So my wife and I found ourselves in harvard square a few days ago, which doesn't happen too often. Dinner time, and I thought I remembered Upstairs on the Square as a contender for somebody's favorite burger in that infinitely long thread that's still, I think, going on. Sounded good.
First of all, I was a little surprised by the decor and, err, cleanliness at a place at that price point. On the one hand, I'm usually in favor of eclectic design, but there's a point at which you cross into junky, which is definitely happening in the bar side of the restaurant. Plastic bags taped over the air conditioner, a decade's worth of dust stuck to the chandeliers, a seriously amateur faux paint job above the bar. The "fine dining" room next door looked more cleaned up, but I didn't take a close look. The christmas tree was lovely, though.
Wife and I sat at the bar and both ordered the burger. The staff was very nice, the wine pours were generous if a little overpriced. In the moments when the kitchen door would swing open, it looked a little dank and chaotic. The burgers here are on the expensive side, $15, and with niman ranch beef, so I was really hoping for something good. Alas, both of our medium rare burgers were served medium well and over salted. The buns were potato rolls which, while flavorful, were overwhelmingly dense. Every bite felt like one more lead weight dropping down. At one point we were asked if we wanted ketchup, and we said sure, only to listen to somebody squeezing it out into cups just around the corner. It really made me feel like we were eating next to the bathroom. The fries were pretty good.
At the end of the night, two glasses of wine, two burgers, tip came to about $70. I'm willing to pay that if the night is memorable in a good way, but this was memorable in a bad way.
I'm curious if anyone else has had this same experience, or if we just sat at the wrong seat at the bar.
Any recommendations for where we should have gone on a night like this instead?
Upstairs On the Square
91 Winthrop Street, Cambridge, MA 02138