Category Archives: Cambridge

Opus Affair tonight at MOKSA

Opus AffairOpus Affair is a social group that likes to support local arts organizations and artists by hosting monthly cocktail parties around Boston.  Some people come to Opus Affair events for networking, others come for fun, but each monthly gathering is informal and very social.  No plans tonight? Check out Opus Affair’s monthly get together.  This month they will be at MOKSA located at 450 Mass Avenue.

Monday, 25-November 6PM at MOKSA 450 Mass. Ave.

More details here.

Restaurant review: UpStairs on the Square

Upstairs on the SquareAfter 31 years co-owners Mary-Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes have decided to close their successful restaurant in Harvard Square.  When word of their closing was announced, I spoke to my very good friend and fellow blogger, 40-Something Life about having a last hurrah at UpStairs.

I suppose this isn’t quite a review as much as it is a tribute to a restaurant that has been uniquely true to itself over its 30+ years in business.  For my final dinner at UpStairs on the Square I made reservations for the Soirée Dining Room and we were seated near the beautiful fireplace in the back third of the room – sometimes called the Jewel Box because of the round windows and champagne bubbles in silver leaf that decorate the walls.

Upstairs on the Square appetizersDinner was superb from start to finish with flawless service that was attentive without being intrusive. We started our meals sharing the beet trio $17.00 and grilled oysters $18.00. While both starters were delicious the half dozen grilled oysters served on a bed of salt were so good that I kicked myself for not having ordered them before. The oyster shells were hot to the touch, but the meat of the oysters only warm providing a uniquely delicious dining experience.

For our main plates we opted to try some of the house favorites. Tracey (40-something life) ordered the crescent duck served with beets and the juice of blood oranges $33.00. The duck was succulent with a salty exterior that made it impossible not to devour.  Upstairs on the Square main dishesI opted for the monkfish which was served with mushrooms and sauce that was so addictive my dining partner had to dip her bread into it a second time to enjoy it again. I had contemplated ordering the salmon but our waiter had suggested I try the monkfish and I’m happy he did. The fish was delicious with the bottle of Laroche Chablis we had ordered with our dinner.

Upstairs on the SquareFollowing our meal, we were provided complimentary glasses of sparkling wine served in classic champagne glasses.  Perhaps it was the bubbles or just knowing that we’d not return again but neither Tracey nor I wanted the dinner to end so we ordered  a cheese platter $15.00 and glasses of Sauvignon Blanc.  The cheese plate included (from left to right) Charmoix – a cow’s milk cheese from Belgium, Gran Pyramide de Chevre – a goat’s milk cheese also from Belgium and a Comte (my favorite) from France.

I will miss this restaurant and would encourage anyone in the area to make one final reservation – preferably for their Soirée Dining Room before they close for good on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2013.

UpStairs on the Square you will be missed.

Upstairs on the Square on Urbanspoon

Beat Hotel in Harvard Square

Beat Hotel BarLast week I was invited to attend a digital media dinner hosted by the Beat Hotel in Harvard Square.  The subterranean restaurant, bar and music venue resembles the owner’s other venue, The Beehive in the South End, but it manages to exude its own character.  The Beat Hotel earned my immediate gratitude when I learned the owners have brought back a few popular menu items that they had served up at Pho Republique but more about that later.

Beat Hotel Soursop Fresca

Beat Hotel Soursop Fresca

Capable of seating 360 and offering two bars in addition to live performances 7-days a week, makes the Beat Hotel not only a unique destination but also a very welcome addition to Harvard Square. I have to admit I really enjoyed everything about my first visit. I loved the look and feel of the space that was inspired by the Beat Movement from the 1950s and think that this place will thrive in its new home.  As I mentioned  previously, the owners have given a nod to a popular restaurant they closed in 2010, by adding Pho Republique’s smokey chipotle BBQ spare ribs ($14) and crispy tuna springroll ($11) to their menu.

Beat Hotel Pho Republique I practically lived off of Pho Republique’s crispy tuna springroll so I was excited to see this return and the opportunity to eat this regularly is enough incentive to get me to head over to Harvard Square.  For the record, both taste exactly as I recall and remain as addicting as ever.  There are approximately 20 items from The Beat Hotel’s large menu that one may choose for appetizers and shared items with most reasonably priced $10-$12.

