Date Night at Russell House Tavern

Last night I went out on a first date. We met online and only met in person last night, but it felt like we’ve known each other for months. We talked for hours, shared food, laughed a lot. Dinner was so fun, and I’m glad I chose the perfect restaurant.

I wanted a place with a comfy, cool, laid-back vibe – but not so laid back that it’s sloppy, and not so chic that it’s intimidating. So I  suggested one of my very favorite places in Harvard Square, Russell House Tavern. I go here pretty regularly, it’s a good spot for after-work or after-class drinks, a good date night place or casual dinner, and I even spent New Year’s Eve here with Beth the Sailing Foodie and some other close friends (which was supremely fun, by the way). I really like the food and the cocktails bar scene, and everyone here just seems so… friendly. Plus I tweeted about it so if my date turns out to be pyscho and kills me (hi, Craiglist killer) it’ll be easy to track me down.

The dinner date turned out to be wonderful. And actually it wasn’t even a romantic date (heehee). It was a fellow blogger meet-up with one of my favorite chicks, Rachel from Healthy Chicks! Sorry friends but a real first date won’t get blogged about immediately ;)

I introduced Rachel to Russell House Tavern

Russell House Tavern is headed by Executive Chef Michael Scelfo and offers local, seasonal American food. It’s a gastropub, straddling the burger-or-pork-belly line between bar and restaurant, casual and high end, classic and modern. And while it fulfills all those labels, to me it is a classic neighborhood bistro – with its warm lighting, convenient location (literally just steps away from the Harvard Square T stop), and plenty of small plates and creative items conducive to sharing.

My number one go-to item on the menu is the Crispy Soft Poached Chip-In Farm Egg. (That, and the Torched Tuna appetizer, and I’ll call it a night.) If you will only learn one thing from this blog post, please remember this egg dish. Poached egg, crispy coating (not sure how they do it, maybe magic?), on top of a toasted brioche square and slivers of salad greens and onion, with house made pancetta and pecorino aioli. Yes, oh yes.

I've never had anything like the Crispy Soft Poached Egg

when you break into it, that's when the magic happens

Did I really just use the word “magic” twice to describe a poached egg?

There’s something about the soft gooey yolk and its crispy exterior, and the toasted bread, salty pancetta crumbles, and the creamy, cheesy Pecorino aioli that makes me very satiated. I savor each salty bite slowly, enjoying the contrasting textures. I don’t even mind whispers of onion (I used to notoriously request “no onions” on everything but I’m slowly learning to appreciate it). It is a delightful dish, I tell you.

And it was even more delightful last night because our server, Bryce, actually just brought it out while we were taking our time deciding what to order and informed us it was on the house! It was such a sweet gesture and a pleasant surprise. We were also able to try one of the night’s specials on the house, the foie gras terrine:

I never thought I'd say this, but this foie gras terrine was too buttery...

For my entree, I ordered something I hardly ever get at any restaurant: steak frites. While I LOVE steak, I don’t eat it regularly and usually save it for special occasions, so when I do eat it, I like to splurge and go for the richest cut: the rib eye. Steak frites usually don’t appeal to me because it’s a tougher cut and has a tendency to be too chewy. However last night, I really wanted something meat-y and protein-y so I decided to go for it, and requested medium rare.

while the outside was a little too salty/charred for my taste, the steak was so well-prepared and juicy

I enjoyed this lean cut of steak. It’s a 10-oz serving which is two thick slices, enough meat for two servings (a good non-splurge portion size would be around 4 oz, about palm-size). Between all the talking and after our appetizers, I barely made a dent (so guess what I’m having for lunch today…)

Since Rachel and I were on a date and date night always call for dessert (yes, it’s in the dating rule book), we ended the night with this little beauty:

flourless chocolate cake with salted caramel and Mexican chocolate ice cream

The flourless chocolate cake was very fudgy, and the ice cream was very cinammon-y, and after the first bite I said, “it’s very good, but I don’t taste the spice…” and then suddenly, there was a little tiny kick of spice! It was a very interesting dessert, and Rachel and I agreed that the spice flavor made us want to keep tasting it. Fudgy chocolate, then sweet cinnamon, then boom! chili kick.

I had such a nice time last night and I’m so happy to finally meet Rachel for a dinner date*. She is as friendly and fabulous as she appears in her blog, and we had a great connection. We even talked about running a half-marathon together!

Have you been to Russell House Tavern? Do you have a regular date place?

(*Mom, I promise I won’t take food pictures on a real first date.)

Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon


23 Responses to “Date Night at Russell House Tavern”

  1. #
    Rachel posted January 10, 2011 at 9:39 am

    What a wonderful article, I enjoyed my first date as well hehe ; ) The pictures came out delicious-looking…and that crispy egg dish was seriously to-die-for. Great place indeed!

