Went to Park last night...very promising (longish)
I know some people prefer waiting a month or so, a group of friends called e from there saying "very soft opening, not crazy and hectic". Anyway, great drink and beer list to start. We sampled almost all of the drinks between us, and enjoyed them all. A few nit-picky things based on a sip or two from a friends drink - is the rum drinks lacked balance, "don't be afraid of the flavors, if it says .... on the menu, I want to taste it" said my bartender friend sitting with us. He drank the whole thing then ordered a different rum drink and repeated himself. The beer list is all over the place in a good way. a decent amount of good foreign selections mixed in with the now standard Pretty Things, Stone, Uinta etc...probably 40 to 60 between cans, 22's, bottles, and drafts . The food was very promising. The highlights were the salt and pepper shrimp and the fried mussels. S+P shrimp were not like Chinese style, 6 big effen shrimp over a hot pepper slaw. The fried mussels are in a tempura like batter. Have you ever seen this before? I assume they par steam the mussels to pop them open for shucking then fry them like tempura. It comes with fried candied lemon slices as well. I'm sure the fried mussel thing has been done before, but I have never seen it. We had the toasts and the bacon 3 ways as well. Fried quail egg, speck and comte was perfect, the gravlax and dill toast was better then perfect, the fig and berkshire blue sounded good but got snatched up before I could try it. As with the bacon 3 ways dish the toasts are 3 individual bites per order don't know if you can mix and match. Entrees were ordered, and that part of the menu looked good but as this was a last minute event form me, I was needed at home before I could try on the entrees.
Definitely give high marks, especially since it was opening night. Service was actually good, though they were overstaffed so we had 5 different people fill our water. I don't get the business plan part, since the two very similar (Grafton isn't really similar, but some cross over, and Russell house is quite similar) places owned by the same group are around the corner. But it's not my problem. Harvard Sq. seems to be joining its Central and Davis Sq brethren chow wise and now the Beehive people are coming to the square, so I guess I am winning (all chowhounds are winning here in Boston the last few years).
Yes. I am hoping that this along with Russell House and the new Beehive project will allow Harvard to compare well with the other squares. There are some good white tablecloth spots already, and some ethnic places here and there, but the area lacked what I think of as the new Boston quality standard. Being served food and drink by people who could be doing fine dining, but in a relaxed atmosphere. Highland Kitchen, Green St, ICOB, etc.. style. By the way, the decor was great as well. 4 different rooms, all comfortable but representing different eras of the Sq. A hippieish room with 60's era posters and zebra print cushions stayed just inside of kitschy. An old school men's club type room with red leather banquettes, the other 2 rooms were vague as to the connection to Harvard Sq. (at least to me) but were tasteful.
oleana has served fried mussels for a long time. They aren't tempura...very light, extremely good. I get them every time I go, which isn't often enough.