There were a number of fabulous things about he Julien. We could go in black tie and not feel overdressed, the waiters all knew us and acted as though they really liked us, the food was exquisite, and the atmosphere was quite and formal. It was also pretty easy to get to, and we had a long history with the place.
One of the best things about the Julien was that they had a tasting menu. For more money you could get it paired with wines, which I did the last time we went. This was a seven course meal, with a small glass of wine with every course. Everything we ate that night was chosen for us but the staff. While this might not sound like an appealing option to people used to picking for themselves, at the very best restaurants it is the way to go. It is physically impossible for you not to like what they are serving you. The Julien also had these extra little touches... tiny two bite appetizers chosen by the chef that everyone got that were always amazing. I could go on and on.
So, yesterday we had to come up with a replacement choice on short notice. The two contenders we had were the Cafe Fleuri, which is the same chef as the Julien, but much less formal, or the Oak Room, which was billed as formal dining. We went with the Oak Room for yesterday and decided we'd go to the Cafe Fleuri soon so as to compare these two options.
The Oak Room was nice, but it was not the Julien. The food was excellent, though it wasn't french cuisine. We had shrimp cocktail and chateaubriand, which were both very good. I missed all the little touches that you'd get at the Julien. I guess I just prefer having numerous tiny courses with all their different complex tastes. The waiters were good too, but they weren't quite as good at the Julien and they didn't seem to warm to us immediately the way the guys at the Julien had the first time we went there. I was also very unimpressed with the wine at the Oak Room, at least the glass I had. I don't know wine names, but I know I good wine when I taste it, and the merlot I had last night had flaws. I suppose I might have enjoyed the experience more if I weren't mourning the loss of the Julien, but its clear I've come to have exceedingly high expectiations when it comes to fine dining, and I'm not sure there's another place in Boston which can fill those expectations.