Alden & Harlow
Is it open yet? It looks like they're taking reservations, and they have menus online - http://aldenharlow.com/.
Does anyone know how the menu works? It looks like some of the items are entree-sized (burger, steak, etc), but others are likely small plates / appetizers (carrots, mushrooms). But, everything is grouped together and about the same price.
I'm trying to figure out just how spend-y it is before I decide to go...
I believe it opens to the public tonight. A bunch of my Facebook friends got to attend friends and family; they're all gaga.
No inside insight from their comments, but it looks a bit like the Russell House Tavern menu, with a lot of dishes meant to be shared family-style. The burger is making a big impression.
re: MC Slim JB
I was fortunate to visit during the pre-opening, and yes most who get to do so are typically very positive for various reasons. While I don't think it's appropriate to review soft openings, I will say that overall the food was very good. This probably reflects on the fact that he didn't rush to open the place and spent a lot of time and thought perfecting the menu. Some of the dishes are indeed meant for sharing and grazing. This is the chef's baby and he will be there most of the time for the foreseeable future. I'd expect it to start stronger than some places. The burger is very good, but there were quiet rumblings from those who had reviewed the menu regarding "secret Burger - limited availability" that it might be following in the footsteps of an unnecessary and annoying trend from another local restaurant.
The chef started the "secret burger" at Russell House Tavern probably close to open in 2010. There is still a secret burger at Russell but I don't believe it has ever appeared on the menu as it does at A&H (though it occasionally gets tweeted or facebooked about).
The secret burger right now at RHT is a steamed burger on toasted white bread as a tribute to Louis' Lunch in New Haven (where they served the first burger), and it has been some wild combinations that included buns that have been fried mac'n'cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches. Basically, chef's whim for a week or two at a time. Check the twitter feed for more information (they have been leaking photos and details lately).
It's probably the same in theory since the originator of the idea at RHT is the current chef at A&H.
Add me to the gaga crowds.
Stopped in for a drink this evening as they opened at 5p - very friendly, welcoming front desk. Large, stylish comfortable space in spite of the very low ceilings. Interesting original cocktails - that taste great - very friendly (and abundant) bar staff - well trained and highly hospitable.
I can see the Sandhill Crane becoming a regular order for me - balanced (NOT sweet) and delicious with Terroir gin, lime, housemade cranberry shrubb, and maple. Spanked sage leaf garnish was a great ornament and aroma!
I am eager to get back for full visit and try the food - the menu appeals to me much more than RHT did (e.g., scallop crudo, pistachio kale salad, mystery burger, etc.)
Made it in with some friends, got a lot of food and drink, had an excellent time. Normally, I might feel bad posting a review off of the first couple of days open, but these guys nailed it and deserve the attention. That said, I hope any quibbles I note below are taken in the context of this having been A&H’s first week.
I’ll go through specific dishes in a moment, but various points of interest first:
1. I’ll put this first for the people who don’t want to read through all of this: if you go, get the beef neck. In terms of proteins, that’s the dish everyone will rave about, and with good reason. Served in a large rectangular prison, I went to cut into it, and the whole thing just fell apart into an insanely flavorful, tender, mess of meat. This is what every slow cooked short rib etc. dreamed of being when it grew up. If you have a big party, get two. Period.
2. This is one of my favorite restaurants aesthetically in Boston. They’ve taken a big space and made it feel both intimate and contemporary.
3. Service was noticeably friendly and trained to be attentive (ie folding napkins when someone got up to go to the bathroom, not something I’m accustomed to in a place that is more informal/so large)
4. On pricing: as with all places that don’t do a typical three course menu, it is hard to read a menu and know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. One thing I will say is that the portions on plates all seemed attuned to the price: you didn’t feel like one 13 dollar dish was a gutbomb and another one super skimpy, which is great.
That said, while all the protein heavy dishes did feature a good amount of food (i’d say the average one probably comes in at like 2/3 of an entrée of protein?), they come with a very small amount of starch and veg. In other words, if you want an entrees worth of veg/starch, you need to order it as a separate plate. All in all, I think average eater probably would do two large plates, snack, dessert, and be content: we averaged 40 bucks of food a person pre tax/tip. Ymmv on how gluttonous you are, of course. A&H definitely clocks in well below kt&t, and at least a few bucks below West Bridge (which I enjoy, but definitely has more variability on the price/satiation depending on how you order).
5. Drinks are great, diversified, and also a bit below the going rate. I consider $12 standard for craft cocktails, and their menu ranges mostly 10-11. Perhaps taking a cue from his former work at ESDK, Seth and his team have a house vermouth and a house amaro going. The latter, called house ‘bitter’ (which I admit I found confusing because I thought they meant something akin to angostura etc.) is a steal at only 7 bucks a pour. The rest of the menu intelligently spreads the board: smoke, tart, sweeter, boozy quaffable, and a heated drink are all covered.
Finally, some dishes, organized by type of dish, then subjective opinion!
Pickled green beans with sesame were served at a little item to snack on. Think of it as an alternative to nuts to go with your drinks as you wait for food?
Heirloom eggs, pickled green tomatoes, boquerones: personally my favorite snack. I’d note here that there are a lot of dishes that have some sort of ‘funk’ on the menu. The boquerones here played well with the egg, and the pickled tomato did a great job balancing out the fat.
