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What is edible at Tavern in the Square?

I have to go to Tavern in the Square in Central Square, Cambridge for dinner tonight. I have no choice in the matter, so advice to go elsewhere won't help. Seriously, that menu is a trainwreck. It runs to about 8 pages and includes such gems as "Thai Pasta" a few items away from "Italian Eggrolls."

Also, I can't drink to numb the tastebuds because I'm pregnant. I'm also therefore trying to eat somewhat healthy, and the only thing I've ever tasted there that was moderately edible was the truffle tater tots. Not healthy.

Suggestions? Sneak in something from Mary Chungs?

Mary Chung Restaurant
460 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139

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    1. When I'm forced to eat at a place like that, I have dinner somewhere else (that I actually like) first, then at the bad place, order something cheap, push it around the plate, and say, "I had a late lunch." Their food is mostly just dull, not dire. I might get a quesadilla or salad with grilled chicken -- something hard to screw up.


      3 Replies
      1. re: MC Slim JB

        "I had a late lunch" OMG it's like the foodie (I know you hate that word) equivalent of "I have a headache"

        1. re: tatsu

          I think it was in "Temple of Doom" that the demurral was, "I had bugs for lunch."


          1. re: MC Slim JB

            Dessert ...... chilled monkey brains!

      2. IMO everything is "edible". The TitS change is simply a local version of a cheesecake factory kinda place, where they try to have something that everyone could eat. Nothing is good, but I seem to end up there now and then with a large group where a consensus can't be reached and everyone manages to eat at least.

        1. I ate there during the World Cup. The buffalo chicken wings are totally fine. Also they do grub like loaded nachos if you want to pick at something like that. But yeah, you should eat first.

          1 Reply
          1. re: yumyum

            yeah i usually end up getting an app at a lot of places like this.

          2. Have only been once or twice, but I don't remember it being especially low-quality food, just food not put together in a sophisticated way. Like I'm pretty sure a salad won't just be watery iceberg lettuce and refrigerated tomatoes, but it may have a few too many things put on top.

            I think it's all pretty much edible, if not what you would have particularly chosen.

            1. I went there once not by choice, and got the BLT which I recall being pretty decent, though kind of strange on focaccia, still pretty good.. hard to go wrong with a BLT I suppose though...that's not too heavy either so I think its a decent option

              1. Thanks, 'hounds. I knew I could count on you for some tips.

                1. I agree with the consensus. It's perfectly boring pub food, with some adequate other options. As sports bars go, it's really not a bad place. Nothing chowhoundy, but you're not going to be disgusted with anything, either.

                  1. Same experience as the others. I think I just stuck with a burger last time. Meh, but not terrible.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: kobuta

                      I could not resist a peek at their menu given the expressions of near horror on the thread. First, who knew that TitS is taking over the world, with two locations in Cambridge, one in Newton and Salem each, and another slated for Allston? For starters, I'd focus on drink: their beer menu looked lovely (including Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA; Rogue Dead Guy Ale; Chimay; Cisco Whale Tale Pale Ale.) I imagine they also make a decent martini.

                      If forced to eat, I'd go to the dessert menu. In my experience, chain pubs do decent sweets. Here, the "Chocolate Lava Divine" (chocolate cake, warm center, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge) looked safe. For more adventure, the fried Snickers looked fun, with two bars deep fried in dough and topped with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. (BTW, the sweets-only approach works perfect with MC's 'late lunch' approach.)

                      If you must eat dinner, I'd go all-in with something so egregiously over-the-top that you'd at least have something to talk about afterwards, no matter how ill-conceived. Here, the "Kona Crusted" steak caught my eye but if forced to do it, I would ignore the cardiologist's advice and get the insane-sounding blackened chicken alfredo fettuccine. Other nutty options include "Big Dig Fries... giant stack of waffle fries topped with Monterey Jack and cheddar cheeses, bacon, scallions and sour cream" (add chili for $3!) and the utterly fascinating "Maple Sweet Fries", which are sweet potato fries served with a dijon maple sauce. (Oh my!) Last, but certainly not least, you could cast your lot with the "White Truffle Tator Tots." 'Nuff sed there.

