Help me decide where to cry about my advanced age.
I'm almost another year older and another year swankier. Mr. Swank and I are planning my birthday meal, and we have several contenders. For reference, I've enjoyed prior birthday outings at Coppa, Craigie, Oleana, Strip T's, and Pescatore (before it began a downward slide). I love weird, funky, spicy foods ... the weirder the better, really. We've enjoyed Hungry Mother, ExNe, Toro, and Sarma lately.
Here's what's on our list:
1. Ribelle: I've heard exceptionally mixed things, but it seems to be the rage right now.
2. Row 34: Menu looks fun and more varied than at ICOB. However, I have never been blown away by ICOB...
3. Sycamore: People absolutely love it here. This is probably our top choice, except I'm not sure that it fits the "funky/spicy" prerequisite.
4. Sarma: Fits the funky/spicy desire, except I've been several times already and it's a bit too casual for a special night out.
5. Shanghai Social Club: I dunno -- I'm curious?
6. Bronwyn: We're both longtime fans of TW Food. But I'm not a huge sausage-phile. Is there enough to sate me?
7. Kirkland Tap and Trotter: Because we love Craigie on Main. Again, though, I'm wondering if it's quite casual.
Enlighten this old Swank, whippersnapping Hounds.
Just consider yourself another year wiser. BTW -- my birthday is soon approaching, never celebrated it because it's so close to Christmas.
None of these places has a special, celebratory feel to me in terms of ambiance or formality of service, so I wouldn't count out the Kirkland on that score. Just note that more casual than Craigie doesn't equal a whole lot cheaper.
I think Ribelle, of which I am a big fan, comes closest to your food criteria. (So does Sarma, but you've been a bunch.) Sycamore does pretty straightforward New American, but is terrific of its type; the board for two always feels special to me.
Bronwyn has a lot more than sausages going on, and has unique atmosphere. (See the current BoMag review, a good one, and mine in the Improper.) All three have very strong cocktail programs, if that's important.
Shanghai Social Club has an American chef doing well-executed American-Chinese in a nightclub-like setting, with a few dashes of creativity and respectable Tkik drinks. It's fun and useful for Allston, but the food is probably a tad conventional for the occasion.
Row 34 is high on my to-try list; I'm a big fan of ICOB.
re: MC Slim JB
I think Ribelle, too, based on what you said and what I've read, although I haven't been.
I have been to Kirkland and Row 34. If you are not an ICOB lover, I don't think Row 34 is the place for your birthday. Your stance on ICOB has got to be the most predictive indicator there can possibly be as to what you will think of Row 34. I liked it quite a bit, particularly the starters.
I was very impressed by Kirkland. I think that's likely the runner-up on your list. I posted my thoughts on it at that thread. Not everyone appears to agree.
I don't think Bronwyn is as special occasion-y as TW Food. I like German food and I like Bronwyn, but I adore TW Food.