Aioli-lujah!: Russell House Tavern

What I love most about Russell House Tavern (Harvard Square) is that it's earned a place on my dipping sauce hall of fame with its several wonderful aiolis.

Maple Ginger Aioli - Amazing


Harissa Aioli - Incredible

Herb Aioli - I was afraid the herb aioli might be kind of boring compared to the others, and I was wrong. I'm so glad my neophilia required me to get it anyway. It was awesome, and whatever else you get when you go, you have to get this.


Garlic Mayo (left) and Harissa Ginger aioli (right). It's hard not to eat every last fry crumb even when you're stuffed when you've got those creamy dipping sauce wonders around.


Even their regular mayo is awesome. They clearly make it there, perhaps many times throughout the day. My only criticism is that many of the fries (6/10 on my rating scale) are a bit too thin or really jut a bit too brown, with only a few nearly perfect (for me) soft, limp, potato-y ones. But the things I had in which to dip the fries more than made up for their imperfection.


This was a pork belly sandwich, which was amazing and came with a green curry mayo. If it's available, nab it. Another good thing is that you can get fries and salad instead of just one or the other with your sandwiches. Except I'm not sure it made things any more healthful since they seem to give you about the same amount of fries as when you just order fries. 


RHT is open from 12 PM - 1 AM Sunday to Wednesday, and till 2 AM Thursday-Saturday. Brunch, lunch, dinner, beers, and cocktails: all their menus are awesome. I love that it's fairly casual. Get a reservation for peak dinner hours or else it'll be about a 1.25 hour wait. Sparkling water is complimentary.


The burger ($12) sometimes gets food magazine/blog/etc. attention. I love RHT, so I figured I'd be among the admirers. Unfortunately whoever was there didn't get our rare perfect, so the middle was raw. Really though, this was when my girlfriend and I hadn't learned that at better restaurants we should trust chefs to do a perfect medium rare instead of assuming ordering medium rare will really get us a medium. Either way, I thought this burger was too greasy and should lose the bacon. It wasn't close enough to the amazing burger I'm ever on the lookout for to want to really try it again medium rare.


The best things I've had at RHT:


Island Creek Oysters: Sweet Pickle Mignonette, Green Herb Aioli, Old Bay Cocktail Sauce - $2 each - Salty! So good.


Smoked Pig's Tail Pierogi: Celery Root & Honey Crema - $9 - The smokey mesquite with the sweet and creamy honey crema blended perfectly. Good good good.

Crispy Pig's Head Cake with Soft Poached Egg, Ginger-Maple Aioli - $9

This was amazing. The flavors were excellent and the textures delightful. To me at least, the pig's head cake tasted like sausage. So, sausage, eggs, pea shoots and a ginger-maple cream sauce? Yeah man. By the way, if you'd like to see the process of taking a pig's head and getting the meat out of it, click here!



The Fall Classic Tavern Pizza - Smoked Beef Tongue, Honey Crisp Apple, Cabot Clothbound Cheddar & Spicy Sage Honey - $13

This was awesome. The beef tongue was finger-lickin'** good. The sweetness and light spiciness of the honey paired so well with the richly savory beef tongue, then the slight crunch and sweetness of the apples with the tangy addition of cheddar made the whole thing come together in interesting flavor explosions. The thinness of the crust allowed us to eat this after the other dishes without even getting too full. The meatiness, cheesiness and thinness of the crust made it almost more qusadilla-like than pizza-like, which was rad.

My friend Eric said, "I never would've thought to put apples on pizza. It's almost like a dessert pizza, but not." Ahhh, this is why I love taking people to foodie destinations.

Fall Classic Closeup - Will you just look at that?  Oh oh oh.

Beef tongue with fried poached egg - Perfect! Anyone would fall for this dish.

The Tuna Tartare is amazing.


Sonya Rose Lobster Slider: Pickled Verril Farms Rhubarb, Red Cress, Buttery Brioche - $6 - I only wish the bun had been smaller so as not to overwhelm the wonderful lobster flavor.