                      Happy hunting.

                      1. re: Bob MacAdoo

                        My (somewhat minimal) experience with the central sq tits (i've only ever been in the porter once once, and never the others) has been that they have a pretty decent beer selection considering what they are but the drink making is more for the appletini crowd.

                        1. re: jgg13

                          Hmm. Minimal experience with Central Square tits? So you have more experience with other tits?

                          Sorry. Too easy.

                          1. re: Parsnipity

                            I try not to get overly familiar with the people directly in my neighborhood, if ya know what i mean

                        2. re: Bob MacAdoo

                          I recently tried the deep-fried snickers and found it to be one of the worst desserts I've ever had. The candy bars were not dipped in dough, but rather wrapped in wonton wrappers or tortillas or something? So the shell is not crispy, but rather this tough, wheaty armor that you have to fight through to get to the chocolate part. Which is a Snickers. Slightly melted. The ice cream was super cheap and did not taste good at all. Better to just buy a Snickers bar, leave it in the car on a warm day and then eat it. That way you get the only worthwhile part of this at a fraction of the cost.

                          I agree that chain pubs often have fun over-the-top desserts, but not true with this place. At least in my experience.

                          1. re: maillard

                            I had a similar experience with the deep-fried snickers. That wonton wrapper totally ruins it.

                            When the place opened and I lived nearby, we went twice. On our first trip we had some buffalo wings and one of their stuffed burgers, and thought the wings were good and the burger was not. We decided it was worth trying again and sticking to simpler stuff (i.e. even a "stuffed burger" was too complex for this joint).

                            So, on our second visit we ordered the wings again and a classic cheeseburger. Both were terrible. I don't think we finished either dish.

                            Altogether, I agree with the recommendation that you eat elsewhere, order a beer and pick at an app or a dessert (just not the deep fried snickers!).

                            1. re: BJK

                              Its funny, I spent a long time wishing that the good life would go away and turn into something else. Then I've spent an even longer time wishing I could take that back.

                      2. The salads are a safe option!

                        1. Well, I ended up with a grilled chicken sandwich with guacamole, lettuce and pale tomatoes. I was planning to go with a salad per advice, but after waiting over an hour to order (not their fault-- we had a big group that couldn't settle down and commit, although the enormous menu did not help) I knew a salad wasn't going to cut it. They must have shipped those tomatoes from somewhere else to get the proper mealy pinkness at this time of year. It was perfectly adequate, and I wasn't hungry after I ate it. That's about all I'm gonna give them. Someone ordered the Big Dig nachos-- truly an archeological endeavor, and after they completely solidified, one for which we would have needed power tools. No paintbrush unearthing buried treasure carefully here. I will say the portion was generous on the apps-- it would have taken 26 years to finish those aptly-named Big Dig nachos.
                          Thanks again, 'hounds.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Parsnipity

                            "Perfectly adequate, and I wasn't hungry after I ate it" should be the tagline on their menu.

                          2. So sorry you have to go there. :-( Too bad you can't drink. Ha! At any rate, as people have said, you can get some pub grub like a quesadilla or salad and it'll be hard for it to be screwed up. I like the suggestion of eating elsewhere and then getting something really light and saying you had a late lunch. I often do that if I'm forced to go to a restaurant I don't like and really don't want to spend $ at.

                            1. TitS is pretty average fare overall, though I would suggest the fried pickles or any app with their "bistro sauce" (a chipotle mayo), which is actually pretty tasty. I usually order the Arugula pizza, as it is pretty light with the thin crust pizza and little cheese and no tomato sauce (though it is not great either). I do think the veggie quesadilla is quite enjoyable, and not too heavy. The desserts are all awful. The ice cream sandwich had frozen cookies, which were as hard as rocks. I wouldn't even go there to watch a game though, from my experience, they can never seem to find the game on their satellite (this is the Porter TitS), so I always go to Spirit bar instead. If you're in Central, try Phoenix Landing, they usually have a pretty good selection and whatever game you want to watch on.


                              Phoenix Landing
                              512 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139