Upstairs on the Square
Tea patrons frequent tea rooms for myriad reasons. Some go for quiet, serenity, and that calm repose that sweeps over you after the first sip of Darjeeling. Then there is Cambridge’s Upstairs on the Square –
This is a three-story Pee-Wee’s Playhouse tea experience meant to stimulate the senses. From the purple and green color scheme highlighted with zebra fabrics to the pumped up Indy music and mirrored bar, this is an environment created for tea folk who need a bit of adrenaline infused into their lives. They are, after all, located a block from Harvard and goodness knows a girl can’t study all the time!
You can’t argue with success. They have been meeting the needs of customers for over ten years after moving from the Hasty Pudding Club. And on the day I arrived, they were packed with bridal showers, baby showers, and avid tea partiers dressed in frilly hats and clutching white gloves. Everybody was having a good time.
But don’t let this playful facade fool you. Owners Mary Catherine Deibel and Deborah Hughes are serious about making good tea and delicious food. Their tea list is extensive and each pot was well made.
I visit hundreds of tea rooms and it is a rare event when I encounter something new on the tray. I was happily surprised to find homemade Meyer lemon marmalade. Wow! Scones never tasted so good as when topped with clotted cream and this tart accompaniment. Included with the usual afternoon tea sandwiches was a mini Gruyere cheese quiche which helped bring a satisfying savory balance to the sweets and pastries. Bravo!
Upstairs on the Square is located a block from the Harvard station on the subway’s Red Line. Afternoon tea is served every Saturday and Sunday from 2 to 4 pm in both the Monday Club Bar and the Soirée Dining Room. Gloves and hats are tolerated and not required.
Tea Master Bruce Richardson is the author of several tea travel books including The Great Tea Rooms of America and The Great Tea Rooms of Britain.