December 15, 2005

Suburban Dining

Globe West focuses on suburban dining today, with the rather silly premise that it's oh so surprising you can get a decent meal beyond the city limits. Duh. Apparently the author is unaware of how common it is for great restaurants of the world to be outside urban areas. In France, for example, there are 10 Michelin 3-star restaurants in Paris, 1 in Lyons, 18 elsewhere. In Germany, one in Dusseldorf, five elsewhere (none in Berlin or Frankfurt; one NEAR [but not in] Munich).

Anyway, while the article discusses city/MetroWest differences in pricing, interior ambiance and style of service, one thing that's missing is neighborhood atmosphere. Author Erica Noonan mentions Wellesley's "village-style" town center as a plus, but doesn't articulate the reverse problem of some suburban spots: pulling into a strip mall does take something away from major special occasion dining. I love Maxwell's 148 in Natick, one of the restaurants profiled in the piece -- its service is truly exceptional, and the food is excellent as well. But for a milestone birthday or anniversary, it's a letdown to walk in and out of a nondescript strip mall parking lot. Without question, walking down Newbury Street to the Public Garden before or after dinner makes an evening more special; but even going to Blue Ginger in Wellesley, a storefront on the "village-style" street, is better than a detached, set-back strip mall.

Some places can use a non-urban location to great advantage, like the Wayside Inn with its beautiful location and grounds. If you're not a diehard foodie, exterior ambiance does matter to an overall "special evening out" experience.

1 comment:

  1. I like eating at The Deli in Sherwood Plaza, but you're right about the approach in a strip mall. I don't know if the Brookline Village location of Jack & Marions made them any better years ago, or if it was the excitement of being in the city after midnight. Same goes for a bite to eat anywhere in Boston. The newspaper likes to pander to that awe we suburbanites have towards "the big city".