Many restaurant openings are highly anticipated affairs, with the hype building for weeks or months before the doors open. But I had only heard low whispers about Harvard Square’s new spot, Beat Hotel, prior to its launch two weeks ago. The folks who brought us the South End’s popular Beehive are behind Beat Hotel and the lack of chatter surrounding it really piqued my interest in the new establishment.
I was headed to Harvard two days after Beat Hotel opened to see All the Way at the American Repertory Theater and we decided to have our pre-theater meal at the new eatery. Located in the old Tannery space (13 Brattle St.), the interior is a wonderland of colorful murals, shiny chandeliers and decor that harkens back to the Beat and hippie eras.
We were on the early side for dinner and the large dining room had plentiful seating available, though Beat Hotel does take reservations. We were greeted by a friendly waitress (Hi Bridget!) who welcomed us warmly and was very attentive to us throughout the night.
Beat Hotel has a really interesting wine program with an extensive list of wines by the glass, a rarity at most restaurants, that are actually on tap. The pours weren’t cheap, but I liked that you could order a small sample (2.5 ounces), a regular glass (5 ounces) or a larger portion (12.5 ounces). I tried a crisp, mineraly white that went very well with my meal.
In today’s world of competitive craft cocktail creation, one of the true tests of a stellar restaurant is its drinks. We sampled the perfect martini, which was incredibly well balanced, served icy cold and garnished with a blue cheese-filled olive.
Now for the food. Beat Hotel’s menu is just as extensive as its wine list. There are plentiful options for meat lovers and vegetarians/vegans alike. As someone who rarely eats meat and mostly subsists on seafood and vegetarian dishes, it was a true pleasure to dine somewhere that took veggie food just as seriously as steaks and chops.
We started with the hamachi sashimi, which was beautifully presented, and super fresh with just the right amount of heat. It was the perfect light appetizer to get us ready for the main course.
As soon as I looked at the menu I knew I would order the Earth Bowl (pictured above), a giant dish of vegetables (zucchini, squash, peppers, cauliflower, etc.) with a five-grain pilaf and two sauces. You can get the bowl topped with tofu/tempeh (my choice–it was outstanding!), shrimp, chicken, skirt steak or wild salmon. Served in a dish similar to those found just down the road at one of my favorite vegetarian establishments, the meal was as if one of Life Alive’s bowls got all fancy and grown up on you. I could’ve eaten it forever.
My dining companion ordered the ahi tuna (pictured above) from the list of seafood choices that can be paired four ways. He selected the frites, parsley vinaigrette and green bean salad, but you can also have it served with mashed potatoes, parsley vinaigrette and mixed peas, with Greek-style quinoa and red chimichurri sauce or on a large salad. The fresh, tender tuna was complemented perfectly by the light vinaigrette and the heaping portion of fries, green beans and salad rounded out the meal nicely.
After such a delicious savory meal, we were really curious about dessert. While many sounded delicious (like the pumpkin cheesecake), we ended up ordering the chocolate cake. The accompaniments of burnt sugar ice cream, hazelnuts and a light fruit sauce were the perfect foils to the fudgy and brownie-like cake. A sweet end to a lovely meal.
While we were eating dessert, one of the restaurant owners came by to chat with us about our experience. His genuine desire to know what we thought of the food, service and even the lighting was all we needed to solidify Beat Hotel as a new go-to spot for a delicious dinner.