Squash/currants/pecorino/hazelnut: the squash is cut up into spaghetti strands. Well balanced between the earthy hazelnuts, sweet cranberries, and a very generous amount of cheese that really sold the dish as a play on pasta. That said, and this came up on a few dishes: there seemed to be an excessive amount of oil (or maybe in this case it was the butter) melted on the plate, such that my mouth felt coated after eating a bite or two. It was still a delicious dish, but if I weren’t sharing it, with that much excess fat, I don’t know if could have had a whole plate on my own, or even half.
The corollary to that is, this was a huge portion for 7 bucks. If you are looking for fullness/deliciousness at the cheapest price, and can get past the oil, I think you could pair this and one protein heavy main and get away feeling full for the avg person.
Chips & three-onion dip: this is as it sounds, and it is a pretty awesome snack. The dip itself is very thick, and high on the caramelized onion flavor.
Crostino of roasted sunchoke/lardo/sunflower: The roasted veg/lardo combo went well; it was enough lardo for the flavor to really stand out. Solid dish, but I’d try one of the other snacks I didn’t have before I ordered it again.
Wood roasted beef neck: I’ll say it again. Get it. Get. It.
Hickory smoked blood pudding: another case of a pretty standard combo of flavors, but in this case, the blood pudding was such a hit with the table that I’d say this is a must-get if you’re into blood pudding. This was both more moist, and flavorful, than any rendition I’ve had in recent memory.
Island creek oyster gratin: super heavy, creamy dish that got devoured. As with many complex dishes with uni, I can’t say that the funkiness from the uni stoodout against what you’d expect from oysters that have been cooked? But we loved this dish, also wanted more bread for it, and I’d get it again w no issues.
Grilled carrots: if you’ve read about any of the preview dinners, you’ve seen this dish pop up. Carrots are the new kale, and this is a dish to show you why. Such great texture between the yogurt, carrot, and granola, and similarly well balanced sweet, spice, cream from the ingredients.
Local catch: golden tilefish (iirc). Served as very tall cube of fish, the meat was wonderfully tender. Good accompanying sauce, but the star was definitely the fish and its flavor. This is not a crispy skin fish, so if you need that out of your fish go elsewhere.
Secret burger: this was interesting. The patty (3 meat blend I believe, including smoked fat, but memory is hazy) is of what I think of as the ‘super melty’ style (at a place like Curley) as opposed to the chewier gourmet style (at say Craigie). On top is what I could closest describe as a caesar like set of greens, w cheese and (fairly sure) anchovy. Again, love the funky combo, but 1. This is definitely a more challenging flavor profile, I could see people being turned off by this 2. For me, when you go the melty patty route, then all your toppings and bun need to similarly disentegrate, or you lose the benefit of that style. I would say that while I liked the toppings and bun here, they were too much for the patty, and that dissolving effect was loss. That said… this is a pretty meta-level commentary on the burger, I thought it was delicious, and if I were ordering drinks at the bar I would get it again in a flash (being hard to share, I don’t know I’d recommend it in a normal meal where youre splitting amongst friends).
Mesquite tortellini: 6 large tortellini to an order. great toothsome texture, another dish where cheese, and some funk (from the colatura) were employed really well. But- like the squash salad, this dish also suffered from feeling like their was too much oil, so while I loved having 2, not sure I could have had much more.
Grilled foie gras: classic flavor pairing with the spiced fruit and sherry vinegar, so you know what to expect. The crumpet is rich: probably a bit too over the top for some, but I loved it. The SO says she prefers a foie with more crust from searing, and it’s true this was not cooked in that manner, but that didn’t bother me. I’d get the dish again just for the crumpet, but, beyond the crumpet, if you’re looking for the more unique items on the menu, you could skip this.
Clams from pat woodbury: this is served more akin to your typical mussels dish. Small plate, probably 12 clams. For sharing, there’s not a huge amount of pig in there so it’s a bit tough for me to say how important it was to the dish. The broth is flavorful enough to warrant extra bread, but this was a just ‘solid, I would try something else first’ dish for us.
Salt cod & turnip brandade: this was yummy though a bit smaller than other dishes. Should note this is served with the brandade in a small ramekin with the chick pea, fennel crackers on the side to spoon the brandade onto. Compared to the typical brandade, this is noticeably more cod heavy, and a bit denser from the turnip. If this were in the snack portion I’d love it, but it doesn’t have the punchy flavors most of the mains did.
Chicken fried local rabbit: some people loved this, some thought it was just ok. This is served as sort of one giant nugget, and perhaps as part of that, or just as whatever its fried in, this comes out tasting like a gourmet chicken nugget. I enjoyed it, and the texture was great, but you might be disappointed that this doesn’t taste more interesting/more like rabbit.
Smoked chocolate bread pudding: this is awesome. The smoke flavor comes through strongly in a very pleasing way; it accompanies the dark chocolate flavor quite well. You have the typical cold ice cream/hot pudding balance, and the texture here is super soft: the closest I can descrbe it is… imagine making an entire skillet pan out of just the inside of a chocolate lava cake… that’s pretty close to what you are getting here. It’s just solid enough to pick up with a fork, and it’s one of my favorite new desserts in the city.’
Parsnip cobbler: it was hard to compete with the above dish, and half the table said they didn’t ‘get’ this dish, and I could understand why. The flavors are dessert-y, though definitely on the very ‘spiced’ side, but the texture of the parsnips is still very starchy- they’re served in distinguishable slices, not mashed up in such a way that you could mistake them as just any old cobbler filling. I enjoyed the dessert and had no problem finishing it for the table, but less adventurous people probably won’t be too turned on by it. I’ll be interested to see the feedback they get/if it changes over time (eg if the parsnips were cooked to a mushier texture/prepped differently, this might become more of a crowd pleaser dessert).
