Photos by Derek Kouyoumjian
Say goodbye (for now) to one of Boston’s prettiest summer patios. Society on High’s palm and plant plotted garden brought an exotic touch of nature to the treeless High Street in the Financial District. However, another kind of oasis is hidden inside Society on High — an urbane bar and restaurant that’s both smart and designed to put you at ease. The curved outer wall is lined with comfy banqueted booths, the bar’s seating is the perfect height for leaning and there’s an alcove space for intimate conversation.
This transformation of what was previously a convenience store is remarkable. The room — all grand marble, black upholstery and giant chandeliers — is warmed by golden, wide-plank pine flooring, and calmed by white subway tile. None of that would mean much at all if the food didn’t measure up. But a similar eye for detail advises chef Brian Benton’s menu.
The bar menu is a treat: grilled clam flatbread with a hint of thyme and tilapia tacos with perfectly ripe avocado and shredded pickled onion. The main menu — you can order off either, regardless of where you sit — boasts grass-fed beef from Maine, seafood linguine and a fall salad of frisee and arugula topped with duck confit. Tangy grapefruit balances the rich meat.
Perfect for fall’s first chill, a comforting chanterelle risotto accompanies pan-roasted halibut with smoked mussels. A seasonal vegetable barley risotto is laced with lima beans, carrot, mushrooms, spinach and shaved Parmesan. The barley has a uniquely chewy texture that is a nice change from rice.
Though delicately portioned, desserts like The Elvis — which combines banana, peanut butter and chocolate into a pretty little gateau — are packed with huge hits of flavor, something that sums up Benton’s succinct, yet voluptuously detailed menu.