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Mr. Swank and I are feuding over our birthday meal. Help save our marriage?

I'm exaggerating, but only a little.

Mr. Swank and I share birthdays that fall quite close together, ergo we combine our birthday meals into one mutually exciting outing. We do this partially to save money but also because it's fun to come up with a place that we both enjoy. Well, this year things are going south in a hurry.

In years past, we've enjoyed: Oleana, Craigie on Main, Helmond, and East Coast Grill.

This year, Mr. Swank wants to go to Bergamot or Bondir. I'm not wildly anxious to try either. I'm sure they're delicious, but I really want something spicy and splashy, and very new to the scene. My top picks in this category are Red Lantern and Temazcal.

Together we've recently supped at Island Creek, Tico, Trade, Coppa, and Legal Harborside. We'd like to try a place that we've not tried before.

I am drawing a blank. I want something ethnic yet scene-y and, yet, new. He wants rustic and comforting. Oh, and he won't eat sushi. Help!

Is there a middle ground? Any suggestions?

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  1. We went tried Temazcal and probably won't be rushing back. In short, they seemed more focused on the alcohol than the food (which was OK). I wouldn't be excited about it as a birthday destination for food or atmosphere.

    Maybe check the new Trade out?

    I've got to side with Mr. Swank a bit about Bondir. Scene-y it's not, but the atmosphere and food can't be beat.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      Why not start out at one and end up at the other for after-dinner drinks?
      Go to Bondir and then cab it over to Temazcal or Red Lantern for the bar scene. Or Whiskey Priest - tee hee...
      Have you been to Scampo? Probably not ethic/spicy enough, but can go there and Clink for the scene after.
      How about Market / M Hotel lounge?
      Or will also through out Blue, Inc. - not sure what the place is like at dinnertime, but it's funky.

      1. re: Gabatta

        I think Mr. Swank has some good suggestions too, both Bo and Be are great in different ways. Scampo is a good thought too. But Bob D. has the right idea: start at one place and move on to another. You can add a drink at the Hawthorne in the mix too.

        1. re: Gabatta

          I agree about Temazacal. Food is fine, but by no means great.

        2. Eat sushi alone or with someone else who is into sushi, occasionally. Then you won't be wishing it were sushi when you compromise in order to eat out with Mr. S. Taking someone to a sushi bar who isn't into it is a waste of money and fish.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            It doesn't sound like they are considering sushi, I think it was just an aside.

            What about East by Northeast? Or the Gallows? Both are trendy, but both also would offer spicy or rustic.

          2. Mr. Swank? Is this Chowhound or the Penthouse Forum? :-)

            Maybe you can do two birthday dinners this year?

            1. It's not spicy, but Journeyman is new to the scene and worth a look.

              1 Reply
              1. The challenge here is that Boston doesn't have many places that are both scene-y and have great food. Temazcal and Red Lantern are both examples of the problem. Both serve food that is respectable but for the most part unextraordinary -- watered-down versions of cuisines that are done much better and more traditionally elsewhere. Pretty, but ultimately unmemorable.

                Bondir (especially) and Bergamot are both far more noteworthy for food, in my opinion, but it sounds like New American in an unshowy setting isn't moving you.

                I'd break it up: drinks and maybe dessert at some place with some zazz; dinner at a venue with a more serious approach to food.


                1. How's this for a suggestion: you start a new tradition or way of choosing where you go each year by each of you choosing a birthday spot every other year...Mr. Swank gets to choose where he wants to go one year, and then Mrs. Swankalicious chooses the next?

                  1. How about Estragon? It's got a sleek, modern-Spanish feel to it, and has a pretty lively scene. And the food is quite good now that Julio de Haro is back in the kitchen. Plus you can get lots of little dishes to try, which is always fun.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: BobB

                      Take a look at the menu for Blue, Inc on Broad Street. We enjoyed it and found it was sufficiently different from other options.

                      1. re: teezeetoo

                        this is exactly my suggestion. and get that truffle ice cream!!

                    2. if you liked coppa, and almost everyone does, why not Toro? That is about as close to new and sceney and yet good food. For something older, Rialto and Clio - you can order sashimi there if not sushi

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: cambridgedoctpr

                        Thanks for the suggestions. Toro crossed my mind, but I worried that it'd be too noisy. I'm also contemplating Estragon. I was there years ago and was highly unimpressed, but I'm more optimistic knowing that someone else is in the kitchen now. If any of you were to recommend a fun French place -- what'd it be? Thanks for saving my relationship and my birthday!

                        1. re: Swankalicious

                          i'm not thinking french is "ethnic" and "sceney" or "rustic and comforting." but, if you're just fishing, L'Espalier is still wonderful and I'm fond of La Voile.

                      2. "To save your marriage" - give to others. Volunteer at the Greater Boston Food Bank or attend their Super Hungry Chef fund-raising event held at the Four Seasons Hotel Boston.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: GraydonCarter

                          Solid advice, but hopefully not specific to a birthday or other special occasion.