Ask MenuPages: A Gift For The New Bostonians

Dear MenuPages,
We live in Oregon and have friends moving to the Boston area. We would like to give them a gift certificate for $100 for dining, and are deciding between choosing a restaurant for them (they will be in the downtown part of the city), or purchasing a Dinegift certificate. Do you like the choices provided on by Dinegift? Or should we choose for them? Either way, what “introductory” Boston experience might you recommend? Any input is greatly appreciated!
-Nancy, Oregon

What is up with Dinegift lately? We’d never even heard of it a few weeks ago, and now it’s been the subject of two Ask MenuPages queries in the past two weeks. We’d suspect this was some sort of viral marketing scheme, but both email addresses check out, so, you know, way to go, Dinegift!

We think Dinegift’s options are perfectly respectable, especially at the price point of $100 for two people. As we mentioned earlier, we’re especially fond of Davio’s, Harvest, and Sandrine’s Bistro. The multi-restaurant gift certificate is also a nice idea in many ways, since it gives your friends some options.

On the other hand, there’s also something to be said for choosing one specific restaurant. Although it obviously doesn’t make as many allowances for individual taste, it is a significantly more personalized gift. Ultimately, we’d say that the decision of whether to buy a gift certificate to one or two several restaurants lies with you and how well you know the culinary preferences of your friends. That said, if you decide to go the one-restaurant route, here are a few of our favorite introductory Boston experiences.

•$100 won’t buy much for two at L’Espalier, but it is enough for a satisfactory dinner at Sel De La Terre. The downtown location lends itself well to a pre- or post-dinner walk by the Harbor and the French fare is hard to beat.
•Exploring the South End is a great activity during the first few weeks of living in Boston. Invite your friends to stroll around the pretty streets lined with brownstones before settling into Toro for tapas. In a city where so many “fun” restaurants can quickly become the domain of drunken college students, Toro is a sophisticated yet lively restaurant for adults.
•No less an authority than Ming Tsai has called Oishii Boston the area’s best-kept secret. Thrill to chef Ting San’s inventive take on sushi and savor what seems like a miracle: a quiet restaurant on Washington Street.

Have a question about Boston dining that’s burning you up inside? Ask us!

Sel De La Terre [Official Site]
Toro [MenuPages]
Oishii Boston [Official Site]

Ask MenuPages: A Gift For The New Bostonians