Hi all! Long time listener, first time caller.
This winter, my boyfriend and I realized we were in a bit of a restaurant rut. Unfortunately, we had a series of unfortunate strikeouts when trying new restaurants. I'm hoping to enlist your help figuring out which restaurants we may have better luck at. We are pretty flexible in terms of price point; looking for Friday night "I don't want to cook" places, as well as special nights out.
In general, I'd say that we like exciting and "ostentatious" flavors, fun (but not raucous) atmospheres, and good cocktail or beer lists. Our all-time favorite restaurant is Oleana--we love the food, the small plates format, and the outdoor garden (in the summer--we'll sit at the bar in winter). We also really like Tupelo (primarily for the atmosphere--the food is a little too heavy to go there too frequently!). Picco is a go-to for a great, laid-back, and relatively inexpensive dinner of beer, salad, and pizza. My boyfriend loves the atmosphere at Dali, finding it really fun; I agree but think the food isn't anything special. For romantic occasions, we love Erbaluce. I have a huge soft spot for ICOB, but sadly my boyfriend isn't quite as into seafood as I am.
The restaurants we struck out at: Bondir (we found the food unexciting and not particularly memorable, and the atmosphere too stuffy), and TW Food (we went for a wine night and thought the food wasn't very good--had a chickpea stew, some arancini, and a pork dish that weren't terribly flavorful).
Any recommendations? As you can see, we tend to stick to Cambridge and Boston, but definitely willing to venture to Brookline/Somerville/Watertown for a great meal.