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dress code at Craigie's on?

I am visiting for a research trip from NY and have a Sunday night reservation at Craigie's What's the code? I'd love to travel light and comfortable to Boston -- which for me means nice sneakers, nice jeans, and a dress shirt. Would that work for them? I can go a bit less casual (for example, dress shoes instead of sneakers, slacks instead of jeans, etc.) but just need to know if that's necessary since that changes how I and what I pack..

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  1. Boston has few restaurants with a strict dress code, and Craigie isn't one of them. Nice jeans, sneakers, and a dress shirt will be fine. Enjoy your meal, if you're not doing the tasting, be sure to get the Crispy Fried Pig Tails!

    1. Diners in Boston generally dress like slobs. You won't feel out in place in your suggested outfit. I'd personally bring and wear shoes other than sneakers.

        1. Shirts and shoes. Pants optional!

          1. All joking aside, no good restaurant in Boston is serious about a dress code. Locke-Ober, the city's last jackets-required-for-men place, dropped the rule a couple of years ago, and closed last year.

            L'Espalier long insisted on jackets for men, but when it moved a couple of blocks to a new home in the Mandarin Oriental, the hotel made them drop the dress code so as not to inconvenience its guests. It's one of the nicest, most expensive restaurants in Boston, yet you routinely will see people dining there in jeans and t-shirts, hoodies, or track suits.

            A few nightclub-flavored places (like Gem and Empire) try to encourage young men not to dress like utter shlubs -- sample language: "We encourage trendy, upscale dress: no athletic wear, tank tops, flip-flops or hats" -- but enforcement is absurdly variable.

            Boston is just not a well-dressed city in general, and no business can afford to turn customers away in the interest of cultivating tony atmosphere. I'd say the Cambridge side of the river is even less interested in dressing up for dinner. If you're not exposing your armpit hair or ungroomed toes, and you lose the backwards baseball cap, you'll pass muster.


            1. It's Cambridge. Plaid and thick rimmed glasses are highly encouraged.

              1. "nice sneakers"?

                am sorry, but that's an oxymoron. my b/f lives in sneaks and sandals, but if we're spending that $$$ on dinner, he will put on nice pants and actual shoes.

                i don't believe there are any places that have a dress-code anymore.

                14 Replies
                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  "These jeans cost $300." That's what some walk-in said to the maitre'd at Locke-Ober as I was having dinner at a nearby table (about three years ago). Citing the dress code, the host offered him a seat in the bar. Dude stormed out in his fancy dungarees, pissed. Must say I'm sorry to see that go by the wayside, but them's the times we live in.


                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                    That's funny. $20 Dockers would have been OK.

                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      a friend stopped to visit me at some fancy-schmancy place i was working. he and his partner dined out, very well, several times per week, but this was a spur of the moment visit.

                      they were having a drink and i tried cajoling them into dinner. it was a summer sunday and the dining room was pretty empty, but he refused to enter the dr because he was only wearing sandals. lol, i assured him nobody would see his feet, but his sense of decorum prevailed, and they just had apps at the bar.

                      i often suggested to them both to become consultants on "how to be excellent restaurant patrons", lol

                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                        I remember reading a killer yelp review of Le Bernadin that was similar to this. Attempted patron gave a 1-star review citing that because he was wearing $500 jeans, a $2000 watch, a $100 t-shirt, and was told a jacket was needed (they even offered him one) he stormed out and said the restaurant sucks. He must have named the price of every article of clothing he was wearing except perhaps his overpriced underwear.

                        Love me some yelp. Can't make this stuff up.

                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                          On the one hand, behavior like this is atrocious, you should never be pulling out a price to justify a dress code.

                          that said, i do prefer dress codes that are more vague, for the reason that, yes, i do believe that an appropriately fitted, dressy denim (disclosure: i have a pair that actually is done in a houndstooth weave, which i adore) can be more appropriate for a contemporary fine dining place than the choice to go out in a pair of old/ill fitting/weirdly pocketed khakis. of course, the counterpoint to this is that these standards will inherently end with uneven enforcement...

