Clams & Fried Chicken at Alden & Harlow

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Alden & Harlow is a small, very cozy restaurant in Harvard Square that serves up modern American food. Everything on the menu is served tapas style, perfect for sampling and adventuring. Alden’s been praised and reviewed repeatedly by Boston Magazine, Eater, Bon Appetit and many others. The restaurant is quite dark, but with the soft lighting and neutral-toned furniture in the room, by the time I reached my seat on the cushy bench, I was completely relaxed.

The Wellfleet Countneck Clams with smoked pig’s tail, parsley and chili toast. You know how I said I felt so comfortable in the restaurant, just by being in the space. Well, with my first bite of the clams, I was almost zen-like. The clams were full of umami flavor. The smokey pig’s tail made the clams taste smokey, salty and buttery rich. The parsley and chili just added to the flavor. This dish came with 6 clams, which wasn’t a lot, but because I was drowning each clam with the wonderful herby sauce in the pan, the 6 clams were just right. If they actually gave me a dozen, I might actually feel sick. I used to like steamed mussels, but I think I found a new love.

The fried chicken thighs with triticale waffle, cured celery and parsnip crema. This plate was really popular on Instagram, and I can see why. The chicken and waffle is aesthetically pleasing and dear lord, it tasted like heaven. A great mix of sweet and spicy tartness. The parsnip crema was actually sweet, and very smooth and creamy, but without the starchy-heaviness of mashed potatoes. The fried chicken thighs were holy shit crispy and juicy. The batter was quite thick but not too oily. The waffles were quite sweet and substantial, crispy on the edges and a little firm and cakey in the middle. However, I really enjoyed the cured tart and spicy celery. It balanced out the sweetness and fattiness of the rest of the dish. Still, it was absolutely sinful.

Crispy Brussel Sprouts with fried egg aioli, pickled walnuts and berbere. I actually like brussel sprouts, especially when it’s fried or roasted. I enjoyed this, except I wish the sprouts weren’t so bitter. The pickled walnuts added a little acidity to the dish, but I wished it had a stronger flavor to balance out the bitterness of the sprouts.

Overall, Alden & Harlow was fantastic. I really enjoyed the fact that while each plate is quite modern, sophisticated with layered flavors, the food still tasted down to earth and simple, like comfort food. There are still so many other dishes to try and I know the restaurant changes its menu regularly.

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