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Z Square


Has anyone tried out Z Square (new place in Harvard Square), yet? Just heard about it this morning and I am curious to hear if it will live up to the hype.


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  1. Okay...I stopped by and it looks like they are not open, yet. Stayed tuned.

    1. Here's their website: http://www.z-square.com/ No info on there yet other than "opening soon".

      They are up on Open Table already. They won't let me make a reservation for tonight, but they will for tomorrow night, so hmmmm.

      1. They're open for business today, I have a friend who has been training as a waiter for the past week or two.

        1. It is open and I had dinner there on Friday night. We sat on the outdoor patio which was very charming with its lit up planters and comfortable due to the heat lamps. The flank steak was delicious with a nice green chimi churri sauce. I also loved the wings, which had a nice spice to them. The butternut squash soup was good, and my boyfriend's burger was juicy and tasty and served on a baguette. The service was attentive, and the price was right. We had 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, and 2 cocktails and it came to $48 bucks.

          1. I went to the cafe for lunch. It was not a pleasant experience. The turkey panini I ordered was small and scant on turkey. The only good thing about it was the melted gruyere. Not a bad sandwich, but only OK. The mixed greens along with it were boring. I counted 14 employees for 12 tables in the old upstairs of Finagle a Bagel. None of them seemed to know what to do. Of course that will get better with time, but I don't have much optimism for anything more than passable food here.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fenian

              What was the price of the sandwich? Do they serve fries?

              1. re: Joanie

                Over $8 I think. I can't remember what the choices were, but I'm not sure fries was one. I'm pretty sure potato salad a possible side.

            2. I tried one of their bagels on Saturday -- it was really bad. Dry, hard, stale. This was only at 2 PM, so I can't think how the bagel could have gotten that stale if it had been baked that morning. Pretty disappointing!

              1. What's the space like? Did it do a better job of hiding its former identity than Rendezvous?

                1. Those platters of crispy, thick cut bacon and roasted chicken legs+thighs on the counter drew me irresistibly into the street level cafe to see if they'd sell a whole chix. Chef, Paul Sussman, said he plans to offer entire boxed meals for take-out, once the kinks get worked out - Yay!

                  1. I didn't care for my ham and gruyere crepe today. Waaaay too eggy and not the quality I was expecting for $7

                    The chicken and bacon under the heat lamps sure did look good though.

                    I liked the space, which had a few customers lingering about, not being hassled, around 2.

                    They also use Origins hand soap in the bathrooms. Not food related, but I'm just saying. Nice.

                    1. I've been appalled by the food at Z square on two visits. Everything else is great: very high end renovation (including lovely bathrooms!), a decent vodka tonic, well-priced draught beer ($4, I think), very friendly and professional service. But the food! A Greek salad (about $7) was served on a side plate rather than an entree plate. All it consisted of was shredded iceberg lettuce (come on--the traditional version doesn't use ANY lettuce), four slices of cucumber, a sprinkle of feta cheese, about five mediocre black olives, and a small withered pepper. The oregano mentioned on the menu was not visible. Most unbelievably of all, the dressing was simply low-grade olive oil. Just plain oil. A friend's baguette sandwich was very small and on hard, dry bread. The bagels were stale. The potato salad was refrigerator cold, with some sort of nasty cheap curry powder flavor dominating everything else.
                      Maybe the food downstairs is better, but upstairs is two cuts below Au Bon Pain. I find this baffling. Don't the owners have a successful restaurant/cafe in California?

                      1. We sat downstairs for lunch. The food was just OK. My Panini would have been good if it had not been let to sit in a pool of juice from the slaw prior to serving so it was completely soggy. My girlfirend liked her salad.

                        Service was just awful, even for somewhere "working out the kinks". They said friendly enough things, you could tell there had been a lot of training in this area. However, we did not see a waiter for 10+min after been seated. Then the food took 30+ min to come out even though it had been clearly prepared ahead of time. When looking for another drink and the check, the waiter was no where to be found. This was with about three other parties total in there, I would hate to see it busy.

                        FWIW, we thought the decor a bit antiseptic as well.

                        We won't be back soon.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Gabatta

                          I sat downstairs for lunch today with a friend, and I have to say that things haven't improved much from when Gabatta went about 5 months ago. The atmosphere is very hip, and it was 75% full Saturday at 1 pm. The food was just average. We didn't see a waiter very often. The kitchen lost our order, so it took 45 minutes for us to get our food. The host tried to make it up to us by giving us each $10 gift cards for our next meal, so we are partially placated. Maybe we'll give lunch another try or perhaps martinis next time.

