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Need Brunch help for last hurrah!

So I am looking for an idea for a brunch place with a group of 8-12 friends. I have looked around here and have not found a place that seems like the right fit but I'm leaning toward Tremont 647 and have made a preliminary reservation. Thinking Estelles could also be fun but I think it's tiny.
The deets:
I am going into the hospital the day after the brunch for Cancer surgery(yuck!) so I'd like to go somewhere that feels fun and festive so I can hopefully take my mind off my health for a bit. People will be coming from Arlinmgton, Somerville, Camb and Boston. Not everyone will be driving, so relatively T/bus accessible is important. We are in our late 20s/30s if that matters.
Entrees under $20 is my goal, most of my friends are teachers or social workers so I don't want anyone to be stressed by the pricing.
A place that takes reservations (sadly that means no Highland Kitchen which would otherwise be PERFECT)
Any ideas for places that are interesting/particularly delicious these days?

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  1. Russell House in Harvard does an awesome and affordable brunch, is very T-convenient (2 minutes' walk from Harvard red line), and takes reservations. Ask to be seated in Katie's section - she takes such good care of her tables.

    Tupelo in Inman is also fantastic for brunch and takes reservations, but is a bit less T-convenient (12-minute walk from central red line stop).

    Good luck, Jessabella. You'll have the whole Chowhound nation cheering you on.

    3 Replies
    1. re: TimTamGirl

      I have no thoughts about where you should dine, but good thoughts going out to you during your surgery and recovery.

      1. re: marilu

        Thank you so much. Surgery sucks ALMOST as much as eating shitty hospital food for the next month!

      2. don't know whether Asian appeals but Myers & Chang is fun, affordable, and reasonably accessible. Haven't been for a while but East Coast Grill used to have a great brunch. Have a marvelous time, rock the house, and plan the follow up brunch for as soon as you are recovered. Cheers from CH.

        2 Replies
        1. re: teezeetoo

          hi bella, i've always liked the Pajama brunch idea, but we are, like tz,longtime fans of Myers and Chang and East Coast Grill, both of which have a great fun vibe and terrific food.(M+C Chinese and ECG Mexican and Latin. If it matters, I think M+C is more about sharing plates, which can make for a particularly convivial atmosphere. Also, I think if you reserved M+C and explained to the manager about your gathering, you would likely get some really special service. Just a hunch. Such nice spunky women there. Hope you have a great time and we'll be hoping for a speedy recovery for you.

          1. re: opinionatedchef

            Thanks guys! I do love East Coast Grill although many of us were there for Hell night last Wednesday. Normally ECG or highland are my go tos. Still would be up for it though. Was also thinking dimsum but my crew does dimsum quite often, m+c is a very different version though, good things to think about.

          1. re: Blumie

            I LOVE Mistral but the prices will just be too high. It adds up so quickly there. But seriously if money was no object it would be a no brainer.

            1. re: jessabella617

              Mistral's brunch prices are much more reasonable than their dinner prices. Moreover, the brunch plates are so large that there is no need to order anything other than one entree per person. They bring a fresh baked muffin to everyone to start, and most entrees come with a potato side, so there's plenty of food!

          2. I like the recs you've gotten, esp. ECG, RH, M+C. I unfortunately can't vouch for these brunches, but if you need to expand the field, Stoddards, Abby Lane, or Lord Hobo might be able to accommodate you. I'd consider calling places that don't usually take reservations. Have fun and hope you are back to brunching fast.

            1. I'm almost positive that HK takes reservations for brunch for parties or 6 or more. :) Good luck to you!!

              7 Replies
              1. re: kdemayo

                yes, we have gotten reservations for a family brunch at HK

                1. re: Bellachefa

                  homepage on the Highland Kitchen web site now says "we are no longer able to accept reservations."