I will say one last time that, overall, we had an excellent time, and this is a great addition to the neighborhood, both as a restaurant and as a top spot for drinks.They deserve a huge congrats on a well-executed, delicious opening.
Look forward to trying what remains of the menu, and seeing how things evolve.
This report along with my brief and terrific experience on Saturday led us to dinner at the bar on Sunday night - it was GREAT - tried more cocktails - all are very good - the Bell Tower and Sandhill Crane are favorites. Bartender Tina ("tie-nah") was super warm and friendly - bar head Seth checked in with us a couple of times as well.
The food was DELICIOUS - the standouts for us were the kale salad with pistachio cream, the beef neck (would NOT have ordered it but for this report), and the chips and 3-onion (carmelized, shallots, and scallions) dip. We enjoyed the cauliflower tapenade, scallop crudo, and oyster gratinee as well, but they weren't our standouts.
The dip was soooo good (and it was Super Bowl Sunday, after all - the game was on but muted - saw all we needed to....) that we ordered another round for dessert with an extra side of the chips - $150 with tip for plenty of food and drinks for two. We will be back soon - I just hope we can still get bar seats once it is fully discovered - and that they can hold onto the very high standards they have set.
I had the smoked chocolate bread pudding and a drink at the bar on opening night, and that dessert really blew me away. It is just so so smoky, and yet so chocolate-y and moist! I am not a big dessert/sweets lover, and it works for me. That said, I think my wife would have liked it a little sweeter (and she vetoed the parsnip cobbler immediately). But for me, I totally agree with valcfield, it's a run-don't-walk, and one of the City's best desserts, perhaps particularly for those with generally savory palates who maybe don't always save room for dessert. (My cocktail, the Bell Tower, was great, too!)
I don't have much to add to this terrific review except a lot of +1s. I went last night (Saturday) and it was busy - lots of energy without being obnoxious or loud. We sat on the far side of the bar where you can watch a lot of food being prepped - highly recommended if you're into that kind of thing. Got a little mesmerized by the broiler and got to chat a little with the cooks when they had a spare second or two.
Drinks: I was intrigued by the parsnip drink. The parsnip flavor was definitely subtle, but I enjoyed it. I also got something with rosemary & ginger essence that was tasty. Looks like a good cocktail program to watch.
The ubiquitous kale salad is such a standout. I'm not sure what they're doing to the kale, but some of it has a crispy texture as if it's been fried or baked, but it doesn't look like it has. The dressing is seriously delicious.
Cauliflower caponata. We watched them broiling the toasts for this all night and had to try it. It was good, especially the bread and whatever they put on it.
3 onion dip and chips is just a very very solid rendition of a classic. The chips were beautiful, browned crispiness.
A bit of a hiccup here, as our order got lost. They were incredibly apologetic once they realized the mistake. They comped the food and got it sent out pretty quickly. Totally understandable for a new restaurant on a busy Saturday night, and they handled it exactly as you'd hope.
The beef cheek is a really beautiful dish (see picture that doesn't really do it justice) and so tasty. Get it.
The clams were excellent, especially the sauce.
I'm not a big dessert person so we split the smoked chocolate bread pudding. I was trying to decide if I liked it or not and realized I was smiling - seems like a big yes. It's a very smart use of smoke, salt, and sweet - very evocative of bacon without any bacon. It's a winner.
The verdict: we loved our meal, the service, and the space. I'm looking forward to going back soon.
Great review, have to agree with pretty much everything.
We met there on Valentine's Day for after-work drinks -- I had the delicious Dr Zaius cocktail, my husband had an IPA. We sat and chatted like we had at the old Casablanca and talked about how great the interior looked (and we liked the old space, too). We split the cauliflower crostini as well as the smoked cashews. Don't miss either -- the cauliflower/bread combination is delicious and the smokiness in the cashews were a delight. The pickled green beans as a snack were wonderful.
We also shared the heirloom eggs and green tomatoes (amazing!) and the beef neck. So glad I ordered the beef neck! It reminded of Ana Sortun's beef short rib and was perfect with the parsnip puree on a cold, cold night.
Also, I'd like to really compliment the staff there. Everyone was just so friendly and nice and that made it the kind of place you'd want to visit again.
Had an early 5pm reservation on a recent Friday. Walked thru past the already packed bar & seated in a quiet little alcove in sight of the bustling, open kitchen. Among the items ordered: WOOD ROASTED BEEF NECK Parsnips, Vinegar, Radishes - absolutely a "must order" - meltingly tender beef & luxurious parsnip purée so decadent.
HICKORY SMOKED BLOOD PUDDING w/Carolina Gold Rice, Figs, Romesco – 10. Found the blood sausage too dried out but the sticky, tangy figs downright sinful. Chix fried rabbit - tasty morsel, but couldn't discern rabbit flavor vs. chicken, probably due to the prep. Loved the smoked bread pudding, but actually found the parsnip dessert more intriguing. Really liked the new design of the place. Service was very attentive but not intrusive. Our waiter was totally versed in the menu &, when we posed a very specific question,he dashed off to the chef & came right back w/the answer.
Loved it. Nice room tho we sat near front and didn't see too much of the space ...service attentive knowledgeable and not intrusive. Shared cauliflower caponata and I dunno what he did to that bread but it was transformed into something much more than grilled bread. Roasted carrots were perfect texture with not too much sweetness. Husb had striped bass which he loved ( I didn't taste). And thanks Valcfield the beef neck was indeed amazing. We shared the chocolate bread pudding with sea salt ice cream and couldn't gave been more satisfied or impressed. Everything inventive but not over the top. Portions just right for us with one snack, one app, two entrees and one dessert. One cocktail ( Countdown with vodka lemon cinnamon and kumquat ) , one glass of Riesling and a bottle of CA red and we were at $200 all in.....we will be back. On the rotation without a doubt.
