Alden & Harlow Still Excellent (Cambridge, MA - Harvard Square)

I find the food at Alden & Harlow to be quite rich, so I can only eat there every so often. We stopped in last night for the first time since the summer. It was as good as ever, and I really appreciate how the menu is different on every visit.

We sat at the bar and split a few plates, all of which I’d get again. Any crudo they have is always a must get for me, and the Bay Scallop Crudo did not disappoint. The sweet bay scallops paired perfectly with the pear, vinegar aioli, and parsnip. Other chefs use it as a punchline, but Chef Michael Scelfo really knows how to build flavor. My wife chose the Grilled Rabe Crostino, from the Snacks section of the menu, and I’m thankful she did as this was the best dish we had. The charred rabe with fried garlic chips is a killer combo. She then declared the Smoked Steak Tartare her favorite in Boston. While she may say this about any tartare currently on her plate, it was very nice. Anchovy, pickled mushrooms and a bit of chili set the rough chopped meat off. Something else I always end up ordering is their always delicious 60 Degree Egg dish. Currently it is served over crispy baby bock choy.

Service at the bar was very friendly. I always sit at the bar there unless with a larger party. Cocktails were expertly made as always. One creative highlight was the That’ll Do with smoked pork infused scotch, maple liquor, Dolin Rouge and absinthe.

Interesting, thanks for the review. I guess I need to go back and give them another chance. Was there in September and felt that the flavors were very muddied in everything we ordered and was quite underwhelmed despite liking it on earlier visits.

I’ve had the That’ll Do cocktail. Outstanding! It’s been about 3 months since we last went, but I’ve yet to have an awful dish. There have been a few I wouldn’t re-order, but there’s so many that I have to get, that chicken fried rabbit, for example, that it’s tough to try a ton of new choices.

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I had one similar experience at AH over a year ago. I felt like some of the preparations didn’t work, and muddy was the exact way I would describe it. That was only one experience out of 10+ visits. It is definitely not a place I can eat at often as the richness of the food would fatigue me.

It was our go to place last year when we had an ART subscription and we enjoyed it every time. My husband loves the bartending here: his favorite is ESK but this would be his Cambridge favorite. I like the small plates and find the attention to the vegetable dishes really good. It’s on our favorites list and we’ve been fortunate: we probably have eaten here maybe 10 times and have only occasionally not liked a dish.

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Finally got back to A&H last night with my friend GretchenM. I enjoyed the meal overall but some dishes were certainly better than others. We started with the parsnip-kale warm dip with lentil crisps. The lentil crisps were spectacular. The dip was good, it had interesting textures including a lavish topping of pine nuts, but a bit too parsnipy for me. I think it needed a hit of acidity which was also the case for the charred broccoli we had next. My friend loves the charred broccoli so we always get it but it is definitely not my favorite. Maybe I need to ask for a lemon wedge. Next up crispy pork belly with Smoked Anson Mills Grits and Pickled Root Vegetable Caponata which was gorgeously plated and absolutely spectacular tasting (melting, flavorful flesh, crispy skin) but very awkward to cut (we saw people on both sides of us struggling to cut it too). Still, would be happy to wrestle it any time. The root vegetable cassoulet with crispy sage arrived at the same time and suffered a bit by comparison – it was very nice but fairly pedestrian in comparison. Our last dish was the Grilled Bluefish with Celery Root Remoulade and that was a showstopper, glad it came last. The fish was cooked perfectly, the skin shatteringly crisp, the remoulade crispy and perfectly seasoned, the bit of parsley salad a nice addition. I would happily go back tonight and have that again. Needless to say this was more food than we could eat but it was great to try it all. Service was lovely and it was fun to learn from the check that our server was also named Gretchen.

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