Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lunch at Russell House Tavern

Lately, I have been busy shopping, decorating our tree and wrapping Christmas presents! In the midst of a Harvard Square holiday shopping spree, we paused for lunch at Russell House Tavern.
This gastropub operated by The Grafton Group (Temple Bar, Grafton Street, Redline) opened a over a year ago with much fanfare, and I still had yet to make my way in. Along with my Mom and sister, we were famished and in serious need of some quality grub to appease our holiday shopping induced appetites. My sister had previously been in for dinner and drinks, and was happy to return to check out the lunch menu. I was excited to finally pay them a visit in general.
We wandered in, shopping bags in tow, down a wide alley brick patio space off of bustling JFK Street. Crossed electrical wires with exposed light bulbs dangling overhead added a touch of ambiance before we even set foot inside. A hostess greeted us right away at the upstairs entrance (where a smaller bar area resides) and we made our way down a wide black staircase done up in evergreen boughs and white lights to the sprawling, polished basement space. Here, another hostess warmly welcomed and ushered us to a table just as quickly, offering to take our coats along the way. Our amicable waiter met us with waters once we settled in, and impressed us with his knowledge of the menu and swift service.
I started with a Bloody Mary, this classic brunch standby over a formidable sounding craft cocktail was chosen more out of necessity! (Holiday Stroll + Delux + Beehive = hungover.) Our waiter mentioned that the bartender used to run the cocktail program at Drink - so I didn't doubt his prowess in the mixology department. I decided to forgo the classic BM for the Maria Basilico ($10) (the MB!) made with Basil Infused Sobieski Vodka, Meletti Amaro, RHT Bloody Mix and a cucumber garnish. If you were looking for the typically bold and spicy, this one is not for you. The Meletti Amaro, which is a dry tawny liqueur combining anise and saffron added sweet and herbaceous notes which tempered the typically spicy mix. I appreciated this variation on a classic, it's definitely fun when bartenders try new things and take some risks. We started by slurping two oysters each from the raw bar, it was East coast all the way with local briny Island Creeks ($2.50) for my Mom and sister, while I opted for one of those and one of the West coast varietal, a plump, ultra clean flavored Kushi ($2.50). The oysters came with a duo of equally appeasing sweet pickle mignonette and Old Bay cocktail sauce.
My sister and I both chose from the array of sandwiches, accompanying them are your choice of fries, greens, or half portions of each. Pleasantly surprised by this option, once we got our plates we noted the halved french fry and salad portions could have easily been a full serving! The greens were fresh and lightly dressed, the brown crispy fries nicely seasoned and served with ketchup and a really tasty garlic infused mayo. 
 Leah enjoyed her Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($11) with melted talleggio, pickled red onions, local tomatoes and arugula. I chose the Hickory Smoked Pork Loin Sandwich ($11) with melted sharp cheddar, crispy onions, sweet apples and a ginger maple aioli. This sandwich was flawlessly piled high with well executed ingredients, which all managed to stay nicely contained by the soft bread. The thinly sliced pork, tender and juicy took to the crispy onions like bread to butter while the red apples added contrast, imparting the perfect touch of sweetness. The ginger maple aioli was inventive and delicious.
The Dirty Caesar ($8) with Chicken ($5) ordered by my Mom proved to be a hit. A nicely dressed bed of crisp lettuce and grilled chicken strips were livened up by spicy anchovy croutons and fresh parmesan cheese.
Executive Chef Michael Scelfo's locally sourced and seasonally focused American fare is crowd pleasingly classic with a contemporary edge. The reputation that precedes this trendy tavern is well justified. With a warm welcoming staff and a clean, comfortable space, for lunch this afternoon I was nothing short of impressed.
Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon

19 comments:

Megan said...

I tried that same Bloody Mary. Loved it! But you know me, I'm not into very spicy stuff. :)

Emily@SimplyGourmetinSouthie said...

Give me that Bloody Mary and those Island Creek Oysters and I'll be happy for days :)

In and Around Town said...

I loved my dinner at Russell House Tavern - just really flavorful food. Those sandwiches look delicious! I always like when bartenders recommend a good drink and it works out - I always seem to end up in a drink rut!

Elizabeth said...

I'm also embarrassed to admit I haven't been. I've come so close on so many occasions. That's my goal for 2012

Meghan@travelwinedine said...

I love Russell House! Now I want something good for lunch.

Fun and Fearless in Beantown said...

My favorite dish is definitely the crispy poached egg!

Shannon said...

a place i've been meaning to check out, definitely will remember i can stop by for lunch :)

Lin @ BeantownEats said...

I like the sound of the Dirty Caesar. I really live anchovies on my Caesar salads and these croutons sound awesome!

Hogger and Co. said...

Those are HALF portions? Awesome, I'd love to try this place! I should find you on Instagram!

MOLLY GALLER said...

I also love Russell House! Chef Michael's Instagram feed has me drooling every single day! That pork sandwich looks incredible and I'm a vegetarian!

Amber said...

the dirty Cesar looks really good and that bloody mary sounds great. I always appreciate a creative bartender.

Bridget said...

I've only been once but loved it! I need to get back, and try a cocktail!! Your food looks delicious.

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

the food looks good! i am def more of a spicey bloody mary girl though :)

Betsy said...

That pork loin sandwich is one of my favorites!

We need to do a blogger brunch there sometime!

Emily @ A Cambridge Story said...

Glad to hear that I'm not the only lazy blogger these days ;) I am a big fan of RHT.

We Are Not Martha said...

I'm the same way as you lately... definitely spending less time of the blog, but life is so packed, I need to find a tiny bit of time to relax!

I can't believe I still haven't been to Russel House yet... your post makes me want to change that ASAP!

Sues

Lizzy said...

I love Russel House Tavern and I love it even more now that I know you can get halvies of salad and fries! That's awesome. Every place should do that.

About blogging... I totally hear you. I have so many ideas of blog posts I want to write, but can't find the time to actually do it. Enjoying life is more important than writing about it sometimes : )

kfenton917 said...

I think we have a tradition going. Christmas shopping was never so much fun especially with a wonderful lunch stop to relax & revive! Russell House was an awesome choice!

rebecca said...

looks like a must try place to me.