Grafton Street Pub/Park/Russell House Tavern [Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA]

A friend comes into town about 4 to 6 times a year and stays in Harvard Square and we have dinner. We tend to alternate between splurgy meals (Café Sushi, Parsnip, Alden & Harlow) and nice but less expensive places. In the latter category we have been to Park 3 or 4 times and Grafton Street Pub once. Looking at the menus of the 3 places listed above last night I was really struck by their similarity: steak frites, a burger, pasta Bolognese, salmon, a chicken dish, etc., all at very similar prices. It occurred to me it would be useful to know if any one of them is consistently better than the others or if one version of steak frites, say, is much better than the others. Has anyone eaten enough at all of them to have an opinion? I would especially like to know if one has a significantly better steak frites, burger or Bolognese than the others. For me, I have had both the steak frites and burger (patty melt) at Park and would happily order them again. I had the roasted chicken at Grafton Street and was surprised at how good it was. Had a burger many years ago at Russell Street and while I have no recollection of it, nor have I felt compelled to go back there and I am pretty much all about burgers so it must not have been all that great.

If we do not collectively possess this knowledge I may need to undertake the research for the good of all. Let me know if you have any interest in participating!

Grafton Street Pub
Russell House Tavern


You may find this interesting reading. It may explain the similarities. (I was already generally aware of the common ownership.)

I know people who have eaten at Park and liked it. I may have eaten at Grafton Street a long time ago, but if so, it was unmemorable. I’ve eaten at Russell House T several times and generally liked the food, but I dislike the downstairs room enough that I avoid eating there if that’s where they are going to seat me. Not a lot of use to you, I know, but on the plus side it will encourage you to succeed where I have failed, and actually carry out the experiment you plan.

My regular visits to NY begin again next week, so I’ll probably not be able to participate, but if you message me the schedule I can see if anything works.

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Thank you for that. Duh, I feel dumb now, that is the obvious explanation. I may or may not follow up on my threat to compare and contrast. You have certainly reminded me why I have never gone back to Russell House Tavern. Thanks fooddabbler! Enjoy NY!

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The same group owns The Hourly, which I prefer to all the others.

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Good reminder about The Hourly. Have only been once and found it quite agreeable.

Thank you! Was totally unaware of its existence. Do you have other good Harvard Square (or other!) intel?

Michael Scelfo’s new place opened this week.

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Sounds very interesting. Thanks. Cafe Algiers was always a spot I wanted to like, and I’d go there every year or two hoping it had improved, but it was always dingy, with slightly sticky tables, and mostly indifferent food. It would be great if Longfellow were much better. It certainly has the pedigree.

A few years ago, right after Michael Scelfo left Russell House, my husband and I went and ordered burgers. They came out in under five minutes, at the same time as our wine. The burgers were dry and overcooked and not enjoyable. It seemed like they were precooked. We decided to cross the place off of our list. A few months ago, we wanted to go to brunch in Harvard Sq. and I suggested we give it a try. Well, we had a delicious brunch and very good service and have been back a couple of times with similar results. (Very good hollandaise, excellent croissant breakfast sandwich, delicious chorizo breakfast pizza, good coffee.) We haven’t been for dinner, though.

We also like the patty melt at Park. We had a lovely brunch at The Hourly shortly after it opened. I’m not sure why we haven’t been back but will do so at some point.


We just came back from brunch at Grafton Street. We hadn’t been in a few years and wanted to check it out again, especially since there aren’t many options that start serving at 9 a.m.on Saturday in the Square. It was fine, if unremarkable. My husband liked his corned beef hash, which had a generous proportion of tender corned beef to potatoes, and two well-poached eggs on top. My eggs benedict were okay. The hollandaise was pretty thin and underseasoned, but perked up with the addition of some salt. The eggs were undercooked but edible. All in all, I much prefer Russell House from this restaurant group but wouldn’t object if someone wanted to head there.