New Year’s Eve is a subject I grow apathetic towards pretty early in the holiday season. After several years of writing about the same formula of overpriced degustations and midnight Champagne toasts, it’s hard to get excited about the occasion. And I’m not gonna lie, I badly wish someone would offer a midnight toast of literal toast; that would be intriguing and wonderful. Until that beautiful day happens, here are a bunch of New Year’s Eve dinner events across the country that actually managed to pique my interest.
(The Envoy Hotel)
One of the better New Year’s Eve menus I’ve seen is taking place at Outlook Kitchen and Bar at The Envoy Hotel. Because sunchoke soup with morels, candied hazelnuts, and melted leeks; beef filet with oxtail ragout, chanterelles, and pomme puree; and peppermint patty gateau with chocolate cake, peppermint cream, dark chocolate glaze, and pomegranate seeds. Just because. The three-course tasting menu begins at 5:00 p.m., and at meal’s end, guests have the opportunity to ascend the hotel to the Lookout Rooftop Bar for a Champagne toast and fireworks viewing. The cost for the shindig is $75 per person and reservations are required. Phone 617-530-1559 to make your sunchoke dreams come true. For the moneyed ballers out there, the hotel is also offering a pretty sick package that includes overnight accommodations for two, bottle of Champagne, dinner for two, complimentary Pierre Jouet toast at midnight, brunch for two, overnight valet parking, and late checkout at 2:00 p.m. That package starts at $629, so there's that.
If punch and popcorn are more your style, head to backbar in Somerville for a more casual affair. From 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., the bar is hosting its “Pre-party Punch Party,” which equips attendees with two glasses of punch for $20 or four glasses for $40 (hey, it’s NYE not Lent, don’t judge). Complimentary food platters are served, brimming with charcuterie, cheese, olives, gougères, popcorn, and crackers. It’s basically like a glorified fancy house party. Then at 9:00 p.m. and running until 1:00 a.m., backbar throws its “Classy & Sassy Party.” As the name suggests, this version is a tad more upscale, with only 35 tickets available. Guests get five items of food or drink, a Champagne toast, welcome punch, and welcome popcorn. To mark the new year, there will be oysters, hot dogs, and tiki cocktails. How sassy! Both options are ticketed events. Snag yours here.
IN WASHINGTON, D.C.:
Another solid option on the East Coast would be Ripple in Washington, D.C. Since, you know, braised endive with hazelnut butter and pistachio poundcake with cardamom-crème frâiche sorbet sound freaking delicious. They’re both a part of two prix fixe dinner options, the first of which is a four-courser available from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. and the second a five-courser available from 7:30 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. Other menu items include hand-cut tagliatelle with shaved truffle and Parmesan. Cost is $85 per person, plus $40 for optional beverage pairings.
IN NEW YORK CITY:
For New Year’s Eve, you might as well go big or go home. Literally, go sit on your couch and just be home and relax. ‘Cause if you’re gonna go out and endure the crowds, it should be for something decadent and worthwhile. Like a six-course spree of truffle-infused dishes at Scarpetta. For New Year’s Eve, the New York City restaurant is cooking up an indulgent finale for 2015, with dishes like tagliatelle with white truffle, seared turbot with porcini, brown butter, and Burgundy truffle, and roasted diver scallops with chestnut, black trumpet mushroom, apple, celeriac, and Burgundy truffle. The menu is being served from 5:30 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. and the cost is $230 per person, plus $95 for wine pairings if desired.
Kudos to El Vez for thinking outside the Champagne bottle when it comes to midnight toasts. It’s not literal toast, like I would have preferred, but tequila will do. The boisterous Mexican restaurant is featuring a full night of food and drink specials, along with female mariachi fixture Mariachi Flor De Toloache, and a complimentary tequila toast when the clock strikes midnight.
