Pre-theatre dinner rec downtown: help wow my daughter! [Boston, MA]

My spring onion finished reading To Kill a Mockingbird, which was a stretch for her at 11. I’m super proud and read it along with her as support. As a reward, I bought the two of us tickets to the Broadway production which is touring to the Citizen’s Bank Opera House in a couple of weeks. The play is at 6:30, so we need an early dinner option as we’ll be pushing bedtime. She’s an excellent eater, but still basically a kid. So bone marrow butter and caviar type things are not going to interest her, and she’s not big on red meat. I was thinking a classy, opulent atmosphere, maybe a nice pasta, and a great dessert. Also, needs to be a short walk from the Opera House, although I suppose we could jump in a cab but that adds another layer of timing/complication. Also, must be open on Sunday

On my list are:

  • No 9 Park- 2 pastas available, a few nice looking desserts
  • Yvonnes- super close, the menu looks good to me, maybe a flatbread would work although might require some modification such as omitting spicy sausage, we could also eat very light and focus on the Showstopper $45 Baked Alaska. Ice cream for dinner might blow her mind…
  • Had considered the Omni Parker; appears closed for dinner

Anyone care to weigh in on this challenge? Thanks!


One initial thought… several moons ago at my previous job, I worked right down the street. A bunch of my colleagues liked Ruka, but I never made it there. Also, they may have been there more for the drinks than the food. The menu was appealing to me, though.

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I was just looking at Ruka! I think you read my mind. That definitely could work, and a fish waffle/ice cream sundae situation for dessert looks intriguing. I might let her take a look at the menus and pick.

Edit- unfortunately, closed Sunday. I should have specified that the play is on a Sunday.

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No. 9 Park will impress with sophistication (and amazing pasta. The foie gras prune gnocchi are amazing). Yvonne’s will charm with wit, and a bit of retro sophistication. My sense is Yvonne’s is the winning ticket. Share the tuna feast?


Perhaps check out the flashy new Contessa on top of the Newbury (old Ritz) and then have a nice walk through the Public Garden and Common to the show? I have not been to Contessa or in the space since it was redone. However, in it’s previous iterations, that space may have been the most lovely in the city. The group who opened Contessa turns out consistently good (if pricey) fare. It might be just the thing for a memorable occasion such as this.


Yvonne’s doesn’t have early availability on Sunday until the 24th.
What about Bistro du Midi? Lovely setting overlooking the public garden.


Wow- I’m late to the game. Good suggestions; all have no availability. Maybe I will call Yvonne’s or Contessa and ask about a table at 5 with a promise to give it back to them by 6. Sometimes that can get you in the door & it’s not like we’ll be lingering or having many courses.


I see the MaxEntropy says they may not have early seating for the show - but isn’t Yvonne’s the place where you enter through a faux hair salon? At 11 . . . I would have thought that was so cool. And the interior of Yvonne (if I’m thinking of the right place, it’s been 2 years since I’ve been out) is pretty impressive too.

And we’ve always liked their food - so bonus points all around!

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I’ve been to all of the following recently, quite enjoyed them, and think they all would suit your purposes:

  • Ruka – Peruvian but leans into Nikkei. Glamourous space. Pricey but good of its kind. A stone’s throw from the Opera House.
  • Bistro du Midi – Very solid Southern French.
  • Contessa – Swank Northern Italian with spectacular views, but good luck getting a table.

You might consider an alternative like Q Restaurant down the block, which has the poshest ambiance of Chinatown’s hot pot places and has lovely broths.

Another option: The Street Bar at the Newbury Hotel. A very grownup kind of setting (the space once housed the bar at the old Ritz-Carlton), limited menu, but a swell view of the Public Garden, and they treat kids well.


I stopped by the Omni Parker House to try their Boston Cream Pie on my last visit (Fall 2018). It seemed like it has become a tired hotel restaurant, churning food out. I wouldn’t go there on purpose again.

Oh. I forgot about Q for hotpot. It’s a fun place and I would have loved that at 11 too. (Still do)

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I emailed Contessa, explained that we’d order some pasta and dessert, and have their table back to them an hour later, since 11 year olds don’t linger over wine, and they promptly responded with a reservation. I’ll be sure to report back! Thanks, all.


That’s fantastic! Enjoy the meal, and the show.


It’s such a fun thing you’re doing all around. Enjoy yourselves!

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That is probably the most perfect time of day to get a table: so beautiful when the sun is on its way down!

A couple of my personal favorite dishes are the meatballs Aldo and the squash carpaccio, and pretty much any of the pastas and contorni. They brag about their veal milanese, but it did not make a big impression on me. I would also skip the tonnato crudo and the pizzas. The Tuscan-style steak is a splurge (the cost of luxury beef is insane these days), but it is beautifully and traditionally done.


Yay! Looking forward to your report!


Thanks to everyone who weighed in- I’m happy to report we had an absolutely lovely meal at Contessa last night and the spring onion was suitably impressed and wowed.

It is, as advertised, a magnificent space with unquestionably the best view in the city. From our window, we could see the Zakim bridge, Encore, all of downtown, the Common and the Public Garden. The chairs are comfy and luxurious; the plates rimmed in gold. These are the kind of things that wow an 11 year old, but truly I was loving it too.

We started with a Shirley Temple for the young lady, and a lovely sparkling rose for me. Usually I make her throw out the scarlet FD&C red #5 cherry, because yuck, but this was a natural undyed maraschino which I let her eat, and which blew her mind. We had illusions of sharing an appetizer, but the waiter, who was a charming 20-something Italian man with a delightful accent, promptly brought a spread of focaccia, olives, and chunks of parmesan nestled in a balsamic reduction, so we knew additional courses would be unnecessary.

As predicted, we had two pastas and a dessert and just squeaked by in 60 minutes to make it to the excellent production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Spring onion was delighted with her shrimp mezzaluna- I’m guessing local rock shrimp both in the pasta filling and the sauce and they were sweet, tender and so shrimpy. (Interestingly, the menu is very spare and does not tout the provenance of each and every morsel. In a way, it was refreshing.) I had the rigatoni carbonara- an unconventional choice for me, as usually I would pick something lighter but I was curious about their version and it did not disappoint. The sauce was highly peppered, and the guanciale was well-rendered and crisp. For dessert, we picked the Boston Cream, which I would describe as a layered trifle with the flavors of Boston Cream Pie. We left full and happy, with the total check just under $100. While some of the larger secondi plates are quite pricey, I thought the pastas were reasonably priced and sized such that we finished them without leftovers, but certainly didn’t need any more. All in all, a success.

(My husband and younger sprout by way of contrast, went to Dumpling House and without my steadying influence, ordered such a feast that not only were they moved to a larger table to accommodate their plates, their bill was higher than ours!)


Glad it worked out for you and you had an enjoyable meal. We were supposed to try Contessa recently on my son’s birthday, and wouldn’t you know it he vetoed in favor of his favorite Dumpling House as well. We have had the same problem of not enough room for the dishes. :rofl:


Sounds like a great meal and experience! Glad it worked out so well!!

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Sounds like a resounding success!

Wish they would post their dinner. But nevertheless, good for them (and hopefully there were leftovers to tote home). Great day for the Parsnipity clan!

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