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Jan 29, 2012 07:02 PM

Top line food in a fun atmosphere?

A friend is visiting from Toronto and we're hoping to have a great dinner out, fun atmosphere but fantastic food. We will be spending around $125/pp but would be willing to spend a bit more with wine and tip. I'm looking for top of the line food, talk about it the next few days food but nothing too formal and old fashioned.

We would be open to any style of food, aside from sushi/Japanese (otherwise I would be going to O Ya) and want something more interesting than a great steak. Within easy cab/walking/transit distance of Back Bay given our love of cocktails and wine.

I was looking at Aquitane, Menton's prix fixe, Erbaluce but hard to tell pricing and although we've eaten there before we loved Island Creek Oyster Bar and would consider going back. Neptune's is on my list to try but I'm worried about waiting outside in a line in the winter. Will they take your number and call when the table is available?

Many thanks!

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  1. yes, neptune will call you when table ready. certainly a fun spot.but no cocktails; you'd need to go elsewhere for those before. we like Aquitaine alot (also ICOB); food and service are always excellent in both spots. Menton sounds like maybe too formal/too much service for you?Erbaluce , w/ great food, does not fill your 'fun' goal. What about Craigie on Main ?10 minute cab from back bay.

    5 Replies
    1. re: opinionatedchef

      I second the Craigie recommendation. Also Coppa would be another great option.

      As mentioned as well they will take your number at Neptune, but depending on time you could be in for a significant wait. If your friend is in town for lunch as well, maybe lunch at Neptune then dinner at Craigie?

      1. re: Matt H

        Craigie on Main was the first place that came to my mind. We had the six-course chef's tasting menu there a couple of weeks ago and it was amazing, most definitely "talk about it the next day" food - in fact, we were still talking about it a week later.

        Our dinner included a trio of marinated seafood amuse-bouches, scallop sashimi, marinated and roasted tail of striped bass, veal three ways (belly, cheek, and sweetbreads), squid ink pasta with a pork heart/octopus/sunchoke ragu, and a trio of desserts. Total wow.

        Plus it's quite casual for a high-end restaurant, with an open kitchen so you get to see the chefs at work.

        1. re: BobB

          For some reason Craigie on Main just strikes me as more pedestrian. Maybe I'm inferring from the name but it makes me think of Steph's on Newbury etc. I guess I'm totally wrong on that?

          1. re: FEDup

            i could understand your thinking that before bob's post above, but how could you continue to think that after his post? The chef has won major awards and his reputation is as far away from pedestrian as can be. Along with Isl Crk, Craigie prob gets more CH raves than any other hi end restnt discussed and recommended on the boards( and that from foodie visitors as well.) Since you've rcvd lots of suggestions, wouldn't it help you to pull up some menus to see what menus wow you?

            1. re: FEDup

              If you can say that, you've clearly never eaten there - Craigie is anything but pedestrian. I agree the name is a bit odd, but it derives from the fact that Tony Maws (chef/owner) originally opened a small restaurant called Craigie Street Bistro on (doh!) Craigie St near Harvard Square. When he later moved to the much larger (former La Groceria) space on Main St, he renamed it Craigie on Main.

      2. Cuchi Cuchi just over the Boston line in Cambridge
        Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale (Downtown Crossing)
        Eastern Standard Kitchen (Kenmore)
        PICCO (South End)
        Myers & Chang (South End)

        1. My suggestions would be Scampo in the Liberty Hotel and/or Bistro Du Midi. Great food and atmosphere at both.

          2 Replies
          1. re: RoyRon

            Both look great! Scampo's menu looks pretty fun, definitely a top contender.

            1. re: RoyRon

              I find the bar has a much more lively atmosphere than the dining room at Bistro du Midi.

              1. Mistral is a good option for great food and a lively atmosphere.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Blumie

                  I thought I'd read elsewhere that Mistral was a good "corporate dinner" option, not top destination for a saturday foodie night?

                  1. re: FEDup

                    It's a question of whether you care more about food or atmosphere. Mistral has very good food and definitely fits your atmosphere request.

                    A "Saturday foodie night" would be more focused on food than the atmosphere. Hamersley's and Menton would be considered for such a night, but might be too formal and not enough "fun" for you.