As we know, I love food and nothing brings me more pleasure that reading a recent issue of Food & Wine and planning my next getaway around where I’m dining. I’m one for the details and thus love to find a place that has it all – great food, great décor, great vibe. I love sitting down at a table and instantly noticing how much attention went into every detail of the place setting… the weight of the water-glass, the curve of the knife, the napkin itself. And let’s not even get started on menu design. My all-star list of places that just nail it include: Island Creek Oyster Bar, ABC Kitchen, Gjelina and Founding Farmers. I can now add Alden & Harlow in Cambridge to this list, and you should too. I went on a Saturday night a few weeks back and had a 9:30 reservations. Coming from island life, dining after 8 pm made me feel very hip! The space is subterranean (in the former Casablanca space on Brattle Street) with beautiful exposed brick, great lighting, an open kitchen, a killer wrap-around bar, vintage signs adorning the walls and shelves filled with things you would have in your home kitchen.
This is the first solo project for chef Michael Scelfo, who wanted Alden & Harlow to be representative of the food he would serve at home. And what food it is. Since opening earlier this year, this Harvard Square gem has become what many refer to as a “food-industry darling.” My friend and I started with the ubiquitous kale salad, featuring thin slices of fennel and an ever-so-delicious creamy pistachio dressing. The menu is meant to be shared so we decided on four plates: the golden corn pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and pop corn (interesting indeed); the rye pasta with confit chicken thigh and fig-liver butter and topped with crispy skin; the crispy Berkshire pork belly with grits, roasted kumquat and bergamot cure; and the highlight of the evening… the beef neck that was slow roasted and served with a parsnip puree, radishes and vinegar. For a selectarian (I try to stick to a mostly vegetarian diet), I must say it was to die for and worth every bite. Did we keep it to the basics, most certainly not but wow, what a meal.
The cocktail list was impressive and a bit overwhelming so we both decided on a great craft beer. Unfortunately dessert was not an option (my friend gave up sweets for Lent… who does this?) but I can tell you, the next time I’m in Boston, I’m heading back to Alden & Harlow for cocktails and dessert. Let me know if you want to join.