Alden & Harlow is one of my sister’s favorite restaurants in Harvard Square, and it’s easy to see and taste why. She took me out recently and it was just as good as promised.
I started with a lovely rosé cava from Catalunya, and here is the order of operations from there:
A starter of pickled green beans (this is what they put on the table in lieu of complimentary rolls or some such)
I’ve always loved pickled green beans (pickled anything, really), my mom makes them and I think I prefer her dill version to this sweet one. Still very good, though.
Pickled Verrill Farm Corn Pancakes with Buttermilk, Maple, Shishito
Corn cakes topped with popcorn! So crunchy and delicious! A balanced blend of savory and sweet. The takeaway lesson here is, instead of just putting maple syrup on your pancakes, make a semi-spreadable emulsion of maple syrup, cream, and butter. An all-in-one you can really pack on to each bite. I just love pancakes. I just love breakfast.
Crisp Potatoes, White Miso, Sour Orange, Toasted Benne Seeds
PAPAS! So basic, so good. A lesson in the power of aioli and condiments in general.
Then there was this really good grilled avocado and chickpea special I failed to capture, we ate it so fast.
So ugly, too.
House Made Squid Ink Bigoli with Snails, Pork Belly, Breadcrumbs, Green Garlic Pesto
The only dud of the lot, with the squid ink pasta kind of chewy and hard, and the snails kind of chewy and hard…good flavor but unpleasant texture. We gave ourselves points for adventurousness.
Butternut Squash Salad with Raisins, Pecorino, Hazelnuts, Brown Butter
My favorite dish we tried, and the one I am going to try to approximate later. The squash is raw (maybe macerated a bit), and the key to the dish is the delicate strands that make the rawness approachable, and allow the softening agent (vinegar, lemon) to act quickly and effectively. Sweet with the raisins, hazelnuts, and brown butter, savory with the pecorino and frizzled sage…Must get a julienne peeler.
Mesquite Tortellini with Grilled Broccoli, Bianco Sardo & Colatura
This was fantastic, and my second favorite? I think so. So many excellent cheeses out there to try. Really though, they had me at tortellini.
Olive Oil Cake Panzanella with Rhubarb, Harry’s Strawberries, Fennel & Frozen Creme Fraiche
This was an excellent end to the meal. I think I would have liked just the olive oil cake and the creme fraiche ice cream alone but the rhubarb and fennel had been sliced incredibly thin, macerating with the strawberries and certainly some other delicious things (lemon, mint) for so long that they had only the slightest hint of crunch and tang (raw rhubarb being basically inedible without considerable alterations, it draws all the moisture right out of your mouth and is super sour). Beautifully done, and ideal for the warmer weather.