High Society is a 1956 American musical comedy starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, and Frank Sinatra. Society on HIgh sort of riffs on this kind of old-movie vibe, with its art-deco interior touches and, when I visited at least, jazz music playing. I didn’t spot any Grace Kelly lookalikes, but the crowd was an eclectic mix of sophisticated foodies who enjoyed a well-built cocktail while sitting in front of a bar that curls around the low-lit space.
Others can grab some lunch or after-work bites of Hot Butter Poached Lobster Roll on a brioche roll, or Oyster Po Boy with sriracha aioli, while sitting on comfy leather black banquettes in intimate little corners.
Other dishes include Grilled Flatbreads include clam with roasted garlic and mozzarella; grilled oyster mushroom with goat cheese, arugula and pesto, and sweet rope sausage with grilled Vidalia onions. Among the salads I have my eye on for next time is the Kale and Escarole Salad ($11) creamy parmesan dressing, white anchovies, fried capers and crispy chick peas.
But it was outside on the patio on a warm late-summer night that drew me for a relaxed glass of a sparkling Brachetto, from Boston Winery in Dorchester, paired with raw-bar items including shrimp cocktail and Duxbury oysters, and country pate with pistachios and applewood bacon. The patio is nestled between two tall buildings, including one that houses FEMA above the restaurant. At the far end overlooks the bustling Atlantic Avenue, and the patio is lined with palm trees with twinkling lights.
The urban-chic patio opened in August, just two months after the restaurant’s debut. I haven’t done the research, but I’m betting it’s one of the only off-street patios in the financial district. The owners are using the space for outdoor events with music — hey, there’s no neighbors to complain. Seating about 80, it would also be great for private functions. Of course, they’ll be trying to stretch the season as long as possible with outdoor heat lamps, so head over while you can. Next year, they’re discussing enclosing the space with a retractable solarium.
Last week, they held a "Lete Indien" (Indian summer) party with live entertainment provided by DJ Brek.One, the patio transformed into a whimsical summer haven by Derek Wilkes of the A.R.T.
Society on High is the latest venture for Ian Just, of Les Zygomates and Sorriso. “One reason I came here is I wanted the flexibility to play music outside, for the after work crowd, for weddings. The building was aggressive in courting me,” said Just. “I was certainly interested.” He brought along seasoned employees from his other restaurants, including Executive Chef Brian Benton, who will also oversee this menu with an emphasis on seafood and local food.
Ian Just is excited about entering this area of the Financial District. At one point, Les Zygomates in the nearby South Station area had Chinatown and little else to rival it. But ever since the Greenway was built and the Seaport District expanded, the area has been attracting more great restaurants. “Now the area has a lot more competition,” said Just. “And restaurants are a lot better now. The more the merrier. People can bounce around and have fun downtown. It’s a fun little area.”
Which is why there’s much emphasis on the bar menu and cocktail bar to attract a professional crowd of all ages. For the weekend and driving crowd, bonus: free underground parking after 6pm. They also are working on weekend brunches, and creating a place for functions. A small reception on the patio would be gorgeous.
"Being in the heart of the Financial District, we want to provide a destination that attracts not only local professionals for after work drinks, but those in search of the best dining and nightlife the city has to offer," said Frankie Stavrianopoulos, Special Operations Coordinator at Society on High.. "As a management group, we have a unique blend of professional expertise where our experience lies both in dining and nightlife. With Society's many inherent assets such as exclusive private dining areas, beautiful patio space, free garage parking after 6pm and outstanding menu, we're looking to create a multi-faceted experience unseen in the area."
Society on High
99 High St. Boston