Early Impressions of Society on High

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Posted July 5, 2013 by Rachel Leah Blumenthal in Downtown Boston
The Elvis

The latest restaurant to open downtown, Society on High, could breathe new life into its office-filled neighborhood. After the workday ends, a peacefulness descends on much of the Financial District, including High Street, where Society on High resides (hence the name). Restaurants that see bustling lunch crowds buckle in for quieter dinner hours and perhaps a spurt of late night activity at the bar. It’s just the beginning for this restaurant, though, which hasn’t even celebrated an official grand opening yet. Accordingly, keep in mind that these are early impressions of a restaurant that has opened its doors only weeks ago. The latest venture from Ian Just, chef/owner of Les Zygomates and Sorriso, Society on High offers a small-but-solid menu of upscale American cuisine, from a grass-fed rib eye with bone marrow butter to a miso-glazed Virginia catfish.

My dining companion and I arrived around 8 p.m. on a Friday night and were offered a high-top near the bar, which arcs through nearly the entire space, culminating in small, open dining rooms on either end. One dining room was entirely empty, while the other held one group finishing its meal. We got the feeling that they didn’t want to seat anyone else in the dining rooms at that time of night and, sure enough, they shut off the lights once the remaining party left. The space is attractive: light wood, gray and black accents, and modern silver light fixtures. Our high banquettes shook when the people behind us moved, but we were impressed to find convenient coat hooks nearby and classic organ funk playing at just the right volume.

Society on High Cocktails

Spicy Cucumber (left) and Herb Garden were the cocktails of choice. Photo Credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal

We began with cocktails, which were difficult to choose due to the fun, accessible list. Would it be the St. Normandy (St. Germain, Hendrick’s Gin, white wine), Phinny’s Punch (Captain Morgan Rum, Courvoisier, maple syrup), or Sweet Brooklyn (Three Olives Pomegranate Vodka, green tea, lemongrass syrup)? I have a soft spot for herbal flavors, so I ordered the Herb Garden (Plymouth Gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur, muddled cucumber). My dining companion got the Spicy Cucumber (Svedka vodka, jalapeño, sliced cucumber, lime), which did have a bit of a kick, as our server promised.

Society on High Scallops

The pan-seared scallops, served with a vidalia onion bacon jam, pan-seared potato gnocchi, and black kale. Photo Credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal

She seemed surprised that we were going to order dinner, a theme that permeated the whole evening, from the dining rooms shutting down to our requesting a dessert menu rather than having it pushed on us. A dinner crowd is perhaps out of the norm on this corporate block, but once the secret’s out about Society on High’s excellent entrees, perhaps that will change. I devoured the pan-seared scallops, served with an addictive vidalia onion bacon jam, pan-seared potato gnocchi, and black kale. A lot of Boston restaurants serve scallops—and a lot of them are overcooked, rubbery, and even fishy. Society on High executed the dish perfectly, though, and I regretfully offered a few bites to my dining companion, who had also wanted to order the scallops. Based on the server’s recommendation, I was able to bully him into the bone-in grilled pork chop instead (peach relish, black-eyed peas, collard greens), and he had no regrets. (Nor did I when I got to taste it!) The pork was incredibly moist, and the black-eyed peas tasted like they were straight from a reputable barbecue joint.

Society on High Pork Chop

The bone-in grilled pork chop served with peach relish, black-eyed peas, & collard greens. Photo Credit: Rachel Leah Blumenthal

We cleaned our plates but felt obligated to at least try a few bites of the dessert that had been enticing the restaurant’s Facebook fans: The Elvis. It’s a peanut butter cheesecake topped with caramelized bananas, candied bacon, and a few fresh mint leaves. It’s a nice homage to the singer’s favorite sandwich, and bacon’s always a fun addition to dessert, even if its trendy days are over.

While Society on High may pick up a lunch and happy hour crowd fairly easily, be sure to give dinner a chance, as well. There are many good things happening, and it’d be a shame if future Friday nights were as quiet as this one.

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