The Hourly: A New Oyster House in Harvard Square

By Hayoung Chang ’18

With the coming and going of many restaurants in Harvard Square, a new bar dedicated to oysters has opened it doors in the last month. Named The Hourly, this oyster bar is owned by The Grafton Group, which already boasts four other restaurants in the area:  Grafton Street Pub and Grill, PARK Restaurant, Russell House Tavern, and Temple Bar.

With midterms in full swing and the seemingly endless continuation of the HUDS strike, I decided I needed a pick me up. Since I love oysters and seafood, I thought what could be a better option than the new oyster bar? On Wednesday night, a friend and I headed over to 15 Dunster Street with high hopes.

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Upon entering, a friendly hostess showed us to our seats. What was immediately striking was the cozy yet sophisticated ambience. The lighting was on point (as they say) with a soft golden glow illuminating the bar and seating area from an overhead light that could only be described as artsy.

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While the restaurant was not too crowded, all the bar seats were taken by those sipping cocktails. They had a separate menu for their raw bar, on which the oysters were listed based on origin. I ordered one each from Summerside (Canada), Cotuit and Cuttyhunk (Massachusetts). For our entrees, I ordered The Hourly Burger, and my friend the Crispy Goat Cheese Sandwich.

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While waiting for our food, the waitress brought out the restaurant’s original salt and vinegar chips. Both crispy and delightfully seasoned, the chips were the perfect finger food to stimulate our appetites.

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Once the oysters came out, the waitress kindly explained to us where each one came from. I tried the Summerside first, and was immediately engulfed in a burst of flavor. It started with an oceanic flavor then a slightly creamy lingering and a spectacularly fresh and clean finish. The oyster meat itself was so pleasurably tangy and juicy that it made me salivate for more. The two from Massachusetts were more briny but the combination with the red sauce made for a real delight.

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Then our entrees came. The first thing that struck us was the size; the plates were absolutely enormous, piled high with fries and greens next to our burger and sandwich. The burger itself was gargantuan as well, the kind that you cannot possibly fit into your mouth to take a bite. The umami flavor of the meat and bacon blended well with the melted cheese and crispy onions. The fluffiness of the brioche bun contrasted nicely with the crunch of fried onions to leave a savory albeit slightly greasy aftertaste.

Overall the service was excellent as the waitress continually checked in on how our meal was, and the entrees arrived swiftly. While the burger was delicious, it was the oysters that stole the show with its exceptional freshness. I would recommend The Hourly as a nice date night option as the ambience contributes to a cozy and intimate mood. I will definitely be coming back to try the other options in their raw bar!

Location: 15 Dunster Street, Cambridge, MA

Reservations: OpenTable

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Food: 4/5

Service: 5/5

Ambience: 5/5

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