pineapple and jalapeno. I loved the combo of the sweet and a tinge of heat. The quality of the salmon was superb. My DC had the tuna poke, which was so delicious. Tuna in big chunks can take on a meaty quality, but tuna was deliciously tender and the sesame oil sauce was great.

                                            We both had chirashi (salmon, tuna and hamachi) and again the fish quality was top notch. My only complaint was I wanted a bowl twice as large, more out of deliciousness than anything. We also opted for a few a la carte items that were wonderful though I forget some of their detailed descriptors. One was thinly sliced octopus in sesame-oil based dressing, one a salmon belly, a pork belly steamed bun and then a suzuki ceviche. All were really good, but the pork belly was heavenly (if a bit messy to eat) and the suzuki wowed us beyond expectations.

                                            Dessert was good if a little bewildering at first. I don't mind fancy plating, but I'm not a fan of small desserts/dishes on giant plates. I had a passion fruit tart with lychee sorbet - so refreshing! My DC had raspberry confetti that we finally figured out is like freeze-dried ice cream, but not freeze dried looking. Really nice raspberry taste and quite yummy.

                                            Great meal. Would have loved to try the other entree options. I really appreciate this as a RW experience by providing a more friendly starting price point, with the option to experience other add on's to showcase their other dishes. To me, this is what RW should be about.

                                            1. Thanks to justbeingpolite's glowing review last week, some friends and I went to Pigalle last night and had a very good meal. We ordered off the RW menu (duck liver mousse and crispy duck for two of us, salmon niçoise and cassoulet for the other), plus some of the $1.50 oysters for the others and an order of the comté truffle cheese fries to share. The oysters were pronounced delicious, I personally experienced the fries as being delicious both with and without the molten cheese poured over them, an enormous portion for $8, more than 3 of us could really manage although we made a valiant attempt.

                                              The mousse had very nice flavor but was a bit grainy and lacked the unctuous silkiness of the housemade chicken liver mousse at Formaggio Kitchen which is my platonic ideal of the dish. It was served with housemade waffled chips (excellent) and various condiments and bits plated in an oddly frenetic array. The bite I had of the salmon cake which anchored the salmon niçoise was very good. The crispy duck was indeed crispy, the crispiest I’ve ever had, and it was fabulous: every smidge of the fat had been rendered, the skin was shatteringly crisp and the flesh perfectly succulent. It was complemented by more of an orange marmalade than an orange sauce, a perfect foil. The dish was described as half a duck which normally means either the left half or the right half, but in this case meant the back half (both legs) which I think was the better choice for this treatment. This dish was beautifully plated, the legs stacked on puréed potatoes with lardons, peas and favas. Did not taste the cassoulet because he wasn’t sharing! Guess that means it was good.

                                              Dessert for two of us was the panna cotta with cherry compote and lemon cake, and for the third, the fallen chocolate cake. The panna cottas were stacked on the round lemon cakes and crowned with cherry and resembled nothing so much as bosoms. Why on earth did they not split them in half and offset the halves?? Oh well we got a good laugh. I found the cake a bit dry but the panna cotta and cherry compote both very good and not too sweet. The chocolate cake was said to be excellent. Service was very nice if a bit unpolished. I would definitely go back and unhesitatingly recommend this for RW if you can still get in. To my mind, an above average RW menu and executed very well indeed. We had various of the wines by the glass and they complemented the dinner well, although I am no wine expert. http://www.pigalleboston.com/menu.pdf

                                              -----
                                              Formaggio Kitchen
                                              244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                              Pigalle
                                              75 Charles Street South, Boston, MA 02116

                                              1. OK I had a thoroughly enjoyable meal at Pigalle Tuesday night and an even better one at EVOO last night. Will post a more detailed review when I have a moment but suffice it to say that we truly agonized over our choices and one bite into the entree we flagged down the host and asked for a reservation tonight. Cannot wait!!! I urge you to go to EVOO for RW if you can still get in. If not, they put a note in the bill reminding us that their normal 3 course tasting is only $45, still a decent deal in my book for food that good.

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

                                                EVOO Restaurant
                                                350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

                                                1. I have not done RW in almost 7 years. Today, three friends at work and I went to EVOO for RW lunch. From the FOH to the service and food, we had a terrific experience. The gazpacho was deemed a little too sweet. I loved the corn bisque topped with a small pool of ancho chili butter and zucchini croutons, although someone else said it was just ok. The country pate seemed to go over really well, but I didn't try it. Three of us had the generously portioned arctic char with blackberry salsa - which we all loved. The skin was crisp, the fish cooked beautifully, and the blackberries totally worked with the fish - what a delightful surprise! The other entree was the Chinese Box. I have to say, it looked a bit more sloppy than I remember it. The broccoli looked raw (and maybe it's supposed to be?). It was a HUGE portion. But my friend said she liked it (she's not one to mince words) and made a lot of progress. I just think it could've been a little more elegantly presented. Two of us got the three course deal so we could all share two desserts - chocolate tart and blueberry crumble. Both were tasty, but then again, I don't have much of a sweet tooth. Gruner veltliner and Clown Shoes beer for the table to round out a good meal shared with good friends.

                                                  -----
                                                  EVOO Restaurant
                                                  350 Third Street, Cambridge, MA 02143

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: digga

                                                    you guys have convinced me to try RW at EvOO for lunch tomorrow. I've always loved their food and it seems from both the menus and your reports that they are really, really trying. They should get rewarded! I'm only slightly disappointed that the delicious fried oysters with goat cheese fondue aren't on the menu. The arctic char sounds divine and I love blackberries in any course, especially savory.

                                                    1. re: Madrid

                                                      They have a lot of choices (sorry, I didn't take notes) - hopefully you will find something to your liking!

                                                      One thing - our lunch was VERY leisurely (12:45 pm reservation, we were seated promptly, and didn't leave until close to 2:30 pm). If you need to get back to work, you might want to mention this to your server. It was great not being rushed out!