The best thing I make for any meal is reservations. I love going out to eat, but, like a lot of other people I’m feeling the economy crunch. Here are a few of my favorite restaurants that won’t break your wallet, just put a little ding in it.
12 Farnsworth St., 1594 Washington St. Boston and 190 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge
You can’t beat Flour Bakery for great food. Joanna Chang is a wizard in the kitchens. At either location she makes sure that everything is made fresh in-house. The salads are wonderful, the breads divine, the sandwiches terrific (try the turkey with cranberry chutney) and the pastries are heavenly. Her homemade Oreo cookies, layers of dark chocolate cake stuffed with crème fraiche are to die for. But, the show stopper has to be her decadent, butter laden sticky buns. How popular are they, if you’re going on a Saturday or Sunday call ahead to reserve how many you want. Now you can make all these sweet creations at home Chang’s new cookbook Flour is available at her three locations.
Petite Robert Bistro
480 Columbus Ave., 468 Commonwealth Ave., Petite Robert Central, 101 Arch St. Boston, 45 Chapel St., Needham
Jacky Robert is a master of French cuisine. Robert started his apprenticeship in his native France at the age of 15, working his way up to executive chef at such famous restaurants as Maxim’s in Paris and Ernie’s in San Francisco. Forty years later he owns two bistros in Boston. In each he specializes in wonderful French cuisine such as chicken crepe basquaise or tripe Provençale and his pan seared sweetbreads in a creamy leek mustard sauce.
Garden at the Cellar
991 Massachusetts Ave.
Chef/owner Will Gilson learned about herbs and food growing up on his family’s herb farm and restaurant the Herb Lyceum in Groton Massachusetts. In his tiny kitchen he puts all that he learned into his cooking whether it is his crispy chicken with sweet potatoes and kale or his grilled skirt steak with rosemary truffle fries or his steamed mussels with fresh tomatoes, saffron and yogurt.
Craigie on Main,
853 Main St
Tony Maws, with many awards under his belt, two for excellence from Wine Spectator, and he was named Best New Chef of the Year for 2006 by the James Beard Foundation, is a master chef whose food is sublime. His menu changes daily depending on what looked good at the fish and meat markets he visits each day at 5:00am. Maws does wonders with anything from octopus to Vermont organic lamb to sweetbreads and short ribs. Have no fear, whatever is on the menu when you go there is sure to be fantastic.