Friday, December 28, 2012

Dining Out: First Printer

My mother is a Harvard alum, so growing up we spent a lot of time in Harvard Square. I've always loved hanging out there - shopping, dining out, people watching - and since moving to Watertown, I now commute through there every day.

Given my twice daily trips through the square, it's easy to spot something new. On Dunster Street, right next to the famous Au Bon Pain (which was in "Good Will Hunting") there is now a restaurant called First Printer.

An odd name for a restaurant you say? Well, it's named for the history of the space. The location where the restaurant now stands was once home to the first printer in North America, Stephen Daye. Read the full story here.

The night we arrived the restaurant's doors were decked out for the holidays.

Inside the restaurant's back wall is covered in old school printing trays. I recognized these from the movie "Newsies." High brow, I know.

In the center of the U-shaped dining room is the bar which is illuminated by industrial style pendant lights.

I asked my dinner dates what color they thought the wall paint was and in unison they chimed, "Burnt sienna!" I know the color is suppose to warm the room, but I really hated it.

We were seated in the first booth, closest to the window. We had a great view of the square out of the big picture windows.

We started by perusing the cocktail menu. The drinks had fun names and descriptions like the Cookie Monster:

I'm not a big beer drinker but I was impressed with their offerings both on tap and in the bottle.

I decided on a cocktail called the Periodista which was rum, triple sec, apricot brandy and lime juice. This would be an excellent summer time drink to cool you down on a warm night.

After placing our order our waiter delivered us a ramekin of pickled vegetables. The Woodward at the Ames Hotel does this too and it's just not for me.

As an appetizer we shared the vegetable conscious flatbread which was mascarpone spread, roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, charred peppers, arugula and chili oil. I loved this! The mix of flavors was absolutely sublime and the pieces weren't weighed down by too much sauce or cheese.

For dinner, one of my friends ordered the sweet lobster chowder. As soon as it arrived she exclaimed, "This isn't chowder! This is a bisque." Despite the inaccurate menu description, she said, "This is a very generous portion both in the size of the bowl and the amount of lobster meat. It's a nice mix of meatiness from the lobster and the potatoes."

Across the table a friend ordered the gravlax and arugula salad. Apparently she didn't know gravlax was salmon and when the plate arrived she was repulsed. Even once she removed the fish from the plate she said, "It was just way too salty. The dressing was light and the bread was perfectly toasted, but it couldn't overcome the salt."

The First Printer menu has great vegetarians options as well as a note as the bottom of the menu that reads, "The kitchen is enthusiastic to cater to any vegetarian or dietary need." One million bonus points for proactively saying that! I decided on the garden fresh vegetable entree which was a mix of fresh veggies topped with a poached egg.

The mix of vegetables was nicely cooked, but there were so many of them that once I broke the egg, it got lost in the veggies. There were too many for the egg to coat them, which was a disappointment. I think had they taken away one third of the veggies, it might have been perfect.

First Printer does have a dessert menu, but it couldn't overcome our desire to pop into Pinkberry which is right around the corner.

I have to say, I wasn't wowed by First Printer. There are so many great restaurants in Harvard Square, why settle?

Have you been to First Printer? What did you think?

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