The dinner menu includes approximately 20 items.  One menu item featured is the Beat Hotel’s Earth Bowl.  These range from $20-$26 depending on the protein you include and the portions are very hearty including a natural selection of grilled and roasted vegetables, rice pilaf  and tasty sauces to accompany your protein.  I opted to try this and was pleasantly surprised by the variety of textures, flavors and portion; only order if you really are hungry!Beat Hotel Dinners

My table guests were nice enough to let me photograph their dinners.  The first photo shown above is Sergio’s massive organic chicken piccata that was served on a bed of gnocchi and spinach for $23. Unfortunately, the image next to it is hard to see, but it turned out to be my favorite meal, 40-Something Life’s swordfish tacos for $24.  The photo in the lower left corner was my salmon earth bowl and in the lower right is the Halibut for $34. I failed to try the halibut, because I had stuffed myself into a pleasant food coma, but it smelled and looked delicious.

I’d encourage people to check out this venue for dinner, drinks or just a fun night out to catch some great live music. The website includes a current calendar of upcoming acts.

Beat Hotel 13 Brattle Street / Harvard Square

617-499-0001 /

Beat Hotel on Urbanspoon

Harvard Square nightlife

Guys DrinkingI can’t recall the last time I said this but last Saturday I grabbed my passport (sorry local joke guys) and headed over to Harvard Square, and I have to admit it was a blast. The next day while I was perusing the Boston Globe online I happened to see an article raving about the nightlife in Harvard Square.  

So why is Harvard Square’s nightlife rebounding? According to The Boston Globe article it is due to a concerted effort to help it flourish (Hello Boston Mayoral candidates would you please take note?)

The city of Cambridge wants a more vibrant nightlife and are encouraging more live music venues and asking restaurants to stay open later. The city is also reviewing the current cap on liquor licenses and policies governing outdoor late night dining. Don’t believe me? Read the Boston Globe article, Harvard Square Gets Its Nightlife Groove Back.

Hello Boston – would you please take note?

ManRay / Campus nightclub

ManRayIn January, Cambridge Day reported that the popular fetish and gay bar, ManRay/Campus would re-open this summer not far from its original home in Central Square in this article.

Then a few weeks later the same blog reported ManRay owner, Don Holland, got the nightclub’s liquor license transferred to a new location – Central Square’s former Blockbuster video, a 5,000-square-foot space at 541 Massachusetts Avenue, but since then there’s been no news.

Over the past decade when one reads about gay clubs in Boston, it is usually regarding their closing so I was pretty happy when Cambridge Day and other blogs reported the club’s revival. However, the summer is here, and I’ve heard nothing about ManRay/Campus reopening.

Is ManRay / Campus ever going to re-open?

Was the news all rumor? Has anyone heard if the club will be opening soon? If you have any information about the club, please share. Feel free to leave a comment or email me directly at

What is in a name anyway

Pu Pu Hot PotEarlier this week, Eater Boston reported that the Pu Pu Hot Pot, a Chinese restaurant that has served meals in Cambridge’s Central Square for two decades will now become a new restaurant called The Dumpling Room.

ManRay / Campus might reopen this summer

CampusRumors are swirling that the popular fetish / gay bar will re-open this summer not far from its original home in Cambridge.  Cambridge Day reported the rumors earlier this week and the news was quickly picked up by Boston Restaurant Talk  and the Boston Hospitality blog.

Cambridge Day reports in their post on January 8th, “Man Ray owner Don Holland never stopped trying to resurrect the famed Central Square nightclub. Under threat of losing his restaurant and alcohol license, he said Tuesday that he believed he’s succeeded.  The location: Central Square’s former Blockbuster video, a 5,000-square-foot space at 541 Massachusetts Ave.

ManRayI met my partner on one of the gay nights at ManRay (a fetish bar), which was called “Campus” on Thursdays and Saturdays when the crowd was mostly gay.  I loved the whole layout with the lounge that had pool tables, the backroom dance floor which would play music from bands like Siouxsie and The Banshees, Depeche Mode and XTC and the main dance floor in the front where DJs would mix the latest pop and dance hits.  I was so sad when I heard the bar closed because the landlord sold the property to be made into condos.

I’ll be keeping tabs on the nightclub’s website,

2012 Head of the Charles Regatta

Yesterday the Head of the Charles Regatta started.  This is the largest regatta in the world attracting more than 9,000 athletes.  Today, Sunday, is the final day and races are already underway.  If you live in the Boston area, go down and check out this uniquely Boston event.  Teams will be racing until 5pm tonight.  Below are a few photos taken from the first day of races on Saturday.

Head of Charles RegattaHead of Charles RegattaHead of Charles Regatta

One of many places in Harvard Square to enjoy post-raceHead of Charles Regatta

Head of the Charles Regatta starts tomorrow

Earlier this week I wrote about the Head of the Charles Regatta which starts tomorrow.  If you are around town on Saturday or Sunday, come down and check it out; races start at 8AM and run until 5PM each day.

Head of the Charles Regatta race courseCharles Regatta

Head of the Charles Regatta

HOCRThis weekend The Charles River, which divides Boston from Cambridge will host the 48th Head of the Charles (the largest regatta in the world).

