Review: Tory Row
My husband I recently had dinner at Tory Row, in Harvard Square (the old Greenhouse location). This place is owned by the same folks that run Audubon Circle in Brookline and Miracle of Science in Cambridge, so if you’ve been to those places, you have a sense of the vibe at Tory Row – although I’d say it’s more Audubon-y than MoS-y. Essentially this place is high-end bar food in a cool atmosphere, and it was jammin’ on a Wednesday night. But the food wasn’t particularly memorable. And this is coming from a person that loves Audubon Circle (not so much MoS) – it is one of our go-to places for good, upscale bar-food in a relaxed setting. So while I came to Tory Row expecting more of the same, it was a bit of a bummer.
There is a very limited menu, as in the other venues, so you may want to check it out on-line before you commit – but also note that the menu I see on line is not quite the same as the one we had last night . . . . so your web-crawling might be of limited value.
I was with my husband, and we opted to share everything so that we could try more stuff and not be stuffed. We started with Wasik’s curried apricot cheese spread and a small baguette. First off, this is the one thing they “import” to Tory Row – it’s made by the folks at Wasik’s cheese shop, in Wellesley (a great little place if you’re in the market for good cheese in the MetroWest). It’s essentially whipped cream cheese blended with some apricot preserves and curry powder – might sound funky, but it was slightly sweet and pretty mild, and a nice complement to the crusty, toasty baguette.
For an entree, we ordered baked cod with leeks. It was well-prepared, but unexciting. The cod was very fresh and not over-cooked, and the thinly-sliced leeks were nice, but it did remind me of a rather, shall we say, “British” preparation – very plainly seasoned with salt and pepper and not much else. Again, not horrid by any means, yet not memorable in any way.
We also got a side of roasted asparagus with Parmesan. It was tasty and was drizzled with olive oil and topped with shaved Parm, but again, not a standout, especially when we’ve grilled asparagus all spring/early summer – just as good. We also got a side of their grilled corn – it’s not on the on-line menu, and I can’t remember exactly what it had on it, but it was a sort of jalapeno mayonnaise-like concoction that was slathered all over the grilled ear of corn, and then it was sprinkled with some queso fresco. There was a cilantro butter on the side, but that was nearly flavorless. This could’ve been yummy, but there was waaaay too much of the jalapeno stuff on the corn. It was overpowering and greasy and made me happy I wasn’t on a date where I was trying to impress someone. You will end up with it all over your face.
The standout of the meal was the salad we ordered. It was a big chopped salad, again, not on the on-line menu, with romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, nice thick-cut smoky bacon, European cukes, chopped cornichon pickles and a great green-goddess dressing. It was a really nice combination – all the veggies were very fresh, the dressing was very creamy and well-executed (NOT a dietetic salad, folks, there’s a lot of mayo and sour cream involved in that dressing!) and the cornichons gave it a nice, crunchy/salty bite – a great counterpoint to the creamy dressing. I’d order this again as an entree salad, despite the lack o’ protein – the fat from the dressing would be satisfying enough!
So while nothing but the salad particularly stood out for me, I like Tory Row overall. Not nearly as much as I like Audubon Circle, so I won’t go back as often, but Tory Row offers decent food in an unhurried atmosphere with the bonus of great people-watching. Worth trying out yourself.
© 2009, Sarah. All rights reserved.