  2. #
    Victoria (District Chocoholic) posted January 10, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Ha, when I started reading this, you had me thinking “She took food photos on a first date?” – and then I got it.

    That dessert sounds great – taste-wise, kind of like the Taza Cinnamon Chocolate Mexicano discs. But obviously smoother, since those discs are stone-ground.

  3. #
    Elizabeth posted January 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I often find flourless chocolate cakes too monotonous, so I love that RHT spiced it up (pun somewhat intended). I have yet to eat there, it’s on my list.

  4. #
    Michelle posted January 10, 2011 at 9:53 am

    When I first started reading this, I was wondering if your date knew you blogged… I love Russell House Taven and like you, am OBSESSED with the poached egg. Other favorites include their charcuterie plate, flatbreads and burger!

  5. #
    Bianca Garcia posted January 10, 2011 at 10:20 am

    Haha thanks everyone. I prob won’t take food pics on a first date! ;)

  6. #
    MelissaNibbles posted January 10, 2011 at 10:52 am

    Russel House Tavern is fantastic! The egg looks amazing. I need to get there stat!

  7. #
    Meesh posted January 10, 2011 at 11:01 am

    looks great! I’ve only been to RHT for brunch and I thought it was so-so. That poached egg does look magical, though! I might come back just for that!

  8. #
    Meghan@travelwinedine posted January 10, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I love Russell House Tavern! That egg is truly amazing. We go to Les Zygomates a lot for date nights. It is cozy with great jazz music and great food.

  9. #
    Daisy posted January 10, 2011 at 11:48 am

    You crack me up! before I learned who your date really was, I thought, impressive that she had this great connection with this dude, and she is taking pictures of food. winner. no really, rachel sounds like the perfect companion. thanks for the honest review of the dishes. I have got to try that crispy poached egg.

  10. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted January 10, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Hehe. I love RHT for date nights (real and with friends!) I’ve never noticed the poached egg on the menu but will need to try it! I love their flatbreads, mini-crab sandwiches, burgers, you name it! Oh – and their drinks are great. Order anything fun?!

  11. #
    Megan posted January 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Ha ha… love the way you started this post. I was immediately wondering if you told the guy you had a blog. Then when I saw you actually went ona blog date instead, I was kind of relieved for you. :) Everything sounds fantastic, especially the poached egg. I’ve been for drinks but still need to try the food.

  12. #
    Lauren at KeepItSweet posted January 10, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Bianca- wanted to let you know that I gave you the Stylish Blogger Award because I love your blog! Stop by the blog and check it out. I hope you’ll share 7 things with everyone!

  13. #
    Lizzy posted January 11, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    Have to agree with the other bloggers- I totally got nervous you were taking pictures on a first date!! haha nice way to open up the post!!! I love poached eggs and that steak looks delicious!

  14. #
    Finance Foodie posted January 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hi Bianca – your dinner sounds yum – love Russell House!

    (BTW in response to your post, I don’t use protein powder in my smoothies – I don’t like the slightly medicinal taste it adds – tho perhaps I haven’t used the right kind)….

  15. #
    Susan posted January 12, 2011 at 12:21 am

    I’ve never been there, but it sounds lovely – for any kind of date :)

  16. #
    Heather posted January 12, 2011 at 12:46 am

    Hahahaha, you had me going, I thought you were going to really blog about a romantic date, good one!

  17. #
    Sues posted January 12, 2011 at 9:41 am

    Haha :) I was like whoa, sounds like this date went so well she can’t help but share it! Anyway, this does look like the perfect date spot and that poached egg totally looks magic :) :)

  18. #
    blackbookkitchendiaries posted January 12, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    this sounds like a great date spot then…all those dishes look so lovely.. thanks for sharing this experience with us..have a nice day.

  19. #
    Nicole @ Making Good Choices posted January 12, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I want to go to dinner all of the places you write about! I’m glad your “date” was great!

  20. #
    Susan (Oliepants) posted January 13, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    I loved this post! I loved the date too! :) Great intro!

    PS Your crispy poached egg looks delicious!

  21. #
    Elina (Healthy and Sane) posted January 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    I’ve been there twice and enjoyed the atmosphere and the food. Adam and I rarely frequent the same place twice but Kashmir/Mela (Indian – owned by the same ppl so I’m putting them in the same bucket) and Coda are the 2 (ok technically 3) places we keep going back to. :)

  22. #
    Amanda L. (Tales From A Kitchen Misfit) posted January 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm

    I am infatuated with Russell House Tavern. Have you ever tried their charcuterie plate? It’s TO DIE FOR. And I just tried their poached egg recently and it was absolutely amazing!

  23. #
    Alicia posted January 23, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    I LOVE the way you started this post – so cute! Date night….

    I love blogger dates, and though I have never been to Russell House Tavern I bet I would LOVE that poached egg. yum!

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