We went last night; loved the roasted carrots with yogurt and granola, the Verrill Farm corn cakes and the smoked chocolate bread pudding (and I have very high standards for bread pudding - don't miss it). The "hot tiger milk" cocktail was wonderful too. Because I couldn't bring myself to try beef neck, I got the secret burger. The burger itself was excellent, but the house-made chips were just OK and not noticeably better than some commercial chips. Maybe I'm spoiled after having tried the house-made truffle chips from Moody Street Deli last week, but I guess I expected something more "secret" or special. The only disappointing item was the chicken-fried rabbit, which was unaccountably tiny (like, the size of 2-3 chicken nuggets) in the middle of a big plate of scattered garnishes and tasted sort of dull. The price was absolutely reasonable. As for the atmosphere, it was noisy but fun - just the kind of place you'd want to take friends. Many of the people around us were in their 40s or 50s (as we are), but the crowded bar was full of younger folks.
We went for the early bird dinner last night, post matinee play at the ART. Overall, we loved our meal last night. The only thing I could remember from this current thread was beef neck so I knew that was a target.
We sat at the bar and had lovely service throughout the night. I had the cocktail with the rye whiskey and the rosemary ginger essence. Enjoyed it so much that I had another.
What we split:
chips and dip (so freaking delicious)
Carrots (reminded me of Ottolenghi's recipes)
Mushrooms with 60 degree egg (Run to this dish. We got a spoon to scoop out the remnants in the pan)
Beef Neck (nothing to add other then how is it a perfect rectangle to start)
Secret burger (delicious but how is it a secret if it is on the menu?)
Chocolate bread pudding with salt ice cream (needed more ice cream to balance the heat from the bread pudding)
Taza Chocolate with grilled bread and berries (this would have been better if the chocolate were softer to spread on the bread. Tried unsuccessfully to soften by resting it on the bread pudding pan)
Overall, a successful evening. But seriously, try the mushroom and egg dish.
ETA: I've always liked this chef's fries. Is it possible that there are no fries on the menu? My favorite version of his fries were from North Street Grill. Skinny fries with lots of rosemary and salt.
nice review! Have to agree- having been back since my first review, I'd add-
1. per capeannetoo's report upthread, got the smoked mussels dish, and *loved* it. great contrast of plump mussel and aioli/toast, but the smoked aspect is heavy in a delightful way.
2. completely agree about the mushroom dish. i admittedly avoided this at first because mushroom+egg has been on a lot of menus for a while at this point, but there is some sort of super umami-y paste (iirc) at the bottom of the dish that made this dish wonderful and so much better than what I had thought it would be. It's definitely on my repeat list for next visit.
Went on Friday.
The space is dramatic --- it kinds of looks like Kendall Sq industrial fell upon Harvard Sq. It is the standard hushed browns and metal meets wood … and open, open, open. A loft brought down to earth.
The crowd, for the Harvard Sq area, looked a bit strange … a bit lost. Did they take the T in all the way from Back Bay? Given the that the place is sunken, you could have been anywhere (which I don't think is a good thing). At Russell House, Park, or Harvest you get a sense of location … that it reflects the environment (Harvard is just outside the window). And Casablanca, for all its issues, always felt like it belonged.
The service was good --- with hipster, bearded plaid wearing types. I mean, what else would you expect?
The food. We started with snacks. The smoked cashews were great as snacks go. But let's face it, they are a bowl of cashews that might be better for a bespoke bar. The smoked cauliflower was disappointing. Not a lot of depth---other than smoke and char (a theme). It just didn't have a lot of balance … just cut up pieces of cauliflower on bread/toast. The yams were a highlight, but unevenly cooked --- one bordered on hot but raw. I'd take the thyme carrots at Russell House instead.
For mains we split the burger. Which, I have to say, was very (very) good. The fried potato chips were too dark, and while not visibly charred, tasted a bit burnt (and not in a burnt bacon good way). We didn't finish them … which to me is surprising, because I normally ordered more of any fried potato.
We then had the lamb sirloin … which was good. We wrapped most of it up, as we were so full from the snacks and burger (and keep in mind, we've done the marathon tasting menus.)
We skipped dessert --- they seemed so heavy (with no element to cut). Coffee was $4.00 which I told the waiter kind of pissed me off. Perhaps I just never noticed … but almost half the price of a dessert? Is that for an entire pot?
Overall, as first impressions go … I'd probably have a second date. That said, it isn't the kind of wow I would have expected from all the hype. I mean, you have to realize that Russell House is still damn good (and they do use a lot of the cow/animal.)
I had more of a (let me pause and figure this all out moment) at Bergamont. Having been to Park, West Bridge, The Gallows in greater Bosotn (or pretty much any place in Portland, ME) … I like the move to Gastro Pub Version 2.0.
And yet … I find, in all cases, the food heavy, smoky (in the case of A&H … it bordered on charred, kind of as if everything had been steeped in smoke), and in the case of West Bridge (salty -- so very salty).
Perhaps I should just order more greens … but even the vegetables seem "meaty" and lugubrious. It could be that, as the Top Chef judges love to proclaim, "not enough acid!" And I have to agree … I like the tapas style, as quite frankly, I have a hard way making my way through more than a few dishes (even snack size).
