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How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

And with no intention of being obnoxious, I just want to address the OP's concerns about Cambridge with respect to Craigie: from the MassPike, it's about a mile up River Street to Central Square. A right on Mass Ave and a left on Main St. and you're there. They have valet parking, although there also is metered parking nearby. The only hangup from a traffic perspective is that sometimes the Allston/Cambridge exit (the "River St. downramp") from the Pike can backup significantly. They've recently repainted the lines dividing the lanes, which has improved traffic flow, although if it's still backed up significantly, you can go towards Allston rather than Cambridge, go to the next traffic light, and pull a u-turn (by taking a right at the light, turning around, and then coming back).

From the exit on the Pike, it's about 5 minutes with little or moderate traffic. The backup can add another 5 minutes if you have to do the Allston u-turn.

about 5 hours ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Pay by Check no more!

Nothing like being mean spirited to get a rise out of someone. Good on you, treb.

about 6 hours ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

It's not a function of whether or not I accept your criteria; they're yours and you can make any decisions you want. It's just that your view of Cambridge -- such as the difficulty of getting around and parking -- make it clear that your criteria is based in part on incorrect information. So I tried to write about the misinformation I had about Cambridge and how I came to find that I was wrong as a way to suggest that, with an open mind, you might reach a similar conclusion. Feel free to ignore my story if you want, and feel free to continue to make decisions based on incorrect information. Doesn't trouble me any.

On "the other" side of the river, I echo the No. 9 Park recommendation. Although I haven't been since I've been on "this side" of the river, I've always loved the cool, elegant vibe there.

about 22 hours ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

$1000 mandatory minimum bill for a large group?

It may not be worth their while to staff up at an off hour if you're not gonna meet their minimum spend.

1 day ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
2

September Dining Review and Rec.

In fairness, it's been quite some time since I've been there, but I have been numerous times (I've sat in the dining room several times, at the bar, and outside in the alley) and each time there was something that seemed just a little off. But now, years later, I can't remember exactly what it's been. So maybe take my negative reaction with a grain of salt, but I still stand strongly by my recommendation of Clancy's, which never has disappointed.

1 day ago
Blumie in New Orleans
1

Pay by Check no more!

Funny that you don't care how they pay, but care very much about the source of their funds. You've taken the entire universe of people who require government assistance to put food on the table and have judged them as unworthy, whereas I've only judged slow-to-pay people.

1 day ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
1

Pay by Check no more!

I'd be interested to know how many participants in this thread routinely pay by check, and of those how many do it out of concern over data theft.

1 day ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

How do I replace Hamersley's as my "go to" special occasion restaurant? (Very detailed list of criteria inside!)

Sorry, just an overly long note to pile on with respect to Cambridge.

When I was a kid growing up in Newton in the 70s and early 80s, Harvard Square was the coolest place on earth. I would spend all day walking a mile to the Newton Centre T, riding the Green Line into Park Street and switching to the Red Line just to be able to spend some time in Harvard Square. (The vast, vast majority of my vinyl record collection was purchased at the Harvard Coop!) As I got older, I discovered Central Square and Inman Square, too, and later Somerville.

After graduate school, however, I packed up and moved to NYC, where I still live. About 10 years ago, when life events made having a place in the Boston area desirable, I had it in my mind that Cambridge had lost its cool, and that Boston (the Back Bay and South End, in particular) was where sophisticated, grown ups live, not Cambridge, and I rented a place on the Back Bay/South End line.

Several years of paying exorbitant rents made me rethink my living arrangements, and although I didn't plan to move to Cambridge, I ended up doing so when I found a fabulous townhouse for rent at a very reasonable price in Mid-Cambridge (equidistant to Central and Inman Squares on the north/south axis, and Harvard and Kendall Squares on the east/west axis). Over the past five years, I have totally fallen in love with Cambridge again. Not only would I not think of moving back to the "other side," but it's rare for me even to cross the river to dine; there are just too many great options on my side of the river.

I have no idea what anti-Cambridge biases the OP may have, but I am pretty sure they are unwarranted. Yes, there are cultural differences between Boston and Cambridge, and that translates (in general, of course; there always are exceptions -- lots of them) to more formal restaurants in Boston and more casual restaurants in Cambridge, but as many people here are correctly observing, there are many great restaurants in Cambridge where one can dress up and have a delightful celebratory dinner without feeling out of place for wearing a tie and not having a Brooklyn beard.

