At the end of 2013, I dined for the last time at the iconic Harvard Square restaurant, Upstairs on the Square. It was a tasty and sad farewell.
Returning to the same location last Friday, now named Parsnip Restaurant and Lounge, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I knew from reading reviews and hearing the buzz, the food was amazing so that part I was eagerly looking forward to.
Gone is the whimsy and fairytale book feel of the kitschy Upstairs and what you have now is a modern, open and sublime space of feeling rich without the gauche of wealth. It’s really quite beautiful.
We were seated at the back of the restaurant close to the fireplace and handed menus filled with imaginative offerings. It was going to be a tough decision of what to order.
We started with some drinks. Erika noticed a bartender from Upstairs was still around so asked for a cocktail from the old days called a Lovely Kathleen, which she enjoyed with glee. I stuck with my staple starter cocktail of an Espresso Martini, while Jen opted straight for a Cab.
For our appetizers we decided family style as we wanted everything on the menu. We settled on three out of the six on offer. A roasted cauliflower with a cumin brûlée, surprised our taste buds with curried custard and sweet raisins. This dish is ingeniously superb.
The plump and perfectly seared scallops with a mild liquorice tang heightened our taste senses to another level of enjoyment.
Our third appetizer was the citrus and dill cured salmon. Delightfully thin slices of delicate salmon, which just melted in your mouth at every taste. A soft creamy fingerling potato bite added something extra special to this dish.
For entrées we were all leaning towards one dish, the Noisettes of lamb, which just sounded marvelous. Instead, Jen ordered this rare small rack of lamb with creamy potatoes.
Erika picked the heady, rich potato gnocchi with truffles and wild mushrooms. The wonderful aromas of this dish hit us the second it left the kitchen and headed to our table.
I decided on the Cornish hen. A pleasingly colorful plate of more traditional tasting comfort food of lemony chicken, soft potatoes and crunchy sweet carrots. I was very happy with my choice.
Instead of ordering dessert, we decided to head up to the top floor lounge for a glass for wine. The lounge is more cozy and casual offering the same cocktail list as the restaurant but with a more affordable bar menu of small plates.
Throughout our evening the service was impeccably polite and attentive. This is high-end dining at its best and there are only wonderful things I can say about Parsnip.
This is the perfect place for a special date in the restaurant, catching up with an old colleague at the bar or enjoying a small plate and fancy cocktail in the lounge sat around the fire with friends. Simply fabulous!