                          of course, you could easily solve my problem by saying 'slacks only', maybe i just have a thing against khakis...

                          also, ooc, on places that still require jackets, do they enforce keeping them on at the table? Most places i've gone jacketed (always voluntary) i typically end up taking my jacket off immediately, or sometime into the dinner, because the heat (plus prolonged sitting, eating, and maybe drinking wine) inevitably leave me miserably hot.

                          so how do jacket-required places handle that? it seems silly to enforce a jacket rule if you're going to let diners take it off at the table, but of course possibly tyrannical to tell a guest not to take their jacket off during a 3 hour meal. thoughts?

                          last, @hotoynoodle i think it may be a definition issue of what constitutes shoe vs sneaker here :) ... i have a lot of things in the middle where the sole is constructed thin but definitely constructed to be wearable as a sneaker but the upper is in the style/material of a dress shoe. i'd probably refer to those as 'nice sneakers' and would have no qualms wearing them out to the kind of place i'd wear a nicer pair of jeans to (which yes, is most places in Boston...)

                          1. re: valcfield

                            as mentioned, i can't think of a boston joint that has a dress code. in more formal places elsewhere, i seem to mostly recall men keeping their jackets on. but i am not wedded to that.

                            will not be splitting hairs about sneakers vs. shoes. my b/f also has a pair of vibram 5-fingers -- neither sneaker, nor shoe. they are not for dress-pants. :)

                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                              some would argue that the Vibrams are not fit for wearing outside the house at all

                            2. re: valcfield

                              Getting further off-topic here, but the expectation in a jackets-required restaurant is that men keep their jackets on: it's not, "jackets required only on your way to the table."

                              It's about a certain level of formality in dress, and at that level, shirtsleeves are not appropriate. If you're headed to a jackets-required restaurant, you should choose a suit or sport coat that is comfortable enough (in a material of appropriate weight) to keep on indoors for the duration of dinner.


                              1. re: MC Slim JB

                                Thanks for the clarification, much appreciated. Seems sensible enough, though I wonder if the rise of long tasting menus as one epitome of fine dining has had an influence on the decline of enforcing that kind of dress (of course, that style already encourages it by virtue of high food costs often leading to less money on luxe setting that would warrant a jacket)

                                1. re: valcfield

                                  I think the issue has nothing to do with how the food is being served at the fancy places, but that the customers can't be bothered, and increasingly favor venues that don't make them wear a jacket. This competitive pressure is what restaurateurs are responding to.

                                  I remember a WSJ piece a couple of years ago quoting several NYC restaurateurs who were bemoaning the lack of formality in their patrons, but concluding that a dress code was costing them customers they could no longer afford to lose.


                                  1. re: valcfield

                                    you have houndstooth jeans? you are my idol.

                              2. I find much of the discussions about "appropriate" restaurant attire to be incredibly pretentious (imho, of course.) I remember being in New Orleans many years ago and calling the well regarded (and relatively high end) Bistro at Maison de Ville to inquire about appropriate attire. The Bistro's famed maitre d', Patrick van Hoorebeek, answered the phone and responded, "We're about food, not about what you wear. You can come naked for all I care." I chose not to go naked, but I loved the response!

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: Blumie

                                  well, it's mostly a billion humid degrees there and they allow you to drink hurricanes in the street.

                                  1. re: Blumie

                                    I think it's a reasonable, unpretentious question to ask: "I'm in a strange place, don't know the local customs, don't want to appear rude by flouting them." We Americans may have lost our sense of occasion, but a lot of places still consider one-size-fits-every-situation to be egregiously lazy if not outright bad manners.

                                    I liked L'Espalier much better as a special-occasion restaurant in the old location, where most of the customers observed the encouragement to dress up. It doesn't feel quite as special or quite worth that giant check when the dudes at the next table are dolled up in their finest Ed Hardy.


