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Cambridge Common

For some reason I've managed to live in North Cambridge for 4 years without ever eating at Cambridge Common. Beers and shows? Sure! Meals? Somehow I just never got around to trying it, although I love casual pub fare.

Friday I decided to try it out for lunch, and I liked it so much that I went back again for dinner. (Well, I was going back for a show anyway, so it was an easy/lazy choice.)

For lunch we split several items - the egg salad sandwich, the turkey gobbler, calamari, and tater tots. The egg salad was quite tasty with avocado slices and toasted multigrain bread. The turkey gobbler was also excellent. I'm usually skeptical of foccacia sandwiches because I dislike the heaviness of it, but their foccacia was light and non-greasy. The tots were an excellent guilty pleasure and the calamari was adequate. (I'm iffy about calamari to begin with...)

For dinner we again split some entrees - the southern fried chicken and the steak tips. I'm not a big fan of steak tips but they were fine. No complaints. The fried chicken, I was disappointed to find out, was actually boneless chicken breasts with breading. It was tasty, but I went in expecting the full-on fried chicken experience, bones and all. Anyway, I adjusted, and the chicken was pretty good with accompanying mashed potatoes and biscuits and gravy.

Overall I'd say that their dinner / entree choices are a bit on the heavy side, but the sandwiches and appetizers are top notch. I keep dreaming about the egg salad and tater tots! My mother would be so proud!

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  1. I've been very disappointed with the service at Cambridge Common - though their food is okay.

    Some of the staff there could care less if you wait 15 minutes to get a drink or place a food order. Last time I was there for brunch, the heavy guy with glasses came by to get our drink order (coffee and water), and brought the 3 coffees in two stages (???). With the first coffees, he set down creamers. When he came with the other coffee, he took back some of the creamers. (Maybe he thought we didn't deserve 4 creamers?) He neglected to take our order when he brought the coffees and never returned. I caught his eye from across the room, and he waved. No idea what this meant. Five minutes later, we waved over a waitress and asked her to help us out. She took our order, but never came back to offer fresh coffee or water. Oh well.

    Another time, I waited 10 minutes to get a beer at the bar and the bartender walked past me several times. I wasn't able to order a second beer.

    I suspect they probably just need to hire another server or two, and they'd be doing much better.

    I'd love to be wrong about this place - it's on my block - but I feel like I never get timely service here. Maybe some others have had different experiences?

    1. I just had lunch there yesterday, well, nachos. I ordered them with chicken and I have to say, disappointment would be an understatement. What few bits of chicken were hidden under all of the chips and I counted maybe five pieces at the most. Unacceptable. And the guacamole and sour cream sides were miniscule. Won't be ordering those again.

      1. I concur that some of their food you have to be careful with. I like the sweet potato fries and have been pleasantly surprised by, of all things, their desserts. When I go I typically stick to the sandwich menu, though the mac and cheese isn't too shabby either.

        A friend I go with often almost always orders the egg salad sandwich.

        1. the service is always really bad at the tables and only a little better at the bar -- unless you have the lady that calls you 'honey' in the sweetest voice :). make sure you ask for a room temperature pint and be aware that they do not serve proper 16oz pints, more like 13oz'ers (thick bottoms). however, it's our standby for great beer selection and i loooove the egg salad and other sandwiches and salads.

          1. You gotta try the fried pickles! Trust me on this one. Fried pickles, ftw!

            1. They make awesome tater tots, too. Of course, the wait staff throws them at you, but still.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Bostonbob3

                I don't think they actually make the tater tots... I think they probably get them from Sysco and fry them up.

                1. re: ponyboy

                  Well, they always make a point of telling me they're "homemade," but since I like them BECAUSE they taste like the tots of my youth, maybe that's just a little white potato flesh of a lie.

                  1. re: Bostonbob3

                    Umm.. I have to disagree about the service -- ok, the brunch has pretty bad service, but I think that is because they are training them. I've never had a problem with the service unless there are 30 students sitting in the middle of the dining room which does happen. I eat there about once a week and the specials are best to order. Also, the homey type food is great for my carb fetish!

                    1. re: Catherine Murphy

                      Thanks for the positive note Catherine - glad to hear there are some reports of good service! I'll try them again for drinks/dinner, but I think I'm done with them for brunch, Beatles or not.

                    2. re: Bostonbob3

                      If they are homemade then Sanjaya is a good singer.

                      Still love em both.

                    3. re: ponyboy

                      Yes, and I woulud guess the fried pickles come in on the same frozen pallet.

                      1. re: galleygirl

                        I am thinking they use a can-opener to get most of their foods.

                        That being said they have a top notch american beer list (just ask for the beer to be served in a non-frosted glass)

                  2. I'm a regular visitor to Cambridge Common for lunch and sometimes evening meals. I like the variety and think the food is generally good. But they have the best mashed potato I've found in Boston. Order it with your burger or sandwich instead of the fries! Beer selection is also good. Wouldn't disagree that the service is a bit marginal. They have always corrected mistakes, if not always cheerfully.

                    Fried chicken plate suited me if a bit dry.

                    Macaroni and cheese serving was paltry.

                    Chicken sandwiches always worth the money (especially with the mash).

                    Guinness beef stew was the first meal I managed to get down me in about four days after a recent illness -- they have my respect for that.

                    The sliders were also nice.

                    Definitely a default destination for me and I prefer it to Christopher's, which I understand is related.