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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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

Welcome Back to Harvard! Here’s What’s Happening

By Bovey Rao ‘19

As the summer draws to a close, many may be wondering what on earth has happened to Harvard Square. Many beloved restaurants perished with the remodeling of the Smith Center. Student favorites like Al’s are now gone, so our stomachs may be running a little on empty. A few other promises of summer openings were left unfulfilled, but this guide is perhaps a glimmer of hope for what has and will come to Harvard Square.


Image from Tom’s Bao Bao


Tom’s Bao Bao – Chinese steamed buns, baozi, are the specialty of Tom’s Bao Bao. Various unique fillings are enveloped by airy white dough before being steamed to perfection. From the upscale lobster to the decadent chili beef, there are plenty of excellent options for a quick meal or snack. While slightly pricey, Tom’s Bao Bao is a great addition to Harvard Square for the adventurous student.

Image from Waypoint

Waypoint – Alden & Harlow is not only one of my favorite restaurants in Harvard Square but is one of my favorites in all of Boston. Michael Scelfo, the chef behind Alden & Harlow, recently opened a seafood restaurant, Waypoint, near Harvard Square. Following a similar small plate concept, Waypoint will hopefully become another Boston staple as it opened with excitement.


B. Good Google Maps
Image from Google Maps

B.Good – One of the favorite destinations for students seeking a healthier alternative to fast-food, B.Good was missed when it closed due to the Smith Center renovations. However, it is scheduled to return in a short while at the former O Sushi space. The fresh burgers, salads, and fries are things to look forward to in the near future.

en Boca
Image from En Boca Cambridge

En Boca – Mediterranean flavors are coming to Harvard Square from En Boca, a restaurant by the team from The Asgard and The Kinsale. Deviating from their other Irish pubs, Classic Restaurants Concepts is creating En Boca with Devin Broo from Bar Boulud. Originally slated to open in August 2016, the restaurant appears to be close to opening.

Image from DavidsTea

DavidsTea – DavidsTea is a tea store that was started in Canada and has begun expanding into the United States. With other locations in Massachusetts, DavidsTea specializes in various tea related products from teas themselves to mugs and other accessories. The store is slated to finish in September 2016.

Image from The Hourly Oyster House

The Hourly Oyster House – In the former Kennedy’s on the Square space, the Grafton Group is creating an oyster bar known as the Hourly. With well-established restaurants like Russell House Tavern, Park Restaurant, and Grafton Street, the Grafton Group continues to expand their empire with a seafood specialty restaurant in Harvard Square. It promises to provide extensive take-out options, perfect for students in a hurry. The Hourly is looking to open in early fall 2016.

Image from Tatte Bakery and Cafe

Tatte Bakery & Café – It is obvious that I am a fan of Tatte Bakery and Café and perhaps was one of few students who was happy when Panera closed. Tatte will bring their fresh pastries and other delicacies to Harvard Square with a weekend brunch menu and cooking lessons. The space is currently under construction and hopefully will be opening in September.

Image from sweetgreen

Sweetgreen – A large salad chain started by a group of Georgetown graduates is coming to Harvard Square. With the success of Sweetgreen in Back Bay, the chain planned to expand extensively in the Boston area. Highlighting local purveyors like Iggy’s Bread and Ward’s Berry Farm, Sweetgreen is bringing accessible farm to table to the square. Look for it to open in the fall.

Image of Rialto from Forbes Travel Guide

Benedetto – With the closure of Rialto, Harvard Square lost one of its long-term residents. After providing upscale Italian cuisine to the community for over twenty years, the restaurant did not wish to continue after the departure of chef Jody Adams. Giulia chef and owner, Michael Pagliarini, plans to open Benedetto in the Rialto space, which I believe to be an exciting transition. Giulia has garnered stellar reviews, and hopefully Benedetto maintains the legacy of Rialto. The current opening date is ambiguously set in fall 2016.

Image from Flour Bakery + Cafe

Flour Bakery + Café – Harvard graduate and star baker (James Beard Awardee), Joanne Chang, is bringing her Flour Bakery + Café to Harvard Square. From the famous sticky buns to excellent sandwiches, Flour has become a Boston staple, and it was great news to hear that one is coming to Harvard Square. The Harvard Square branch is projected to open in October 2016.

