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Group Dining: Grad dinner - great ambiance, NOT stuff - thinking Gaslight?

I'm graduating next May from grad school. Thought I was ahead of the game by looking around now for a place for a group dinner to celebrate, but kind of looks like not! Mistral and Hamersley's are booked completely.

Right now I have Gaslight booked. They have a semi-private room and the price is great, it seems ($45 per person). I've never tried Gaslight and have always wanted to, but does anyone have any opinions about (1) group dining at Gaslight and/or (2) a celebratory, grad dinner at Gaslight? I don't want a stuffy atmosphere.

It's going to be about ~18 of us and we all like a lively atmosphere. Doesn't need to involve music by any means though. For example, I think the noise level and music at Beehive would probably be a little much. We are open to options! Doesn't need to be a set menu or private dining by any means.

Other than Gaslight, I've sent emails to: L'Espalier and Sorellina. I hope with the names I've listed you all can get a sense for the "feel" we are going for. Please let me know if you have any suggestions or if I should stick with Gaslight! Thanks!

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  1. It's definitely not stuffy. In fact, I'd put Gaslight squarely in the "noisy" category. It's much more lively than L'Espalier and Sorellina, which are way more formal (and will cost a lot more) and really, have little in common with Gaslight.

    1. yup. apples and oranges. although i have not used a private room at gaslight, the din in the regular space has driven me out enough times that i no longer go. the food seems thematic more than authentic so it's got little going for it in my book.

      sorrelina and l'espalier are quite formal with some of the best service in the city. could not be more different than gaslight. they will also cost at least double.

      without knowing who will be in your group, have you considered hammersley's or mama maria? upstairs on the square? rialto?

      1. The last time I was at Gaslight my food was barely edible.

        I have never found their food that great beyond the occasional finds (beet salad -- awesome ) but the last two times I've been were terrible.

        I'll have a cocktail and use their parking lot from now on.

        2 Replies
        1. re: C. Hamster

          Eeek, guess I was way off about Gaslight.

          Hamersley's is booked for group dining that night. I've emailed Mama Maria. Still waiting to hear back from Sorellina and L'Espalier.

          To give you more detail, it's going to be a mixed group of 18 of us. From people suggesting "let's go to Romano's!" to people who genuinely plan vacations around food experiences. In common, none of us are stuffy and want an active atmosphere, but not "noisy." As I said, private and fixed menus aren't necessary. In a previous post, someone said they had a wonderful experience at the Hawthorne for a big group of drinks and apps. Any experience there?

          Probably the biggest factor would be that it's in Boston. The entire group is staying near Copley (and for about half, it's their first time in Boston), so I'd like to keep it on this side of the river. Suggestions, PLEASE!

          1. re: bostonrenee

            are you looking for dinner? or just drinks? hawthorne isn't appropriate for pre-teens if they are in your group.

            are you truly looking for formal high-end like l'espalier if you have romano (whatever that is) fans in your clan?

            where do YOU like to eat?

            have you tried bistro du midi? davio's? island creek? taranta? mare? estragon? lala rokh? deauxave? shojo? scampo?

        2. Wait? Why would you want to have your engagement party and graduation party in the same place? Am I missing something?

          Did you contact the other two for the engagement party? While they don't have the patio they do seem more in line with the occasion.

          4 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2

            Foodiex2 - sorry, Gaslight is the only idea (that was) floating around because I was apparently completely wrong about the ambiance. I thought it was on the quieter side and well-reviewed. Seems like I'm wrong from the responses to my idea of going there for the grad dinner. I'm also throwing Hawthorne into the mix, which is maybe why you thought i was merging Engagement and Grad venues, because someone responded in the Engagement thread that Hawthorne was great for group apps and drinks. Was just wondering if anyone had experience with group dining and a sit down dinner there.

            Hotoynoodle - We definitely want a full dinner! There are no pre-teens in the group. The youngest will be 25. It's hard to describe the group. It's not that anyone is necessarily a fan of Romano's, they just don't know Boston and want to go the easy route. The entire family enjoys good food and service, and this especially will be a special night as it's the first time in about 7 years everyone will be on a trip together and we are all getting together for my graduation. I checked out the menus of places you listed. THANK YOU so much for the suggestions. I've emailed Bistro Du Midi, Davio's, Taranta and Scampo.

            Since we are staying at the Hyatt Regency right downtown, I didn't think it made sense to taxi over to ICOB.

            To hopefully paint a clearer picture, we are hoping for $75 a person, not including alcohol, in Boston (not including Cambridge) preferably close to downtown, Back Bay or the South End.

            I'll keep you guys updated with which restaurants get back to me. So far only Gaslight and I let them know earlier tonight I'm going to pass on having it there.

            1. re: bostonrenee

              Bistro du Midi has a beautiful, fairly elegant space that overlooks the Garden. It isn't lively per se, though it isn't stuffy and it worked well for my own lively group that included kids. The food is very good--southern French-ish, as is the service, and the wine person with us was happy with the list. It's a short walk from your hotel.

              Another idea might be Les Zygomates--I don't know how they do with groups, but their food is delicious, too, and they often have live jazz.

              1. re: bostonrenee

                While I love The Hawthorne, their food is more bar bites than full meals (great cocktails, however). Bogie's Place is nice, but I believe they only have 17 seats (and three of those are at a bar. Of the places mentioned Bistro du Midi would be my choice, hopefully they get back to you. Good luck in any case!

                1. re: bostonrenee

                  hawthorne is right next to icob and doesn't do full meal service. they serve a very limited menu of small bites.

                  bogie's place is tiny and would be at capacity with your group, most likely requiring a buy-out.

                  perhaps meritage at the boston harbor hotel?

                  i haven't been in a long time, but you may also want to consider via matta. maybe somebody else can chime in with a recent experience there?

              2. Erbaluce has a private room. Meets your requirements for location, atmosphere, price (I think). Also happens to be excellent for food and wine.

                Bogie's Place is another option.

                1. Eastern Standard has that room that's semi-private, not sure of the size. Mamma Maria also could be great, although it might be a bit expensive. If you could get all of Bogie's Place, that would be a lot of fun. I also really like Petit Robert Central - not too expensive, pleasant but not loud, great food. I think it's a lot better than Les Zyg.

                  Totally different direction, but you'll also be near Chinatown if you want to be adventurous and accommodate a group. Just throwing that out there.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: addiez

                    MM has a nice corner room with windows on 2 sides overlooking North Square.

                    1. re: addiez

                      they have too many for esk's room.

                    2. I know you said Boston, but you might want to consider Rendezvous in Central Square, Cambridge. It's a beautiful ride on the red line T over the Charles River, they have a wonderful huge table near the window, and you can order a la carte. The food and atmosphere are in my opinion wonderful. They might already be booked for graduation times.

                      1. Have you thought about Cinquecento in the South End? Great food, nice private room and free parking!