Arts restaurant review

Fusion, flavor, finger food… and fun!

The Longfellow Bar at Alden & Harlow brings fusion, flavor, and finger food to Harvard Square

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Patrons eat and drink at the Longfellow Bar at A&H.
Courtesy of Nina Gallant

The Longfellow Bar at Alden & Harlow
American Fusion, $$
40 Brattle Street #3
Cambridge, MA 02138
Monday–Wednesday 11:30 a.m.–1 a.m.
Thursday–Friday 11:30 a.m.–2 a.m.
Saturday–Sunday 4 p.m.–2 a.m.

If you’re in the mood for delightful fusion dishes with a sophisticated flair, Longfellow Bar is the place to go. Last week, we made a trip to the restaurant in Harvard Square. Stepping foot into Brattle Hall, our server Emma greeted us with the utmost hospitality, immediately making us feel right at home in the classy but cozy bar environment. 

The restaurant specializes in a variety of fusion dishes, taking inspiration from Japan, Hawaii, Ethiopia… and of course traditional, hearty American bar food. The unique part is that all dishes are to be eaten without utensils. So, naturally, my curiosity was ignited by the listing of a “Caesar-ish Salad” on the menu. I mean, who eats salad with bare hands? Sure enough, our salad came in the form of petite romaine hearts still on the stalk, dressed with crouton crumbs, pecorino, and a delightful anchovy — finger food. It was a refreshing way to enjoy the salad; to be able to taste the juicy romaine heart in parallel with garlicky croutons and anchovy, the variegated flavors contrasting but not homogenizing until the fourth or fifth chew.

Soon after, Emma provided us a side of freekah bread: a warm combination of crunchy crust and fluffy center, with honey butter spiced with koji to spread upon it. The “Short Rib Kitfo” came next: a fruity short-rib spread atop a slice of injera, a thin, circular sourdough flatbread with a spongy texture originating from Ethiopia. The spread was seasoned with mitmita, a strong Ethiopian seasoning mix with a tinge of spiciness that was subtle at first but was brought out in a stronger form by a sip of wine. Next came the "Rellenong Hipon:” shrimp surrounded by a thin layer of dough reminiscent of the shell of an egg roll, with a sweet honey dipping sauce.

The “Greenwood Fried Chicken Sandwich” was an exotic combination of flavors. One slice of bread was spread with crunchy peanut butter, and the other with sriracha mayo; in between lay a tender chicken patty among thin pickle slices. The bread was slightly sweet and spongy, with a golden tinge that supplemented the exuberant flavors with popping color. The only imperfection was that the edges of the bread could have been toasted a bit more crisply.

Lastly, dessert: a giant oatmeal whoopie pie. I’ll have to be honest: whoopie pies are not my favorite, but this one got me; the cake layers were more reminiscent of a thick and hearty oatmeal cookie than typical whoopie pie cakes, and the frosting filling was soft in texture, with the perfect sweetness. If the cookie were warm, my taste buds might have been tantalized beyond repair. For this dessert, our servers provided the first utensils of the meal. I had been wondering whether we could get through the entire meal without using utensils, but alas, it seemed not.

At the end of the meal, we opted to walk thirty minutes back to campus instead of taking public transportation, as we felt so stuffed and heavy. Longfellow Bar is great for a night out — its finger food portions make their plates perfect for sharing with friends — although it is on the pricey side.