Friday, January 22, 2010

How you can eat at a fancy restaurant in Boston for under $35 a person

Talk about bargain shopping: Earlier this week, I went to Brasserie Jo at the Colonnade Hotel in downtown Boston with my friend, Dave (@davidgallant). My goal in going there was two-fold: To have a “nicer” dinner, without having to call my bank for a loan. I admit, the prices on the menu were a bit frightening at first ($32.95 for a steak, anyone?), but I was eventually pleasantly surprised at all the options I had to make my meal and overall experience financially realistic for me. Plus, the waitstaff was extremely attentive and informative, and helped us choose dishes that were delicious, yet cost effective. This results in a big thumbs up from me, as I’ve been to upscale restaurants that are immediately inconsiderate if you don’t leave with a large bill.           

Now, on to the review. To start, our waiter brought us a warm, crispy baguette with butter, as well as carrot sticks that were coated in a sweet sauce with fresh herbs (carrots not pictured).

For a cocktail, I ordered the Stoli Doli martini ($10), made with Stolichnaya infused pineapples.

The martini was refreshing, and had the perfect balance between natural sweetness from the fruit and kick from the booze. Now, normally I’d get two glasses of wine during an entire meal out, but the average cost of a glass of wine at Brasserie Jo’s is between $8 and $14. None of the $8 glasses struck my fancy, so to save a few bucks, I opted for the martini and got a beer later on during the night ($5.50).

As an entrée, Dave and I decided to split one of the least expensive things on Brasserie Jo's menu: the Tarte Flambee Spinach ($9.95), made with Gruyere and crispy garlic chips. 

We also split the Roasted Sea Bass ($24.95), which was highly recommended by our waiter and the manager of the restaurant.  

The tarte was more than enough for two people, and it had a great bite from the cheese, with a lingering flavor of fresh garlic. The sea bass also exceeded my and Dave's expectations, and was cooked so perfectly it fell apart with the touch of my fork. The fresh vegetables and creamy sauce that accompanied the fish totally rounded out the dish, too. Bonus: The chef split the sea bass into two plates, so we didn’t have to fight over the fish with our forks. According to the restaurant manager, the chef always tries to split the entrée into several plates if he knows people are sharing. More thumbs up!

Finally, for dessert, Dave and I split the Chocolate Mousse ($7.95), which  our waiter prepared  right at our table. The dish was ungodly creamy, and was served with white chocolate sauce and dark and white chocolate shavings. Thankfully, the dessert wasn't too intense, either - I'm not a big dessert person, but I could have eaten five more plates of this mousse.

Dave and I were even fortunate enough to dine at Brasserie Jo on a night when Chef Joho was visiting. Chef Joho is a world renowned chef, and it was an honor to meet him. He was even generous enough to bring us a second dessert, profiteroles, which the restaurant manager told us people drive all the way from Maine to eat. The profiteroles were chocked full of vanilla bean ice cream and smothered in homemade hot fudge sauce, poured on right at your table.

All in all, Dave and I had one amazing dinner - and between the two of us, we spent $69.35, or just under $35 per person. If we had both gotten an entree and a dessert each, our bill would have easily been over $100. Just by sharing an appetizer, entree and dessert, and getting reasonably priced cocktails, we were able to save, at minimum, $30 on our bill. Not bad for a fancy night out in downtown!


  1. What a great blog! I love Brasserie Jo for their yummy French food but a budget-friendly meal is so appropriate for everyone these days. Looking fwd to more of your blogs!

  2. sounds good but if you think about it the price should be normal for all eateries of a high standard

  3. Nice write-up! Thanks for shaing :)

  4. WOW...all of that food looks amazing! I can see why people would drive from Maine just to get that dessert! Looks like a nice place even to go for just dessert and a nice drink!