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

I just checked out La Voile, and it looks very nice. I may check it out. Not sure it's special enough though. It looks more like a great place to eat if I happen to be in Newbury St. area.

The wine list posted on-line is unusually sparse. They don't even list wines or Champagne by the glass.

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

Well, my impression of Cambridge dining is that there are more restaurants that are a scene than normal. Honestly, the same can be said of the South End these days. Still, you can't deny the comments I've heard about dining in some of the trendy Cambridge restaurants.

Logistics are also a major concern. It is so incredibly easy to get to Hamersley's, and the old L'Espalier. It's a pleasure to go there.

Cambridge is a PITA to drive in. If I have to get off the Mass Pike, sit in traffic for 30 minutes, then illegally park on a distant side street, that is a deal-breaker. Any place that has valet parking automatically gets moved to the front of the line.

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

It looks nice, I'd love to eat there. Just that I'm not sure it fits the bill as a destination restaurant for a special occasion.

If I lived in Boston, I'm sure I'd try it. But my excursions to Boston are very limited, so I'm looking for a really consistently special experience.

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

I like Providence.

Just that Boston is the preeminent city in the area, and I love Boston. I enjoy visiting the city. Seems like I should be able to find a special, comfortable, up-scale restaurant there.

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

peelmeagrape: Thanks for the kind words. I feel like a dinosaur at times because I like nice ambiance and service.

And yes, I like Sorellina. But it feels more like a nice place to have dinner, and less like a destination, special occasion place.

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

eviltwinjen and black_lab: Thanks for the comments! I will definitely consider Rialto, and maybe TW Food. I laughed at your mention of the nightmare of parking in Cambridge. YES! If I want a relaxing dinner out, all dressed up, on a rainy winter night, why do I want to drive in circles on one way streets, then illegally park, walk a mile in the rain, and hope that I don't get towed?

Valet parking? Ideal. Walkable safe on-street parking? No problem. Illegal parking three miles away? That's a problem.

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

jajjguy: I looked at the TW Food website, but they have zero pictures of the interior (one of my major pet peeves). I saw a couple random shots on Yelp that looked pretty good.

But yeah, I have considered trying Craigie, but I often hear comments such as Carty says, that's it's a weird scene there. That's my main reason for avoiding Cambridge. When you, as a proponent, say that "people differ on the ambiance and service", that is a huge red flag to me. I will never go to a place where they say the food is great, and the service is iffy.

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

Yes, I think that may be worth a try. I've been to Menton but not No.9 Park, how would you contrast the two?

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

LeoLioness: Good question...Mainly, imagine a "special occasion" such as a 10/20/25 year anniversary, where you want to go out and have a special wonderful evening regardless of cost. That's my #1 criteria.

I didn't list anything in order, but I'd say the American/French/Italian is a deal breaker. No sushi bars, sorry. Also, bad service is a deal-breaker.

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

Gordough: You are astute. To clarify...I had a nice dinner at Menton, but I've never felt a burning desire to return. The best I can describe it is to say it's "soul-less". Everything is good, but in a calculated way.

I should say that I really like B&G Oysters as a casual bar/restaurant. So I'm not opposed to Lynch.

I am considering No. 9 Park. But you make a valid point...Is it in the same mold as Menton?

Carty: I'll let go my preferences when you give up your personal dining preferences. Think of some genre or style that you really don't like, and I'll tell you to get over it. :-)

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

Blumie: You're baffled why I refuse to prefer Cambridge, and I'm baffled why you can't accept my criteria.

Cambridge is a PITA to travel to. And parking is often a PITA also. There are also hyper-trendy restaurants there that are part of a foodie-scene that I really don't enjoy. The trendy part can also be said for South Boston, and yet I like Hamersley's, because it bucks the trend.

You say there are "many great restaurants where one can dress up for a celebratory dinner". But you didn't list any.

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

Since so many people have mentioned Rialto, I'll definitely check it out. Thank you, hotoynoodle!

teezeetoo: What does TW stand for?

