Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Harvard Square - Endless Food Options!

The one problem with working right in Harvard Square is that there is an endless number of restaurants, coffee shops and places for fun treats! Although I try my best to bring lunch to work usually, it hasn't stopped me over the last year from trying out a long list of lunch spots in the square.

I've found that my favorite go-to is Veggie Planet, but there is no shortage of other options, which you'll see below ...

CASABLANCA, forty brattle street

For my welcome lunch my first week of work and for our new assistant's welcome lunch - we went to Casablanca, which recently went up for sale. It's a "Harvard Square Institution," having been around for a long time. I love the pita bread they bring to your table (with sea salt, fresh pepper and olive oil) and their meals are satisfyingly light. Most recently we shared the grape flatbread as a starter for our table as a group and I chose their smoked turkey breast sandwich - which had a roasted red pepper aioli that was a bit spicy for my tastes. I've heard wonderful things of the "Saris Lamb" at lunch too.
SWEET, zero brattle street

My office neighbor, on more than one occasion, has said to me - "want to go for a cupcake break?" This is the problem with the square - you can do things like this. Sweet provides a lovely afternoon treat on a rough day - I have the hardest time deciding which kind to get though. This last time I was tempted to get the seasonal pumpkin pie flavor, but couldn't turn down their traditional chocolate with festive vanilla frosting and fall sprinkles! Not exactly worth the pricetag, but a delicious splurge every now and then.

CAMBRIDGE 1, 27 church street

There are lots of pizza options in the square too - some where you can grab a quick slice and others where you can sit down and be served! For a quick slice I love Otto, though they don't have any tables, so it's a hard option in bad weather. I'll admit I like their slices better than Upper Crust even. For a sit down lunch - Cambridge 1 is a great spot. It's a bit small so if you go at peak lunch time you might have a wait. All of their pizzas come in full and half versions - I wish they had a pizza/salad combo option, but if you have two people you can share a salad and a pizza! The last two times I've tried the #12 (spinach, artichoke hearts, chevre and slow roasted tomatoes) and the #5 (potato, fontina, parmigiano, romano, rosemary, garlic) - both were delicious! I also like their very simple arugula salad.
GRAFTON STREET, 1230 mass ave

A reliable option is also Grafton Street - with plenty of variety in their menu, both for lunch and dinner. It gets pretty crowded in the bar area, but I've never had to wait too long for a table to sit down. They have some different flatbread options, a great chickpea burger on naan, and a couple good salads, amongst other things.

I went to Dado Cafe for the first time a couple weeks ago too, which was a nice surprise! I always thought of the place just as tea and drinks, but they actually have a lot of great, light lunch options: wraps, salads, rice bowls, soups. I went with their chicken salad rice bowl, which had their special multi-grain rice meal on the bottom, a mixture of organic brown rice, sticky brown rice, black soybean, yellow soybean, adzuki bean, and green peas. Plus it had mesclun greens, grated carrot, chicken, cucumber and this great sesame soy ginger dressing.

HENRIETTA'S TABLE, 1 bennett street
As a holiday lunch, an old coworker and I celebrated over a nice meal at Henrietta's Table, my first time there. It's a little pricier, which is why it makes for a nice special occasion lunch spot, but everything is very fresh and natural. I opted for their Maine Rock Crab and Corn Chowder with Smoked Bacon and their Native Field Greens with lemon herb vinaigrette; my friend got the Seared Salmon Burger, which also looked tasty. They also have a delicious homemade dessert menu, and given it was the holidays, we both splurged on treats!

I got their house favorite - the chocolate bread pudding with caramelized bananas and vanilla bean ice cream. It was a huge portion and a heavy dessert; the hot chocolate my friend got was also really rich and heavy, but the cookies it came with seemed lighter! The desserts are easily shareable that's for sure. I would recommend making a reservation if you're going at peak lunch hour - we ended up sitting at the bar instead of waiting for a table, but the food was just as good!
RUSSELL HOUSE, 14 jfk street
With all this talk about food, you can't forget about the great places to grab a quick drink in the square. A recent find was Russell House Tavern, where I've had the chance to grab good and drinks a few times over the last couple months. It's two floors, the downstairs bar is pretty big - so it's a good meeting spot where you're almost guaranteed a seat. I have a friend who swears by their 'Moscow Mule,' a rain organic vodka, lime-muddled with homemade ginger beer. The Crimson Crow, British Bee, Ruby Red Punch, all kinds of fancy drink options here! Dinner is good too - and supposedly brunch is a hit too, but I haven't tried it there just yet. Their grilled chicken sandwich is anything but plain - with melted talleggio, picked red onions, heirloom apple and arugula. Even the side salad hits the spot!

I must say that I go to my two favorite places, Crema and Veggie Plannet, so much that I never remember to take a picture of my food. I'll work on that next time!


  1. I prefer to be called a "former" co-worker, not an OLD one. ;)

    I look forward to more lunches!