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Heartbreakingly preppy, Brahmin restaurants?

If you had to list some of Boston's most staid, preppy, conservative, bon vivant-y places -- what might come to mind? Besides Locke-Ober, which seems a bit past its prime.

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  1. Radius and Harvest come to mind.

    3 Replies
    1. re: teezeetoo

      Radius strikes me as more hipster than preppy? Good food, though.

      1. re: nay1028

        Radius, hipster? It's full of suits!

        1. re: Beachowolfe

          perhaps "reminiscent of '80s shoulderpads and cocaine," design-wise? Beverly Hills Cop Goes To Boston?

      1. re: purple bot

        I agree that it fits the bill well. I think it's absolutely terrible and overpriced, but it's preppy.

        1. re: DoubleMan

          I've had nothing but good meals there. But think it was preppier when it was at the Pudding.

          1. re: Splendid Spatula

            I completely agree, Upstairs at the Pudding had a much 'preppier' feel. Upstairs at the Square is more offbeat than anything.

            Pudding was so much better in every way. I really miss that roofftop garden outdoor space.

        2. re: purple bot

          uots may have preppy guests, but the animal print carpet, hot pink and silver foil walls are anything but.

          agree about harvest though.

          will add bar at the boston harbor hotel. crawling with white shoe lawyer-types.

        3. Cafe at theTaj but a martini in the bar might be a better choice.


          1. what does preppy taste like. never had a button down shirt or penny loafers I didn't like.

            1 Reply
            1. re: treb

              I find the madras at J. Press has the only authentic flavor around here. The Andover Shop's is a little too bland.

            2. Well, the Harvard Club, of course http://www.harvardclub.com

              The Hampshire House, Sunday brunch. http://www.hampshirehouse.com/

              Maybe brunch, anywhere...

              The Sail Loft, which does not seem to maintain a web site (that's bon vivant-ness for you - "we'll get around to it one of these days...



              2 Replies
              1. re: latertater

                Second The Sail Loft. Pearls and Twin Sets, khaki pants abound. Actually if you can avoid their annoying bar scene, their fish and chips are pretty good, although their chowder is abysmally thick

                1. re: Wannabfoode

                  The bar scene is full of very young preppies (21-30). I live in the neighborhood and do not eat there; I do not care for deep fried food. It's mainly tourists eating there, and most of them are far from preppy.

              2. I don't know if there's a restaurant version of preppy cuisine, so I imagine the query here is about places that attract a Brahmin or wannabe-Brahmin crowd. I'd say there are a few places in walking distance of Beacon Hill where I routinely run into people who fit this stereotype, though I don't always find it a pleasant experience: No. 9 Park, 75 Chestnut, Pierrot Bistrot, Toscano, the Hungry I (though I haven't been back there in years), the bar at The Taj, the Bristol Lounge, and, oddly enough, Durgin-Park.

                (Locke-Ober does indeed belong on this list, though the food doesn't seem to have slipped an awful lot, based on a Restaurant Week lunch I had there. The crowd certainly has many more underdressed tourists these days.)

                Harvard Square is another place that attracts the academic flavor of the type: they have the accent and the affectations of dress if not the old-money wealth: Harvest, Rialto, Henrietta's Table, Sandrine's, the Monday Club at UpStairs on the Square, Ten Tables. Huron Village also has some Cambridge old-money types out and about at places like T.W. Food and Trattoria Pulcinella.

                But I don't think there are enough real Brahmins left to reliably find them at any one place outside of the Harvard Club or the private clubs in the Back Bay or Beacon Hill. Or maybe they're holed up in Louisberg Square, being fed by their private chefs.


                5 Replies
                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  Or at the Union Club or Tavern Club.

                  1. re: BostonZest

                    Or Essex County or Myopia Hunt or TCC or UBC or the Chilton or...
                    MC Slim is right, the brahmins assiduously avoid public.

                    1. re: Veggo

                      I grew up in Brookline but the year I spent as a waiter at TCC was like crossing into an entirely different world that blew my public-school-educated mind. I agree, you just don't see that crowd, en masse, in any of Boston's restaurants.

                  2. re: MC Slim JB

                    OMG; anything in Huron Village...Henrietta's Table? I don't know; I love their local sourcing and in-house made stuff, like pickles and tartar sauce so much, I could never tar them with this particular feather...

