All this hubbub surrounding the fate of the Quad made me a bit curious about the social scene beyond Daedalus and Redline. A field trip was in order. Last Saturday night, hoping to experience the bar scene from a Quadling’s perspective, I took the T to Porter Square. I packed my newly-legal ID, and a girlfriend who would walk me home, and rode off into the night. What I found was an enjoyable change from the Harvard Square pace and a new appreciation for fair Cambridge. Call up those Quad friends you never see anymore and retrace my steps—you’re sure to have a good time.
When I stumbled into Christopher’s, the scene made me wonder if I had gotten the address wrong. The owners have created a unique vegetarian eatery and bar hybrid—though the non-veggie options are equally exciting and delicious. On Saturday Christopher’s felt more restaurant than bar, and the clientele seemed not at all inclined to share their dining experience with a group of rowdy college kids. It reminded me a bit of John Harvard’s Brewhouse—perhaps its classier little brother. A decidedly less hectic bar experience, Christopher’s is not just a watering hole for Porter Square boozehounds. On this particular night, couples and small groups of 20-somethings made up the majority of the patrons sitting in the brick- and fireplace-decorated lower restaurant area. “The fireplace is a big turn-on, especially in the winter,” said hostess Shannon K. Seaver. After walking further into the premises, I finally found the bar. What I also found was a middle-aged man reading a newspaper. Trying to look a little older, I settled into my seat with my companion and struck up a conversation with Jon Olszweski, arguably the coolest bartender in Porter. Our discourse on why Christopher’s is not for the homeless crowd was interrupted, at first by Long Island Iced teas and then by a group of barely-21 students who badgered the attentive bartender to card them. If you feel like making a fool of yourself, Christopher’s is the place to go.
1920 Mass. Ave. (617) 876-9180. Monday-Friday 4 p.m-12 a.m.., Saturday 12 p.m.-12 a.m., Sunday 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-12 a.m.
If pressed for time, bar-hoppers have the option of taking out dinner from Christopher’s and enjoying it in neighboring Toad. Here, although it was barely past 10 p.m., a crowd had already formed around a modern artist. “Never a cover!” and “Live music every night!” were only a couple of the endorsements that cheerful customers sang out as they milled about in the relaxed atmosphere. “You can’t get better music,” claimed bartender Greg Ghazil. He wasn’t lying—I enjoyed the music so much that I forgot to drink! The people-watching and the laid-back mood made for a perfect lull in the middle of night. Friendly Bostonians and Cambridge locals beckoned Harvard undergrads to come to Toad and see what Porter has to offer. “This is an original bar with no pretense,” said Samantha Aldrich, a Toad fan and Boston-based account executive. Anonymity is guaranteed should you decide to spend an evening here. 1920 Mass. Ave., (617) 497-4950. Monday-Wednesday 5 p.m.-1 a.m., Thursday-Saturday 5 p.m.-2 a.m., Sunday 6 p.m-1 a.m.
At first I thought I was in Grafton. Then I realized that the interior here was everything I had always hoped Grafton could be. I could see behind me! The bar was sleek and clean. Amazing. Perhaps this has more to do with the fact that, unlike Grafton, Temple Bar does not pull double duty as both a lunchtime hotspot and late-night social hub—it doesn’t even open until 5 p.m. Oh, and the martini here is a must. It is certainly their most popular drink. A group outing here would be a change of pace from the obligatory Harvard entryway-friend birthday-destination. Men take note: general manager Will Brennan pointed out, “Often you’ll see six women come here and check the place out, but never six guys.” You do the math. Come here. Bring your friends, or at least an adventurous spirit. The staff will be very nice to you and no one will know who you are, unless you care to introduce yourself to various Harvard Law Students. 1688 Mass. Ave. (617) 547-5055. Daily 11 a.m.-1 a.m.
West Side Lounge
Not for the Saturday-night reveler. The crowd was very attractive, but perhaps it was just my beer goggles in full effect. After a quick survey, the bar was giving me strong date-only vibes. With subdued blue decor and quasi-pretentious modern art decorating the walls, West Side Lounge makes for an intimate outing, best enjoyed romantically. No table-dancing, that’s for sure. Feeling the need for a slightly more high-energy crowd, I took my ID and my plastic elsewhere. 1680 Mass. Ave. (617) 441-5566. Sunday-Thursday 5 p.m.-10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
I did not stay here for long. The decor was pleasantly dim and the atmosphere delightfully pub-like. The menu looked appetizing and the drink specials inviting, but I felt like I was spying on the Common regulars. The crowd is a bit older and I am pretty sure I saw my former Government TF flirting up a storm at the bar. Cambridge Common is most fun if you come accompanied by a group of rowdy friends—it’s perfect for a big, informal get-together. Otherwise, you might get a bit lonely and the crowd isn’t all that welcoming. 1667 Mass. Ave. (617) 547-1228. Sunday-Thursday 11:30 a.m.-1:30 a.m., Friday-Saturday 11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
A jaunt into Porter need not be a planned event, though it may be best enjoyed if a group of people knows what they want. The venues listed above offer different tastes of nightlife—from a friendly pub, to a music hub, to the bar with a signature drink, to a date destination—and there is something for everyone. The best part about Porter is that on the sure-to-be-wobbly walk home, you are only likely to encounter Harvard Law students—a change from the same undergraduate sketchiness that would occur on a walk back from the Kong.