85. 1-18-07 Inn at Harvard 1201 Massachusetts Ave. Summary: Great location, great name, strange dining area, uninspired food, uneven service, overpriced.
I was apprehensive about eating at the Inn at Harvard, for a few reasons: First, in general hotel food isn't that great unless the restaurant is independent of the hotel; second, I went there for brunch a while ago, and the smoke alarm was being tested for the entire hour we were there, with flashing lights and piercing bells; and third, when I went for lunch the other day, they simply didn't offer it - "no lunch being served."
This time at least I could eat, and there was no testing underway.
The location of the Inn at Harvard is terrific. There used to be a gas station here many years ago, and Harvard built this Inn very quickly after buying the land - and, as I recall, they committed funds to the park area in front of the Inn, which is very pleasant and in good weather much used. And, the name is perfect - I'm sure they do well booking people there who want to visit the university.
That said, I really don't recommend lunch at the Inn at Harvard. First, the space is awkward at best. Essentially, you eat in the entryway/lounge/concierge area - it's an atrium in the center of the building, but it's the center of activity for the hotel. So guests come and go through the tables; the concierge conducts business - loudly - from his desk nearby; and guests enter the building a few feet away from the tables. There's not even a stand for a host/hostess to greet you; you need to ask someone at the front desk if you can eat lunch.
The menu is clearly "hotel food." It's pleasant to read, but you can easily imagine plastic wrap or metal covers over your plates, as in room service. At my server's suggestion, I ordered the salmon dish. The fish was very hot, but slightly overcooked, and there was too much sauce (balsamic reduction), in my opinion. There were many cooked tomatoes, which were decent but very hard to eat. And then it got weird; on the same plate were slices of soft cheese - mozzarella, I think - and they were COLD. To go from very hot salmon and tomato, to stone cold, soft cheese - that was weird. And all this was served on cold lettuce leaves. Kind of bizarre.
Plus, in another indication of this being room service food, my bread plate came with two rolls and four crackers - makes sense for delivery to a room, but unusual in a table setting. The ice tea I ordered was sweetened with perhaps pear - kind of a strange taste.
The service was uneven as well. There was a manager who roamed the hotel and occasionally checked in on me, plus a server who was good but certainly not great.
All this, and the gratuity of 20% was added in automatically. Total bill: $27.
Not worth it.