                          Anyone else been there recently? Was this really a case of the kitchen losing an order once? Or is this part of a pattern?

                        2. I had a good burger there. I hope Z Square works things out. It is great that Harvard Sq. has a place that is open all day long.

                          1. I've eaten at Z Square (downstairs) several times for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I've found the food to be very good. Breakfast in particular has been great. There are very few good breakfast places in Harvard Square, and the food at Z Square was very good, particularly the baked goods.

                            Lunch and dinner have also been very good. The food is straightforward. I wouldn't call it overly fancy, but it has been tasty and of good quality. It is an excellent value. The restaurant decor and surroundings are very, very nice. I like the atmosphere.

                            Service has generally been good and has improved quite a bit since it first opened. I found it a bit slow in late 2006 when I first went, but always pleasant. Throughout 2007 I have had very good service when I have visited. I've also found them very responsive to special requests.

                            I had a quick breakfast in the cafe upstairs once. It was fine, but too simple of a meal to be worth a review. I like the atmosphere downstairs much better. But, the cafe is good for a quick bite.

                            1. I went to z square on a Tuesday night with a friend for dinner. We ordered drinks. My razatini was the best I've ever had. Our appetizers were delicious! I had the scallops and he had the Moroccan veggie stew. The stew had wonderful flavor and was enough to be a meal by itself. We split a pear and endive salad. The salad had a great blend of bacon, bleu cheese and other flavors. My friend ordered the flank steak for dinner and loved it but didn't care for the boring side dishes. Anyone can make white rice! I ordered the sea bass special. It was good, but the fish wasn't cooked enough for my taste. Again, the sides were on the boring side. We finished with the peach cobbler, which my companion thought was too gingery. I had the molten chocolate cake (to die for!) and quite possibly the best capuccino I've ever tasted. Our service was great, but the downstairs restaurant wasn't very busy. Decor was lovely. My only complaint would be the boring sides. I will defintely go again. The prices were reasonable.

                              1. Z Square review

                                Time: 2007-12-06 18:00
                                Drinks: Blue Moon ($5.25), Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc ($10.00)
                                Appetizer: Coconut shrimp ($12.00)
                                Dinners: Special - black sea bass ($24.00), Chicken and sausage paella ($22.00)

                                They say sometimes people are more likely to speak up when they have a bad experience than a good experience. While that's unfortunate, I suppose it must be true in this case, because I feel compelled to write a few thoughts about a fairly miserable dinner my wife and I had last night in the downstairs restaurant at Z Square.

                                We showed up at 6pm and were delighted to see that the restaurant wasn't particularly crowded. This turned to dismay when we were squeezed into the last available of a row of two-tops, despite at least a dozen other (larger) tables being available and no sign of the restaurant filling up anytime soon. Not to mention that our table was uncomfortably close to our neighbors (felt like we were all sitting at the same table and it was hard to squeeze in next to them without jostling their table), and also, wonderfully, situated right next to the entrance to the kitchen.

                                Despite the poor seats, I was pleased with the decor of the restaurant -- soft lighting, fairly dark, it seems like it would be a nice place to escape from the bustle of Harvard Square for a drink and a quick bite. The prices didn't initially strike me as outrageous either, I would say it's comparable to a lot of decent bistros along Mass Ave in Cambridge or along Boylston St in Back Bay. Sorry to say, however, that neither the food nor the service are quite up to the level one would expect from those prices. In hindsight, I would say that the atmosphere really did little more than disguise a mediocre restaurant behind a veneer of fanciness.

                                For drinks, my wife ordered her usual Sauvignon Blanc (Whitehaven, $10/glass). I tried for the Whale's Tale Pale Ale ($5.25), but our server informed me that the bar was having problems with that beer and asked if I had a backup, so I went with Blue Moon. A food runner or some member of the kitchen staff brought us our drinks shortly afterward.

                                I always ask the server for a dinner recommendation, because they often know which dishes are stinkers (no matter how attractively-worded on the menu) and which dishes are awesome. I got the usual "well I'm a vegetarian, so I don't know about everything..." response, to which I suggested she recommend something popular. Note to servers: this is how you recommend something when you don't have first-hand knowledge of the menu -- base your suggestions on your guests' feedback, not your personal diet choices. My wife ordered the special, Black Sea Bass ($24.00), while I ordered the Chicken and Sausage Paella ($22.00). We also ordered the Coconut Shrimp appetizer ($12.00) and I requested a bread basket.

