Birthday Dinner 1 at Russell House Tavern-Good Gastropub Food

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

(My Finale Birthday Raspberry Cheesecake 1)
It's been a couple of days since my last entry...that's because it was my Birthday and it's been a crazy string of parties last weekend :) In trying to maintain intimacy of my groups of friends while dining, I've taken to holding multiple dinners. For the most part, the restaurant choices were all very very good in terms of food. Sadly, the service at some of them were very lacking.
The first dinner was recommended by my friend Jenni who attended a Yelp Elite event at Russell House Tavern. We were gchatting and the following convos came up:
Jennifer: OH! russell house tavern! i had drinks/small plates there last week. the upstairs is farmhouse industrial chic, downstairs is cozy industrial sexy.
me: hahaha industrial sexy
Jennifer: and downstairs can easily handle a party of 15-20 at a single table. you know what i mean ;)
me: oohthat's good to know

So I went ahead and called them up and they were really chirpy and helpful and offered to plan the party with cake for me. My party planner friend tells me later that they wanted $60 for a cake for 8 people + plating fees of $2.50 per person. Too unreasonably pricey. I'm better off just ordering dessert and plunking a candle on my plate, no?

14 JFK Street Cambridge, MA 02138
(617) 500-3055

Food (4.0/5.0)
Service (3.8/5.0)
*Good for Birthdays?: Questionable if you want cake but most likely ok for groups. We had a party of 8. The place is large enough for a party of 20. Perhaps go at a less busy and crowded time.

We had a clear reservation of 8 but were seated at a table for 6. No matter right, I assumed that they would pull chairs up later. It was a little frustrating but my guests arrived up to 45 minutes late. When they finally assembled, one of my friends tried pulling a chair from an empty table but was told off by the hostess who grabbed the chair back.(???) She was brusque and and her response made it awkward, when it shouldn't be. She could have explained the situation better, dealt with it with more grace and everyone would be happy. The still-standing and embarrassed guy friend then squeezed with 3 other girls in a cramped cushioned space until our waiter arrived. The waiter we had was friendly and helpful but bordered on being persistently annoying when he came by one time too many to ask if I was going to order. At that time it was 2/8 who were present. RHT was overall ok, but there were no special touches that made my birthday dinner different from any other dinner + thoughtless seating + the ridiculous plating fees make it not-so-birthday-friendly (referring to cake).

Food-wise, I thoroughly enjoyed the small plates and entrees RHT had to offer. The prices were very reasonable and I would come back again especially for their OZARK PORK TRIO, perhaps at a less busier time. I heard good things about their brunch so I am looking forward to it as well. I didn't try the dessert since we had a Finale's birthday cake waiting for us at another friend's apartment so I can't tell for sure so we'll see. 

Individual reviews to follow:
We also had the chicken sandwich (not pictured) which was kind of dry but the fries were delicious. Just so you know. The House charcuterie board (also not pictured because I forgot) is a must try because the rilette and the duck prosciutto are amazing!

(Short Rib Wellington 10 Slow Braised, Roasted Mushrooms, Puff Pastry Crown. No beef so no comment but people liked it)
(Jonah Crab Cake (1) 8 Sweet Pickle Tartar, Herby Gala Apple Salad. Very tasty and meat was very tender and umami :D)
(Chicken Liver Crostini (3) 6 Prune & Honey Jam. This came also with another order of the House Charcuterie Board 10 Chicken Liver Paté, Duck Ham, Berkshire Rillette and unfortunately I forgot to take a picture. They were amazingly good)
(Redondo Black Serrano Ham 9 House Pickled Pears, Honey Torched Manchego. Meh. This was passable and the most boring plate we had)
(Salt & Pepper Shrimp 11 Tabasco Aioli, Lemony Greens. Good and forgettable)
(Cast Iron Seared Arctic Char 22 Roasted Apples, House Pancetta, Warm Wheat. Char looked and tasted alot like salmon. It came slightly pink in the center, the way I liked it. I liked the crispy greens, I don't supposed they are warm wheat? Didn't taste the pancetta; roasted apples were good)
(Ozark Heritage Pork Trio 23 Loin, Belly, Shoulder with Grits & Sauce Vinegar. OMG THIS IS THE STAR OF THE NIGHT. Get it! There were 3 different cuts of meat, and each and every one had a different texture that was surprising and welcoming. Amazing pairing. I would go back for this. My party agrees)

PS: Thanks to Catherine for organizing this!


hope chests said...

The food here seems to be the best I have ever seen! They are all so beautifully presented!

Winnie said...

Hi hope chests,
I actually went back this week for the 2nd time for lunch and it wasn't as good as the dinner because
1) the menu was limited and
2) most of what we ordered were too salty. Apparently RHT has different people cooking for lunch and dinner.
3)We got the char again and the plating was very different.


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