Here's my take on a few restaurants I have recently visited - please feel free to comment and let me know what your experiences have been:
The Vault on Water Street.
Atmosphere: Intimate, warm, fireplace and mahogany walls. Not very crowded, but I went at 9pm on a weekday.
Wine list: Large selection. Seems unfocused at first, but it's actually well chosen. Mark ups are about 2.5x wholesale (what they should be). Also offer GOOD wine flights at very affordable prices.
Food: Blend of French and American bistro. INCREDIBLE tomato soup. Good table oil - interesting varietal from a small producer in Crete. Sirloin steak - tender and cooked just right. Chicken special (rollatini -type dish) had a delicious creamy sauce and was not dried out. Cheese dish - all french cheeses, good, but not the best I have had.
Service: Very friendly, and not rushed.
Overall: Very good and a definite try, especially for wine enthusiasts. The owner also owns a wine shop on Newbury street (the name of which I can't recall right now).
Il Panino on Franklin Street.
Atmosphere: Very nice, open dining room overlooking the street. Intimate, and reasonably quiet.
Wine: This was by far the most disappointing aspect of the restaurant. The list was reasonably well put together, but the prices were ridiculous. The mark ups were between 4 and 5 times wholesale!! They were selling a bottle of Copertino for $39 ($8.00 wholesale), along with selling several $15 bottles of chianti for $60. There is no excuse for this.
Food: Not exciting, generally bland - not even cooked properly. Prosciutto was not edible and needed to be cut with a steak knife. Risotto was more like spanish rice. Zupe di Pesce not seasoned properly, clams & mussels were like rubber.
I will save this for my next post - this one is already too long.
Service: Cold, not attentive, but passable.
Overall: Overpriced, bland food, mediocre service. I would stay away.