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Three Out of Four Stars for Alden & Harlow and More

Photo: Alden & Harlow/Meg Jones Wall

Devra First grants three Globe stars out of a possible four ("excellent") to Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square. Each dish is a study in contrasts: brightness, richness, spice, and smoke on every plate," she writes. In some dishes, there is "untrammeled richness," like in the burger, whose patty is "so flavorful, juicy, and decadent it is unfair to other burgers around town." But sometimes that richness is "too much," like in the "fatty and dull" gratin of Island Creek oysters with uni toast. First comes down particularly hard on the desserts, "not a strong suit." This includes "the intense, unpleasant smoked chocolate bread pudding with salt ice cream" that seems to evoke a love or hate reaction among folks on forums like Chowhound. But the beverage program is a strong suit, as is the "friendly, attentive, and genuinely hospitable" service. Ultimately, Alden & Harlow is "the quintessential Harvard Square restaurant," like the former occupant of the space, Casablanca, was before. [BG]

Devra First also files a Globe "Quick Bite" this week, checking out the South End's new Wink & Nod. It's a "swank little spot decorated with crimson flocked-velvet wallpaper and zebra-patterned rugs," and guests are drinking out of "classy coupes and kitschy tiki mugs." In the background, there's music that jumps from "the Pink Martini-esque to ragtime to what might best be described as techno scat." She notes, but doesn't review, the existence of "yakitori presented in a smoke-filled jar" and "thick black strands of ink-tinged pasta with baby octopus, cauliflower, and black garlic." On Twitter, though, she reveals her feelings towards one dish: "I'm open to a cauliflower dish [not the aforementioned baby octopus with cauliflower] being worth $14. I didn't think this was it." [BG]

And also in the Globe, Sheryl Julian writes a "Cheap Eats" review on Aurum, a new Jamaica Plain restaurant that focuses on "savory tri-cornered individual pies made to order and presented in homemade dough." One pie, The Fall River, "is deliciously satisfying for breakfast, or any hour," but a spinach-filled pie "tastes more like some bland Middle Eastern [she's] had." The deep-fried cauliflower has a spicy mayo that "you could a spoon," and the Italian wedding soup is "very good," although Julian guesses the stock is not homemade due to its turmeric color. "When the shop works out some details, and when carryout doesn't arrive home with spills because everything got jostled inside a flimsy bag, Aurum will indeed strike gold." [BG]

Wink & Nod

3 Appleton St, Boston, MA 02116 617-482-0117 Visit Website

Alden & Harlow

40 Brattle Street, , MA 02138 (617) 864-2100 Visit Website