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Seeking suggestions for festive holiday weekday lunch for 4 colleagues in December

As foodie-elect of my work friends, I am looking for a nice celebratory holiday lunch spot for us in mid-December. We are four professionals who want it all -- atmosphere and delicious food-- and one of us has gluten issues. We work in Cambridge by Harvard Square but close to Storrow so could easily go downtown, Back Bay, etc. We have celebrated other years at Henrietta’s; we’re looking for an alternative. I know that Upstairs on the Square has a nice fireplace but the last several times I've been there -- over 8 months ago -- I was underwhelmed. Thought about Gran Gusto but the ambiance is not that compelling. We recently ate at Area Four and I just sent a few of the group to Catalyst. I don’t tend to go to the hotels but am wondering if there is one that might be atmospheric, have solid food, and not be outrageously expensive. Aside from the gulten, we are very open minded. Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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  1. Grill 23 is generally not open for lunch, but in the past they have done a very nice holiday lunch for the 2 weeks before Christmas. I believe it is a 3 course prix fixe for around $40, and not solely beef focused. It is a very nice atmosphere for such a lunch, but on the more expensive side.

    You might consider Harvest in Harvard Square as well?

    3 Replies
    1. re: Gabatta

      Thanks for the suggestion. I just looked at their website and they seem to only do private luncheons starting at $68/head which won't work for us. Good thought though.

      1. re: rmanna

        I asked when there last night and Grill 23 confirmed that they are indeed doing their holiday. lunch now through 12/21. It is three course prix fixe menu for $39. The restaurant is decorated nicely for the holidays. I really like the atmosphere there this time of year. I was just in to meet someone for a drink last night, but will be back dinner for the first time in awhile next week.

        1. re: Gabatta

          Thanks! We made reservations for Number 9 Park's prefix for $42 but this does look festive so I'll remember for next year. Appreciate it.

    2. Might be too $$ but I had a wonderful lunch at moo not too long ago and can imagine it would really nice during the holidays.

      We split the steak tartare, I had the chicken club and my husband got some big hunk of meat. It was all really good. Nice wines by the glass and the servise was top notch.

      Some one told me that Chez Henri *might* open for lunch in December- that would be worth a phone call.

      While not big on atmospher I think Dim Sum is a really fun way to spend lunch with a group, as is shabu. Would you consider chinatown?

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodieX2

        Chinatown is probably not the right place with these ladies but I'll check out Grill 23 and Moo--never considered either as an option before. Thanks!

      2. Rendezvous in Cambridge is worth a look.

        3 Replies
        1. re: treb

          if I want to be pampered and don't care about price it's lunch at L'Espalier for me. Plan on at least two hours to thoroughly enjoy the indulgence.

          1. re: teezeetoo

            Good suggestion, sounds great. May be a bit pricey.

          2. re: treb

            Yes, I love Rendezvous, particularly on Sunday nights or Monday tapas. Unfortunately, they don't serve lunch.

          3. maybe BostonChefs.com will run a report on restaurants featuring special holiday lunches soon. That's how I found out Rialto was open for lunch around Christmas many years ago. Our group had a wonderful experience there...but again, long ago.

            I just checked the web site and see that Rendezvous does offer "daytime" private events for
            $35-$60 per person for sit down event. *Prices are for food only. Beverages, service charge and sales tax are additional.
            Capacity –Dining Room: 12 to 50 seated,

            so I would assume you need at least 12 for a private lunch. Rendezvous is an example of a place that would probably do great business if open to the public for lunch around the holidays. Harvest is always open for lunch but has a $29 special holiday menu in December.

            1. No. 9 Park does lunch (or did last year) between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

              1 Reply
              1. re: BBHound

                Interesting idea. They do seem to be offering a " traditional holiday lunch" Dec 3, 2012 - Dec 28, 2012.--either three course prix-fixe or a five course chef's tasting menu. I'm going to see if I can find out what traditional means. Has anyone been here lately. I last ate here about 2 years ago and was not blown away. Maybe I'm too picky.