Michael Scelfo’s new Alden & Harlow has all the right ingredients

GOB_Alden3_0206
Credit: Derek Kouyoumjian/DerekImage.com

I’d like to begin by apologizing to the staff of Alden & Harlow, the long-anticipated new offering from chef Michael Scelfo, for just how frequently they’re going to have to see my grim visage haunting the bar. It’s not your fault that your place of employment has hit upon the exact formula I look for in a regular spot, the atmosphere, menu and cocktail program meeting in perfect harmony. Plus, it’s a few hundred yards closer to where I live than my previous bar girlfriend, The Sinclair.

That said, let’s take a moment to remember the iconic, beloved Casablanca, whose space they’ve taken over. The space is broken up into a few distinct segments, with a greenhouse dining room up front, toward Brattle Street, giving way to a long, 30-seat bar that leads toward the main dining room and an open kitchen. The spacious, airy dining room is contrasted nicely by the low-ceilinged, underground feel of the bar room, a rarity of late. It all adds to the intimacy of the space. The bar is black granite, with the walls done in white subway tile.

While it all looks great, it’s what’s coming out of the kitchen (two must-haves: pickled corn pancakes with buttermilk, maple and shishitos; chicken fried rabbit with apple, bleu cheese and chili oil), and the bar that’s most exciting.

Thursty_Alden Harlow_DSC_7543
Derek Kouyoumjian // DerekImage.com

The latter is headed by Seth Freidus, formerly of Eastern Standard, who has carried his knack for tradition-minded innovation over to his new digs. On tap, they’ve got a house vermouth-based bitter, a sort of Alpine style, made with date-infused brandy and Madeira, and a white wine fortified with herbs, barks and citrus peels. It’s bright and herbaceous, but with earthy undertones. And it’s on tap, did I mention that?

“Not even planning with each other, we ended up having a lot of the same ingredients on the food menu and drink menu,” Freidus says. “I thought that was really cool that that happened organically.” Among these are parsnip puree and kumquats, the former showing up in the McGregor’s Garden, which takes Fighting Cock bourbon, Benedictine and lemon. Freidus says he thinks of using modifiers in cocktails much like preparing sides for a protein while cooking. The starchy but silky puree, spiced with cinnamon, star anise and green cardamom, complements the spicy caramel sweetness of the bourbon, and the herbal, vanilla characteristics of the Benedictine.

GOB_Alden2_0206
Derek Kouyoumjian // DerekImage.com

Elsewhere on the adventurous-sounding but eminently drinkable side is Golding’s Bastard, made with chinook hop-infused mezcal, Pimm’s, demerara sugar, lime and ginger beer. The hops come from sous chef and home brewer Dave Tollerud’s garden. “After smelling these whole flower chinook hops, I thought, instantly, let’s get some mezcal and bring the two flavors together,” Freidus says. “It’s really weird, not something I thought, ‘Yes, everyone will like it,’ but agave lovers will definitely like it.”

Also proving popular so far (it’s only been a week, after all) is the River Run, a savory apertif-style cocktail, that he didn’t think would land as well as it did. It’s made with Laird’s Bonded Applejack, an oloroso dry sherry, demerara (the house bitter), lemon and a pinch of salt. “It’s meant to get the salivary glands moving.”

It sounds like a lot to take in, but these are drinks good enough that you could quaff them down without paying much attention to what went in. Just know that nothing went in by accident. “I want everything to be interesting and different, and every drink to feature a house-made ingredient,” Freidus says. “And I think we’ve done that.”

 

Alden & Harlow
40 Brattle St., Cambridge
617-864-2100
aldenharlow.com


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

National

Cleavage complaint: Disneyland staffer orders curvy mom to…

A curvy mom-of-three says she filed a formal complaint after staff at Disneyland Resort in California ordered her to cover up her boobs. Melissa Behnken,…

International

Canadian charged in 'Heartbleed' attack on tax agency

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police have arrested a 19-year-old man and charged him in connection with exploiting the "Heartbleed" bug to steal taxpayer data from…

National

Every dog has his day in court, in…

(Reuters) - Call him juror K-9.A computer glitch is likely to blame for a summons that called a German Shepherd to report for jury duty,…

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

Television

Jim Rash talks 'The Writer's Room' and amazing…

For Jim Rash, as the fifth season of "Community" comes to a close, the second season of "The Writer's Room" begins.

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox beat White Sox…

Red Sox walk 15 times in extra innings win

NBA

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics:…

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics: 'I hope to be back'

NBA

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery…

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery odds with loss

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.