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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You Say It’s Your Birthday? 5 Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Any way you slice it, everyone needs cake (and all varieties of decadent desserts). Those ready for a break from all the clean eating. Anyone following the U.S. political campaigns. And, naturally, people celebrating birthdays. And birthday dinner-ending sweets are at their absolute best when they’re prepared with top-quality ingredients by professionals trained to make sure the last thing you eat at their restaurant is the best thing. So if you’re ready to indulge on your special day (or any day, really), check out one of these five top restaurants for birthday desserts.

Vespa, Westport, Connecticut
Know what makes a killer cake even better? Twelve (!) layers of buttermilk sponge cake baked thin, sliced even thinner, and then covered with a traditional bittersweet chocolate mousse made with 63% Valrhona cocoa powder. The chocolate semi- sweet chocolate ganache frosting doesn’t hurt either. Craving a different flavor? Then there’s carrot cake, made lighter by technique (the eggs and sugar are whipped) and better by using Mascarpone mousse and Italian buttercream vanilla frosting on top. And because pastry chef Susanne Berne believes it’s the best combination out there, she does a banana sponge cake layered with chocolate and peanut butter and covered with a dark chocolate glaze. On the side: “milk jam” (think caramel or dulce de leche) truffles. Because why not? Make a reservation at Vespa.

Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Rye, Leawood, Kansas
If you’re craving an upscale-but-hearty meal to precede your cake, then this is the place. But don’t fill up entirely on the pan roasted salmon, the seared hanger steak, or chicken and dumplings because then you won’t have room for the peanut butter chocolate pie with French silk-style chocolate mousse on top. Or the new coconut cream cake, in which the cake is infused with buttermilk and coconut cream and then layered with pastry cream and topped with caramel sauce. Another word of caution: If you fill up on a side of mac ‘n cheese with crispy bacon or roasted cauliflower with lemon garlic butter, then you might be too full for the classic banana cream pie that has chocolate-covered crust and toffee crumble on top. And we haven’t even mentioned the lemon meringue pie with its creamy Swiss meringue that never rotates off the menu due to constant customer demand. Make a reservation at Rye.

Top Restaurants for Birthday Desserts

Tango, Seattle, Washington
The fact that the recipe for Tango’s El Diablo dessert is carefully guarded by the restaurant’s owners — and that the chefs are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the ingredients and cooking technique — are some pretty reliable clues that this dish is off-the-dial delicious. Owner Travis Rosenthal describes it as thicker than a mousse, but not quite a cake. It’s also gluten-free, has a hint of cayenne pepper, and comes with tequila caramel sauce. Do you really need more convincing? Make a reservation at Tango.

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Tweet of the Week: A Special Request for a Special Second Anniversary Celebration

Diner Michael Pellet recently celebrated his second anniversary with his wife at Washington, D.C.’s 701 Restaurant. When booking through OpenTable, he indicated exactly that in the Special Request for the Maitre D. The wonderful hospitality pros at 701 took note and presented the couple with some Champagne. (Insert a collective “AWWW!” here.) Happy anniversary to the Pellets. And, kudos to the staff at 701 for making their celebration all the more special with this generous gesture.

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Rave Review: Back to the Black Bass Hotel

There are thousands of reviews on OpenTable, but sometimes one really stands out — as is the case with this charming review. This diner visited the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, Pennsylvania, 50 years (!) after his very first visit, during which he proposed to his companion. A half a century later, the pair are still going strong — as is the Black Bass Hotel. Congratulations to both on many years of excellence.

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