1 day ago
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
1

September Dining Review and Rec.

I have not been in quite some time, but I have always found The Pelican Room to be somewhat bizarre. On the other hand, Clancy's has never let me down.

1 day ago
Blumie in New Orleans

Pay by Check no more!

Count me as in favor of the no checks policy!

And for the rest of you slowing us impatient ones down: while the cashier is ringing in your order is a good time to pull out your wallet and have your chosen payment method ready. It drives me crazy when the cashier is finished ringing in an order and the customer seems to react with complete surprise that he or she actually has to pay for all that stuff and only then begins to fumble through pockets or purse to arrange payment.

In fact, I'd be ok with checks if the customer were ready to go as soon as the amount is known. Instedad it's usually the check writers that are the worst offenders of the standing-around-in-a-fog-and-acting-surprised-when-told-they-have-to-pay technique of checking out.

There, I said it.

Aug 19, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
3

Frankie and Johnny's

Basically the same, but you don't feel filthy when you walk out anymore. I've gone for crawfish several times since they've reopened and was fairly pleased.

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Is Whole Food in Newtonville trying to be Wegmans?

Although I haven't been in a long time, I've always liked the Newtonville location. But I'm not sure what you mean about the "community" feel. To me, it's been a long time since Whole Foods has felt like anything other than the corporate giant it is (except, perhaps, at a location like Prospect St. in Cambridge, which is a relatively small neighborhood store compared to most of the others).

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Legal Sea Foods: You've come a long way baby!

Excellent points, Penny. I should add that the service at Legal was terrific. I sat at the bar, where the bartenders were very friendly and attentive. And the food did come out very promptly (to the point where one bartender walked by and commented, "That was fast"), so I don't think it was sitting around. But as I pointed out, I have only myself to blame. I went in knowing the Legal sucks, and this just confirmed it. (I believe very strongly that our expectations play an extremely important role in our enjoyment of a meal, and while I am trying very hard to control for my expectations, I will admit that I believe doing so entirely is impossible.) I thought a basic fried seafood dinner would be a safer bet than anything that required a more nuanced preparation -- not that it's particularly nuanced, but I wouldn't trust them to properly broil a simple filet of fish -- but I was wrong. As my friend UnclePH points out, the crab cakes are pretty reliable, and although I haven't had them in a long, long time (because I try not to go to Legal), I used to enjoy them a lot. (I used to enjoy the tuna sashimi, too, but my father -- who's view I trust -- reported it was not good on a recent visit.)

At the end of the day, going to Legal is too much a crap shoot (and like most casino games, the player loses more often than not). People here clearly like some menu items, or some locations, or some of the newer concepts, but I prefer to spend my dining dollars at places that can deliver more consistently than that.

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
1

Legal Sea Foods: You've come a long way baby!

Is that because making good fried clams is so wildly complicated?

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Anywhere Similar to Rendezvous?

In thinking about it, one thing the places did share was the quality of the service and the dedication of the staff.

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Legal Sea Foods: You've come a long way baby!

I'm pretty confident that if Oleana offered a Gyro platter with French fries and Greek salad it would be fantastic. But then again Oleana doesn't suck like Legal.

Aug 18, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Anywhere Similar to Rendezvous?

Even in its best days, there was nothing particularly Rendezvouish about East Coast Grill.

Aug 17, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Legal Sea Foods: You've come a long way baby!

"why would anyone order fried clams at Legal Seafood?"

Is that a serious question?!?!

Aug 17, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area
1

Anywhere Similar to Rendezvous?

Unfortunately ECG, which used to be a favorite of mine, is a far cry from Rendezvous in many, many respects.

Aug 17, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Legal Sea Foods: You've come a long way baby!

Unfortunately, entirely in the wrong direction.

If you research my posts on the topic of Legal Sea Foods (and its progeny), you'll see I am not a fan. Although I occasionally may have said something nice about the chain (something along the lines of, "My meal didn't totally suck."), it will become clear very quickly that I am not a fan. Count me among the many who lament the downfall of this once great culinary institution.

