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a little bit romantic, on cambridge/somerville line

My friend has a crush on a colleague, and hopes it's reciprocal. She will be having a work-week "working" dinner with this colleague and wants to make it happen in a place where it's possible that the two of them will be able to let down their hair, so to speak, and at least discuss canoodling even if it doesn't happen at that very moment. Booths for privacy would aid the plan. However, it can't be so outrageously romantic that she and her colleague will need to jump guiltily if her other co-workers happen to see them there, i.e. it can't be a restaurant where the sole reason for existence is in support of dragging ones beloved off into a cave by the hair. (Okay, maybe that's not romantic but you know what I mean.)

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  1. I love this. If you really want to embarrass them, you must pick Dali and have them cover the table in rose petals. But more realistically, East Coast Grill offers booths in an environment that is decidedly more rambunctious. East by Northeast doesn't have booths but is an intimate space without being too romantic--and isn't the sort of place they will likely run into co-workers. Bondir is definitely too romantic. But maybe Bergamot is slightly less intimate but still special, and as I recall the tables have decent space between them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hckybg

      Rose petals! Love it, but not for this dinner. Maybe sheaves of 8.5 x 11 paper.

    2. I would never send anyone to Dali, because the food is so dreadful there. But ExNE is a good idea. The Independent in Union Sq.has had both booths and good food and a low key atmosphere.If Central Sq. could work, Rendezvous might be the best of all for food and atmosphere and privacy.

      502 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02139

      The Independent
      75 Union Sq, Somerville, MA 02143

      East by Northeast
      1128 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139

      3 Replies
        1. re: hckybg

          whew. glad you said that, in case some other people didn't get the joke either.

        2. re: opinionatedchef

          I guess there'll be no rendezvous at Rendezvous.

        3. Rendezvous and Bergamot are way too formal and romantic in my opinion. ExNE is a bit dimly lit and intimate too - if I saw work friends there together, I would immediately think "canoodling?"

          To me, the place should be relatively well-lit, and the cuisine more downmarket.

          So I like the ECG and Independent recommendations. Perhaps Posto (though they turn the lights down low) - Temple Bar has booths and is not quite the scene if you are not at the bar and it is not the weekend - Russell House - Christopher's (although I personally think the food is meh) - I have not been yet, but I get the feeling that Abigail's might also work.

          10 Replies
              1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                Very similar to all those Third Street spots. High ceilings with floor to ceiling windows. A really long bar and also three high top bar tables. Some booths along the left wall. Tables in the back. Things are pretty well spaced out. Servers where t shirts most of the time, so it's pretty laid back. A decent beer selection, and a good (not great) cocktail program. Food is solid. Do a nice BBQ brunch on Sundays. Devra First did a pretty spot on review in the Globe if you want to read a little more detail.

                1. re: mkfisher

                  Thanks for pointing me toward the Globe review. I've forwarded it to my friend. I think she's leaning toward Abigail's.

            1. re: Bob Dobalina

              i guess i don't agree w/ you on rendezvous. we were there Sat. of all the restnts i recommended, this is the one i would pick if i were OP's friend.

              1. re: opinionatedchef

                If they are willing to give up the privacy, the bar at Rendezvous isn't as formal/romantic.

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Yeah, OC -being in a re-purposed Burger King is not "romantic" exactly - I guess I was thinking with my stomach - the food there definitely has romantic overtones.

                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                    I don't really see what's so romantic about "Grilled Escolar with a Demi-Glace of Love Potion #9."

                  2. re: opinionatedchef

                    I've never felt romantic there (and didn't go with that intent), though the food might inspire it. The bar doesn't give privacy per se, but I've been there many times for the excellent Monday tapas menu, earlyish, with non romantic friends for long overdue catch up conversations that involved intimate non romantic topics, and felt private despite crowded bar. I think it has to do with the incredibly warm, attentive, yet non intrusive bar service. So if they wanted to try some fun, great tapas early on and the progress to a table later on (for couples with romance on their minds, sharing the tapas is a great primer while it's also totally fun for non romantic pairs, thus not obvious), plenty of opportunity for that. If this were me, I'd concentrate on finding the best match for the colleague's food interests and picking something new to the colleague, in a setting where the could be a feeling of private conversation.

                    1. re: Madrid

                      That tapas menu is awesome. We tried it for the first time this past Monday. Around 7pm there were 3 or 4 open seats at the bar. We didn't mean to make a dinner out of it, but one fried smelt, fried chickpeas, fried oysters, mini cassulet, two plates of bread, and ceviche later... As good as any full meal that I've had there. Next time I think we will pass on the peas (good, but large serving) and save room for dessert.

