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Jan 20, 2012 11:12 AM

classy restaurant for lunch near Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

I'll be in Boston on a Saturday and am looking for a nice place for lunch/brunch before visiting the Museum of Fine Arts. Looking for something nice and quiet and special, with (of course) really excellent food. Thanks!

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  1. What about the restaurants in the MFA? They have lots of choices:

    2 Replies
    1. re: CookieLee

      Plenty of choices. None of them very good, unfortunately.

      1. re: Jenny Ondioline

        Really? I haven't dined there for a while. I have always liked the little space near the film theater. I dined upstairs once, many years ago, and it was great. Too bad.

    2. The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is opening their new wing this weekend, which houses a new cafe. I've heard good things, and you can't beat the ambience.

      5 Replies
      1. re: Science Chick

        The problem with that is you need to pay to enter museum to eat at the cafe. But I do think that the museums do some discount for going to both so it might be worth it if the OP has the time. I would suggest that they make reservations. We were there for member preview there was an hour wait for those without reservations.

        1. re: viperlush

          Actually, this weekend they are having free admission for the opening of the new wing. Not sure if you still have to pay to go to the cafe, now that it is all in the new wing, before you go to the museum proper (whereas before, you had to go all the way through the museum to get to the cafe)

          1. re: Science Chick

            Even better, the Gardner is a wonderful museum to visit and so different from the MFA. I highly suggest a making a reservation. For now you still need a ticket to the museum to eat at cafe G (or just to make a reservation?). Hopefully they will change it. I just don't know where they would collect tickets to make sure that unticketed people just go to restaurant and gift shop (base of the steps? at the entry to the old building ?) and not into the museum.


            I prefer this space to the last. Airy and open and not as cramped feeling. And definately a lot larger. Can't wait until the weather is nice and can eat outside. The menu is expanded, but I think that I saw some old favorites on it (the onion and gruyere tart). I like the small plate option (1 for $5.50 or 3 for $15). Be warned, if you order the oyster stew special it is a small portion. Good, but not very filling.

            1. re: Science Chick

              I just called to check and was told you don't have to pay admission to go to the cafe. They are no longer taking reservations but they will give you a pager and seat you as soon as possible. You might be able to call and estimate the wait before you go.

              My husband and I had lunch there on Tuesday and were very happy with our meal.

              Bravo at the MFA is now headed by Chef Tim Partridge so that may be worth a try as well.

              Cafe G - 617-566-1088


            2. re: viperlush

              before the renovations, you did not have to pay admission if you told the guard you were going to the cafe and/or the gift shop. I don't know how it is now since I haven't been since renovation. As far as I know, the only discounts are for museum members at all the food places and the gift shops.

          2. Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I wasn't envisioning something actually within the museum, for various reasons I won't bore you with, so if there is anything good that is even a short cab ride away, I'd really appreciate your thoughts.

            6 Replies
            1. re: birdwillie

              The closest quality places are those in Kenmore Square. Eastern Standard and Petit Robert Bistro would fit. Both are a modest cab ride from the MFA.

              1. re: birdwillie

                Eastern Standard Kitchen over in Kenmore is a short cab or bus ride away from the MFA.


                1. re: birdwillie

                  Oh, then you want Brasserie Jo. And if you don't care to cab, the Prudential T stop is directly in front of the restaurant, and the MFA stop is four stops outbound from there, or if the weather is not as unpleasant as predicted, it's a leisurely 20 minute stroll up a particularly nice stretch of Huntington Ave.

                  1. re: Jenny Ondioline

                    It is a nice stretch, isn't it? Something about the combination of modernist buildings on the east side of Mass Ave and the Beaux-Arts institutions to the west, plus the sounds of classical musicians practicing from within New England Conservatory, makes it the most urbane stretch of our city.

                    1. re: hckybg

                      One of the main reasons why we love to eat at Brasserie Jo on symphony nights -- besides the fact that I adore this restaurant -- is that the post-dinner stroll from there to Symphony Hall is one of my favorite walks in the city.

                  2. re: birdwillie

                    The Gardner is about 3 blocks from the MFA, if you are so inclined. I would also second the rec of Brasserie Joe.

                  3. Thanks everyone. Brasserie Jo or Eastern Standard it is! I really appreciate your help.