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Recs in Harvard Sq?

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We are having an early dinner tonight (6ish, before a show in Harvard Sq) and I'm looking for recs in the general vicinity. Basically looking for something casual, cozy environment, good food. Grafton St might fit the bill but I'm not so sure about the food. How is Garden of the Cellar lately? I figure if we get there early enough we'll be ok, Any other recs on that side of Harvard Sq?

TIA.

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  1. I love the flammekueche at Sandrine's Bistro. Upstairs at the Square would be a good choice too.

    1. We really enjoyed eating at the bar at Garden at the Cellar a couple months back. That would be a good choice for a casual spot with good food.

      1. I would recommend Cambridge 1, Mr. Bartley's Burger Cottage or, for something more upscale, Harvest. If you can go a little further away from Harvard Square, I'd recommend the West Side Longue, Zoe's (the Chinese restaurant) or for something more upscale, Chez Henri.

        2 Replies
        1. re: lipoff

          I realized that I forgot to mention one other great place in Harvard Square, namely Tamarind Bay. My father and I happened to share an excellent meal there very recently. We had lalla mussa dal (black lentils) and faldhari kofta (banana dumplings) that were just fantastic. The lemon rice (rice cooked in peanuts, curry leaves, mustard and lemon juice) was well worth the $5 charge. The only miss was khumb muttar rizala (mushrooms and peas cooked with cashews), which I didn't find very flavorful. I ordered it because of the cashews, not the mushrooms, but it was the latter that were dominant --- if you really like mushrooms you might like this, otherwise it is best avoided. Their roti is very good, although without the delicate flakiness of Malaysian roti. My father asked for a side of raita (yogurt sauce), which does not ordinarily come with what we ordered. This was an excellent suggestion, as their raita was unusually deep and flavorful. The khulfi dessert was fine, although the khulfi at both Toscanini's and especially Christina's is much better, and isn't topped with an oddly sweet cherry (?) sauce. However, their house-made lime soda more than made up for that --- they will even make it without any sugar, whether for the health conscious, or for those who crave the sharp, sour and slightly bitter edge of a fresh lime soda, like a glass of Bitter Lemon, minus the quinine.

          However, other than Cambridge 1, Bartley's, Tamarind Bay and Harvest, I don't think Harvard Square has any restaurants that rise to being even very good, let alone great.

          Hi-Rise Bread Company and Darwin's are great for lunch. Pinocchio's Pizza is a godsend late at night. Felipe's, the Hong Kong and Falafel Corner taste good after 2 AM. Cafe Pamplona and Cafe Algiers are great for what they are. I love the Rose Flower Slush at Boston Tea Stop, and they have great mochi, but nothing else is special. Casablanca is okay. The flammekueche at Sandrine's was the only passable dish on the entire menu the last several times I went there and I have since written them off. Likewise, I've had too many bad experiences at Upstairs at the Square to return willingly. I have never liked Rialto's odd blend of rustic and cutting edge, served with a side of disdain. Similarly, I don't get Henrietta's Table, except for breakfast. Their brunch is fine, but so expensive that there are better options in Boston for the same price point. Since Happy Garden in Somerville has thankfully closed, Yenching is the worst Chinese restaurant I've ever experienced. Spice and 9 Tastes are both mediocre. I could go on, but I don't want to. So sad!

          1. re: lipoff

            agreed on Cambridge 1 and Chez Henri... specially if you can get in the bar at CH and get the cuban. I live in NC and dream about that sandwich.