Again, I need to go back and dig further into the menu. And it may just be me, but the trend in farm-to-table, hipster-to-haute cuisine needs to dial things back a few notches. Do the hip youth need more protein?
Sure, give me cow tongue meatballs … but also give me a garlicky, acidic, light sauce to counter. And oh, you can order that at Russell House.
I had the tongue meatballs at Russell House AFTER the 'Scelf had left, and found them almost inedible due to how rich they were. Could the balance have been off that day? I did not find the sauce countered any of the richness, or at best, was insufficient to counter the richness. Put it this way: there were only two meatballs, but I thought that dish would best be shared by four people.
"At Park, you have a sense of location." Yes, the unmistakable sensation of being in a cunningly-decorated parking garage basement. (Don't get me wrong; I like Park.)
I'm an early fan of A&H, but I agree that some lighter, brighter desserts would be welcome. I expect Scelfo's menu to continue to evolve seasonally in good ways, with a faith that comes from having followed him around for a long time.
I’ve been back several times since the soft opening and have some more observations and comments on A&H. Our last meal came to $147 (before tip), and two of us left stuffed and buzzed. We thought it an excellent value, and would opt for A&H over our meal at Asta the previous night every time (story for another thread). The bar is upscale hipster heaven, but I suppose that's not so uncommon these days.
The space is very cozy and inviting. The decor is appealing to me and even though the bar area is huge it still manages to be quite intimate. Just when you think the room is going to be too cave like, the dining room opens up to lots of windows and space in back. I have dined at the bar every time I have been in there, a few times at the regular bar when on the early/late side, and a few times at the “dining bar”. Most of the available dining room seats look a bit cramped or unappealing for one reason or another. The two tops and booth are tight, and the 4 person booths and spaces would be better suited to 3. There are a few tables tucked right behind the hostess stand that I would refuse and opt to wait if seated there. The room manages the noise well. It has been packed on every visit, but conversation is manageable.
Service at the bar is pretty good, with some of the bartenders (there are usually 4 on at a time) more able to keep up than others. The excellent cocktails are made with great care, which definitely slows down bar service quite a bit. I like the idea of the dining bar which you can request when making reservations. However I find service is actually worse there than at the regular bar area. The last time we sat there, there was one bartender mostly dedicated to that area, and another floating between dining, regular bar and filling dining room orders. We had to do a lot of flagging down to order additional rounds of drinks and courses. Also, people were trying to order drinks between seats and parties at the dining bar, and the bartenders were taking the orders. IMO there should be no walk up service at the dining bar area. All the service is friendly though, and will surely improve over time. They haven’t had a quiet night I’ve seen yet, so it can’t be easy to get totally up to speed.
The food is mostly excellent, with a few misses and dishes that need to be tweaked mixed in. I’ve hit almost the entire menu, and have developed some definite favorites, as well as some things I wouldn’t touch again. Overall the food is very rich, I’d love to see chef incorporate some lighter dishes that retain his excellent flavor combos:
• Corn Pancakes: This dish was a surprise, originally ordered as an afterthought, it was my favorite dish across any visit and I’d have a hard time not ordering it again. The pancakes are very light with and you can taste the corn flavor. Not too sweet, with a nice spice from the shishito peppers to balance the dish.
• Crudo: Scituate scallops on my last visit. Extremely fresh without being overpowered be the preparation. Nice citrus flavor without being zesty.
• Mushrooms w’ 60-degree egg: Very well seasoned. A great dish to try for someone looking for the difference between a soft boiled and slow cooked egg (per another thread on here). Another dish it’s hard not to get every time.
• Beef Neck: Already posted about here. I think the name puts some people off, judging by the initial reaction of one DC, but it is delicious. In terms of beef I prefer this to the burger, which is good but nothing transcendent. I haven't had (and probably won't try) the steaks.
• Kale salad: Kale salads are getting a bit overdone these days, but this one sets the standard. Great contrast of texture and flavor.
• Mussels: The only dish I’ve left unfinished in my visits there. The mussels were not properly cleaned, and grit is a complete non-starter. Beyond that, the dish tasted more like cauliflower than anything else. It was actually quite unpleasant.
• Monkfish: This was the Local Catch on one visit. Monkfish is another ingredient which is overdone, and the description as “poor man’s lobster” really conveys nothing. The fish was overcooked, and the preparation way overdone for a seafood dish. I like my fish fresh, simple and cooked appropriately. This was none of those.
• Yams: Huge hunks of sweet potato. This looked like a side I’d quickly throw together to serve my daughter with a hot dog. It really didn’t fit with the rest of the menu.
It's easily the best dining pick in Harvard Square already, with room for improvement.
Finally made it to Alden & Harlow on Saturday night for an early dinner at the bar. The wife and I both had the burger and we shared the grilled carrots. This might be my favorite burger in town at the moment with Radius and SDLT having closed. Really liked the grind & flavor of the meat. Potato chips were tasty. Grilled carrots were fantastic, and a really generous portion for $9. Washed everything down with a couple Cerne Pivo's.
Stopped at Brick & Mortar on the walk home to Kendall. Haven't been there in a year or so. Walked out after 25 minutes and 0 drinks.
Boy, is that a dramatic makeover from Casablanca- or what?! So neat that they have created that plant wall banqueted alcove in front- for those seeking audible conversation and comfort. We arrived at 5 and hardly anyone was seated but it felt like "click your heels together three times" and the whole space was overflowing. Our waiter was friendly, professional and very knowledgeable about the food. I was thrilled that one of my all time fav staffers is there now as a manager- Chelsea- from Myers+Chang.
