Descending below the bustling streets of Harvard Square, this expansive brew house which first opened in 1992 greets guests with eclectic stained glass windows set against exposed brick and stone walls. John Harvard's underwent a makeover this summer, it appears shiny and fresh faced, outfitted with 11 plasma TVs and a new sound and lighting system. (I have no past visits with which to compare, but the space certainly looks great.) Mahogany pub tables and a 20-seat bar overlook the now visible brewery, while the dining rooms expands backwards into cozy nooks met by original wood pilings.
The re-opening kicked off with a
three course meal paired with their signature craft beers. My sister and I started with some 16 oz suds, their hoppy West Coast Pale Ale and their copper colored JHBH Pale Ale, along with a plate of Point Judith Calamari. The rings were a little tough and overly crisp, though the spicy tomato sauce, green onions, cherry peppers and Parmesan cheese added some nice flavors.
Our Caesar salads were tasty, perfectly dressed and thoughtfully paired with a pour of the Tripel Bottom Line. This sweet belgian ale is fermented at elevated temps and aged in American Oak. The creaminess of both the caesar dressing and the tripel played off one another for a well rounded pair.
For our entrees we both went with the Bourbon and Ale Salmon, a hearty piece of fish, flame grilled (those grill marks!) and served with french green beans, roasted red peppers, English peas and tendrils and a chili glaze.
Despite being slightly overcooked, resulting in a dry and less flaky piece of fish than I had hoped, it had terrific flavor where the char grilled smokiness was accented nicely by the sweet and tangy chili glaze. The accoutrements were all excellent and only worked in the dishes favor. Paired with this course was the West Coast Pale Ale, where a mash up of Amarillo and Columbus hops produce a complex and satisfying beer.
We ended with a moist and gooey Flourless Chocolate Torte served with fluffy whipped cream and blueberries, alongside a dark and intricate Monticello Porter, a colonial era Baltic brew.
At this subterranean neighborhood Brewery and Ale House, classic american dishes meet superbly crafted beers. Live entertainment in the form a doo wop acapella group making the rounds, plus our all around awesome and engaging waiter added up to a really enjoyable evening. Welcome back, John Harvard's!
I attended this dinner as media, the food and beers were complimentary.