                    1. re: galleygirl

                      As a resident of Huron Village, I must say that none of our local restaurants are heartbreakingly preppy... Armando's? Full Moon? The Village Kitchen? Perhaps Pulcinella, but these days it's mostly just heartbreakingly empty of preppies.

                  3. The ultimate is the Chilton Club, which as the name suggests is a club and you need an invite.

                    My kid worked there PT during college. Her description was along the lines of in bred blue hairs and washed out preppies. The food is of vintage.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: lergnom

                      I mentioned Chilton, it's an elegant ladies club where many out of town members can relax in quiet privacy. I have enjoyed being a male guest.

                      1. re: lergnom

                        The Somerset is considered the "ultimate" in Boston. Chilton is the ladies club.

                        1. re: KevinJF

                          Somerset is as much for bridge games as for dining. Elegant? Yes.

                          Edit: I don't think it is useful to discuss venues that are not generally accessible to the public or to other C'hounds, tempted as I sometimes am, and in different parts of the country. Maybe it's enough to say that a lot of Bostonians have places to hide away.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Yep, private clubs are private. Membership is by invitation only after a long, byzantine vetting process, and access is otherwise limited to guests of members. The main Brahmin haunts in Boston are the Somerset, Tavern, Union, St. Botolph's, Algonquin (though it has acquired a reputation for being less selective than most -- Clark Rockefeller was a board member), and the Chilton (forced in the 1980s by anti-discrimination laws to admit men, but still almost exclusively a ladies' club).

                            I've dined as a guest at a couple of them, and the food is generally very good, along the lines of the private-event catering at five-star hotels like the Four Seasons and Boston Harbor, in settings that are exactly what you might imagine an old-money private club to be. There was a time, probably forty years ago, when their food was considered superior to many of our best restaurants, back in the days when the Dining Room at the Ritz and Locke-Ober were considered the height of fine dining in Boston. But our top tier of restaurants has come a long way since then.


                            1. re: MC Slim JB

                              Interesting. I've been a guest and dined at the Somerset, Union, and Harvard Clubs and have found the food to be mediocre at all of them (certainly nothing to be jealous of given the restaurants Boston offers). That said, maybe I just wasn't VIP/PX enough to be offered the good stuff.

                              The atmospheres of these places are certainly nice, and as someone who has lamented the death of "dress-up" fine dining in Boston (though I certainly respect the opinion of those who think dressing up is stupid and other diners should mind their business and not care) I've appreciated the dress-codes.

                            2. re: Veggo

                              Say, are there any clubs so super-secret and ancient that even Cabots, Lodges etc., are considered arrivistes? THAT's what I want in on, though I do like a good Indian pudding (I imagine the clubs already mentioned have killer versions of it).

                        2. It's not preppy by any means, and far from a 'private club', but when I want to eat 'swank food' the way it was done 40 years ago, I go to The Castle Restaurant in Leicester. Yes, the setting is corny and incredibly dated, but it's one of those rare hasn't-changed-in-30-years places that still does stuff like Caesar salad made tableside, Steak au Poivre, Chateaubriand (all flambeed and carved tableside), Coquilles St. Jacques, that sort of thing.

                          1. Well, I suppose Copley Plaza still has its share. There used to be afew tearoomjs on Newbury, but I suspect they are long-gone to the trendy/grunge set.

                            And, of course, the Ritz. Many out of towners, but the locals in there will tend to be as blue-blooded as they come..and mostly blue-haired.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                              many more bluebloods at the taj vs. the "new" ritz.

                            2. I meant to mention Bakey's (which I didn't realize had closed until recently) in Boston as a lunch place that seemed to be frequented by stodgy old yankee businessmen.

                              1. L-O is much, much better than past its prime.

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: Veggo

                                    In a lifetime of eating there I have never been disappointed although I admit I was NOT there for several years in teh 1990's and a friend, who loves the place, stopped eating there just before the Shire years. But I have been off-and-on fairly regularly since about 2004 and everything has been wonderful. I speak in my capacity as a Certified preppy.

                                1. Does Sofra count? Are Cantabridgians the modern-day equivalent of the Boston Brahmin?

                                  2 Replies
                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                      i'll second that no. Pia, think of BBs as having conservative demeanors and Cs as having liberal ones. (and of course i don't mean 100%.)