Alden and Harlow is nestled in a cute little spot in Harvard Square. Down the stairs and into the restaurant, when you turn left, it's cozy and dark. Turn right and it's bright light and wonderful. Food is served tapas-style, and offerings are inventive and delicious. Cocktails here are also a very good idea.
Crudo and roasted grapes.
Sweet pea and peanut hummus with bacon jam and 60 degree egg
Pickled Verril Farm corn pancakes with shisito peppers and popcorn
After finding out that the housemasters were members of the Boston Athenaeum, I was hopeful that I'd be able to try out their members-only afternoon tea at some point.
And that day finally came in finals week, shortly after my defense.
Housed in a beautiful building that backs onto the first burying ground on the Freedom Trail, the Athenaeum is full of books and art.
Quite a charming setup!
Afternoon Tea at the Boston Athenaem
(offered to members only on a varied schedule, as of June 2015)
Ambiance - As is seen by the lack of photos, it wasn't a place where my camera was welcome or appropriate. I was the youngest there by about 20 years, which isn't a bad thing, but it wasn't a place for the Instagram Generation. However, it was for the most part a peaceful place to spend time, even though most guests didn't linger as long as I would have, given the choice.
Waitstaff - Mostly very nice, though there was one grouch.
Savory - All food was served buffet style, which I have mixed feelings about. On one hand, I can have as many scones as I want. On the other hand, it involved more walking in heels and trying not to drop things. The stilton torte was a behemoth, and truly delicious. The crudites were marvelous and varied, which is something that I also don't normally see at a tea, but they were such a nice addition. Purple carrots, jicama, watermelon radishes...something new was appreciated. The other two savory sandwiches were nice. The butter and jam sandwich was a little odd to me, but maybe it's because I didn't grow up putting both between two slices of bread at the same time.
Sweet - The trifle was tasty and unexpected, but that was the only dessert option.
Scones, clotted cream, and jam - Clotted cream wasn't put out on the buffet until halfway through the meal, and the amount would have been appropriate for a single person! The shmear I did taste on a scone was wonderful, though. The scones were quite tasty, though only having ginger scones was a bit odd. No jam to be seen, except on the jam sandwiches.
Tea quality -The tea was good and plentiful, but unlike every other tea that I've attended, I had to walk across the room to get it! Walking back and forth with a nearly full cup of tea in heels every 20 minutes is not my idea of relaxing. There were also only three varieties, which is much fewer than most other teas offered in Boston.
Cost - $75 per person
Overall - I'm so thankful the housemaster treated me to tea for a graduation gift - it was such a lovely afternoon! But when I compare it to other teas where I'm able to just sit down and relax for a few hours, it does have a different feel. I'll be honest: I like relaxing better.
The food was incredibly delicious, but missing a couple dessert options and clotted cream (the latter of which I judge a bit more harshly, in truth). But, the variety of savory options and vegetables was most appreciated.
The atmosphere, and wandering around to look at art afterwards, and seeing the burying ground from the opposite side was fascinating. If you ever have a chance to visit, I heartily recommend it!
One of my guilty pleasures? Friday night bride TV...which is sometimes Friday night HGTV since I am clearly not into Kate plus anything or gypsy sisters. I share this love with a girlfriend of mine, and the only thing that makes Friday nights on the couch watching tv in my sweatpants better is watching them with someone else drinking a glass of wine and eating all the tasty things.
I finally had a chance to try out Study, the sister restaurant of Ames Street Deli. Even better, it wasn't a regular meal, it was a partnered dinner with Dr. Loosen, a famous German maker of riesling.
Course 1 - oyster with ginger granita, bresaola, and habeñero chili. What a good choice. This was Aimee's first oyster ever!
Course 2 - Salsify three ways - with kumquat, brown butter, and broiled cheese, all in a delectable parmesean broth.
Course 3 - lion's mane mushroom with kale chips, apple, and walnuts
One of the many wines we tried. Red slate, blue slate, they were all great, and so many different characters.
Course 5 - wreckfish with potato strings, a mussel, and fiddleheads,
Course 5 - Sassafrass, fennel, and banana ice cream float (I'll be honest; this one was odd. Vegetables and ice cream lately keep getting paired at fancy restaurants, I appreciate the novelty but not really the taste)
The wines! The dessert wine was especially golden and wonderful (and $120 a bottle, ha). We were lucky to be seated with the owner of Federal Wine and Spirits for the dinner and had some great conversations with him about wine, tasting, and how to learn about wine as a poor single gal.
Dr. Loosen himself! I have to say, if I ever get to Germany, I'm definitely going to drop in on the winery.