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All in good taste

Excusing yourself from the kid's table

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HOT PICK: RATHBUN'S RESTAURANTS

As you set out to set up your own empire, look to executive chef Kevin Rathbun's sizable corner of Atlanta not only for nourishment, but also for business inspiration. Krog Street is home to all three of Rathbun's restaurants: Rathbun's, Kevin Rathbun Steak and Krog Bar. The original Rathbun's will make any uptown girl swoon if you're looking for a sure-bet date place. Kevin Rathbun Steak always impresses at a business dinner, and Krog Bar's small plates and fun wine list make it a great place to start schmoozing, er, networking. Rathbun's: 404-524-8280. 112 Krog St., Suite R. www.rathbunsrestaurant.com. Kevin Rathbun Steak: 404-524-5600. 154 Krog St., Suite 200. www.kevinrathbunsteak.com. Krog Bar: 404-524-1618. 112 Krog St., Suite 27. www.krogbar.com.

We don't deny that beanie weenies served you well throughout your grueling education. But you're almost all grown-up now, and it's time you, your taste buds and, yes, even your wallet sat at the big folks' table. If ever you need to step up as you step out for dinner, give these upscale options a try.

There are several possibilities for celebrating that big graduation day now four, five or a dozen years in the making; please note, reservations required.

If it were your decision, you'd toast to the success of your education with PBR in a dive bar. But graduation day isn't for the grad, it's for dear ol' mum and dad who shelled out the big bucks, and you might as well please them with a dinner before disappointing them with your life choices. Welcome visitors to the South at Watershed (406 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur, 404-378-4900), Indigo Girl Emily Saliers' upscale but approachable eatery. If the suburban parental units really need an unintimidating hot spot, take them to JCT. Kitchen (1198 Howell Mill Road, 404-355-2252), the Pottery Barn of restaurants with a straightforward, Southern-inspired menu.

Woodfire Grill (1782 Cheshire Bridge Road, 404-347-9055) specializes in fresh local produce and New American cooking and has private rooms. Private rooms are also available at French American Brasserie (30 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., 404-266-1440), which serves, um, French and American brasserie fare.

If a crowd is coming to celebrate but a private room is beyond your budget, both Ecco (40 Seventh St., 404-347-9555) and Floataway Café (1123 Zonolite Road, 404-892-1414) accept large group reservations; expect French, Italian and Spanish influences at the former and handmade pastas, a great wine list and a dreamy setting at the latter.

Getting ahead in life is all about networking, and networking requires knowledge – of the right places, that is. Meet for drinks at Trois (1180 Peachtree St., 404-815-3337), where the twinkling floor and comfy couches will charm anyone. Or belly up to the big boys' table with the rich and famous at Bluepointe's (3455 Peachtree Road, 404-237-9070) Tuesday martini night. For those to whom "high-power" is only a hair-dryer setting, look for other artistic types at Octane (1009-B Marietta St., 404-815-9886), which half the town's writers and designers use as an office (free Wi-Fi + caffeine = creative genius).

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