Pomp + Circumstance: 10 Top Boston Graduation Party Restaurants

Buh-bye boxed ramen noodles. Time to toss the mortarboard in the air and celebrate with a well-deserved graduation meal—before it’s time for ramen noodles all over again. It’s spring in Boston, yes, but it’s also known as graduation season — weeks of ceremonies take place in colleges and universities, from Boston College and Boston University to Emerson, MIT, and Tufts University, all over town. Here are 10 top Boston graduation party restaurants to splurge it up with visiting family and friends (who are most likely footing the bill) and toast to a new life of promises. To the grad!

The Palm
The new Palm restaurant has been replanted in the Financial District (much bigger space than its Copley Place location) and is a solid celebratory choice, thanks to an outdoor dining deck and executive chef Karen Mitchell’s classic touch. Being a steakhouse, expect dishes like Double Cut Lamb Chops, Filet Mignon, and the Prime Double Cut New York Strip 36 ounce (for two to three persons, sliced tableside). Name your sauce — brandy, peppercorn, hollandaise, béarnaise or chimichurri. And, like any good steakhouse, there is that requisite Iceberg Lettuce Wedge salad (Danish blue cheese, toasted walnuts, bacon, cherry tomatoes, chives and fried onions). For landlocked, heart-set-on-lobster out-of-towners who have climbed mountains to travel to New England, Jumbo Nova Scotia Lobsters are served here, too. The perfect ending to a successful college career — the Big Chocolate Layer Cake, a seven-layer dark chocolate cake with chocolate ganache. Make a reservation at The Palm.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Ostra
A Back Bay beauty, with the spotlight on Mediterranean seafood at which chef/owner Jamie Mammano works closely with local fishmongers to bring just-plucked-from-the-sea fish and seafood to Ostra. Order the Paella “Valenciana Style” (Spain’s bomba rice, saffron, Maine lobster, shrimp, mussels, clams, octopus, squid, drumette confit, and chorizo) or the Grilled Sea Beam in Trevisano Leaf with extra virgin olive oil, lemon, snipped herbs. For dessert, the Chocolate Hazelnut Cremeux with Popcorn Ice Cream is a tassel tease, for sure. Make a reservation at Ostra.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Sorellina
Chef/owner Jamie Mammano is also at the helm of stylish, chic Sorellina in the Back Bay. The menu elevates regional Italian cuisine to Ph.D. levels — salute the newly minted graduate with the Maccheroncelli (American wagyu beef meatballs, Montepulciano sauce, and Parmigiano) and Spaghetti with Prawns, Chili, Guanciale, and Spicy Tomato Brodo. To finish, spoil the hard-working student with the Tiramisu (espresso savoiardi, coffee caramel, and mascarpone mousse). Make a reservation at Sorellina.

Top Boston graduation party restaurants

Harvest
Harvard grads have been celebrating the graduation milestone at Cambridge’s venerable Harvest since 1975. The handmade pastas are especially popular including the Soft Egg Ravioli (Ben & Tyler’s mushrooms, arugula-hazelnut pesto, and housemade ricotta). A three- or six-course tasting menu is also recommended for special occasions. Among the tastes are the Scituate Scallop (cucumber, fava beans, radish, jalapeno gel, and lemongrass broth) and the Painted Hills Beef Striploin (fingerling potatoes, asparagus, and ramp butter) Harvest is also spot-on for brunch if you need to start the day drinking a bit earlier. Because why wait? Make a reservation at Harvest.

top Boston graduation party restaurants

Top of the Hub
The sky’s the limit for the lofty grad at this restaurant that sits atop the Prudential Tower. “We have become a tradition with many families who live in the area and for those who have come to this area from throughout America and from around the world,” says a restaurant spokeswoman. There’s seating for parties of up to 10 (and a private dining for larger parties). Custom-made cakes are created and decorated for each graduate by executive pastry chef Tommy Choi and his team — think chocolate cake with chocolate ganache, vanilla cake with chocolate, butter cream or whipped cream, layers of fresh fruit, and “a Hong Kong recipe” that is light as a feather.” Or, go traditional with a Top of the Hub fave — timeless Boston Cream Pie. Toast with a glass of Champagne, and splurge with the New England Fisherman’s Bowl (local catch, lobster, mussels, clams, chorizo, kale, potatoes, and clam butter broth). Or, for meat lovers, the Grilled Filet Mignon (creamy Yukon golds, caramelized garlic, and grilled asparagus) beckons. Make a reservation at Top of the Hub.