On the large and varied menu, our easy fav was the butternut squash w/ hazelnuts. I asked, per the CH comment here, for the butter to not be overdone (th you, btw) and it was a perfect and beautiful plate. We rec'd it to our neighboring tables and they all cleaned their plates. Aside from the visual cleverness, this item was a really perfect example of how it is possible to make a dish w/ only 5 ingredients that has alot of robust and multilayered flavors.
The kale salad was good but not stellar for us, and it easily gets the Jeremiah Tower Paillard Award of the Century. (Cost- 2 cents for kale; 15 cents pistachio cream// selling for $7.) Jeremiah Tower used to brag about making a fortune selling 1 1/2 ou of salmon paillard (like 1/4 inch x 5" x 5") for the price of a 6 ou filet. We both enjoyed it but felt it was oddly skimpy.
Mushrooms w/ Egg was luscious though i would really have liked some bread for mopping (no table bread at A&H.) Impressive wide assortment of funghi in that dish.
Beef Neck Run Don't Walk- as promised, deep, dark, moist meaty satisfying. I particularly enjoyed the sense of humor in the presentation>> Scelfo plates the beef neck, parsnip puree and radish to resemble a wedge of chocolate torte on a pool of creme Anglaise, decorated w/ strawberries.
Lastly, my other fav- the smoked choco bread pudding in a cast iron skillet w/ sweet cream ice cream. Smoky bacony chocolate worked so well, and the bread pudding was surprisingly light and tender.
My Love was pleased that his Bantam was available but my request for a non alcoholic cocktail yielded an amateurish super sweet concoction.
Highly recommended by A&H staff and CHs, I'm hoping the pork belly, scallop crudo, corn pancakes and burger treatment will stay on the menu awhile so we can try them next time.
re: Jolyon Helterman
We went again tonight and our ordering varied between repeats, new dishes and dishes recommended to us on our last visit.
--Smoked cashew and currant snack
--Julienned raw butternut squash hazelnut salad
--Corn pancakes with labneh, maple, and shishito peppers; very generous portion, as tender and beautiful as the best of pancakes.Nice complements of both sweet and tart.
--Smoked grits topped with pork belly. Very rich; go slow!
--Smoked Chocolate Bread Pudding w/ Ginger Ice Cream
--Plancha bluefish with celery root remoulade and swipe of ramp puree. Boring; the fish itself needed spice crust or sauce or something.
Ugh: Rye pasta with chicken confit, crunchy chicken skin and liver fig butter Can't explain it but this dish just didn't work for me. Muddy looking and muddy tasting. ymmv.
Mon night 8pm the front atrium seating was empty save us and another deuce. Quiet quiet quiet. What a pleasure.
One positive i wanted to mention is that A&H serves no-charge sparkling water. Ribelle does as well, and our waitress at R explained to us that some new restnts are starting to do that (maybe something to do with the actual mechanics of their bar system , iirc).
Anyway, I am psyched about this new trend and hope it spreads fast. I look forward to the day when we're saying to each other "remember the days when we had to PAY for sparkling water?!"
that's great that you liked it. i actually tasted the liver fig butter in advance (i despise chicken livers plain but love my cl pate w/ lots of brandy and spices) and LOVED it. I said to the waitress, " Michael can feed me chicken livers like this- any time!" so i don't know why i didn't like it -other than what i said. If you love the flavor of fried crisp chicken skin (which were dotted through the dish) i bet you'd really like the chicken skin gravy that was (is?) made at Strip T's.
I actually ended up without much of the chicken skin, although in general I dig it.
I don't remember what it was specifically that I liked about the flavor and I think it was a bit of something I couldn't put my finger on anyways.
Speaking of your chix liver anecdote, I think all four of us that were eating had multiple things which we'd normally avoid and loved them although they were often only vaguely reminiscent of how they're normally prepared.
re: MC Slim JB
I'm a big fan of that rye pasta, but I also have a few friends that don't like it (the citrus/fig weirded them out in contrast to the chicken).
On another note, going back to my original review, I've gone back to some of the other dishes I had not liked as much and enjoyed them much more. The oil issues i felt on the tortellini and squash salad were gone, and I have enjoyed the fried rabbit much more now- i'm not sure if the dimensions changed, but it seemed meatier/more noticeably rabbit-y.
Another top notch dinner and drinks experience last night - beef neck and kale salad still amazing, and shared the smoky chocolate bread pudding with salt ice cream among four - smoky is an understatement, it does need more of the delicious ice cream to balance it IMHO, and my sweets and chocolate-averse spouse declared it "the best chocolate dessert I have ever eaten - I wanted to put my whole face into the whole thing". The custom dessert cocktail that Seth crafted from amaro, rum, and egg paired perfectly with it.
New favorites were the grilled bluefish and grilled lamb sirloin. The onion dip is still amazing, the chips were tiny, overcooked pieces that could have been more freshly-fried (and were, the last two times - perhaps the perils of Sunday night dining...though the chicken skin freshly frying smelled incredible!). The aged goat cheese course was loved by all but a bit too subtle relative to the rest of the food and drinks.
The grilled local carrots were unevenly cooked without a lot of flavor and comprised of just 5 tiny whole carrots surrounded by some kind of disconcertingly crunchy spice - not a repeat at $9..the soft egg appetizer was also just creamy, but without enough defined flavor.
We still love it - and it was lively but not loud last night (there were always a few bar seats open) - the hospitality and service from Erin was also outstanding. Still eager to return. Hope the Sandhill Crane cocktail returns as well (they were out of the housemade cranberry shrubb).
