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Mar 27, 2012 06:56 PM

Help With My Wife's Return to Boston

This weekend, my wife is going to a ladies' weekend in Boston, where we lived many years ago. Drawing on old favorites and my scouring of this board, I am trying to identify the best places to send her for must-eat meals, particularly with a decent scene for a ladies' weekend. When we lived there, her favorite place was Oleana, but I doubt she will cross the river to Cambridge for this trip. She has one free lunch and one free dinner with her friends.

Current options include:

No. 9 Park
The Cafe at Taj
La Verdad
Franklin Cafe
Myers & Chang

For cost and other reasons, I am leaning against, but still considering,

Uni (I LOVED this place when I lived in Boston)
o ya

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  1. the first 3 would all be very fun. not cheap -- those small plates add up.

    no 9 is very spendy and the food is not executed consistently enough for its price point. same owner as b & g and both have stratospheric wine mark-ups.

    the cafe at the taj is not worth a visit.

    la verdad is better than tico and cheaper.

    b & g is absurdly priced for what it is. i'd pick island creek or neptune over this place any day.

    franklin cafe is a fun neighborhood hang, but not in the same tier for food as some of these others.

    i love myers & chang and have never had anything but deliciousness there. it does seem popular with the ladies.

    gaslight is like a theme first and restaurant second. food is very meh and it is super LOUD.

    erbaluce should be considered too. amazing, amazing food and very thoughtful wine list. low-key vibe about the whole place that i love.

    6 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      (This feels twilight zone weird but )I agree with every point. Erbaluce and Myers and Chang esp. excellent suggestions.

      Keep in mind, Toro (best paella in town, imo)is phenomenally loud- NOT for conversing with old friends, unless at lunchtime.

      john, it would help if you told us where you live now and if there's a lack of a certain cuisine there.

      Island Creek Oyster Bar is always on CH top lists. The lobster roe noodles with lobster and shortrib- is worth the trip.Very large room but conversations feel intimate; exc. service too.

      1. re: opinionatedchef

        Thank you both for your outstanding input. Just what I needed. What is also funny is that, after posting , further research led me to add Island Creek Oyster Bar, as a New England style oyster bar is the thing my wife may miss most. She very much liked Summer Shack back in its heyday. And, is also fond of places like Pearl in NYC or Pearl Dive in DC.

        She has two free lunches and one free dinner. My current plan is to recommend Coppa and Island Creek for the lunches, and then provide a list of alternatives for dinner that the ladies can pick from, depending on their mood: Toro, Myers & Chang, Erbaluce, and La Verdad. Any of these places require reservations?

        1. re: John Galt

          ICOB isn't open for lunch.
          Erbaluce will be quite mellow and you mentioned a decent scene, so I'm not sure this is what they're looking for. I'd do Island Creek for the dinner.
          Myers & Chang is usually jammed so you better reserve, maybe that could be the lunch choice. I don't think La Verdad is a particularly fun place for a ladies night if indeed a scene is important. Toro would be a great lunch choice when it's not crowded.

          1. re: total13

            many of these places are within walking distance as well. so dinner at erbaluce and drinks after at tico would work too.

          2. re: John Galt

            opinionated chef will disagree, but I think La Verdad can't touch the other places on your list. It's not a big deal to make reservations, they can always cancel them.

        2. re: hotoynoodle

          Depending on when you lived in Boston, it may interest you to know that Erbaluce is the current stomping grounds of Charles Draghi, whose old restaurant Marcuccio's is still fondly remembered.

        3. I'm a fan of all those places (except for Cafe at Taj, which I haven't been to):

          If it were me, I would do lunch at Myers + Chang and B&G (I don't share other posters' disappointment with it, and moreover, I'd rather pay the markup on its intriguing wine list than not have the opportunity to sample such compelling bottles), and dinner at Coppa (which I think isn't as special at lunch).

          Unless I were feeling flush enough to do dinner at O Ya!

          1. Everything listed so far sounds great. I would add a trip to one of the many high-quality cocktail establishments. The Hawthorne and the bar at Clio are excellent choices. A meal at ICOB followed (or preceded) by the Hawthorne is an excellent combo.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ecwashere7

              I ultimately decided that this option looked perfect. ICOB followed by The Hawthorne. Unfortunately, ICOB appears to be completely booked on Friday night. Do they take walk-ins? Any other solutions?

              1. re: John Galt

                If it were a small group, you might be able to swing it. They do have an area that is for walk-ins (or at least they used to), but Fridays may be tough. Boston is such a small city, that it couldn't hurt to explore multiple areas in one night. In one evening, I've been to Central Square (Cambridge), Harvard, Kenmore and the South End. It's kinda fun hopping around the city. One of the benefits of Boston being a smaller town. Try calling around too (rather than using Open Table) for a reservation. Often times you'll luck out with an opening or they won't release all of their tables to OT.

                Nearby (other side of Fenway park), you can check out Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar. If you want to expand the search, check out any of the places listed already. My particular faves are Toro, Coppa, Myers and Chang and Via Matta.

            2. Oleana is my favorite, and if I were returning to Boston, that would be on the top of my list. i get that your wife might not want to drag the group across the river, but the red line train across the river is a lovely sight, and Boston really needs the river for the city status.... A quick cab from the Marriott at Kendall. and Kendall is full of great new places with cocktails.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Madrid

                I am completely in concurrence here w/ madrid, per usual. john, did you call ICOB? Open Tables will often show a place booked but when you call, the place holds open some non-Open Tables tables.
                La Verdad is great for fish and carne asada tacos and some other dishes but i don't care for the room myself . I agree with cookielee(gomer pyle <sooprise, sooprise, sooprise!!>)
                and with total about the scene at La V.

                For my tastebuds and aesthetic sensibilities, I would suggest M+C and Toro or Aquitaine for lunch; and ICOB or Erbaluce for dinner.
                If most of them could get to ICOB when it opens Fri, i bet they would get seated and the others could join them later. That's a technique that has worked for some in the past.

                1. re: opinionatedchef

                  Thank you to you both. The very helpful Maitre D' at ICOB has offered them a table Friday evening, so the problem is solved. For their lunches, I plan to suggest Toro, Coppa, and M&C, so that they can decide depending on what type of cuisine they feel like eating.

                  Sounds like they are in for a good weekend.

                  1. re: John Galt

                    Nice work! I think you've picked the best places for this kind of thing. Toro and Coppa are both tiny and very cramped at dinner, but are so good, so lunch is a great time to go. And I can't imagine anyone not loving the ICOB/Hawthorne combo.

                    1. re: John Galt

                      I'm unsure about lunch options at either Toro or Coppa on the weekend. During the week, they are two of my favorite places for lunch. Toro's midweek lunch burger is AWESOME (order it messy).

                      1. re: John Galt

                        Toro definitely doesn't do lunch on Saturday. Sunday is brunch only. I think Coppa has a similar schedule.

                        1. re: mkfisher

                          Excellent thread everyone! Solidified some opinions and gave me some new places to prioritize like Erbaluce and The Hawthorne. Thanks!

                          Sunday brunch at Toro was excellent. I went early (solo that day) and had the awesome grilled avocado and then the eggs with potato and chorizo. Not as loud/packed/crazy as dinnertime. Attentive and friendly bartenders, not rushed, and food was great.