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Chef Michael Schlow on His New Restaurant, Peruvian Fusion + Why Boston Is So Beyond Clam Chowder

The savory, crispy chip made from hazelnuts and Parmigiano-Reggiano that chef Michael Schlow was toiling to get just right for this month’s opening of his third outpost of Alta Strada in Washington, D.C., may be his very latest culinary triumph. But, in a larger sense, Schlow, a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the Northeast, has helped change the dining profile of what are considered two of the seaboard’s stodgiest cities. With a recent ninth feather in his toque that also includes Latin cuisine at Tico restaurants in D.C. and his adopted hometown of Boston, his newly opened Greek restaurant, Doretta, and a cutting-edge late-night fusion menu, he’s come a long way from cracking eggs as a kid.

michael schlow headshot

What’s your earliest cooking memory?
My mother allowing me to cook omelets for my brother and sister. She would be at work, and I would “experiment” on them with my cooking, making horrible concoctions and then forcing them to eat the omelets, no matter how gross.

You’re from Brooklyn — and New York is one of the world’s culinary epicenters — why stay based in Boston?
Boston has been home for more than 20 years, and I love living here; we have great friends, a terrific food community, and the city has so many amazing attributes that I can’t really imagine living anywhere else.

You obviously witnessed a local culinary evolution of sorts; do you think Bostonians are more adventurous these days?
Bostonians are definitely into their food and their chefs — the days of cod, baked beans, and chowder defining Boston cuisine are over for sure! We have so many diverse and interesting restaurants to choose from now that it’s a world-class food destination with some of the best chefs in the country.

Speaking of diversity, how do you transition to different types of cuisine given the fact that you have Italian, Latin, Greek restaurants … do you have a favorite?
I don’t have a favorite, but if you were to come to our house, I’d probably serve simple Italian food.

alta strada spaghetti and clams

Can you give us a sneak peek of something you may be up to — Peruvian, perhaps?
We are working on a few really fun things right now. I’m excited about the Nikkei late-night menu that’s a fusion of Peruvian and Japanese at Tico Boston. It’s really interesting food and totally cures any late-night cravings. [Served 10PM-1AM Thursday-Saturday, recent offerings include crispy short rib gyoza with panca, toasted onion, and sesame.]Continue Reading

5 Delicious Brunch Trends to Plan your Weekends Around

Two scrambled eggs with a side of toast? Think again. Breakfast moves from the ordinary to the extraordinary with exciting and inventive brunch options that pack a punch. So whether you’re looking for breakfast punch and want to nurse a large-format cocktail, or need to knock out a hangover with indulgences like breakfast poutine crafted from hand-rolled tater tots, there are new brunch trends being served in your neighborhood.

Chilaquiles

Almost as much fun to say as it is to eat, this Latin dish of shredded tortillas, egg, crema, and beans rolls off the tongue as “chee-lah-KEE-lehs.” Though it may not be the easiest to pronounce if you’re nursing a hangover, it is the perfect cure for one, says Chris Cullen, manager of Barrio Mexican Kitchen & Bar. The restaurant serves up a new version of chilaquiles daily depending on what’s in season, but recent versions include green-chile-braised pork with asparagus cream sauce; chipotle-braised chicken; and spicy habanero crema. No matter what’s in them, it’s easy to describe this winning combination as “breakfast nachos” to the uninitiated, says Cullen, who recently spent time vacationing in Guadalajara to research just how authentic those at Barrio are. “The similarities were striking,” he says.

brunch trends

Eggs Shakshouka

Whether it’s food or music, Beat Brasserie in Cambridge and its sister restaurant Beehive in Boston’s historic South End make it a point to jazz things up, and the shakshouka is no different. The traditional Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs baked in a spicy North African tomato sauce with polenta and Moroccan sausage is served at both restaurants, as is a side of live music for the Sunday brunch service. Chef Daniel Boulud gets into the game where the Mediterranean meets Manhattan at Boulud Sud, serving up shakshouka with spicy green harissa sauce, labneh, and a soft-poached hen egg.

