After much contemplating (and, as a New Yorker, complaining) about where 20 people could have a birthday dinner (w/reservations), I settled on a new place at 56 JFK called "Small Plates." It's an international tapas restaurant, and I am usually pretty wary of traditional spanish tapas since I find them uninteresting and uninventive.
So you can imagine my pleasant surprise when I walked into a cozy space off the main road -- well decorated (think Jane in the West Village) and not a basement (hallelujah) -- and was greeted by the pleasant and eager-to-please co-owner, Stephanie (her husband runs the back of the house).
But now on to the food...Rachelle, our very nice and able server, brought out some yummy soft bread and pepper-infused olive oil, which was very, very good. We also had the hot apple cider (again, excellent, if a bit sweet) to warm us up as we arrived. We started with the "Warm" platter, shared between two (or more), which was pieces of melted/warm brie, toasted french bread thins, pears and kumquat jam, and nicely grilled polenta. Great start.
On to some small plates: we had the tapas portion of the Black & White Salmon (very good), the grilled shrimp and jalapeño on corn (very good), and the chicken roulade with blue cheese (not as good as the others). We also tried people's dishes: the steak was yummy, as was the vegetarian blue cheese raclette. For dessert, since it was my girlfriend's birthday, they brought out their ginger and peach bread pudding (amazing, and not known to us at the time, complimentary), and we also ordered the decadent flourless chocolate cake (rich and very good). We also tried other people's desserts, namely the almond tart with cranberries (very sweet but good).
As I will be moving to Cambridge soon from Manhattan, I am excited that there is a warm, cozy, friendly, reliable place like Small Plates at which to dine at. IMHO, Harvard Square doesn't have many places like it, and it'll be nice to return again and again.