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Bad experience at Grendel's Den

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Took my friend from Michigan to Grendel's Den in Harvard Square expecting to have somewhat of a decent experience for cheap. We went during their noted "half-price" hours - as in, the food bill is half-off if you purchase a drink.

The waitress was very rude and sullen. I realize that they place was probably understaffed that night, but such blatant rudeness is inexcusable. My Greek salad with steak tips was dry and uninspiring, and my simple request for a piece of bread was ignored. The tomato soup was a greasy bowl of something that tasted like Spaggetti-Os sauce. Two other times our waitress ignored or forgot our requests, and walked by three times even after we'd tried to get her attention. The check took 20 minutes to prepare.

Not very impressed.

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    Dan Eldredge

    I've tried to go to Grendel's Den probably 10 times. Every single time I go I walk in and the place is packed with no seats. I've never actually been able to eat there.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Dan Eldredge

      You're not missing much, in my opinion.

      Personally, I'd hate to work there during that happy hour. I could be wrong, but I'll bet at least 50% or more of the patrons don't tip on the full price, which makes them 100% cheap. I'd get tired of working in those conditons too.

      But they do make a might fine dark and stormy.

      1. re: Dax

        Lol, as a matter of fact they even have a disclaimer on their half-price menus saying that the service is still doing a full-price job. Not surprising that they need to put that there.

        In any case, contrary to many of the sentiments on this board, I've been a long time fan of Grendel's. No, it's not the greatest food in the world, and yes the service does suck sometimes, but it's a comfortable and cheap place with reliable nachos and great drinks (and awesome people watching!)

      2. re: Dan Eldredge

        Count yourself lucky you've not been able to eat there. I've heard good things about the nachos but that's it.

        1. re: Dan Eldredge

          if it sucks so bad how come it is always crowded then? just students taking advantage of the 50% off?

          1. re: cendant

            Getting off topic for Boston, but the Border Cafe is usually always crowded too and their food is average at best. Bizzaro.

            1. re: cendant

              I too have had the same experience at Grendels...why not try Temple Bar(new menu) or West Side Lounge...both are extremely friendly with great food...life IS too short

              1. re: cendant

                As Yogi Berra once said: "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

              2. re: Dan Eldredge

                I've had a bunch of credible sandwiches at Grendel's outside of happy hour ... I am a sandwich guy and have never had a reason to unwrap my hazmat suit when going to Grendel's. In fact, I like it there.

              3. Were you expecting a good experience at Grendel's? My one experience there years ago had me wishing for a hazmat suit.

                Next time for decent food and drinks without breaking the bank, why not go to Redline or Grafton Street or Daedalus - they're all decent. Or the Forest Cafe or Cambridge Common. Or Charlie's Kitchen even for a different vibe - they sure mix a strong cocktail there and the food is decent and inexpensive.

                1. My friends and I would primarily go there for happy hour, for the aforementioned 1/2 priced food when we'd need to eat something before late-night meetings. No, it's not the greatest dining in the world, thought what we've gotten has generally been halfway decent (generally, the spinach/artichoke/crab? dip and the fish of the day), and we've always been lucky enough to get great service. No, I generally would not choose to eat there, but given that we'd generally not have a ton of time before meetings, and everyone wanted cheap food, it served the bill quite nicely.

                  1. I go to Grendel's regularly, and the service is always bad and the food is always so-so. The only thing I've ever really fallen in love with there is the portabella rueben, and the nachos are good too. The other food isn't terrible, but it's only average.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Christina

                      "the service is always bad and the food is always so-so"

                      So why bother? Life is too short to waste on bad food. You deserve better!

                      I like the plain nachos at The Forest because they get them piping hot and nice and brown on top. IIRC they were 5 bucks on their lunch menu, too. Add in a side of jalapenos and you just can't beat it.

                      1. re: MB

                        Because the food and drinks are both cheap. I love great food, but I also work in social services which means I make no money, so I've got to make some cuts. There's something about the environment of Grendel's that I kind of dig and the fact that I can get a beer and an appetizer for less than 5 bucks is a steal even if I have to make some sacrifices.

