Where to Eat Now 2010

Your guide to the perfect dining spots for every occasion. Plus: What to order, where to sit, and how to get in on the best weeknight deals in town.

The Heights

When the occasion calls for excess, these five restaurants deliver. By Amy Traverso

The chef's table at Asana in the Mandarin Oriental. Photograph by Keller + Keller.

The chef’s table at Asana in the Mandarin Oriental. Photograph by Keller + Keller.

Executive chef Nicolas Boutin, who trained at several Michelin-starred French restaurants before heading to Asia to hone his craft, is at his best when combining local ingredients with French techniques and Asian accents (e.g., Maine lobster bisque with coconut-curry flan). And the private, glassed-in chef’s table right off the kitchen offers a unique window into his take on world cuisine. After you book the room (it holds anywhere from one to eight diners, and menus start at $125 per person), Boutin will call you to discuss a customized meal. Then, on the appointed evening, he’ll lead you through the feast, course by course. Mandarin Oriental Boston, 776 Boylston St., Boston, 617-535-8800, mandarinoriental.com/boston.

Craigie on Main
Chef-owner Tony Maws is a master of seasonal flavors, not to mention the prince of all things pork (his organic pig three ways is one of the finest dishes in town). Even in a down economy—and even with a tab north of $100 per person—Craigie’s six- and 10-course tasting menus are some of the fairest-priced culinary blowouts around, particularly with wine pairings included. 853 Main St., Cambridge, 617-497-5511, craigieonmain.com.

For all the modern flair of chef-owner Frank McClelland’s “chef’s tasting journey” menu—pineapple-sage jus accenting an herb-crusted lamb loin, Nantucket bay scallops in dashi broth with potato noodles—there’s an old-school grandness to the experience. Service is formal, cheese comes on a wheeled cart, and, for $315 per person (with wine pairings), luxurious flourishes like foie gras, caviar, and truffles are abundant. To really live it up, book this feast at the chef’s table located in the restaurant’s state-of-the-art kitchen. 774 Boylston St., Boston, 617-262-3023, lespalier.com.

O Ya
By cost alone, O Ya is Boston’s house of splurge. The 16-course omakase menu with sake pairings and a healthy sprinkling of Kumamoto oysters, foie gras, and Wagyu strip loin can easily set you back $350 per person. But you can also do O Ya at a (slightly) more modest price point—say, eight simpler courses sans sake for about $125 a head. Whatever your budget, the stream of gemlike bites will make you swoon. 9 East St., Boston, 617-654-9900, oyarestaurantboston.com.

Under chef de cuisine Matthew Audette, who took over the post about a year ago, Radius’s menu has become more recognizably modern French. Audette believes texture is as important as flavor, which means a deluxe seven-course chef’s tasting, at $135 per person ($215 with wine pairings), hits all five senses. (We’re counting “mmmm” toward hearing.) Hence, the crunchy sweetbreads with endive marmalade and chestnut purée, and the Mediterranean sea bass with potato mille-feuille and caviar beurre blanc. A party for your mouth, indeed. 8 High St., Boston, 617-426-1234, radiusrestaurant.com.