Harvard Square’s Park Hits the Spot on a Chilly Night

I went to Park in Harvard Square for the first time a few months ago for drinks for a friend’s birthday and the cozy atmosphere and inventive cocktails really won me over. I’ve had it in mind ever since to go back for a meal and finally made it happen on a recent Saturday night.

I was pleased to be able to snag a reservation that very morning, a plus for indecisive diners like us! Park has a lot of interesting architectural details (be sure to check out the ceiling), with many tables and booths tucked into corners. This gives most seats a lot of privacy while still feeling like you’re part of the action.

Our waitress for the evening was really helpful and nice, stopping by just enough and offering suggestions when we needed them. To drink, I started with the Reynard the Fox (Bols Genever, apple sage syrup, batavia arrack, lemon juice and black walnut bitters), which was a delicious savory cocktail perfect for a chilly winter evening. My husband Mike had the Fireside Poet (Bulleit Bourbon, creole shrub, Santa Maria al Monte Amaro and Marasche syrup), which was silky smooth.

We noshed on the crispy crackers and cheese brought to the table in lieu of bread and butter. We really enjoyed this substitution and hope other restaurants follow Park’s lead!  We ordered the tasting of toasts to start, which came with a trio of toasts topped with (1) radish, cultured butter and sea salt, (2) avocado, poached shrimp and smoked paprika and (3) apple-butter and Shelbourne aged cheddar. I recommend eating them in that order. Our favorite was definitely the third toast, followed by the second.

After our cocktails and appetizers were finished, we ordered wine to go with the main course. I selected the sauvignon blanc, which was nice but not outstanding. Mike’s cabernet/carmenere was absolutely delicious and paired well with his meal.

He ordered the bar steak, which was cooked perfectly to order and came with cheesy-bacon potatoes and creamed spinach. A classic meal done well. I selected the monkfish “osso bucco,” which was also cooked perfectly. The outside of the fish was crisp, while the inside was tender and flaky. I really enjoyed the pumpkin and baby spinach in a cider sauce (a flavor combination I’m not sure I would’ve ever thought up, but worked great), though I could’ve done without the heavy-handed red onions in the dish. They were easy to eat around though and I enjoyed my meal a lot.

We had been eyeing the spice cake with apple-pear compote, cider-bourbon sauce and vanilla ice cream all night, so we ordered that for dessert. Our server accidentally brought us the triple chocolate terrine with tart cherry-brandy compote and toasted hazelnuts as well (free of charge because it was a mistake), so we got to sample both! They were a nice, sweet end to the meal and I would recommend either one. If you’re feeling like chocolate, go for the terrine, and if you’re feeling like a fruit dessert, order the spice cake.

Our dinner at Park was relaxing and satisfying and we didn’t want to leave the cozy dining room for the chilly night air when the meal was up. I’d recommend Park for a date or dinner with friends, espcially in the colder months, as the atmosphere and food are perfectly suited for them. While we were at Park we both said it reminded us a lot of Russell House Tavern (also in Harvard Square) and when I got home, I discovered they are owned by the same restaurant group!

All images courtesy of Park.

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