Went to Alden and Harlow for the first time for my birthday this week. We were both blown away by both our meal, and our cocktails.
We had :
Herloom Eggs, pickled Fiddleheads, boquerones
Ubiquitous Kale Salad
Pickled Verrill Farm corn pancakes (wow!)
Slow Roasted Beef Neck
Grilled Lamb Sirloin (the standout dish for us along with the pancakes)
Scallop market crudo
McGregor's Garden - who knew parsnips would make a great cocktail?
The Bell Tower
a fine Manhatten
an excellent Sazerac
Can't wait to return to sample some more of the menu. It was Tuesday night, and while it was busy, it didn't seem too noisy, and conversation was easy.
Sadly, I had bought into all of the buzz surrounding this place and went in with far too high expectations. I thought it was good, yes, but not great. TL, DR: everything is way, way, way too sweet. Don't get me wrong: the technique is spot on and the dishes are good - we finished each one. It just wasn't fabulous, awesome, or spectacular. It was just middle of the road.
Heirloom eggs - my absolute favorite dish of the night - tart, sour, bitter, salty - it hit all the right notes.
Corn pancakes - bartender told us this wouldn't be sweet - of course it was, but at least we were expecting it. The popcorn felt unnecessary. The peppers saved the dish.
Tortellini - there was something gravely wrong with this pasta. It wasn't good. The accompaniments were spot on, however.
Chicken fried local rabbit - what are they putting in that breading? It's so sweet it's pointless. Having everything together in one bite made it no better - the apple only made it sweeter. Fry job was good.
Beef neck - crazy salty (how much finishing salt is going on that thing?) and crazy sweet - both the glaze and the parsnips together. Braised perfectly - the meat fell apart at a touch. I wish the flavors were better balanced as the technique is good.
Smoked chocolate bread pudding and salt ice cream - awesome. Just awesome. The smokey, saltiness is layered, complex, and interesting. One of the better desserts I've had recently.
I was in again this weekend, and had a somewhat different experience in terms of what we did and did not like. Most dishes were excellent other than the bread pudding which was a bit too smoky in flavor for our party. Standout dishes were the rye pasta (large portion but still went quickly), lamb sirloin, beef neck and mushroom/egg dish (which now incorporates peas). The crudo which was had too much acid masking the flavor of the fish for my personal taste, but everyone else at out table liked it. We were pleased to see that the menu had evolved a decent amount in just a few short weeks since our last visit. Table service was warm and efficient.
One thing that is becoming apparent is that they have a real issue with bar being able to keep up and it's not getting any better. We were with a group ready to imbibe a bit and despite having to wait 10+ min for our table, no one was able to successfully flag down a bartender for a round before sitting. Once at our table, cocktails took a very long time to come once ordered. One member of our party took to ordering another round when the previous arrived, but they still only managed 3 rounds during our rather long meal. The drinks are great, but they're not keeping up with neither the bar customers, nor service bar for the dining room.
Also, as expected, the whole secret burger thing is just plain silly. The waitstaff must get really tired of going to the whole speil with every table (only 20 burgers a night and they are all "committed" blah blah). Just make enough damn burgers or take it off the menu and have it really be "secret".
I don't know why some CHs are vociferously anti- Devra First (I'm guessing they haven't read her reviews) but fyi, she gave 3 stars to A&H in today's Globe. I never agree with her 100% (what, she didn't like the smoked chocolate bread pudding?!!) but I enjoy her work. Congrats to Scelfo on all his hard work!
We went tonight and were very impressed. The butternut squash was definitely a highlight, and the charred broccoli + squash hummus was the other OMG GET THIS dish.
A lot of stuff was on the sweet side, but both of us were in a mood for that; I can see it being too sweet if it's not your thing.
The romanesco was the only dish I was disappointed in -- there weren't enough fiddleheads to really taste them, and while it was good, it wasn't nearly as good as everything else.
The desserts are HUGE, fyi, compared to portions through the rest of the meal; I love smoke and the bread pudding was great, but it was almost chain-restaurant-brownie-sundae sized.
Really what caught my eye was OC's suggestion to effectively quadruple the ice cream to pudding ratio. I liked the ratio about where it was, although I wouldn't have minded more (and would have liked it on its own I'm pretty sure!). But what she's describing would pretty much need the item to be renamed on the menu to "ice cream with a bit of bread pudding" or something like that :)
I'm not complaining, just alerting people trying to figure out #desserts/#diners ratios that it was surprisingly huge. I thought the ice cream to pudding ratio was pretty good -- while the ice cream was awesome, too much and the pudding would get cold quickly.
The same was true of the parsnip cobbler, which my husband got -- they're both big enough to share.
It was more the shrinking of the pudding and increasing the ice cream that I was objecting to. One could always just order two if they wanted more of a dish which was simply reduced in size :)
There were four of us, we ordered two of the cobblers and two of the puddings. We probably would have been better off only having 3 of the 4 but it worked out pretty well.