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

Yes, MCslimJB, I agree. But since the restaurant spends boat loads of money on marketing, photos, and a website, why don't they show pictures of the decor? Why do I have to rely on some tourist with an iPhone to take a grainy blurry picture of the dining room, and post it on Instragram? It's insane, really.

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

A hotel restaurant is a cold business venture. It has nothing to do with the heart and soul of a chef cooking for people.

I'll try to explain like this:

L'Espalier was in a gorgeous brownstone, with romantic exterior, and interior, fireplaces, odd quirky rooms. The kitchen was a claustrophobic nightmare, I've heard. But, as a diner, it was insanely romantic.

They moved to a hotel...

I'm sure they spent millions of dollars on the new dining room. It's opulent, comfortable. There is a faux library room. You enter through a stainless steel and glass elevator. There are no windows on the street. There is a faux gas fireplace. There is faux paneling. The food and service are the same as the old place. IMO, the original L'Espalier was a labor of love, and the new one is a soul-less corporate business venture.

I am actually really happy for the L'Espalier owners that they cashed in on a great business deal. But for me, personally, I would never go the new place again. It's fake.

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

jbp: Awesome, I will check both of those out. I do tend to shy away from a second restaurant of the original, but sounds doable!

And I know nothing of 80 Thoreau, I'll definitely look that up. Thanks again.

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

dfan: Haha...I'm actually not that hard to please. First, one needs to put specifics when asking for CH recommendations. Otherwise, we read 100 thread titles of "What's a good restaurant in Boston?" Second, this is for a special occasion type place, so yes, I'm more fussy about that. If it's a one-off night out for dinner, I'll go anywhere, no problem.

Thanks for additional rec of Bondir! And Bergamot.

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

TimTamGirl: Yes, 100% spot on, thank you for expressing more eloquently what I was trying to say.

A rule of thumb is, I don't want to be the only guy in the restaurant wearing a tie.

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

Bob Dobalina: You sound eager to be outraged about something. Not that it matters, but I'm a capital L liberal. I just don't like the drive to Cambridge. And it reminds me of a foodie/trendy vibe going on there, that I'm not entirely into. As Obama said, sue me. ;-)

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

I meant look and feel. There are restaurants in NYC that have a style that would never fly in Boston, and vice versa. There are no restaurants like the old L'Espalier in NYC, for example. Nor in LA or Miami.

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

Thanks for the Bondir's recommendation. I'll check their website again. There was something about it that didn't appeal to me the first time, but it sounds like there is a consensus that it fits the bill.

(That's why I appealed to CH, because I know you guys can give me info that I can't get on my own.)

As a side rant: Why do restaurants post almost no pictures of their dining rooms? All restaurants do this. Some literally have zero. They have fancy websites, no pictures of the room. They'll have a "gallery" that shows 200 pictures of a piece of lettuce on a white plate. Or a blurry chef throwing something in a pot. It's like, yeah, thanks, I know what lettuce looks like. You spent a million dollars creating a restaurant space, and then don't put one picture of it on your website.

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

Haha...Yes, exactly!

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

marketpeach: Thanks for the additional recommendation for Bistro du Midi!

Again, I think I may have overstated the lighting issue when I said "definitely dark". I didn't mean that I want to wear a miner's lamp on my head, I just meant "pleasantly lit". I like warm lighting, maybe a candle on the table. As opposed to a place with awesome food, but set up like a brightly lit counter-style seating.

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

cjd260: I'll check out Rialto, but yeah, if I liked hotel restaurants, I'd probably just go to L'Espalier.

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

Doesn't necessarily have to be dark like a cave. I just meant nice ambiance. So for instance, I prefer tablecloths, though it's not a deal breaker.

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

youngho: Thanks for the recommendations of La Voile, Bistro du Midi, and Lucca! I will check them out. (I have no reservations about them, have never been.)

I don't have a preoccupation about Cambridge. I said I'd prefer to avoid Cambridge and the suburbs, but if there was an amazing place that was a clear winner, I would go to Cambridge or the suburbs.

