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Grafton Street in Harvard Sq.

n
nm424 Aug 30, 2007 07:17 AM

I hadn't been in there in awhile, but recently gave it a whirl...really great experience overall-food surpassed pub grub in a big way (i had the cod, which was excellend, and my friend had the steak frites, which, according to her, was the best she's had in awhile), nice wine list, the place itself was so comfortable I felt as though I could sit there long after I was finished with my meal (we sat on the patio-you can't beat the people-watching)...I've read some mixed reviews about it on this board, so just wanted to share...

  1. steinpilz Jul 29, 2008 06:50 PM

    Unsurpassed for people watching by the window in the bar... forgettable otherwise (IMO).

    1. d
      DYR0010 Jul 28, 2008 06:08 AM

      I have had an enjoyable time when I visited both Grafton Street and their sister restaurant Redline. I recommend you ask for the bartender, Paul, at Grafton Street because he is very entertaining and right on top of things!

      1. g
        ghostcat Jul 27, 2008 11:45 PM

        I like Grafton St. and go there often. The flat bread pizzas are great as are the mussels and the crab cakes. I also like the way they do the fish and chips and the salads are way beyond bar food. The patio is small, but great fun to be in.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ghostcat
          Harp00n Jul 28, 2008 06:39 PM

          People routinely slag both Grafton St, and John Harvard. And as someone said further north on this post that they're both a lot better than some Hounds are willing to admit. If they were located in 1937 Worcester Dining Cars the OP's would be; "gastro-diner finds!"

          Harp00n

          1. re: Harp00n
            Alcachofa Jul 29, 2008 06:53 AM

            Not likely. Grafton Street deserves the slams. So does John Harvard.

            1. re: Alcachofa
              Harp00n Jul 29, 2008 08:04 AM

              Well then Alcachofa, we're left with a 50-50 split. We agree on the merits of well made Pegu Club and agree to disagree on GS & GH with many backers in both camps....A Stillness at Appomattox :-0)

              Harp

              1. re: Harp00n
                Alcachofa Jul 29, 2008 11:36 AM

                I like the beer at JH!

                1. re: Alcachofa
                  Harp00n Jul 29, 2008 11:47 AM

                  LOL, I know you by your posts Alcachofa.
                  You like good beer period!

        2. w
          wyoming Jul 27, 2008 06:22 PM

          Visited from Wyoming recently and had a good Caesar salad for lunch. Also very much liked the clam chowder here; best I had on the trip to Boston. In any case, Paul Barry behind the bar made the visit from out west entirely worth it. He was great! Would definitely come back next time I'm in Cambridge.

          1. j
            joedim Apr 11, 2008 06:30 AM

            Yes, the fish and chips is nice, although the clam chowder with the bacon--touch of genius. For me, the real draw is boston's best--Paul--serving up lunchtime drinks and eats.

            1 Reply
            1. re: joedim
              s
              sullyman Jun 2, 2008 11:20 AM

              I entirely agree with Joedim. The time to go to Grafton is weekday afternoons or Sunday brunch, when Paul Barry--Harvard Square's potentate of potent potables--provides great service and colorful commentary from the bar. This guy knows more about fluid dynamics than any Harvard or MIT physicist, if you catch my drift. After a long day of teaching and research, there was nothing better than a cold pint and some banter with Paul. Now that I've graduated and left the area, I miss those afternoon interludes as much as any other aspect of life in Cambridge. Drop in and pay him a visit. You won't be disappointed.

            2. b
              bachslunch Aug 31, 2007 08:00 AM

              For bar food in Cambridge/Somerville, I personally prefer River Gods, Miracle of Science, or O'Sullivan's. Have also been hearing good things about the Cantab Lounge's burgers and will venture there soon enough.

              2 Replies
              1. re: bachslunch
                CityPork Jun 2, 2008 12:11 PM

                Cantab's kitchen is closed.

                1. re: CityPork
                  StriperGuy Jun 2, 2008 01:19 PM

                  Stuck my head in the other day and asked... did not seem like they were jumping up and down to open it again :(

              2. MC Slim JB Aug 31, 2007 05:37 AM

                In fairness, I have not eaten at Grafton Street or its sister restaurants Redline and Temple Bar in over a year. But they all strike me as serving very generic food, what I'd call Upscale Faux-Irish American Pub fare; in my mind, TB is the fanciest, GS the middle one, RL the plainest. But foodwise, they all feel like a bare step or two above a Bennigan's or other national casual-dining chain outlet to me. I know they're popular places to drink, so the atmosphere can be lively, but I have found the food utterly forgettable; I can't remember a single dish from the dozen meals I've had from this group.

                5 Replies
                1. re: nm424
                  c
                  cambridgeMike Aug 31, 2007 06:48 AM

                  I will always have a soft spot for Temple Bar b/c I had my first date with my now wife there (only b/c the bar at Chez Henri was too crowded for a first date). However, I find the food there pretty boring. I'd much rather go to West Side Lounge there. Grafton Street is fine. As it's right around the corner from me I go there often for lunch. It's perfectly respectable. However for that price range in Harvard Square i'd much rather go to Z-squared or even the half size pastas at Red House.

                  1. re: MC Slim JB
                    limster Aug 31, 2007 09:39 AM

                    Temple Bar's not doing faux-Irish. Since Tom Berry moved there from Bambara a couple years ago, it's mostly New American with touches of Asian, likely from his Blue Ginger days. It thought the food was fine, but not something I'd make a special effort for.

                    1. re: limster
                      MC Slim JB Aug 31, 2007 09:51 AM

                      I just looked at Temple Bar's menu, and it is basically unrecognizable from the last time I was there, far more eclectic and unboring, with Asian fingerprints all over it. That leads me to guess that I haven't dined at Temple Bar since Berry took over. I may have to give it another shot sometime.

                      1. re: MC Slim JB
                        finlero Aug 31, 2007 10:04 AM

                        I'd agree with limster that Temple Bar is still by no means a destination, but it has certainly moved onto my list of chow compromises for dining with the unadventurous when in the area.

                        The Guinness fondue is tasty and fun, and I've also been reasonably satisfied with several of their grilled fish dishes. As you'd expect, their various upscale bar food items (burgers, etc.) are serviceable as well.

                        Adequate mid-grade wine list and beer selection; cocktails are a little underwhelming considering the scene.

                      2. re: limster
                        j
                        jajjguy Jul 28, 2008 02:32 PM

                        So that's what happened! My (nearly) decade-old first impression of the place was much as MCSJB described, but more recently I've been turned around. Still not a food-specific destination, but a perfectly good choice. Basically, what finlero said.

                        (Is Bambara still good?)

                    2. p
                      pollystyrene Aug 31, 2007 12:15 AM

                      I've only been there once. I had the spinach ravioli with vodka cream sauce, which was delicious. The pasta was unexpectedly homemade (or at least tasted and felt it). The molten chocolate cake I had for dessert was great, too, and far better than the ones I've had at much finer restaurants. (I've found that, in general, the more expensive the restaurant, the worse the dessert, while that doesn't apply to the other courses. Strange.) The three others I was with didn't have anything that looked so good, and they were jealous of my ravioli. Plus, the liquored-up coffe drinks we had with dessert were disappointing. So, overall, a mixed review, but I'd go back for the ravioli and cake.

                      1. b
                        Bostonbob3 Aug 30, 2007 08:06 AM

                        The food at Grafton Street isn't half bad. Definitely far better than average pub grub. And they have the incomparable Paul Barry behind the bar.

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