Because a restaurant-cum-late-night-dance-den named after the T could only last so long, the crew behind Grafton Street/Russell House Tavern has deftly changed directions, transforming the former Redline into a more distinguished tavern meets cocktail lounge meets neighborhood eatery meets supper club slinging New American vittles alongside beer, and bourbon.
So as you don't wander in looking for Harvard coeds with whom to "cat daddy", a quick primer:
Where To Sit
The labyrinthine space is divided into four sections: a) the tavern, anchored by a 30-seat dark oak, horseshoe-shaped bar & red leather booths; b) the den, with an arched, exposed brick ceiling, leather armchairs and a sofa flanked by shelves showcasing vintage books, typewriter, etc; c) the fireplace-warmed classroom, fittingly outfitted with chalkboard walls and pull-down maps of Harvard Square at four different points in history; and d) a private back room decorated with framed '60s/'70s music pics, fabric walls, and chairs with zebra patterns, which Russell Crowe uncovered all over the place in A Beautiful Mind 2: Escape to Africa.
What To Eat
Kick things off with speck-, Comte-, and fried-quail-egg-topped toast, a not-at-all-awkward bacon three-way (lamb w/ feta & black olive, maple w/ confit tomato & arugula, pancetta w/ roasted peppers), and other shareables like salt & pepper shrimp w/ pickled jalapeños. Then completely ignore Charles and his Weight Watchers PointsPlus system with entrees like a meat pie of the day w/ mushy peas & mashed; slow roasted brisket & white bean cassoulet; and a fried chicken sammie on sourdough dressed w/ chipotle, blue cheese, and avocado.
What To Imbibe
Bring it all home with 50-plus beers (Pretty Things Once Upon a Time, Rich & Dan's Rye IPA, Thunder Hole Brown Ale), a lengthy repertoire of brown liquors that range from local faves Bully Boy & Berkshire Mountain to Indian gem Amrut Single, plus cocktails like the Limoncello, bourbon, and Boston Bittahs Giant Killer, and the cognac/ grapefruit/ Peychaud's Little Prince -- have too many and you'll encounter a headache meets nausea meets laziness meets an even greater need for not-at-all-awkward bacon three-ways.
Photo Credit: William Horne