I waited until our second visit to post (nothing wrong with the first visit but not blown away, but that happened with our first visit to Ribelles which is now a favorite of ours). Still a mixed bag for me: I love the menu, like the space, like the service, can hear my companions, but find the individual dishes vary widely both as to size and as to success. On the very plus side for us: loved the heirloom egg with pickled fiddleheads and boquerones. Maybe my favorite single appetizer of the year. So blown away by the simple concept of pickling those fresh as a daisy fiddleheads! Also the portion was very generous and two of us happily shared. Did not love the halibut crudo: very good quality fish, very sparse portion for a relatively severe price point, and definitely oversalted. The baby romanesco which was a lovely if stingy plate of vegetables in a deconstructed romanesco sauce was delicious. The Island Creek Oyster Rockefeller take, which included bone marrow aioli and guanciale, also was a tad too salty to me and did not, in my view, highlight the oyster. The chili and honey octopus was a nicely cooked version, decent in size for the price, and I think I should have considered that "honey" in the description was going to make this verge on the "too sweet" for my taste so here I think others might love it but I was lukewarm. The desert was splendid: I'm tough on deserts (still haven't found one to rave about at Ribelles) but the Olive Oil Cake with rhubarb, strawberries, fennel and frozen crème fraiche was easily the best desert I've had this year and generous enough for two to share. This desert made me feel I was in Sicily in the spring when the fruit tastes like God meant it to! Really stellar. Our cocktails were "interesting" which boils down to slightly too sweet and slightly too meager, but again, may be the fault of what we ordered and the cocktail list is certainly full of intriguing options. We'll be back and we'd rate it as still among the best of this year's new options, but it will take some more convincing before we give it an unconditional thumbs up.
I went on Monday with 6 friends; between 3 of us we shared: the burger ($14), beef neck ($14), Berkshire pork belly ($15), corn pancakes ($14) and the pork rib special. I enjoyed everything, but the ribs were highlight of the night. Our waiter explained that they save up the ribs from the pork belly dish and when they have about 30 racks, they make ribs, smoked and lacquered with Korean flavors. They were awesomely delicious: a perfect balance of sweetness and a kick of spice.
I also really enjoyed the smoked chocolate bread pudding. It was intensely smoky.
I'm chiming in since there hasn't been recent commentary on the summer menu. We had a pretty positive experience on a Tuesday night. Service was warm and knowledgeable, if a bit distracted (there were rather long lags between taking drink/entree orders and subsequent check-ins, and since different servers delivered the different items, it wasn't clear who we should be speaking with. The servers were also overly quick to clear plates - several times we snatched back the dishes which still had luscious sauces. In fact it would have been great to have bread to sop up those sauces!
We liked the space but it was fairly loud (even on a Tues night) and dark - kind of hard to appreciate the colors of the food. The high-top tables were fine for us, but might not be as comfy for an older guest or someone with mobility issues.
For snacks, tasty onion dip (as already mentioned - it contains anchovies so not veggie-friendly, FYI), the very tasty kale salad, and an insufficiently creamy haloumi dish served with unremarkable bread. I'd skip this last one in the future.
For "entrees" - split among four hearty eaters:
- Grilled cauliflower with hummus and some other things - AWESOME, hearty, meaty, flavorful, inventive
- Oil cured tuna belly - substantial and flavorful, with tangy lemon notes
- Seared Japanese Eggplant - unremarkable, tasted like pizza with an eggplant crust
- Corn pancakes with shisoto peppers - this got a lot of love on the CH board, but we found the sweet corn and sweet syrup too breakfast-y, and not compatible with the peppers
- Sweet corn gnocchi - delicious, pillowy, flavorful
- One other vegetarian thing I can't remember, but that was great
For dessert: we had the excellent coffee, the AMAZING apricot trifle, and the smoky chocolate cake which has also been highly recommended on this thread. We actually didn't care for it at all - to us it tasted like cake left accidentally on a meaty BBQ grill.
Overall it was a lovely evening and a great place to go with pescatarians. We all felt satisfied by the portion sizes, and that we didn't miss out by avoiding the meaty dishes.
I ate at Alden and Harlow (again) last night and feel compelled to post about it. I'm finding myself in one of those ruts where I'm not exploring new restaurants much because I just want to keep going back to Alden & Harlow. I've gone twice in the last 2.5 weeks and was surprised at how much the menu turned over in that short time. A handful of dishes are obviously staples (please don't take those corn pancakes off the menu!) but at least half seems to change. And I can't get over how creative and thoughtful every single dish is. Interesting techniques, contrasting textures, playful flavor combinations, and consistently delicious.
And can we talk about the cocktail program? I don't see anyone in town doing a better job with vegetables in cocktails. On recent visits I've had cocktails with smoked squash, tomatillo, and turnip. I don't even particularly like turnips, but that cocktail was something special. I'd love to see other bar programs follow their lead.
There are other bar programs that are doing farm to glass cocktail programs such as Sarma, Eastern Standard, Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden, Backbar, etc. Wouldn't call it a lead since others did it here first (and tons more on the other coast where the trend probably started), but their dedication to it is a bit more extreme than others.
Really enjoyed A&H's Sunday brunch this week. With so many tasty savory dishes to choose from I was very glad we were a party of four to sample so many.
It is indeed a very nice space. Seated in the back away from the bar it wan't too noisy, though I'm not fond of barstool-style high-seating and will request a low table next time.
All the food was good. The standouts were the Hickory Smoked Pigs' Tails, Dave's Sausage & Potato Skillet, Smoked Fish Pate & Toast, and Torched Fruit. I found the Braised Oxtail Melt and Pickled Corn Pancakes weaker than I'd hoped but still fine. Other folks at table enjoyed the Crumpets and Berry Buckle (I'm not much for sweets at breakfast).
I've got my sights set on the Pig Blood Scrapple, Kale Toasts, and Root Vegetable Latkes next time I'm in the mood for a spendy brunch with friends. And if those have rotated off the menu by then, I suspect they will get replaced by something equally-interesting.