Russell House Tavern

Last month, my friend Christina and her boyfriend were in town for the day and, needing a dinner spot near Harvard Square, we headed to Russell House Tavern. Shockingly, this was my first time at RHT. It had been on my to-go-to list ever since it opened and I’d browsed the menu no fewer than a dozen times over the past two years. We went on one of those summery-spring nights, and would have loved to have eaten on one of the patio tables, but the wait was too long. Luckily, the hostess was able to snag us a table inside on the first floor where the front windows were thrown open, as opposed to the lower level.

Archer Farm Steak Tartare with toasted caper brioche and Cavendish Farm quail egg yolk.

The Local Leaf Salad with walnuts (we substituted pine nuts), dried figs, and mustard-cider vinaigrette. A perfectly enjoyable standard salad with a hearty amount of greens. If we hadn’t been sharing, I would have opted for the more exciting kale and pine nut salad with lemon and pecorino.

This dish was the kind of creation I was expecting at Russell House. Farro, with fiddleheads, peas, cider-soaked cherries and sassafras. It was a small plate special that also came with salmon belly, but they happily left the salmon out at my request. I absolutely love farro, and the tender fiddleheads and sweet cherries were a nice contrast to the nutty, chewy grain. It was an excellent spring  dish, and if this were to be offered regularly for at least the rest of the season, I’d happily return for it.

Ever since I first spotted it on the menu, I’ve wanted The Andria pizza with burrata, black mission fig, and sweet garlic. The dried fig and melted cheese is a delightful chewy, sweet and salty combination. The crust is practically paper thin, crisp around the edge and nicely chewy in the center. Though it certainly doesn’t detract from it, I don’t think burrata is necessary on a pizza, as it loses what makes the cheese special when it’s melted onto a crust. I much prefer to have burrata in fresh form.

Russell House is lauded for its charcuterie selection, burger, and other meat items. However, the pizza, salad and small plate offerings deserve equally high praise and I loved the few I tried on my first visit. Pay close attention to the specials, as they do an excellent job of showcasing what is in season at the moment. Chef Michael Scelfo knows his way around a vegetable just as well as he knows his way around an animal.

Russell House Tavern
14 JFK Street
Cambridge, MA
Russell House Tavern on Urbanspoon

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15 Responses to Russell House Tavern

  1. Meghan says:

    I can’t believe we were there at the same time and I didn’t see you. I LOVE RHT.

  2. I’m still dying to go to Russell House for a proper meal. I went for a fundraiser once and we had a bunch of bar bites and charcuterie, which were incredible (as were the cocktails), but I need to get there for a full dinner soon.

    Also, nice to finally meet you yesterday!

  3. You know I love RHT, and I agree – Chef Michael Scelfo definitely knows how to cook vegetables and animals equally well! That farro plate sounds so awesome, and I would love it with salmon belly too. I hope it’s still there this week!

  4. funandfearlessinbeantown says:

    RHT is one of my favorite spots. Their breakfast pizzas are also pretty fantastic!

  5. I like that you enjoyed the vegetarian options so much. I realized that I end up focusing on meat at RHT. I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m there!

  6. Ranjani says:

    I need to go back to RHT. The only time I’ve been there was right after they opened, and they were still working out some service and timing issues. Time to give it another try!

  7. Molly Galler says:

    I must admit I am shocked to hear this is your first trip to Russell House! I too was impressed by how accommodating they are to vegetarians. Chef Michael is supremely talented. He also has one of the best Instagram accounts I’ve ever seen. Here’s my review from my first visit. You’ll notice the black mission fig pizza was the star of our meal too! http://popbopshop.blogspot.com/2011/09/dining-out-russell-house-tavern.html

  8. Daisy says:

    yay so glad you finally made it here and enjoyed everything!

  9. I’ve only been to RHT for brunch, but it definitely sounds like the dinner menu is well worth checking out. That farro salad sounds amazing!

  10. I love the pizza there. The crust is so thin! I haven’t tried that one yet, but it sounds like my kind of pizza.

  11. Joanne says:

    That pizza sounds amazing but I agree with you about the burrata! If you can’t really get that creamy inside, then you might as well just use fresh mozzarella!

  12. Sacha says:

    I actually haven’t been yet either. I love Farro, so I would definitely jump for that dish (admittedly with the salmon belly) if it were on the menu when I go…which will hopefully be soon!

  13. Shannon says:

    ooh, they do make an excellent burger, but i want that farro salad!! YUM. also wanted to try that pizza, but i agree with your point on burrata ;)

  14. Jen says:

    I’ve been dying to go to this restaurant and your post has finally convinced me. Looks amazing!

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