Where: Upstairs on the Square – 91 Winthrop Street Cambridge, MA 02138
When: November, 2011 – Thanksgiving Day
Even though my non-American family and I didn’t grow up with Thanksgiving, its a tradition I would very much like to take on as my own. I love that its about family, friends, being thankful and – food! I also love how its one of the few that isn’t about gifts.
I have never baked, roasted, or fried a turkey and for two people it was a bit much so my dad and I spent Thanksgiving lunch at Upstairs in the Square. I refuse to call it dinner if it takes place before 6pm.
I love Upstairs on the Square, its probably my favorite restaurant. I love the pink and gold and whimsy of it all. It feels like you are there for a special occasion every time and yet its comfortable enough where you can go in jeans and not feel out of place. Sophisticated but not stuffy.
For Thanksgiving it was the same menu for both floors, where usually the top floor is a little pricier and fancier. I made a note with my reservation that I would like to sit upstairs in the soiree room so was very happy they could accommodate that. I mean, you might as well get the best seat in the house if you can, right?
The menu was prix fixe so for $68 you had a choice of starter, entree and dessert. The first option on the starter menu was New England Crab Cakes with Citrus and Old Bay Aioli and Mache. Done. If a menu has crab cakes the likelihood that I will keep looking decreases about 98%. The crab cakes were really good, lots of crab and with the citrus they didn’t feel too heavy (isn’t it amazing how citrus makes everything feel lighter?). My dad got the Smoked Salmon Tartar on Buttered Bread Toast Points which was also really good and a light starter. The meal then came with an Autumn Salad with Local Apples, Farmhouse Cheddar, and Cider Vinaigrette – I love the tartness of the apples with the sweetness of the vinaigrette and saltiness of the cheese.
We both then got the Sage-Rubbed Pork Loin with Sweet Potato Gratin, Garlicky Swiss Chard and Apple Butter (poorly photographed here on the right). This dish was incredible. The pork was cooked perfectly and went perfectly with a bit of the chard and apple butter. The flavors all worked really well together and the portions were very generous. I would definitely get this again if they had it on their regular menu.
For dessert my dad had the Trio of Pies: Apple, Pumpkin and Pecan with a Chantilly Whipped Cream. I had thought this would be a small bite-sized pie of each but it was literally three big slices of pie. It was a little much (a lot much really) but they were all very good. We both agreed that the pecan was our favorite of the three. But my dessert,… I can still taste it. It was amazing. Caramelized Banana Chocolate Bread Pudding. It was so rich and chocolaty but you just got this little undertone of banana with each bite which just made it taste even more chocolaty. I wasn’t planning on eating the whole thing but next thing I new I was handing my empty plate to my dad so I could try his pies. “Gourmand!”, as my cousin would say.
We rounded out the meal with a couple of coffees and talked about how this would be a nice Thanksgiving tradition. I agreed that until I have more than one person to cook for this makes the most sense although I most likely would not be able to pick up the bill next time as that was a hearty share of my rent.
We walked home, arm in arm, in the chilly autumn-going-on-winter air thankful for the warmth in our bellies and hearts from an afternoon spent with good food, wine, and family. Happy Thanksgiving!