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Unique dining experience for 2 in Boston

perlmonk Dec 3, 2013 01:10 PM

Fellow chowhounds, I am looking to take my super pregnant wife on a unique culinary experience for our 3 yr wedding anniversary coming up in a couple of weeks in Boston. Budget is upto $300 for the two of us. Can you help recommend something unique that I can do for just the two of us? I'd love to go for a chef's table experience, but all of the ones in Boston seat tables of 6 or more. Our meal doesnt have to be expensive - I am just looking for out of the box ideas for this special night in our lives. Thanks in advance!

  1. c
    CportJ Dec 6, 2013 02:19 PM

    I think T.W. Food's Tuesday wine dinners are a really good deal, $55 including wine. The Weds. 5 course improv is great and a great deal as well, $55 with wine pairings for $25 more. I like the room, too. Limited choices, though, so might be tricky for your pregnant wife, unless she wants a vegetarian option. Same for the Craigie Chef's Whim on Sunday nights after 9 pm ($45 four course or $57 six course). Craigie is also doing special theme weeks for the next two weeks, first Quebec, then Alsace. The 5-7 course Quebec menu is fittingly over-the-top decadent (one chestnut: Craigie "poutine" with potato aligote, crispy potato skins, duck liver gravy, and cheese curds).

    I'm still meaning to try the duck for 2 at Salts. You have to order a day in advance.

    7 Replies
    1. re: CportJ
      kewpie Dec 6, 2013 09:09 PM

      I agree-- i have touted T W Food for a while now( even being accused of working for them, and separately for ana sorten( i dont)
      their wine dinners are excellent - & i know they will acc special food needs---- BUT let them know in advance------ call the day before!
      they run on the same principle as bergamot--- saying yes to your needs, & trying to acc, but with 24 hrs advance warning, a lot of other options will open for you, with them....
      have agreat dinner

      1. re: CportJ
        hungrytommy Dec 7, 2013 10:45 PM

        I agree that T.W. Food is perfect. I think it is more cosy and romantic than Bondir and the food is much better. Also my wife has some strict dietary needs and they were willing to switch out only the courses she couldn't eat and leave the rest in place for her. One of her replaced courses was incredible, even better than what I got. I don't think Bondir is a bad choice. Obviously a lot of people really like it, but if I had to choose between the two I would go with T.W. Food every time.


        1. re: hungrytommy
          enhF94 Dec 8, 2013 05:19 AM

          I'm not sure I'd call T.W. Food "cozy" in any sense except for "tightly packed." I've never left there without knowing personal the bizness of each table next to me, and they mine.

          1. re: enhF94
            CportJ Dec 8, 2013 05:50 AM

            Bondir is pretty cozy in this sense, too. Hazard of having a small room I guess.

            1. re: enhF94
              hungrytommy Dec 8, 2013 06:01 AM

              I'm not sure how you would define cosy. I agree that you sit close to other diners, but you do that in most places. Most restaurants with a banquette have you sit closer to your neighbor than you do at T.W. Food


          2. re: CportJ
            enhF94 Dec 8, 2013 05:21 AM

            Is the "order a day in advance" thing new? I didn't have to - but on the other hand, maybe they've added a day to air-dry the duck, which would be good, since my duck's skin was soft/mushy, not crispy.

            1. re: enhF94
              CportJ Dec 8, 2013 05:48 AM

              On their website, they say they have a limited number available and suggest you order in advance. I guess should order in advance to be safe, not have to.

          3. p
            perlmonk Dec 5, 2013 12:14 PM

            Thanks all for the suggestions. Asta was a top contender, but I've decided to go to Bondir. It's not "unique" per se, but has a wonderful tasting menu with all food sourced farm to table. Besides, I got some glowing reviews from fellow yuppies in town. Hopefully this place stands up to all the hype.

            12 Replies
            1. re: perlmonk
              teezeetoo Dec 5, 2013 12:33 PM

              do let us know what you think. we went once and were not impressed.

              1. re: teezeetoo
                valcfield Dec 5, 2013 12:58 PM

                second on that; found the food good but the dishes to be very uniform/similar/repetitive in flavor profile. haven't been in since the chef switch though, would be up for giving it another chance.

                1. re: valcfield
                  teezeetoo Dec 5, 2013 02:03 PM

                  yes, and I'd love to hear from someone with a recent experience. we only went once and found a similar problem: a kind of mutedness in the dishes, a not terribly warm room, and a sense of "hushed" reverence in both the service and presentation that was a little risible.

                  1. re: teezeetoo
                    C. Hamster Dec 5, 2013 04:50 PM


                    I heart you

                    1. re: teezeetoo
                      opinionatedchef Dec 5, 2013 08:31 PM

                      agree. love the room but the food was just too naked/plain for me: no saucing, cheese, spicing.

                      1. re: opinionatedchef
                        hotoynoodle Dec 6, 2013 07:33 AM

                        bleu cheese? ;0

                        1. re: opinionatedchef
                          perlmonk Dec 6, 2013 08:11 AM

                          damnit, now you guys are making me reconsider Bondir

                          1. re: perlmonk
                            ChinaCat Dec 6, 2013 01:25 PM

                            well, not everybody feels like they do. I liked Bondir a lot. The food isn't elaborate, or highly sauced. But the flavor of the ingredients really shines through.