                                    1. re: Blumie

                                      amusingly, the last time i was in a jackets required restaurant was brunch at commander's palace a long time ago ( pre-katrina, no clue if it still required), so nola can certainly get its formality on when it wants!

                                      I think discussion of 'appropriate' here has simply been a descriptive of 'what would fit in' at the restaurant, i like to think none of us have come off as 'i'd scoff at you if you wore x to y,' which i would agree would be pretentious, and have been impressed that the thread has, imo, thread the needle of encouraging formality without prescribing it.

                                      that said, the question of required dress codes, and what pretentions they might give off, is an interesting one. Much as i feel like a chef should get to set the terms of service of food (menu, subs, etc.), i believe in the idea that the owner should be able to enforce a vision of how the restaurant can feel- and if its not accepted, adapt or close up. granted, some may seek to create a pretentious environment! but i think that's a separate issue from wanting a formal one.

                                      One last note this makes me think of: some professional reviewers decry this 'tyranny of the chef' in tasting menus. I wonder how they feel about required dress codes? Is it inconsistent to denounce food 'tyranny' but mourn the loss of dresscode 'tyranny'? It's interesting (to me anyway) that as a society we seem to have shifted from accepting, or encouraging, the dresscode 'tyranny,' while expecting that food/service will cater to our whim, to being more accepting/encouraging of food 'tyranny', but wanting to dress as we please...

                                      (ps i feel bad as holding myself at least partially responsible for driving this thread astray, and ask general forgiveness for feeling compelled to comment again .)

                                      1. re: valcfield

                                        I thought that whole "tyranny of the tasting menu" bit was the dumbest thing I'd read in a long time. Dude, you're in New York. If you don't want to do a tasting menu, consider your 10,000 other options within a few square miles.

                                        You raise another interesting point, which is that many younger chef/owners prefer less formality in the dining room once they've finished their apprenticeship in some Michelin-starred snob-hole and gotten their own place. They still want to do a very high level of cuisine, but ditch the foofaraw as a useless distraction from their cooking as the main event.

                                        Paris, long a bastion of tuxedoed waiters and 20-piece place settings on starched linen, now offers many examples of young star chefs operating in bistro-level digs. One might point to our own food-tweezer-hating Craigie on Main as an analog.


                                        1. re: MC Slim JB

                                          I thought that whole "tyranny of the tasting menu" bit was the dumbest thing I'd read in a long time. Dude, you're in New York. If you don't want to do a tasting menu, consider your 10,000 other options within a few square miles.

                                          ~~~ gah. this was such an egregious example of "1st-world problems", i wanted to punch my computer.

                                          years ago my b/f at the time and i were packing to travel to southern spain and morocco. while he was planning to bring only shorts and sandals, i tried explaining how rude that would seem to natives while we were visiting cathedrals and mosques. he was adamant his comfort should trump local conventions. um, yeah. that relationship didn't last, lol.

                                          the arrogance of disrespecting one's surroundings in favor of one's own comfort seems peculiarly american and weirdly immature.

                                          david sedaris, upon observing amercians visiting paris: " i am all for comfort, but must you dress like you are about to mow the lawn?"

                                          1. re: hotoynoodle

                                            I was flabbergasted by the arrant arrogance of it, the obscene sense of self-entitlement: "How dare Thomas Keller tell me what to eat at his tasting-menu-oriented restaurant? How am I going to have him remove all the salt and fat from my dishes if he does a set menu?"


                                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                                              if it's so awful to have your newspaper/magazine picking up your tab that will be more than many americans make in a week, then bow out of the voluntary hostage situation.

                                              gah. how out of touch are these people?

                                      2. re: Blumie

                                        I understand what you're saying and can agree that a formal dress-code can feel to many people like a required costume party. Ridiculous and absurd.

