In a sprawling subterranean space at 40 Brattle Street in Harvard Square, Alden & Harlow hides out, but its opening was no secret. Chef / owner Michael Scelfo has been creating a buzz for quite sometime on his personal instagram feed, where we got to watch the entire process of creating Alden & Harlow first hand. The interior he (and his wife) have designed is striking, beginning with the bright green "live wall" booths section growing pretty succulents, lush ferns and kitchen herbs. It catches your eye as you first descend into the restaurant, followed by handsome walls of reclaimed brick wood, vintage advertisements and rustic light fixtures. The long bar backlit with warm lighting and shiny white tile wraps around into the main dining room where the open kitchen and marble chefs table reside. The restaurant is so much larger than one would expect, with a smooth, composed energy flowing about it and among the waitstaff.
In a cozy window side nook table, my sister and I made our way through the cocktail menu and the inventive, share-able plates. The cocktails are well thought out and delicious, however, I wondered why those martini glasses weren't arriving just a little more full. I sipped the bright, herbal McGregor's Garden ($11) made of Fighting Cock Bourbon, Spiced Parsnip Puree, Benedictine and lemon. And later the Plaza Hotel ($11) with McElhone Revived (their draft spirit), Overproof Bourbon, Fennel Infused Lillet and Campari.
The food is excellent. Flavor and ingredient pairings are exciting and unexpected. I've certainly never had Charred Broccoli ($8) this good. It comes elevated with a sweet squash hummus and is finished with a dusting of montasio (fresco cheese) and cashew crumbles. Smoked Moosabeck Farms Mussles ($8) tumble off a parsley crostino with tarragon and aioli, proving a lighter plate perfect to start off the meal. The Secret Burger ($14) is an incredibly juicy 8 ounces of House Creekstone Grind on an extra large, lightly grilled, sea-salted house made roll. It also comes with what the menu describes as "Your Faith" - an anchovy Russian dressing, a pile of crisp shredded lettuce and a parmesan cheese crisp! We finish dinner with a ridiculously rich dish of House Made Rye Pasta ($15) - plump cavatelli coils with chicken confit thigh, crispy skin and fig and liver butter. I can't wait to return.
40 Brattle Street
Cambridge, MA 02138