Tonight, I took the lazy way out; I have only myself to blame. Having rented out my house in Cambridge (with my daughter leaving her mother's home in Lincoln to attend boarding school in Vermont, I no longer expect to be here every single week), I am holed up at one of those generic Burlington-area hotels. I got myself a hankering for some fried clams, having not had any yet this summer. Ipswich is a mere 40 minutes away from here. Or, in less time I could have been at one of the several not-as-good-as-Farnham's-but-still-pretty-darn-good alternatives closer to here. But instead, staying just a stone's throw from the Burlington Mall, I decided it was time to give Legal another shot. Nothing fancy; just a fried clam dinner. What a disappointment.

Having not had clams in quite a while, I don't feel I can judge the quality of the clams themselves. They didn't seem as big and plump as I would have expected, but maybe that's just the negative halo effect talking. (That is, clearly disappointed by my experience, it can be hard to give them credit for anything positive.) But irrespective of the quality of the clams themselves, the quality of the preparation was just lame. Very little to no crunch. Soggy. Served on a bed of really lame (really lame) fries. The stray calamari ring in my order didn't make it any better. The stray clam shell (I can only hope that's what the hard thing that ended up in my mouth was) didn't make it any better.

I know that most on this board have long ago concluded that Legal sucks. But it still has some ardent supporters. Sorry, guys: you're just wrong; the place sucks.

I had no choice but to try to wash away my disappointment with a mocha shake from Bobby's Burger Palace next door.

Aug 16, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

A Place to Watch a Game in The Quarter with Good Eats and Drinks

Cooter Brown's is a great place to watch the game. You likely will have both SC and A&M fans. And they have an incredible beer selection. Downsides are that it's about as far from the Quarter as you can get (but still totally doable by cab), and the food -- oysters and an extensive menu of bar food -- is not particularly memorable.

Aug 16, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Seeking Recs for Business Lunches in French Quarter

Very convenient to the Marriott is Mr. B's. While I'll admit that it's not on the top of my list, it is a crowd pleaser. I might not book it for a night out with my wife, but definitely would for a night out with clients.

Bayona, which I mentioned earlied, I'd book with either my wife or clients. Same with August, but it may be a little too much if you're looking to avoid a white table cloth atmosphere. (Bayona is on the fancy side, too, but it has a less formal feel, and a lovely courtyard for drinks if it's not too hot.)

Aug 13, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Breakfast around the Financial District and South Station

Another hotel breakfast option is at the Intercontinental, also a relatively short walk. I believe in nice weather you can eat outside overlooking the channel.

Aug 13, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Seeking Recs for Business Lunches in French Quarter

Bayona is a great option for a quiet meal.

Aug 13, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Seeking Recs for Business Lunches in French Quarter

How large will your groups be? Do you have any budgetary constraints?

Aug 13, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Rub BBQ

And digging up old threads.

Aug 13, 2014
Blumie in Manhattan

Breakfast suggestions

A friend went to the newish Canal Street location and did not give it high marks. I sent her to Surrey's the next day and she reported that she much preferred Surrey's.

Aug 12, 2014
Blumie in New Orleans

Prepared Foods (frozen?) in Framingham

This may not be too convenient, depending on where in Framingham your friend lives, but Verrill Farm, in Concord, offers a large selection of very good prepared foods (in addition to other deliciousness in their expanded farmstand). It's about 20 minutes north of the Route 30 exit off of the Mass Pike (via Routes 27, 126 and 117), so you'd have to decide whether it's worth the detour.

Aug 12, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

You Are My Gyro: Mindblowing sandy at Ma Magoo's

As promised, went back for the lamb sandwich. Definitely preferred it to the gyro, but Farm Grille still is the gold standard IMHO.

Aug 11, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area

Snappy Patty's West Medford: An early report

Yes, I agree that they look sad in that photo. Maybe they suck.
On the name thing, I had another thought after I posted (this probably was obvious to everyone, but not me!): they may be calling them Patty Melts as a play on the name of the place. (One would still hope that they'd be good, though, irrespective of why they chose the name.)

Aug 11, 2014
Blumie in Greater Boston Area