Last fall, Redline abruptly announced its departure from the Harvard Square restaurant scene only to open up this Spring under the new name, Park. If you had visited Redline before it’s closing, you would be surprised to see the transformation that has taken place in this prime location – we know we were. Rickety floors have been smoothed over and glossed up, classic bar stools have been replaced by plush bar chairs and the space itself has seen much expansion, housing an extra living room-meets library space to the side, complete with inviting leather couches and detailed brick ceilings. The only similarities that Redline and Park share are that they are both part of the Grafton Group, with Russell House Tavern, Grafton Street and Temple Bar as sister restaurants.
In addition to all of the physical changes, the biggest change of all is in the kitchen. We had the opportunity to chat with Mark Goldberg, who took over the restaurant this spring when it opened. Formerly of Mistral and most recently, The Woodward, it’s clear that Chef Mark is having fun in the kitchen giving a new spin to comfort food classics. Fresh off a favorable review from the Globe’s allusive Devra First, into the kitchen we went to help prepare the patty melt (also mentioned by Boston Magazine) that’s currently on the menu.
With our kitchen series, it’s rare that we arrive knowing what we’re going to make and naturally, when a giant box of custom formed LaFrieda patties were on the counter when we got to the kitchen, the anticipation grew stronger, especially for some in our party We then headed into the kitchen to see what the buzz was all about. The patty melt is classic in some regards, a thin patty with Russian Dressing smeared across each slice of Iggy’s Rye Bread before hitting the griddle. American cheese does what it does best and melts to create a saucy accompaniment. Aside from using exceptional ingredients, the excitement lies in the Cholula fried onions, which are onions that are gently caramelized in a hot sauce bath before being added to the party. To the sound of a small radio in the kitchen cranking out 80′s hits, we heartily ate the burger while we talked with Chef Mark about his experiences. Getting his start at a local country club as a teen, he realized early on that he had a knack for life in the kitchen. When talking about Park, he says that he feels at home with the food, comforting and playful, it’s a change from what he’s used to and it’s clear that he’s having a lot of fun with it.
As for us, we really dug the vibe at Park and loved the revamped atmosphere and we’re looking forward to a return trip for a cocktail in the new lounge and to sample more of the menu. It’s a familiar menu with a twist, Chef Mark’s calm and focused demeanour is easy to find throughout the upscale Pub fare, and his presence in the kitchen translates to excellent results on the plate. The more he cooks, Chef Mark reminds us, the less complicated his dishes seem to be. Nothing is done with a lot of bells and whistles, just solid preparations and everything makes sense. It’s not about being flashy or playing to the newest food trends, it’s about keeping it simple and making the best food possible.