Upstairs on the Square TORTURE!!
I planned a "special" lunch today for a few family members to celebrate the holidays and shop afterwards in Harvard Square. I'm not even sure where to begin explaining how poor the experience was. We had asked for the best table when we reserved and were put at an awkwardly shaped table that wasn't square, round or rectangle. It was shaped more like a check mark which prevented our party of 4 from talking face to face. The light fixture above us was covered with dust and cobwebs, yuck!!. Our waiter was so inexperienced it seemed as if he stepped off a bus this morning and began his job today!! We waited for the simplest things like water, bread and ordering wine took almost 1/2 an hour. When we asked for some help with the wine list, the waiter said he didn't know anything about the wines but could ask the bartender. After ordering a 50.00 bottle of white wine he asked if we wanted an ice bucket. He proceeded to put it down literally at my place setting which caused my arms to get cold. The food was really bland. Chicken dry, salmon dry, tons of baby arugala all over the place and literally strewn over everything. When we tried to order dessert we waited again for 20 minutes or so asking another waiter finally to track down our waiter. That waiter very impatiently agreed to take our order explaining that the other waiter was busy (only 3 tables at that point had people at them!)
The desserts were hideous. A butterscotch pudding which had the consistency of an old sponge. Dry and dull. An apple bread pudding which was burnt without a hint of the caramel sauce it was supposed to come with.
Additionally when my mother-in-law pushed the dish towards her she burnt her fingers never being warned by the waiter that the dish had been in the oven.
The owners lounging around at the bar looked oblivious to the disasterous help and the lackluster food coming out of the kitchen. When the check arrived we were overcharged to add insult to injury and had to wait again for the error to be rectified which seemed to take forever! I never remember coming out of a restaurant in need of a drink before.
Every two years I go in to this place and have the identical experience. I need to remember this once and for all. A better meal, service and atmosphere would have been possible at just about anywhere else in the square. Make that anywhere in Massachusetts!
I've been once, and will never be back. There are just simply so many better options that don't have the >50% chance of being a disaster.
I have only been to Upstairs once and it, last December, and the start was very similar. It was a Friday night, very crowded. A private party was going on in the Monday Club and the table they gave us was practically in the middle of the party, elbows at our heads, that kind of thing. I complained. They moved us to another table still in the Monday club. I complained again. Through some miscommunication (I'll take partial blame) I wanted to sit in the Soiree Room upstairs (different menu altogether) and they booked me in the Monday Club. Finally, after being whinier than I've probably ever been.. I got a lovely table in the Soiree Room and we had a fine meal.
Why is there such a disconnect between the two rooms? Why was service abysmal downstairs but perfect upstairs? I don't know... the price points aren't all that disparate.
In any case, I just wanted to clarify that being terrible might depend on which room your in. My office has blacklisted Upstairs for our annual Christmas lunch as before my time they apparently had a terrible experience. Very similar in fact to what the OP describes.
Man that place is a clustercuss.