'Tis the cap and gown season, and families all across Houston are thinking of ways to celebrate their grad in style. A proud occasion for parents, grandparents, siblings and, of course, the man (or woman) of the hour, Graduation Day can take you on a journey of emotions. From commencement speeches to the celebratory cap toss, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll beam with pride...and then you'll wonder where to go eat. With graduation ceremonies scheduled throughout the weekends in May and June, restaurant reservations are booking up fast. Whether you decide to dine out for lunch or celebrate into the evening, check out my picks for where to go for a delicious meal and a festive scene.
Liberty Kitchen Oysterette
4224 San Felipe
Tucked away on San Felipe, a safe distance from the weekend hustle bustle of Post Oak Blvd. and the Galleria, sits Liberty Kitchen Oysterette. Open daily for lunch and dinner, Liberty Kitchen is best known as a true oysterette (or oyster bar) stocked with fresh fish and shellfish alike, with an inviting space that's truly made for group dining. With a diverse menu, full bar and Texas beef in addition to seafood, Liberty Kitchen aims to please all diners, not just the fish-lovers of the family.
From the carving cart and creamy seafood pastas to the traditional Maine lobster roll, the menu at Liberty Kitchen offers a large variety of dishes which satisfy both lunch and dinner cravings. The daytime crowd on weekends tends to be laid back and fun, often times choosing to dine on the patio over the dining room. Evenings draw out the "long dinner" crowds, those who enjoy cocktails and wine with shareable plates and mouth-watering entrees, perhaps even reserving the private room for a larger group.
Étoile Cuisine et Bar
1101 Uptown Park Blvd.
Should your palate prefer something a bit fancier, maybe something French, Étoile Cuisine et Bar is an exquisite choice for a family outing. Nestled between shops and restaurants in swanky Uptown Park near the Galleria, Étoile is one of Houston's newer and more alluring French restaurants. The unassuming space boasts classic European decor with a flair for the modern. While the menu proudly features lighter fare, dishes prove to be authentic and embody fresh French flavors. Patrons can enjoy warm Brie with crusty baguettes paired with a fragrant glass of white wine or a craft cocktail. Entrees include such favorites as escargot a la Bourguignonne and sole meuniere delicately topped with lemon-caper butter and served with roasted vegetables.
The restaurant is open daily for both lunch and dinner and offers an attractive backdrop for celebrating a special occasion. The ideal location at Uptown Park, with fountains and trees surrounding boutique shops and eateries, makes it a popular destination for groups to meet.
Speaking from experience (as I'm sure we all can), I assure you these moments shared with family and friends carry us through the next, more challenging phases of our lives. Savor them, celebrate them. Before long, it will be the grad inviting the family out to lunches and dinners celebrating much more than a cap and gown. Should it be college, a new job, a new path or journey in life, reward your hard-working graduate with a dining experience "out of the box."