The sporting event attracts 9,000+ athletes from all over the world, competing in more than 50 races over two days; 300,000 spectators are expected to descend upon Boston / Cambridge (many of them college students proudly and somewhat drunkenly cheering on their school).

RegattaRegatta is Saturday & Sunday from 8AM – 5PM

This event is uniquely Boston’s (and Cambridge’s too).  Like the Boston marathon, its an athletic event that falls far outside the purview of mainstream sports, but is a tradition many here support and enjoy.  If you are new to Boston or rediscovering the city, I would encourage you to come down and watch the Regatta. Harvard Square pubs and streets are overflowing with people and the city is abuzz with rowers who have come from all over to compete so leave your cars at home and use public transportation or bike to get close to the river.

Roller Disco: The Musical

Oberon Theater

Roller Disco The Musical opens tonight at the Oberon Theater

OMG, This show will play Wednesday and Thursday nights through August 30th.  Doors at 7:30pm, Show at 8:00pm.  Want to know more? Visit,

FOXY reborn tonight

Over marathon weekend last April I first wrote about two local DJs who were hosting fun dance nights in Cambridge on Sundays.  The two  DJs, James Cerne and Nathaniel Bluhm played a collection of mostly funky music and mixes from the 80s and 90s with an occasional nod to more contemporary hits.

No Cover or Attitude at Middlesex Lounge 10pm – 2am

At the start of this year James left Boston but Nathaniel has persevered and transformed FOXY which is now at the Middlesex Lounge at 315 Massachusetts Avenue.  Are you one of the many who will have tomorrow, Patriot’s Day, off? Check out tonight’s party, which runs from 10pm – 2am in Central Square.

Put on your dancing shoes: its FOXY night

Nathanael Bluhm, Boston-area DJ and host of FOXY night will be spinning his magic on Sunday night at Middlesex Lounge in Central Square.

This week’s theme – Junk.

With Monday a holiday for all the universities and many businesses here closed to observe President’s Day there is no excuse for heading out to enjoy great music and videos from the 70s, 80s, 90s and today.

No Cover – Doors open at 10PM

Restaurant review: Tory Row

Across the Charles River in the heart of Harvard Square is Tory Row. The restaurant which opened in 2009 is the brain child of Matthew Curtis and Christopher Lutes.  These are the men behind other popular establishments like Miracle of Science, Cambridge 1, Middlesex Lounge, and Audubon Circle.Diners can have a front row seat to all the people watching one could hope for in bustling Harvard Square. In good weather, the large window pane slides open, creating a fantastic opportunity to dine al fresco.  Aside from the sleek interior design, the brunch, lunch and dinner menus are creative and very approachable.

I’m partial to Tory Row’s brunch and lunch menu which includes temptations like Steak & Egg Tacos with hash browns for $9 or their english muffin breakfast sandwich for $7.  The dinner menu has a slightly higher price point ranging from $11 for salads and flat breads to $10-$19 for sandwiches and main plates.  If you want to get your drink on, note that Tory Row only serves beer and wine.

I could talk about several items on their menu, but today is all about their best selling sandwich, the grilled marinated chicken breast for $11. The bread which comes from the Nashoba Brook Bakery is soft and absorbs the flavors of the grilled chicken which is always cooked perfectly.  The plate is nicely paired with roasted potatoes and salad, making for a filling meal that is relatively healthy and very satisfying.Note that this popular eatery which has a location second to none in the square does not take reservations – first come; first served.  Want to find out more about Tory Row? Check out their website,

More photos of the restaurant are available on their website. I’ve used their pictures which are superior to mine to show off the restaurant, but  the picture of the meal above was taken from your’s truly with a shaky hand and an old camera sorely in need of replacing.
Tory Row on Urbanspoon

Central and Kendall Square Cambridge is booming

Recession?  What recession?

The Boston Globe is reporting that the $600 million laboratory and office complex for Novartis designed by noted architect, Maya Lin, in Cambridge’s Central Square has been approved and is expected to be completed in 2015. Architect buffs will recall Lin’s work was first recognized in the US after designing the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1982.

This news comes on the heels of two other unrelated articles in The Boston Globe that addressed new projects underway across the river.  First was the announcement in late October that a $500 million development to build a 1.7 million square foot science and technology campus for Biogen was proposed. That news was followed by M.I.T.’s announcement last week that it was preparing to spend $700 million to redevelop eight of its properties in Kendall Square in Cambridge.

For those not familiar with the area, Cambridge neighbors Boston and can be seen from across the Charles River.  Central and Kendall Square are two prominent neighborhoods in Cambridge separated by just a few blocks.