Things are pretty elegant at Juni, where a duo of tasting menus come with dishes like Nantucket Bay scallops and caviar, lamb tenderloin with hyssop pesto, and peekytoe crab agnolotti with sea urchin. There are two seatings for New Year’s Eve, the first a six-course tasting for $165 and the second an eight-course affair for $195.
(RM Champagne Salon, photo by Anthony Tahlier)
I’m sick and tired of my New Year’s Eve celebrations having nothing to do with Moulin Rouge. Which is why I’m thrilled with Nellcôte and RM Champagne Salon’s collaborative efforts this year to create a thoroughly Moulin-inspired affair to remember. Filled with cabaret performers, French food, cocktails, and of course Champagne, the theatrical happenings can be experienced throughout the adjoining spaces. At RM, it all starts with a prix fixe meal at two seatings, 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Afterwards, the space transforms into a posh lounge for VIP guests. Next door at Nellcôte, doors open at 9:00 p.m. for Moulin Rouge festivities, with passed hors d’oeuvres and premium bar. The costs for these events are $100 for general admission at 9:00 p.m. to Nellcôte, $125 for VIP entry into Nellcôte at 8:00 p.m., $65 for early seating at RM (with half off entry option into Nellcôte), and $125 for late seating at RM. Purchase tickets here.
Big Star is a fun spot to party any night of the week all year round. The Wicker Park taqueria and bar knows how to keep things casual, boisterous, and delicious. And the biggest party night of the year is no different. For the fourth year in a row, Big Star’s New Year’s festivities entail a complete tap takeover for Three Floyds Brewing Company. From 6:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m., thirsty patrons can partake in Zombie Dust, Gumballhead, Swole Patrol, Amber Smashed Face, Blot Out the Sun, Chevalier Bertrand Du Guesclin, and Arctic Panzer Wolf. Big Star will also be featuring festive food specials and free whiskey shots at midnight. There’s no cover to attend.
Although Mindy’s HotChocolate is renowned for its high-end desserts, the Bucktown staple is getting down and dirty for New Year’s with a “Southern Style Fried Chicken & Champagne” shindig. The family-style meal keeps things comforting and casual with oysters Rockefeller, buttermilk brined fried chicken, wedge salad with bacon and Campari tomatoes, mustard greens with braised ham, whipped potatoes with red-eye gravy, and honey-brined carrots with cashews. For dessert, it’s banana creme pie by the dessert demigod herself, Mindy Segal. Tickets are $75 per person, or $125 with beverage pairings. Call HotChocolate at 773-489-1747 for reservations.
The prix fixe menu at OAK at fourteenth in Boulder pretty much speaks for itself. Oysters, foie gras, celery root soup, king crab risotto, seared scallops, raspberry-Champagne sorbet. See, told you. It’s $90 per person and seatings are available between 5:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.
IN SAN FRANCISCO:
It’s out with the dinner tables and in with the funky dance hall at Comal. The Berkeley restaurant is once again celebrating New Year’s in style by bringing in a Meyer Sound system and transforming the space into a makeshift dance club. When the doors open at 9:00 p.m., DJ Jose Ruiz will take his station and start spinning Latin and funk all night long. The first 300 guests to arrive with receive a Lucha Libre Mexican wrestling mask, so make sure and get there soon because you don’t want to miss that. Courtesy of chef Matt Gandin, appetizers for the evening include quesadillas, flautas, chorizo molotes, mole negro chicken wings, and chipotle deviled eggs. There will also be a special cocktail for the evening, along with beer, wine, tequila, mezcal, and other mixed drinks. Tickets are a mere $45 and can be purchased here.
Or you can keep things more family-friendly with a New Year’s celebration at Schroeder’s, that enduring jewel of a German restaurant. The downtown stalwart is featuring an a la carte menu for the occasion, right before the New Year’s Eve fireworks display. Party favors, Champagne toasts, and Times Square viewing will all take place, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Admission is free and reservations can be made by calling 415-421-4778.