UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Stick A Fork In It

Across the river and over the BU bridge in the ever-changing vicinity of Harvard Square is Grafton Street Pub and Grill. Now, kids, you can stop racking your brains as to the location of Grafton Street, it’s not in Ireland. The restaurant I speak of is at 1230 Mass. Ave. However, it takes is name from a famous commercial street in Dublin. As you can guess, it is yet another Irish Pub/ Restaurant to grace Cambridge and Boston. You may ask: what makes Grafton Street unique from Devlin’s, Temple Bar, the Black Rose and other such Irish themed restaurants? Good question. Let’s see if we can figure that one out together.

The atmosphere of Grafton Street is what one might term as casual fine dining. Rich, warm tones of brown and cream combine with dim lighting to create a stylish yet subdued atmosphere. The layout is interesting with various nooks and crannies for one to sit. For example, they have below floor level booths, booths in out of the way corners, and hightops by the bar. The seating is accommodating with the capacity to cater comfortably to many people and large parties. While I was there, the place was packed. The patrons were what you would expect to find in Harvard Square – a cross section of yuppies, sweater-around-the-shoulder coeds, and regular people (ha, ha). Not exactly the hippest joint, but obviously trying to loop in a college crowd by playing contemporary music. On a side note, if anyone is familiar with the Bow and Arrow Pub that used to inhabit this residence, it was the location of the memorable scenes in “Good Will Hunting” where Will out smarted the pretentious Harvard kid.

For my first course I had their Town Dock Calamari. The calamari is served with hot red peppers and a hoisin chili dipping sauce. The sauce has a sweet soy flavor and compliments the spiciness of the calamari. The calamari itself is very fresh (not rubbery at all) and one can tell that it is fried in good oil because it’s not greasy. Rather, it’s at once crisp and tender. I also tried the mussel appetizer. Synonymous with the calamari, the mussels are fresh as the day they were harvested. The mussels come from Prince Edward Island, which means they’re huge. They are served simmering in a delicate Asian ginger broth in a big bowl, with a couple slices of garlic and herb focaccia bread and the very Irish addition of stewed tomatoes. Tasty and delicate, the mussels were extremely enjoyable, especially once I had eaten them all and employed the focaccia by dipping it in the excellent ginger broth. I would suggest both appetizers to anyone who appreciates good seafood. I had the Mustard and Herb Crusted Chicken for my main course. Even though Grafton Street is an Irish Restaurant, it has the very American quality of serving a butt-load of food as an entrée. It is a half of a chicken served on top of a generous bed of sautéed spinach, andouille sausage and sweet potato stuffing, with a robust chicken jus.

Personally, I felt that this dish came short of the expectation I had received from the wonderful appetizers I had sampled. It was too much food for anyone less than a sumo wrestler, and the chicken was dry. However, the presentation was very nice and one can only hope that I had received a dry anomaly. I sampled the steak, too. It was also presented beautifully. A substantial cut of steak rests on a medley of herbed seasonal vegetables and sautéed potatoes. Teetering on the top is a garnish of two extremely large fried onion rings. However, don’t expect to get it precisely cooked to order because I didn’t. When I asked for medium rare I received well done. I can only assume that it was due to how busy it was and a flustered kitchen. Honestly, I’m not picky but this can really piss some people off. I was a bit disappointed by the entrées but the menu at Grafton Street is ever evolving and there is always more to choose from. The flavor was there but the food itself was off. Better luck next time. For dessert I had the chocolate torte. The torte is very dense and fudge-like. It comes with fresh whipped cream, a sweet and tart raspberry puree, and crunchy toasted walnuts. I was very pleased with it, rich and decadent its perfect with an after dinner cocktail like Bailey’s on the rocks or one of Grafton Streets own drink concoctions such as the chai toddy. Also, it’s big enough for two, which is perfect if you’re in the mood for something sweet but ate too much for dinner. Grafton Street serves everything from traditional comfort dishes, such as roasted chicken or fish and chips, to nouveau creative cuisine like Evoo Poached Yellow Fin Tuna with avocado. There are over a dozen beers on tap, an impressive menu of single malt scotch, and an eclectic specialty cocktail list making it a fun place for a weekend excursion with friends. The atmosphere is humble yet sophisticated and changes seasonally with large windows that are opened to the street (weather permitting) and a sidewalk patio. A good spot for nightlife, but to also take your parents or a date, Grafton Street Pub and Grill offers a classy and relaxed environment for all ages. I was most impressed with the wait staff there, who, even though it was very busy, were friendly and accommodating. As far as determining whether Grafton Street stands out amidst the surplus of Irish pubs in Boston, in the end that’s a question of personal taste and if I may say, personally, the tastes of Grafton Street are very good indeed.

Grafton Street Pub and Grill is located at 1230 Massachusetts Avenue in Harvard Square. For reservations or to book a private event please call: (617) 497-0400 If you would like Vanessa to come to your restaurant please contact The Mass Media @ (617) 287-7992 or e-mail us at [email protected] or [email protected].