Last Friday night we decided to go out for a date night. But we didn’t have tickets for any events, no movies looked good, and bowling is a little far. The hubby came up with the idea to do a progressive dinner – appetizers at one restaurant and dinner at another. It sounded like a great idea! We live out in the suburbs (Framingham/Natick area), so there are plenty of restaurants from which to choose. After some brainstorming, we headed over to the Natick Collection (i.e. Mall) for what I will dub the inaugural Mall Crawl. As you start the holiday shopping season this would be a fun way to take a break from your shopping lists!
I took all the photos with my iPhone, which is not ideal for dim lighting.
Our first stop was at Sel De La Terre. We snagged the last two seats at the bar and settled in for our appetizer course. We started here because they offer a great $1 bar menu every night. Not only are the bar bites delicious, you can try them all without breaking the bank. The hubby ordered a ginger ale on the rocks and got a glass of Grenache while we decided what to eat. We chose the tuna tiradito, mushroom arancini, soup shooters and a cheese plate (not part of the $1 menu). The tuna slices were perfectly seared with a lime and pineapple vinaigrette. We ordered two orders of arancini and got four perfectly crisped pieces. The inside was filled with the creamy mushroom risotto that I love to order off the main menu. We choose the pumpkin pear bisque for our soup shooters. The creamy, smooth soup was served in perfectly sized espresso mugs. The cheese plate ($9) contained an assortment of goodies. Accompanying the blue cheese, semi-soft sheep’s milk cheese, and soft brie cheese were pear slices, grapes, figs, quince paste, honey and three slices of fresh bread. Each bite was delicious and we wiped the plate clean. After we polished off all of the dishes we paid our tab and headed out for the next stop in our adventure. I didn’t get any pictures of our delicious food – the mood wasn’t right for photos.
We walked over to the Met Bar and Grill, but decided that their dessert menu sounded more appealing than splitting a burger. We continued down the corridor to the next stop. The next restaurant we encountered was PF Chang’s. We spotted two open seats at the bar and sat down next to other suburbanites enjoying a night out. To go along with the restaurant theme I ordered an Asian Pear Mojito (Bacardi Limon and fresh mint with a hint of pear). We did what everyone does when in PF Chang’s; we ordered the obligatory chicken lettuce wraps.
While we waited we debated how many heads of lettuce they go through in a given night and looked around at the crowd. And it was fantastic. We spotted teens dressed up in ridiculous outfits, college kids out for drinks, and families with overtired children just trying to get through their meals. The teenage outfits were the best. At one point, 15 teenage girls paraded out in mini mini-skirts, super high heels and tight tops. As they passed the bar, everyone swiveled in their stools and watched with a look of “how did they get out of the house wearing that?!?” The consensus of the bar was that they must have changed in the car. But really, who are you trying to impress at PF Chang’s? It made for a good laugh. After we finished up our lettuce wraps we headed back out to the Met Bar and Grill for dessert.
By the time we got back to Met Bar the place had almost entirely cleared out (it was about 9:45). We had our choice of spots at the bar and plopped ourselves down into two very well padded leather bar chairs (most comfortable of the night!). After reviewing the menu the hubby decided on pumpkin cheesecake with candied cranberries, spiced pecans, and maple cookies. I ordered up a Met Mocha shake, liquored up. The bartender blended up chocolate ice cream, caramel sauce, espresso, and espresso vodka and dusted the rim in espresso grinds before serving. It was more liquid than the milkshake texture I was expecting but it was still delicious. I wish I had ordered a side of salty fries to go with it (I always loved ordering fries with Frosty’s at Wendy’s).
As we finished up our dessert we discussed the sit-down restaurants that didn’t make the cut for our first mall crawl. Next time we’ll think about how to incorporate these places into the mix – Cheesecake Factory, Nordstrom Bistro, California Pizza Kitchen, and Friendly’s. Well, maybe not Friendly’s….
We had a great time, spent about the same as if we’d done dinner in one place. We parked in the garage and didn’t have to worry about driving from place to place. And we got to do some fabulous people watching. Another bonus was that the Celtics game was on at every bar. So next time you are stuck with no ideas about what to do and where to eat, don’t forget about the mall! It’s more than just Auntie Anne’s, Panda Express, and Sbarro!