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Am I searching for something that doesn't exist in Boston/Cambridge??

Hi everyone,

I'm looking for a festive and fun Saturday evening spot with solid food and dead-on cocktails, where we (a party of 4) can hear each other talk, and we can either make a reservation or get a bar table without waiting a year. Is this an impossible dream?

Here are the places that first came to mind, and why I suspect they won't fit the bill. Let me know if you think I'm wrong, and if based on the below, you have ideas for what might work.

Bar at Chez Henri -- would be perfect in every way, but I suspect we'd have to wait forever to get a bar table.

Silvertone -- love the cocktails, but super loud and maybe one step down on food than I'd like to go

Marliave -- not super crazy about the food

Green Street -- same as Marliave

Gallows -- won't take a reservation and I'm sure the wait would be crazy

Rendezvous -- a little too sedate/formal of a vibe

South End Buttery -- would be great, but on their website it looks like they only have cocktails at brunch. Could that possibly be true?

Would appreciate your thoughts on this! Thanks so much!

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  1. Have you considered Eastern Standard or Island Creek Oyster Bar?

    Penny
    http://www.bostonzest.com/

    4 Replies
    1. re: BostonZest

      I did think about ESK, but I'm always so much more impressed with the drinks than the food. It's been a while since I've eaten there, though.

      1. re: knclouse

        I had a really great charcuterie plate , daily offal of grilled duck hearts, oysters, and asparagus with corned beef tongue last week at ES, alongside great cocktails.

      2. re: BostonZest

        ICOB if you can get a reservation would work. Eastern Standard is insanely packed and very, very loud in general.

        1. Shojo in Chinatown might fit this.

          1. What about Tico or Myers + Chang? Catalyst also takes reservations although it isn't as festive.

            1 Reply
            1. re: addiez

              I'd call Tico one of the louder rooms in town, especially on weekends. M&C does a lot within the limits of its cordial license, but I wouldn't call it a cocktail destination, and it has no bar.

              http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

            2. West Bridge in Kendall may work also.

              1. I probably should have also mentioned that I have a soy allergy, so I generally have to avoid Asian restaurants.

                Addiez, your mention of Tico made me think of Radius. Is the bar at Radius busy on Saturday nights? I go there after work sometimes to get cocktails and their burger (yum), but don't know what the scene is like on the weekends, especially since Radius is now on its last legs.

                1. I'd add Area Four to your list.

                  1. I think Park is pretty cool - has great circular banquette/booths, and a lounge area with comfy couches. The food is very good and not too pricey. it is located in Harvard Square - so really easy access from most points.

                    http://parkcambridge.com/

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Small Plates

                      Second on Park. They're serious about cocktails and the food is mighty tasty. Two of us made a meal of four appetizers and we took home leftovers.

                      1. re: katzzz

                        I would avoid Park on a Saturday evening, especially if you want a quieter place. Last time I went on a Friday or Saturday for dinner, neither the bar nor the kitchen could handle the crowd and it was very loud.

                        1. re: nickls

                          I have been a half dozen times, and this was not ever my experience. That said, reservations will get you a table, and conversation is easily had. It fills the festive bill, and you really can hold a conversation.

                          1. re: Small Plates

                            Six of us are headed to Park tonight for an informal birthday celebration tonight, so I guess the Saturday night noise level with a group will be tested. I'll report back.

                    2. i enjoy most places mentioned and will add tavern road and craigie street to your list of possibilities, with one caveat: any place worth going, that executes well, will be extremely busy on a saturday night. places that suck are busy on saturday nights.

                      p.s. i wouldn't waste good dinner money on radius. that's been underwhelming for years.

                      1. Russell House Tavern? Upstairs is too loud to meet your criteria, but if you could get a table downstairs which is quieter, that might work.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: VintageMolly

                          i like this place but weekend nights it's insanely hectic. even downstairs. i feel stressed there as a guest,

                        2. Journeyman in Somerville could work if you don't have picky dining companions. The menu is pretty limited and on the pricey side but the cocktails are great- Drink without the mob scene. And they take reservations on their website.

                          1. Buttery has a full bar, with rather perfunctory bartending. I like the downstairs dining room: very cozy. The first-floor room (the one with the bar) has rather less charm to me; the window seats in particular are quite uncomfortable.

                            One problem I see with your dilemma is seeking "fun/festive" and "hear each other talk". There's a growing number of restaurants that I otherwise quite like that clearly have made a conscious decision to go very loud: Cinquecento, Tico, and Tavern Road spring to mind. I might try to two-stop approach: good, possibly loud cocktail bar first, then somewhere quieter for dinner.

                            http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Everyone "went loud" when texting replaced talking on cell phones. I don't like this trend at all but it IS what is happening.

                            2. EVOO and DeuxAve come to mind.

                              1 Reply
                              1. You might check out Saloon in Davis Sq. Not too hard to get reservations on a Saturday.