Island Creek Oyster Bar Taste Savant
Image of Island Creek Oyster Bar from Taste Savant

Restaurant from Island Creek Oyster Bar/Row 34 – While the opening date remains the most distant, I simply wish to show my excitement for another restaurant by this group. Island Creek Oyster Bar is my favorite seafood restaurant in Boston after numerous memorable experiences. I look forward to what concept will be devised.


Featured Image from Wikimedia

Expand Your Seafood Vocabulary With B&G

by Bovey Rao ’19


The South End of Boston is much less well known than its counterpart, the North End. While the North End is home to some of the best Italian food in the Northeast, the South End seems to be a less attractive dining destination. In reality, the South End actually is home to some of the Boston’s most well-regarded restaurants. With nationally acclaimed restaurants like Toro and Myers + Chang, and local favorites like Kitchen and Gaslight Brasserie, the South End is a must visit for the foodie in all of us. Among the local favorites is B&G Oysters, a hip oyster bar that ships in fresh oysters daily.


At the entrance, the restaurant’s vibe can be immediately observed with comical signs on their gate. Regardless of your interest (nothing wrong with enjoying a great sausage), make sure you check out the bivalves!


Despite a relatively early reservation time, the restaurant was already full. The open kitchen and wide bar is an incredible experience to view the master oyster shucker or the head chef prepare your dish. Given the namesake, expectations were incredibly high for the various oysters on the menu. When asked, the waitstaff provided a thorough explanation of the oyster’s unique flavors and the subtle differences that could be noticed. Best of all, she offered to make a small sampling plate for oyster virgins.


Given our limited student budgets, the three of us opted for two oysters each, and they were quickly shucked and delivered. Each of us was given a Chatham and a Riptide. The Chatham is regarded as one of the best beginning oysters as it provides a simple briny flavor. As expected, a nice smooth brininess prevailed in the oyster, but immediately, I could tell B&G had another level of execution. At most oyster bars, the accoutrements of the mignonette, cocktail, and horseradish are casually served as almost an afterthought. However, these sauces at B&G truly elevated the smooth salty oysters with a light acidity and almost crisp texture. We immediately switched to try the Riptide and were blown away by the sweet meatiness of the flesh. As discussed by our waitress, the subtle differences were truly what gave individual oysters personality.


Progressing through our order, I sampled B&G’s acclaimed clam chowder. Many outlets consider B&G to serve one of the best clam chowders in Boston, but unfortunately, I disagree. B&G did deliver an incredibly rich broth complete with tender clams, bacon lardons, and creamy potatoes, but it still felt slightly lacking. Normally, I expect a creamier, more viscous chowder, while this rendition was a little thin. Thus, many of the ingredients settled at the bottom and made for a somewhat inconsistent spoonful. The chowder delivered in many ways, but simultaneously failed to fulfill the high expectations.


Again faced with dish that is lauded by the community, I prepared for the B&G lobster roll. Despite being smaller than expected, the lobster roll was dense and almost bursting with sweet lobster meat. The sides of fries, pickles, and slaw were also clearly well prepared. B&G followed a traditional preparation for its lobster, in a light salad with mayonnaise, celery, and chives. The first bite starts with meeting the sweet roll and then entering the thick layer of delicate lobster flesh. Almost immediately, the sweetness of lobster flesh stands out with a light saltiness. With a light crunch, the bread and butter pickles serve as an acidic component to counterbalance the rich, sweet lobster roll. The crispy fries and fresh slaw serve as solid, but not mind-blowing sides. Overall, the hype surrounding this course was well warranted.


For dessert, we collectively decided on the blueberry bombolones, fried ricotta donuts. The hot fried dough balls were the ideal finish to our casual lunch. Thankfully, the bombolones were not overbearingly sweet, which played with the tart, almost savory blueberry jam.

Despite my incredibly high expectations surrounding B&G Oysters, I cannot say that I was disappointed. It is clear why B&G retains a perennial spot on many media outlets top restaurants. While the menu clearly displays a high level of sophistication and executes it well, come for the namesake oysters, and you will not be disappointed.

B&G Oysters

Location: 550 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02116

Reservation: OpenTable or Call (617)-423-0550

Stand out dishes: Lobster Roll, Oysters, Bombolones

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

Food: 5/5

Service: 4/5

Ambience: 4/5