                    2. Why all the Grendal's hate folks? I've been to Grendal's a ton of times and the food is usually graded at "A gentlemans B", which by the Harvard standard is enough to not make the institution second rate, but is more than enough to make the student look like a slacker. In other words the food is just 'meh', but gets by because the grade scale is based on the ultra cheap. I find it best to go there for the $10 beer pitcher of sangria..it's oh sooo sweet and drunky...

                      Also...what other bar/restaurant can you go to that argued and won a case before the supreme court?

                      Link: http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/proje...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Cladmadder

                        I think even Larry Tribe would agree this place is not so hot.

                      2. I am apparently replying to a thread that was started back in 2005 and resurrected by ILOVEGRENDALSDEN at 11:40 on Feb 14, 2009 (Valentines Day) with a pretty unusual endorsement of Grenals Den.

                        Anyway, I take exception to Someguy's comment about Border Cafe - their food is seriously above average, at worse. crowded - but consistently good. In all three of their locations.

                        My compliments on this thread - excellent postings throughout - note: Kevin's Yogi Berra quote.

                        This thread was started in 2005!!!

                        1. Place is cheap and comfy and kinda old school. Food, so so, service sometimes okay sometimes so so.

                          But in Harvard square cheap, comfy, old school can been a good thing.

                          1. I have to agree with the naysayers here. The food has run the gamut from weak to repulsive the few times I've been to Grendel's Den, and the service is nothing to write home about.

                            If one wants old school in Harvard Square (of which there isn't much anymore), Charlie's Kitchen strikes me as a notably better option food-wise. And juke-box-wise, too.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: bachslunch

                              Lots of longstanding institutions have people who remember it from back in the day who will always be staunch defenders. I think there's at least some of that going on here, since I also used to be a regular there, I've had a bunch of awesome meals there, and I retain a strange fondness for it. That said, every encounter I've had with their food for the last ten or fifteen years has basically sucked.

                              I'd also head for Charlie's. (Or maybe Bartley's, depending on time of day and mood.)

                              1. re: kf2vv

                                As Harvard Square goes, you could certainly do worse than Grendel's...the beer selection is limited but somewhat cheaper than the square usually goes (even Charlie's), and a couple of the sandwiches are decent for the price. (The roast beef is OK). I've had intermittent problems with the wait staff, but again, nothing out of line for Harvard Square. The ambience is good when it's not too crowded - it's nice to duck in for a beer toward the end of the night, when things have died down a bit.

                                That said, Charlie's double cheeseburger special is a steal. The best option, though, is to walk 15 minutes toward Porter and go to Cambridge Common, which blows anything in the Square out of the water (both in terms of price and variety at the bar).

                            2. Used to go to Grendel's often when I was in college. That was 30+ years ago and it seems not to have changed much.

                              1. One thing that I like about Grendel's: fresh Original Sin cider on tap. I'm a cider lover, so that scores big points with me.

                                The food is hit or miss- the nachos are actually pretty good, and once I had a super tasty salad with tuna steak, tomatoes, red onion and some kind of homemade vinaigrette (the tuna steak was beautifully seared and pink on the inside).

                                But I suspect that most people are like me and my friends- we go there for the cheap tap drinks (we all work at Harvard).

                                We always tip well- waitressing can be such a thankless job.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: sfumato

                                  They have Original Sin on tap at Atwood's too. We stopped in for dinner the other night - had a very good burger with sweet potato fries - my fiancee had the asian chicken sandwich, which was influenced by banh mi - also decent.

                                  1. re: sfumato

                                    Don't forget that the food is 1/2 price Sunday through Thursday from 5-7:30 and then after 9. They don't have a deep fryer, the sandwiches and pastas aren't bad, and the price is ridiculously cheap.

                                    Good point on tipping...sfumato. At those prices, the tab is pretty low and I'm sure the servers take a lot of flack.