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Confused & can't pick a restaurant for anniversary night

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  • Esdub Jan 8, 2012 12:11 PM
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HI all, it'll be our 5yr anniversary at the end of the month. Between family living w/ us, our 3y/o, and me away during the week for work, time together is kinda lacking lately. Been trying to plan this for over a month now and still can't finalize on a restaurant. We live on the Cape so in "getting away", thus far this is what I have. Saturday afternoon check into the Charles Hotel in Harvard Sq, sending her to a massage at the spa, I have a car/limo picking us up at 630p to go to Copley for a small champagne reception in picking up her surprise new "hand bag". From there I'm at a loss for dinner, after which we'll come back to the hotel for the night. Sunday I have reservations for Brunch at Cafe Fleuri at the Langham, afterwards to a movie, and then back home. For dinner, going out is usually Cheesecake, Joe's, or if I'm in Cambridge, take out from Izzy's. I love meat but don't like seafood, not allergic, just don't like the taste. She is a vegetarian, no meat, but she loves seafood. I've only seen her order haddock, cod, shrimp, king crab and mahi mahi, but never halibut, salmon, tuna, or sushi which seem to be on most menus. I can basically eat anywhere. Neither of us have ever really been to the real fine dining places except twice at Miel at the Intercontinental where we tried but both times ended up ordering off the bar/late menu instead of the dinner menu. I originally wanted somewhere in the Seaport district or North End to enjoy the car ride between Copley and dinner but now that isn't as important.

So after a month of reading reviews, suggestions, and menus, I'm thinking L'Espalier, Erbaluce, and Mistral are perfect romantic places and I would like to try something out of the ordinary for us as they may be able to customize a plate for both of us. However, I'm not sure if we have the palate to truely appreciate the smaller/fine dining dishes. The next ones I considered to have a nice atmosphere but I'm not sure she'd have many options on the menus were Carmen, Grill 23, Clio, Menton, and Grotto. Legal Harborside on the 1st floor I know has stuff she likes but we go there w/ friends and take the kids so the special/romantic feeling might be out the window. The 2nd floor, I run into the menu selection issue again, perhaps could drop in this week to ask if they can customize. I know Cragie on Main, Bondir, and Salts are highly recommended but again not sure on the menu and prefer dinner in Boston over Cambridge. Lastly, I'm considering Oceanaire, Turner Fisheries as we'll already be in Copley, or Mare in the North End as the menus I know she'll enjoy, but just not sure how intimate they would be.

I apologize if I seem all over the place here but am open to anything at this point, just trying to plan the perfect weekend. I've read so much and looked at so many menus, I can't remember which one had 1 reservation per night to sit with the chef or at a table in/near the kitchen and a meal specially prepared by the chef. There was also a steakhouse w/ a "seafood presentaion" but didn't list what it was. Maybe I'm overthinking and just need to keep it simple? Any and all help you can give is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. I'll add to the confusion and add a suggestion for Hamersley's Bistro in the South End. Wonderfully consistent food, classy understated atmosphere, several seafood choices for her, and for you their signature roast chicken but also pork and beef dishes on the menu. It's generally well-regarded on this board and in our many visits my husband and I have never had a bad dish or anything other than excellent service.
    Where ever you end up, Happy Anniversary! Hope your evening is special.

    2 Replies
    1. re: bear

      Interesting that you mention Hamersley's as they were featured on Phantom Gourmet this morning. Will consider and thanks for the well wishes!

      1. re: Esdub

        I'd second Hamersly's - we went there for my birthday last year, and they made the most amazing cocktails... The roast chicken was divine, and a friend who is a vegetarian loved her meal as well.

        Your weekend sounds so incredibly romantic and thoughtful that ANYTHING that you pick will amaze her. ENJOY!

    2. Since you will be in the Copley Square area, I suggest Bisto du Midi or Sorrelina. Each is romantic and we have had excellent food and service at both numerous times. Good luck. Let us know where you end up and how it goes. Happy anniversary!

      1. Since you are staying in Cambridge, allow me to suggest T.W. Food - the tastings always include a vegetarian menu that is substantial, while they also have excellent meat. Had a incredibly tender steak there recently - the place is quiet and romantic and close to your hotel.

        Mare is closed for change of concept/renovations. Oceanaire and Turner Fisheries are not romantic.

        1. Mistral is always a favorite. I know some people on this board think it is overrated/ overpriced but I think it has consistently been in the top 5 boston restaurants since inception almost 12 years ago. I always recommend that. Chowmensch's recommendation for their sister restaurant at Sorellina is another fantastic recommendation.

          Also, and I have not been there yet, personally, but check out Barbara Lynch's tasting restaurant, Menton. (Sorry to throw ANOTHER option in here for you!!) That could be a really great dining experience for you.

          Also, for sunday brunch, you might want to consider Henrietta's Table. It is in your hotel and supposedly one of the best, most extensive brunches around.

          1. I think the Sorellina and Bistro du Midi suggestions are good ones along with Hamersley's. L'Espalier would be fine too and certainly intimate. Its menu isn't so crazy or refined that you wouldn't be able to appreciate it. There's plenty of fish on the Grill 23 menu but it's too loud for your occasion. Mama Maria in the North End could serve the purpose for this dinner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: total13

              I love Erbaluce but don't consider the room at all romantic. Lucca on Huntington is a lovely room and quite elegant. While L'Espalier isn't as intimate as it was before the move to the new location, the food and service make for a romantic night. Hamersey is always good and feels personal and appealing to me. I find Bistro du Midi noisy. If you want to eat close to home, Rialto is right in your hotel and it is still top notch. For a vegetarian, Oleana's is always a fine choice and while the room isn't romantic, the food is always interesting. Given that you're looking for a specific menu you might want to check the menus on line. I'm sure your anniversary will be wonderful regardless of where you have dinner!

            2. One restaurant that doesn't get much play on this board is Asana at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. My wife and I have always enjoyed the dinners and lunches we have had there. The food is wonderful, the service is always impeccable and the room is very elegant. In my opinion they have one of the best pastry chefs in Boston too. Their Quintuple Chocolate Cheesecake and their version of Strawberry Shortcake are nothing short of suberb. I would highly reccomend it if you are looking for a place to have a quiet, romantic and non rushed dinner.

              1. Wow. This is going to be awesome, wherever you end up! I agree w/the other poster who said that Erbaluce's room is not romantic. I think it's cramped and blah. Food is quite good, but I'm not wild about the place. L'Espalier would definitely be a pick, based on your preferences - and they are one of the restaurants w/the one reservation for the chef's table (in the kitchen) per night. If you can swing the $, I would HIGHLY recommend doing this. My husband and I did it for our 9th anniversary dinner and it was truly memorable. You will have the "tasting journey" which is multi-course, and they WILL tailor it to your food preferences (when you make the reservation they'll ask you - or someone will call you to chat before you come in). Some courses we got the same items, others my husband got a meat dish and I got a more vegetable-heavy one (I eat mostly vegetarian, although I still do eat some meat). It was very fun to watch the kitchen in action and we got to meet all the players. It's not high-brow or snooty at all and it's a great experience.

                The other place I haven't seen mentioned by anyone yet is Scampo - a favorite of mine. The room is fun and funky, the food is delicious and imaginative w/o being over-the-top precious, and each of you would have options for what to eat.

                Happy anniversary and bon appetit!

                GG
                http://www.semisweetonline.com