It’s finally here: Restaurateur Nia Grace’s highly anticipated new supper club and live music venue, Grace by Nia, is shimmying its way onto Seaport Boulevard starting on Thursday, May 11.
The show begins the moment that diners step through the doorway. The 5,000-square-foot restaurant and lounge, created in partnership with entertainment powerhouse Big Night, is awash in wavy, sea-blue tones, glittering chandeliers, and dramatic gold curtains. A main stage anchors the boomerang-shaped space, which is divided into three dining sections that customers can select from when booking reservations, to choose how close they want to be to the live entertainment. The impressive, gilded interiors set the tone for the night to come. “You’ll never see another space like it, I don’t think, here in Boston,” Grace says with a laugh.
The menu, too, is part of the show. Designed in the style of a Playbill, the food is split into a handful of sections with increasingly bigger plates: An overture, with oysters served raw, grilled, or fried; the opening act, with appetizers like a Maryland hot crab dip and ribs slicked in a bourbon peach sauce; intermission, with a roasted beet carpaccio and a fried green tomato salad with mozzarella that Grace recalled someone likening to “a deconstructed mozzarella stick”; and main attractions like the Cajun jambalaya with crawfish, jumbo shrimp, sausage, rice, and the cuisine’s holy trinity of peppers, onions, and celery to season the dish. A “sideshow” section with mac and cheese, stewed greens, and honey-roasted yams rounds out the menu.
Fans of Grace’s beloved neighborhood restaurant and jazz spot Darryl’s, which sits on the edge of Roxbury and the South End, will recognize similar Southern influences in the food here, but New England seafood touches are also prevalent throughout the dishes. The drinks, which feature wines and spirits by Black, Latinx, and women-owned companies, include large-format, party-ready cocktails like Killing It Softly, with Uncle Nearest 1884 whiskey mixed with blood orange, yuzu, and applewood smoke.
On stage, Grace is following the same playbook that Darryl’s is well-known for — supporting local artists, from up-and-comers to Grammy-nominated acts. In fact, some of the opening acts booked for Grace by Nia are familiar faces around Darryl’s, including R&B and soul singer Angelena Hightower, funk trio Other Than Boston, and jazz saxophonist Elan Trotman. Grace also plans to showcase art curated by local legend Rob Gibbs, or ProBlak, and Michael Talbot, and host events where people can meet the artists.
The aim is to continue and expand on the community-focused efforts that are integral to Darryl’s. “We are continuing that mission of creating community through arts,” Grace says.
The ambitions of the space all come together under Grace by Nia’s supper club umbrella, which evokes a lengthier dining format — that multiple Boston chefs have been tapping into recently — and a more leisurely night out. In other words, there’s no 90-minute dining time limits here.
“It’s like, ‘stay awhile,’” Grace says. “After multiple years of dining and dashing, in and out in 90 minutes, we’re actually inviting you to come back and hang for a bit.”
Grace by Nia is located at 60 Seaport Boulevard, in the Seaport. It will open on Thursday, May 11.