1357 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
--- Winner, Best Irish Pub/Restaurant in Boston Area, 2012 ---
Because it is perhaps the only major square in Cambridge that is not on a subway line, the Inman Square section of the city has a number of good restaurants that are not very well known (though there are a few popular spots such as the East Coast Grill and the Midwest Grill). And one of the better places in the neighborhood is an Irish pub called The Druid, which is a big hangout for folks who live or go to school near Inman Square, but is virtually unknown outside of the area. The Druid also happens to be one of a handful of truly authentic Irish pubs in the Boston area, with an atmosphere that brings to mind more than a few dining and drinking establishments in Dublin, Cork, Galway, and countless small communities scattered throughout the Irish countryside.
Although The Druid is located right in the heart of Inman Square, one step inside whisks you away from the bustling streets of Cambridge and Somerville (which borders the northern edge of the square) and into a friendly, cozy, and comfortable space that is just made for a rainy Sunday afternoon. Much like some of the pubs found across the pond in Ireland, dark woods abound, with the pub's location in an historic building adding a lot of character to the place. Fans and warm lights hang from the ceiling of The Druid, with countless pictures on the walls along with clocks, plaques, signs, and other knicknacks scattered about. The pub is dominated by a fairly large bar along the left side of the space, with tables that have bench seats and chairs along the right wall. In addition, a couple of booths can also be found in the front, with views of the square (and plenty of people-watching) through the large windows.
Many pubs in the Boston area (Irish and otherwise) seem to put more effort into atmosphere, entertainment, and alcohol than food, but The Druid certainly isn't one of them. Many of the items here are made from scratch, with highlights on the menu being the creamy potato leek soup, the hearty oxtail soup (which alas is rarely offered), the steamed mussels in garlic and wine broth, the rather substantial and juicy house-made burger (one of the best in Cambridge, by the way), the equally substantial chicken salad sandwich, the lightly battered fish and chips (possibly the best this writer has had in the entire Boston area), a shepherd's pie that is made with lamb rather than beef (giving it a richer taste), and a beef stew made with angus beef and a variety of root vegetables. For those who yearn for classic pub grub, the chicken tenders are a whole lot better than the flimsy strips found in many bars, while those with a big appetite might want to try the 20-ounce grilled angus rib-eye, which is smothered in a scratch-made Guinness sauce and comes with green beans and mashed potatoes. And being that The Druid is in Irish pub, drinks include such Irish favorites as Smithwick's and Guinness Stout (and the Guinness is particularly well-poured here), but a few craft brews can be ordered as well. A Sunday brunch is also offered, with a classic Irish breakfast (eggs, black and white pudding, Irish sausage and bacon, roasted potatoes, and beans) being a popular option. Entertainment at The Druid includes Irish music, trivia nights, and music played by DJs.
Inman Square has a treasure trove of excellent dining and drinking spots in its relatively compact area, with The Druid being one of the best options for those who love comfort food and beer in a charming environment. There are few such spots in the Boston area that have the kind of authentic feel that this place has, so definitely don't miss this one if you are a fan of classic Irish pubs.
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