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

I *love* Hamersley's Bistro.

I live a little over an hour away, west of Boston, and for every special occasion, or when I just want a great evening out, I book a table at Hamersley's. Now that it is closing, what would you recommend as possible alternative?

I am really fussy, so please consider the following:

1) What I love about Hamersley's is the convenient location, beautiful ambiance, professional waitstaff, stellar wine list, gracious service, comfortable dining room, great food, and Boston institution.

2) Before Hamersley's, L'Espalier was my go-to place, until they moved from their romantic townhouse to a boring generic hotel. I hate hotel restaurants with a passion. I loved the ambiance of eating in a brownstone; in a hotel, no way.

3) I love Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain, but it's a pain to drive there.

4) I've been to Sorrelina, Troquet, DeuxAve, Mistral, Toscana, and Menton, and I liked them; I'm happy enough to eat there. But none of those places has the comfortable special occasion vibe that Hamersley's has. Sorrelina is too trendy, Troquet is a little off, DeuxAve too casual, Mistral too formulaic, Toscana not special enough food, and Menton is a pawn in an business empire.

5) I liked Lumiere in Newton, but it didn't feel special enough. More like a place that I would go to all the time if I lived in Newton, but wouldn't travel far to go to.

That being said, here are my criteria for my next "go to" restaurant:

- It cannot be in a hotel, or a second restaurant of a famous chef. I want this to be a standalone restaurant, not part of an empire.

- It can't be a "seafood" restaurant, or asian. It has to be American, French, or Italian please.

- It has to have excellent service. No exceptions.

- It should have a good wine list. It should have Champagne by the glass.

- I am not crazy about the Cambridge dining scene, and would greatly prefer to avoid Cambridge. Suburbs of Boston are acceptable, such as Newton, etc. But the more convenient to the Mass Pike, the better.

- It has to have great ambiance, and feel romantic. Definitely dark, definitely not "family friendly". Noisy is fine. Again I should point out that I consider Ten Tables in Jamaica Plain to have great ambiance, and I consider Hamersley's to have great ambiance.

- I have to be able to wear a jacket and tie, and not look like a freak. I understand that every restaurant nowadays has someone in a t-shirt and jeans, but I shouldn't look out of place wearing a tie.

- It should feel like Boston. If I'm in a restaurant that looks like NY, Chicago, or Miami, I'm not interested.

- I'm considering these places, based on a list of "best" restaurants in the area that I haven't been to yet...
Bondir - Pros, looks cool. Cons, Cambridge, worried it's a "scene".
Bergamot - Pros, looks cool. Cons, Cambridge.
Asta - Pros, location, sounds awesome. Cons, website is secretive, no idea what it looks like inside.
Erbaluce - Pros, location. Cons, not sure it's a special occasion type place.
Sycamore - Pros, seems nice. Cons, looks a bit casual. Wine list is weird, and not in a good way.

(I considered Ribelle, but it looks too much like a cafeteria. Also checked out The Gallows, but they don't take reservations, and they sound super obnoxious on their website.)

Based on all of that, I am leaning toward trying Asta. Maybe Sycamore. Maybe Bergamot. Otherwise, I may need to get used to making the trek to Ten Tables.

Any advice? Let me have it!

Thanks in advance...

Top 10 Most Overblown Food/Beverage Trends

- Counter dining at high end restaurants

- Restaurants with capitalized acronyms in their name

- Speck, beets, fingerling potatoes

Mar 02, 2014
johnblacksox in General Topics

Looking for a dinner option in or near Springfield.

Salsa's, YES! I'm amazed that more people don't know about this place. Great food! It's in a sketchy neighborhood, so I can understand being apprehensive, but the food is really good.

Looking for a dinner option in or near Springfield.

The fort is a joke. White Hut is good if you want a hot dog, no argument there.

Looking for a dinner option in or near Springfield.

Yes, yes, and yes.