                2. Abigail's would work. The booth setup/vibe at the Independent would too, but I think their food is awful.

                  Maybe Casa B? I'm thinking the double-seater bar stools downstairs. It might veer too much into the romantic category (nothing "business dinner" about it) but they could always claim just wanting to try a new spot, if pressed.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    How about Trina's Starlight Lounge? I've only eaten at the bar, but I think they've got booths, no?
                    Informal, not too romantic, but a nice bar-feel to it....

                    1. re: justbeingpolite

                      Cool idea. I second it! Food is pretty good too!! The sweet potato chips, jus' sayin', are addictive! :)

                  2. What about the Thai restaurant on Cambridge street just out of Inman Square? Sugar and Spice? Spice is Nice? Spice and Ginger? I'm sure someone knows what I mean. I've only been there for lunch, once long ago, so don't know how it feels for dinner, but my friend loves Thai food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                      It's okay but behind the other Thai restaurants in the area. Not as good as Sweet Ginger in Union Square. Not even close to Rod Dee. I wouldn't recommend it for this kind of thing.

                    2. Or Oleana, or is that simply not a place where one pretends one is working?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                        The tables are crammed together--forget privacy.

                      2. Just talked to my friend, who is doing her own independent research. (Vested interest!) She told me that someone suggested she try the Temple Bar on Mass Ave. Neither of us have been there. Thoughts?

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                          Bob Dob suggested it above. They do have booths, the food's pretty good, and the atmosphere is not very memorable, since I don't remember it, but maybe that's good for this purpose.

                        2. Foundry on Elm or Saloon would work, I think. Maybe Green Street, but I can't remember if they have any booths or just banquettes.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: pollystyrene

                            I agree about Foundry on Elm. Haven't been to Saloon myself, yet. Problem is that when I suggested these, my friend was worried that chances were high that co-workers would stop in for a drink and raise the likelihood of embarrassment or interruption.

                            1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                              I fear that if said friend is this wound-up about this whole enterprise, it is bound to fail.

                              1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                Also, they must work at the largest company in the world. I go out to eat 1-2 nights a week and rarely, if ever, see anyone I work with, let alone know.

                                1. re: hckybg

                                  Or one of them could be like me. For awhile when ever my family went on vacation (to a foreign country) I ran into a classmate. And in Bmore my BF had a coworker who frequently showed up @ restaurants where we were eating. But even if they did run into a coworker, would that coworker immediately think that it was a "date" or just see it as coworkers out for dinner? If so, maybe I should tell my BF to stop going out for after work drinks/dinners with his female coworkers (don't want any rumors starting). I say, the should go where ever they want and who care who sees them. Just save any kissy faces for after.

                                  1. re: viperlush

                                    I think it depends on two things: (1) whether they're gazing into one another's eyes, and (2) whether they blush when their coworker comes along! Of course, if their coworker says "Aha!" when he or she sees them and they don't deny his interpretation, then all is lost, or possibly won.
                                    Can you tell I'm getting a vicarious thrill out of all this?

                                  1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                    Well, you know how it is to be in the thick of a crush. It can be consuming, even at her age (she's younger than me.)

                                1. Has this meal happened yet?

                                  I think of the places listed here, Abigail's and Temple Bar would both be good choices. I'd choose whichever one is farther from their work. My one meal at Temple Bar was actually really good, and better food-wise than my one meal at Abigail's.

                                  I agree with Bob D. that if I saw two co-workers at a place like Bergamot or ExNE, I would think they were on a date. Same with somewhere like Oleana. I guess Abigail's and Temple Bar are good because they aren't *quite* destination restaurants, but are still somewhat nice and could be dateworthy in the right circumstance.

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    I think Temple Bar is in the lead here. My friend is going to check it out early. Wish her luck!

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      I think Temple Bar is in the lead! Wish my friend luck.

                                    2. Well, my friends, you have once again made a superlative recommendation! My friend reports that Temple Bar was perfect; there were lots of post-work people there looking serious about working, but the light was so dim that after a little while she and her hopeful squeeze couldn't see the little numbers any more. So they had to put their work aside and spend a few hours getting to know one another and it's going from there! Thanks

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                        Awesome. Thanks for reporting back.

                                        In case you or your friend didn't see, I featured this thread in the Chowhound Digest a few weeks back: http://www.chow.com/digest/106405/a-w...

                                        Might have to do a follow up!

                                        Dave MP

                                        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                          Thanks for reporting back. I expect an invite to the wedding. ;)