Brunch Trends

Tater Tots

Push those home fries to the side—there’s a new spud in town. Tater tots have moved far beyond what’s been frozen in a bag to the downright gourmet, including the 1,000 hand-shaped tots Marc Taft serves up weekly as executive chef and owner of Chicken and the Egg in Marietta, Georgia. The most popular brunch dish there, whether for sharing or indulging, is his tater tot poutine that combines a Canadian staple with upscale Southern comfort food: Springer mountain chicken roasted and hand-shaved, caramelized Vidalia onions, and garlic-and-thyme-roasted mushrooms topped with chicken gravy made from homemade stock and cheese shredded in-house. Northward in Baltimore, Alexander’s Tavern puts a morning spin on their specialty — gourmet tots — with a breakfast bowl featuring fried potatoes, bacon, sausage, cheese, and a bit of sweet maple syrup to offset the savory.

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Best Brunch Cocktails: Go Beyond the Basic on Mother’s Day

Sorry, plain Jane Bloody Mary; you’re just way too basic these days. That goes for you, too, champy and OJ! Mixologists are creating radical cocktails that seriously raise the bar when it comes to midday imbibing. We’re talking cocky concoctions to boost your lobster benny – and your spirits (as well as mom’s) on Mother’s Day and beyond. Here are delish sips of spring in the form of the best brunch cocktails you need to drink this weekend.

The Ruby Soho, Left Bank, New York, New York
The Ruby Soho cocktail is deftly mixed by head bartender Claiborne Fortenberry, who combines grapefruit and pink peppercorn-infused tequila (made in-house), Pamplemousse liqueur, fresh lime, and a salt rim for a super-fresh day drink. Goes especially well with the eggs Benedict, don’t you think? Make a reservation at Left Bank.

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Eiffel Affair, Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Las Vegas, Nevada
The Eiffel Affair is the best-selling “new classic” cocktail served at the Eiffel Tower in the desert and features fresh berries macerated in Stoli Blueberi Crème de Cassis, Cointreau, and Rose Nectar. It’s topped off with a splash of Eiffel Tower Cremant for added effervescence. Make a reservation at Eiffel Affair.

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Bloody Bull, Momofuku CCDC, Washington, D.C.
Grab the horns and order The Bloody Bull. Made with vodka, tomato, horseradish, and beef broth, the beef broth stars beef shank and oxtail, and is also used in CCDC’s Beef Noodle Soup. The cocktail, served only during weekend lunch, pairs particularly well with Momofuku’s Twice-Cooked Pork Noodles with maple fish sauce vinaigrette and the Scrapple, Egg, and Cheese steamed buns. Make a reservation at Momofuku CCDC.

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Citrine, Harvest Table, St. Helena, California
Lead bartender Joel Pfeifle mixes unique, non-spirit based cocktails — many of the ingredients are sourced from the inn’s five culinary gardens — but these certainly aren’t your garden-variety cocktails. Top brunch libations include the Strawberry Belle (Mirabelle Brut, Strawberry Shrub, Garden Mint Syrup, Lime Juice), The Pampered Moose (Giffard Pamplemousse, No. 209 Gin, Grapefruit Oleo, lemon juice), and the Citrine (sparkling wine, garden mint syrup, fresh squeezed orange, bitters). Make a reservation at Harvest Table.

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The Lunchbox, Farmer & The Seahorse, San Diego, California
A seashell’s fling from the beach in San Diego’s Torrey Pines neighborhood, the status cocktail at celebrity chef Brian Malarkey’s restaurant is called The Lunchbox — made with Mama’s Lil Pilsner beer, Peach liqueur, and freshly squeezed orange juice. It is the perfect pairing to the brunch menu’s duck confit and waffles or the pastrami-style pork belly hash. Make a reservation at Farmer & The Seahorse.

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Asparagus Negroni, Davio’s, Boston, Massachusetts
The Asparagus Negroni (Cynar, Stoli Vodka, Peychaud’s bitters, orange bitters and muddled asparagus) is a nod to the star of springtime. And, it’s a perfect complement to Davio’s brunch menu, including specials like the Beef Tenderloin with poached eggs, potatoes, popover, and truffle hollandaise. Make a reservation at Davio’s.

