Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Grendel's Den 40th Anniversary Party [Cambridge]

"You've come a long way baby..."

The restaurant industry is a fickle animal -- new establishments pop up everyday only to shutter a year or two later -- like most Hollywood marriages, longevity is rare. That's why when I got a dinner invite to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Grendel's Den, the beloved Harvard Square institution known for its affordable hearty dishes and "Cheers"-like atmosphere, well -- of course I had to attend! There's something to be said for any business that can last 40 years -- and even though this was my 1st time visiting (sorry, but it's a trek getting to Harvard Square from where I live), I was excited to help them celebrate.

When I arrived, the party was already in full swing. Most of the crowd looked to be my parent's age (was later told many of the attendees that night were long, and I mean LONG, time patrons of Grendel's), but luckily I was seated at "The Playwrights/Thespians/People with Fascinating Non-Finance Jobs Table (aka the younger folks)". It had been a long day at work, so I immediately ordered a drink called The English Major (egg white, blood orange, gin, some other fruity juice I can't recall anymore), which seemed uber appropriate, given that the late founder and her daughter were both English majors in college.
After a welcome speech by Cambridge City Councillor Kenneth Reeves, our simple but tasty salads (feta cheese, peppers, olives, tomatoes, cucumbers, balsamic dressing) arrived.
Then Kari Kuelzer, daughter of Grendel's founders Herbert and the late Sue Kuelzer, took the floor and entertained the rowdy and energetic crowd with her stories of waitressing at Grendel's when she was in college. While she talked, the crowd imbibed on the uber rich (and I mean uber - because I was feeling full after I finished the small bowl) gorgonzola creme pasta with tomatoes.
Harvard University's loquacious Constitutional Scholar Professor Laurence Tribe, a longtime supporter of Grendel's, was next up on the agenda, along with our main course. To be honest, I kind of tuned out as the Prof waxed poetic because the spinach pie that I had as my main course was massive and delicious -- and required much concentration to eat!
As I left the warmth of the party and headed out into the snowy rainy night (ugh!), my stomach was not only full of food but with joy. Seeing the support and genuine love these patrons had for the place made me realize how Grendel's was able to survive all these years -- so cheers to Grendel's - here's to another 40 years!

Grendel's Den
89 Winthrop Street
Cambridge, MA 02138-4929
(617) 491-1160
Grendel's Den on Urbanspoon

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