John Harvard’s: Ivy League Nachos Without the Pretention

2 Jun

Dark days have fallen upon Nacho Patrol.  Our Master of Margs, Queen of Qdoba, Siren of Sports, Smashley, has relocated to the warmer climes of California.  For her last goodbye, we met at the place that best represented the six years we had spent with her: Border Cafe, for a Cuervo Gold margarita, rocks, no salt.  Border Cafe, however, had quite a wait for a table so we sought solace in the warm bosom of another familiar Harvard Square establishment: John Harvard’s Brew House.  With its stained glass windows and dark wood features, John Harvard’s is a great place to hole up and get friendly with our favorite holy beverage, beer.  They brew their own and while the varieties can be rather hit or miss, it’s at least more interesting (and just about as cheap) as your average bar with the trinity of Bud-Miller-Sam.  We got especially friendly with their nachos:

  • Appearance: (8) It’s like the Hasty Pudding Parade in there!  These nachos let it all hang out and only left us wanting to know more.  A cacophony of colors and textures, we could tell from the start that this was going to be no normal patrol.
  • Quality of Ingredients: (8) While all the ingredients in nachos tend to take their flavors from the same set of Tex-Mex seasonings, each topping here had its own, very distinct flavor. The pulled pork was juicy and smoky, with a pronounced “bacony” flavor; this at times came close to crossing the line into overwhelming but never quite did.  The salsa had a wonderful garlicky bite, which we had never come across before.  The tri-colored chips were house-made, crispy and fresh.  We loved the addition of olives, scallions and jalapenos, and found the latter to be of the perfect spice, pickle, and size.
  • Distribution of Toppings:  (10) If their nachos are any indication, many establishments in Boston seem to be suffering from some sort of cheese shortage.  Well, we have found the reason: John Harvard’s is hoarding it all.  It seems that they literally had more cheese than they knew what to do with, because on top of a respectable cheese layer and numerous wonderfully melty cheese pockets, they pulled a move that we have never in all our reviews ever come across: a preemptive layer of cheese on the bottom of the plate! What??  It worked wonderfully, as the plate itself was hot enough to keep the cheese liquid, allowing for a little extra cheese reservoir for those odd naked chips.  Which, much to our delight, were blessedly few and far between.  Not only did the distribution do an excellent job of ensuring that every chip had something on top, every chip had multiple toppings. Just take a look at this beauty:

On top of the chip, which is barely visible, we’ve got cheese, pork, guacamole, a black olive, and a single decorative scallion for good measure.  Every chip presented a unique combination of distinctive toppings, making these a fascinating delight to consume.

  • Price: (8) Not having paid attention to the menu, we feared the worst when the check arrived.  How much must John Harvard’s demand for such delectable nachos?  To our glee, they came to $10.50.  Nowhere near as large as Sunset but with these, size is not the prize!
  • Overall: 34/40.  After much middling nachos, we are thrilled to welcome John Harvard’s to our Top Five.  It’s been great having you!

One Response to “John Harvard’s: Ivy League Nachos Without the Pretention”

  1. joe August 19, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    had these last night, had high hopes, but I think they’ve changed their approach, and its not good. pulled pork was good but the cheese was terrible, basically nacho cheese, or cheese wiz, my friend said “td garden”, but I didn’t think it was quite that bad. another friend went on Friday and corroborated the cheese issue. I also have a theory that nachos with black olives on them tend to be “chainish” or just lacking.

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