Monday, June 15, 2009

Tory Row Review

We'd been waiting for months for it to open, the first new place in Harvard Square since Crema Cafe opened a few years back. The Greenhouse, the old restaurant in this spot, had occupied the space for years and was long a bohemian hangout but all good things must come to an end. It's time for change even if that means that now the old charm of the area is almost completely obliterated.

We step inside and peruse the clean space filled with a young, hip, stylish crowd. The minimal design is all wood and metal, a somewhat cookie-cutter approach but I like the tubular lights that hang above the bar. The Shepard Fairey prints that were once plastered by the artist on the plywood outside during construction are now framed and on the walls. The seating at the bar is cramped, the stools literally touching each other. The communal tables are spaced out a bit better yet, still, I don't recall the space being so small.

We look at the menu having read other reviews and opt for the cheeseburger and potato wedges, the simple fare that is usually a good indicator of the food in general. The service is prompt, pleasant and attentive. The large windows do offer a great view onto the heart of the Square, perhaps the best people-watching venue anywhere.

The cheeseburger arrives, served on a focaccia roll with red onion and lettuce. The potato wedges are garnished with slivers or marinated red peppers. I can't taste the cheese at all but it's OK for a sandwich. The hipster/yuppie/techies look left and right, munching their food and sipping their drinks. The plasma TV behind the bar streams sports silently. It's a place to go and meet a friend or group, have a drink and a bite to eat. The prices are not outrageous, the food not stellar.

The crowd is mostly eye candy. Then, I realize that, except for the view beyond these plate glass windows, I could be sitting in any casual restaurant in any mall or airport in America. It lacks a certain excitement I thought it would have, the kind of atmosphere that comes from of professors and townies, students and dropouts, artists and politicians that made this Square a mecca once. Although I can't really knock this place, a beautiful shell, to me, however, rarely affords more than one less than passionate rendezvous.

Tory Row
3 Brattle Street
Harvard Square

Tory Row on Urbanspoon

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