Yesterday, after finishing two of my five exams, I joined a big group of friends in search of a long lunch somewhere across the bridge. After being cooped up in my room for 4.5 hours with a laptop and a timer ticking away, I was happy to go anywhere, but was even happier to check out Russell House Tavern, the new restaurant in Harvard Square. Located on a busy section of JFK Street, its easy to miss this place, especially if you’re used to ignoring the Finagle-a-Bagel that formerly occupied this building. The restaurant is actually rather large and when you step inside you’re greeted with a modern but tasteful ambience and a casual, quick fix feel. Bar stools and high tables dominate the floor, with lower, more intimate-looking tables set against the walls. If you venture to the back, a large staircase leads down into a cave-like expanse of richer-looking tables, a more old-world ambience and a hostess ready to seat you. This is clearly the real restaurant. The upstairs lunch area reminds me a little of Pizza Express, Ping Pong and other higher-end chains in England, while the downstairs is more brasserie-meets-gastropub.
We ordered burgers, crab cakes and an assortment of lunch time sandwiches. The grilled cheese was melt-in-the-mouth delicious and the fries were satisfyingly crunchy. The Tavern Buttermilk salad however, turned out to be a huge letdown, with an egregious ratio of romaine and almonds to grapes and fennel and a painful lack of Benton ham. Our waiter was friendly, prompt and helpful with recommendations and the food itself was quick to appear.
I’ll post pictures when I have some, but till then, there’s a delicious-looking selection on Russell House’s own blog (bonus points for hosting on WordPress!)
The Damage: Between $15-$20 including tax and tip
The Verdict: Expecting it to clean up the competition…..Great choice for lunch, large enough to accommodate big groups, can’t wait to check it out for dinner and try the famous Chip-in Farm Egg!