                            1. re: ChinaCat
                              opinionatedchef Dec 6, 2013 03:34 PM

                              yes, <the flavor of the ingredients really shines through> that's for sure. that is what the chef is aiming for. But it is a mistake to say <The food isn't highly sauced> because it really is not sauced at all. It is totally beyond me that this style has been successful enough to support him and allow expansion to a 2nd venture. But clearly it has and I am just on some other planet.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef
                                perlmonk Dec 13, 2013 07:37 AM

                                Not saucy = not acceptable. Cancelled reservations at Bondir and going to Asta instead. Will post review after.

                                1. re: perlmonk
                                  opinionatedchef Dec 13, 2013 12:50 PM

                                  whew. looking forw to hearing all about Asta.

                              2. re: ChinaCat
                                kewpie Dec 6, 2013 09:04 PM

                                we have been to Bondir ( cambridge)( just looked it up on opentable ) 16x... we think the room decor is a bit " hokey"& the seating is a bit uncomfortable....... but all 16x-- the food has blown us away( and we eat out a lot) the ingredients shined, the service from the waiters was outstanding, and the food was absolutely delicious.........we have had 1/2 portions, full portions, the cheese course is ALWAYS outstanding... desserts " crazy" good........ ( the best cheese was a stilton carved of a wheel,,,,,,,)... we have only been to,Bondir concord 1x , so will wait on a review until we have a few more meals under the belt
                                Asta is OUTSTANDING, but maybe not for your situation now.. we are going to Ostra this upcoming week with our" party of 8" and am looking forward to it---

                  2. t
                    teezeetoo Dec 3, 2013 06:26 PM

                    How about Asta? It's as about as unique as it can get and it seems like every table is a chef's table.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: teezeetoo
                      opinionatedchef Dec 3, 2013 09:32 PM

                      Asta has had really good reports. I would also consider the chef's table (2 people no problem) at l'Espalier where a number of visitors to Boston have posted very positive experiences. Do a search (top right corner of this page) under l'espalier , and Asta , and see what you think. Congrats to both of you on all counts!

                      1. re: teezeetoo
                        perlmonk Dec 4, 2013 08:08 AM

                        Wow, Asta does look interesting. And its funny that my wife used to be a tenant at 47 mass ave back when it was Despinas!!

                        1. re: teezeetoo
                          valcfield Dec 4, 2013 08:37 AM

                          Definitely recommend Asta, though I'd say, for unique experience, if you don't mind that you might sit next to 2 or 3 other people, go for their kitchen bar seats (similar to Craigie's ringside) so you can see all the action.

                          Also note, as other reports on Asta indicate, they will let you and your DC choose different tasting menus and share, so you can experience more of the food.

                        2. r
                          RoyRon Dec 3, 2013 05:05 PM

                          I would suggest doing an Omakase dinner at O-Ya. You just mention a price point you want to stay within. You can choose a few of the courses yourself if you see things that you would like to try from the menu. O-Ya is definitely a unique, albeit it expensive experience

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: RoyRon
                            yumyum Dec 3, 2013 05:21 PM

                            Might not be ideal for a super pregnant lady though. Sushi you know...

                            1. re: yumyum
                              C. Hamster Dec 3, 2013 05:52 PM

                              Right. No raw fish for her!

                              What about that tiny Barbara Lynch place around the corner from Butcher Shop that Kristin Kish used to run?

                              I wish I could recall the name but it's pretty unique.

                              1. re: C. Hamster
                                C. Hamster Dec 3, 2013 05:55 PM

                                It's STIR

                                1. re: C. Hamster
                                  perlmonk Dec 4, 2013 08:06 AM

                                  I went to STIR website but it doesnt list a restaurant. Seems like cooking classes..?

                                  1. re: perlmonk
                                    C. Hamster Dec 4, 2013 09:16 AM

                                    It definitely functions as a restaurant but (after also looking at their website) I am guessing only so for private parties.

                                    I have never been (just peeped in as I drive home from work) but have friends who have eaten there several times and loved it. Guess they were lucky private party people.

                                    Sorry for a bad suggestion!

                                    1. re: C. Hamster
                                      CportJ Dec 6, 2013 01:44 PM

                                      I could be wrong, but I have the impression that the cooking classes at Stir are more like eating at a really small, really great restaurant than traditional cooking classes. But the most interesting ones seem to book up months in advance. I have put the date they go online on my calendar twice and been shut out of my preferred choices both times, like it's Pink Floyd coming to town for a show with Led Zeppelin or something.

                            2. re: RoyRon
                              perlmonk Dec 4, 2013 08:02 AM

                              O-ya is awesome and something we're reserving for after the pregnancy!

                            3. ebone Dec 3, 2013 01:49 PM

                              You can get "Ringside Seats" at Craigie on Main, which is a small 4-seat bartop facing the kitchen. That would be doable for your price range.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ebone
                                cambridgedoctpr Dec 3, 2013 02:13 PM

                                craigie's ringside seats are especially nice in the winter; they tend to be warm.

                                1. re: cambridgedoctpr
                                  perlmonk Dec 4, 2013 08:01 AM

                                  Want it to be intimate, so bar seats will not do

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