Basic pub food and nautical ambience to suit the Square's rowers and beer lovers alike
I hit the Boathouse just two days before Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard. It was an unseasonably warm fall afternoon, but once inside the pleasantly dim bowels of the dark-wooded pub, it wasn't hard to imagine battening down the hatches and hunkering down with a hoppy beer or five to wait out a Nor'easter. It would be sort of like The Perfect Storm, minus Mark Wahlberg and all the carnage at sea.
The new pub is owned by the same Irish brothers who own Daedalus next door, though you wouldn't know it from the quaint Nantucket-ready décor: an old nautical compass here, a weathered buoy there. But the menu is Irish-American, offering some dependable comfort-food fare, from fish 'n' chips to truffle fries and mac 'n' cheese with Gruyère. The Boathouse might be more of a great brew pub than a great eatery (for a small bar, they have an impressive craft-beer selection), but nothing is priced above $15, which more than softens the blow of food that's hearty if somewhat uninspired and under-seasoned.
That latter descriptor can be applied to the popcorn chicken ($7), juicy bites of white meat that, while perfectly fried, were oddly flavorless. That must be what the two dipping sauces — a spicy barbeque and a cool chipotle ranch — were for. When I inadvertently upped the flavor ante by spilling my Full Sail IPA into the basket of chicken whilst gesturing at the aforementioned décor, our bartender/waitress was quick with a roll of paper towels. I should disclose that I continued to eat the beer-logged (beer-battered?) chicken bites and polished those suckers right off.
Also notable were the fish tacos ($7), two soft tortillas stuffed with lightly battered tilapia, cabbage, and onions in a zesty chipotle sauce. One IPA-spattered friend ordered the pulled-chicken quesadilla ($8), a savory, markedly inventive take on the 'dilla, which we all agreed was the highlight of a generally pleasant meal. So reads this captain's log: simple, satisfying food that complements an afternoon spent throwing back good beers in what should prove to be a solid addition to the Square's pub scene.
THE BOATHOUSE :: 49 Mount Auburn St, Cambridge :: 617.349.1650
: On The Cheap
, cheap eats, pub food