                                Our shrimp arrived expediently, consisting of three average-sized shrimp served over some kind of slaw and thin slices of a fried starch vegetable (I think they were plantains or some kind of potato). The shrimp themselves were fairly dry and tasteless, but I enjoyed the slaw (which tasted something like thousand-island dressing) over the starch, which was also very dry. The bread did not arrive, although halfway through the entree our server did apologize for forgetting it and asked if I still wanted it.

                                Our entrees arrived (again via a food runner) just as we finished the appetizer. Both dinners included mussels (we had to ask for a discard bowl), and the Black Sea Bass was not unattractive to look at, with the mussels arranged in a ring around the perimeter of the plate. The mussels (on both my wife's plate and mine) were fairly puny but at least there were plenty of them. The fish was fairly bland but for the herbed butter liquid in which it was served, which had a nice flavor, but was poured on just a little too generously.

                                The hot serving plate under my bowl of paella suggested that my dish may have been sitting under a heat lamp for some time while my wife's meal was finishing. Regardless of whether or not this was the case, the paella was certainly not particularly fresh-tasting. The rice was somewhat glutinous, and the spanish-style sauce in which it was prepared tasted exactly like a prepared (boxed) rice recipe from Near East. This is not a compliment. The chunks of white chicken breast were adequate, but flavored only by what seasonings they had managed to absorb from the broth used to prepare the rice. The sausage looked and tasted like standard grocery-store kielbasa, chopped into slices and thrown into the rice. There were a few scallops, more overly dry grilled shrimp, and the mussels. As with the Black Sea Bass, this plate was fairly drenched in some buttery liquid, which was frankly unappetizing on a rice dish.

                                Neither of us finished our plates, which is fairly uncharacteristic as I tend to be a "plate cleaner". We were disappointed in both the meal and the restaurant, but it wasn't so tremendously awful that it ruined our evening -- we simply didn't stick around for dessert. I probably wouldn't go back to eat, but the atmosphere was nice so I could see stopping by for drinks at the bar. My overall opinion of the food quality at Z Square is that it is little better than a dressed-up and overpriced version of a big box chain restaurant -- and the chain restaurant will probably do a better job of frying your shrimp (not to mention give you more than three). There are better, cheaper places to eat in Harvard Square if all you're looking for is glorified chain restaurant food.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: erikprice

                                  Very unfortunate sounding experience, sounds pretty awful. For what it's worth, I've been there a batch of times for lunch and once or twice for dinner, and had nothing like what you experienced. But then, for dinner I tended to stick to the fairly straight-up, unfussy type stuff (I don't usually order paella unless I'm in Spain or I make it myself, for instance). I will say that their brunch crepes feature the real deal -- light, thin, beautifully done pancakes, matched in my experience only by Arrow Street Crepes, but the filling is a lot more interesting.

                                  I think it's a cut above Au Bon Pain if you're looking for a place to lunch, and OK for a basic meal at dinner time, if you're in the area.

                                  1. re: erikprice

                                    Did the room happen to fill up with an office party shortly after you arrived? I know someone that was headed there for a 6:00 event. I'm surprised they were seating people in the room at all.
                                    Thank you for the review, I'll no longer be tempted by their dinner menu.

                                    1. re: GilbyEast

                                      I have to echo the disappointment. I went with a group of about 6 and we had the good luck to be seated without a reservation. It filled up almost immediately afterwards (this was around 7:30). While I enjoyed the atmosphere, I had a difficult time making a selection that didn't seem overpriced. A friend and I both decided to order off the bar menu. I was looking for something meatless and at the suggestion of the server ordered the chickpea burger. What I received was mushy and absolutely tasteless. I ended up simply drowning it in ketchup for some moisture and flavor. I would have been better off with a microwaved Garden Burger. As the OP said, I may return for the atmosphere and drinks, but will certainly think twice before ordering any food.

                                      1. re: GilbyEast

                                        I would estimate about four or five tables were sat after we sat down, but that includes the two-tops next to us as previous diners finished their meals and left. By 7pm the restaurant still had plenty of empty tables. However, it did seem like there was supposed to have been an event that evening -- there was a separate row of two-tops that were all pushed together to form one very long table on one side of the dining room. We figured that a large party was coming in, and although by the time we left (about an hour after we arrived) no one had come to sit in those seats, I decided it would not have been fair to Z-Square to consider those seats as "available" when I did my write-up. In other words, there were actually even more tables available than I originally described, but I discounted them since they seemed to be reserved.

                                    2. From their website, I see they are opening a new location in Kenmore Sq. Personally, I think their menu is all over the place (paella?) and wouldn't go there as a dinner destination, more like a last resort.