Saturday, May 18, 2024

A grain bowl at Dig Inn with sweet potato and chicken. (Photo: Tom Meek)

Whole Heart Provisions in Harvard’s Smith Center has closed (the healthy grain bowl company is “hibernating,” according to its website) and Spyce, the MITer-founded company that had robots making grain bowls has been acquired by the Sweetgreen chain and closed its Brattle Square location. But don’t bum out for bowls if you were a Spyce fan: Sweetgreen has increased their bowl offering on a menu that had been dominated by tossed salads. There’s a Sweetgreen storefront you can pop into on JFK Street, but I’d draw your attention the healthy-casual competitor Dig Inn on Mount Auburn, where bowls have ingredients not really found elsewhere – jammy eggs (think of the soft-boiled ones you get in ramen), charred broccoli and perfectly roasted wedges of sweet potatoes. Your base can be rice, herbed farro or greens, and you can choose form a Chef Selects menu (Chicken & the Egg and the Classic Dig are good choices) or make your own, assembly-line style with a helpful server (not a ’bot) adding and mixing your organic goodness. One thing worth pointing out: While healthy, many of the concoctions at both chain eateries can be quite high in caloric count, in the 700-to-1,100 range. The health information is on their websites, and I appreciate that they even tag certain bowls as “low carbon.” The other thing I really dig (groan-worthy, I know) about Dig Inn is its open yet homey ambiance in the classic, brick-faced structure that housed J. Press clothier for so long. It’s more of an inviting nosh and hang space than its competitor around the corner. Both, however, make solid bowls.

Dig Inn (82 Mount Auburn St., Harvard Square)

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Quiche at Henrietta’s Table. (Photo: Tom Meek)

More super tasty warm grain bowls can be found at Henrietta’s Table, where a tender farro base is topped with grilled seasonal vegetables, arugula, toasted pistachios and a maple ginger vinaigrette. I can’t stress how good the maple ginger vinaigrette is, and having the bowl freshly warmed. Protein topping add-ons include delicately fried tofu, pulled chicken or a farm-fresh fried egg. I always get the egg, and often add tofu or chicken. Cool things about Henrietta’s Table that get lost because it’s a hotel eatery (in the Charles Hotel): Most of its food is sourced locally, and The Charles has one of the most meticulously manicured patio gardens in town. Pushing over into the lunch side of the menu at Henrietta’s – which has a killer weekend brunch – the chicken club and Maine rock crab and corn chowder with bacon are popular choices, and there’s a daily quiche that’s always light but satiating. Leeks, spinach and asparagus are usual front-stage ingredients, but broccoli, mushrooms and Gruyere and goat cheese often make guest appearances. A generous slice of quiche comes with a fresh farm-stand salad dressed with a tangy vinaigrette. 

Henrietta’s Table (at The Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square)

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The Soft Chili Scramble with avocado at Bluestone Lane. (Photo: Tom Meek)

For full brunch all day and every day, there’s the Aussie-style cafe chain Bluestone Lane in Brattle Square. Yes, we are still upset by the departure of locally owned Crema Cafe, but keep in mind you can still get your Crema at the cafe’s reboot, Revival, out by the Alewife T station and in Davis Square. Bluestone has a lunch menu – a chicken club, spicy chicken wrap (for which I suggest the low-cal) and Rainbow wrap or bowl of farro, avocado, sweet potato, beets and a poached egg with a chimichurri yogurt dressing. But the reason to come to the spacious, full-service dining experience is “Brekkie All Day.” The soft chili scramble with avocado is what to get. The eggs are mixed with shallots and chili and folded, essentially scrambled at low heat with cream instead of milk to result in something fluffy and silky, moist without being wet and perched upon a golden toast wedge and crowned with a ripe avocado half, feta and toasted seeds. Other good breakfast eats are the Avocado Smash toast (these guys have deft skills in their toast, avocado and scramble departments), the Best Mates Bowl (roasted Brussels sprouts, field mushrooms, soft scrambled eggs, baby kale, farro, pickled onion, feta, chili flakes and toasted seeds) and Green Baked Eggs skillet (chimichurri-baked eggs with spinach, feta, mushrooms and herb tomatoes). There’s a full coffee bar menu led by the classic Aussie flat white that’s a cut above, but what’s fun are the Iced Matcha Latte and Golden Latte (a detoxifying, anti-inflammation mixture of turmeric powder, cinnamon, ginger and black pepper made with steamed almond milk) under the Organic Teas & Wellness menu. Make sure your smart device is enabled, as you order and pay online; a server brings food to the table. The cafe’s Wi-Fi has a time cap to keep noshers noshing and not lingering. 

Bluestone Lane (27 Brattle St., Harvard Square)

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The Russell House Tavern remains another solid all-day, all-week place to grab brunch (’til 3 p.m.). We’re a fan of its smokehouse andouille hash with pan-fried eggs and its breakfast sandwich (scrambled eggs, spicy bacon and avocado aioli on a brioche bun), and where else can you get shucked shellfish, flatbreads, fish and chips and Southern-fried chicken alongside your basic brunch items?

Russell House Tavern (14 JFK St., Harvard Square) 

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Side dish

For a Mother’s Day with an international flavor, the folks at Season to Taste are doing Moms for the Ukraine, with all the profits from Sunday’s special menu donated to the World Central Kitchen to help with relief efforts.


Cambridge writer Tom Meek’s reviews, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in WBUR’s The ARTery, The Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The Rumpus, The Charleston City Paper and SLAB literary journal. Tom is also a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and rides his bike everywhere.

This post was updated May 5, 2022, to remove a reference to Sweetgreen adopting dishes from Spyce’s menu.