Social Restaurant & Bar Opens in Newton Next Week

By Scott Kearnan  |  October 30, 2013

Good eating in the suburbs is not always easy. By and large, you have two options: to take your pick from a slew of fast-casual chain spots, or splurge at one of a smaller number of "special-occasion" fine dining restaurants. Happy mediums are hard to find, but the team behind Social Restaurant & Bar in Newton hopes to change that. Slated to open next week, Social has at its helm two alums of Boston's Lyons Group, the hospitality empire behind over a dozen of the city's most successful restaurants and lounges: from Sonsie and Scampo to Back Bay Social Club and Towne Stove & Spirits. And from the sound of it, they're looking to bring some similar hallmarks - sleek, urbane spaces with upscale but accessible food - to the Boston suburbs. The Newton location is intended to be the first of several, says co-owner Jeffrey Denecke, a former corporate controller for Lyons. "This is not going to be a one-stop shop," says Denecke, who has partnered on the project with former ten-year Lyons senior manager Bill Costa. "We're already looking for the next location that is missing something like this." 

And what is "this"? Denecke, who lives in neighboring Watertown, says suburbanites are "starving" for city-style dining that doesn't require a jaunt into town. Social is set in a fully renovated space that used to house an Applebee's, a heartening transformation that underscores the wider change that Denecke would like to see. "People in the suburbs want a place they can go two or three times a week for a great dinner with cocktails, wine and socializing, that doesn't turn into a club at 11 o'clock," he explains. "But the only things around are Applebee's and Bertucci's: places designed to be 45-minute churn and burns. Where can an adult go to spend several hours having a great dining experience, and not feel like they're fighting over high chairs or treated like cattle?" 

The 200-seat Social is designed to encourage leisurely nights out, he says. Expect three separate rooms - outfitted in dark woods and furnishings for a "masculine, slight 1950s throwback" style - that divide the space into a cocktail bar, formal main dining room and casual dining area with live music for eclectic evening bands and jazz brunches. The menu comes from chef Jared Hargreaves, who opened Cuchi Cuchi before spending nearly a decade as executive chef with the Lyons Group, and focuses on elevated, inventive takes on comfort food using locally sourced ingredients. The large selection of shareable apps is slated to include "Hot Rocks" (marinated sirloin, stone-seared tableside with dipping sauces); lobster roll sliders; corn fritters with chipotle maple cream; and the "Baby Philly," a cheesesteak-style starter with blue cheese aïoli and fig. Grilled pizzas, oven-baked tarts (like mushroom with confit duck and cranberry) and hearty meat and seafood plates make up the majority of the entrees. "It's like walking into the best dinner party," Denecke predicts. We look forward to next week's invite. 

320 Washington St.