                  We've always enjoyed brunch at East Coast Grill, but since Chris left, we've noticed several menu and preparation changes that don't suit us very well. They took the duck relleno (smoked duck quesadilla) off the menu...that was our favorite dish. We went yesterday and it was on as a special. First it arrived with ungrilled tortilla side up...flipped over, it was very charred. Waiter saw it and immediately went to get a fresh version. Well, this version was nothing like the old pat relleno. Duck had no smoke taste, in fact tasted only of fat. None of the previous additions were inside the poor tortilla. Waiter took it off the check. Used to come with a nice mango relish...this time nothing but bland unseasoned white rice and a nicely seasoned, seemingly homemade black bean refried puree. A real disappointment.

                  I had the breakfast platter with three over easy eggs, avocado relish, the same refried bean puree and white rice and some nicely soft plantains. I asked for corn tortillas and got two, nicely grilled. The rojo salsa was complex but not spicy...I asked for more. I was pleased with my meal. A good version for me of huevos rancheros.

                  Overall ECG is a different place. Same friendly servers and nice vibe, very loud, Jessabella, so keep that in mind about your preferences.

                  Have you ever tried Instanbulu in Teele Square? They have great weekend breakfast dishes as well as good tapas type. Beer and wine only and not a big vibe scene so perhaps not what you are looking for. The Turkish pancakes are divine!

                  Wishing you the best....what hospital are you going to? I can give suggestions for nearby takeout in the Longwood area (several joint replacements there) if you are up to eating after your surgery. If you aren't, you aren't and so good food would be a horrible tease. If you are, you are, and if you can handle treats, you should go for it! Good luck!

                  1. re: Madrid

                    Hi Madrid,
                    Ill be at B+W/Dana Farber. Not sure if Ill be upto real food but recomendations are surely welcome!

                    1. re: jessabella617

                      I love the Middle Eastern chicken dishes at Sepal on Longwood Ave. in the Longwood Galleria Food Court. I'm mourning their closing at the Cambridgeside Galleria still.

                      1. re: jessabella617

                        I was at B&W for three joint replacements. The Au Bon Pain in the lobby is good for fresh fruit, soups, and rolls, if you are up to it. There is a Bertucci's across the street for ok salads, rolls, pizza.

                        I had horrible nausea problems from the anesthesia and pain drugs.....that got fixed very quickly when good anti-nausea meds came a bit before the pain stuff. Ask for that if you have problems; ask for it in advance at the pre-op. Once my nausea got dealt with, I was so glad my SO brought me iced espresso from AuBon pain in the lobby. With nausea, even thinking about espresso or food of any sort was horrible.

                        Better yet, try out the pain meds at home before surgery if they'll let you...better to find out how to counteract the nausea if you are going to get it before, rather than when you are in that strange, disorienting, painful post surgery state. You do need the food and the liquids to recover. You can get home faster that way and also jump start the healing. Stopping the nausea before it starts is key.

                        There are a few other more chow worthy options in the Longwood area that people can bring you as take out if you are up to it....seach for Longwood on this board.

                        Sending best wishes for surgery and recovery....and a hopeful, wonderful, brunch before. I had my last surgery in early spring, and really went crazy with roasted asparagus at home before I went it.Treat yourself......you are feeding your healing.

                        1. re: Madrid

                          The Brookline Village area is quite close and has numerous restaurants, almost all of whom do take out. Brookline Family Restaurant does Turkish, Matt Murphys for Irish, Orinoco for Latin American and Cuttys for terrific sandwiches. There are also several good Italian spots in the area.

                  2. re: kdemayo

                    That is correct. At least it was last spring (last time I did this). However! They only take a certain (small) number of reservations and once they are full that's it. So maybe call right away and see? Not sure how soon this brunch is going to be. Worth a try, though, if that's your favorite place. It definitely has a fun vibe.

                    I also like Area Four brunch and I think it would fit your requirements pretty well. They have tasty brunch cocktails (not sure if this is part of your love of Highland Kitchen) and both breakfasty and non-breakfasty options. One thing that I like about Area Four over Highland Kitchen is that it tends to not have a crazy long wait or be super crowded, so I feel more comfortable lingering for a while. At Highland Kitchen I sometimes feel like I should clear out and let someone in out of the cold.

                    Good luck!!! Both with the surgery and the hospital food. :)