Daily Sticky Buns - $12: Wildflower Honey, Tart Apple & Fennel Salad, with a side of Maple Ginger Aioli - Oh god yes. It was amazing. Amazing I tell you.




Dark Chocolate Tartlet: Vanilla Bean and Cocoa Nib with Laphroaig-Cherry Sauce - $8 - I'm not usually very into desserts, but this was pretty great. The tart itself was good, and the melted chocolate was rich and not too sweet, pairing really well with the slightly tart cherry sauce. I couldn't taste my beloved Laphroaig though.


Executive Chef Scelfo says, "
does not have to be pretentious."
My thoughts e-fucking-xactly.



Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon

Do you ever look through old notes and find shit like this file I found on my computer filed under
Documents: Stupid Things: Noise Complaints.rtf:

10/18/08

"Talk about noise control complaints with police and eventually the one girl confronting me about my singing in the shower/radio.  this should lead up to the dream sequence about the birds and the bees talk.+"


... 10/13/09


"Did I really think I was going to remember what the fuck this was?  It sounds like I had a great idea here, lost forever... I have got to start writing things WHEN THEY ACTUALLY HAPPEN.  Jeezuhs!"


A few more pictures of food:


Everybody loves a pate board



Painted Hills (the particular farm varies) Steak Tartare with Griddled Caper-Brioche, Chip-In Farm Egg Yolk - $10
The friend I was with this time is very carnivorous, and so, not knowing what it meant, he thought he wanted something called Steak Tartare. I wondered how he'd like it, but let him order it. He wasn't totally into the creamy texture or flavor. I actually agreed about this particular steak tartare. The flavors were just kind of bland to me, though the egg was perfect.

These were good on their own and also definitely improved the steak tartare, but I wished there'd been four of them. I was pleasantly surprised that they were as crispy as they were as I wasn't sure what to expect out of a griddled-caper brioche.



Pork Campagna Sandwich with whole grain mustard, watercress, prunes, and toasted pistachio butterwith side salad (which was nice, fresh and light) and a side of herb aioli


I wasn't sure exactly what I was going to get with a pork "campagna" sandwich, which was of course, other than my love of pork, the point of ordering it.

So it turned out that "pork campagna" meant this loaf thing. It reminded me somewhat of the bologna I had at No. 7 Subs.

Close up of the fabulous pistachio butter and a fucking prune! How badass is that? Oh and it also tasted really good.

Fried Gloucester Cod Sandwich with sriracha aioli, cucumber, cilantro, pickled carrots and jalapenos - $12


The cilantro hits you before juicy crisp golden delicious fry, with extra crunch from the cucumber and pickled carrots, accompanied heat and creaminess of the sriracha aioli and the jalapenos. This was basically a New England Banh Mi, and of what a fantastic marriage that is.



Pig's tail, Crispy Anson Mills Grit Cake, Sweet Pea Gravy and pea shoots - $8

Oh my god this was good. The peas were just a bit al dente, which made them have more of a fresh, summer, pop. The grits were so creamy, the meat rich, the whole thing very Sunday dinner-ish, which I love stumbling upon in a foodie-approved (i.e. neophilia-satisfying) dish.

Octopus something - I liked the Tentacle, which had a nice grill taste, but there was some kind of octo-pancake it was all on that was kinda weird. I mean the beans and frisée are cute and shit, but it was just a lot of difficult forking and not a dish to seek out.

Pork Belly and Scallops - It smelled like my fiance's vagina, though it didn't really taste like it. The scallops could've been cooked better, but the fatty juice pork belly was heavenly and the bites with pomegranate seeds made the dish seem truly really inspired. 



RHT is co-owned by Patrick Lee as well as two other restaurants surrounding Harvard I'm dying to try: Temple Bar and Grafton Street***. Their menus also.. arouse me. He also co-owns Redline, but that one is undergoing some renovations, and I'm waiting to see how that develops as that menu is less interesting so far.

*Though can we all start to agree that these fun and exotic sounding cocktails never live up to our expectations?

**heh

***Never mind. I didn't care much for Grafton Street.