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Bashment Punch, Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall, New York, New York
Known for its almost 100 varieties of rum and a monthly reggae brunch, it’s no shocker that co-owner and mixologist Karl Franz Williams chose to channel the islands when he created his fruity Bashment Punch — a Caribbean-inspired libation of rum, pineapple juice, mango puree, lime juice, and orange bitter. Bonus: Sip it to up your daily fruit intake. Make a reservation at Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall.

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Millennial Mimosa, CUCINA enoteca, Newport Beach, California
Mimosas are to brunch what beer is to baseball — traditional, but kinda boring. Meet the millennial mimosa! The ingredients are rolled on a cart to your table and a more exciting mimosa is prepared just for you. You’ll have your choice of mixers, purees, and garnish, and the ingredients are seasonal, including pineapple-blood orange, vanilla bean, Meyer lemon, strawberry jalapeno, pomegranate peach, rosemary ginger pineapple, candied ginger, blueberries, rosemary sprigs, blackberries, fresh strawberries, and pomegranate seeds. Make a reservation at CUCINA enoteca.

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The Board, Nick & Toni’s, East Hampton, New York
Brunch in the Hamptons, such a chic chill. Wait, what, your bloody is bland, not enough horseradish? Or, hot sauce? Oh, bloody hell, you hate to send it back—what will the Seinfelds think? Or Billy Joel? Such a high maintenance brunchster you are. Nick and Toni’s has your back. They call their brunch Bloody Mary cocktail, “The Board” and describe it as “a drink, a snack and an activity.” The way it works: Pick a liquor (house-infused sweet pepper-onion-and basil-infused Absolut, hot pepper and peppercorn Absolut ,or Maestro Dobel Tequila, choose a mix and and garnish away – and toss in a few condiments to your tasting. Special Stuff: Pickled green garlic from the garden will be rotated into the Bloody Board lineup, too. Make a reservation at Nick & Toni’s.

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P-Town Punch, Sabio on Main, Pleasanton, California
The “deceptively light and fruity” P-Town Punch cocktail served at this newbie restaurant packs a lot of punch — Pisco, Strawberry-Rhubarb Gum Syrup, fresh lemon juice, and a strawberry garnish. The cocktail plays well with menu items like the Hamachi “Nicoise” salad and Eggs Benedict, and, thanks to the acid that is needed to cut through fat, the cocktail can also stand up to bigger flavors like the Liberty Duck Croque Monsieur and burgers. Make a reservation at Sabio on Main.

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Muddy Waters, Geraldine’s, Austin, Texas
Named for the father of Chicago blues music, the Muddy Waters cocktail (Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac, Averna, Orgeat syrup, cold brew coffee, condensed milk, and nutmeg) is a boozy coffee cocktail that harmonizes well with Geraldine’s Brioche French Toast and Smoked Short Rib Tacos. Make a reservation at Geraldine’s.

Muddy Waters - Photo credit Aubrie Pick

Buffalo Soldier, South Water Kitchen, Chicago, Illinois
Order the Buffalo Soldier (Buffalo Trace Bourbon, egg, maple syrup, two strips crumbled bacon, Peychaud’s Bitters, powdered sugar, and bacon strip garnish), expertly mixed cocktail from by head bartender Dan Rook, and you’ve basically got a beautiful brunch in a glass. Make a reservation at South Water Kitchen.

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Brunch Punch III, Hearth, New York, New York
East Village weekend brunchers get punch drunk with the Brunch Punch III, a brunch-only cocktail that stars Four Roses Bourbon, Atsby, Cocchi di Torino, and blood orange. Order it alongside one of Hearth’s delicious spring brunch dishes like the seasonal vegetable frittata. Make a reservation at Hearth.

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I-5 High Five, Café Eugene, Albany, California
The I-5 High Five (gin, Oregon Marionberry Liqueur, California spiced pear brandy, lemon, rosemary) gives Café Eugene’s cheesy grits with tomatillo-braised pork shoulder, chayote, butternut squash, wild herb sauce and a poached egg a perfect boost. Or, if it’s pancakes you crave, order the Duck-Duck-Punch (rum, orange, carrot, lime, pomegranate, falernum, Oregon chai, nutmeg) and the sweet yogurt raspberry pancakes with orange butter and Vermont maple syrup. Make a reservation at Café Eugene.

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