                                        I guess for me, with all the choices of restaurants out there, ones with formal dress codes (and formal service in formal environments and with, most importantly, great food) make the evening seem that much more special. Wearing formal attire just makes it seem that much more "out of the ordinary" and special. Of the tens of thousands of restaurants in a city, if 3 or 4 have a required dress code, why is it such a non-starter for people and why do people then go to these places and complain about the dress code. Don't we all do uncomfortable things for great restaurants (login to Momofukus site clicking madly for the 2 seconds that tables are available? Standing in line for an hour at Shake Shack? Sitting at an uncomfortable bar for a tasting menu? Driving across town for the best Thai Food? Researching/debating discussing restaurants for hours on chow.com?)

                                        I understand the rise of high-end food in shabby environments, whether from the baby-bistros of Paris to Brooklyn Fare/Momofuku and really L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon in Paris (which laid the groundwork for those other two). I think breaking the conventions is great and I also think offering people high end food for a reduced price by cutting out setting/waiters is brilliant but I also think that it doesn't have to be all or none.

                                        What puzzles me about some of those places (counter-style high end) , is that occasionally I feel like I'm losing value. The tasting menus are often more expensive than formal restaurants with dress-codes and an army of well trained staff who anticipate and cater to your comfort. The argument against dress codes oftentimes is that it encroaches on a patron's freedom and liberty to wear what they want, but then there is no problem jumping through other, just as arbitrary, hoops for a different restaurant.

                                        1. re: Klunco

                                          I like the costume party analogy, and would point to the other side of that coin. If you know it's a costume party, or a black-tie event, or a gala opening, or a jackets-required restaurant, or some other occasion where they've told you what attire is expected in advance, isn't it bad manners to flout the host's intention, the atmosphere they are trying to create? At best it seems lazy, at worst rude.

                                          Nowadays, many people are saying, "Nope, not interested in donning that costume, I'll skip that party", which is better than, "I don't care what the dress code is: I demand to be admitted anyway." If restaurateurs want to relax their dress codes rather than lose that business, I sympathize. But if they are throwing a costume party, it's still crass to show up without a costume.


                                          1. re: Klunco

                                            MC Slim beat me to it, but that's the perfect analogy; no, these days few restaurants will deny you entry if you're not up to the implied or expressed dress code, but there's an element of Being A Grownup here, and not in a bad way. Would you show up for a black-tie wedding in a hoodie, or a friend's themed Halloween party in your work clothes? Flaunting a dress code isn't "expressing yourself", it's sloppy.

                                            That said, if anyone's to blame, it's restaurants themselves. When I'm being served amazing food at Momofuku by waiters in camo cargo shorts and a Circle Jerks t-shirt, or surrounded by the 'rock & roll waiters' at Babbo, is that my cue that I'm way overdressed?

                                            1. re: Boston_Otter

                                              Love the analogy!

                                              This conversation has provoked me to think of another more contemporary econ issue that may discourage dress code enforcement: most or all places these days that I would expect to require jackets or a specific dress code also have a policy of very high cancellation fees, or full charge) to make sure they don't lose their thin margins on no shows.

                                              Imagine being put in the position of a. you turn someone away, and then charge them a cancellation fee b. you turn them away, but don't charge and lose money c. you relax standards and let them in.

                                              *Maybe* some places could realistically pull off option A, especially if they made this very clear up front... but I could imagine the blowback would be hard, and many people just wouldn't stomach actually enforcing that call in the moment.

                                              edit to add: of course, you could offer to lend someone a jacket (if that alone solved the problem?), and maybe that would alleviate concerns over charging a cancellation fee if they refuse. also, i recognize that, previously, turning people away would have still cost the restaurant money, but a. i think its a stickier issue with the existence of these new tickets/contracts for eating out b. my experience with jacket-required places were always in 'larger' spaces, where the marginal loss on turning away on party would be much smaller than the more contemporary, extremely small, high end spaces i'm thinking of.

                                        2. yes, you will be fine! who wants to enjoy a meal in slacks anyway?!? the bar is our favorite place to eat there. let the board know if you need other recommendations.