Thursday, June 13, 2024

The One Reason Garden Bar in the courtyard of The Charles Hotel. (Photo: Bob Durling/Charles Hotel)

With a lengthy list of local beers and wines for just a summer shack, One Reason Garden Bar on the plaza outside the Charles Hotel is a simple and pleasing place to grab a drink and bite. What awaits you are wagyu beef hot dogs for $7; a Brazilian cachaça frozen slushie at $8 and flame-charred burgers for $6. Money isn’t everything, but burgers and dogs sure taste better when you don’t have to break a $20, or keep telling yourself, “This isn’t that bad.” That kind of internal dialogue is replaced by the crunch of speared pickles and the exhale after sipping a drink. Just watch for when one of the friendly staff members asks you if you want cheese on your burger, as it’s an extra two bucks.

The tastefully designed One Reason offers simple fare in a laid-back setting, with trees and flowers encompassing the picnic tables and bar – you almost forget you’re in Harvard Square, though adjacent is fine Italian at Bar Enza, the upscale cocktail bar Noir and farm-to-table inspired Henrietta’s Table, which all share a slice of the Charles Hotel space. Alongside the pop-up shack’s  tables sits an oversized Jenga, which kids and adults alike knock over to gleeful devastation. In an open area between the hotel and picnic tables is a cornhole stage by day and a weekend music venue by night. Every Friday and Saturday until the end of August, a mix of international sounds such as Latin salsa and Afro-pop fill the courtyard, where people can dance and spend an evening letting go. The Brazilian slushie certainly helps.

Food and drink at the One Reason Garden Bar in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. (Photo: Bob Durling/Charles Hotel)

Three-quarters of the pagelong menu is drinks, offering 14 wines, 12 beers, that devilish frozen cocktail and a sprinkling of soft drinks. Dare to try something different such as the “orange” rosé, a lesser-known wine that isn’t made from oranges at all – just an orange-hued, dry and more flavorful rosé derived from the fermented mashings of white (or green) grape with the skin and seeds still on. Pair it with the shack veggie burger, which is made primarily from peas.

Live a little! There aren’t many other times you get to take this kind of adventure in Harvard Square: burger and wine in one hand and cornhole bean bag in the other. Come with a group and start a cornhole or Jenga tournament, or come by yourself and just people-watch under an umbrella. Laugh at people trying to lock up their e-scooters, take another sip of your drink. Skip the field salad and go right for a burger or dog, because it’s summer and that’s what you can do. One Reason Garden Bar is only around while the weather is nice, opening at 4 p.m. Wednesdays and  Thursdays and at noon Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

One Reason Garden Bar at The Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St., Harvard Square, Cambridge